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.

 

 

 

 

 

U.S. Stocks

I get this Monday off at work because it’s a holiday. The US stock market, however, is still open, and I really hope to get my trade on.

It’s been so long since I’ve been able to watch the US market live. I still have an active trading account with Interactive Brokers set up just for day trading and swing trading. My US trading account looks a lot like a backyard that needs a lot of tending to: some big glorious trees (a couple of winning stocks) among a bunch of weeds (half a dozen losers).

Regardless of its imperfections, my US portfolio has been outperforming the market all year — a huge reason why I leave my trades alone. I’ve been busy transplanting my life to a new city, anyway. Making any attempts at fast trading while busy and heavily distracted would be bad practice. The US market is full of action, but it’s a hostile environment to navigate. The payoff can be fast and big, as can be your losses. I need to be focused and ready to execute even just one quick trade. Now that I’m all moved in and my office is all nicely set up, I hope to do a bit of ‘yard work’ for the first couple of hours that the market is open.

Half of my money in this trading account has been sitting there doing nothing for a very long time. I hope to open one or two swing trades this Monday – and maybe get a day trade or two in there while I’m at it.

I did a search on finviz.com using the filters and criteria for finding stocks I like based on price and trading ranges. I found a few worth considering:

  • CARA
  • CLR
  • DKS
  • DVN
  • FL
  • NSC
  • TRIP
  • UAL

I noticed some pretty beat up stocks that would be worth considering if a shocking reversal were to happen (a VERY aggressive play):

  • LNG
  • RH

Usually, before the market opens, my brokers provide a number of stocks that are actively trading in the pre-market (before 9:30 AM). These stocks often end up being in play all day, or at least for a big part of the morning session (trading usually slows down around lunch).

My own discipline requires that I only select only a few of these stocks and watch them closely. If and when an opportunity presents itself, then I’ll do a trade that will last anywhere from a few seconds to a few hours. Day trading is not for most people and I would never recommend for anyone to even try it.

I discovered day trading is not for me either. Swing trading (a few days to a few months) and position trading (months to years) is more lucrative and a more realistic way to handle your money. I haven’t totally given day trading up because doing it every now and then (like once a month) keeps my instincts sharp. Most importantly, it reminds me of the value of never risking too much on any one trade. I might win on these trades 80% of the time, but the losing 20% can be such a blow financially, mentally, and emotionally. Losing keeps things real and really forces me to learn from my mistakes.

If the market is too volatile or my choices aren’t great or don’t open well, I might just leave the account alone and not trade anything. Always have a great Plan B so you don’t end up trading just because you had originally intended to. Not every day is a good day to trade — it’s just not something worth forcing. I might just take the holiday off and go to Niagara Falls instead!

 

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.

 

The Transparent RRSP: Interest

Action taken the week of June 26
  • Transferred $150.00 into the RRSP. That gives me $170.90 in cash.

If I see anything that looks interesting, I’ll be ready to take action with some cash in the account again. I’ve been looking around and I found a few compelling charts. However, the market is just so uninspiring right now. I’d much rather wait for it to settle down before I do anything. It would be great if there was nothing to do until next month.

Another thing to note: If we raise interest rates sooner, that will greatly impact the market. I plan to consider, over the next week or so, some good trading/investing ideas.


July xic

XIC ETF in freestockcharts.com

Let’s look at the monthly chart of my favourite TSX index ETF, the XIC. I would like the market to pull back until the blue line. I mentioned in a previous blog that I’d like a market correction to come down to the same area we were at around November last year.

I think, though, that we’ll likely only pull back to the orange line, which is where we were at in December. This year so far, we had the heaviest selling volume in June. To get significantly below June’s levels we’d have to sell a lot more.

If interest rates do actually go up, a lot of sectors like retail and housing will be impacted. The financials, on the other hand, have been recovering since late May. Higher interest rates will be better for their business, especially after they’ve been running on low interest rates for so long.

I wrote previously that I think there’ll be a recovery in energy (oil) this summer – and I still think that. It’s worth considering swing trade opportunities in this sector as it could go up over the next few months to a year.

