Joe Duarte's Analysis, Perspective
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Joe Duarte’s Smart Money Trading Strategy Weekly

Lights Out for Stocks and Bonds? Not So Fast.

September 24, 2023

The stock market suddenly has the look of a wounded prize fighter. And the bond market is bordering on being dysfunctional.  In a word: the market is disoriented.  Disorientation leads to mistakes.

Don’t be fooled. From an investment standpoint, this is one of those periods where those who stay vigilant and pay attention to developments will be in better shape than those who remain confused and befuddled by circumstances.

As I noted here last week: “The relationship between interest rates and stocks is about to be tested; perhaps in a big way. Observe the tightening of the volatility bands (Bollinger Bands) around the New York Stock Exchange Advance Decline line (NYAD) and the major indexes.  This type of technical development reliably predicts big moves.  The real arbiter may be the U.S. Treasury bond market.  And the place where a lot of the action may take place once bonds decide what to do next may be the large cap tech stocks. Think QQQ.”

Yeah buddy!

Bond Yields Trade Outside Normal Megatrend Boundaries

Big things are happening in the bond market, which could have lasting effects on stocks and the U.S. economy.

I’ve been expecting a big move in bond yields, noting recently that yields on the U.S. Ten Year Treasury Note (TNX) were “on the verge of breaking above long term resistance,” while adding that if such a move took place, it “would likely be meaningful for all markets; stocks, commodities, and currencies.”

Well, it happened; after the FOMC meeting and Powell’s post mortem (uh - press conference) TNX blew out all expectations and broke above the 4.4% yield area in a big way, marking their highest point since 2007.  In fact, it was such a big move that it may be an intermediate term top.  At one point in overnight trading on 9/21/23, TNX hit the 4.5% level.  But the current selling in bonds is way overdone, which means that at least a temporary drop in yields is in the cards.

Here’s what I mean.  The price chart above portrays the relationship between TNX and its 200-day moving average and its corresponding Bollinger Bands. As I noted in my recent video on Bollinger Bands, this is a crucial indicator when it comes to pointing out trends that have gone too far and are ripe for a reversal.

In this case, TNX blew out above the upper Bollinger Band which is two standard deviations above the 200-day moving average. That’s a move which is in the magnitude of a Category 5 hurricane on steroids and amphetamines. It’s also one which is unlikely to remain in place for long unless the market is completely broken.

The price chart suggests we may see a similar situation to what we saw in October 2022 when TNX made a similar move before delivering a nifty fall in yields which also marked the bottom for stocks.

Meanwhile, as I describe in full detail below, the S&P 500 (SPX) is reaching oversold levels not seen since the October 2022 and the March 2023 market bottoms.  

Stay awake.  

Oil Holds Up Better than QQQ For Now

A great way to regroup after a tough trading period is to first look for areas of the market that are exhibiting relative strength. Currently, the oil sector fits the bill.  Second, it pays to look for beaten up sectors where recoveries are happening the fastest.  At this point, it’s still early for that part of the equation to develop as too many traders are still shellshocked.

Starting with a look at West Texas Intermediate Crude (WTIC) we see that prices are holding above $90 as supply remainsiesel fuel are well below their five year average.  And yes, U.S. oil supplies continue to tighten while the weekly rig count continues to fall.

The NYSE Oil Index (XOI), home to the big oil companies such as Chevron Texaco (CVX) had a mild reaction to the heavy selling we saw in the rest of the market.   XOI looks set to test its 50-day moving average in what looks to be a short term pullback.

Chevron’s shares barely budged earlier in the week despite an ongoing, albeit, short lived strike by natural gas workers at its Australian facilities. That’s a strong showing of relative strength.  You can see that short sellers are trying to knock the stock down (falling Accumulation/Distribution line), but buyers are not budging as the On Balance Volume (OBV) line is holding steady.

On the other hand, the very popular trading vehicle the Invesco QQQ Trust (QQQ) broke below the key support level offered by the $370 price point and its 20 and 50-day moving averages. This is an area, which I highlighted here last week as being critical support.  It now faces a test of the support area at $355.  A beak below that would likely take QQQ, and likely the rest of the market lower.

An encouraging development is that the RSI for QQQ is nearing 30, which means its oversold.  Let’s see what happens next.  You can also see a similar pattern in the ADI/OBV indicators to what’s evident in CVX above, which suggests that when the shorts get squeezed it could be an impressive move up.

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The Market’s Breadth Breaks Down and Heads to Oversold Territory.

The NYSE Advance Decline line (NYAD) finally broke below its 20 and 50-day moving averages and is headed toward an oversold reading on the RSI, which is approaching the 30 area.

The Nasdaq 100 Index (NDX) followed and is not testing the 14500-14750 support area.  ADI is falling but OBV is holding up, which means we are likely to see a clash between short sellers and buyers at some point in the future.

The S&P 500 (SPX) is in deeper trouble as it has broken below the key support at 4350 and its 20 and 50-day moving averages. On the other hand, SPX closed below its lower Bollinger Band on 9/22/23 and is nearing an oversold level on RSI.  Still, the selling pressure was solid as both ADI and OBV broke down.

VIX Remains Below 20  

VIX is still below the 20 area, but is rising.  A move above 20 would be very negative.

When VIX rises stocks tend to fall as it signifies that traders are buying puts.  Rising put volume is a sign that market makers are selling stock index futures in order to hedge their put sales to the public.  A fall in VIX is bullish as it means less put option buying, and it eventually leads to call buying which causes market makers to hedge by buying stock index futures raising the odds of higher stock prices.

Liquidity is Tightening Some

Liquidity is tightening.  The Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR), is an approximate sign of the market’s liquidity. It remains near its recent high in response to the Fed’s move and the rise in bond yields. A move below 5.0 would bullish. A move above 5.5% would signal that monetary conditions are tightening beyond the Fed’s intentions. That would be very bearish. 

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Joe Duarte is a former money manager, an active trader and a widely recognized independent stock market analyst since 1987. He is author of eight investment books, including the best selling Trading Options for Dummies, rated a TOP Options Book for 2018 by - now in its third edition, The Everything Investing in your 20s and 30s and six other trading books.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Ten Year note yield (TNX) is trading in a The Everything Investing in your 20s & 30s at Amazon and The Everything Investing in your 20s & 30s at Barnes and Noble.

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