Momentum Monday

Well, first off, it is important to realize that Market Momentum is now down. Globally.

In general, the better bet is for falling stocks. Taking the “Bear” side of trades.

But in general, the theme of Momentum Monday is to try to find those instruments (stocks, ETFs, whatever) that have upward momentum for a ‘long side’ trade. That’s not easy in a falling context. It is even harder when that “fall” has only been running for a week or two.

The way markets roll over is not uniform. It starts with the worst and weakest stocks first, then it slowly works up the quality chain taking down ever more “safe” stocks. In the limit case in a panic, even the best of the best are sold for cheap. The common trap is to have one stock roll over on you and then buy into one that is ‘still going up’ only to have it roll over. Repeat until 100% of stocks are falling and you have taken a down trip in several in a row, losing more than if you had just ridden one down. It is VERY important to guard against that “serial dropping” when market momentum rolls over.

So if we look at the USA market over a 3 month period, there is a lot of green (even with the recent roll down). But as we look at one month, then one week periods, much more red. The goal is to find something so strong it can fight that falling tide. Not easy. Generally I don’t bother. I step out of generally falling markets and just wait. Much safer. (On my ‘someday’ list of skills to develop is getting good at shorting during those times; but I have an irrational dislike of shorting based on it being “wrong” to borrow someone else’s stock and sell it out from under them….)

In general, just realize that going long when the market is falling is a Very Bad Idea and it is much better to pick your targets, but wait for the broad market bottom indication prior to making a ‘buy’.

At any rate, here are broad market captured images for the four time periods so you can see how the rollover creeps to ever more companies:


3 Month

Finviz 3 month 14 May 2012

Finviz 3 month 14 May 2012

1 Month
Finviz 1 month 14 May 2012

Finviz 1 month 14 May 2012

1 week
Finviz 1 week 14 May 2012

Finviz 1 week 14 May 2012


Finviz 1 day 14 May 2012

Finviz 1 day 14 May 2012

Got it? BAD idea to buy anything “long” at this time.

On this chart of ETFs that are “going up” you can see that it is “short funds” and Natural Gas UNG and not much else.


FInviz ETF 1 week 14 May 2012

FInviz ETF 1 week 14 May 2012

These charts are all 2 x the linear size, so clicking on one gets you something readable. Click on the links to Finfiz and the individual cells ‘zoom in’ and become active to give you data about individual tickers of interest.

One Month Rising


I’ve picked tickers that have been rising over the month. A few have been pitched out simply because they looked like a ‘pop and flat’ as some news hit. Others might have not looked stable or had a ‘penny stock’ price. With that said, I’ve not done any ‘vetting’ of these tickers. They all ought to have the news flow on them checked and the financials inspected prior to a ‘buy’ decision. Still, these ARE going up in a down market context.

Here’s a live chart from

Live chart of tickers with one month of upward movement on 14 May 2012

Live chart of tickers with one month of upward movement on 14 May 2012

And here is the next 10:

1 Month rising group 2 on 14 May 2012

1 Month rising group 2 on 14 May 2012

There are more “bubbles” below those that are still green, so one could make another 10 or 20 ‘picks’ if desired. But I suspect that this 30 or so is likely ‘enough’ for one posting…

Third traunch rising 1 month 14 May 2012

Third traunch rising 1 month 14 May 2012

So if you pick any of those tickers, be sure to make a chart with those in it and check it daily for a ‘failure to advance’ or starting to drop. It is important to ride a hot ticker while it rises, but get off when it turns against you (and the “shorts” borrow YOUR stock from your account and sell it in a ‘short sale’ out from under you… Yes, YOUR stock. That “hypothecate” in your account agreement means shorts can sell YOUR stock, drive the price down, then buy it back from you later when YOU finally give up and sell…)

Many of these charts do have a nice “look” to them, so I suspect you can find a 1/2 dozen decent tickers to try, even in a general down market; but remember that no ride is forever and “when the cops come they take the good girls out with the bad”, so never think your ticker can not drop on you. As soon as it changes from “higher highs” to “failure to advance”, step out. You can always step back in if it starts to behave again. DO watch out for earnings announcements. Often a hot stock will pause just before earnings, then shoot up. You don’t want to step out on THAT pause and miss the jump up! (Bigcharts has a ‘show earnings’ choice under the upper indicator selection that puts a E on the chart on earnings dates.)

