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Charting a bullish February start: S&P 500 spikes from major support



Technically speaking, the U.S. benchmarks are off to a strong February start, rising in the wake of the most aggressive market downturn in about three months.

Against this backdrop, each big three benchmark has extended a reversal from major support, rallies preserving a bullish intermediate-term technical bias.

Before detailing the U.S. markets’ wider view, the S&P 500’s
 hourly chart highlights the past two weeks.

As illustrated, the S&P has weathered a jagged retest of major support closely matching the 50-day moving average.

Last week’s close registered less than two points from the 50-day — (the trending indicator has since “moved” slightly higher) — and the S&P has rallied respectably from support.

Monday’s session high (3,784) closely matched next resistance (3,783) and has been punctuated by Tuesday’s early follow-through. Bullish price action.

Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average
 has successfully tested last-ditch support, detailed previously.

The specific area matches the mid-November range top (29,964), also illustrated on the daily chart.

More immediately, Tuesday’s strong start places the Dow firmly back atop its 50-day moving average. Additional overhead matches the former range bottom, circa 30,790.

Against this backdrop, the Nasdaq Composite
has also rallied from major support.

In its case, the specific area matches the 2020 peak (12,973) detailed previously.

Last week’s low (12,985) registered slightly above support, and the index has subsequently reversed to the former range. Constructive price action.

Combined, each big three benchmark has maintained a relatively well-defined support point.

Widening the view to six months adds perspective.

On this wider view, the Nasdaq has weathered a respectable pullback from record highs.

To reiterate, the downturn has been underpinned by a notable floor matching the 2020 peak (12,973). Last week’s low registered about 12 points above support.

Tactically, the prevailing upturn preserves a comfortably bullish intermediate-term bias. (The recent downturn filled the mid-January gap, and has been punctuated by a rally to the former range from well-defined support. Bullish price action.)

Looking elsewhere, the Dow Jones Industrial Average registered the most damaging late-January downturn.

This is the only big three U.S. benchmark to venture materially under its 50-day moving average.

Still, the index has maintained last-ditch support, an area matching the mid-November range top (29,964), detailed previously. Tuesday’s strong start punctuates a pronounced bullish reversal from support.

Meanwhile, the S&P 500 has weathered a jagged turn-of-the-month retest of major support.

In its case, the 50-day moving average, currently 3,724, matches a familiar floor in the 3,723-to-3,726 area.

The bigger picture

Collectively, the major U.S. benchmarks seem to have weathered the strongest market downturn in about three months.

In the process, each big three benchmark has rallied respectably from notable support.

Specifically, the Nasdaq Composite has maintained the 2020 peak (12,973), the Dow Jones Industrial Average has maintained its former breakout point (29,964) and the S&P 500 has staged a jagged test of its 50-day moving average. (See the daily charts.)

Each benchmark’s intermediate-term bias has remained bullish throughout the recent downturn.

Moving to the small-caps, the iShares Russell 2000 ETF
 is digesting a decisive early-January breakout.

Tactically, the post-breakout low (204.66) is followed by the breakout point (201.20), areas that have underpinned the pullback.

Meanwhile, the SPDR S&P MidCap 400 ETF
 has pulled in slightly more aggressively from recent record highs.

Still, the downturn has been underpinned by the breakout point (425.30). Conversely, the former range bottom (434.40) remains an inflection point.

Looking elsewhere, the SPDR Trust S&P 500
 has absorbed a strong-volume pullback to major support.

But also recall that the downturn registered as internally lackluster, selling pressure inconsistent with a major trend shift.

Placing a finer point on the S&P 500, the index has maintained familiar support.

The specific area matches the December gap (3,723) and the 50-day moving average, currently 3,724.

The prevailing rally to the former range signals bullish momentum is intact. (Consider that the breakdown point (3,750) would be expected to draw selling pressure if market bears were setting the technical tone.)

More broadly, the prevailing upturn punctuates a bullish reversal from the 50-day moving average.

Delving deeper, the post-breakout low (3,662) — also the January low — is closely followed by major support at 3,646. (The November peak (3,645.99) and early-December gap (3,645.87) closely matched.)

