Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Put/Call Ratio Showing Sell Warning For Stocks - 4-19-16

Click on Chart to Enlarge

I have shown this chart many times in recent years, and it provides relevant context for the position of the market time and time again in my experience.

In this case, the 5 day average of the total put/call ratio is below it 1 standard deviation band on both the 20 period and 126 period time frames.  So there is a type of dual time frame extreme here demonstrating complacency in the options market.

However, note that this is occurring with prices NOT making new highs for the bull market.  So a 2 year low in the moving averages of the put/call ratio is occurring, and yet prices are not making new highs.  To me this suggests a market that is ripe for a significant top to be made.

Arguably the biggest weight pulling the market down has been energy and commodity related issues.  And this may be true, but the Commitment of Traders data on crude oil futures shows that the rally over the last couple months in crude oil has been a typical short covering rally.  Overall positions declined.  Shorts declined, but also longs did as well.  So the net buying was the covering of short open interest.  That is not a pattern in the big money players which is typical of healthy leg up in a bull market, or of new speculative interest coming into oil.  This suggests that oil will likely still see yet lower lows in its bear market.  And so my point here is that it doesn't appear that the weight of the energy sector's pull on the market has run its course. So my guess here is that we see the oil rally fizzle out and move to new bear market lows, and that stocks take another leg down in the process. It would not surprise me if this next move down in stocks was a big one and broke the support around 1800 in the S&P 500.  Understand that as prices move lower there is increased volatility typically, and the possibility that some related companies bankrupt from the leverage they have in play in the market which is moving lower.  And that type of context tends to cross barriers into other sectors of the market and "trickle" down.  So that is possibly the rationalization of the next big move down in stocks if it does come here before new bull market highs are made.


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