Beware The Countertrend Rally (NASDAQ:QQQ)

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The rally that occurred final week was epic. Fairness markets all over the world breathed a collective sigh of reduction and the response from buyers was to purchase all the things. This was notably true in beaten-down teams akin to small cap progress, client discretionary, and to a lesser extent, giant cap progress. These are the areas of the market I watch very carefully as a result of they sign whether or not Wall Avenue is in a bullish temper. In any case, if the large cash thinks we’re going increased, they’ll allocate to progress areas to benefit from outsized up strikes. It is the identical purpose utilities and different defensive names outperform in instances of duress.

The large query, nevertheless, is whether or not or not this transfer was the beginning of a brand new bullish part, or if this was merely the unwinding of large concern throughout choices expiration week. The week of choices expiration is usually a fairly unstable one, and you will recall the throughout rip-roaring bullish durations, choices expiration tends to see a downward bias. Nonetheless, this time round, since we have been in an prolonged bearish part, the bias was very clearly increased. In different phrases, if there is a predominant development heading into choices expiration, it is a pretty secure guess we’ll see a transfer the week of choices expiration in the wrong way. That is precisely what final week was. Whether or not it has endurance or not is the large query, and proper now, I am not so certain.

A part of the rationale I am not so certain is one thing we’ll focus on in a bit, however allow me to elaborate on choices expiration, and the position market makers play on this. When an index or a person inventory has made a giant transfer to 1 aspect or the opposite – on this case, we had nearly all the things transfer decrease into opex week – in-the-money choices are closely skewed to 1 aspect.

On this case, we had actually billions of {dollars} of in-the-money put premium that was set to run out on Friday. That offers market makers an enormous incentive to bid up costs of assorted securities to “stability the scales” between name and put premiums which can be in-the cash. This isn’t a brand new phenomenon by any means, and it’s well-known. However I feel it is value preserving in thoughts within the context of the large rally we noticed final week, as a result of I am not overly satisfied the state of affairs is as bullish as it could appear proper now.

Let’s get to the chart.



The important thing factors of this chart start with the triple backside the Nasdaq (NASDAQ:QQQ) made up to now few weeks on the $317 stage. Having a triple backside in place gives an excellent launch pad for any sort of bullish transfer, and what a launchpad it was; we noticed a ten% transfer within the QQQ simply final week. That is an unimaginable up transfer in such a brief time frame, and I will admit it has considerably broken my bearish case.

The reason being as a result of the QQQ vaulted and sustained a transfer over the 20-day exponential shifting common, or EMA, which is without doubt one of the first indicators I search for to find out if a inventory/index has bottomed. The second signal is a profitable retest of that EMA, which after all, hasn’t occurred but. When it does, what the QQQ does can be very instructive for the subsequent part of this transfer. Does it bounce off the 20-day EMA in a bullish method and go increased, or can we see an additional breakdown. We could get that reply within the coming days.

Now, the QQQ rallied precisely to its 50-day easy shifting common in blue, and I’ve positioned an arrow the place resistance is. Monday can be very fascinating as a result of the QQQ has spent at whole of in the future in 2022 above the 50-day SMA, and that was the primary buying and selling day of the yr. If this actually is a brand new bullish part, the 50-day SMA should be crested and sustained. Whereas that is actually potential, if we take a look at the momentum indicators, I feel it is a tall order for the bulls.

The PPO remains to be very a lot in bearish territory, and actually, is not even near being bullish. The one bullish factor concerning the PPO is that the histogram is nearing +1, however that additionally means the ETF is overbought on that foundation. We are able to see different examples of the histogram reaching +1 (or thereabouts) and it has signaled that the ETF wants not less than a breather, or maybe a pullback to work that off. It is no shock the QQQ is overbought after rising 10% within the area of some days.

Second, the 5-day RSI is in overbought territory, and whereas it will probably turn out to be extra overbought, it creates one other headwind for bulls. The 14-day RSI seems extra bullish now as effectively, having lastly crested the centerline after weeks of failing to take action. That is why I stated earlier that some injury had been completed to the bearish case for this chart, as a result of these are, in truth, bullish developments, and I am not blind to them. I nonetheless suppose this was an opex-related oversold bounce, however we will discover out if I am proper or not very shortly.

