Wednesday, December 17, 2014

First Major Accumulation Day in 14 Months

The markets hit a large number of extremes at the end of last week (post). More were hit Tuesday (post). These, together with positive statements from the Fed today, created a major accumulation day (MAD). These are days when up volume on the NYSE is at least 9 times larger than down volume.

That is telling you that investors overwhelmingly see equities as attractive or oversold at current prices. It's a bullish sign and normally (but not always) initiates a move higher in price.

As an aside, 'tick' on the NYSE was also strongly positive today. We look especially for a cluster of ticks over 1000 after a strong period of selling. This means that many stocks are moving up on the ask, not the bid. The highest tick today was 1350, one of the 5 highest of 2014. Overall, the profile of tick is consistent with a MAD.

Today's MAD was 17:1. It was the first MAD since the October 2013 low in SPX. In the past two years, the only other MAD was January 2, 2013. Both of these initiated long moves higher in SPX.

A watch out might be a second MAD within a week, especially if SPX moves up strongly in-between. This happened in September 2012. The second MAD exhausted the move higher. That is not the set up today. SPX had moved down 5% in a straight line, losing on 6 of the last 7 days.

MAD normally initiates further upside, but not always. An example is August to October 2011. The initial MAD was fully retraced the next day. Then the market bounced 7% in the next week. All those gains were then lost the following week. This pattern repeated two more times until the October low. What was happening?

In the chart below, the middle panel (green bars) shows major accumulation days and the lowest panel (red) shows major distribution days (more than 9:1 down volume). Within two months, there were 7 of each. That's unusual but not unprecedented; a similar pattern happened in 2010 as well.

It would be unusual for SPX to revisit the recent low before moving higher. There are other reasons to expect SPX to move higher over the next week or so anyway (post and link). The most immediate watch outs are for either exhaustion or a surprising distribution day a week or so out.

After a 2% gain on a MAD, SPX has often chopped sideways, digesting gains for up to a week later (yellow shading).

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