Stock Market in April Making a Fool of Traders?

 jobless rateThe first quarter was great for stocks. April on the other hand has not been kind to stocks so far, but it’s early. The question is: are stocks pausing and then moving higher or lower?

Is this a sucker’s rally?

The bull market is into its fourth year and my market view is that the near-term technical picture shows tough chart resistance.

The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrials have declined in four straight sessions, and they are searching for buying support, according to my market view.

The Russell 2000 is down 3.25% in April. The Dow is down 2.14%. More importantly, the Dow and Russell 2000 have breached below their respective 50-day moving average (MA).

Despite the near-term weakness in small-cap stocks, in my market view, I continue to feel that the smaller growth stocks, especially in technology, have the biggest upside. I discussed this in Where to Look for the Biggest Potential.

 jobless rate

Chart courtesy of

A market view of the S&P 500 shows a 14-week upward move. My market view is that there’s some near-term topping action and a downside break. The S&P 500 is within 11 points of its 50-day MA as of the close of Monday. My market view is that a break below could trigger additional weakness down to as low as the 100-day MA at 1.312 and 1,300, a possible correction as much as 9.4%.

My market view is not that this will happen, but that there is some technical evidence a market adjustment may be coming, especially if traders cannot find any fresh reasons to buy.

The next several days and weeks could prove critical, as stocks look for support in spite of the weak relative strength on the charts. My market view is that you should watch for some potential oversold buying support.

At this juncture, stocks need a fresh catalyst to move higher. Failing this, we could see tight trading surface as we move into the slower and historically weaker summer months.

And don’t forget there’s a historical market view that suggests traders should rotate away from stocks in May and come back in the fall for the best results. The Stock Trader’s Almanac points to the May to October six-month period as generally the weakest for stocks.

I’m optimistic towards the domestic economic renewal, but the fragility of the jobs market and U.S. housing market remain a difficult hurdle to overcome. For instance, a mere 120,000 jobs were generated in March, well below the consensus 200,000 estimate and the upwardly revised 240,000 in February. It was the first decline below 200,000 after three months. A plus is that the jobless rate fell to 8.2%. The result is not positive for a desperate jobs market that needs to generate jobs. And don’t forget the unemployed who have left the workforce unable to find work and those who are underemployed.

The focus over the next few weeks will be on the first-quarter company earnings beginning with Alcoa, Inc. (NYSE/AA) on Tuesday, followed by Google Inc. (NASDAQ/GOOG) on Thursday, along with JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE/JPM) and Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE/WFC) on Friday. Earnings could dictate the direction of stocks for the majority of the summer.

The reality is that the market is jittery and, should the Q1 earnings be as bad as some expect, we could see additional downside or sideways moves.