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The market is trading like it wants to go lower

Myles Udland
Markets Reporter

On Wednesday, stocks faded gains into the close.


Wednesday marked the second day in a row we’ve seen the market fade gains throughout the trading day, with the Dow dropping more than 300 points from its highs of the day during both sessions.

This is not encouraging trading action.

On Wednesday, Bespoke Investment Group outlined how these sorts of intraday fades are behavior we tend to see during market downtrends.

In the last 20 years, Bespoke notes that there have been 134 trading sessions through that the S&P 500 dropped more than 1% for the day but still closed in the green.

And the firm found that 43% of these days happened in either the March 2000 to October 2002 period when stocks crashed after the tech bubble burst, or the window spanning the October 2007 market peak through the March 2009 market low that bracketed the financial crisis.

These are not times that make investors feel warm and fuzzy!

And as we’ve said time and again over the last few weeks, the market moving 1% every day — either up or down — is not the kind of trading action that is going to reassure investors.

In 2017, there were just eight days where the market moved 1%. The result was a market that went straight up and to the right, with the S&P 500 gaining 20% while the Dow and Nasdaq each rose more than 25% for the year.

Though Wednesday’s close, the Dow and the S&P 500 were down just less than 1% for the year. The Nasdaq’s year-to-date gains, which had been double-digits, are now just under 3%. The small-cap Russell 2000 is off about 4%.

The market also continues to deal with the technical damage inflicted during the early stages of a sell-off now going into its third month.

Brian Shannon, a Chartered Market Technician, outlined on The Final Round on Wednesday why the S&P 500 continues to suggest lower stock prices are more likely in the weeks and months ahead.

“I hate to say it, but the path of least resistance [for the stock market] is lower,” Shannon said. “And you’re more likely to continue in the direction of the primary trend.

“As we know, a lot of people look at the direction of the primary trend based on the direction of the 200-day moving average. And while the market is below that declining 200-day moving average, I think that points to [higher] odds of breaking to the downside.”

Myles Udland is a writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @MylesUdland