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June 27, 2019 | Stocks Seem Invincible, Don’t They?

Rick Ackerman

Rick Ackerman is the editor of Rick’s Picks, an online service geared to traders of stocks, options, index futures and commodities. His detailed trading strategies have appeared since the early 1990s in Black Box Forecasts, a newsletter he founded that originally was geared to professional option traders. Barron’s once labeled him an “intrepid trader” in a headline that alluded to his key role in solving a notorious pill-tampering case. He received a $200,000 reward when a conviction resulted, and the story was retold on TV’s FBI: The Untold Story. His professional background includes 12 years as a market maker in the pits of the Pacific Coast Exchange, three as an investigator with renowned San Francisco private eye Hal Lipset, seven as a reporter and newspaper editor, three as a columnist for the Sunday San Francisco Examiner, and two decades as a contributor to publications ranging from Barron’s to The Antiquarian Bookman to Fleet Street Letter and Utne Reader.

It’s days like Thursday that make the stock market feel so invincible. Although even a super-sensitive lab instrument could not have detected a mote of buying enthusiasm, stocks nevertheless were able to tread water all day and close essentially unchanged. They seem capable of vamping indefinitely while waiting for some ‘news’ to trigger a short-covering panic. Factor out vaguely dovish cryptoblather from the Fed and minutely bullish emanations concerning the tariff war, and the Dow would be trading 5000 points lower.

What most amazes is that when stocks drop because trade tensions are perceived as rising, they regain all of the lost ground and then some when tensions return to normal. This dynamic demonstrates the power of short-covering, a source of buying so urgent and desperate that it invariably outdoes whatever selling has preceded it.  The reverse will be true in a bear market — i.e., the selling will tend to get overdone, while rallies, however violent, will be limited in scope. And just as violent swoons in a bull market serve to keep bulls from making money too easily, fleeting bear rallies will keep shorts from getting comfortable betting on what would otherwise seem like a sure thing.

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June 27th, 2019

Posted In: Rick's Picks

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