Stocks sold off sharply on the last trading day of April. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) fell 195 points, the Nasdaq (chart) closed down 82.22 points, the S&P 500 (chart) lost 21.34 points and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) finished lower by 26.83 points. The biotech sector has lead the charge in this most recent selloff with the most popular biotech ETF (Symbol: IBB) (chart) losing over 10 percent of its value since mid-March. Another factor in this sell-off is the sloppy earnings reporting season we find ourselves in. Just this week both Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) and Linkedin (NYSE: LNKD) surprised the street with their weak quarterly results and even weaker forward guidance. So the selling pressure is not just in the biotech space, it has now spilt over to the technology sector as a whole. That said, this morning there may be a bit of a respite with the futures market pointing up sharply.
Let’s take a look at the technical shape of the markets as we now enter into May. One troubling sign is the four major averages mentioned above have all breached their 50-day moving average line, with the small-cap Russell 2000 falling prominently below it. Let’s see if these key indices remain below this popular technical indicator for more than a few days. A one day breach does not necessarily mean a total technical breakdown however, another slight concern of mine is that these averages are not oversold yet according to the relative strength index or the RSI. Click here for the definition of the RSI. Now take a look at the charts of the Dow (chart), Nasdaq (chart), S&P 500 (chart) and the Russell 2000 (chart) and you will see at the very top of the chart the plot of the relative strength index and you will further see that these indexes have more room to go to reach the 30 value level of the RSI, which is the level that qualifies an oversold condition. Now throw into the mix that May is historically a weak month for equities and we indeed be in for some additional selling pressure.
In closing, I will re-visit the technical make-up of the markets in mid-May and see where there could be some buying opportunities. Good luck to all 🙂