Ominous Signs in this Market Indicator

The stock market has been on a rip lately. The S&P has risen well above 3000, and currently sits at 3120.5 (^GSPC Chart). But how high will we go without a pullback? More importantly, how big will that pull back be?

Yesterday, while trying to find clues, I put the ‘On Balance Volume’ indicator on my SPY chart. This indicator basically gives you an idea of accumulation and distribution in the market; it tells you, in general, if the market is scooping up shares, or selling shares. I use the OBV from time to time, but have not used it in a while. What I found was scary.

SPY chart as of 11/15/2019

Notice the descending trend on the OBV indicator? More importantly, notice the pullbacks that have happened each time the OBV dropped in relation to the market rip higher?

At the end of last year we had a correction. The markets tanked for a couple months, and finally bottomed out on December 31. Since then the market has climbed to all-time highs setting record after record.

Our first substantial pull back of this year happened right after the May high. This is when the Trump administration basically said a deal with China was currently off the table. The markets did not like the news one bit, and down it went. From there it rallied to new all-time highs in July.

Same story in July – more negative trade news, and the market soon fell. However, the fed started to talk about lowering interest rates, and the market liked that. It soon rallied again in September and met up with the July all-time high. Then, of course, another pullback on… you guessed it… negative trade news. Since the pull back bottom in early October, we have rallied to even higher highs. The market is on a rampage!

But there are ominous technical signs that this is not sustainable without some sort of pull back or correction. Take a look at the chart one more time:

SPY chart as of 11/15/2019

The blue vertical lines are meant to show the market highs in relation to the OBV. The red arrows, of course, are pointing to the highs of the OBV in relation to the blue lines. The blue dashed line on the indicator shows the May OBV high, and the purple dashed line shows the July OBV high.

Notice, each all-time market high comes with a lower OBV high. This is divergence. The On Balance Volume indicator is showing divergence with the overall market.

After the July market high, the market pulled back. The OBV might have predicted this, as it could not reach the May OBV high. Same story for the September rally – the OBV might have predicted that one as well. This time, the September OBV could not reach the July OBV high or the May OBV high. And here we are today. The OBV is right at the September OBV high, but well below the July and May OBV highs.

Quite a tongue twister that last paragraph was. LOL! But you get the idea.

There is one other ominous sign the OBV is giving me. Notice the OBV has been slow to rise during this current rally when compared to the other rallies? That is showing that there is lack of conviction in this move. It seems market players are leary about moving forward on the current trajectory. The other rallies showed steeper OBV rise.

As I always say, this does not guarantee a pull back or correction will happen any day now. There is no “holy grail” of market indicators. The OBV is no exception to that. This is just something I noticed and wanted to share.

This post is my opinion only, and should not be taken as advice. Always do your own research before making any investment decision. Seek professional and licensed advisers if you are unsure.

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