Bear-o-meter neutral, with some caveats

The Bear-o-meter is a compilation of several trend, breadth, seasonal, valuation and sentiment indicators that attempts to provide a relative risk/reward reading on the market. Most of you have seen this diagram before, but for the new readers…the diagram below shows us that the range goes from 0 (high risk conditions) to 8 (lower risk conditions). The diagram segments these readings into 3 potential ranges as BULLISH, NEUTRAL, and BEARISH. A reading of 3 and 5 puts us on the edge of higher or lower risk, but not firmly into either of those zones. Most of the time, we get neutral readings (3-5). That’s because, all things being equal, most of the time markets are relatively balanced between the reasons we should be concerned, and the reasons we should be bullish.

Right now is one of those “neutral” times. The Bear-o-meter reading for today (January 5, 2021) is firmly at the upper end of its neutral zone. It’s reading is “5” as of today, which is on the cusp of outright bullish. Interestingly, we got several strong bullish trend indications which were offset by over-valued fundamental reading, a bearish sentiment and a bearish breadth indicator. All of this cancelled each other out on the extremes, with the balance going to the neutral and positive scores. Here is a summary of todays reading:

Cumulative breadth (A/D line): Bullish. +2 points

Trend (50 & 200 day SMA): Bullish. +2 points

Valuation (Trailing PE on SPX): Bearish. -1 point

Dow Theory (Industrials up, Transports down chart below): Bearish. – 1 point. This was a change we haven’t seen for a while.

Seasonality: Bullish. + 2 points

Breadth momentum ( % above 50 day SMA, New high/low indicators): Neutral. 0 points

Volatility indicators (VIX, Put/Call ratio indicators): Neutral. 0 points

Smart/Dumb money sentiment: Bearish. -1 point. Chart below.





Industrials (red line, INDU) are moving up, while Transports (black line, TRAN) is moving down- right side of the chart. Note my past annotations when this has happened, and note when it lead into major or minor corrections. Most of the time!


Smart money really doesn’t like this market. Dumb money adores it. Extremes like this (below the lower horizontal trigger line) can be seen leading into the late 2018 market correction of -25%, and the COVID crash of 35%. That’s not to say it will happen again. But it bears watching.


The Dow non-confirmation along with the extremes in Smart/Dumb money tell me that there is plenty of room for neartermed volatility. But, you can’t argue with the tape. And that’s what the breadth and trend statistics are telling us. Longer termed bullish, with room for some noise for this month. Overall, any pullbacks should be bought.



  • In a recent blog you reviewed an analysis of the SPX using an upper/lower touch of BB’s, break of RSI (10 day) overbought/oversold zones, and break of Stochastic overbought/oversold zones. Is this your favourite combination of indicators for trading? If not, what combination do you suggest?
    Since GIC rates are in the toilet, I am moving more of my portfolio to stocks. I am trying to find an indicator combination that fits my conservative style of investing (ok with only some of the upside and limit downside to an absolute minimum). Previously, I was using MACD, Money Flow Indicator, and attempting to draw trend lines and support/resistance lines but have found it to be not aggressive enough. I am seeking trading opportunities with a potential of approximately 3 to 5% gains within weeks or a few months (I am content with having more than the average on the sidelines in cash waiting). Currently, I am considering using a similar strategy to your SPX short termed momentum review. I am investigating utilizing BB upper/lower touches, break of Money Flow Indicator (10 day) zones, and break of Stochastic zones to help determine trading opportunities. In addition I look at MACD to help determine if the trend is reversing. What is your opinion of this strategy?
    Thank you for sharing your market insights and technical analysis knowledge.

    • Kyle–the short termed system is very good at identifying extremely neartermed overbought or oversold situations. This may or may not be a good trading system–the positive is that its usually correct in its call, the negative is that – like Monday- its overbought signal did give us that one day selloff. But boy, did Tuesday ever reverse that down day-the down day was a very minor selloff, so was it a worthy trading opportunity? Likely not–that’s why I noted that its best used to refine your micro decision. i.e.–Market is bullish, you want to buy, but the short system suggests its momentarily overbought–so perhaps you wait for a pullback and then buy…..its not reliable to predict big enough moves to trade off of by itself.
      Personally, I would use something like you say–MACD, which is a longer termed indicator.


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