After a quick search, I noticed that the following stocks have had heavy selling volume the last few months:

  • SU.TO
  • PD.TO
  • CVE.TO
  • BTE.TO
  • ENB.TO
  • ECA.TO

If you feel conflicted about putting money into the yucky oil industry, you can just treat this as a study into my process when I look at sectors that have been beaten up. Here is a general run down of my process:

  • Watch the daily and weekly charts of stocks;
  • Look for signs of sideways trading;
  • Watch for reduction in trade volume. The volume should indicate less selling some more buying;
  • Check the monthly chart – it should look like a reversal is happening;
  • Compare all this to the sector ETFs;
  • Among the sector’s stocks, watch for the ones that are looking the best;
  • For swing trades, look at the strongest stocks that meet your criteria for entry, price, and trading ranges. In other words, figure out which ones that will give you the most bang for your buck.

I’ll share my ideas on this more recent trade idea and if I do take a trade, I will let you know. If this makes you nervous, then you can sit back, relax, and enjoy watching me fall flat on my face. I often go into trades thinking that I will do just that, but it’s exciting enough for me to take action. This mindset forces me to only risk enough so that I won’t be devastated if I’m totally wrong. Personally, it’s more devastating to not financially benefit from an idea I had that actually worked.

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: Markets Closed

No actions were taken the week of April 10

This week has been a busy one for me. All week, I was getting my tax stuff in order. No, I haven’t filed yet! If you saw what I had to do to get ‘er done, you’d understand why I was procrastinating. If that’s not enough, I’m in the middle of moving.

The dreadful task of packing always necessitates decluttering. Moving forces me to ruthlessly get rid of what I no longer want or need. For the last month, I’d been going through my things and filling up boxes and bags of stuff I knew had no place in our lives anymore.

This drive to purge shifted to my TFSA. Mid-week, JP recommended that I sell two of my stocks he noticed were underperforming for a long time. They were in the money but had barely budged for a year. I sold them, then I sold four more stocks. I had way too many stocks – we’re talking 33 in this one account! I won’t even get into what’s in my US trading account. 33 is more than I could manage, but I guess I just kept buying them the way my brothers buy shoes and ball caps. This is what can happen if you pay very little in commissions per trade.

After we had a decent market last week, it was easy to see who the laggers were in my portfolio. I don’t mind active stocks that go up and even down, but I do mind the stocks that just don’t move at all. A healthy stock needs steady volume and a decent amount of movement. Without enough investor interest, they’re just duds.

Today, the Canadian and US markets were closed for Good Friday. The volume in the markets was low which is typical before a holiday weekend. People either don’t take on new positions or they sell or reduce their positions because they don’t want to hold them over a long weekend.

I feel lighter with fewer stocks to manage (yet I still own quite a few!) and more cash in my account. I might buy more shares of stocks I already own and am happy with. I’ll see what the market does next week and what my stocks do in relation to the market. Now, back to packing!

The Transparent RRSP: More Thoughts on the Market

I posted on Monday that I had bought another 16 shares of LFE.TO at $6.12. This cost me $97.92 + 0.16 of commission. I now have $60.90 of cash remaining in my account. This was at the same price I got the previous 24 shares of LFE.TO at, giving me 40 shares of this stock.

Currently, I’m not crazy about entering any new positions given the market. I would prefer it to have a more substantial correction before it resumes going up. My preference would be for the market to just slightly sell off below February’s lows. The market could just move sideways for the rest of March, which I’ll be satisfied with. If the market isn’t going to have a correction, then it at least needs to take a break from going straight up.

When the market is operating near a peak like this, I tend to find that stocks with great setups are merely shortlived opportunities in that they might only be in the profit zone for a few days – then people get scared at the slightest hint of a reversal and sell their positions to take their profits.

Another thing I find when the market is iffy: investors tend to gravitate towards stocks doing their own thing regardless of what the market is doing. That is the only reason why I bought more shares of LFE. I said earlier this month that I didn’t want to take any new positions for the RRSP until the market had a decent correction. This stock was resilient during some market weakness and looked like it was taking off.

When I am doing something that goes against my intentions, I have to ask myself, “If this stock takes off without me, will I be upset?” Some setups are dodgy enough that I wouldn’t have regret even if it works because I’ve learned that if I took such setups every time, I’d have consistently worse returns. The setup LFE was demonstrating is the kind you just can’t ignore.

