Fish Market

This market is fishy. I have been very suspicious of this last move up. Since last year, people have been asking me if I think the market will ever go back to where it was. The real question people are asking is: Will the price of my stock ever make it back to where I bought it? There are still many folks who are feeling the pain of being under in their investment accounts despite the last big upward move in the market. My answer is, of course the market will make its way back up. I just don’t know when.

I thought the bounce that had begun after Christmas would be a short bounce before a big flush in January before we’d go up again. Nope. Thanks to a combination of positive factors, we just went straight up and in a big way.

This market has done my head in. There are many conflicting factors happening in the world impacting the economy that have a lot of financial experts arguing over the next direction of the market. As much as I’d like to take a position here or there, I’d been waiting for the market to take a breather and reset itself. It just continued to head up and up. All I can do is look at the charts for some guidance.

This is the S&P 500 Index on four different time frames. Each time frame tells me something different.

A: Daily Chart

We are trading above the 200-day moving average (MA) as seen by the little green squiggly line in Chart A. This means that the market is trading above the average closing price levels of the last 200 days. (Please note that this line could appear differently in other charts for explanations beyond the scope of this blog.)

This is normally a sign of a positive trend over the last 200 days (you can also use 100-day MA or 50-day MA, etc.). More conservative investors typically feel confident to be holding positions above this level. To trade below this would make investors more cautious. Given how quickly we got to this place (40 trading days at this point), I would say that most people wouldn’t feel too confident that we’re gearing to go up again without some challenges.

B: Weekly Chart

We have gone directly up for nine straight weeks with very little selling. We are now approaching areas where we had previously tried to go up further in October, November, and December last year — but failed to. I drew arrows where there will likely be minor sell-offs and attempts to move up again.

C: Monthly Chart

Big severe price swings in either direction as depicted in this sloppy monthly time frame usually means volatility. If I were to go by this chart alone, I’d say that the market is not stable.

Personally, I have been whipsawed out of positions when I tried to buy stocks with charts that looked like this. The trades with the best moves usually come from charts that have stabilized over a narrow price range for some time. This chart tells me to stay away from trading for a while and wait for some stability. However, if I do see an opportunity that seems too good to pass up, I would need to be really careful and use fewer shares with a shorter time horizon for my position.

D: Yearly Chart

You can look at this chart in two ways.

While you could say that we’ve gone straight up since 2009, we did have a small reset in 2015-2016. You could argue that this reset was enough to give us another burst of equal measure. If this is the case, we could just keep going straight just a tad beyond 3000.00.

If you’re cautious or even doubtful of the above scenario, then you would have noticed the big red candle that I’ve circled. It has a large topping tail which means a lot of selling happened here. From a technical standpoint, this pattern usually signifies the start of a reversal move down or a pause in the upward trend.

My Humble Opinion

As much as I feel better that we’ve been positive in the market, my gut tells me it’s not done flushing out all the over-buying that’s happened the last few years. It was fun cashing out on stocks late last year; however, there are still many investors who bought at the top who have not benefited from the last nine weeks. These folks are still itching to get out of their positions. The pain from the last moves down is still all too fresh. It would take a lot more for them to remain in their positions or even feel confident enough to invest again.

I’m actually really hoping that we’ll come back down below the lows of 2018. A substantial correction on a longer time frame usually means we’ll find way more buying opportunities after prices have come down more. Then we could count on another good move up in the market and hold our positions for longer stretches. If this correction on the yearly chart does not happen, I would at least like to see some more stable sideways action in the market before we were to move up again.

Couples and Money Management

In the last month or so, JP and I have been revisiting our life goals. Since relocating and finding work, we now have a better grip on our financial situation and therefore can make better projections on our finances.

We basically wrote down our goals in order of importance and plotted them along a timeline. Our plans are quite ambitious but within the realm of possibility. We figured how much money and time we’d need to achieve each goal. It’s not that we haven’t done this before, but after going through a big transition like moving, it was good for us to check in to see whether we’re still on track. When life gets busy, it’s easy to forget your ‘why.’ If you wander too far off from your plans, your spending gets sloppy and problems arise from there. It was a good exercise in getting refocussed on what we want.

