Short Selling

There are so many different ways to make money in the stock market. The most basic way with stock shares is to buy them low enough and then sell them at a higher price later.

Did you know that it’s possible to make money in the reverse? You can sell shares in the market at a higher price first and then buy them back at a lower price later. This is called short selling.

The concept of short selling had me confused at first. I’d only heard that it was something a lot of traders did when they anticipated a drop in stock prices. None of it made sense until I executed my first short sale.


My First Short 

Many years ago, a certain company messed up royally and was getting a lot of bad press. Shareholders were selling in a panic and the share price was dropping in high volumes. I saw that the price was at around $76 and I believed it would go down more. I lined up my order to sell 600 shares at the current market price and I hit, “Short.”

After that, the price fell considerably. In the order box I clicked on, “Cover,” and I bought back 600 shares at the new market price of $74.75. That is a share price difference of $1.25. With 600 shares, I made $750, excluding commissions.

Broken down, it looks like this:

  • I short sell 600 shares for $76 per share (600 x $76 = $45,600). By doing that, I’m borrowing the shares from my brokerage to sell in the market for that price;
  • The share price falls;
  • Then I buy back (or cover) 600 shares at the current price of $74.75 (600 x 74.75 = $44,850)
  • At the end of my trade, those borrowed shares are returned to my broker. I get to keep the difference in the short sale for a profit of $750;
  • $45,600 – $44,850 = $750.

Despite the order at which the transactions occurred, the concept of buying low (at $74.75) and selling higher (at $76) is still preserved.


The Downside of Short Selling

As great as it sounds to make money when share prices are heading down, short selling is a riskier practice. Here are some reasons to consider:

1.Many investors don’t short sell or even know what that is. This means you don’t always have the majority of the market on your side.

2. Shorting is made possible when your brokerage firm has the shares to loan you from its own inventory of stocks. These stocks are either from the firm’s own positions or from the positions of the firm’s clients. If your broker doesn’t have the shares to loan you, you cannot short sell the stock. You end up missing out.

3. The market is generally optimistic. This means the fear and panic don’t always last as long as you might hope to support your short sell. Price reversals can happen fast. You generally need to have a shorter time horizon for shorts and you need to be watching your positions more closely.

4. When you buy a stock in the standard fashion, the worst thing that can happen is that your share price drops to zero before you’re able to sell it. In this scenario, the most you can lose is the entire amount of your investment. When you short a stock, the share price can go up indefinitely — this means you can lose more than the entire amount of your original position. Potential unlimited losses is what makes shorting considered a high-risk practice.

5. Profits from short selling are normally taxed as income rather than as capital gains. This is not favourable taxation.

6. If the company that you’re short selling is paying out a dividend, you have to pay the dividends owing to your firm or to the client those shares are being borrowed from.


Why I Don’t Short Sell

The reasons above are enough to discourage me from shorting, though there are many more that I haven’t mentioned. Short selling is a more advanced way to make money in the stock market and is best left to the pros. I don’t short stocks anymore because I prefer to own them.

I normally don’t discuss short selling because it’s not for most people, not to mention it’s really confusing. I only feel like it’s relevant to discuss shorting in a market like the current one so that new investors can understand the additional reasons why the prices of their stocks might be going down so much. It’s not just from investors collecting profits or abandoning their stocks out of fear of losing more — it’s also from short sellers trying to profit.

After the short sellers have had their fun and after all the panic selling and pessimism have subsided, it usually takes a while for a stock to recover before going up again with more investor confidence. I’ve got my wish list of stocks to consider buying when all the selling is over, so I’m just waiting for good setups and a better market.


Alternatives to Short Selling

Even when the whole market is negative, I don’t always want to sell my stocks, nor do I short any stocks, as you already know. Sometimes to combat the downward funk, I will buy shares of inverse ETFs to make money in the interim.

Inverse ETFs are exchange-traded funds made up of more complex financial instruments that generate money when the market is moving down. Like a regular ETF, its movements mimic the market index ETF it is modelled after, however, it’s designed to go in the opposite direction. Basically, when the market index goes down, the inverse ETF goes up. 

Index ETFs are often created in a way to move up to 3 times more than the index performance or up to 3 times less. These differences in performance can either enhance your trade or really hurt it when you’re wrong.  You have to be careful and consider this when selecting ETFs.

I still regard buying an inverse ETF a very risky strategy as it’s still in theory ‘shorting’ the market. Also, inverse ETFs tend to have higher management fees because they consist of higher maintenance assets than most regular ETFs. Higher fees and MERs in funds diminish their value and overall returns. For this reason, I usually only buy and sell them for shorter-term swing trades.


Before investing in an inverse ETF or deciding to short sell anything, please consider the risks. At this point in time (it’s December 2018), I think the market will go up a bit more before it goes down again early in the new year. We’re so close to the year’s lowest trading levels of the US markets. I don’t think things will really start moving up again until we at least break below those 2018 levels first.

I know a lot of investors who have been feeling beat up and want to do something to save their portfolios. If you’ve been feeling this way for the last few months, the best thing to do at this point is to think of your future strategies for your portfolio and be ready for them once the market is more positive.

Remember that downswings and bear markets are a normal part of the cycle for stocks – nothing goes only in one direction forever. Going short now after the market has gone down so much is not only is riskier, the returns won’t be as great had you gone short in early fall.

The Transparent RRSP: Breakout, Breakdown

The week of December 18
  • I bought 35 shares of TPK.V at $6.55 on December 18. It cost $229.25 plus $0.35 in commissions. There is $11.86 in cash left in the RRSP account.
TPK

TPK.V price chart on freestockcharts.com

Last Monday, I put in a limit order to buy 35 shares of TPK.V at $6.55 and it was filled at that price. I was so glad as it went straight up right after…until it did a reversal on Wednesday. It’s now back to my entry price.

I did the above screenshot the day I bought the shares. I commented on the monthly chart that this stock could trade sideways even longer. Sometimes with these bottoming patterns, you’ll find that there are a few false takeoffs before it really takes off. My hope is that it continues to trade sideways for longer, offering even more entry opportunities to add to the position. That way, if and when it does take off, the upward move will have a better chance of being sustained even longer.

The market didn’t budge much this week and I don’t expect it will next week. Trade volume between Christmas and the new year is usually quite low. There might be a bit of selling, but I don’t plan on making any trade decisions within the next week.


