Dow Jones futures tilted lower Thursday night, along with S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq futures. The Nasdaq again led the stock market rally to fresh highs, with tech giants Apple stock, Amazon.com (AMZN), Intel (INTC), Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Nvidia (NVDA) fueling the gains.
But the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite is becoming increasingly extended, raising the risk of a pullback.
Key Earnings Late
Intel earnings and sales beat views while the Dow Jones chip giant also guided higher for Q1. Incoming CEO Pat Gelsinger, who takes over on Feb. 15, committed to keeping the chip giant’s manufacturing business, despite calls from some investors to shed those assets. Intel stock fell 5% overnight. That was after soaring 6.5% to 62.46 on Thursday, with some of those gains coming in the last few minutes on the early earnings release. Intel stock has been running on the announcement Gelsinger, Intel’s former CTO, will become chief executive. But it’s still far from a buy point.
Intuitive Surgical earnings and revenue rose slightly, rebounding from declines in the prior two quarters. The maker of the da Vinci robotic surgical system gave preliminary revenue figures last week. ISRG stock fell slightly in extended trade after closing up 10 cents at 798.67. Intuitive Surgical stock looks set to dip back below a 792.64 buy point. It could try to find support at the 10-week line again as it builds a short consolidation on top of the prior base.
IBM earnings topped views, but sales missed, once again declining vs. a year earlier. IBM stock tumbled overnight after rising 1.2% to 131.65 on Thursday. The Dow tech giant has a 131.98 buy point in a bottoming base. But it’s still in a long-term downtrend, with weak fundamentals for years.
CSX earnings missed while revenue topped. CSX stock was little changed overnight after closing down 1.7% to 91.61, around its 50-day line. An early January breakout from a flat base quickly fizzled, though the 93.80 buy point is still valid, according to MarketSmith analysis.
Tech Giants Eye Buy Points
As for other tech giants, Apple (AAPL) rose to just below a buy point. Amazon stock climbed toward possible early entries after regaining its 50-day line Wednesday. AMD stock moved back above key levels and within a prior buy zone. Nvidia stock rebounded from key support, but investors likely want to see a little more strength first.
But looming earnings — as well as the extended stock market rally — complicate buying any of those tech giants. Apple and AMD stock have earnings next week. Amazon is also next week. Nvidia isn’t due for a few weeks, but may move on AMD’s earnings and guidance.
Dow Jones Futures Today
Dow Jones futures fell 0.15% vs. fair value, with Intel and IBM stock weighing on the blue-chip index. S&P 500 futures lost 0.1% while Nasdaq 100 futures retreated 0.2%.
Bitcoin continued to slide, falling below $30,000 Thursday night, down $10,000 from a week earlier and the all-time high of nearly $42,000 on Jan. 8.
Coronavirus cases worldwide reached 98.05 million. Covid-19 deaths topped 2.09 million.
Coronavirus cases in the U.S. have hit 25.18 million, with deaths above 420,000.
Newly reported U.S. Covid cases continue to trend lower, with hospitalizations and deaths also turning down.
U.S. coronavirus vaccinations hit 1.6 million on Wednesday as the pace continues to improve.
President Biden signed new executive orders to increase vaccine production and to impose mask mandates in airplanes and airports, as well as on federal property.
Stock Market Rally
U.S. Stock Market Today Overview
Last Update: 4:24 PM ET 1/21/2021
The stock market rally continued to advance, once again led by tech giants.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost a fraction in Thursday’s stock market trading. The S&P 500 index edged higher. The Nasdaq composite climbed 0.55%. The Nasdaq 100, which includes Apple, Amazon, Intel, AMD and Nvidia stock, popped 0.8%.
Apple stock, a member of the Dow Jones, S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite, rose 3.7% to 136.87. That’s just below a 138.89 cup-with-handle entry. Apple earnings are on Jan. 27.
Amazon stock climbed 1.3% to 3,306.99, flirting with a trend line starting with the Sept. 2 peak. Investors also could use 3,350.75 as another early entry. Amazon earnings are due Feb. 2.
AMD stock rallied 3.1% to 91.53, back above its 50-day and 21-day lines and back above an 88.82 double-bottom buy point. Shares rose 2% overnight after initially falling following the Intel earnings report. AMD competes with Intel in PC microprocessors and data center chips. AMD earnings are due Jan. 26.
Nvidia advanced 3.75% to 554.70, above its 50-day. Several short-lived moves above the 50-day line have fizzled, so investors likely should wait until NVDA stock decisively clears at least the Jan. 11 high of 558.44 before starting a position.
Growth stocks were mixed, with chips clearly leading.
Among the best ETFs, the Innovator IBD 50 ETF (FFTY) rose 1% to a fresh all-time high, while the Innovator IBD Breakout Opportunities ETF (BOUT) dipped 0.2%. The iShares Expanded Tech-Software Sector ETF (IGV) edged down 0.4%. The VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF (SMH) climbed 1.55%, with AMD, Nvidia and Intel stock all notable components.
Stock Market Rally Extended
The Nasdaq composite is now 8.1% above its 50-day moving average, picking up from Wednesday’s 7.8% and the highest since Sept. 2. (With Apple stock and other tech giants rallying, the big-cap Nasdaq 100 is now 7% above its 50-day.) Further, the Nasdaq is 4.1% above its 21-day exponential moving average, the most since just after the early November follow-through days.
When the Nasdaq is 6% or more above its 50-day line, that’s a yellow flag. The odds of a pullback are higher. The market doesn’t have to retreat right away, but the more extended it gets, the higher the risk of a significant pullback or correction.
In August, the Nasdaq was generally at least 6% above the 50-day, with Apple stock and Tesla (TSLA) leading a big-cap rally. As of Aug. 25, the index was more than 8% extended, but it kept going. It finally reached 11.6% above the 50-day line on Sept. 2. But on Sept. 3, the Nasdaq plunged 5%, wiping out all the gains after Aug. 25. By Sept. 8, the third day of the pullback, the Nasdaq had wiped out essentially all of August’s gains, closing slightly below the 50-day line. It’s a classic example of the stock market rising on a escalator, falling on an elevator.
Ideally, the stock market rally would move sideways or drift lower over several weeks. Last week the major indexes did retreat modestly, but only enough to bring the Nasdaq from extended to “almost extended.” A bigger pullback or longer sideways action would be helpful.
But, as always, the stock market rally is going to do what it’s going to do.
What Investors Should Do
With that in mind, what should investors be doing? Right now, the stock market rally is working. There’s no need to get defensive. Investors may want to consider selling some stocks into strength, taking some profits. You probably should be cautious about starting new positions and adding exposure, especially if you’re on margin. Breakouts that happen just before a market pullback are highly likely to run into trouble.
Most importantly, have a game plan if the stock market rally does reverse. Where will you take partial profits and which stocks are your core holdings? Then stick to those rules.
Read The Big Picture every day to stay in sync with the market direction and leading stocks and sectors.
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