New Drumbeat for Market to March To: Q4 Earnings

George Brooks |

Is the stock market headed up or down ?
It’s a “jump ball” at this stage.

Bulls look to Congress’ vote and an improving economy to justify optimism.
Brokers and financial publishers tend to kick off the new year with lists of stocks to buy that are sure to make boku bucks for clients and subscribers (!).
Then too, January usually gets its share of buying pressures, as monies become available for money managers to put to work.
Bears point to an ugly fight brewing in Congress in coming months over raising the nation’s debt ceiling and the massive spending cuts Congress failed to address last year, i.e., who gets hurt and how badly ?
So far, the only net buying this year occurred last Wednesday when the market soared in response to Congress’ decision on the tax portion of the fiscal cliff.
Another mixed open. I think the spotlight will turn to corporate earnings in coming weeks.
Q4 earnings will filter in this month, showing corporate earnings posting average gains of around 3%. That’s most likely factored into the stock market now, but it’s unlikely any meaningful change in projections for 2013 are.
The DJIA needs a move across 13,450 (S&P 500: 1467) to extend the rally started last Wednesday, but a drop below 13,343 (S&P500: 1,456) suggests a plunge to 13,260 (S&P 500: 1445) before an attempt to rally takes place.
I would be very careful here. If the market runs, there will be plenty of opportunities to make money. But that opportunity may well come at lower prices.
DJIA: 13,384.29
S&P 500: 1461.89
Nasdaq Comp.: 3098.81
Russell 2000: 875.79
Tuesday, January 8, 2013 (9:10 a.m.)
I did a technical analysis of each of the 30 Dow Jones industrial stocks and converted my assessment into the DJIA and concluded near-term risk is 13,260, but the potential near-term upside is 13, 595.
Obviously, I can’t analyze 500 S&P stocks, but near-term risk there is 1,445 and near-term upside 1,481.
The nation has a need for an increase in the nation’s debt ceiling in order to pay bills already approved and contracted for. Until the summer of 2011, it was a ho-hummer, with 8 approved raises over the last 10 years, 85 over the last 100 years.
However, hostilities in Congress got so ugly in 2011, the DJIA tumbled 12% in7 days following a decision to raise the debt limit. S&P lowered its credit rating for the U.S. government.
I see no reason why we won’t get round two in February/March. We reached the debt limit on January 2, but the Treasury has enough wiggle room to buy a couple month’s time.
While I am bearish about the early months of 2013, the year can produce a lot of attractive opportunities, just at lower prices.
The U.S. economy has recovered from the worst recession/bear market since the 1930s. We survived, and that is huge.
Housing is in recovery mode, increasing homeowners’ “wealth effect,” corporations are flush with cash and hopefully the 113th Congress can resolve key spending issues, setting the stage for a sustainable recovery beyond the current one.
I see an interruption to the bull market in coming months that started in March 2009, but which has not fully run its course. Individual investors are largely absent, but they will return to buy near the end of the bull market when speculation ramps up. That can be a year or two out.
I was premature in my earlier forecast that the long-term bond bubble would burst, but now feel it has already begun with a top traced out between July and December. U.S. Governments were in demand as a refuge from international chaos. As the tensions from European sovereign debt woes abate, money will flow out of safe havens and into stocks where a better return is hoped for. The short-term bonds are obviously not the problem, but long-term bonds are vulnerable.
(I will repeat this piece about the JB throughout January for new readers, and since it will get a lot of press as the month passes).
There is a seasonal indicator with a good record. It’s the January Barometer (JB), developed 40 years ago by Yale Hirsch, Stock Trader’s Almanac.
This is an annual reference every serious investor should have.
In short, as January goes, so goes the market for the year, generally speaking.
Essentially, the logic behind the JB is that institutions tip their hand as the new year unfolds with the execution of a decidedly bullish or bearish strategy which is reflected in stock prices in January.
A word of caution, all indicators should be viewed with an open mind. While the Almanac boasts an 88.7% accuracy rate for the JB over 62 years, any number of things can happen to change the market’s direction to challenge the JB’s forecast.
