|Oil, Copper Charts Spell Trouble for Stocks|
|Written by L.A. Little|
|Thursday, 12 May 2011 14:20|
L.A. writes a piece weekly for TheStreet.com and this week's article is reprinted here with permission.
The oil markets were roiled last week, posting huge losses. Yesterday, after a two-day respite, the decline began again. Same with copper, which is supposed to be the best indicator of the economic future? Is it telling us that the bull market in stocks is done?
To answer this, I've looked at long- and intermediate-term charts of the oil and copper markets based on the two most widely traded ETFs and ETNs for these markets, the United States Oil Fund (USO) and the Ipath Dow Jones UBS Copper Total Return ETN (JJC).
With respect to the oil market, the long-term chart shows that, until recently, things were starting to look pretty good. If you had monitored USO two weeks ago, it would have been bullish on the short- and intermediate-term timeframe and, as you see below, had just recently changed to a confirmed sideways trend on the long-term timeframe.
Fast forward two weeks, however, and everyone is talking about how oil is collapsing. I guess that's because it can move so fast (10% in a day), but when I look at this long-term chart, it doesn't look like it is collapsing to me. Does it to you?
Assuming it continues lower, how low might it go? Well, there is a broad anchored support zone at the 2010 lows and the tops of the 2009 highs of the low bars. I seriously doubt it will drop below that in the coming months.
To get a better feel for what crude oil is doing and how it may impact the broad market on a shorter-term basis, here is the weekly chart. The big spike down last week had significant volume but look what it was pushing into. The bar that anchored support had slightly more volume. When you measure it up, crude came back to an anchored support area that was able to stop the decline -- at least on the first attempt.
That's the good news if you want to be bullish. The bad headline is that the spike down last week came with a volume off the top pattern. When you see volume off the top like that, it is typically not good. Usually it means that the chart has likely witnessed the highs on this timeframe. Since this is a weekly chart I do not expect to see crude cross this $45 threshold for several months into the future. In fact, the odds-on bet now is that crude builds out some sort of sideways action for a few days or a week and then breaks lower again to the lower of the two support zones.
So, if crude oil has seen its highs, what about copper. Since copper is looked at as an economic indicator by many, most traders would argue that its trend has broader implications to the general market’s health. On this long term chart, what copper indicates is there is support not much farther down and it is reasonably well anchored. I would expect copper to rally back up from those levels - especially if it continues in a straight line fashion to that support zone.
Unfortunately, that's not all the chart says. If you look at it closely, you can see that, like crude oil, copper came off the top with volume. The only difference between the two commodities is that copper did this on the monthly chart. Again, when volume expands as prices come crumbling down from the highs, it usually implies that the highs are most likely in on this timeframe. In this case, that means for many months, at a minimum, and even years, possibly. If that's true, the general markets are unlikely to roar ahead in the months to come. This is definitely noteworthy.
Drilling down, here's the weekly chart. This chart confirms what the monthly chart is exhibiting: significant resistance now resides just overhead, resistance that will not likely be erased any time soon.
Given that copper almost doubled in price from July to February without much of a rest, the bad news is that there just isn't much support on the way back. I've penciled in the best support level I could locate, but it isn't very strong.
When looking at these charts, the best thing I can say is that a total collapse seems unlikely. Unfortunately, downward pressure in both commodities likely implies that there are a number of groups in the general market that are going to have issues going forward. You can imagine the headwinds in almost anything related to energy, construction and even industrial -- and that, my friends, represents a broad swath of the market.
Thanks for listening and until next time, just keep trading the charts!
|Last Updated on Friday, 13 May 2011 19:56|