The DJIA touched the running psychological milestone of 11k before closing slightly lower Friday (Apr. 9), yet many analysts who are students of the market’s key index levels are gradually but steadily building up a profile of the milestone as not only merely a psychological trigger but even as something potentially dangerous.
The concern is that, while much emphasis is paid to the DJIA as stocks have gained over the last year, major intrinsic core components of the market’s behavior are being ignored, notably the surprising (and to some bewildering) lack of volume.
Even bullish investors and analysts are starting to question the relatively few participants in this rally, leading some – like technical analyst Frank Gretz over at Wellington Shields, whose job it is to identify critical turning points in the market – to conjecture that the inordinately low volume could indicate that the brass ring is hollow and we may be looking at the kind of surging which preceded 1930s-era declines.
Indeed, as Louise Yamada (who currently heads up a well-known firm of the same name in NY) succinctly put it, “You usually don’t see advances without volume”, and when an old-salt of 29 years in the investment game starts to look puzzled, you know it is time to crack the books and take a second, closer look at key indicators like volume.
So the question which baffles even such erudite and veteran professionals is, why is the market going up? Why is the widely-cited DJIA up 70% over the last year, in one of the hottest rallies in history (which may signal a robust economic recovery), on the backbone of what is historically very few actual trades?
The current DJIA 200-day moving average volume is 1.2B, down nearly 25% from a year ago, and so one naturally tends to question the ‘herd logic’ dynamism so often used to justify the inherent wisdom of the market as a system.
Moreover, one main factor for the low volume is a lack of ‘Main Street’ investors, as the market space is increasingly dominated by hedge funds and the like.
Okay, so it seems like the little guy is letting other people handle his market business for him, and the majority of trading is coming from the professional firms. Yet the DJIA is pushing 11k, which the bulls see as a potential influx-of-capital trigger due to its psychological effect of encouraging the smaller investors to get active, bringing the volume and other indices up.
Dan Wantrobski, analyst for Janney Montgomery Scott, isn’t buying this bull logic, and clearly points out that it will take more than an 11k Dow to get Main Street investors into the game, saying, “They need a drop in the unemployment rate.”
But there are several positive factors currently which may ameliorate such concerns: Labor Dept. data shows 162k new jobs in March (a 3-year high), with an official 9.7% unemployment rate; 9/10 stocks are trading at or above the 200-day average; and sales for stores open a minimum of one year are up 9%.