Now, for anyone using this, if you DO do the homework and look up a ticker and find you like it, be sure to report back on what you found and why! Or if one is a ‘stinker’ on meth, let us all know that, too.

Doing the same “pick green bubbles of the 1 month chart” but with ETFs shows several “Ultra short” or leveraged short tickers. These are NOT for investing, just rapid trades. (over long periods of time the ‘value’ in them tends to evaporate as option ‘time value’ evaporates. Many of these use a portfolio of some bonds with some option contracts to make a synthetic leveraged version fo the basic ticker. It tracks well short term, but slowly evaporates longer term.) So be careful, OK?

Mostly short (or ultra short) stocks and some energy tickers. Long natural gas and even an “ultra” bond fund. I’d likely be more comfortable working down into the lower level of less leveraged ETF tickers from the link:

Mousing over each button and waiting gives a mini-chart of each ticker. Picking those that have recent rise gives some bond funds along with things like “short silver” and others.

Selected ETFs up 1 month

Selected ETFs up 1 month

Again, be cautious with anything “ultra” or leveraged. While these things eliminate corporate specific risks, there’s still a lot of risk and any ticker can turn on you just as soon as some rich whale decides to buy or sell.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Economics - Trading - and Money and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Momentum Monday

  1. Pascvaks says:

    – One question (of sorts;-) that I have about what you’ve covered above: Does anything seem out of kilter to you about the way the Market is currently regulated on these type of sales? Are Joe D’Plumber (et al Chiefio’s) v. JP Morgan (et al BIG Kahuna’s) pretty much equal? I’d think that Ol’ JP & Friends (especially Friends with Chinese Treasury Backing) has the big advantage and this slice of the biz is pretty much for the BIG BOYS. If so, why have it? What ‘good’ does it do to have JP & Friends shaking things up whenever they feel like it? Is there a Great Market Benefit to this type of trading by these Giants?

    – Would think your daily updates are enough to keep anyone busy and leave little time for much more… but… if you do find a moment to leave a someday ‘lesson’ seperate page covering the subject, would really be interested in what you think the biggest, self-inflicted (Federal) problems are with the American Market Place (how we do it today vs what would be better). Oppppppps.. I’m getting the feeling I just asked for something BIG, maybe better to just include a “little” piece of a lesson, as always, in your comments. But if you find the time…. some day…. maybe….?;-)

  2. E.M.Smith says:


    Well, you have asked several different questions (some of which I suspect you see as one question… economics is like that. Like asking “Do you like your familiy?” ;-)

    The questions, as I see them:

    1) Does something look ‘out of kilter’ (or ‘manipulated’) to me?

    2) What is the impact of LARGE traders?

    3) What is the impact of HIGH FREQUENCY traders?

    4) What is the impact of WELL CONNECTED traders?

    5) What is the DEGREE of ‘well connectedness’?

    6) How does this relate to The Fed and Federal regulations?

    7) How does this relate to The Typical Joe and Jane?

    8) Good or Bad bits, and how to make more good and less bad?

    9) Is there enough competition on the Big scale to keep things fair?

    10) How do I manage the time management?

    If you had a different question than one of those, let me know and I’ll “try again”…

    First, time management: Yes, it takes time. But after a few decades of watching markets a lot of it is now a “built in function” in the back of the mind that “just runs”. So during market hours I usually have Bloomberg, CNBC, and Fox Business along with one of { CNN | Fox News | Al Jazeera | Mosaic | Local News } depending on what the current hot button area of news might be.

    I usually also have the computer running with my “log in to trade” window ready and a Bigcharts window or three… (In some cases I use my own postings for that function so I just do a ‘refresh’ on a page with 4 live charts in it and I’ve got my ‘fast view’ of what is happening).

