Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Dow Theory Update for March 10th: Primary bear market for US stocks signaled on March 9th

I am writing before the close. So readers beware.



Under Schannep’s Dow Theory

As I explained here, US stocks completed the setup for a primary bear market signal on March 4th
On 03/05/2020 the Transports penetrated the March 3th closing lows unconfirmed. Hence, no signal.

Yesterday, March 9th, the Industrials and the S&P 500 have jointly violated their February 28th closing lows. Given that the S&P 500 participated in the breaking down of the February 28th lows and that both the Industrials and the Transports confirmed (we needed just one confirmation), a primary bear market has been signaled.

At the same time, on March 9th the so-called bear market definition (-16% decline from the top on both the Industrials and the S&P 500) has been met, which entails what I’d call a cyclical bear market. Those cyclical bear markets are “higher order” bear markets than those determined by the typical setup (market top, secondary reaction, rally and breakdown). Hence, cyclical bear markets tend to last longer and decline more than primary bear markets. A more thorough information about the relationship between secular, cyclical and primary bear markets here

More about what I call cyclical bear markets on Schannep’s website

As per Schannep’s Dow Theory, a primary bear market would entail the selling out of the whole long position. The same would have applied if, absent a primary bear market signal, a cyclical bear market (-16% decline confirmed by the S&P 500 and the Industrials) had occurred.

However, to complicate matters (or to give us a glimpse of hope), on this very day (March 9th, 2020) we had capitulation as well. I have profusely written about capitulation in the following posts:

As a reminder, I have been writing about capitulation in the following posts.


Capitulation partially negates the “sell” signals we have gotten by both the primary bear market and cyclical bear market signals. Hence, for those only following, Schannep’s Dow Theory (that is without following Schannep’s “timing indicator”), it is advised to keep a long position of 25% (in other words, to sell just 75%), as capitulation tends to accurately signal a market bottom. Those following Schannep’s “timing indicator” too have been advised by Schannep to keep a 50% position which implies selling the other half. Please mind that this blog, rather than a subscription service with a commitment to punctually transmit to subscribers actionable advice (such as Schannep’s) is just a means to increasing our knowledge of the Dow Theory and, hence, what I post in this Dow theory blog is not a substitute (and it is not intended to be) for the real thing.

All in all, as per Schannep’s Dow Theory a 25% position is to be kept. Furthermore, the fact that we have had capitulation shortens the time requirement for the next secondary reaction against the brand new primary bear market. Following capitulation we just need one week. Hence, things may change very quickly in the coming days. Once again, those wanting to be informed in real time should go to Schannep’s website.

What I’m going to write now is not strictly Schannep’s Dow Theory, albeit I feel it can be perfectly accommodated within it, as it is sound Dow Theory. I devoted a saga of posts concerning the lows of the last completed secondary reaction as a valid exit point. Hence, this is not something I am making up. If you read carefully those posts, you’ll see that the current situation was anticipated and the “medicine” suggested was taking into account those vital lows. Here you have the link to the last post of this exhaustive saga which contains the links to the other posts.

By “the last completed secondary reaction” I mean the secondary reaction prior to the current one. To know that one reaction is the “last one” we need to have had higher confirmed highs. Once we have higher confirmed highs, we know that we “reset” the clock, declare the reaction as ended and start looking for the next one. 

In our specific instance, the closing lows of the last completed secondary reaction were made on 01/31/2020. Armed with my saga of posts concerning the lows of the last completed secondary reaction as an acceptable (Rhea accepted it most of the time) and reasonable (is a clear pivot point) exit point some  traders may have decided to at least partially reducing long exposure on 02/25/2020 when the S&P 500 and the Industrials confirmed the Transports in penetrating those lows, as was explained here. For my personal trading the breaking down of the 02/25 closing lows was a warning sign, and prompted me to adapt my trading to an already bear market (which implies, among other things, reducing leverage and that I avail myself of any intraday rally to partially unload instead of waiting, as I normally do, until the close). The reasons that made such lows a reasonable exit point were:

a)     The Transports did not confirm the last primary bull market closing highs made by the Industrials (02/12/2020) and the S&P 500 (2/19/2020). In this very blog I uttered my uneasiness with the lack of confirmation.

b)    In his newsletter to subscribers of February 1st, 2020 Schannep warned his readership about many price targets having been met and the likelihood of a top having been made. In and on itself this was not enough to sell out at the top, as we are trend followers and we don’t catch tops and bottoms. However, it was a warning sign which may have implied tightening stops and being less tolerant with declines. Schannep himself declared that we was going to lighten up some private accounts.

c)     While this is very personal, my own short term trading was telling me that the internals of the market were weakening. I warned about on January 24th,2020.

