March and April to the Rescue?

Well that got ugly quick.  For the record, if you have been in the markets for any length of time you have seen this kind of action plenty of times.  An index, or stock, or commodity or whatever, trends and trends and trend steadily and relentlessly higher over a period of time.  And just when it seems like its going to last forever – BAM.  It gives back all or much of its recent rally gains very quickly.  Welcome to the exciting world of investing.

I make no claims of “calling the top” – because I never have actually (correctly) called one and I don’t expect that I ever will.  But having written Part I and Part II of articles titled “Please Take a Moment to Locate the Nearest Exit” in the last week, I was probably one of the least surprised people at what transpired in the stock market in the last few sessions.

Of course the question on everyone’s lips – as always in this type of panic or near panic situation – is, “where to from here?”  And folks if I knew the answer, I swear I would tell you.  But like everyone else, I can only assess the situation, formulate a plan of action – or inaction, as the case may be – and act accordingly.  But some random thoughts:

*Long periods of relative calm followed by extreme drops are more often than not followed by periods of volatility.  So, look for a sharp rebound for at least a few days followed by another downdraft and so on and so forth, until either:

a) The market bottoms out and resumes an uptrend

b) The major indexes (think Dow, S&P 500, Nasdaq 100, Russell 2000) drop below their 200-day moving averages.  As of the close on 2/25 both the Dow and the Russell 2000 were below their 200-day moving average.  That would set up another a) or b) scenario.

If the major indexes break below their long-term moving averages it will either:

a) End up being a whipsaw – i.e., the market reverses quickly to the upside

b) Or will be a sign of more serious trouble

The main point is that you should be paying close attention in the days and weeks ahead to the indexes in Figure 1.

Figure 1 – Major indexes with 200-day moving averages (Courtesy WinWayCharts TradingExpert)

One Possible Bullish Hope

One reason for potential optimism is that the two-month period of March and April has historically been one of the more favorable two-month periods on an annual basis.  Figure 2 displays the cumulative price gain achieved by the S&P 500 Index ONLY during March and April every year since 1945.  The long-term trend is unmistakable, but year-to-year results can of course, vary greatly.

Figure 2 – S&P 500 cumulative price gain March-April ONLY (1945-2019)

For the record:

S&P 500 March-April Result
Number of times UP 55 (73%)
Number of times DOWN 20 (27%)
Average UP% +5.0%
Average DOWN% (-3.4%)

Figure 3 – Facts and Figures

Will March and April bail us out?  Here’s hoping.

As an aside, this strategy is having a great week so far.

Jay Kaeppel

Disclaimer: The information, opinions and ideas expressed herein are for informational and educational purposes only and are based on research conducted and presented solely by the author.  The information presented does not represent the views of the author only and does not constitute a complete description of any investment service.  In addition, nothing presented herein should be construed as investment advice, as an advertisement or offering of investment advisory services, or as an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy any security.  The data presented herein were obtained from various third-party sources.  While the data is believed to be reliable, no representation is made as to, and no responsibility, warranty or liability is accepted for the accuracy or completeness of such information.  International investments are subject to additional risks such as currency fluctuations, political instability and the potential for illiquid markets.  Past performance is no guarantee of future results.  There is risk of loss in all trading.  Back tested performance does not represent actual performance and should not be interpreted as an indication of such performance.  Also, back tested performance results have certain inherent limitations and differs from actual performance because it is achieved with the benefit of hindsight.