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Why technicians see red flags for stocks

Monday, 11 Nov 2013 | 11:37 AM ET
A trader works the floor of the NYSE.
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A trader works the floor of the NYSE.

As the market pushes to new highs, technical strategists are suddenly sounding a lot more bearish than other market pundits, who rely more on fundamentals.

Many analysts say improving data—like Friday's October jobs report—means the market will continue to move higher.

(Read more: The deceptively simple reason stocks won't quit)

However, strategists who make calls on the market using technical analysis say a correction is looming.

(Watch this: Seema Moday and Dominic Chu make the bull and bear cases)

"With each new high in the market, less and less stocks are in uptrends. That's a problem, … an unsustainable one. Eventually the major averages will catch up," said technician J.C. Parets, founder and president of Eagle Bay Capital, in an interview.

For example, some notable stocks—Caterpillar, IBM, and Newmont Mining—are all trading below their 200-day moving average, said Parets, author of allstarcharts.com. He said the lack of broad participation from different sectors is another warning sign.

So far this year, the market has had three significant selloffs—May, August and September. Before each pull back, sentiment was too high and coincided with prices and momentum hitting new highs, said Mark Newton, chief technical analyst at Greywolf Execution Partners. The S&P 500 on Monday was trading close to its closing high of 1,771.94.

(Read more: Retail buying more trickle than wave)

Oppenheimer Asset Management technician Carter Worth points out that ahead of each of those selloffs, fewer stocks were above their 150-day moving average. In May, 468 of the S&P 500 stocks were trading above their 150-day, while in the August peak, it was 425 and in September, 407.

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On other hand, John Stoltzfus, chief market strategist at Oppenheimer, says there are a lot of fundamental reasons to be bullish right now, including better- than-expected earnings, gradually improving data in the U.S., and Europe creeping out of recession. Stoltzfus also says the resurgence in the IPO market has been a major positive.

"The IPO comeback this year shows that investors from the public and private market are bullish on the economy. And that's one of the factors resulting in [the] equity market moving higher," he said in an interview.

This past week, 46 deals came to the market (and $12.5 billion in proceeds were raised), which according to Ipreo Capital Markets Analytics, is the best week in terms of deal count since the first week of December 2010, when 53 deals priced.


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While some analysts say more good economic data could persuade the Federal Reserve to scale back on monetary support sooner than expected, Stoltzfus disagrees. "I think the last Friday's jobs number is progress, not perfection. If anything, it will move up the conversation around tapering, but either way we shouldn't expect the Fed to actually taper this year."

(Read more: Jobs shocker may force Fed's hand)

As stocks become more expensive, investors may see the approaching year end as a time to take some profits, capturing some of the hefty gains so far this year, said Art Hogan, managing director at Lazard Capital Markets. The S&P 500 is up 24 percent, and small caps are up even more.

But that money is likely to be reinvested in other sectors. "What we're seeing is less of an exit strategy by clients and more of a rotation into undervalued sectors," he said. That, he added, is another reason why the market will move higher.

—By CNBC's Seema Mody. Follow her on Twitter @SeemaCnbc.

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