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S&P 500, Oil, VIX - Trade the Market You Have Not the One You Want

S&P 500, Oil, VIX - Trade the Market You Have Not the One You Want

John Kicklighter, Chief Strategist

Talking Points:

  • For most market participants, a breakout with strong follow through or outright trend represents ideal trade opportunity
  • Current conditions are choppy and very much range bound, while lasting drives are rare
  • We should trade the conditions we have; and we filter that against SPX, Oil, Bitcoin, VIX, EURUSD, Yen crosses and USDCAD

See how retail traders are positioning in the FX majors, indices, gold and oil intraday using the DailyFX speculative positioning data on the sentiment page.

Clear breakouts with strong follow through and persistent trends represent some of the best trading conditions. Entry can be more forgiving, targets can be set wide and you don't need to monitor the positions too closely. Yet, such ideal circumstances are not frequently present in the market. Those productive moves are practically non-existent in current financial markets. Attempting to spot such rare setups would be to target low probability trading - practically ensuring a much more difficult (if not impossible) navigation of the markets from the jump. It is important to trade the markets we have and not the markets we want.

Looking over the financial landscape, there is plenty of evidence speaking to the limited engagement the markets are currently capable of running. Choppy and marginal progress on risk oriented assets, broad ranges for benchmarks like EUR/USD and multi-year or record lows on volatility measures all reflect a lack of conviction. There are, however, areas of the market that raise speculative anticipation - though expectations seem to consistently elude that market or practical limitations create trading difficulties. Gold's failed break of a multi-year trendline resistance and the Dollar Index's inability to forge an inverse head-and-shoulders pattern presents efforts immediately jettisoned. Bitcoin still has the veneer of an extraordinary, bullish run; but its volatility over the past few weeks has cut down hopes for persistent trend. Even the S&P 500's climb since the US presidential election has seen the market spend most of its time leveling out or sliding with a few brief periods of advance interspersed.

Whether the markets are reaching for risk amid stimulus-flooded markets, seasonality is setting pace or speculators are simply awaiting a definitive catalyst; the resultant conditions are ultimately the same. If trends and productive breakout patterns are few and far between, the best adaptation to conditions is short-term trading with proximate targets and stops. Accounting for such conditions, projecting oil's break of 44 support this past week or consistently building a long VIX position represents an unrealistic objective. More adapted opportunities include AUD/CAD and four hour Yen cross charts. The former has little fundamental interference while the latter is simply properly calibrated for time frame. EUR/USD and USD/CAD sit somewhere in between. EUR/USD has closed in on a head-and-shoulders reversal while USD/CAD turned up from a channel floor. These are moves that reflect the 'path of least resistance mentality, but projecting sizable moves may contradict the practicalities of prevailing conditions.

S&P 500, Oil, VIX - Trade the Market You Have Not the One You WantS&P 500, Oil, VIX - Trade the Market You Have Not the One You WantS&P 500, Oil, VIX - Trade the Market You Have Not the One You Want

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