A Ho Hum Q1…

It doesn’t seem like it, but for the first quarter of the year the four major averages were essentially flat. For the quarter, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) closed basically unchanged, the tech heavy Nasdaq (chart) finished up just over 1% percent, the S&P 500 (chart) +2.2% and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) closed out Q1 slightly up. Quite an uneventful quarter at least from a P&L standpoint especially considering China’s economic slow down and the Ukraine crisis that unfolded in the quarter. There was a period in late January in which we saw a sharp 5% decline only to be met with unconditional support, followed by a rally which led the markets back to almost unchanged on the year.

As I always do at the end of each quarter, I look at the technical conditions of the aforementioned indexes and how they are shaping up going into a new quarter. There are plenty of market technicians out there that use a variety of techniques and indicators to identify trends and where the markets may be headed. My preference is to keep things as simple as possible when conducting technical analysis. As you may know by now, two of my favorite technical indicators are the  Relative Strength Index also know as the RSI and the moving averages. Part of the reason why I prefer these two reliable indicators over most is it is now seemingly more than ever computerized trading models are emphasizing the RSI and the 20-day, 50-day, 100 and 200-day moving averages in their models. These indicators also have been a long time favorite of institutional investors. So it’s no wonder that when the Relative Strength Index (RSI) is indicating an overbought or oversold condition in an index or equity, more times than not, the asset finds support and changes direction. The same can be said for the moving averages, whenever a stock or index bumps up against or comes down to its moving average, typically the stock or index finds support or resistance.

Let’s break this down in more detail starting with the (RSI), The RSI is designed to demonstrate whether or not an index or equity is overbought or oversold, depending on certain value levels. According to the RSI principle, the 70 value level or greater, is an overbought condition and the 30 value and below is an oversold condition. Looking at the aforementioned indices now, there is no indication of an overbought or over sold condition. However, both the Nasdaq (chart) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) are trading and have closed below their 50-day moving averages. These two indices have been leading the markets higher and now comparatively speaking, they have begun to lag, a potential short term ominous sign. Now it has only been a couple of days that both of these indexes have been trading below this support line so we will have to wait and see if this turns into a longer term trend.

That said, we will not have to wait much longer. This Friday’s jobs report will shed light as to the health of the labor market and don’t look now but Q1 earnings reporting season is on deck. Without a doubt, Q1 earnings reporting season will be placed under a microscope to see if corporate America and the markets deserve their current valuations. Personally, I think a rather healthy pullback may be in the cards for equities and if so, most likely, the trend of unconditional support will come back into the markets as well.

Good luck to all. 🙂