Chris Ciovacco

About the Author Chris Ciovacco

Chris Ciovacco is the founder and CEO of Ciovacco Capital Management (CCM), an independent money management firm serving individual investors nationwide. The thoroughly researched and backtested CCM Market Model answers these important questions: (1) How much should we allocate to risk assets?, (2) How much should we allocate to conservative assets?, (3) What are the most attractive risk assets?, and (4) What are the most attractive conservative assets?Chris is an expert in identifying the best ETFs from a wide variety of asset classes, including stocks, bonds, commodities, and precious metals. The CCM Market Model compares over 130 different ETFs to identify the most attractive risk-reward opportunities.Chris graduated summa cum laude from The Georgia Institute of Technology with a co-operative degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering. Prior to founding Ciovacco Capital Management in 1999, Mr. Ciovacco worked as a Financial Advisor for Morgan Stanley in Atlanta for five years earning a strong reputation for his independent research and high integrity. While at Georgia Tech, he gained valuable experience working as a co-op for IBM (1985-1990). During his time with Morgan Stanley, Chris received extensive training which included extended stays in NYC at the World Trade Center.His areas of expertise include technical analysis and market model development. CCM’s popular weekly technical analysis videos on YouTube have been viewed over 700,000 times. Chris’ years of experience and research led to the creation of the thoroughly backtested CCM Market Model, which serves as the foundation for the management of separate accounts for individuals and businesses.

S&P 500’s January Close Produced Rare Setup; Here’s Why, and What’s Next


January Close Provides Insight

The chart below shows the S&P 500 (SPY) closed above the monthly Bollinger Band centerline (a.k.a. center band) on January 31, 2019. The January print occurred after the S&P 500 closed below the centerline in December, but above the lower Bollinger Band.

1973-74 Bear Market

As shown in the 1973-74 version of the same chart, notice how the S&P 500 was unable to recapture and close above the Bollinger Band centerline during the entire bear market. Unlike the 2019 case (thus far), the S&P 500 (IVV) closed below the lower Bollinger Band in November 1973.

Dot-Com Bear Market

The same can be said for the 2000-02 bear market; the S&P 500 never closed back above the Bollinger Band centerline after closing below it in Q4 2000. As shown below, really bad things happened after Q4 2000. Unlike the 2019 case, the S&P 500 closed below the lower Bollinger Band in February 2001.

Financial Crisis Bear Market

After stocks peaked in October 2007, the S&P 500 closed below the monthly Bollinger Band centerline in January 2008 and never closed back above it during the painful bear market. Unlike the 2019 case, the S&P 500 closed below the lower Bollinger Band in June 2008.

2019 Look Is Rare

It is relatively rare for the S&P 500 to move from above the monthly Bollinger Band centerline, close below the centerline while remaining above the lower Bollinger Band, and subsequently print a monthly close back above the centerline, which is what just happened in 2018-2019.

Dating back to 1950, there were thirteen similar looks that appeared on the S&P 500’s monthly chart. As shown in the table below, the bias for stocks over the next two years was favorable.

Cases With Breadth Thrusts

The monthly Bollinger Band setup described above is rare. It is interesting to note that two of the Bollinger band cases, 1954 and 1991, basically coincided with an extremely rare 10-day breadth thrust that was covered on January 21, 2019. Therefore, we have three cases that feature both the Bollinger Band setup and rare breadth thrust: 1954, 1991, and 2019.

The look of the monthly chart on the last trading day of January 1954 is similar to the rare look found at the end of January 2019.

The ten-day breadth thrust was completed on January 25, 1954, four trading days before the monthly Bollinger Band setup went into the books. Similar to 2019, price was near a flat-to-downish orange 200-day moving average.

The 1954 case that featured both setups was followed by very satisfying gains in the S&P 500 Index.

1991 Dual Setup Case

The look of the monthly chart on the last trading day of January 1991 is similar to the rare look found at the end of January 2019.

The ten-day breadth thrust was completed on February 4, 1991, or two trading days after the monthly Bollinger Band setup went into the books. Similar to 2019, price was near a flat-to-downish orange 200-day moving average.

The 1991 case that featured both setups was followed by very satisfying gains in the S&P 500 Index.

Digging Deeper

This week’s stock market video covers numerous historical cases that provide additional insight into the 2019 bull/bear debate.

2015: Weaker Trends Are More Prone To Failure

The 2015 Bollinger Band case reminds us a significant giveback remains a possibility in 2019. The 2015 monthly BB setup was unable to hold above the centerline and turned out to be a head fake.

Two other reminders come from the 2015 case:

  1. Markets with still-vulnerable trend profiles are more prone to reversals, givebacks, and setup failures.
  2. Closing above the orange 200-day moving average is far from an “all clear” signal in the stock market. In 2015, the S&P 500 closed above the 200-day for eight trading sessions, before falling 13.30%.

Moral Of The Story

Having something concrete and measurable that differentiates 2018-2019 from three of the greatest percentage-decline bear markets in history (73-74, 00-02, 07-09) speaks favorably to bull/bear probabilities in February 2019.

However, the 1957 and 2015 cases remind us head fakes and lower lows are still in the realm of possibility. In those periods, the stay above the monthly Bollinger Band centerline was short-lived, meaning intermediate-term concerns would increase in 2019 if the S&P 500 prints a monthly close back below the Bollinger Band centerline, which currently sits at 2685.