U.S. stocks are within a week of "a significant market top" that is likely to precede a drop of at least 11% in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index, said Tom DeMark, creator of a set of market-timing indicators.
DeMark's Sequential and Combo indicators, designed to identify market tops and bottoms, are giving a sell signal on the main U.S. stock benchmark for the first time since mid-2007, he said in a telephone interview. The S&P 500 began its 57% plunge from a record in October 2007.
"I'm pretty confident that in one to two weeks, the market will be in a descent," said DeMark, founder and chief executive officer of Market Studies LLC. "It could be pretty sharp."
DeMark's forecast follows projections from Wall Street strategists that the S&P 500 will climb to 1,384, an annual gain of 10%, through the end of the year, according to the average of 12 estimates in a Bloomberg survey. Short selling of companies in the index has fallen to the lowest level in a year, according to Data Explorers, a New York-based research firm.
Steven A. Cohen, founder of Stamford, Connecticut-based SAC Capital Advisors LP, which manages $12 billion, and John H. Burbank, founder of San Francisco-based Passport Capital LLC, which manages $4.2 billion, are partners in Market Studies, DeMark said. The firm has its headquarters near Scottsdale, Arizona.
On a weekly basis, the two indicators signaled on January 14 that a reversal is imminent as the S&P 500 closed at its highest level since August 2008. DeMark expects a decline of at least 11% because his work shows that markets move in increments of 5.56%, he said. Assuming a drop twice that size is "a conservative estimate," he said.
The indicators are based on comparisons of the current closing level of the index with closing and intraday levels over previous periods. The reading January 14 was the first signal of a reversal in the S&P 500 since March 2009, when the indicators showed a rebound was imminent, he said. That month the S&P 500 fell to a 12-year low from which it has rebounded more than 90%.
The index has risen for seven straight weeks, the longest stretch since May 2007. The S&P 500 rose 0.1% to 1,295.02 at 4 p.m. in New York.
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