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Sell Rosh Hashanah?

Thursday, 29 Sep 2011 | 12:51 PM ET

A rally, but not an enthusiastic one. The Dow saw its gains cut in half in less than an hour, but then recovered. Financials holding, as are consumer and utilities.

Traders immediately began grousing that "high tech beta stocks" like Sina , Bidu , or Priceline were selling off.

The good news — for those long — is there was a concerted attempt to again sell global growth names, but the selloff ran out of steam.

There was an early attempt to sell China that failed, although casinos with heavy exposure to the China market like Wynn , Las Vegas Sands and MGM remain weak today.

Metals like Freeport McMoRan and Cliffs Natural Resources have come under pressure, but come off their lows, as have coal stocks like Alpha Natural Resources , killed yesterday but flat today.

What does all this mean? Technicians have noted for weeks that what appears to be a no-trend market is really about filling gaps: every opening rally is sold into, every opening selloff is bought.

No one wonder everyone has become a technical analyst.

Key short-term level to hold is 1151 in theS&P 500, which was yesterday's low.

Sell Rosh Hashanah, buy Yom Kippur (Oct. 8 this year)...I don't normally pay a lot of attention to these old-school trading tips around holidays, but Harry Schiller, an old friend and one of the Street's more venerable technicians, called to note that the old saw really does have trading history behind it.

Over the last 40 years, Harry says, the average return has been minus 0.6 percent in the S&P 500 in the period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Remember, it's sell Rosh Hashanah, buy Yom Kippur, so that indicates it has worked.

Why does it work? Harry postulates that religious Jews are not supposed to be playing around with their stock portfolios before the high holy days. So the idea is to sell going into the holy days, and buy after.

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DJIA
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S&P 500
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ANR
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BIDU
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CLF
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FCX
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LVS
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MGM
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The Priceline Group
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SINA
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WYNN
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  • A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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