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Which way the market? (12/31/2003)
By Al Thomas


     
I am hearing predictions by brokers, financial planners, talk show hosts and the talking heads on TV that the market is going back to its old highs - DOW 11,700 and NASDAQ 5000 here we come.

It seems to me that in 2000 I heard these same people saying there was no top to the market and were looking into their crystal balls for DOW 30,000 or some other fantastic number. Suddenly the market turned over with the DOW dropping 3,000 points and the NASDAQ losing 80% of its value. Can it happen again? I don't predict and all I can say is the market can do anything.

BUT what if it does turn down? Are you going to sit as you did before and watch your money disappear? Right now everything looks rosy and the momentum is carrying the indexes higher almost every day. Buy and hold is the right strategy - for now.

Hind sight is always 20/20 and you will want to own stocks and mutual funds now, but not get caught in the next down draft. There will be one! There always has and you can see it clearly if you are a student of market history. Since 1900 there have been 16 to 18-year cycles of bull and bear markets and within those there have been other shorter cycles of ups and downs.

Many brokers and investors try to predict when those turns will occur and they are mostly wrong. It is definitely not a good idea to try to outguess the market. You must learn to read the rather obvious signs of the major turns. I say obvious, but it is clear they are not obvious to most brokers or financial planners. Having been a professional trader, exchange member and floor trader for many years I will tell you the obvious ‘secret'.

Using a 200-day moving average of any one of the major indexes (I prefer the S&P500) you can plot these every day and when the index penetrates the 200-day line in an upward direction it is a signal to buy. That is where we are now. Inversely when it penetrates that line going down it is time to sell and put your money in cash or bonds. If you don't want to do the math computations there is an excellent chart in the Investor's Business Daily newspaper called their Mutual Fund Index that will do all the work for you.

It is nothing more complicated than that and you can go back into history as far as you wish and you will see it proven time after time. You are holding stocks or funds while the market is going up and you are in cash while it is going down. Don't be fooled by "research" or by any other complicated method. This works.

There is no need to predict the market. It will tell you in simple language what it is doing and whether you should be a buyer or seller.

Copyright Albert W. Thomas All rights reserved. Author of "If It Doesn't Go Up, Don't Buy It!" www.mutualfundmagic.com comments to al@mutualfundmagic.com 

 

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