Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Head and Shoulders Bottom in the Stock Market?

I was recently asked about the possibility of a reverse head-and-shoulders bottom in the stock market, with the October lows constituting the first shoulder (first blue arrow above); the November lows forming the head (second blue arrow); and now the third blue arrow forming a second shoulder. If this pattern is valid, we should see the market holding at the low to mid 800's in the ES futures, followed by very significant buying that would launch us above the neckline in the low 900s.

I've overlayed the Cumulative NYSE TICK on the ES futures (chart above) to give a somewhat different picture. This is not a cumulative TICK adjusted for its prior 20-day average, as charted in my weekly indicator reviews. Rather, it is a simple cumulative sum of one-minute average TICK values. What this shows us is relative buying and selling pressure. We can see that the Cumulative TICK has been on the rise since the November bottom, but has been rising at a far more gradual pace than it fell during the prior decline.

While I'm open to the possibility of a head-and-shoulders reversal bottom, the actual buying and selling pressure across NYSE issues is equally consistent with a pattern of lower highs and lower lows in a bear market. I would like to see an upside acceleration of the cumulative TICK line before I stick my head and shoulders in a possible bear guillotine.