Tactically, the S&P 3,646 area marks likely last-ditch support. An eventual violation would raise an intermediate-term caution flag. (This area corresponds to the Dow industrials’ recent successful test of the mid-November range top.)

Beyond technical levels, the S&P 500’s intermediate-term bias remains bullish, based on today’s backdrop.

Also see: Charting a market whipsaw: Nasdaq, Dow industrials hold key support.

Tuesday’s Watch List

The charts below detail names that are technically well positioned. These are radar screen names — sectors or stocks poised to move in the near term. For the original comments on the stocks below, see The Technical Indicator Library.

Drilling down further, the SPDR S&P Biotech ETF
 is acting well technically.

As illustrated, the group effectively flatlined amid the recent market downturn, before rising to tag a nominal record high.

The prevailing upturn has been fueled by a volume uptick to punctuate a late-January flag-like pattern.

Tactically, trendline support closely matches the former range bottom, circa 150. A sustained posture higher signals a firmly-bullish bias.

Meanwhile, the SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF
 is also technically well positioned. (Yield = 2.8%.)

The group started the year with a breakout, gapping to two-year highs. The upturn punctuated an unusually tight December range.

More immediately, the prevailing pullback has been underpinned by the top of the gap (54.00), placing the group 8.1% under the January peak.

Tactically, trendline support roughly tracks the 50-day moving average and is followed by the breakout point (51.70). The prevailing uptrend is intact barring a violation.

Initially profiled Jan. 8 — amid the break atop trendline resistance — Teledoc Health, Inc.
 has returned 15.4% and remains well positioned.

Late last month, the shares knifed to record highs, rising amid a nearly straightline strong-volume spike.

The subsequent pullback has been comparably flat, fueled by decreased volume, placing the shares 11.6% under the January peak. Tactically, the August peak (253.00) marks an inflection point and is followed by the firmer breakout point (235.00).

More broadly, the shares are well positioned on the three-year chart, digesting a break from the prolonged late-2020 range.

Eagle Materials, Inc.
 is a mid-cap producer of heavy-construction and light-building materials.

Technically, the shares started January with a breakout, gapping to three-year highs amid a volume spike. The subsequent range is a bullish continuation pattern, underpinned by the top of the gap (106.80).

More immediately, the prevailing upturn has been fueled by increased volume — following the company’s better-than-expected third-quarter results, released Thursday — placing the range top under siege. A near-term target projects to the 122 area on follow-through.

Finally, Toll Brothers, Inc.
 is a well positioned large-cap homebuilder.

As illustrated, the shares have recently knifed to 15-year highs, clearing resistance matching the October and December peaks.

The subsequent flattish pullback places the shares near the breakout point, and 6.5% under the January peak.

On a granular note, Monday’s session low (49.51) almost precisely matched the December peak (49.52) and has been punctuated by a bullish reversal. The prevailing rally attempt is intact barring a violation of this area.

More broadly, the shares are well positioned on the three-year chart, building on the massive 2020 V-shaped reversal. An intermediate-term target projects to the 58 area.

Still well positioned

The table below includes names recently profiled in The Technical Indicator that remain well positioned. For the original comments, see The Technical Indicator Library.


Symbol* (Click symbol for chart.)

Date Profiled

Netgear, Inc.


Feb. 1

Avis Budget Group, Inc.


Feb. 1

Capital One Financial Corp.


Jan. 29

NetApp, Inc.


Jan. 29

Aptiv, plc


Jan. 29

Rio Tinto Group


Jan. 26

Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc.


Jan. 26

Netflix, Inc.


Jan. 25

Cummins, Inc.


Jan. 25

Invesco Solar ETF


Jan. 22

Magna International, Inc.


Jan. 22

M.D.C. Holdings, Inc.


Jan. 22

Electronic Arts, Inc.


Jan. 21

Zebra Technologies Corp.


Jan. 14

Juniper Networks, Inc.


Jan. 14

Chegg, Inc.


Jan. 11

Macy’s, Inc.


Jan. 11

Nexstar Media Group, Inc.


