Let's All Do The Wave - My Thoughts On The Market - John Rothe | Portfolio Manager, Quant, Tech Geek, And Sometime Superhero To My Kids

Let’s All Do The Wave – My Thoughts On The Market

I am a big fan of Elliott Waves. The Elliott Wave Theory basically works on the presumption that people will act in a similar pattern during similar circumstances. An easy example of this is a car accident. We know that traffic slows down if there is an accident on the side of the road. People (including myself) like to slow down to see what happened. Since we behave in similar patterns during similar circumstances, there is a good chance that if I see a car accident on my to work, I will slow down to see what happened.

From Elliott Wave International (Robert Prechter’s Company):

“The Elliott Wave Principle is a detailed description of how groups of people behave. It reveals that mass psychology swings from pessimism to optimism and back in a natural sequence, creating specific and measurable patterns.

One of the easiest places to see the Elliott Wave Principle at work is in the financial markets, where changing investor psychology is recorded in the form of price movements. If you can identify repeating patterns in prices, and figure out where we are in those repeating patterns today, you can predict where we are going.

The Elliott Wave Principle is named for its discoverer, Ralph Nelson Elliott.

Elliott Wave Principle measures investor psychology, which is thereal engine behind the stock markets. When people are optimistic about the future of a given issue, they bid the price up.

Two observations will help you grasp this: First, for hundreds of years, investors have noticed that events external to the stock markets seem to have no consistent effect on the their progress. The same news that today seems to drive the markets up are as likely to drive them down tomorrow. The only reasonable conclusion is that the markets simply do not react consistently to outside events. Second, when you study historical charts, you see that the markets continuously unfold in waves.

Using the Elliott Wave Principle is an exercise in probability. An Elliottician is someone who is able to identify the markets structure and anticipate the most likely next move based on our position within those structures. By knowing the wave patterns, you’ll know what the markets are likely to do next and (sometimes most importantly) what they will not do next. By using the Elliott Wave Principle, you identify the highest probable moves with the least risk.”

The Rules:

Wave 1: Wave one is rarely obvious at its inception. When the first wave of a new bull market begins, the fundamental news is almost universally negative. The previous trend is considered still strongly in force. Fundamental analysts continue to revise their earnings estimates lower; the economy probably does not look strong. Sentiment surveys are decidedly bearish, put options are in vogue, and implied volatility in the options market is high. Volume might increase a bit as prices rise, but not by enough to alert many technical analysts.

Wave 2: Wave two corrects wave one, but can never extend beyond the starting point of wave one. Typically, the news is still bad. As prices retest the prior low, bearish sentiment quickly builds, and “the crowd” haughtily reminds all that the bear market is still deeply ensconced. Still, some positive signs appear for those who are looking: volume should be lower during wave two than during wave one, prices usually do not retrace more than 61.8% (see Fibonacci section below) of the wave one gains, and prices should fall in a three wave pattern.

Wave 3: Wave three is usually the largest and most powerful wave in a trend (although some research suggests that in commodity markets, wave five is the largest). The news is now positive and fundamental analysts start to raise earnings estimates. Prices rise quickly, corrections are short-lived and shallow. Anyone looking to “get in on a pullback” will likely miss the boat. As wave three starts, the news is probably still bearish, and most market players remain negative; but by wave three’s midpoint, “the crowd” will often join the new bullish trend. Wave three often extends wave one by a ratio of 1.618:1.

Wave 4: Wave four is typically clearly corrective. Prices may meander sideways for an extended period, and wave four typically retraces less than 38.2% of wave three (see Fibonacci relationships below). Volume is well below than that of wave three. This is a good place to buy a pull back if you understand the potential ahead for wave 5. Still, fourth waves are often frustrating because of their lack of progress in the larger trend.

Wave 5: Wave five is the final leg in the direction of the dominant trend. The news is almost universally positive and everyone is bullish. Unfortunately, this is when many average investors finally buy in, right before the top. Volume is often lower in wave five than in wave three, and many momentum indicators start to show divergences (prices reach a new high but the indicators do not reach a new peak). At the end of a major bull market, bears may very well be ridiculed (recall how forecasts for a top in the stock market during 2000 were received).

This is just a quick lesson in Elliott Wave Theory; in regards to the market this is what I am seeing:


(click to enlarge)

The S&P500 should trade up to the downward trendline before heading lower. I am still looking at the 1180 range as the final target.

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