I noticed something interesting yesterday while going through my charts, and that was the monthly chart of the S&P 500 ($SPX). When I do my Technical Market Outlook and discuss momentum I show the daily chart of the S&P along with the Relative Price Index and MACD indicators. These are two well-known and commonly used measures of momentum in technical analysis. Today let’s take a look at what they are showing on the monthly chart.
What I noticed first was the degree of separation between two lines of the MACD oscillator. The MACD indicator is made up of the difference between two Exponential Moving Averages as well as the average of the MACD line itself which creates the ‘signal’ line (you can read more about the MACD indicator here). Many traders have noticed the crossover that’s taken place in the MACD on the monthly chart and how this resembles what took place in 2007. What’s interesting to note today is how separated the fast and slow lines have become, which is displayed in the histogram portion of the indicator in the chart below. In fact, they haven’t been this far apart since ’07, ’00, and ’98, as marked by the vertical dotted red lines. The whipsaw of the MACD in 2011 is often used to discredit this momentum tool’s accuracy, and rightfully so. But in 2011 we did not see the histogram (which measures the distance between the two MA’s) decline by this amount.
Turning the focus to the Relative Strength Index (RSI), which is my personal favorite measure of momentum, the picture does not look as bearish. At least not yet. We often look for divergences in the RSI but I’ve found that looking for breaks of support after the RSI has been above 70 has also been an interesting tool to use. We remain above the prior lows of around 65 in the RSI indicator. The fact that the RSI has stayed elevated is a positive long-term sign, it’s when things begin to breakdown that traders often begin to grow concerned.
So when it comes to momentum on the monthly chart of the S&P 500, it seems we have a house divided. The MACD oscillator is showing signs that things are slowing down in the U.S. equity market as price is unable to keep its momentum rising. But the RSI has been able to remain above its support level. All while price itself has been able to stay above its own 20-month Moving Average which has helped defined the current (and prior) up trend. While the focus is often on what’s taking place on a daily basis I like to keep track of what’s also occurring on the big picture as well – and currently things look mixed at best.
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