Since the big jump in stock prices on January 2nd’ was largely the result of the decision by Congress avoid a plunge over the fiscal cliff, the JB’ forecast may be distorted this year. Congress could have made a decision in 2012, depriving January of its jump-start.
Why wait for the results of the full month when the first five days of January can give an advance for the market’s direction in January. This “early warning” indicator sports an 84.6% accuracy rate,
Here again, the risk of distortion comes in to play.
You will read and hear about the JB in coming weeks, respect its time-tested accuracy, but keep an open mind.
APPLE (AAPL: $523.90)
Not bad, but not good enough. This is a big-name stock, known worldwide and it’s down 25% from its September high. That’s a big discount. If the Street’s forecasts are reasonably optimistic, AAPL should be attracting enough buyers to barrel through the persistent selling that the stock seems to encounter every time it attempts th get up a full head of steam.
It found support yesterday at $515, rallied to $529 where sellers moved in to throw it back.. Its next rally stopped it at $527.
Repeating what I said yesterday, this is a big test for AAPL. It must attract serious buyers in coming days if it can continue to trace out a basing pattern strong enough to prevent a plunge through $500 and support a sustainable rebound.
I do not own, nor am I short Apple’s stock.
FACEBOOK (FB - $29.42): FB broke through resistance between $27 and $28 yesterday. Next resistance is $31 - $32. Support now rises to $28.30 - $28.50.
If you have access to a daily chart, this is a good example of what I refer to as resistance. FB has been trying to advance through the $28 - $29 area since early December, and it gave it a good go Friday.
Resistance, also referred to a “overhead supply,” is created when buyers hit a wall of selling in a specific area. In FB’s case, sellers came from three sources. There were traders who bought it at lower prices, many below $20. And are taking profits. There were investors who bought it in the mid-to-high 30s and woefully saw it drop below $18. Now at $27 - $28, they sell fearing it will go back down, and after all, their loss here is far less than when FB hit bottom at $17.55. Finally, there are IPO investors who were set free to sell after their “lock-up” status expires.
I don’t own, nor have I ever owned FB. Generally, I don’t recommend or comment on individual stocks. I started covering FB technically after its IPO because on May 21. I felt at $34 it was very vulnerable in face of all the misunderstanding and hype. I warned of a drop to $24-26, which it did shortly thereafter. Following a rally back into the 30s, FB dropped into the low 20s where on August 2, I forecast a low of $16.88. On September 4, it hit $17.55, its low since its IPO at $38. I’ll continue technical coverage for a while to accommodate readers.
As for Apple, well it is a big-name stock that got shellacked in a short period of time, I wanted to help out targeting a bottom as with FB. I don’t have a position in the stock, long or short.
Note: I am going to list the economic reports will not include the numbers from the last report, since those numbers are often revised significantly and therefore potentially misleading.
I suggest you access the website: www.mam.econoday for details reports on this week’s calendar and an excellent recap (plus graphs) of last week’s reports.
Richmond Fed Bank President, Jeffrey Lacker speaks 1:30 p.m.
Jobless Claims (8:30)
Wholesale Trade (10:00)
Kansas City Fed Bank President Esther George speaks 12:45p.m.
St.Louis Fed Bank President James Bullard speaks 2:00 p.m.
Minneapolis Fed Bank President Narayana Kocherlakota speaks 8:00p.m.
International Trade (8:30)
Import/Export Prices (8:30)
Treasury Budget (2:00 p.m.)
Phila. Fed Bank President Charles Plosser speaks 9:30 p.m.
*Stock Trader’s Almanac: The new one is out – get it !
George Brooks
“Investor’s first read – an edge before the open”

The writer of Investor’s first read, George Brooks, is not registered as an investment advisor. Ideas expressed herein are the opinions of the writer, are for informational purposes, and are not to serve as the sole basis for any investment decision. Readers are expected to assume full responsibility for conducting their own research pursuant to investment decisions in keeping with their tolerance for risk.

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