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Ready for a Pullback? You Might Have Missed It

Saturday, 4 May 2013 | 7:52 AM ET
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If you blinked anytime over the past month or so, you may have missed the stock market retreat that virtually everyone on Wall Street had anticipated.

That one-week drop back in mid-April that saw the S&P 500 shed more than 3 percent of its value may be as good as it gets for those looking for a cheaper entry point, at least if current trends hold up.

Stocks have been unable to sustain any kind of sell-off, with virtually any meaningful pullback met with still more buying.

Jim Paulsen, the chief market strategist at Wells Capital Management, asserted in an analysis that a series of indicators show the market's spring swoon may have already passed the bears by.

(Read More: Stocks Soar on Jobs Data, but Economic Dangers Lurk)

"While its mild pullback of only about 4 percent from recent all-time highs does not officially qualify, its character during this period has been very correction-like," Paulsen said. "Although not widely recognized, several aspects surrounding the stock market in the last couple months suggest the long-awaited correction may have already taken place."

Among the factors: A healthy level of fear in the market; sector rotations that are keeping things fresh, and a market that has met a substantial amount of hurdles, stumbled, and then kept going.

The analysis came before Friday's jobs number, which showed 165,000 new positions created in April and seemed to help soothe worries of a slowdown.

(Read More: Back in Business: Jobs Picture Brightens in April)

"Should job creation return to a healthy level, consensus concerns about a 2013 spring swoon should quickly dissipate and caution surrounding the potential for an imminent stock market correction may resolve into another rally to new high," Paulsen said.

Indeed, the market staged yet another rally Friday, pushing the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 to new highs and worries of a substantial pullback into the background.

Sentiment surveys, though, indicate there's still a strong amount of fear in the market.

(Read More: Stocks and Bonds Fight, but Maybe Both Are Right)

The most recent American Association of Individual Investors poll has the bears edging out the bulls, 36 percent to 31 percent. Negative sentiment was well above historical averages.

"It's interesting, because we're making new market highs yet there are good pockets of fear," said Ryan Detrick, senior analyst at Schaeffer's Investment Research. "There are these little dips and they panic people the way the big dips used to. But they usually flush out the weak hands."

By CNBC's Jeff Cox

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