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Bill Schmick: Look out for a bounce in the stock market

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The bears are prowling the corridors of Wall Street. No one questions that, but rallies in downtrends can be breathtaking. Look for one of those short covering relief rallies in the coming week.

Do I know that will happen? Of course not, but when we get as oversold as we are now, the chances are high. If we do bounce in a relief rally it would trace out the first up to the center of my “W” pattern. The bounce won’t last long, maybe for a few days or, at best, next week. And then down again. For those readers who may be hoping that at some point we will resume the bull markets of the last decade, give up that notion.

I fully expect another low that may match or break the year’s low of S&P 500 Index of 3,877 made this week. Readers were forewarned last week that the index could (and did) break my 4,000 targets. There were several reasons for this bearish behavior.

The inflation numbers were the key trigger. On Wednesday, the Consumer Price Index came in hotter than expected at 8.3 percent. For the month, the index gained 0.6 percent. The data disappointed traders who were gambling on a cooler set of numbers that might confirm that inflation was peaking. But instead of carrying the market up 5 percent — or more — the opposite occurred.

The Producer Price Index, which was reported the following day, did come in a bit weaker at an 11 percent increase year-over-year, and 0.5 percent for the month. The lack of “inflation peaking” evidence squashed hopes that the Fed might be tempted to go easier in their hawkish policy plans, so markets tumbled.

For many investors, a bearish assault on the market’s “generals” was of far more concern. The bears have torn apart the “meme stocks,” the Cathy Wood stocks, and every other high-priced, no-earnings kind of security they could sell or short. However, this week traders came after the generals: Apple, Microsoft, Meta, Amazon, Google and even Tesla.

As company after company during the last quarter’s earnings season provided poor future guidance in sales and earnings, investors are wondering how long it will take for the “generals” to add their voices to this growing chorus. Many investors are not waiting around to find out. Price declines in these individual stocks has had a knock-on effect in the market, since they comprise such a large weighting in the overall investments of so many mutual funds and exchange traded funds. As such, the further they decline, so goes the stock market.

I have been waiting for this kind of behavior, because without it there is no hope that we can find a bottom in the stock market. The problem is that this selling has only just begun for many of these stocks. Remember that in many cases, the more speculative stocks are down up to 80 percent in some cases from their highs.

The generals are nowhere near this kind of decline. Do I think we will see the price of Apple, for example, cut in half or more? Doubtful, but another 10-15 percent might be a real possibility. That is important, since Apple is about 7 percent of the S&P 500 Index, and 13 percent of the NASDAQ Index.

As I said, I am expecting a relief bounce this week. It is just another bear market bounce, one of many we can expect as markets search for a bottom. Readers may ask where do I see that bottom? This week we briefly touched my target of 20 percent on the S&P 500 Index at 3,858. The NASDAQ hit my targets weeks ago and has suffered further declines.

I expect we will need to retest that 3,858 level on the S&P 500 Index level. If it holds, I might feel confident that we have made an interim low that could last out to September. That said, May, I believe, is the month to pick up some good bargains as we continue to dip and bounce in this “W” formation. I am hoping that by June, we can see a better market with some hope of putting together a string of higher highs for two months or so.