I try to be fully invested when we have both an expanding economy and a rising stock market and on the sidelines when we have a contracting economy and a sinking stock market. I can sleep well either way. I loose sleep and get anxious when the 2 are going in opposite directions because that is revealing change but what will happen next is the mystery,
At the end of each month I like to gauge what has happened recently to rationally try figure out what my odds are in making a few buck in the next month. Here's how I do that.
For years I have used the research of the Conference Board to evaluate the economy for me. I read their report on Leading Economic Indicators (LEI) each month. This month the results are:
Jun - 123.5 up
Jul - 123.5 flat
Aug - 123.5 flat
Sep - 123.3 down
The number isn't import to me but the trend is. In the last 3 month we were flat to slightly down. That means to me we have either peaked and should be prepared to admit that the expansion in the economy started around April of 2009 is over or we are just taking a breather from a big expansion or in the end will continue to expand.
For those of you who would like to read more a link: Conference-Board.org
Next I look at the stock market and use 4 different indices to get a feel of what is happening. I use Barchart to chart the Value Line Arithmetic Index ($VAL), the Dow ($DOW)), the S&P 500 ($SPX) and the Russell 3000 ($RUA). The first is not capital weighted the other 3 are:
You can see that the weighted indices are back to where they were in July but the non-weighted Value Line is slightly down. That means the larger stocks are driving the market while smaller stocks are down.
If I look at all the stocks in Barchart's database - a little over 10,000 stocks to see if they are trading above or below their moving averages I see:
- 54.40% trading above their 20 day moving average
- 59.94% trading above their 50 day moving average
- 42.74% trading above their 100 day moving average