The Brutal Monotony of All Time Highs

There’s only one subtle joke in the film Anchorman and it involves the fact that the San Diego news team’s weather man has a sub-100 IQ. In a city where “72 and sunny” is the forecast 365 days a year, even Brick Tamland has no problem reliably delivering this news to the viewers.

In the chart below, via my firm‘s Research Director Michael Batnick, you’ll see the S&P 500 ETF overlaying a chart indicating new all time high closes (in red). The monotony of fresh records has been brutal for the short and the sidelined – wide red stripes indicate entire weeks full of all time highs at the closing bell. It’s become an everyday occurrence. Brick could take over the business news without a problem.

 

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What’s happening here is classic herding behavior and the market isn’t letting you back in if you’ve sold.

The danger here is clear – mass complacency and a moment at which anyone who could buy, would buy or needed to buy throws everything they have at the tape just to end the pain.

My friend Jon Krinsky, technical analyst at MKM Partners, has been keeping track of a very specific dataset that I find to be fascinating. He’s looking at the current streak of days the S&P 500 has spent above its 5-day moving average. As of yesterday’s close, we’re at 28 straight days! Jon notes that this is the longest such streak in the history of the US stock market, surpassing the prior record of 27 days from 1928 – another moment during which there was universal agreement that you had to be in.

Jon’s table below:

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The market has been a wall for the dip-buyers. Impenetrable. They cannot get in unless they’re willing to pay the all-time high. It’s a high barrier of entry psychologically, especially if they’d been counseling caution all this time to their clients. The about-face could be career-wrecking, especially if it happens at a major top.

 

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