Saturday, March 18, 2017

Monthly 39-6, Grade C+ Signs of a Market Top?

First the recap, I count 39 winners 6 losers for the March option cycle. Grade is C+. The steam roller rally caused losses on some sold calls. I also took a loss on some COST puts and some legs of multi-legged strategies. Overall, I felt frustrated and out of synch for most of the month.

I am up about 4.8% for calendar 2017. As usual, that's good news and bad news. Good news is a decent gain. Bad news is that I am well behind the 6.0% for SPY buy and hold investors. Here are a few other etfs (dividends are not included, SPY already paid about a 0.5% div):

EEM +12.8% Emerging markets equity
SLV +9.0% silver

GLD +6.7% gold
SPY +6.0% U.S. large cap

IWM +2.7% U.S. small cap
TLT -0.4% U.S. 20 year Treasuries

Again, my trading account +4.8%. With the rally, there are lot of posts and questions about market tops. It's been a while since I posted a full list so will do it again:

Signs of a market top:

1 ) Inverted yield curve, when short term rates exceed long term rates.

2 ) Transports lead the first leg lower. IYT is a good proxy for the DJ Transport index.

3 ) Confirmation will come with the technical breakdown on major indices. SPY, IWM, DIA break their 50 day and 200 day moving averages.

4 ) Excessive optimism. It isn't scientific, but the sentiment at the local "coffee shop" or similar arena can be extremely powerful. When novices start giving advice, when novices start bragging about their big profits, that's a time to head for the hills. Not sure fire, but still something to look for.

4a) Look a bull on the cover of Barrons or Fortune or similar publications. The sign of the bull is often the sign of the top.

4b) Look for projections for huge future gains from talking heads on TV, and lead articles on financial magazines and websites.

Of course nothing is 100%. Corrections can happen at any time. However, major tops tend to have most if not all of the above.

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