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Investor Sentiment: Are These the Makings of a Sustainable Rally?

We start the new year like we ended the old year: with a mixed sentiment picture. The Rydex market timer is extremely bullish, and this is a bear signal. The "dumb money" indicator is neutral and company insiders are as well. Overall, my interpretation is bearish. Sustainable price moves usually start when there are too many bears, and it is short covering that is the fuel that sparks a price rise. After the short covering subsides, sustainable price moves are typically heralded by having too many bulls willing to chase prices higher. Neither of these extreme conditions are currently present, and it is difficult to see the market embark on a sustainable price move in their absence. Lower prices would bring out more bears and this would be a precursor to a tradeble, sustainable rally. Higher prices should be supported by increasing number of bulls, and this would be a signal that a sustainable rally, that everyone so desperately wants, is unfolding. As stated above, I am betting that we will see lower prices before higher as there are few bears (i.e., no short covering) and as the time for the bulls to have taken the reigns of this market have long since past.

The "Dumb Money" indicator (see figure 1) looks for extremes in the data from 4 different groups of investors who historically have been wrong on the market: 1) Investors Intelligence; 2) MarketVane; 3) American Association of Individual Investors; and 4) the put call ratio. This indicator shows neutral sentiment.

Figure 1. "Dumb Money"/ weekly
Dumb Money Weekly

Figure 2 is a weekly chart of the SP500 with the InsiderScore "entire market" value in the lower panel. From the InsiderScore weekly report: "Sentiment remained in Neutral territory this past week. Sellers did show a bit more conviction than buyers, but with the year closing there was, no doubt, some tax-related selling. Volume fell from a week earlier, the result of the holiday and end-of-quarter lock-ups coming into play."

Figure 2. InsiderScore "Entire Market" value/ weekly
InsiderScore Entire Market Weekly

Figure 3 is a weekly chart of the SP500. The indicator in the lower panel measures all the assets in the Rydex bullish oriented equity funds divided by the sum of assets in the bullish oriented equity funds plus the assets in the bearish oriented equity funds. When the indicator is green, the value is low and there is fear in the market; this is where market bottoms are forged. When the indicator is red, there is complacency in the market. There are too many bulls and this is when market advances stall. Currently, the value of the indicator is 59.84%. Values less than 50% are associated with market bottoms. Values greater than 58% are associated with market tops.

Figure 3. Rydex Total Bull v. Total Bear/ weekly
Rydex Total Bull versus Total Bear Weekly


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