Reading Charts In A Messy Market

How can you make sense of charts in a market as wild as this one? We ask Louise Yamada, esteemed market technician and founder of the aptly named Louise Yamada Technical Research Advisors. Following is a summary of her main points.

Chart: S&P 500, 1993-2008, with 20-month moving average.

Editorial: It looks as if we're in the midst of a structural sell-off, Yamada says the likes of which we haven't seen since 2000. We could be in for an extended bear market period – and it could be global. Sell any rally, she counsels.


Chart: Monthly Relative Performance of S&P Consumer Staples, 1998-2008.

Editorial: If you must be in the market, consumer staples appear to be holding up, Yamada says, and should continue to do so. However this doesn’t mean the prices can’t come down – it just suggests the prices should come down, less.


Chart:Monthly Relative Performance of S&P Financials, 1996-2008.

Editorial: This chart suggests that financials are falling apart, observes Yamada, and that they could continue to deteriorate. Sell the strength.


Conclusion: Better to be out of the market right now wishing you were in.. than in the market wishing you were out.

For an in-depth look at the charts used in Yamada’s analysis please watch the video.

For an in-depth look at the charts used in Yamada’s analysis please watch the video.

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Trader disclosure: On Feb.6, 2008, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s Fast Money were owned by the Fast Money traders; Macke Owns (INTC), (YHOO), (DIS); Najarian Owns (BIIB), (CSCO), (EBAY), (MSFT), (XLF), (C), (BIIB), (NWA), (AMR); Najarian Owns (AAPL) Calls, (NIHD) Calls, (SKS) Calls; Najarian Owns (MA) Puts; Finerman Owns (GS); Finermna's Firm And Finerman Own (TEL), (TYC); Finerman's Firm Owns (KSS), (RTH), (RTP), (WMT), (YHOO), (JCP), (AEO), (BR), (SUN); Finerman's Firm Owns (MSFT) And Is Short (MSFT) Calls; Finerman's Firm Is Short (SPY), (IYR), (IJR), (IWM), (MDY), (BHP), (COF), (SPG), (WFC), (MHGC); Finerman's Firm Is Short (LEH) And Owns (LEH) Puts; Fineramn's Firm Owns (CROX) And (CROX) Options, Finerman Owns (CROX)