Already people are posting with glee that they’re on vacation. I wish you all happy and safe holidays! I hope to catch up again next week when I’ll be in Vancouver. 

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The Transparent RRSP: Vacay

The week of November 27
  • I deposited $150 into the RRSP ahead of December. There is $351.89 cash in the RRSP account.

JP and I are going away for a week to Costa Rica (we’re going to the Pacific side). We decided to only bring our tablet and phones. Neither of us has plans to trade while we’re away. Our main focus is to relax, enjoy the warm weather, check out the real estate situation there, and read and swim at the beach. I might squeeze in some study time whenever I can. Derivatives and options have my brain turned in on itself – to take a week off could mean excruciating reviewing when I return.

The airfare was too hard to turn down: $770 CAD for both our tickets! Yes, we’re travelling at a time when the weather isn’t totally unbearable in Ontario yet. We do, however, plan to go to Florida in late February. That’s usually when the cabin fever is at its most intense and could use a warm disruption. Before I take off, I must, of course, look at the markets.


 

November markets

SPY, QQQ, DIA, XIU ETF charts on freestockcharts.com

 

I don’t know how the market will trade after the US Thanksgiving holiday. December could be positive because of a stronger retail sector around this time. The bearish correction in the fall that I was bracing/hoping for never came. (And that is why we trade the trend, even if we don’t believe it’s still there.)

The trade volume in the US markets seems to be coming down while the prices are going up. The confluence of those two factors often means that: 1) savvy investors start to take profits, and 2) the public starts asking those investors if it’s a good time to buy Apple. The best thing to do is wait for 3) to happen, which is an actual correction.

I was in the Caribbean on my first and last cruise in early 2015 when this happened:

Caribbean

XIC ETF on freestockcharts.com

When JP and I checked our email for the most expensive 10 minutes of our lives, we also checked the markets. At the time, we were only day trading, which meant we were holding no positions in our accounts. Although we weren’t losing money, we figured good opportunities would be short-lived. We were concerned about entering a more hostile trading environment in which small fish like us would get eaten by the bigger, well-funded fish.

After we returned and got our sea legs back, we looked at Canadian companies that traded on both Canadian and US stock exchanges. We discovered they were CHEAP. We bought just a few to hold long term and had a gangbuster year. I doubt the market will do that in the week that we’re gone. Perhaps next January?


I have some stock charts worth checking out:

  • FIRE.V (New and risky, but cheap. Take fewer shares.)
  • IMH.V (Same as above.)
  • TCW.TO
  • SSL.TO (I already have this in my RRSP.)
  • SMF.TO

Please check the company, the sector, the earnings, the market, and the fundamentals that you think are important. Always do your due diligence to trade with confidence while respecting your risk tolerance. I do think that the market could pull back early in the new year. You could wait until then before buying or take fewer shares now and more later.

The Transparent RRSP: Taking Some Action

The week of November 6
  • I didn’t do anything for the RRSP. There is currently $194.64 of cash in the account.

I did, however, pass my Technical Analysis exam. I certainly didn’t do as well as I wanted to though! I carried on by buying some shares of H.TO and ATZ.TO for my TFSA. I already own these stocks in the TFSA so I was just scaling into what looked like some (aggressive) buying opportunities. I also signed up for the Derivatives Fundamentals & Options Licensing Course and the Futures Licensing Course. (Talk about intense content!) I hope to finish these courses early in the new year.


I’m still not a fan of this market and entering any new positions makes me nervous. I am considering making a move this week, though, depending on how my idea performs alongside the market.

TA2

TA.TO price chart on freestockcharts.com

The daily and weekly charts aren’t great for TA.TO; however, the monthly is appealing to me. It’s making higher lows and demonstrating a trading range that is tightening. This could lead to a really good long-term trading opportunity with so much room to move into the upside. I wouldn’t mind owning more shares of this stock should this move actually occur.

Last Thursday and Friday experienced heavier selling in the U.S. and Canadian markets. If the selling continues and the market starts to correct this week, I’ll be watching this stock to see how it performs against the market. TA is in the energy sector which has been showing more strength than other sectors. If energy keeps going, scaling into this could be a good idea.

I would only scale in with a few shares (5 to 15) as I think the market will still endure a larger correction. I don’t know if energy’s strength will outlast or outperform the overall market correction. There are times when the right thing to do is sit on your hands and wait, while other times you should take full advantage of great opportunities. I feel that right now, I should find some balance in taking some action with little risk as opposed to doing nothing.

 

The Transparent RRSP: A Beauty Swing Trade

The week of October 30 
  • I deposited $150.00 into the RRSP account. There is 192.17 in cash now.

I’m still waiting for the market to correct, even by just a little on the weekly chart before I do anything. My focus is also elsewhere as I have an exam tomorrow for my Technical Analysis Course. Even though technical analysis is my ‘thing,’ it would be totally humiliating if I didn’t pass. I’m actually studying much more for this exam than I did for my last one. This also means I’m putting in zero effort in looking presentable around the house. JP drew this picture of me this morning:

 

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This is me.

 

If this is how I look right now, JP must really love me for what’s inside!

I haven’t been interested in opening any new positions in the last little while because I’d rather wait until the market has had a correction. For JP, his strategy in trading an extended market is to trade this bullish sentiment with shorter term trades. He took a beauty trade last week worth talking about.

MOGO

MOGO on freestockcharts.com

JP bought shares of MOGO.TO last Thursday. Then on Monday, KABOOM! He sold 2/3rds of his shares. On Tuesday, he sold some more shares. Now he has a small number of shares which he’ll keep in for a longer time period.

The thing is, MOGO has been on JP’s radar for quite some time now. It’s had a number of breakouts (November 2016, January 2017, February, and April). He either missed the breakouts or wasn’t paying close enough attention to during those times.

MOGO had been building a base over the last two months. It had consolidated, trading sideways with the price range tightening up on less volume. In a bullish market, this is a money setup. JP’s patience paid off with a handsome profit made over just a few days. He also bought shares of PUR.TO and DRM.TO. I hope these trades work out too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Transparent RRSP: Thanksliving Day Weekend

The week of October 2
  • On Oct 2, I bought 10 shares of ZPR.TO at $11.61. This cost me $116.10.
  • To my horror, I realized later on that I meant to buy 15 shares of ZPR, not just 10. So I ended up buying another 5 shares the next day at $11.67 a share (6 cents more!). This cost me $58.35. Aw phooey!
  • I would have bought more ZPR on Wednesday when I finally had more funds in the account, but the price was up higher by that point. Instead, I bought 15 shares of GRL.TO at $7.96 per share. This cost $119.55.

