When Everyone's Talking About A Pause...


Here we go again. After three consecutive red closes, the masses are now absolutely, positively sure of what is going to happen next. If I heard it once yesterday, I heard it ten times: it is time for the market to pause.

Never mind the fact that the now deafening chorus projecting a time-out in the market is occurring after stocks have basically gone nowhere for three-plus weeks. Yep, that's right; the S&P 500 closed Wednesday at essentially the same place it was in the middle of July. So, it is probably safe to say the hindsight glasses have been donned and are fully operational at this time.

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But what is really interesting here is that the pundits, the "experts," and the television commentators appear to be convinced that that which has just happened on Wall Street will continue to happen on Wall Street going forward. While the reasons given for the anticipated pause include all the "taper talk" as well as worry over the "budget battle," the German election, and growth issues in China (none of which are new, by the way), the market prognostications are the same - there is nowhere to go but sideways or well, okay, down.

Speaking of down, after three straight declines (during which the S&P 500 has fallen -1.1 percent) the talk is all about how far the market will fall from here. Will it be 2 percent? Can stocks decline 3.5 percent? Or will the S&P take a second 5 percent tumble in the last three months?

My first point on this fine Thursday morning is that Ms. Market's game is rarely, if ever easy. My 30+ years of experience in the business has taught me that the indices don't tend to follow the consensus of what is expected too terribly often. No, the stock market has a tendency to go out of its way to frustrate the majority of the players, the majority of the time.

As I've opined a time or twenty, this is why I don't bother participating in the prediction game. Honestly, what's the point? No one has been able to consistently "call" what the market will do next for any length of time - ever (and ever is a very long time!). So, I figure it might be a teensy bit presumptuous to assume that I'm going to be the first one to start doing so.

Another of my favorite market clichs is "the best trade is often the toughest trade." So I ask you, what would be the toughest thing to do with your trading account right now? Take some profits? Buy some "premium" (via VXX, VXZ, etc.)? Write some calls? Hedge your longs? Or put on some shorts? Frankly, all of these are pretty popular ideas right now.

Or here's a trade idea for you. What about putting on a long position - maybe even a leveraged long position? Now we're talking tough trades, right? Admit it; how many of you cringed at the idea of buying some SPDRs (NYSE:SPY) right about now? In fact, I'm not sure I have heard anyone, anywhere talk about adding to longs this week. No, they are all talking about the pause that will inevitably occur going forward.

Please don't misunderstand. I am most definitely NOT suggesting that investors of any size, shape or color run out and buy stocks today. Heck, even my market environment model says that things are a bit iffy right now and my short-term trend following system may even force me to take a time-out on the sidelines for a while. However, when everyone, everywhere proceeds to tell me, in no uncertain terms, that stocks must do this or that, I tend to get a bit skeptical. As I said above, this game is rarely easy. So, when everybody expects the same thing, well...

Turning to this morning...

Trade data out of China seems to be trumping the report that the ECB cut its growth (and inflation) forecasts for the region. Although China's trade balance came in well below expectations, the fact that imports rose more than expected has created some hope for the European markets. Thus, after three consecutive down days, it appears that a rebound try is on tap in the early going as both Europe's major bourses and U.S. futures are higher at this time.

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