The sell in May period started off stronger than expected, but growing uncertainty in the market could push stocks lower as investors may look to take profits ahead of further vulnerability. In this week's interview with Toni Turner of TrendStar Trading Group, we discuss the prospects of a pullback and areas to watch during the growing tension in the geopolitical realm.
EQ: The broader market had been enjoying a nice run higher over the past month, but has since cooled off. Should we expect an extended breather here?
Turner: We’ve been talking about a breather for a long time, and it appears as though it may finally be here. If we look at geopolitical events, the market has not had any headwinds over the last few months. Now with Iraq and the Middle East once again in the news, oil prices involved, combined with rising interest rates looming on the horizon and second quarter earnings season starting next month, I believe the market might take these uncertainties and use them as a good time to take some profits off the table.
EQ: One stock that was enjoying the run-up was Apple (AAPL) , whose stock split took effect this week. The stock is up over 25 percent since the announcement was made in late April. The 7-1 split was assumed to have a psychological effect on traders to push it to $100 a share post-split. Do you see that playing out?
Turner: I know that Apple was scheduled by its stockholders to go to $100 post-split. For a number of reasons, that event may be put on hold at the present by even bigger world players than Apple, meaning geopolitical events.
On a split-adjusted basis, Apple touched $100 in October 2012, and it may fulfill the market’s wish of touching that big number again, but I suspect that it may have to absorb some of the fear now arising over the unrest in Iraq and the Middle East before that happens.
Technically speaking, Apple experienced a failed breakout this past Tuesday. It broke out to $95 and change and is now pulling back. Its last move up was at a very steep angle and even the mighty Apple may have to give back some ground before it can start climbing again.
EQ: The iShares Russell 2000 (IWM) re-entered positive territory recently. We've talked about the weakness in the small-cap space in our recent interviews, but is this encouraging for bulls?
Turner: This is absolutely encouraging to bulls, but in its recent pop, I saw a lot of short covering involved. That was very evident.
With that said, it is once again trading above its 50 and 200-day moving averages. I’ll be interested to see if it can hold above $112 in the face of what’s going on and with low volume. If not, then we’re facing a negative scenario again.
EQ: With all this uncertainty in the market, what sectors or industry groups are you looking at right now?
Turner: Right now, as one could imagine, I’m watching energy, although most of those stocks and ETFs are overbought at the moment. We can look at the big ETFs like the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE) , SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF (XOP) , and iShares US Oil Equipment&Services (IEZ) , and look for a pullback, with one eye on the news. .
Also, I’m watching the Guggenheim Solar (TAN) right now. We can usually count on solar stocks moving higher when it appears that oil stocks and the energy stocks gain traction. So solar usually is a me-too play.
EQ: Are you using the Utilities Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLU) as your fear gauge during this time?
Turner: The XLU came down very definitely as the market was rising. In the last run up, Utilities stocks were not glamorous enough for the broader market, and with the prospect of rising interest rates, that always takes some of the mojo for Utilities stocks away.
Now, however, they could become attractive again if this uncertainty continues.