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Don’t Fight the Tape But “It’s Not Going to End Well”: Todd Harrison

Aaron Task
Editor in Chief
Daily Ticker

Stocks rose modestly Wednesday morning, pushing the Dow further into record territory. The question on everyone’s mind, of course, is: Can the rally continue?

“It sure can continue…the question is ‘how long is it going to continue?’,” says Todd Harrison, CEO of Minyanville.com.

As a former hedge fund manager, Harrison knows full well there are ‘two sides to every trade’ and that is very much the case when it comes to the market today.

On the bull side, he notes the Nasdaq 100 broke out of a “cup and handle” formation yesterday. “That’s bullish,” Harrison says.

In addition, the Dow’s record was greeted with muted enthusiasm (at best) and retail investors have only just begun to dip back into the market after years of running from it. In the first eight weeks of 2013, investors put $22 billion into traditional equity mutual funds, The WSJ reports, citing Lipper Data. But that’s after investors pulled $126 billion from such funds in 2012 -- and following net outflows from equity mutual funds of $471 billion for the prior six years, according to ICI.

“Bulls will say, ‘it’s obviously very constructive because John Q Public has not come back into this rally in any big way,’” Harrison says.

In addition, the S&P 500 entered Wednesday’s session with a P/E of 13.6 projected 2013 earnings, below its historic average of around 15 and cheap relative to the uber-low yields on Treasuries.

On the other hand, Harrison notes the S&P 500 has twice before failed after hitting 1580 and could be heading toward a “triple top” in the coming days and weeks. That is “probably the most important level we’ve seen in years,” he says, suggesting another failure at 1580 would be extremely damaging to the bull case.

In addition, Harrison notes the very big “disconnect” between the Dow’s record high and the public’s mood about the market. “That makes me worried,” he says.

I’ll note the most popular story on Yahoo! Finance Tuesday – the day of the Dow’s first record close since 2007 – was a CNNMoney story about middle class struggles with expenses growing faster than paychecks. In addition, 43% of respondents to our poll yesterday said they are "still waiting to get back in" to the market, which is up from 40% when Yahoo! Finance asked the same question back on Jan. 28.

Related: The Economy Is Much Worse Than the Data Shows

That’s anecdotal evidence, for sure, but a long way from the hat-throwing days of “Dow 10,000,” much less the “money out the wazoo” zeitgeist of 1999.

Against that backdrop, Harrison says he will seek to “trade surgically” and “hit for singles and doubles” vs. swinging for the fences “because the market is binary and too dicey.”

Looking forward, “I think it’s not going to end well,” he says. “But I’m not going to be against [the rally] on a daily, intraday basis. I’m going to trade risk both ways and let the market dictate” whether fear or greed is the appropriate mood right now.

Aaron Task is the host of The Daily Ticker and Editor-in-Chief of Yahoo! Finance. You can follow him on Twitter at @aarontask or email him at altask@yahoo.com

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