'Buying stampede' may be just about over, pros say
That sound of hoofbeats fading away could be the end of the stock market "stampede" that has dominated trading for most of 2013.
Technicians have been marveling at how long the rally had lasted without having four consecutive down days.
That streak ended Monday.
Jeffrey Saut, chief investment strategist at Raymond James, explained about the "buying stampede," which he said "has become legend":
Until this year, the longest upside skein I have chronicled in my notes was a 53-session upside stampede, with the next longest being the 38-session "march" into the peak that preceded the 1987 crash. Well, this stampede eclipsed anything I have ever experienced; but regrettably, it ended a week ago on Tuesday.
The following four sessions featured losses on the Dow industrials: 113 points, 225, 30 and 70 on Monday.
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That makes four strikes and the stampede is "out!" To be sure, for the first time this year the Dow closed down for four consecutive days ending the stampede at a record 156 sessions.
Historically, the end of such runs often has signaled a market pullback.
Combined with another market trend, pointed out by the Stock Trader's Almanac, of a fourth "Down Friday/Down Monday" (DF/DM) sequence this year, the market could be in for another round of bloodletting, despite Thursday's mild rally.
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In the nearly 14 years since 2000, there have been 146 DF/DM. In all but 3, the DJIA was lower sometime in the 90 calendar days following the DF/DM [sequences]. Declines have averaged 7.8 percent.
"So the stage was set for the first meaningful decline of the year, and I think we are into it," Saut said.
If yesterday's rally attempt was all about "tapering," the softer-than-expected FOMC "minutes" should have rallied stocks. It didn't! I think before a meaningful "low" is recorded, the SPX has an appointment in the 1530-1560 zone.
The sentiment jibes with other strategists who believe the market rally is ripe for a pause.
(Read more: Cramer: Almost nothing in this sector worth buying)
Sam Stovall, the bullish chief equity strategist at S&P Capital IQ, thinks the market will test some key support levels before rallying again.
We still think the "500" could see another leg lower, down toward the 1,600 region. There is not a lot of chart support until the index reaches the 1,600 to 1,625 range...If the "500" can rally near term, we think prices could retrace about 50 percent of their recent losses before falling to new lows. That, in our view, would set up a nice ABC decline, which we think will be followed by the next leg of the bull market.
—By CNBC's Jeff Cox. Follow him
@JeffCoxCNBCcom on Twitter.