I insist that having several alternative exits is a sensible course of action provided the trader/investor has enough time to be on top of them. The same applies to alternative entries. The whole of Schannep’s system (the Dow Theory plus the “timing” indicator) provides us with alternative entries and exits, which is a good thing not necessarily to increase performance but to smooth out the equity curve (the smoother, the less drawdown, the better). The only issue of alternative entries and exits is that of quality. All of them should be profitable in the long run, contain drawdowns and have a long, really long track record to avoid statistical flukes.

Here you have an updated chart.  It begins on the left side with the “last completed” secondary reaction (orange rectangles). The pink thick horizontal lines depicts the relevant levels to be violated for an alternative sell signal to be signaled. The next orange rectangles (middle right side of the chart) depicts the current secondary reaction, the rally than followed which setup US stocks for a primary bear market, and the subsequent penetration on March 9th of the 02/28 secondary reaction lows which resulted in the new primary bear market signal. Study it carefully as there is a wealth of information therein.

Two alternative exits: the lows of the current secondary reaction (red lines) and those of the previous one (pink lines)

Under the Rhea/Classical Dow Theory

The primary bear market turned bearish on March 09th, 2020 when the Industrials finally confirmed the Transports (break down on 02/27/2020) in penetrating the lows of the last completed secondary reaction. Once again we are availing ourselves of the alternative primary bear market signal. Please mind that when the February 28th lows were made we could signal a secondary reaction as the Industrials had not yet rallied for at least 3 weeks (the Transports did). Absent confirmation no new secondary reaction could be signaled, and we only had the “previous” one. As we see, the lows of the last completed secondary reaction came in handy in order to give us an exit point. However, please note the great difference in reactiveness between Schannep’s Dow Theory and the Classical one. While we used the same “rule”, namely the lows of the last completed secondary reaction, Schannep’s Dow Theory flashed danger (that is an alternative sell signal) much earlier than the Classical.

Now both the primary and secondary trend are bearish.

Here you have an updated chart. I display the current decline with green rectangles instead of the usual orange because it is not yet a secondary reaction. Bearish reactions are displayed in orange and bullish ones in blue. When neither, in some other color such as green.

Once again the lows of the last completed secondary reaction signal a primary bear market


The primary and secondary trend were signaled as bullish on 02/19/2020, as explained here

In just four days SLV declined drastically. GLD declined but on a much more muted basis. Hence, the decline does not meet the time requirement for a secondary reaction.

However, Rhea recognized as a valid exist point the closing lows of the last primary bull market (red horizontal lines on the charts below). SLV did not break its primary bear market low by a hair. GLD was always at a safe distance, and hence no primary bear market was signaled. More about the alternative entry and exit signals under the Dow Theory here.


The primary trend is bullish since 12/18/2018 as explained here. On 02/24/2020 the primary bull market has been reconfirmed, as both SIL and GDX have bettered their last recorded primary bull market highs.

The secondary trend is bullish as was explained here.

Please mind that, following the turmoil which afflicted markets last week, SIL violated the lows of the last completed secondary reaction, which as I have explained above in this post, also constitute a valid exit signal (especially under the Classical Dow Theory). However, GDX did not confirm and, thus, we didn’t get a primary bear market signal. The current decline from the last primary bull market highs doesn’t fulfill the time requirement on a confirmed basis (please mind that SIL made its highest closing highs on 12/26/2019, and, thus it has declined for more than 3 weeks. However, GDX hasn’t done so). All in all, it is too early for a secondary reaction to be declared.


Depending on the way one appraises the secondary reaction that led to the setup that resulted in the primary bull market signal, the primary bull market was signalled either on 11/19/2018 or 12/18/2018. Rhea wrote that the definition of secondary reaction is not carved in stone. The signal of 11/19/2018 was obtained by being satisfied with just 14 trading days for TLT and 15 days for IEF. The signal of 12/18/2018 was obtained by being strict and demanding on a confirmed basis at least 15 trading days on both ETFs. It’s up to each investor to decide what to do (i.e. to commit to each signal 50% of one’s equity or go fully invested with just one signal).

On 11/08/2019 as secondary reaction was signaled, as explained here.

On 02/21/2020 TLT bettered its last recorded primary bull market highs of 08/28/2019. On that date IEF equalled (but did not better) its last recorded primary bull market highs of 09/04/2019, and hence there was no confirmation. On 02/24/2020 IEF did better its primary bull market highs and, therefore, we can declare the secondary reaction has ended, and the primary bull market as reconfirmed. From the reconfirmation date of 02/24/2020 TLT and IEF have gone almost parabolic.

The behavior of US interest rates during these days of crisis reminds us that some bonds belong in many peoples portfolios provided they are under a bullish trend under the Dow Theory.

One Dow Theorist

No comments:

Post a Comment