Inflation and inventory valuations

Let’s now flip our consideration to a different potential concern for the bulls, which is that of inflation and rates of interest. We’re all absolutely conscious of what is going on on with inflation, however let’s recap with a long-term chart. Under I’ve 20 years of CPI knowledge charted on a month-to-month foundation, together with the one-year fee of change within the backside panel.



We are able to see that for probably the most half, inflation strikes progressively increased over time. Nonetheless, we do get deflationary durations, akin to the start of the COVID disaster, and so they’re typically resolved inside just a few months. That occurred once more this time, however as a substitute of a gradual transfer increased, we’re racing increased. The one-year fee of change is now at 8%, and is prone to transfer increased for not less than yet another month given how early-2021 appeared. Aside from all of the impacts this has on customers, it additionally has impacts on rates of interest. Since rates of interest affect inventory valuations, inflation is vital, and we’ll illustrate that time now.

Charges are a giant potential headwind

Under we’ve got the 10-year Treasury fee and the QQQ’s correlation to that fee under, on a 100-day foundation, so it is a medium-term indicator on this case.



What’s clear is that basically, we have seen an inverse relationship between QQQ and TNX, and that is smart on condition that if the risk-free fee is increased, the fairness danger premium we’ll see in inventory valuations should be decrease. That drives P/E (or P/S or no matter else) decrease as a result of buyers can theoretically obtain a better risk-free return from Treasuries, all else equal.

Certainly, the 100-day correlation between QQQ and TNX is -0.82 proper now, it is a very sturdy inverse relationship. You could be saying now, so what, why do I care? Properly, if inflation continues at a fee of 8% or extra, rates of interest will go increased. That is a reality of life and you may take a look at any interval of inflation in our previous to see that. Certainly, the interval following the Nice Recession had extraordinarily low inflation, and we had historic lows in varied rates of interest; the identical factor occurs in reverse, and it is not a coincidence.

Thus, if that sample follows and we see elevated inflation, we should always elevate charges, and due to this fact, we should always see a damaging response in progress areas specifically, such because the QQQ. That is one thing that performs out over weeks or months, not days, so durations of bullishness like final week are to be anticipated.

Volatility stays a problem

Lastly, let’s check out the VXN, which is the volatility index for the Nasdaq. This is similar factor because the VIX for the S&P 500; it is merely a measure of volatility.



The VXN made a fairly clear high within the space of 39/40 up to now a number of weeks, which coincided with the near-term bottoms made within the QQQ. That is regular conduct as a result of volatility readings that top are extraordinarily uncommon, so seeing some reduction rallies from these extremes is not surprising. Nonetheless, I feel this chart is signaling that buyers ought to stay cautious proper now, and just like the QQQ chart itself, we’ll get some type of decision fairly rapidly on this one to find out if I am proper or not.

There is a trendline that is quickly approaching the worth of the VXN, which is one thing the bulls might want to negotiate. It is about $2 under the present value, and in right now’s market a $2 transfer within the VXN can occur in just a few hours, so it is shut.

I additionally suppose the momentum indicators are displaying the VXN has declined too quickly, too rapidly, and {that a} snapback is extra probably. The PPO is displaying a centerline check, coinciding with the histogram displaying oversold ranges at -3. Whereas the VXN actually can transfer decrease, this means that volatility has probably moved down too rapidly.

We see comparable conduct within the RSIs, and the 5-day RSI is definitely effectively into oversold territory. While you take a look at the 10-day fee of change at -20%, you’ll be able to see why the 5-day RSI is in oversold territory.

Sum it up for me

What all of this implies is that we had a market that was extraordinarily bearish and oversold heading into an choices expiration week final week. Market makers had actually billions of {dollars} of incentive to bid share costs as much as work off the intense in-the-money put premium that had accrued, and that is precisely what occurred.

My view is that I am remaining cautious until we get a comply with via of bullish conduct within the coming week, as a result of a snapback rally from oversold circumstances into opex shouldn’t be precisely a strong basis for a brand new rally. Might it occur? Completely. Is it going to? I am not satisfied.

Given all of this, I feel the bulls have a tricky street forward and I nonetheless suppose we’ve got a fairly good likelihood of not solely revisiting the lows, however breaking down under them within the coming weeks. That opinion might be fairly unpopular at this stage and I may even see some digital tarring and feathering within the feedback. However I feel the macro headwinds are too nice in the mean time for this rally to stay, and I feel there’s yet another large down transfer to return earlier than we truly backside. We will see.

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