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May 22, 2019, 9:31 a.m. EDT

Rare bullish S&P 500 move that has occurred only 16 times in the past 70 years is flashing green

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By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch


Reuters/Leroy Bellet/Red Bull Content

Investors could almost be forgiven for trade-war fatigue.

However, the persistent, tit-for-tat Sino-U.S. tariff dispute that has underpinned a recent bout of volatility in stocks may matter much less than Wall Street thinks, per our chart of the day , provided by Chris Ciovacco, founder and chief executive officer of Ciovacco Capital Management.

In an interview with MarketWatch, Ciovacco shared the below chart revealing an unusual technical move that points to two years of gains for the S&P 500. He refers to it as a “rare intermediate shift” in S&P 500 momentum that has only been seen 16 prior times in the last 70 years.

Train your eyes on the black line at the bottom of the chart. That’s the moving average convergence divergence indicator (MACD), a metric used by chartists to help to determine whether institutional investors are moving in or out of an asset.

When the MACD line moves below zero, as it did through the latter months of last year, it indicates investors are exiting stocks, and markets are trending down. But when it moves above that center point, it becomes a bullish signal, says Ciovacco. The MACD has now printed 12 straight weekly closes above that centerline, he says.

In all 16 other times throughout history that this unusual signal has shown up, the S&P 500 saw an average gain of 29% and a median gain of 26% two years later, he said.

Last year’s downward stock move coincided with the Federal Reserve pushing a neutral stance on interest rates, and rattling investors, while the move higher has been aligned with a more dovish stance by the central bank, says Ciovacco, who notes that the trade war hasn’t been a big influencer.

“The momentum shift has been sustained mainly because the Fed hasn’t changed course and is in the market’s corner, and economic numbers haven’t been that bad…and the market believes the China situation is going to go its way,” he says.

While the charts could change, for example if the trade war turned into a much bigger problem than anticipated, he says the data shows him that “odds are in favor of the stock market doing pretty well going forward.”

If in doubt, he suggests checking out the latest wisdom from Berkshire Hathaway’s /zigman2/quotes/208872451/composite BRK.A +0.58%   /zigman2/quotes/200060694/composite BRK.B +0.26% Chairman Warren Buffett, who was sounding upbeat on stocks earlier this month . “Do you hear him walking around saying it’s time to run for the exits?” said Ciovacco.

Opinion: Buffet’s formula is still working, if you know where to look

The market

The Dow /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -0.07%  , S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +0.48%   and Nasdaq /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +1.29%   are down at the start of trading. Read Market Snapshot for more.

The dollar /zigman2/quotes/210598269/delayed DXY -0.11% is softer, but not against the pound /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD -0.0243%  , which hit near 2019 lows. U.K. inflation data appeared to make a case for an interest-rate rise. Gold is up a little.

Plus: Pressure builds on U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May after final Brexit compromise rejected

Crude is down after data showed rising U.S. supplies, and ahead of a key inventory report.

Europe stocks /zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed XX:SXXP -1.44% have given up gains, while Asian equities had a mixed session, with the Shanghai Composite /zigman2/quotes/210598127/delayed CN:SHCOMP +0.22%  slipping 0.6%.

/zigman2/quotes/208872451/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 278,640
+1,605 +0.58%
Volume: 358.00
May 29, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
46.57
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$451.40 billion
Rev. per Employee
$637,113
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/zigman2/quotes/200060694/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 185.58
+0.48 +0.26%
Volume: 10.63M
May 29, 2020 3:59p
P/E Ratio
46.46
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$450.97 billion
Rev. per Employee
$637,113
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/zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime
US : Dow Jones Global
25,383.11
-17.53 -0.07%
Volume: 545.14M
May 29, 2020 5:14p
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/zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime
US : S&P US
3,044.31
+14.58 +0.48%
Volume: 4.38B
May 29, 2020 5:14p
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/zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
9,489.87
+120.88 +1.29%
Volume: 4.24M
May 29, 2020 5:16p
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/zigman2/quotes/210598269/delayed
US : U.S.: ICE Futures U.S.
98.23
-0.11 -0.11%
Volume: 0.00
May 31, 2020 7:08p
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/zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled
US : Tullett Prebon
1.2346
-0.0003 -0.0243%
Volume: 0.0000
May 31, 2020 7:18p
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/zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed
XX : STOXX
350.36
-5.11 -1.44%
Volume: 0.00
May 29, 2020 5:50p
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/zigman2/quotes/210598127/delayed
CN : China: Shanghai
2,852.35
+6.13 +0.22%
Volume: 20.68B
May 29, 2020 3:01p
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