I have $37.92 in cash left in my RRSP.

GRL and ZPR

Price charts for GRL and ZPR on freestockcharts.com

I bought both of these stocks earlier this year. In early January, I got 50 shares of ZPR for $10.86 and 50 shares of GRL for $7.74 in mid-February. When you work out the average price, it looks like this:

ZPR

  • 50 shares @ $10.86 + $0.50 in commission* = $543.50
  • 10 shares @ $11.61 = $116.10
  • 5 shares @ $11.67 = $58.35
  • This totals to $717.95
  • Take the total cost of $717.95 and divide it by 65 shares. You get $11.05 a share for ZPR.

* I forgot to buy this under the “Free ETF Investment” commission structure with Virtual Brokers. I did remember to choose the correct commission structure this time around. At least I got one important thing right.

GRL

  • 50 shares @ $7.74 + $0.50 in commission = $387.50
  • 15 shares @ $7.96 + $0.15 in commission = $119.55
  • This totals to $507.05.
  • Divide $507.05 by 65 shares = $7.80 a share

Oh, what fun math can be! 

I really need to work this out for all the stocks I’ve averaged or scaled into. I scaled into a few of my other stocks last week — as I’ve been doing throughout the summer. I wish I could be a little more type A when it comes to tracking.

My new year’s resolution was to get more organized with tracking my trades. I still use post-it reminders occasionally. I now have two bulletin boards and a whiteboard to post better visual reminders for my trade ideas, upcoming strategies, and items that need attention. While I’ve made improvements in keeping up with things, I’m still floundering in the tracking department.


Thanksgiving Day 

Tomorrow my in-laws are coming to stay with us for a few days. They know it’s going to be a vegetarian ‘Thanksliving’ (the term courtesy of Jesse Eisenberg), so I’m sure they’re getting their turkey fill tonight with the other half of the family in Calgary before they fly in tomorrow.

I’ve got yummy Tofurky on the menu (don’t knock it until you try it) along with savoury kale chips, grilled veggies, dessert cookies, and other things that go well with good wine and craft beer. This may seem unappetizing to many, but we’re decent cooks for a couple of veg-heads and have yet to disappoint our guests. Cholesterol levels will not be spiking tomorrow!

I’ve got some cleaning and prep to do tonight so that tomorrow, I can trade in the morning for my US margin account as the US markets are open. Once I’m done trading, Thanksgiving cooking – and drinking – begin in the early afternoon.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

 

 

The Transparent RRSP: Portfolio Choices

The Week of Oct 2
  • Over the weekend, I deposited $150 into the RRSP. I will have $328.22 in cash in the account as it takes a couple of business days for the transfer to show up in the account.

September was a bit of hectic month for me. Other than scaling into THCX.V, a stock which I already owned in my TFSA, I didn’t do much in the portfolio department. Sometimes you just have to take care of other business before you can properly take care of the business.

Last week, I finished the Trader Training Course with the Canadian Securities Institute. The night I found out I passed, I immediately signed up for the Technical Analysis Course. Even though I read charts all the time and dream about them in my sleep, I always like to read up on the basics. The text and course have been recently updated and I must say, I’m pretty impressed so far with the really clear explanations. I’ve read a lot of other books on technical analysis and this one is the best one yet. It better be because it costs A LOT more!


Now that I will have more cash, I’m considering buying more shares of ZPR. Check it out.

ZPR

Price chart for the ZPR ETF on freestockcharts.com

In the summer, I was curious to see if this would continue trading sideways. It still is, but it could be starting to break out. The worst that could happen is that if the market turns, this one will too after I enter, but I don’t really care. They say you should never have a bias when it comes to your investments, but I can’t help but like this one. I have shares of this in my TFSA as well.

Since it’ll take a couple of days for me to have the other $150 in this account, I’ll put a limit order in for 15 shares on Monday (tomorrow). Once the other cash shows up, I’ll get more. We’ll see how it works out.


Some More Stock Picks

I like the monthly charts for the following stocks:

  • CPG.TO
  • WCP.TO
  • ERF.TO
  • EFN.TO (This one needs another week or so to set up better.)
  • ACB.TO (This could use another week or two to set up.)
  • EXE.TO (I already own shares of this. It needs to tighten up, but I’m watching this one closely.)
ACB

Price chart for ACB.TO on freestockcharts.com

ACB is interesting because it’s a young stock. When you don’t have much to go on for the longer term charts of the weekly, monthly, and yearly, then you have to look shorter term and rely on the daily, hourly, or even shorter intraday timeframes (30 min, 15 min). It becomes more of a risk when you have less historical information to make your decisions on. In these situations, you just manage your risk accordingly. Even though it’s a cheap stock, you might want to buy fewer shares. As time goes on and you have more information and encounter better setups, you can always buy more shares.

I say this because I normally wouldn’t enter a stock that has gone up for six straight weeks as seen on the weekly chart. It would have to have an amazing monthly chart, which this one doesn’t yet because it’s still new. However, the daily chart is great in that is has a lot of trade volume supporting its most recent uptrend. What’s also attractive about this uptrend is that it’s had four pullbacks testing the trendline since it started in late August.

I’m a little hesitant to buy a new weed stock for the RRSP, but I think I will take on a few shares of this for my TFSA.

As always, do your necessary research and only risk what you’re comfortable with!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Transparent RRSP: Relative Strength

The Week of August 14
  • On Wednesday, August 16th, I bought 100 shares of Bombardier (BBD.B.TO) at $2.65 per share.
  • With $1 in commissions, the whole purchase was $266.00. I now have $18.47 in cash in the RRSP account.

I actually meant to buy the shares on Tuesday, but I totally forgot to put in an order! So, on Tuesday night, I put in a limit order to buy 100 shares at $2.68, a couple of cents above the current bid/ask price. I was peeved by my sloppiness, but I’d been stalking this stock all month, watching it against the market. I wanted it that badly that I was willing to pay more than I knew I should have.

Thankfully, on Wednesday, my order was filled at the lower price of $2.65! This happens sometimes; other times it can go the other way and your order will be filled at a much higher price. It’s called slippage when you get filled at a higher price than what you have on order. Slippage tends to happen more when stocks are lightly traded. Bombardier is a heavily traded stock, so slippage is less likely to happen.


