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While many are familiar with technical analysis and its claimed prophetic approach to the markets using historical performance, this week we look at a derivative of the 50-day moving average through the lens of breadth.
Crossing below the 50-day moving average is considered a point of weakness whereas crossing above this trendline is viewed as a sign of future strength and bullish activity for the market or index in question. While the broad market, as proxied by the Russell 3000, had a strong May and June and remained above this moving average, it found weakness in August and has been below this trendline for the past few weeks. Instead of just analyzing the index as whole, we examine the behavior at a component level through market breadth which is a ratio of stocks with increasing prices to those with falling prices. A derivative of this metric is charted below as a ratio of stocks above their 50-day moving averages over those below; a ratio above 1 is a positive indicator for the market as this means more stocks are above their short-term average than below and indicates substantial market breadth. This is a good sign for the market as it means the majority of index constituents are exhibiting strength as opposed to only a few mega-caps lifting up the market.
Recently, however, this ratio fell below 1 which means stocks falling in price outnumber those increasing in price. Less than 42% of stocks in the Russell 3000 universe are trading above their short-term moving average whereas back in July more than 70% were trading above their short-term averages. That the market is trading flat during this new trend means that the upward movement of only a few stocks relative to the universe is keeping the market flat; this does not make for a stable market. While these are only technical indicators and are not cause for extreme alarm, the general indication of these data points is that market stress in the near future would not be completely surprising.
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