    Now I’ll get up and cook breakfast, make tea or coffee, wash the breakfast dishes, find my socks, etc. DURING that process the TV is talking… sometimes I’ll click a window or two. It all gets synthesized. Once an idea / understanding “gels”, making a posting out of it takes about 30 minutes (sometimes less especially if a ‘model’ posting exists… so the first Energy Humpday posting was 30 minutes or so, the next one will be about 10 minutes of copy, past, text change. In between adding a comment like “oil flat with slight fall on higher volume” is about 20 seconds… So on busy days / times you get some comments; on slower days a new posting based on a prior model; on very slow days, the whole WSW enchilada and / or brand new postings with new ideas and content areas.

    About “market close” I’m done with the market focus. “Fast Money” from CNBC goes to tape for review “as desired” and sometimes I’ll catch up on Al Jazeera and Mosaic in the evening. CNBC World is sometimes on to keep up with Europe / Asia at various times between 3 pm and 3 am PST / PDT. Often it is just “in the jump loop” and when the main TV program hits commercials, I “jump” to it and in a couple of minutes see if anything of importance is happening.

    In short: Lots of “fast cuts” that mostly just report “What you expected – move along” and take little time. Every so often a WTF? moment and a couple of hours figuring out “what changed?”…
    Overall time load about 3 – 4 hours a day. ( i.e. less than most folks “day jobs”).

    Then there’s the fact that I type fast. Don’t know exactly how fast and depends on the precision. Not as fast as the spouse (who could jam up an IBM Selectric… so something like 80+wpm) and I’d guess between 50 wpm and 70 wpm. If folks want full spell check and grammar check and near zero typo’s, that drops to 20-25 wpm (which goes a long way to explain why if the subconscious that does the typing puts “Guilts” in for “UK Gilts” as it finds it to be a bit of a ‘funny’… I don’t care all that much when someone discovers it; and why I don’t care at all if I typed “affect” and it ought to have been “effect” or put in { its | it’s | its’ } for whatever one is “right”. Folks can generally figure it out and frankly most folks don’t care. Certainly not enough “value added” to justify cutting the volume in half or doubling the time sink for me…)

    1) Manipulated?

    Hell yes! In fact, my “style” had to change when the “uptick rule” was eliminated and we got old fashioned “Bear Raids” back. We’ve now moved to a “Fattest Wallet Wins” system.

    IMHO it is no longer safe for “Long term investors” unless they take some particular care and check market activity at least once a week and preferably daily.

    There are VERY clear indications in market price movements of such Whales forcing price moves. They include massive down days on volume at market tops ( watch for price bars to become ‘very short’ and the slope of the line to go flat. A few days later a giant down spike. Then a pause, and about 3 days in another. Followed by consistent selling to force a panic.) That’s a Whale conducting a Bear Raid. Those were much harder to do with an uptick rule as they could not sell in volume until a ‘natural buyer’ bought at a one tick higher price. (When ticks were 1/4 or 1/8 dollar). During the move to pennies the major trading houses complained that a ‘penny tick’ made the uptick rule irrelevant and it ought to be removed. It was removed.

    IMHO they just needed to define a ‘shorting tick limit’ of 25 cents….

    SO as of right now, a Whale can borrow 25% of all stock volume in some stock and sell it in one moment. Think that will drive the price down? Think that will cause a panic selling by others? WHEN another 25% finishes the panic selling, they buy back at a low price. Classical bear raid.

    Goldman Sachs has been accused of doing Naked Short Selling where they don’t even bother to borrow the shares (your account agreement will have a ‘hypothecate’ right for your broker, that lets them lend your shares to a short seller to sell… or just sell them themselves… and buy them back when you, scared, give your sell order… So they sell your $100 stock, you panic as price drops to $80 and you “sell at $80” and they give you $80 and call it done, putting $20 in their pocket. Nice, eh?

    Consider, too, that large chunks of money are now traded via “Dark Pools” with no visibility into who and what. Other large chunks are in the hands of OPEC countries and their traders (so outside US law) and traded via proxy holders (often holding companies.) Then there is the massive growth of hedge funds (who go both long and short – think bear raiders…) and the huge growth in “high frequency” and “computer driven trades” (now making 75% of daily volume most days) and it is simply a FACT that the market is largely driven by folks (and computers…) that are NOT investors.