Let’s do some chart analysis!

 

BBD analysis

Price charts for BBD.B and XIC on freestockcharts.com

On Chart #1, the pink arrow shows the day I bought BBD.B. No special day and it closed negative. On Chart #2, the pink arrow for the XIC market ETF shows the market on the day I bought BBD.B.

The blue arrows on both charts #1 and #2 show how they closed for the week. BBD.B closed more positive than the market did, showing relative strength. There’s been uncertainty in the overall markets in general with the possibility of war — and then you add violent protests and terrorist attacks to the mix and you get even more negativity. I hope this little stock, along with the rest of the RRSP portfolio (come on, LIQ!), will show resilience in the face of all this.

Chart #3 is the weekly chart for BBD.B. It’s a healthy looking chart with a very bullish setup. (If you’re not familiar with the market lingo, bullish means optimistic and positive because apparently, bulls look up when they’re in attack mode; bearish means negative and pessimistic because bears look down when they’re about to pummel you. There could be more to the meaning of these terms, but all that matters is that you get the picture.)

Chart #4 shows a lot of potential for BBD.B to move up if and when it gets past the previous price resistance points as seen on that pink dotted line.

Of course, all of this can go potty — regardless the relative strength and bullish setups — if the overall markets get really negative and there are more sellers than buyers. No matter what, just try to stay positive and strong!

 

The Transparent RRSP: Market Fears

The Week of August 8
  • I left the RRSP account alone. I wanted to buy shares of Bombardier (BBD.B.TO), but I couldn’t find an entry. There might be an entry on Monday or Tuesday.

 

BBD vs XIC

Price charts: BBD.B vs. XIC on freestockcharts.com

As you can see in the top two charts, BBD.B has been more positive than the market (the two lower charts of XIC). If the market continues to head lower, I’ll either abandon the plan to buy shares of BBD.B or just wait until the market settles down.


Last Thursday, the markets collectively demonstrated anxiety over North Korea. There was a big market sell-off and most gold stocks went up. It’s hard to say at this point if this is a reaction temporary in nature, or if it will signify the beginning of more and more selling due to fear. I’m going to make it a point to pay closer attention to the news and to how the market trades over the next couple of weeks.

Last week, I put together a big watch list of stocks that had promising charts. After last Thursday, only a few of them still look okay:

  • L.TO (Wait another few weeks to a month for this to properly set up)
  • H.TO (I own shares of this stock already.)
  • EXE.TO (I own shares of this stock already.)
  • TCW.TO
  • D.UN.TO (This is a REIT.)
  • CNE.TO (Needs a better setup unless you’re into aggressive, riskier entries.)
  • LIF.TO

Until you know what’s going on with the market, I don’t recommend buying anything. These stocks would be worth looking at while also observing the market. Watch how these perform against the market or their sector. If resilient stocks start to show weakness, then it’s usually a good sign that a weaker market will become even weaker.

There are different ways to play defensive during uncertain times. You can buy gold or shares of gold stocks. You can also buy consumer staples stocks. You can buy nothing or you can sell all your stocks. Whatever you do, don’t lose sight of what you want for your portfolio long term and think strategically.

Since the late spring, I’ve been unloading shares of stock. I’m either selling portions of my positions or all of them to either collect profits or reduce my exposure to the market. I have still been buying shares here and there, but not as actively as I used to. This has nothing to do with North Korea. Rather, it’s more about the market, which has been pulling back since the end of April. Maybe eventually, it will have everything to do with a conflict with North Korea. Regardless of what happens, I’ll let the charts guide me, not my fear.

 

 

 

 

 

The Transparent RRSP: Summer Sideways

The week of July 24
  • I took no action for the RRSP. I will be depositing $150 this week because we’re entering a new month.

My next consideration for the RRSP was to buy shares of Bombardier (BBD.B.TO) as it was forming a nice base on the daily chart. It did, however, already break out last Friday on a good second quarter earnings report. I might have missed the move; however, if this forms a base from this breakout, then I will still consider getting some shares. I do already own this stock in my TFSA.

BBD.

BBD.B.TO price chart on freestockcharts.com


The market didn’t do much this month other than hit the levels it was at in November last year – this is what I was hoping for in order to have a substantial enough correction before going up again. If it comes down even more, I’ll be totally okay with that too.

I went through the 100 top weighted holdings of the XIC ETF. The financials look like they’re weakening. It’s hard to say if they’re going through a bit of a slowdown or if they’re on the way to a major plunge. Some of the stocks in the energy sector are starting to move above their bases while some of the other bigger energy stocks are still weak. It’s all very wait-and-see.

I don’t think the market will do much next month. I think this August, it will just be moving sideways. Summer is always a boring time to trade, but this gives you more time to do other things like work on better trade strategies before it gets busy in the fall, or get out and do more fun summer things. I really hope to find a great long-term gem in the next week or two!

The Transparent RRSP: Summer Reading

The Week of July 17
  • I took no action for the RRSP.

Instead, all week I’ve been stewing and brewing over something I wrote two weeks ago:

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.

So, APH had a major breakout three trading days after that post. The setup I was identifying actually happened – just a lot sooner. I took my eye off the ball. So, I went with my next play. Last week, I bought ECN at $4.03 with a strong feeling that it was going to take out a previous low of $3.87, which it did only three trading days after I put in my limit order.

 

APH ECN

Price charts for APH.TO and ECN.TO on freestockcharts.com

 

I was right both times. The problem is, I’m left frustrated, mainly because I missed the stock that had the bigger move. You know what’s worse than losing money for most traders?

  • Exiting a stock too soon and leaving money on the table;
  • Missing out on something you knew was going to happen;
  • Overcompensating for either of the above two reasons.

I actually shouldn’t be frustrated. Let’s say I never noticed APH at all. I would take that ECN trade any day and I’d be okay with it.

Trading Psychology

Trading psychology is actually a ‘thing.’ I once had a trading coach – an infinitely kind, generous, patient, uber positive day trader based out of Colorado. He was really into trading psychology and he consistently banged the drum on the importance of visualization, meditation, and forming a strong belief system supported by mindful practice. He got me reading Psycho Cybernetics and books by Tony Robbins, among many other things. This reading took me down a path of self-exploration deeper than any other self-improving attempt I’d made in the past. This was when trading had changed me.