Below is a comparison of the daily and weekly charts of LFE to one of my favourite market index ETFs to watch, the XIC. I also watch the actual TSX Composite Index, however, I prefer looking at the XIC because I get a better view of the trading volume in the market.

lfe

I haven’t lost sight of the increased amount of risk when taking trades in a market like this. I feel that LFE will trade on its own page for a while. Eventually, it’ll likely be more affected by the market. Hopefully, that happens when it’s at a much higher price!

 

The Transparent RRSP: A Quick Update

Action Taken the Week of March 13

It’s really hard to schedule my blog posts because it’s just as hard to schedule opportunities! I much prefer to write about the Transparent RRSP towards the end of the week after watching the markets for the week. I will do another post either this Thursday or Friday. I just really wanted to share this recent trade in case others might want to consider this opportunity.


 

 

LFE2

LFE charts on freestockcharts.com

 

After I first bought shares of LFE.TO, the stock went up only to come down again and consolidate longer. I loved how the range got tighter and held up beautifully – while the market during the same time came down. It always gets my attention when a stock holds stronger than the market. It’s now trading above all the previous prices in this consolidation. Could this be taking off?

The Transparent RRSP: The Investor’s Mindset

No Action Taken for the Week of March 6

Let’s have a gander at the charts for the stocks in the Transparent RRSP.

 

4 charts

Four weekly charts on freestockcharts.com

 

The charts for LFE and GRL still look good. LFE is particularly nice in that it held up strong yesterday, despite a big down day for the market.

ZPR could use a correction. I’d like it to either go sideways or have a tiny selloff (hopefully, no lower than the $11.00 area) before going up again.

LIQ got ‘wasted’ on their earnings report yesterday morning, but the fast drop was followed up by some serious buying. Seeing volatility like that can be a little thrilling (for me, at least). A shakeout like this is called capitulation. This is when sellers get out in large numbers due to panic. The stock dropped off the open and went up for the rest of the day.

Whenever a stock trades like this at an abnormal price range and trade volume, it attracts the attention of many: the media, scared investors, and traders who are watching for a potential buying opportunity. I’ve lived through enough earnings/news shakeouts – my biggest regret for most them was abandoning my positions. This is because usually after enough time passes, there was almost always a recovery. I’m going to hold on.

As I mentioned in last week’s RRSP post, the market is in need of a correction before investors can feel confident in taking new positions or adding to their current ones. Remember, I only just entered these positions in the last two months; when you buy a stock at a time when the market is nearing the end of its shorter-term trend, you can face a bit of turbulence while the market either levels out or has a bit of a selloff. I’ve said it before: selloffs are temporary and often short-lived. When the market resumes its uptrend, all you can do is hope that your stock either follows the market or will have started going up before the market gets going again.


The Investor’s Mindset

Investors feel confident when they’re right. If you buy a stock and it’s positive, then you feel like a top contender for Wall Street’s Got Talent. You look for more stocks to buy or you buy more shares of the same one. A rising stock within a rising market is positive feedback and confirms that you made the right call.

If you buy a stock and it’s negative and lower than the position you took, you start frantically looking for reasons that explain where you went wrong. There will always be reasons to support why you’re making money as well as why you’re losing money. The problem with human psychology is that we tend to focus on losses and failures more than our successes and long-term progress.

Losing something is often a traumatic experience for us. We withdraw and try to rationalize why it happened and what could’ve been done to prevent it in the first place. Just watch an athlete on a streak make one mistake. The athlete who recovers quickly and keeps at it like nothing happened conquered that hit on the ego by staying focussed on the goal of the game, not the hitch. (If you’re interested in this high-performance mindset stuff, read The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey.)

This doesn’t mean I stick my head in the sand and ignore all the signs saying to cut my losses when I should. I just need more information that’s relevant to me and my plan. I didn’t become a good trader/investor until I truly accepted the ups and downs that come with trading. It has taken me years to get comfortable with that. I’ve read countless books on trading and psychology to see if I was missing something in my mental processes. What I realized was that I was denying myself the joys and rewards that come from being patient.

I discovered the importance of having plans for your trades. Writing it down helps to remind you of your original intentions. (I’m getting better at this. No more loose post-it notes!) If you start getting antsy, then review your plans to see if you’re still on track with your short and long-term expectations.

Have a plan, stick to it, learn from it, and get confident!