    I basically had to learn to be a hedge fund manager just to keep the family accounts safe. I go long / short. I have a tendency to “swing trade” rather than “buy and hold”. etc.

    My major “method” of timing is based on the notion that the TRADERS in those large pools look at the same indicators ( or have their computers programed to look at those indicators) and so I can project when they are likely to shift POV. When prices top having uptrend, they step aside. Then, about 3 days later, when the sell has settled, watch out for a ‘big short’…

    I’ve also spotted ‘bumps’ in the “carry trade currency du jour” on those trades. For a while it was easy as the BOJ had the Yen at 1/4% or effectively 0% most of the time. Now that the USD is also near zero, it’s harder to spot currency wiggle as the ‘carry trade’ is spread around more.

    So think about that. SOMEONE is making big enough trades they would move the Yen by a couple of cents on the dollar. Hmmmm….. Yeah, they are big enough to manipulate prices and there is nothing to effectively prevent them from doing so. The “Crash” in 2008 was faster and more brutal than in prior years entirely due to those changes in the uptick / shorting rules and the allowance of Whales to manipulate at liberty. The computer driven trade instabilities lead to the “Flash Crash” as well. ( it was about 20% down in one part of a day… That was NOT Joe and Jane Sixpack taking shares out of the safe deposit bank and walking them in to their dealer… nor was it “home gamers” trading on their laptop after getting home from work and having dinner…)

    So since it’s not being fixed, may as well find a way to adjust to it.

    2) Impact of large traders:

    There are three major large traders. Each has a different impact.

    Hedge Funds are as described above. Going long and short, and in many cases destabilizing on a fast basis for their own gain. I’d put the High Frequency Traders using computer games in the same group.

    Market Makers / Brokers. Like Goldman Sachs. Can destabilize some and more importantly can easily trade THEIR book against you. They are NOT your friend. Yes, there is a ‘fiduciary responsibility’ to keep an orderly market and the ‘market maker’ MUST buy or sell for most orders if there is no natrual counterparty; but they can do so any any price they wish (as long as not tooo obviously abusive. So a stock trading at $11 and an unmatched ‘sell’ comes in, they can buy at $10.50, but if they clip you to $5 and then bounce it back up to $11… well if you notice you can lodge an ethics complaint with the regulatory bodies and echanges…)

    So the rules that let GS have a market making broker on the floor AND trade their book AND issue ‘recommendations’ to favored Fat Wallets before letting others know what they are up to… think their is any incentive to “manipulate’ just a little? So you see things like GS shorting some stock on ‘their book’ at near the top (small price ranges, flat price curve after a rise), then a couple of days later they announce publicly a downgrade on that stock… and if you ONLY had signed up as a Whale Special Client would have gotten that notice a bit earlier…

    Then there are Large Fund Managers. For all the folks working and putting $200 / month in their 401k that goes into some set of funds. That adds up to a lot of money. CALPERS has $Billions (and large ones…) to keep invested for all the California Public Employees retirement. These tend to be more slow and steady and without large impacts. But they can take the other side from a GS or a HFT or a Whale. They add a tiny bit of discipline.

    If a Hedge Fund is busy shorting into oblivion (at one point more shares were sold short than existed, per the CEO, so someone was ‘naked shorting’ – and they have accused GS IIRC) and someone else at CALPERS thinks it’s going to make a decent amount of earnings, the CALPERS guy might start buying O.S. as a ‘value investment’ when shorted low enough in price by The Whales and Hedgies. That’s where you see the “Dead Cat Bounce” at the end of a drop. The Funds start to buy and the Hedgies ‘buy to cover’ the short.

    In theory, these three groups provide enough competition to each other to keep things fair and help “price discovery” to lead to accurate prices. That was more or less true until the Uptick Rule was removed and HFT / Hedgies became a significantly large part of the market (those machine trades at 75%+ of all trades…) Now it is more that prices are an oscillator and you MUST pay attention to that to not get creamed.

