Sunday, November 6, 2011


After two days of aggressive selling that took the market back to technical support levels, we were in good shape for a bounce today. A lack of further negatives out of Europe and an unsurprising Fed FOMC interest rate announcement was all it took to provide decent upside.

Volume was lighter, but only the machines trade anyway nowadays. Breadth stayed highly correlated and was positive to the upside. Once again, there weren't any obvious themes or sector leaders. Oil, commodities, retail and banks all did well, but stocks moved mostly in tandem and rose across the board.

To trade this market you have to stay focused on headline news and overall direction. It is extremely difficult to make money by finding stocks with a high alpha, which is a stock's tendency to move independently of the market (and what makes individual stock picking profitable, at least in the short run).

In this market, traders are more focused on finding beta, which is a stock's tendency to move in the same direction as the market, albeit at a higher rate.

Even if you focus on trading high-beta stocks, it has not been that easy since the market swings have been so severe and so abrupt. High-beta stocks pay off nicely if you are in tune with the overall market direction -- but if you don't catch the turns, you can lose money very fast.