I learned that most of what drives our decisions is conscious, but so much of what drives our actual actions is subconscious. A common action for traders is to right a wrong. When we lose, we become prone to overtrading or overcompensating for something we should’ve done instead. We try to make back what we lost or make what we should’ve made on something we ‘knew’ would work. The reality is, there is no certainty in markets and everybody knows this. Nor is there total certainty about anything in life.

I finished reading Market Wizards, a great book featuring interviews with top traders in the U.S. These traders all had their own unique strategies, their special recipes for success. What they had in common, however, led to their success: tested strategies, experience, persistence, the need to manage their losses, and learning to deal with the uncertainties of the market.

In this book was also an interview with Dr. Van K.Tharp, a psychologist who focuses on the psychology of trading. It was so fascinating to read about how this psychologist understands the thought process behind trading and has dedicated his work to helping traders get past mental and emotional road blocks in order to achieve their goals for success. Of course, I ordered one of his books from Amazon. I’ll be reading Super Trader – Make Consistent Profits in Good and Bad Markets over the next few weeks as I also read Edwin Lefevre’s Reminiscences of a Stock Operator.

Am I upset about missing the move on APH?  150% yes. Have I missed other amazing opportunities in the past? Yes, hundreds of times. Has that ever stopped me from making other decisions with good payoff? No. Will I miss other great opportunities in the future? Of course. Will I take other great opportunities in the future? You betcha.

The market will always be there. Opportunities will always present themselves. I will try to be ready for them, but I can’t catch them all. Learning and growing from these experiences is part of the fun and adventure of trading. I know I’ll get over this missed trade with APH. I hope that things work out with ECN and that I’ll have another few opportunities to buy more shares of it. One day, APH will present yet another opportunity and I will do my best to be ready.

 

Money Talks

 

Recently, I did a presentation at the Toronto Public Library on investment basics. I had no idea how it would turn out, but I ran through my head a number of best and worst-case scenarios. It was better than I could’ve ever imagined.

I’d never seen a more diverse audience in age, background, and investment interests. Each person was comfortable enough to engage or ask questions – great questions, I might add. To all those who attended, I’d like to offer my deepest gratitude for your participation. This was the conversation I’ve been dying to have with people. This is the type of conversation more Canadians need to have with each other.

Today I’m going to share with you the questions that I can remember. I’ll add parts of my original answers, but I want to answer the questions more fully. These are in no particular order.


How long does it take for you to do your investment research each week?

Now, it’s a few hours a week, anywhere from two to six hours. But I also apply up to 20,000 hours of previous learning and experience. I hope that I can help others enough so that you don’t have to take as long as I did to learn how to invest.

I’d like to also add that many of my decisions result from bouncing ideas off my man, JP. He has put in the time and discipline to learn as well. We have the advantage of combined knowledge and experience. I share a lot of these very ideas in my weekly blog.

As much as I’d like to spend more time doing research and trading more actively, I would become more prone to micro-managing my trades. I’ve done a lot better with a more passive and hands-off approach.

How did you get a 70% return last year?

2015 was a terrible year for the Canadian market. The loonie and the Canadian economy were weak. We patiently waited for the market to stop going down. This happened around late February 2016. We looked for stocks that we knew traded actively and had suffered huge drops in share price. It was a very good time to get into the market. These opportunities don’t come very often.

We bought shares in TECK.B.TO, ECA.TO, BBD.B.TO when they were really cheap, and then in April, bought some APH.V (now APH.TO). We bought a few other stocks, but these few alone did very well after just a few months. We kept selling shares incrementally each time the stocks surged in order to secure profits (called ‘selling into the strength’), but they kept going up. We could’ve done much better had we just kept the shares in and moved up our stops (selling prices). It became a decision between banking on certain profits and waiting to see what will happen. We did a bit of both and we still have shares in all those stocks.

I don’t anticipate as big a return this year, unless the market has a major correction, soon after which there’ll be many more big buying opportunities (a bad and selfish thing to wish and wait for, I know, but…). My US portfolio, though, has been my big winner this year because I had the same idea with US tech stocks last summer.

One of the things I always say is that investors are always looking for new opportunities.

What ETF should I buy?

Many financial institutions create ETFs. Some are:

  • BMO
  • Horizons
  • Vanguard
  • iShares
  • Claymore

When doing your research, consider your investment objective – dividend income, market index performance, sector selection (like banking), fixed income, etc. Also consider the MER, share price, distributions, and frequency of distribution payments, to name a few things. You can look up this information on the ETF info sheet. For me, I only select among ETFs with higher trade volume.

Market ETFs can swing a lot in price because of the demand of traders in the market. So the ETF might be worth more (or less) than its actual value (NAV). Would it make sense to put some money in a market index ETF and some in an index mutual fund (which will be less prone to price swings)?

If you want to invest in the market, consider an ETF or an index fund – or both. The major distinction between these is the MER as it’s a lot higher for mutual funds than it is for ETFs; however, it can be more affordable to buy units in an index fund than it would be to buy shares in an ETF.

An actively traded market ETF can experience more volatility than the actual index it’s based on. Its price will vary based on the demands of buyers in the market. If buyers drive the price up, it’s possible for the ETF to be worth more than the net asset value (NAV) of its assets, so you’re paying a premium in share price. If investors are fearful, heavy selling can drive its price down below its NAV, so it’ll be trading at a discount. For index funds, the NAV is what it is after the market closes. At the end of the day, you shouldn’t notice a big difference between similar index funds, be it an ETF or a mutual fund. (If you do, the mutual fund will likely be underperforming because of the MER.)

What’s most important is that you’re 1) comfortable in what you’re investing in, and 2) you’re not paying too much in fees.

What do you think of mortgage-backed securities?

These have had a bad reputation as these were hugely responsible for the 2008 recession, but mainly because they were deregulated. They’re just bundles of mortgage loans that pay investors interest.

If you’re after real estate income, the REIT (real estate income trust) is great because it can pay investors their share of the distributions which will come from a mix of rent, mortgage interest, capital gains, as well as return of capital. You can also get real estate ETFs. Because of the mixed forms of investment income that come from these, they’re best held in registered accounts. Also, keep in mind the MER. I own a couple of these to add diversification to my portfolio. Other than the value of real estate happening in my own backyard, I don’t really follow the real estate market as much as I should.

What brokerages do you use?

I have opened accounts in the past with Disnat Direct and Questrade. I now have accounts with Virtual Brokers and Interactive Brokers. I’ve been with the last two for years.

What do you pay in commissions per trade?

