Early last week, stocks broke out, with the S&P 500 setting a new high with blue skies overhead. But then the market basically flat-lined for the rest of the week as bulls just couldn’t gather the fuel and conviction to take prices higher. In fact, the technical picture now has turned a bit defensive, at least for the short term, thus joining what has been a neutral-to-defensive tilt to our fundamentals-based Outlook rankings. Read more about Sector Detector: Stocks provide a tepid breakout as Fed greases the skids. So now what?

As widely expected, the New Year has begun with plenty of volatility on high trading volume, as investors fear more than just a mild correction to start out the year. Despite the strong fundamentals here in the U.S., there are plenty of dangers around the rest of the world, and many fear that our cozy comfort at home simply cannot remain insulated for much longer. Read more about Sector Detector: New Year kicks off with new fears to keep investors on edge

Scott MartindaleAnother solid year for U.S. equities came to a close. But it’s not like everyone is jumping up and down with enthusiasm, which is a good thing. With plenty of bogeymen in the closet and under the bed, there is little in the way of irrational exuberance. Read more about Sector Detector: Bulls close out another solid year with expectation of further gains but higher volatility in 2015

With warmer weather arriving to melt the early snowfall across much of the country, investors seem to be catching a severe case of holiday fever and positioning themselves for the seasonally bullish time of the year. And to give an added boost, both Europe and Asia provided more fuel for the bull’s fire last week with stimulus announcements, particularly China’s interest rate cut. Yes, all systems are go for U.S. equities as there really is no other game in town. Read more about Sector Detector: Holiday fever takes hold of stock investors, but a pullback is needed

After displaying a classic V-bottom reversal to what turned out to be a quick and anemic attempt by the bears to bring about a real correction, bullish fervor is becoming contagious, especially as the traditionally strong holiday season approaches. Indeed, the brief selloff was snatched up as a buying opportunity as I predicted it would, but my concerns about the market consolidating and struggling to hit new highs before year end were quickly dismissed. So, with nothing but blue skies overhead, will the party simply roll on? Read more about Sector Detector: Bulls rule as volatility recedes and investors position for holiday cheer

Scott MartindaleStocks were able to leverage some optimistic news and dovish words from the Fed to take another stab at an upside breakout attempt last week. Although readers have sometimes accused me of being a permabull, I am really a realist, and the reality is that the slogans like “The trend is your friend” and “Don’t fight the Fed” are truisms. And they have worked. Read more about Sector Detector: Bulls leverage hopeful news to launch a tepid breakout attempt

Although the stock market displayed weakness last week as I suggested it would, bulls aren’t going down easily. In fact, they’re going down swinging, absorbing most of the blows delivered by hesitant bears. Despite holding up admirably when weakness was both expected and warranted, and although I still see higher highs ahead, I am still not convinced that we have seen the ultimate lows for this pullback. A number of signs point to more weakness ahead. Read more about Sector Detector: Bulls go down swinging, refusing to give up much ground

Scott MartindaleWas that really a breakout? With the S&P 500 struggling around the 2,000 level for the past two weeks, Friday’s strong finish might seem like a bullish breakout. But the market has already given us a couple of false breakouts at this level, and although I see higher prices ahead, I’m still not convinced that we have seen all the near-term downside that Mr. Read more about Sector Detector: Stock market breakout? Not so fast

Scott MartindaleAs many investors enjoy the final weeks of summer, some optimistic bulls seem to be positioning themselves well ahead of Labor Day in anticipation of a fall rally. Indeed, last week’s action was impressive. After only a mere 4% correction, investors continued to brush off the disturbing violence both at home and abroad, and they took the minor pullback as their next buying opportunity. Read more about Sector Detector: Bullish investors jockey for position as if the correction is over

Scott MartindaleMore unnerving conflicts around the globe have flared up, but as usual, U.S. equity investors have given it nary a yawn as they seem to have become pretty much numb to the steady stream of unwelcome news, particularly out of the Middle East. Now we enter the summer version of earnings season. Read more about Sector Detector: Will earnings season provide the next catalyst for stocks?

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