I am completing one of the best trading years of my 45-year career in the stock market. The Trade Alert service is up by a stunning 41.5% so far in 2013 and by 96.55% since inception 35 months ago.
Pretty much every forecast I made for the year came true (click here for ?My 2013 Annual Asset Class Review?). The question now is: ?What to do here??? How do I beat the performance of the ages?
It seems that the world has come around to my point of view on virtually every asset class. Stocks are soaring, lead by the sectors I suggested, technology, industrials, health care, and consumer cyclicals. Since I wrote ?Apple is About to Explode? the shares have been up nine consecutive trading days, and are now 36% above its June lows.
Commodities have, at last, begun their long crawl off the bottom, with copper producer Freeport McMoRan (FCX) massively outperforming the market since August. Gold, silver, and the agricultural commodities have been dead in the water, as expected. Bonds are going nowhere. Oil is falling, as it should. It took a poison gas attack to squeeze me out of my short position there, (thanks a lot Bashar!).
The Washington shutdown came to a big nothing, and translated into ?BUY,? as I expected. Of course, the data flow is going to be gobbledygook for the rest of the year, as different parts of the economy shut down, restart, and then report at different rates. Only privately sourced information, like corporate earnings and the endless torrent of real estate numbers, will be reliable. You can bet that the Federal Reserve is watching these numbers more than usual too.
It looks like we lost about a fifth of our economic growth for the year, while achieving absolutely nothing. For this, the Republicans will have hell to pay next year. More on that later.
There is only one problem with this scenario. When the world agrees with me, I get nervous. Much of my money is made betting against the consensus, not agreeing with it. I am getting run over by bulls on stocks catching up with me from behind. As a result, I have sold out of all of my positions and let my remaining options positions expire well in-the-money. For the first time in years, I am 100% cash. What a bizarre feeling.
Any experienced, seasoned trader will tell you that the best thing to do now is nothing. Maintain your discipline and don?t chase. Buying something that is up ten days in a row is idiotic. Leave that behavior to the wanabees, newbies, and dummies. Just wait for an extreme move in something, anything, and then go the other way.
Let?s take a look at corrections in the S&P 500 this year, which have been few and far between. It has been a market where once you got out, it has really been hard to get back in. Someone else always came by to take your seat. Here were those rare points:
May – 8%
July – 4.7%
September – 4.6%
The primordial, lizard brained trader will look at this chart and come to the same conclusion, regardless of its ticker symbol. They?ll buy once on a 4.6% dip, double up on an 8% dip, and place a stop loss order not far below there.
If the market continues to run away to the upside, then just sit back and watch it. If you already have a monster year, and you should if you have been following the advice of this letter, that?s fine. Let your friends pick up the tab for the next dinner.
Some of the indicators I follow are starting to shout about a top. Individual margin debt is at an all time high. And my buddy, Henry Blodget, of Business Insider sent me the chart below. It shows the funds held in Rydex money market funds, one of the best contrarian indicators out there.
Peaks in assets held by this very low risk family of funds are highly coincident with stock market bottoms, the last two of which were found in November, 2012 and July, 2013. The markets roared after that. Bottoms of assets held in the Rydex funds very roughly coincide with stock market tops, although they may take months to play out. This presages a selloff in risk assets that could start at anytime.
Sometimes, discretion is the better part of valor.