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Differentiating bear market rallies vs meaningful inflection points

November 2, 2022
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Bear markets are not linear – they typically witness numerous rallies

From January 3rd to the recent low on October 14, the the FT Wilshire 5000 had registered a drawdown of -25.9% the sixth largest since 1980. The key observation about bear markets is that they are not linear – in fact they often move in a sawtooth manner marked by numerous bear market rallies. This has been observable in the trajectory of the FT Wilshire 5000 returns this year (see chart below). Bear market rallies reward the ‘sell the bounce’ discipline, the antithesis of ‘buy the dip’.

Exhibit 1: Bear markets typically see numerous tradeable rallies

Source: Wilshire and Refinitiv. Data as of October 31, 2022

Just under half the days in a bear market register positive returns

To reiterate the point that bear markets are not linear we have measured the trading pattern of bear markets (lasting more than three months) registered by the FT Wilshire 5000 since 1980. This shows that around 45% of the trading days witness upward moves. The bear market is driven by the compounding effect of the average daily move in a down day being -1.4% vs the average daily move on an up day being +1%.

Exhibit 2: The trading pattern of bear markets

Source: Wilshire and Refinitiv. Data as of October 31, 2022

How to differentiate a bear market rally from a sustained inflection point?

If bear markets witness numerous bear market rallies, how can we identify when a rally is marking a nadir followed by a sustained positive move?

One answer to this is to wait for key technical signal confirmation. The ‘Golden Cross’ (the positive intersect of the 50-day moving average with the 200-day moving average where the latter has bottomed) is a useful tool aiding the identification of major market inflection points.

Exhibit 3: The ‘Golden Cross’ helps identify key inflection points

Source: Wilshire and Refinitiv. Data as of October 31, 2022

Writer

Philip Lawlor

Managing Director,  Market Research (Benchmarks)

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