Jan. 11

iShares Transportation Average ETF


Jan. 11

Energy Select Sector SPDR


Jan. 8

Teledoc Health, Inc.


Jan. 8

Skyworks Solutions, Inc.


Jan. 7

Financial Select Sector SPDR


Jan. 7

FireEye, Inc.


Jan. 5

Check Point Software Technologies


Jan. 4

Synaptics, Inc.


Jan. 4

Sunrun, Inc.


Dec. 23

ShockWave Medical, Inc.


Dec. 23

JPMorgan Chase & Co.


Dec. 22

Ballard Power Systems, Inc.


Dec. 21

LivePerson, Inc.


Dec. 21

United Therapeutics Corp.


Dec. 21

Shopify, Inc.


Dec. 18

CyberArk Software Ltd.


Dec. 18

Calix, Inc.


Dec. 17

Elastic N.V.


Dec. 17

Cerner Corp.


Dec. 17

Tenet Healthcare Corp.


Dec. 16

Williams-Sonoma, Inc.


Dec. 15

iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF


Dec. 15

SDPR S&P Regional Banking ETF


Dec. 14

Etsy, Inc.


Dec. 14

Plug Power, Inc.


Dec. 9

F5 Networks, Inc.


Dec. 8

Emerson Electric Co.


Dec. 8

Zscaler, Inc.


Dec. 7

Fortinet, Inc.


Dec. 7

Kulicke and Soffa Industries, Inc.


Dec. 7

Dillard’s, Inc.


Dec. 4

Spotify Technology S.A.


Dec. 3

Valero Energy Corp.


Dec. 3

Analog Devices, Inc.


Dec. 2

Cirrus Logic, Inc.


Dec. 1

Sonos, Inc.


Dec. 1

American Airlines Group, Inc.


Nov. 30

Zillow Group, Inc.


Nov. 23

Bank of America Corp.


Nov. 20

SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration and Production ETF


Nov. 20

MetLife, Inc.


Nov. 19

Kohl’s Corp.


Nov. 18

Applied Materials, Inc.


Nov. 17

RingCentral, Inc.


Nov. 13

Regions Financial Corp.


Nov. 13

Snap, Inc.


Nov. 9

Norfolk Southern Corp.


Nov. 9

Communications Services Select Sector SPDR


Nov. 5

Health Care Select Sector SPDR


Nov. 5

Alphabet, Inc.


Nov. 5

Keysight Technologies, Inc.


Nov. 4

Harley-Davidson, Inc.


Nov. 4

8×8, Inc.


Nov. 3

Exact Sciences Corp.


Nov. 2

Universal Display Corp.


Nov. 2

Dentsply Sirona, Inc.


Oct. 27

Maxim Integrated Products, Inc.


Oct. 21

The Travelers Companies, Inc.


Oct. 21

Micron Technology, Inc.


Oct. 20

Vulcan Materials Co.


Oct. 19

ON Semiconductor Corp.


Oct. 16

Ford Motor Co.


Oct. 15

First Solar, Inc.


Oct. 13

Teradyne, Inc.


Oct. 12

SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF


Oct. 9

Shake Shack, Inc.


Oct. 9

SPDR S&P Biotech ETF


Oct. 8

Twilio, Inc.


Oct. 8

Cloudflare, Inc.


Oct. 7

RSailPoint Technology Holdings, Inc.


Oct. 1

Martin Marietta Materials, Inc.


Sept. 30

Abercrombie & Fitch Co.


Sept. 29

Zendesk, Inc.


Sept. 23

Scientific Games Corp.


Sept. 23

Crocs, Inc.


Sept. 14

Five Below, Inc.


Sept. 10

Eastman Chemical Co.


Sept. 10

International Paper Co.


Sept. 3

Deere & Co.


Aug. 24

Johnson Controls International


Aug. 21

Canadian Solar, Inc.


Aug. 20

General Motors Co.


Aug. 20

Builders FirstSource, Inc.


Aug. 18

Enphase Energy, Inc.


Aug. 13

Freeport McMoRan, Inc.


Aug. 10

Industrial Select Sector SPDR


Aug. 6

Penn National Gaming, Inc.


