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Last week I presented a historical study of what happens when the S&P 500 is this far away from its 200 day moving average. If you missed it, click the link to check it out in full.
According to the study, when the stock market has trended enough to set off this indicator, it has trouble continuing its heady ways in the months that follow. The average 6 month return is -5%.
If you look at the data carefully, it becomes apparent that certain date ranges contain a lot of repeated instances where the S&P 500 index is 20% or more above its long term moving average. We’ve just traversed one of these periods from September 16th to the 22nd. Between those dates there were 5 consecutive days were the S&P 500 was at this threshold (or very very close).
The last time this occurred was at the end of July 1997. But the best example was of tenacity in this indicator was in late 1982, just as the great generational super bull market was launched. Although the expected consequence of such an overbought condition is for the market to hit a wall, or at least to pause, during the start of the great bull market, this was not the case. While it continuously flashed red, the stock market continued to climb higher and higher, acting very out of character.
So the question is whether what we are seeing is a repeat of that atypical market action. In other words, do bull market rules apply?
Although there is no way for me or anyone else to prove it definitively one way or another, I highly doubt that what we are witnessing is the dawn of another rare secular bull market based on one variable: valuation.
I mentioned a lot of ratios, statistics and data before but putting all those numbers aside, here is a simple chart which sums up the strange voyage we have taken, from fully priced perfection to panic induced forced liquidation and back again:
That doesn’t look like a great launch pad for the next generational bull market. Heck, even bonds are priced for perfection. At best, we are going through a cyclical bull market - otherwise known as a bear market rally.
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