We also made adjustments to how we monitor our spending. We created a shared spreadsheet on Google that we can each access on our phones and computers. Whenever we buy something or pay a bill, we enter it on the spreadsheet. We considered using mint.com to track our spending and savings, but it can’t properly factor in all of our investment accounts where we put all of our savings. I don’t really mind having to do things more manually as it’s more interactive. Doing things this way encourages us to talk more about our expenses, which ultimately has led us to make huge improvements in our strategies.

Couples have their own ways of managing money. Some couples split every shared expense down the middle to the cent, and save and spend the rest how they see fit. Some couples rely on one spouse to do most or all of the money managing. We try to do everything together. There isn’t one right way to do this, as long as it works well.

JP and I try to account for everything. When we want to buy something extra, we pitch to the other one like it’s Dragon’s Den. This, I recognize, is not how most people want to operate! Keep in mind that we normally use up all of our savings to invest. Anything frivolous takes away from each other’s ability to buy stocks, so it better be good. We still treat ourselves, as long as we budget for it. As much as we like talking about stocks and the markets, talking about our financial logistics is just as important.

Within days of determining that one of our goals is to invest in a snowbird property within the next year, we booked ourselves to go to Costa Rica to start looking around. I love goals!

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Having said all that, we both just transferred money to each of our TFSAs. We spent this morning looking for some decent picks, but we can’t find anything worth investing in this week. The only good ones were in the gold sector, but right now neither of us is interested in the goldies. The market has gone straight up for almost two months and needs to take a breather. If the market resets on the monthly or weekly charts, we might find better picks — at least we’ll be funded and ready for when the opportunity is there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trading Dreams and Stocks to Watch

Trading Dreams Can Reveal Good Ideas 

I have always been prone to having work dreams after I’ve been at a place for a while. When I was a very active trader, price charts were a constant occurrence in my dreams in which they had the strangest capacities. For instance, I couldn’t open a door until a stock price went up another 50 cents. Or I couldn’t get to a party until I made $1000 on a trade, so I’d have three trades open. Weird stuff like that.

I had one profound dream where I was talking to my buddy about stocks. In real life, I knew he had gambled unsuccessfully on penny stocks and sports. In this dream, we were catching up while looking at a glass wall that had a stock chart on it.

He told me that he stopped wasting his time on penny stocks. Instead, he decided to keep things simple. He bought the stock of a company that made sense to him. This company started to become successful rather quickly. Every time he had extra savings, he would just buy more shares and increase his position. Over the next five years, the stock kept going higher in share price. As he explained this, the chart on the glass wall started to grow live on a timeline. The chart finally stopped moving once it reached the present day. At that point, he was up $18,000 with that one stock.

Scaling In

While I don’t believe it’s a good idea to put all your money into one stock, I do believe in the strategy of adding to a good position. At the time of this dream, I wasn’t confident enough in my own methods to add to any position. If anything, I was exiting too soon. Over the years, I got over my fears; it eventually became a practice I employ in the situations I feel most confident in.

I’ll often decide on a stock because I like the chart and its sector. My initial strategy might be shorter term. I might sell shares to take profits or lighten my position and just keep some shares for the longer term. Other times, I’ll change my outlook. If the chart and the stock show more potential for longer term growth, I’ll buy more shares of it at the next opportune setup.

I don’t think of investment decisions in definite terms because there’s no way to predict exactly how much you’re going to make. I like the idea of interacting with your investments over time in order to be fluid with the demands of the market or to take advantage of new opportunities that come up.

My Own Stocks

The market has been doing a nicely controlled correction – thankfully, it hasn’t dropped rapidly. I don’t know if it will react further to the news next week if we find out for sure that interest rates will go up. The market doesn’t like surprises, so if interest rates do go up, then there should be no major shock to the market. If anything, the anticipated news is already priced into the market and we can move on once it comes out.

