McClellan Chart in Focus: A-D Line Diverging. The big bear markets tend to come after divergences lasting several months. By Tom McClellan


Chart In Focus

A-D Line Diverging

Chart In Focus

We are now in the period of bullish seasonality.  And we are just about to enter the bullish 3rd year of the current presidential term.  So all signs should be starting to point upward now, after the normal weakness of a presidential term’s 2nd year.

One problem is that we have not seen that normal 2nd year weakness.  Another problem is that just as things are supposed to start getting stronger, there are signs of weakening internals.  Among the most troubling of these signs is an A-D Line divergence.

The DJIA has continued to make new all-time highs, and that is usually a bullish sign.  Remember that it is only the last all-time high that is the bearish one, and along the way there are a lot of other ones that are not bearish.

The problem comes when there are non-confirmations such as the one we see with the NYSE’s A-D Line.  It topped back on August 29, and has thus far failed to confirm the higher price highs of the major averages.  That is not good news.  But it is not necessarily fatal.

Divergences are among the trickiest chart developments to interpret.  One big problem is that a supposed divergence can rehabilitate itself.  If the breadth numbers start getting stronger, with many more Advances than Declines, then the A-D Line could possibly move higher and remove this evident divergence.  But for now it is telling us that there are problems with the liquidity pool.

When liquidity starts to dry up, it does not show up in the behavior of the big cap indices.  Rather, it shows up in the behavior of the stocks which are less deserving, like the weak animals which die first in a drought.  Eventually the drought comes after the strong animals, but it kills off the weak ones first.  So it is with liquidity problems in the stock market, which show up first as weakness in the A-D Line, and then later as weakness in the major averages.

At the moment, this current divergence between the A-D Line and the price indices is just a short-duration one.  Small divergences lead to small price declines.  The big bear markets tend to come after divergences lasting several months.  Here is a chart showing some of the more notable long-term A-D Line divergences:

NYSE A-D Line 1988-2016

When an A-D Line divergence persists over several months, it foretells of a much more significant bear market that is to come.  I’m talking about a divergence lasting 3 months or longer.  Thus far we are not seeing that in the current instance, although we could get there.  It will take more time.

In the meantime, the divergence has become more extreme, perhaps signaling that the breadth weakness has gone too far.  The A-D numbers lately have been so bad that they may be saying things are good.  The McClellan Oscillator measures acceleration in the A-D data, and on Oct. 4 it went to its lowest reading since March 23, which had marked the low for 2018 (thus far).  A low reading like this can mark a momentary oversold bottom.

NYSE McClellan Oscillator

The McClellan Oscillator can of course go to an even further oversold condition, but a very deep reading like this is nearly always a sign of the market having declined to an overdone state.  So even though we see a bearish divergence in the A-D Line, the bearish condition which it is telling us about may already be overdone.  This is the problem with short term divergences.

Tom McClellan
Editor, The McClellan Market Report

Related Charts

Dec 19, 2013
Enable Images to see this Chart
A-D Line Divergence
Jul 24, 2014
Enable Images to see this Chart
A-D Line Divergence Again
Sep 28, 2018
Enable Images to see this Chart
Ten Hindenburgs So Far


, , ,

Related Posts

About the author

Sherman and Marian's son Tom McClellan has done extensive analytical spreadsheet development for the stock and commodities markets, including the synthesizing of the four-year Presidential Cycle Pattern. He has fine tuned the rules for interrelationships between financial markets to provide leading indications for important market and economic data. Tom is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point where he studied aerospace engineering, and he served as an Army helicopter pilot for 11 years. He began his own study of market technical analysis while still in the Army, and discovered ways to expand the use of his parents' indicators to forecast future market turning points. Tom views the movements of prices in the financial market through the eyes of an engineer, which allows him to focus on what the data really say rather than interpreting events according to the same "conventional wisdom" used by other analysts. In 1993, he left the Army to join his father in pursuing a new career doing this type of analysis. Tom and Sherman spent the next 2 years refining their analysis techniques and laying groundwork. In April 1995 they launched their newsletter, The McClellan Market Report, an 8 page report covering the stock, bond, and gold markets, which is published twice a month. They utilize the unique indicators they have developed to present their view of the market's structure as well as their forecasts for future trend direction and the timing of turning points. A Daily Edition was added in February 1998 to give subscribers daily updates on their indicators and also provide market position indications for stocks, bonds and gold. Their subscribers range from individual investors to professional fund managers. Tom serves as editor of both publications, and runs the newsletter business from its location in Lakewood, WA.