Stocks closed last week on a strong note, with the S&P 500 notching a new high, despite lackluster economic data and growth. I have been suggesting in previous articles that stocks appeared to be coiling for a significant move but that the ingredients were not yet in place for either a major breakout or a corrective selloff. However, bulls appear to be losing patience awaiting their next definitive catalyst, and the higher-likelihood upside move may now be underway. Yet despite the bullish technical picture, this week’s fundamentals-based Outlook rankings look even more defensive. Read more about Sector Detector: Bullish technical picture appears to trump cautious fundamentals

As we get into the heart of earnings season and anticipate the GDP report for Q1, the investor spotlight has been taken off the Federal Reserve and timing of its first interest rate hike, at least temporarily. Even though Q1 economic growth will undoubtedly look weak, the future remains bright for the U.S economy – even though many multinationals will struggle with top-line growth due to the strong dollar – and any near-term selloff resulting from weak economic or earnings news should be bought yet again in expectation of better results for the balance of the year. Read more about Sector Detector: Earnings and GDP temporarily take investor spotlight off the Fed

In the ongoing bad-news-is-good-news saga, last week’s surprisingly weak jobs report led to speculation that the Fed would delay hiking interest rates, which is perceived as a positive for equity investors. So, bulls are getting a boost for the moment, although those previously hard-won round-number price levels for the major indexes are now serving as ominous overhead resistance that will likely require a strong new catalyst to break through. Whether stocks are destined for downside or upside from here, Q1 earnings season starts this week and will likely provide the catalyst. Read more about Sector Detector: Stocks grind into neutral, hoping to find a new catalyst in earnings season

Volatility continues as the parade of mixed earnings and economic reports marches along amidst a backdrop of global unrest and economic uncertainties. This has led to a neutral near-term outlook for both the technical picture and fundamentals-based sector rankings. Nevertheless, the longer-term trends appear to favor further flattening of the yield curve and continued strength in the dollar, gold, volatility, and equities. Read more about Sector Detector: Neutral indicators and mixed reports, but sector rotation model bullish

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

Stocks saw elevated volume and volatility last week, and the 100-day simple moving average on the S&P 500 proved to be the proverbial line-in-the-sand for bullish investors. I opined last week that the market seemed to have sufficiently cycled back down to oversold territory, so with a little more technical consolidation and successful testing of nearby support levels, the next move higher could easily commence at any time. So, the question remains as to whether that was the big new buying opportunity, or whether more backing-and-filling is needed. Read more about Sector Detector: August consolidation offers chance to buy top stocks from top sectors

Now that’s what I’m talking about. I have been discussing the overbought technical conditions of the S&P 500 for some time and the need for a pullback to test bullish support levels. And as many commentators have suggested, the more time between pullbacks, the more severe is the action when it finally arrives. Bears had become very hungry after a prolonged hibernation. This week offered up a nasty pullback. Read more about Sector Detector: Patient bulls finally get a new entry point, thanks to inflation fears

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