Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Conservative Contrarians Take Note

The bottom two images are today's front pages from the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times. Both note that yesterday the Dow closed at historical highs. I think the Tribune headline captures the spirit of this market pretty well. I think investors are happy to see the Dow at new highs but that skepticism about economic conditions and US economic prospects remains strong.

The top image appears on page 1 of the Tribune's business section today. It suggests a little more optimism but in my judgement "Dow 20,000" projections are not very common right now.

I don't think we are seeing a bullish information cascade here, at least not yet. Yet the Dow is at historical highs and the S&P is not far behind. In fact the S&P is just below the levels it reached at the 2000 and 2007 bull market tops. And this bull market has already lasted 4 years.

There certainly has not yet been a 200 day moving average sell signal for conservative contrarians. Nonetheless I think it makes sense for conservative contrarians to cut back stock market exposure to below normal levels now. There was no bullish information cascade visible at the 2007 top either, but we still saw a more than 50% drop from that top.

I don't like to deviate from standard operating procedure like I am doing now. But I think it makes sense to substantially lighten long positions at the top of a 13 year trading range after a bull market has lasted four years and newspaper headlines are starting to suggest increasingly bull sentiment.

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