    Why? Because the Average Joe and Jane make decisions Exactly Backwards from those Whales. You look for something rising nicely for “long enough” that if “feels safe”. That is exactly when it is ‘overpriced enough to short aggressively’; so the Home Investor buys just before it gets shorted down 20%… Then they don’t sell as they ‘feel it has value in it’ until the Hedgies have shorted to the point where emotions just can’t stand it. That’s when Joe and Jane give up and sell. Just in time for a “dead cat bounce”. Basically, your “time scale” is set too long and your long trend sense gets walloped by their short term swinging.

    So a lot of what I do is simply to look for patterns of ‘how fast the swing?’ and ‘when is the Whale and Hedgie likely to short?” Basically, predict their manipulative behaviours.

    3) HFT impact: I think I’ve covered that above, mostly.

    In theory they help ‘rapid price discovery’ via detecting things like a 1/4 point difference between Chicago and NYC prices and buy / selling a $100 Million in a few seconds. The reality is that they can also induce instabilities like the Flash Crash. That resulted in another round of new regulations that hope to restabilize. Which will work until it doesn’t…

    IMHO simply having all trades over some dollar amount or over some frequency go through a floor broker ‘would be a good thing’. They have the power to halt a stock in imbalances. They can call up a Fund Whale and generate volume on the offsetting side. In essence, they can “make a market” when the HFT is tossing so much in milliseconds that there is no time to ‘make a market’.

    4) Well connected traders get to ‘front run’ the broad market. Some Saudi Sheik calls up GS and says he wants to sell $10 Billion of Citigroup. Think maybe GS services his order just a little better than yours? Think GS has to clear HIS order before it can publicly say it is downgrading C? (If they announced a C downgrade BEFORE dumping that stock, think Mr. Sheik would take his $500 Billion account somewhere else?…)

    Furthermore, if Senator FooBar gets a call from his friend at GS and just happens to say Sen. F.B. is working on a regulation to screw the hospital companies via regulation… think that GS rep will whisper to the “Blind Trust” manager of Sen. F.B. to dump any hospital stocks? Think GS will then ‘clear their book’ and maybe even buy puts or sell short? Yeah, insider information and illegal (mostly). Yet congress was exempt from insider trading rules… Hmmm… So think when Sen F.B. calls up and says “Buy Paving Companies we’re gonna pass a $Trillion ‘shovel ready’ stimulus bill!!!” since HE is protected that makes the GS trade protected … and if GS just happens to put a load of calls in place as they make that legal trade for Sen F.B. they are safe? After all, they are not trading based on legal information…

    What can you do? Just watch for the fingerprints and adjust. Surprise volume changes. Interesting spikes in options on a given stock. Etc.

    They get an added point or two, but if you spot it you can get in on the trend.

    5) At this point, I’d guess that about 10% of market volume is “well connected” trades. Combined with the 75% HFT / machine trades, you are at about 15% left over for all the actual investor trades… or less.

    6) The Fed and federal regulators:

    The Fed decisions move markets. In theory it is all kept secret until public announcement. I’m not so sure. With the revelation that Congress Critters were exempt from Insider Trading rules many things became clear. How folks like Madam Clinton managed to make a few $Million off of nearly nothing as a stake. How “Friends of the Treasury” and “Friends of the Fed” seemed to do better than the rest of us. IMHO there is grounds for suspicion, but not enough to indict.

    The Regulators are typically running about a decade behind the traders. With the removal of the uptick rule they took us back to 1925 or so. (Gee… then shortly after that we had the 2008 crash…) Then they shoved “Mark to Market” at the banks and insurance companies and pretty much assured that a Classical Bear Raid could take down the banks via shorting their capital securities, forcing a mark to market downgrade, repeat until dead.

    So, IMHO, either the economic theorists behind the regulations are the most incredibly dumb and market illiterate folks ever; or they knew just what they were doing… IIRC, it was Friends of HFT, Friends of GS, and Friends of Other Brokers who all lobbied their Congress Critters for that “Financial Reform”….