With Virtual Brokers, I pay 1 penny per share. It’s less if the stock price is under $1. With Interactive Brokers, it’s 1 penny per share, but a minimum of $1 per trade. So if I buy 125 shares, I pay $1.25 plus any market data fees.

Both of these accounts were opened as margin accounts – trading on margin means you need to open with and maintain a minimum amount of cash in the account which allows you  3 times the buying power. So if you open with $25,000, your buying power is $75,000. To attract active traders, the commission fees are very low.

I also have TFSA and RRSP accounts with Virtual Brokers (VB). Thanks to JP’s slick skills in negotiation, we managed to have the same awesome rates extend from the margin account to our registered accounts. Often with registered accounts, you get charged a quarterly administrative fee. With VB, they do charge $25 plus HST unless your account has a minimum of $5000 in it.

I am an active FOREX trader. How should I be doing my taxes every year?

With an accountant. I did our taxes the first couple of years we started day trading. I had the advice of a friend who’s an accountant. She gave me samples on how to calculate the adjusted cost base of securities and their exchange rates, etc. It was actually a really good exercise in learning about taxation for the self-employed and how to factor in fees and expenses; on the other hand, it was a total headache. After that, we started using an accountant who magically does it all in a few days.

What is your take on robo-advisors?

They’re great if you don’t know what stocks or ETFs to buy, or when to sell them. They take away from you the inconvenience of guessing and researching and they make those decisions for you. I’d just be cautious about the frequency that the portfolio is rebalanced and focus on the ones that meet your criteria and charge the lowest fees. As you get more comfortable and savvy with reading the market, you should compare how your portfolio is performing against it and decide then if you might be better off investing in an ETF.

What is your advice for women and their investment choices, especially as they age?

Women have developed a reputation for being great long-term investors because we typically make conservative, less risky decisions. I feel that the financial markets have shifted so that being conservative could work against us in the long-term. Those traditionally conservative decisions, like owning a lot of GICs and low-risk mutual funds, could leave us with less money than what we actually need to have, especially as we live longer and longer. We should be thinking about how our portfolios need to keep generating income as we age. In my opinion, we should consider dedicating more of our portfolio to more medium-risk choices, like blue chip funds or stocks that pay us a dividend.

I know I have a pretty aggressive approach when it comes to making money, but I’m careful with most of my money and more risky with a smaller amount of it (or maybe that’s just what I tell myself and it’s more like half and half). A big part of my own early retirement plan is to live off of dividends, although I still want to make money on capital gains if I have to sell my shares to rebalance my portfolio.

What are good websites that could tell me more about Canadian securities?

I drew a blank – thank you to the audience members for their helpful input. Motley Fool Canada and Retire Happy were mentioned. I also think that Canadian Couch Potato and My Own Advisor are excellent.

You must have a really diverse portfolio?

Yes. It not only keeps things interesting, it spreads and reduces the risk factors within my portfolio. A lot of my trade decisions come from looking at the sector or industry first. That’s why the economy is a big part of my book. I have stocks and ETFs across many different sectors.

I risk very little for each stock, so I’m not worried if it turns out to be a dud (a rare occurrence). After a while, if I like a stock enough, I’ll buy more shares if there’s a new entry (called scaling in).

How do you research fundamentals?

I said I cared about two things: the price I got in at and dividends. I’ll admit, it was a shortcut answer. I don’t pay as much attention as I should to the fundamentals mainly because I learned about stocks from traders who studied price charts and used only technical analysis. When it comes down to it, even if a company’s fundamentals look good, if the stock price has gone too far up or isn’t trading well, I just won’t enter.

I use technical analysis for all my decisions and I apply very general guidelines when considering a company’s fundamentals. One day, I’d like to take the time to figure out how to use both forms of analysis to become an even better trader. For now, I rely on good charts that indicate signs that a trend is about to start; I look at the sector the stock is in; and I compare the stock to other stocks in its sector. Then I cross my fingers hoping that the rest of the market catches on and buys the stock up.


We all have different ideas on what we want to do with our money. There are so many different ways to apply strategies, even between people who have similar takes on risk and opportunity. What I think we all need to have is a general basis of knowledge and from there, we each can branch out and find our own approach to investing.

Thank you, TPL! I had a wonderful evening.

 

 

The Transparent RRSP: My Own Stocks and Father’s Day

No actions taken the week of June 12

It’s been a very busy week for me, but it’s a good time to be busy as the markets are still looking like they’re headed lower. I don’t feel the need to take action quite yet. The US markets need to go down through May’s lows – at the very least – before going up again. This could affect the Canadian market; we have already been weakening the last couple of months and going through our own correction. If the US market goes down more and we don’t, then that’s a good sign for us that our correction could be over.

markets.jpg

Price charts of QQQ, AAPL, XIC, and SPY on freestockcharts.com

Apple (AAPL) is a big part of the NASDAQ (ETF: QQQ) and it’s been weakest of the big tech stocks (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google). Until it stops going down and levels out, it will continue to lead the NASDAQ down.

It’ll be interesting to see if the rest of the US market follows suit. I’ll keep my eye on the S&P 500 (the SPY ETF). Its financial sector (XLF) has been quite strong, but this sector is due for a correction. A slower summer market could cause it to stall and look less inspiring to investors. A correction in the financial sector could take the SPY down. There was a lot of selling last week in some of the big US banks (BAC, JPM and WFC) as well as Visa (V). Other big financial stocks (C, MA, and AXP) were trading strong. A divergence between a sector’s biggest stocks creates uncertainty.

Summer Trading Means Fewer Selections

Often, when the leading market heads lower, other markets eventually do the same. However, it can be different in the summer because of less trading volume. Performance is more stock and sector specific and less market dominant.

Investors and traders pile onto the fewer, more promising opportunities that stand out. Sectors kind of do their own thing and are less prone to overall market moves because there’s less of a dominant trend. It becomes more obvious which sectors are stronger and which ones are weaker. It’s actually a very good time to look for sectors and stocks that are about to embark on a new move or trend before it gets busier again in the fall.

For me, the summer is usually the time when I focus on the quiet under-performing sectors and I try to see if there will be a new longer-term opportunity in it. I’m going to watch the Canadian financial sector as it’s been weak since late February. I feel that it should correct just a titch more, and if it does, I will watch very closely for when it sets up again. If this happens, Canadian banks, here I come!

