Some deeply mixed signals have arisen in the last week. The basic chart of $SPX remains in its frustrating trading range, while breadth and put-call ratios generate mixed signals. However, $VIX has broken out to the upside, and that has generated some usually reliable sell signals.SPX continues to remain within the bounds of the March price range -- support at 2322 on the downside and ultimate resistance at 2400 (the all-time highs) on the upside.
But there is one other, more bearish, feature of the $SPX chart and that is the downtrend line (drawn on the chart in Figure 1) extending from the March 1st highs down through recent activity. Equity-only put-call ratios remain rather mixed in their outlook and lackluster in their performance. For the record, the standard ratio is on a buy signal, and the weighted ratio remains on a sell signal. Market breadth has been a somewhat mixed indicator, too.
The NYSE-based breadth oscillator has remained on a buy signal, while the "stocks only" breadth oscillator has slipped to a sell.
This brings us to volatility, which is somewhat in a world of its own. $VIX broke out over resistance at 13.50 and 15.00. From strictly looking at the $VIX chart (Figure 4), one can see that an uptrend is in progress. When $VIX is trending higher, that is negative for stocks -- especially when it breaks out over previous resistance levels to do so. In short, this is due to worries over the upcoming "Frexit" vote (French elections on April 20th).
In summary, we are at what could be a very interesting crossroads. Will the worries of $VIX prevail and send the stock market lower, or will $SPX once again prove itself the "king" of the indicators and not overly react to what might be just a fleeting fear? We should know before the month is out. In either case, a breakout by $SPX from this trading range should be a catalyst for a strong movement in the direction of the breakout.
This Market Commentary is an abbreviated version of the commentary featured in The Option Strategist Newsletter.