Weekly Stock Market Commentary 5/12/17

By Lawrence G. McMillan

For some time, we have been waiting to see if $SPX can break out on the upside. A breakout has not occurred, despite marginal new all-time closing highs (by pennies) for $SPX.

In reality, $SPX remains trapped within not one, but two trading ranges. The first range is the larger one -- comprised essentially of the March highs and lows, 2322 to 2401. Within that range, there is an even tighter range at play: 2380 to 2400. Because of these trading ranges, the $SPX chart is neutral.

Despite the failure of $SPX to break out on the upside, there has been fairly heavy call buying in the past week. Thus, the equity-only put-call ratios are falling. Both are officially on buy signals at this time.

Market breadth, however, has been more negative. Both breadth oscillators are on sell signals and have been since May 2nd.

Volatility continues to garner a lot of attention in the media, mostly because $VIX is so low. $VIX closed below 10 on May 8th and 9th. That spurred an outpouring of articles debating what that means. It's only occurred a few times in history. In short, it's a near-term sell signal, but not necessarily anything more.

In summary, the indicators are mixed -- either on sell signals or in overbought states, mostly. But $SPX has not confirmed a breakout in either direction for over two months, and until that changes, a neutral outlook is proper. $SPX is wound into such a tight range now (2380-2400), that it seems it only needs to break out of that range in order to give us some direction for the next intermediate-term move.

This Market Commentary is an abbreviated version of the commentary featured in The Option Strategist Newsletter.

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