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This cruel market appears to have played another joke on the short sellers.  After a relentless 73% rally the market swoons just 9%?  David Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff provides a well balanced perspective, but isn’t so convinced that the selling is done just yet:

“There is room to have an open mind in both directions, though we believe that there is still more downside than upside risk. The problem for the bulls is that the market gains have occurred on lower volume, which was down 6% on the NYSE yesterday, and the major indices are still stuck below their 50-day moving averages (the only exception is the S&P 600).”

On the other hand, Mr. Rosenberg notes some potentially bullish trends including the technicals, earnings and sentiment:

“But the bulls will note that the market now does have some technical strength (as outlined in today’s Investors Business Daily). The major averages have closed in the upper half of their daily ranges for six sessions in a row and often at or close to the highs of the day. The list of stocks hitting a new high has hit 200 versus 12 those hitting a new low.

Sentiment has turned extremely negative considering that this correction was barely over an 8% down-move but indeed, before it occurred, the Investors Intelligence poll was at 52.2% bulls (18.9% bears) and at the recent lows it was at 35.6% bulls (and 27.8% for the bears). That is a contrarian positive, at least on a near-term basis. Moreover, there is a high correlation between the Euro and the S&P 500 and the short positions in the currency is at an all-time high, and as these shorts have to be covered, the dollar has softened a tad off its recent highs and this has corresponded with the rebound in the equity market.

Finally, we have 73% of companies beating their earnings estimate — this has dominated the press, and the fact that tech bellwethers like Hewlett-Packard managed to beat their estimates and raise guidance (as did Deere and Whole Foods) has also helped add some recent enthusiasm in the bullish camp.”

Still, Rosenberg is not convinced.  He would have to see two criteria to be convinced that the selling is truly done with:

This is an exercise to see both points of view, keep an open mind; however, we have not waffling and maintain a cautious view over risk assets for 2010. This is still a technically-driven market — for confirmation of the sustainability of the rebound (recall that there were four other 5%+ declines during this bear market rally phase) we need to see:

1. Follow throughs (gains of at least 2% consecutively and on higher volume), and;
2. A move back above the 50-day moving averages for the major indices.

Source: Gluskin Sheff

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