    7 & 8) How does this impact J&J Sixpack and how to make it better.

    THE major impact is more volatile markets that move faster. The crash of 2008 was about 2 to 3 times as fast as prior crashes. No time for J&J to get out prior to the exact bottom. Such instability has caused them to “stay away in droves” and right now the Talking Heads are commenting on the “low retail volume”. Well Duh!

    How can I feel comfortable buying Macy’s stock at $24 knowing that a Hedgie might short it to $20 in 5 minutes while going long JCP in a ‘pair trade’? How can I feel comfortable buying HCP or even a medical insurance company knowing Congress is in session and THEY can front run me with insider information and it’s legal? How can I feel comfortable knowing that GS alumni are scattered all over Treasury and The Fed and The Administration (and “they’ve met” and “they talk”…) Effectively the market is now a giant casino and some folks get special treatment and have dinner with the Casino Owners…

    The only really good bits are that there are ways to spot the effects of the actions. To predict WHEN they will happen. So stocks trending up will not be subjected to a Bear Raid until the rise slows; and especially when price is well above the SMA stack. Stocks “shorted to oblivion” will have a ‘short cover’ buying bump (the “Dead Cat Bounce”) and that tells you when it is safe to buy them again. The opening volley of The Bear Raid is a large down spike in price, on volume, just after a period of flattish prices after a rise. etc.

    So by learning to watch the Whales dance, you can find when to leave the dance floor… and when to get on a particular ‘ride’. But you can’t just ignore it, and you certainly can’t react to it with the “normal J&J sensibilities” that are exactly wrong. (wrong because THAT is what the Whales and HFT are using against you…)

    So learn to read the charts, and learn to sift the News Flow for what it says the ‘insiders’ will be doing and learn to spot the ‘new fads’ the Hedgies will be jumping on and learn to think in those terms. It is NOT a market of equal buyers and selling reaching equilibrium after careful deliberations by millions of buyers and sellers…

    9) Is there enough competition to keep things fair?

    IMHO, no. At the limit cases it is “fair enough” so that folks doing 20 year investments into things like S&P 500 indexes and Bonds in a reasonable ratio will do “OK”. It is “fair enough” that large hedge fund managers can only “pluck” the public and the Mutual Fund Managers for a modest amount. But it is pretty clear that the “advantaged” players are the ones raking in the most. It is pretty clear that their size is enough to let them drive the market to their ends. And the only thing I can see is for the average guy to learn how to avoid being in the cattle drive.

    The good bit: The average J&J can be more nimble. I sell 100% of my portfolio and go to cash in 2 minutes and have zero impact on the market. A Whale with $100 Billion can’t do that. Now they will use that to their advantage via DRIVING prices, but if I see them dumping the first $1 Billion I can be “done” in 2 minutes while they take a week to finish. But that means you have to know what to watch for, and check Every Day.

    In Summary

    Sure the deck is stacked and it’s a rigged game. But it’s the only game in town. Where else you gonna get a poker game like that?


  3. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M.: In Summary

    Sure the deck is stacked and it’s a rigged game. But it’s the only game in town. Where else you gonna get a poker game like that?

    But what if the Casino owner closes the table?

    Back to work buddy! :-)

  4. E.M.Smith says:

    “Captain Renault. Close this place immediately!” Strasser…

    “I’m Shocked! Shocked I say, to discover gambling going on!” Renault…

    “Your winnings M. Renault!” – Croupier…

    IF they close the table, I’ll take my “winnings” and go visit the Blue Parrot for dinner and a bit of “side action”, returning the next day…

    And I shall remember to pay myself the carton of goods I owe myself ;-)

  5. Pascvaks says:

    Thank you EM, appreciate your time and knowledge. Wish I’d had you for an elective, or that year of Economics, back in the 60’s. Ain’t life a beach? Well, maybe next time;-)

  6. E.M.Smith says:

    An interesting “roller” in PG. Looks to me like trading on the “near a crossover” on MACD about every 2 months, gives about a $3 range. So on about $6500 the gain is $300 every few months.

    Hmm…… so 4% about 4 x a year or 16% …. Hmmm……

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