The Dow hits a new high – but will it last?

In my 9 May post, I asked the question: Are stocks in a bubble? Of course, this is a ‘how long is a piece of string’ question. It is more a meta-physical argument than a proper question for traders who live or die by the trading decisions they make. For traders, the correct question is this: “Is the stock-market rally about to terminate or continue?”

Recall I had the 16,600 level on the Dow as my critical level – that was my line in the sand. On Tuesday, the market girded its loins and closed above it for the very first time in history. So, was this the start of a massive push higher on the back of this broken resistance?

Many pundits have been calling this the start of a massive bull move. Based on their reading of the global economies, they proclaim the US economy has ‘lift-off’ and the Fed’s quantitative easing tapering policy will have no more bearing on asset prices – they are self-sustaining. We shall see.

The litmus test for sustainable highs

This was the chart I showed last time:

Dow Jones spread betting chart

Many chartists would agree the 16,600 level was critical – after all, resistance that had built up since the 31 December high has finally been broken with a closing high into new high ground at the 16,700 level on Tuesday and Wednesday.

But experienced chartists are more cautious. They want to see the market’s reaction to this new all-time high before confirming the continuation of the rally. They wish to check if the new high can be sustained by strong buying for a few days after the initial break. This is their litmus test.

If the market cannot sustain the rally with new buying, it will fall back. A close under the 16,600 level would signal that the poke above it was very likely a buying exhaustion. This is called an overshoot on the charts. We see plenty of these on my tramlines.

Is this a genuine break?

Indeed, the poke above the 16,600 level lasted all of two days. Yesterday, the market closed well below this level – a sure sign the top was very likely in.

I have found that two to three days is the usual period to look for a reversal. If the market has not turned back within this time frame, then the break is likely genuine.

This is the daily chart as of this morning:

Dow Jones spread betting chart

I have drawn in my best fit for four tramlines and there are many good touch points along all of the lines.

Yesterday, the market fell to my third tramline from the top and is currently testing it as I write. Note the negative-momentum divergences which confirm the buying exhaustion theme.

Let’s zoom in for a closer look on the hourly:

Dow Jones spread betting chart

From the 13 April low, there is a clear five-wave pattern with a complex fourth wave (as is normal).

Now the market is testing the tramline support and there should be a bounce here. But if not, then the tramline support will break and my lower tramline becomes my next target.


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Proof that markets are patterned

Another confirmation that the top is in would be to find a five-wave move down off the high on a short-term chart.

Here is the hourly chart with my best guess for the Elliott wave labels:

Dow Jones spread betting chart

All of the Elliott wave rules and guidelines are obeyed, including a long and strong third wave to yesterday’s 16,400 low. If this is correct, we are currently in a fourth wave up and when it terminates, we will see a new low in the fifth wave – and this implies the tramline support at 16,400 would give way.

Note that the third wave also contains five sub waves with an extended fifth wave:

Dow Jones spread betting chart

This demonstrates again that markets are fractals and the very same patterns repeat in smaller and smaller time scales.

As an exercise, see if you can detect a smaller five-wave pattern within my sub-fifth wave.

Don’t let stress kill your performance

So where were the trades in all of this?

Because I had a hunch the move up to the 16,700 level was likely to be buying exhaustion (see previous posts detailing my bearish stance), I was ready to test the downside. I set a sell-stop just below the wave 1 low (see fourth chart down), hoping for a third wave move, which would have the tell-tale ‘long and strong’ signature.

If this order was to be filled, I would set my protective stop just above the wave 2 high using my 3% rule.

And my order was duly touched on Wednesday noon and the market then fell very hard. Because I was using my split-bet strategy, when the market collapsed to the 16,400 level yesterday onto my tramline support, I took one half profits of 280 pips and left the other half open and moved my protective stop to break even. That is my rule when I have a winning trade.

This gives me extra flexibility and with money in the bank, I am in a relatively stress-free position – unlike the vast majority of traders who trade emotionally and constantly worry about their trades.

I encourage all traders to find ways of managing stress, because it can be a killer to your performance. All you need is a proven trading and money management system – and stick to it at all times!

So now I have a winning half position open and looking for the wave 4 high in order to re-establish the other half, looking for a break of the 16,400 level.

Longer-term, I have more targets and I will explain these in future posts.

• If you’re a new reader, or need a reminder about some of the methods I refer to in my trades, then do have a look at my introductory videos:

The essentials of tramline trading
Advanced tramline trading
An introduction to Elliott wave theory
Advanced trading with Elliott waves
Trading with Fibonacci levels
Trading with 'momentum'
Putting it all together

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2 Responses

  1. 16/05/2014, Cliff wrote

    John,

    On the topic of the Dow and whether the top is in, over the last year we have essentially had a triangle form – what Elliot would have described as an Ending Diagonal. It also has the classic 3,3,3,3,3 count as explained in Prechter’s book or Bulkowski’s blog. Said pattern always occurs at the end of wave 5. Therefore, this strongly suggests that the top may well be in and it also makes a very tradable ending. Clearly time will tell, but fuller Elliott wave theory, beyond that which you typically discuss may well be useful in this instance. The same pattern is also visible in the S&P as well as the FTSE, although less clearly. As for the trade, I’m with you all the way – clearly something has rubbed off. thanks for your blog.
    You’ll also find something similar in the NASDAQ – although I believe here the top was in weeks ago!

    Cliff

  2. 16/05/2014, Aslam wrote

    Mr Burford,

    Your comments on the Markets are always very timely and therefore
    extremely helpful.

    However, many time I am a bit confused when you label A THIRD WAVE which
    is much smaller than FIFTH WAVE.
    As you have done in your current comments on Dow, showing Five waves
    within the 3rd wave using 15 minutes chart.

    Aslam

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