I’ve been casually looking for stocks, yet I haven’t been very inspired by much of what I’ve seen out there. When this happens, I become more interested in watching how the stocks in my own TFSA portfolio are doing. Some of them are either consolidating nicely or seem to be doing their own thing. Here are some of my stocks that I might scale into:

  • ZPR.TO
  • MSI.TO
  • ECN.TO

These other ones I’ll be watching for more confirmations from the sector and/or market:

  • BBD.B.TO
  • EXE.TO
  • TECK.TO
  • APH.TO

This week, I was actually considering buying shares of APH.TO for the RRSP, but it’s not quite ready yet. I know this one is capable of developing really good patterns. Once I see the trading range tighten, the selling volume lessen, and a pattern improvement on the daily and weekly charts, then I’ll pick the price I’d like to enter at and I’ll put in an order. I’ll give it another couple of weeks. If it ends up going up while I’m waiting for these things to align, I won’t be too concerned if I miss the run. It will either set up again later or I’ll find something else.


N.B.

The last thing I want to do is to make stock calls for the purpose of getting others to pump up my own stocks. I tend to pick stocks that trade higher in volume, so price jumps are less likely to occur unless A LOT of investors step in. I lack that kind of influence – this is a low-key blog, not BNN. I expect investors to do their own necessary due diligence before making investment decisions.

 

The Transparent RRSP: Share Prices & Flash Crashes

Action taken the week of June 5
  • Bought 20 shares of TransAlta (TA.TO) for 7.74. This cost me $154.80 + 0.20 cents of commission. I now have 45 shares of TA. There is $16.90 in cash left in the RRSP account.

If you buy a stock at different times and at different prices, then it makes sense to figure out the average cost of the shares. The previous 25 shares of TA were purchased at $7.63 per share. I’ve worked it out below:

  • 25 shares * $7.63 = $190.75 + $0.25 commission = $191
  • 20 shares * $7.74 = $154.80 + $0.20 commission = $155
  • $191 + $155 = $346
  • $346 / 45 total shares = $7.69

This is also known as the adjusted cost base, or ACB. I use the share price of $7.69 to determine how much I make in profits (or losses) when I sell the shares at a different price later on.

If I want to determine just the average price of the shares, I can do the same thing, only I leave out the commission fees. It works out to be $7.68. It doesn’t seem like much of a difference, but that’s only because my commissions are extremely low.


Flash Crashes

Yesterday the Canadian market closed positive. We traded sideways all week. Not much action, which I prefer. The US market, mainly the NASDAQ, however, experienced a flash crash. I saw the charts and so I had to see what the news had to say about it. They explained that the mega-cap tech stocks (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google – aka FAANG) were starting to sell off. They weren’t the only ones selling off hard before the crash. The semiconductor stocks (SMH is a semi-conductor ETF in case you’re interested in viewing its chart) were selling off heavily after noon. It had been a long while since the tech sector had shown any major weakness.

After hitting new highs this week, investors were starting to collect profits and play defence by unloading some shares to be less exposed to a sell-off. Well, if enough investors with large holdings (particularly institutional investors) get the same idea, this triggers a mass sell-off. These sales which began around noon triggered the automated trading programs to sell later on in the day, which led to an overall big sell-off in the market. This domino effect happens when giant stocks fall; sometimes even one giant stock can affect the general market. The NASDAQ market lost its last three weeks of gains in minutes. It recovered partially at the end.

I have shares in a few of these tech stocks and I was thinking this week, “Wow, I can’t believe it just keeps going up! When will it come to an end?” I had sold some shares to collect profits a few weeks ago; I was left with the disappointing feeling that I had acted a little too soon. However, I did so because I was anticipating this. (If you’ve been reading my blogs, then you know this isn’t hindsight commentary.) I’ve lived through enough flash crashes to know that I’d rather make my decisions away from such events, not in reaction to them. I still have some shares left in these stocks, but I’ll see how they do over the next couple of weeks.

The Canadian market came down a bit in reaction, but it came back and closed positively. These flashes tend to be more pronounced in the US markets. Because the US market is so big, a crash can affect the global markets if sustained recovery doesn’t follow.

It’s events like this that could deter people from wanting to ever invest in the market in the first place. These things can happen in any market, though, because people are prone to panic. Rather than cave into your feelings and react out of fear of the worst to come, it’s best to try to be objective: Observe the sentiment of other investors and see how your holdings are doing on the bigger time frames like the monthly charts. There is a good chance that your charts are still looking healthy. A correction here and there is to be expected as nothing ever goes straight up. All I can say to all that is to keep calm and let your stock carry on!