I didn’t have time to do a stock search this week – I only had time to look at my own portfolio. Here are a few of my stocks that I’m considering buying more shares of:

  • Aphria Inc. | APH.TO
  • Aritzia | ATZ
  • Bombardier | BBD.B
  • BMO SP TSX Laddered Index ETF | ZPR
  • ECN Capital Corp. | ECN
  • Extendicare REIT | EXE

I’ve been complaining a lot about having too many stocks. It’s better for me to focus on what I have and get more shares of the ones that I like. I just have to wait for a new entry point.


Thanks Dad!

My dad passed away in 2009. He was 59 and battling a long-term ailment. At least I can say that shortly before his death, he was living life to the fullest. What happened to me after his passing was something worth thinking about. Without his guidance, his half-believable stories, and hilarious anecdotes, I had to use whatever resources he’d passed onto me to keep going. I’m sure this recognition was all subconscious, but I finally had the courage to see things for what they were and let them go in order to do the things I most wanted to do. I took a promotion at my job, saw my career trajectory and said, “On second thought, I’m going to learn how to trade stocks. However that turns out.” The rest is my history.

I’m halfway through reading Jack D. Schwager’s, Market Wizards: Interviews with Top Traders. It’s been an incredible read so far. I’ve heard of some of these guys before. It’s so cool to hear about how they all had to overcome so many barriers to get to where they were. One thing none of them had to overcome was their gender. I can honestly say that neither have I, even though I am a woman.

Since I was young, my dad convinced me that being a girl was an advantage. His dad, my grandfather, was in the US Army, and he was away a lot. He served in WW2 and in Korea. So my grandmother ran the show when my grandpa was away. My dad was the youngest of seven siblings, four of whom were older, amazing sisters. My dad ended up being a very macho guy – who saw women as being greater than anything macho.

Because of my dad, I never felt disadvantaged for being a woman. I actually thought that I could do whatever I wanted to because I was female – he’d long convinced me it gave me an edge. Maybe it is true – our society has yet to accept this concept. Or maybe he just told me a tall tale knowing what I’d be up against. As I got older, I became more painfully aware of the disadvantages women frequently encounter. I love trading because the market doesn’t care about your personal details. You’re either in at the right time and right price, or you’re not. It doesn’t get more gender neutral than that.

As I’m reading Market Wizards, I feel that I can relate to these traders on so many levels, but it feels a bit too much like a boys club. I know there are a lot of extremely successful female traders out there. We’ll just have to cover our own stories. Whether or not I become a market wizard worth writing about one day, I’m sure my dad would be proud of me.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

 

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!

39

 

The Transparent RRSP: Managing Doubts

Action taken the week of May 22
  • I reviewed my holdings in both my RRSP and TFSA. I am considering buying more shares of TransAlta Corp. (TA.TO) next week because I like the monthly chart.

A Glance at the Market

XIC may

The XIC ETF price history charts on freestockcharts.com

As you can see on the weekly chart, there has been mostly selling in May, which is consistent with the saying, “Sell in May and go away.” It would take more buying than all the selling that’s gone on all May for the market to trade above that. If the selling continues to consistently happen, even in small amounts, we’ll start to move lower.


When I’m in Doubt I Stay Out

I’ve been going over my portfolio and considering each stock that I bought and sold over the last year. First, I listed my primary and secondary financial goals for each one. If I had sold the stock or some of the shares, I made note of why I made the sale. Then I looked at the price history charts for each stock on my list and considered whether the stock’s performance was still in line with my intentions and goals.

Of course, my ultimate financial goal is to make money in any stock that I invest in. The major distinctions between each of them are determined by how I want to make money (dividends? capital gains? both?) and when (in the next few months? in a few years? in decades?). It was interesting to see how many of my holdings were initially intended for a swing trade after which I ended up wanting to keep them for much longer. This tends to be a pattern with me.

I’ll often buy a stock with this thought process: Let’s see how this performs. If it’s good, I’m keeping it. I might sell some and keep the rest. I might buy more the next time it has a good setup. If it’s a dud (a stock that sees zero action despite the market or its sector), then I’ll opt to sell it at break even or for a small profit and move on.

Selling at a loss is almost never an option for me. This only happens if, for whatever number of reasons, it becomes obvious beyond any doubt that the stock appears to be worth significantly less. I then have to ask myself if I’m willing to hold until that lower point and then wait for its recovery. If it does recover, at what price will it likely recover to before it goes up – or down – again? I rarely have to address the prospect of selling at a loss. This is not because I’m a decent stock picker. It’s because after years of trading, I saw that most of the stocks I sold at a loss ended up doing well weeks, months, or years after I bought them and sold them.

This basically means that it doesn’t matter if a stock has a good chart or not. It also doesn’t matter if you can time the market. More time in the market surpasses any well-timed entry. For a chart reader like myself, admitting this an act of hypocrisy! The price history chart is merely a tool that helps me understand the bigger picture.

Once I decide to invest, I rely on my ability to be patient. I believe strongly that patience is the key factor to growing a strong portfolio. Getting in and out of stocks frequently can really mess with your mind and potential to do really well. I learned that the biggest threat to patience is doubt. Doubt can be very powerful if you don’t trust the market, the world of investing, and yourself.

Whenever doubt starts to creep into my thoughts, I remind myself this: There is a finite amount of money and this puts a limit to the value that we place on things. Collective optimism makes things go up, but not forever. Collective pessimism leads to fear and this makes investors sell, but only until that fear exhausts itself. Humans are generally optimistic, and this is reflected in the overall market’s tendency to go up. I can’t always time everyone’s optimism or predict the end of all pessimism. If I get into a stock during its early signs of new optimism, it’s easier for me to exercise patience, even if it takes a while before market consensus helps the stock take off.

The main reason why I look at charts is because I can’t wait around until some analyst goes on TV to talk about a security that has been doing well already. While many investors might feel more confident in making investment decisions by waiting for an expert to give his or her opinion, it’s often too late for me at that point. I am more likely to act on doubtful thoughts if I know I got into a stock later rather than early on. I end up self-sabotaging my efforts by looking only for factors that confirm my doubts and fears. I’ve done this enough to know not to listen to such counter-productive thoughts. I’ve learned to trust my process and to stick with the strategies that give me the most confidence. Now, I only buy – and sell, even at a loss – when I’m confident in the factors contributing to the decision. I’m not afraid to make mistakes, but I don’t and won’t act on doubt.

 

 

The Transparent RRSP: Just Watching

No action was taken the week of May 15 
  • I had been uneasy about the market all week, so my only play was to sit on my hands.

