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Bank Stock's Breakout Poised to Make Traders Fast Returns

Serge Berger

Since topping out in April 2010, PNC Financial Services Group (PNC) has basically treaded water, continually failing to break past a key line of resistance around the $67-$68 area. But that looks like it's about to change.

During the past 12 months, pullbacks from the resistance area have become shallower, and subsequent reversals back up to resistance have steepened. This indicates that the stock is finally ready to shoot past this wall of resistance and go roughly 10%-20% higher over time.

Looking at the stock's weekly chart below, there are plenty of technical nuggets a trader can hang his or her hat on. Generally, when searching for strong trading setups, I favor stocks that reference a certain confluence area on their charts in multiple time frames. As it so happens, both the longer-term and near-term charts of PNC are referencing a clear level of resistance at $67-$68, around which my trading setup is focused.

After making a tumultuous bottom along with the broader stock market in March 2009, PNC proceeded to rally about 325% over the course of the next 13 months. Massive off-the-bottom rallies such as this don't usually come without some backing and filling, and the stock retraced 50% of the entire rally in a little less than a year and a half. By August/September 2011, PNC had reached a critical support level. 

While the broader market did not find a bottom until October of that year, PNC had already started to display relative strength. The key 50% retracement bottom from August 2011 in the low $40s remains the basis for a potential breakout past the longer-term resistance zone around $67-$68. Since the August 2011 lows, the stock has formed a series of higher lows and higher highs. What is still missing from the bigger picture, however, is a higher high versus the April 2010 highs, which would ultimately confirm the higher low of August 2011.

PNC Stock Chart - Weekly

Closer up on the daily chart of PNC below, the stock looks much the same as it does on the above weekly chart, hence the alignment of interest in the two time frames. 

Off the stock's 52-week low made in November 2012, the going has been fast and steep, bringing PNC right back to the key $67-$68 resistance zone. In addition to resistance on the weekly chart, this area has held its own three times since April 2012. If we look close enough, earlier this week, the stock broke past this resistance and, thus, could shoot higher. And with today's close above $68, it has now also broken resistance in the multi-year time frame.

PNC Stock Chart - Daily

The August 2011 low and the November 2012 low coincided with 50% and 61.8% Fibonacci retracement levels. For these types of setups, I like to use 23.6% extensions for profit targets. When applied to the top of the $68 resistance level, this produces targets at $74 and $84 for the daily and weekly time frames, respectively.

Recommended Trade Setup:

-- Buy PNC at the market price
-- Set stop-loss at $64.80
-- Set initial price target at $74 for a potential 8% gain in 6-9 weeks

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