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The Transparent RRSP: Month-end Market Read

Action for the week of April 24
  • I transferred another $150.00 to the RRSP account’s current cash of $29.90, which will give me $179.90 for the month of May.

I also didn’t do anything for the RRSP last week (the week of April 17). I mainly sold more shares of other stocks in my TFSA. I was feeling exposed having so many stocks at a time that I feel the market is going to have a correction. The fact that I still have 28 stocks in this account is still a head-scratcher. I managed to make a decent profit on some of these, so I’m sitting on more cash than I have in a long while.


Marks

The XIC and SPY ETFs on freestockcharts.com

The Canadian Market

You can see on the XIC that the Canadian market has just been trading sideways. At the time of writing this, there still remains one more trading day this month. There is usually a lot of selling at around month-end mainly because funds are re-balancing their portfolios for cash to pay investors. So, it remains to be seen how we’ll close, but I don’t think it will be too far off from where we closed last month.

The Canadian market has been lagging the US market this year so far. It’s not a surprise. Check out the two bottom charts where I drew the circles. Upon quick visual inspection, you can see we covered way more distance in 2016 than the US market. We (our economy and our loonie) got beat up so badly from the underperformance of oil/energy in 2015, that we had so much room to climb up and recover. And that we did. Our sectors in energy, mining, and finance gave great performances.

Every good run needs a break to slow down and catch its breath. If I want to find out what is making the market do what it’s doing, or where the market could be heading, I will look at the major players. I’ll either check out the sector ETFs, or the biggest companies in the influencing sectors.

For this scenario, I’m keeping an eye on the banks, all of which are in the process of a correction. It could be just a bit of a selloff, or it could be a substantial selloff that will keep going until mid-late summer or fall. Now, don’t go on selling your dividend-paying bank stocks – I’m just saying keep an eye on them if you want to have a better gauge as to where the market is going.

I will suggest that if you’re interested in accumulating more shares in bank stocks, you might want to wait a while for the prices to come down more and have settled down for a bit before going up again. I am a huge fan of waiting for new buying opportunities and I will wait months, even years, to get into good stocks.

The US Market

I can’t invest or trade or think anything stock-related without looking at “the SPY,” the most popular American S&P 500 Index ETF. It’s more out of habit having used it so much for day trading than it is out of necessity. I look at it to get the feel for the market, its momentum, and its sentiment. It often is quite off from the actual S&P 500 Index, but it’s where the action is at. This is where I discovered the importance of monitoring trade volume.

I never look at the SPY without looking at the QQQ, the NASDAQ Index ETF. Plus, I never look at “the Qs” without looking at some of its big players/action stars: Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, etc. I attribute the US market’s most recent run, not as much to its new president (but I’m sure he’ll take full credit for it, very true), but to the technology sector. I’m sure this would stir a lot of debate, but I’m speaking from an on-the-ground perspective because I own a few tech stocks.

The tech sector has been the leading sector over the last year, so it’s important to keep an eye on it along with its biggest stocks. You can watch the Qs and the tech ETF, XLK and the semiconductor ETF, SMH. When observing the big players in tech, look out for shifts in volume and ask is the buying volume is lessening? is the selling volume increasing? or whenever the prices drop, is there a lot of buying or just a little?

I would also be watching the US financial sector’s ETF, XLF. Like Canada’s, the US financial sector has been pulling back the last couple of months. If tech starts to come down along with the financials, then I’d expect a more prominent correction in the US market before more new buying opportunities start presenting themselves again.


This is my process and how I see the market. I’m always trying to find clues that indicate optimism (buying), euphoria (heavy buying with big price moves), panic (heavy selling with quick and large drops in price), pessimism (selling), or neutrality (lower volume, sideways trading).

I still hear over and over that timing the market is useless. I don’t look at it as ‘timing’ because it’s not a science, nor is it something you can accurately measure. It’s more about reading the market. Investors’ feelings and sentiment move the markets, not numbers. I hope that one day, more people will see it this way and learn how to invest with the flow.