July 30

SPDR S&P Metals & Mining ETF


July 28

iShares MSCI South Korea ETF


July 28

Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.


July 23

Materials Select Sector SPDR


July 20

Caterpillar, Inc.


July 20

Roku, Inc.


July 16

Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR


July 13

SunPower Corp.


July 13

Danaher Corp.


June 24

Fiverr International, Ltd.


June 19

Square, Inc.


June 8



June 3

iShares MSCI Japan ETF


May 29

Synopsis, Inc.


May 27

Agilent Technologies, Inc.


May 15

Qualcomm, Inc.


May 12

Five9, Inc.


Apr. 24

Chewy, Inc.


Apr. 24

Tesla, Inc.


Apr. 23

VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF


Apr. 17

Okta, Inc.


Apr. 16

Target Corp.


Apr. 16

Invesco QQQ Trust


Apr. 14

Apple, Inc.


Mar. 27

iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF


Mar. 19

Microsoft Corp.


Feb. 22

* Click each symbol for current chart.

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I married the ‘life of the party’ who was a regular at Royal Ascot. But all he does is take his financial troubles out on me




I don’t know where to start. So I will start at the beginning. I met a man at a friend’s wedding a few years ago. He was charming in that British-man-in-America sort of way (Hugh Grant has a lot to answer for), he told jokes (perhaps too many jokes, in retrospect) and made me laugh (at first). He was the life of the party, with a wide circle of friends and everyone seemed to love him.

He also had a very lavish, conspicuous lifestyle: a house upstate where he entertained his friends at weekends, he sailed in the summer, and he was regularly photographed at charity events on both sides of the Atlantic. He posted photos of himself on Facebook at Royal Ascot for several years (before the coronavirus pandemic). He seemed like the most popular guy in the world.

‘The first six months were good, the next three years? There are three topics: My husband, his business and his family.’

He was a generous man an d financially stable, or so I thought. Of course, his success and ease with which he seemed to navigate the world made him attractive to me, but I fell in love with him, and when he proposed, I said yes. The first six months were good, the next three years? Let’s just say there are three topics of conversation: My husband, his failing business and his terrible family. The pandemic hurt the already shaky family firm.

As his financial troubles worsened over the course of our marriage, he became short-tempered. I attributed that to the stress he was under. He actually shared this business with two brothers, so his expense account and “champagne lifestyle” was being funded by his family as much as actual profit. In fact, it soon became clear that he was neither the brain or the brawn of the operation.

Our life has descended into stress and instability. His flashes of anger appear with increasing frequency, as do his allegations that I am a gold-digger, which conveniently cast me as a villain deserving of no respect. For the record, I always work and pay my own way. (Six months ago, he pushed me and I fell backwards over the arm of a sofa. Fortunately, it broke my fall.)

I have no idea who this man is. His friends, as much as one could call them that, deserted him a couple so years ago when the expense account ran out. He ridicules me, holds the fact that I wanted a child over my head (I’m 38), and last year he did not hide his disgust at the birthday gift I got him (a photo album of our courtship, in addition to a dinner and silver cufflinks) in my face.

I’m exhausted. There is only one person in the world who matters, and it’s him. Some days he’s up and friendly, usually when we are on Zoom calls with family and (my) friends, but when that camera is off you better watch out. I’m living with a stranger. I have no clue what will happen next. His birthday is coming up in March, and I am dreading choosing a gift for him after last year.

What would you get him for this birthday? Any other suggestions about what I should do?

Trapped & Exhausted

Dear Trapped & Exhausted,

A ticket to London, England. One way.

But your situation is quite different from my hypothetical one. I wills say this: I’m not sure it’s possible to know who you married if he doesn’t know who he is himself. Hugh Grant has actually come into his own playing villains and rogues (Jeremy Thorpe in “A Very British Scandal” on Netflix
Phoenix Buchanan in “Paddington 2” and Jonathan Fraser in “The Undoing” on HBO). In each role, he was playing a man with many faces, but was not who others believed him to be in either role, and I’m not sure Thorpe, a real-life British politician, Fraser, a fictional murderer, and Buchanan, a cartoon villain of many disguises, knew who they were either.

