Just one week after predicting a bear market in stocks was beginning, Dennis Gartman now admits his market call was all wrong. However, he's still not getting long, instead maintaining a neutral positon on the market as a whole.
On Oct. 16, Gartman told CNBC Europe's "Squawk Box" that a bear market was beginning.
"You stay in cash and you stay in short-term bonds and you don't move out," Gartman advised. "I don't like to think about it, but I'm afraid that this might be the very beginnings of a bear market that could last for some period of time. I think it's going to be more than a mere 7 to 10 percent correction…. This is the start of a bear market, and it could last for several more months I'm afraid."
Gartman made those remarks just hours after the closed at the lowest level since April, and nearly reached correction territory on an intraday basis. Six sessions later, the S&P is 5 percent above where it closed on Oct. 15 (and more than 7 percent above its Oct. 15 lows).
"In retrospect, I should have thrown all caution to the wind, covered any short positions, and spent cash and bought stocks," Gartman said Thursday on CNBC's "Futures Now." "Clearly, in retrospect, I should have bought it. I'm not that smart, nor should I ever be. Clearly, I missed the V-bottom. And I'm going to be okay with that fact."
So what, exactly, did Gartman miss about the market?
"I'm not sure what I missed," he admitted. "I really don't know… This is the type of volatility that is absolutely beyond my ken. I've only been at this for 40-some years, so I'm relatively new to it. But quite honestly, I've never seen anything like the last two weeks."
"When you're down 300, down 200, up 200, up 300—this is not a market that I have any sense of whatsoever," he added.
The bright side for Gartman is that he went neutral on the market when it was still above current levels, so his neutral position has worked out thus far.
"I went to neutral two weeks ago, so the stock market is still where I went to neutral at," he said. "Usually I'll have a bias some way or the other, but right now I have absolutely no bias…. I'm absolutely neutral, and I'm very comfortable with that fact."
This isn't the first time Gartman has changed his tune in a short-time period. In August of 2013 he predicted gold would outperform stocks; in the few weeks that followed, the S&P gained while gold slid, leading him to retract his view and get back into the stock market. In February of this year, he predicted a "quite ugly correction," before deciding that "you can't be short" a week later. In May, he again called for a correction, and again admitted he was "abundantly wrong" a week later.
On Thursday, Gartman says his big trades now are owning propane stocks and shares of Apple.