After weeks of tepid volatility (chart) investors and markets appear a bit jittery with volatility waking up. For the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) closed down 1.3%, the tech-focused Nasdaq (chart) closed off 2.7%, the S&P 500 (chart) closed lower by 1.3% and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) finished lower on the week by 1.4%. As first quarter earnings reporting season begins to wind down with overall results coming in mixed, we now enter a time of year where weakness in stocks can occur with volatility even more prevalent. The old adage “sell in May and go away” could come into play.
The currents risks to the market as I see it is the market itself as valuations are historically high with the S&P 500 price to earnings ratio trading in the 20’s. Another risk to stocks is the possibility of the Fed raising rates in June. These catalysts alone could be all that it takes for equities to not only pause but to continue to experience increased volatility as we head into the summer months. So now let’s look at the technical shape of the aforementioned indexes. After trading near or in overbought territory for the past month or so the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) broke through its 20-day moving average, the S&P 500 (chart) also broke through its 20-day moving average, however, a bit more troublesome is the Nasdaq (chart) as it has broke through its 200-day moving average this past week, a moving average that is more closely watched. Finally, the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) is now sitting right at its 20-day and 200-day moving averages. So the technical shape of the markets at least according to moving averages support lines appear to be breaking down a bit.
So as we head into a typically softer time for equities that is May and June, and considering the current technical shape of the markets, both Paula and I feel it would be best to move to the sidelines and see if the current increase in volatility continues or if this is just a pause in the sharp rally we have seen since the middle of February.
Good luck to all 🙂