I suspect the same is true for your husband. Is he an amusing socialite and risk-taking business mogul by day and a bumbling, ne’er-do-well, Black Sheep of his family by night? If he doesn’t know who he is and where his own values lie — and value lies — I can’t blame you for not knowing. I do not believe you are a “gold digger,” but I do believe that you bought into whatever it was he was selling to the world: a debonair, bicontinental bon vivant who had not a care in the world and who got by on chutzpah, smarts (let’s assume), likability and talent for navigating “high society.” That’s natural. We tend to believe who people say they are, unless we have reason to doubt them.

For every Jeffrey Epstein or Robert Maxwell, there are a thousand Phoenix Buchanans. Everything and nothing in life is about money. A child is not a bargaining chip. A marriage certificate or property deed is not a life sentence. A birthday present is not a time bomb. Presenting oneself as a success on social media is not real life. It is the 21st Century version of Buchanan’s act at the village fête. When domestic violence or emotional abuse rear their head, the fear persists. When will it happen again? Today? Tonight? Tomorrow? Any moment now? Close your eyes. Imagine your dream life. And choose that.

The door is waiting for you, if you choose to walk through it.

Are you experiencing domestic violence or coercive control? Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline. FreeFrom works to establish financial security for domestic-violence survivor and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence supports efforts that demand a change of conditions that lead to domestic violence and coercive control.

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions at

Also see: ‘We’ve seen an alarming spike in domestic violence reports:’ For some women, it’s not safe to leave the house OR stay home

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 group where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write in to me with all sorts of dilemmas. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.

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My brother owes $10K to our late father’s estate. There’s no loan agreement and I’m executor. How should I approach repayment?




Dear Quentin,

My father passed and I am the executor of his will.

We sold the house and Dad’s assets with my brother’s help. Probate is done. We are ready to distribute the remainder of my father’s estate, but my brother owes the estate $10,000.

He feels that if he had paid this money back before Dad passed, he would still get half back, and therefore owes $5,000. (Dad also told me that he owed the money before he passed.)

My father’s will says his estate should be split 50/50. I feel my brother owes $10,000 to the estate. I do not want to rock the boat, and will do the right thing in order to keep peace.

What is the proper way to split $200,000 in cash when he owes the estate $10,000? For the record, my brother will abide by whatever I decide. Thank you in advance for your help.

Trying to Do the Right & Proper Thing

Dear Right & Proper,

You are right to not look for trouble where there is none.

Given that there is no notarized loan agreement between your brother and your late father and there is money to be distributed, it would seem simpler and faster to have him sign a note now saying he owes the estate $10,000 and deduct the $5,000 from his eventual inheritance. Done and done. He could, after all, say that the loan was only due to be repaid when your father was alive or, indeed, say the loan was a gift. (The subject of countless episodes of “Judge Judy.”)

Your story is a cautionary tale of what could go wrong. “A hug or a handshake is not sufficient to bind someone to loan repayment. Loans and repayment obligations should be spelled out in writing and include repayment terms upon the testator’s death,” according to the Absolute Trust Counsel, a California law firm. “It is the responsibility of the executor to collect the balance due. An estate cannot be settled until all loans are collected and all debts settled or paid.”

“When an estate is insolvent, the collection of outstanding loans becomes especially important. Creditors want to be paid and will pursue all available resources to accomplish that,” the firm adds. “Many times, unpaid loans create dissension among heirs. In some cases, heirs who owe money still expect to receive an equal share of an estate.”

There is a healthy cash sum from which to deduct your brother’s loan: $105,000 for you and $95,000 for him. It could get sticky otherwise.

Thankfully, your brother also wants to do what’s right and proper.

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at

The Moneyist: ‘Warren Buffett and Harry Potter couldn’t get those two retired early’: Our spendthrift neighbors said our adviser was ‘lousy.’ So how come WE retired early?

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These money and investing tips can help you sail the stock market’s choppy seas




Don’t miss these top money and investing features:

These money and investing stories, popular with MarketWatch readers over the past week, give you tips about how to navigate the financial markets after February’s bumpy second half and signs pointing to March blowing in with more unpredictable winds.

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