The stock market, as measured by the S&P 500 Index
has been posting strong gains. The market has certainly reached overbought levels in a number of ways, but overbought does not mean sell.
Confirmed sell signals have not been registered yet. Now that SPX has cleared the 4510 level, the next major resistance is at 4650 — the highs from March 2022, when the bear market was just getting underway.
A pullback to support at 4440 would close a number of gaps on the SPX chart. That is relatively minor support, though. Below that, support exists at 4385. Then there are the two major support levels at 4330 and 4200. A pullback below 4330 would be extremely negative and would be cause to change the “core” stance from its present bullish orientation.
SPX has climbed above the +4σ “modified Bollinger Band” (mBB) again. That stops out the previous MVB sell signal for a loss (blue “S” on the right side of the accompanying SPX chart). A new “classic” mBB sell signal will occur when SPX closes below the +3σ Band. We do not act on the “classic” signals, though preferring instead to wait for the further confirmation of a McMillan Volatility Band (MVB) sell signal. So, we will wait for these signals to develop in the upcoming weeks.
Equity-only put-call ratios continue to decline, albeit at a slow pace. But as long as they are declining, that is bullish for stocks. The computer analysis programs have already declared “sell,” but that is mostly because of the reversion to the mean process built into them. We would prefer to wait until these ratios visibly begin to rise before acting on sell signals.
Market breadth has been strong, and both breadth oscillators are on buy signals and are in overbought territory. The “stocks only” oscillator, in particular, is at an extremely overbought level.
A related indicator is cumulative volume breadth (CVB)¸which is the running total of advancing volume minus declining volume. The “stocks only” cumulative volume total is nearly at a new all-time high. If it does reach a new all-time high, SPX inevitably follows. That would certainly be a major development, for the all-time high of SPX is above 4800. So, this is an indicator worth observing in the coming days.
New 52-week Highs on the NYSE have completely taken charge over New Lows. Several days have seen more than 200 new highs. So, this indicator remains bullish for stocks as well.
seems to have bottomed near the 13-14 level. That is not unusual, for there is still some fear of this market, and large traders are buying some SPX puts for protection. That action keeps VIX from dropping much further. In any case, VIX won’t present a problem for stocks until it rises sharply into “spiking” mode, which is a three-point or larger increase (using closing prices) over any three-day or shorter time period. Meanwhile, the trend of VIX buy signal remains in place.
The construct of volatility derivatives remains in a bullish state for stocks. That is, the term structures slope upwards, and the VIX futures are trading at a premium to VIX. The front month is now the August VIX future, since July expired yesterday (July 19th).
In summary, we are maintaining a “core” bullish position. We are rolling strikes up when options become deeply in-the-money and are raising trailing stops where appropriate. Eventually, we will trade confirmed signals from other indicators around that “core” position.
New recommendation: Potential CVB buy signal
As noted above, cumulative volume breadth is approaching a new all-time high. If that is reached, it suggests strongly that SPX will also trade at a new all-time high. The last time this occurred well in advance was in June 2020, when CVB made a new all-time high, but SPX was still nearly 200 points shy of its all-time high. SPX eventually followed. So, you need to keep a cumulative running total, beginning today, of NYSE advancing volume minus declining volume. If that cumulative total reaches +2,000,000 (2 million) shares, then we will assume that the “stocks only” CVB has reached a new all-time high.
In that case, buy 4 SPY Sept (29th) 480 calls. In other words, if CVB reaches a new all-time high, we are going to buy SPY
calls with a striking price equal to SPY’s all-time high. If these calls are bought, we will hold without a stop initially.
New recommendation: Edwards Lifesciences (EW)
There is a new put-call ratio sell signal in EW
It is arriving at a very low level on the chart. That is an overbought condition. The previous sell signal from this level which occurred last August, turned out to be a successful trade, so we are going to utilize this new one.
Buy 2 EW Aug (18th) 95 puts in line with the market.
EW: 92.25 Aug (18th) 95 put: 4.60 bid, offered at 4.90
All stops are mental closing stops unless otherwise noted.
We are using a “standard” rolling procedure for our SPY spreads: in any vertical bull or bear spread, if the underlying hits the short strike, then roll the entire spread. That would be roll up in the case of a call bull spread, or roll down in the case of a bear put spread. Stay in the same expiration and keep the distance between the strikes the same unless otherwise instructed.
Long 800 KOPN
: The stop remains at 1.70.
Long 2 expiring SPY July (21st) 451 calls: This is our “core” bullish position. The calls were rolled up twice this past week, as SPY first traded at 445, then later at 451. Now roll to the Aug (4th) at-the-money calls. Stop out of this trade if SPX closes below 4330. Roll up every time your long SPY option is at least 6 points in-the-money.
Long 1 expiring SPY July (21st) 451 call: Bought in line with the “New Highs vs. New Lows” buy signal. The calls were rolled up twice this past week, as SPY first traded at 445, then later at 451. Now roll to the Aug (4th) at-the-money call. Stop out of this trade if, on the NYSE, New Lows outnumber New Highs for two consecutive days. Roll up every time your long SPY option is at least 6 points in-the-money.
Long 2 expiring PFG
July (21st) 75 calls: This position was rolled up last week. Now roll to the Aug (18th) 80 calls. We will hold this position as long as the weighted put-call ratio remains on a buy signal.
Long 1 SPY Aug (18th) 434 put and Short 1 SPY Aug (18th) 404 put: This position was established in line with the MVB sell signal of June 23rd, when SPX closed below 4151. SPX closed above the +4σ Band this past week, so this trade is stopped out. Sell the spread now.
Long 10 VTRS
August (18th) 10 calls: Set a trailing closing stop at 10.15, basis VTRS common stock, for these calls.
Long 5 CCL
Aug (18th) 17 calls: Raise the stop to 17.10.
Long 2 PRU
Aug (18th) 87.5 calls: Continue to hold these calls as long as the weighted put-call ratio remains on a buy signal.
Long 8 CRON
Aug (18th) 2 calls: Hold these calls without a stop while the takeover rumors play out.
Long 6 ORIC
Aug (18th) 7.5 calls: The stop remains at 7.40.
All stops are mental closing stops unless otherwise noted.
Send questions to: [email protected].
Lawrence G. McMillan is president of McMillan Analysis, a registered investment and commodity trading advisor. McMillan may hold positions in securities recommended in this report, both personally and in client accounts. He is an experienced trader and money manager and is the author of the best-selling book, Options as a Strategic Investment. www.optionstrategist.com
©McMillan Analysis Corporation is registered with the SEC as an investment advisor and with the CFTC as a commodity trading advisor. The information in this newsletter has been carefully compiled from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness are not guaranteed. The officers or directors of McMillan Analysis Corporation, or accounts managed by such persons may have positions in the securities recommended in the advisory.