Alarm bells ringing for stocks as 'correction clock' ticks down

Posted by jbrumley on May 9, 2018 3:58 PM

By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch

Oil is the tide hoisting all boats this morning.

Right now, traders are dreaming of a drop in Iran crude supplies and almost tasting the piquant rally for oil prices and stocks. But the nuclear deal situation has a lot of moving parts - and that means gains could fade fast.

Meanwhile, 10-year bond yields are lurching around 3%, looking for trouble. Oil prices lift inflation, pressuring the Fed to raise interest rates? Ruh-roh! Watch this space.

Away from crude drama, our call of the day warns that a "clock" is ticking down to a pullback for equities. It comes from the Leuthold Group's Doug Ramsey, who has taken a look at the behavior in stocks since February's pullback.

"Our 'correction' clock analysis suggests the market is already six weeks 'past due' in making a new recovery high, and this tardiness is cause for concern in and of itself," writes Ramsey in a recent blog post.

The Leuthold chief investment officer notes that the comeback trail for stocks since their Feb. 8 low has been "the most meandering of all recovery paths since 1950."

He explains that the February pullback was an "intermediate correction" - a drop of anything between 7% and 12%. Such corrections tend to last 32 trading days, and recoveries, just 42 days. By his calculations, we're at roughly day 62 for this comeback.

Here's one of three chart examples he provided, showing what has happened in the past after the S&P 500 finally made that post-correction high. It shows investors walking into a "classic bull trap" - a false signal that shows a market is headed higher, when actually it's going the other way.

Ramsey leaves us with this last chart, which lays out the middle-ground possibility. That's where the recovery is a "tweener" - too deep for a correction, but not a recession-induced bear market either:

Ramsey says they while Leuthold is positioned defensively right now, it hasn't yet declared a bear market. Just "food for thought," he says. Tick-tock.

From MarketWatch