Powell: What Did I Say!?

I saw an interesting interview on CNBC this morning where the guest observed how important overnight trading was to the market’s overall performance. Andrew Ross Sorkin offered data that if one bought the S&P 500 at the close of each day of trading and sold at the next morning’s open, they would be up 650% since 1993.  If, instead, they bought at the open and sold at the close, they would be down 3%.

This observation won’t surprise any of our members, who are well-versed in the market’s increasingly endemic ramp jobs over the past 12 years. So far so good. The problem with the interview came when a rationale for the effect was offered: one should be compensated for taking overnight risk.  Mike Santoli then chipped in, adding another explanation: more news happens outside of market hours than during.  Ugh. And, it was going so well…

Let’s be clear about one thing: markets are manipulated, and it’s almost always intentional. Sometimes it’s quite obvious and effective, such as the announcement of a enormous new round of QE on March 23. This particular one was ridiculously obvious, as it came at 8am on the day the Dow would complete a 38% crash to test its Nov 9, 2016 lows (the day after the presidential election.)

The rest of the time, it’s done so discretely that most observers are unaware of the actual machinations. We discuss the whys and wherefores every single day, as understanding the motives and means provides an excellent road map for our forecasts.

A great example is our VIX chart, which has exhibited an orderly collapse since it reached our Fibonacci .886 target at 80.3 on March 16.The declines most often come in the after-hours, before the cash market opens. This prompts the algos to buy futures, which results in a gap higher on the open as the rest of the machines kick into gear (index funds, ETFs, quants, etc.) The fundamental crowd, which accounts for only 10% of volume, brings up the rear.

It’s notable then that after bouncing at its 200-DMA and a trend line off its 2018 lows, VIX finally departed from this channel (the yellow arrow above) last night.

This allowed our favored scenario to play out as described yesterday.

I’m leaning toward a correction beginning today, but am unsure whether the channel bottoms at ES 3076 and 3122-3135 will hold or not.  It depends a great deal on what Powell says later today.

Bottom line, Powell’s comments weren’t terribly uplifting as he essentially confirmed that a rebound is not just around the corner. The problem is the fallout from the coronavirus – which the rest of the world is beginning to understand has not gone away — not even with the Fed’s best efforts.

As to the markets… so far, so good. The key, of course, will be what happens if/when it reaches the 2.618 Fib extension at 3076.93.

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