The last few months, I’ve been chipping away at making my trades easier to track, record, and analyze. This process was always interrupted by the market, attractive stock picks, sections of my portfolio that needed immediate attention, and addictive Netflix series. Each time I got back to where I left off, I found I disliked my method or format. You would think that after all these years, I’d have figured this out by now.

With summer coming, I expect the market to lighten up in volume and offer fewer opportunities. This means it’s a good time to get back on track with getting organized. I’ve been spring cleaning my house as well as all the portfolio information that I manage, making a bit of progress each day. It feels great to de-clutter my living space and streamline all the pertinent information for my trades. All I can do is keep at it until I’m in a place where I can function effectively on a consistent basis – and still watch my Netflix!


What a week! Here is my market analysis:
xic

The XIC ETF on freestockcharts.com

#1. The trade volume candlestick bars of April 24 and April 25 show an abnormal amount of buying.

With all that buying, there was such little price movement as you can see by the small size of the price candlestick bars. Big volume with little price movement often signifies a reversal. To trade beyond those prices would require even more buying. The following volume bars show that the market could not sustain so much buying. Another thing to note: we have not penetrated those prices since.

#2. What messy, volatile trading!

After April 25, there was more selling than buying. The candles show wider trading ranges, particularly the red bars, which depict heavier selling. I drew a square around this week alone to show you how, in such a short amount of time, the market can drop because of uncertainty, volatility, and buying fatigue.

On Wednesday (the day of that big red candle, third to last), the US market reacted to bad political news and this affected us (as well as many other markets). I believe that generally, markets are more prone to news when they’re already uncertain or weak. A strong market won’t be affected very much or will bounce back quickly. The following Thursday and Friday did show some buying. It will be interesting to see whether or not we can get back up to the previous trading ranges of the last two to three months.

#3. Lots of selling volume.

The trade volume over the last four weeks shows mostly selling. When you’re looking at longer time frames for longer-term buying opportunities, this situation is not tantalizing.

#4. First red monthly candle in almost a year!

We hit a new 2017 low with that one little day on Wednesday this week. What I like about the monthly chart is that it provides a bigger, clearer perspective.

The last time we saw significant selling volume was in June last year (remember the Brexit referendum?) and before that, the last major selling low was in January 2016. We’ve been going up for a year and a half. This new low is minor compared to the massive run we had. Way to go, Canada! If your portfolio didn’t do well last year, then maybe you should take a break from your advisor and consider buying a market index ETF – once it’s a good time to get in.


It will be interesting to see how we trade until the end of May. Whether we close positive or negative, this summer I would like to see a more substantial correction that comes down all the way back to where we were in November before going up again. For most folks – especially unrealistically optimistic people like me – this seems like a drastic thing to wish for. However, I believe that if you want a meaningful run in the market, you need a meaningful correction, not a one day sell-off like Wednesday’s.

I will be watching for how the US market impacts the Canadian market. The tech sector needs to take a break while the energy sector looks like it’s itching to make a run to the upside. I don’t think oil will ever trade back to its previous inflated levels, but I do think it will make a very short-term bullish move along with a short-lived rush in the gold sector. I don’t know if that would be enough to help the US market continue its upward trend. The Canadian market could still go down on its own, but it will to a greater degree if the US also makes a considerable correction.

 

The Transparent RRSP: Book Review

No action was taken the week of May 1

I did an extensive search and didn’t find any good candidates for the RRSP. I think that once we see a more substantial correction in the market followed by some stabilization, we’ll see more options.


 

Market

The XIC, SPY, and QQQ ETFs on freestockcharts.com

 

Chart 1 is the weekly chart of the XIC ETF. It didn’t budge much last week and traded sideways for the most part. However, as you can see from the arrow I drew, it had some strong selling as indicated by the red trade volume bar.

Chart 2 shows the monthly chart of XIC. We finished close to where we opened. The arrow shows that overall for the month of April, there was more buying. As we’ve seen from a shorter timeframe of the weekly chart, there was heavy selling last week. Well, investors like a strong finish.

Already in this week alone, we traded lower than the month of April’s lows. This means investors are getting cautious and losing a bit of confidence. They’re selling shares, taking profits, and holding out on new opportunities – and if investors do trade, it might be with fewer than normal shares to reduce risk. No market can go straight up, so this isn’t anything to get too nervous about.

Chart 3 is the monthly chart of the SPY for the US market’s S&P 500 Index. The arrow identifies trading in March. You can see there was heavier selling in March. April had more buying than selling, however, it wasn’t able to trade higher than it did in March. All week it has been trading sideways. It might still have a positive May, but watch the volume and look for signs of less buying.

Chart 4 is the monthly chart of QQQ ETF for the Nasdaq 100 Index. The tech sector, especially the semiconductors, have been extremely strong since last summer. May will mean the seventh month up on a strong move. The arrow shows that April had a huge move up, but with lesser buying than in March. Are the Qs losing steam? We shall see…

There is naturally lower trade volume going into the summer months, starting in May. I will be keeping a close eye on the weekly and daily charts to look for more immediate signs of a reversal in the markets.


Last week I finally finished reading Michael Lewis’ hugely entertaining book, Liar’s Poker. I was sad to be done, but I feel like the story hasn’t ended because I’m living it through my own trading and from watching the markets. There is a story behind every trade and each investment decision. He skillfully addressed throughout the book how the human element of emotion is what drives markets.

This true story was about Lewis’ introduction into Wall Street as a bond salesman for Saloman Brothers, a securities firm. Every successful sale was done by convincing an investor that what he was selling them was going to be worth more later on. This sounds conniving and this book reads more like a humourous confessional as Lewis grew increasingly conflicted the more successful he became.

Even though this book focusses on the bond market, it translates the same way for stocks and any other security for that matter. Optimism is what drives the markets and allows them to thrive and continue. Pessimism morphs into fear and will make most investors regret their decisions and jump ship into something else.

All year so far, I’ve been providing you with analyses of the ups and downs of markets and making shorter-term projections based on price moves and the corresponding trade volume. These moves occur because of optimism and pessimism. The reason why I trade is because I’m generally an optimistic person and my long-term view is that the markets will always keep going up because I believe that most people are inherently optimistic. That is why, despite all these tales of glory and failures that come out of Wall Street, it’s still around. The markets aren’t going anywhere and I’m happy to believe that more of us are getting involved.