Dark clouds forming for US Financials sector

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Mar 222013

The US markets are at record highs and the financial press is abuzz with calls of "secular bull run" and huge targets for the Dow and S&P. Not entirely unwarranted, I would say. But what are the internals of the markets telling us now? Let us take a look at the financials sector, which outperformed the S&P by a wide margin since the summer of 2012.

The big picture is always a good starting point and here is my Elliott wave count on the long term charts of XLF.

SPDR Financial Sector - Weekly Charts with EW counts

This is my preferred wave count and the price action so far seems to justify this view. The move from the 2009 low looked impulsive and initially warranted us to treat it as an impulse. BUT, the move off the 2012 low is not indicative of a powerful wave 3 (which it should have been if the initial move off 2009 low was an impulse). At least not so far. Also Waves a (blue a) and c (blue c) are related to each other by a typical fibonacci relationship that is indicative of a corrective rally.

Now, let us zoom in on the move off the 2012 lows.

SPDR Financials - Daily Charts with EW Counts

Just eyeballing the waves here, one can easily discern that wave 5 (red 5) is the longest wave. In technical terms, this is called an extended 5th wave. Wave 5 (red 5) measures just a shade over equality to the distance traveled by waves 1 through 3 (red 1-3). The wave principle tells us that is a very common behavior for extended 5th waves. Momentum too has not made fresh highs when price made a high of 18.4 on the 14th of March 2013 (not shown on chart).

Adding all these evidence and taking into account the typical corrective behavior after an extended wave 5, we must not be surprised if XLF gets slotted down quickly to 15.5 from yesterday's close of 18.07 - a potential decline of ATLEAST 15%.

Could I be wrong? Sure. The financials could shoot higher and make me look silly. But, unless one takes a swing at such low risk set up's one cannot score big. Micheal Jordan had to miss 9000 shots in his career to become the greatest basketball player in history. So ago ahead, pull that trigger nevertheless.