It could have been worse. At one point on Thursday, the S&P 500 was down as much as 0.5% before rallying back to end the session up a quarter of a percent. Investors entertained doubts about the idea that the recent yield curve inversion has to lead to a recession.
Walmart (NYSE:WMT) gets the bulk of the credit for yesterday’s gain. Shares of the retailer jumped more than 60% after the company delivered second-quarter numbers that exceeded expectations. E-commerce revenue remains particularly impressive for the world’s biggest retailer.
Yet, though the broad market made gains, the number of advancers was only slightly higher than the number of decliners, and bearish volume was actually greater than buying volume.
Weighing stocks back more than any other name was General Electric (NYSE:GE), down more than 11% on accusations that it has been doctoring its accounting statements in a way that covers up a great number of liabilities that will cost the company billions. Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) plunged nearly 9% after serving up lackluster guidance stemming from the tariff war underway with China.
Although most stocks bounced back from recent weakness on Thursday, it’s not surprising that Freeport-McMoRan didn’t. Shares have been trapped in a downtrend for years, and that selloff was renewed at the beginning of last year when a rising support line was snapped.
It’s possible, however, yesterday’s 4% tumble may have also served as a capitulation that ends up becoming the low point of the current bearish swing. That dip pulled the stock back to an established floor, forcing the bulls and the bears — if not both — to finally make a commitment.
Giving credit where it’s due, Microsoft shares have impressively stood up to marketwide weakness that started to seriously undermine other stocks late last month. Since peaking in July, MSFT shares have only fallen less than 6%. The S&P 500 is also still decidedly below most of its key moving average lines, while Microsoft is still above its key lines, or only modestly below the ones it’s under.
Microsoft shares are slowly slipping into a funk, however, putting pressure on key support levels, and failing to find support at others. One, perhaps two, more bearish days could push MSFT over the proverbial cliff and pull the rug out from underneath this name that has rallied about as far as it can feasibly go for the time being.
Finally, Coca-Cola shares have been on a rampage since March, rallying more than 20% for the five-month stretch. More than that though, the advance has pushed KO stock out of a long-term trading range and into uncharted waters. Although overbought, shares even confirmed the strength of this breakout thrust by pulling back, finding support at a key line in the sand and then bouncing back above a long-term technical ceiling.
While the momentum is undeniable, the scope of the rally thus far is unnerving. The risk of a wave of profit-taking is abnormally high. The good news is, the make-or-break line in the sand has already been identified and verified.
At the time of this writing, James Brumley did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities. To learn more about James, visit his site at jamesbrumley.com, or follow him in twitter at @jbrumley.