ANNANDALE, Va. (MarketWatch) -- The stock market is acting tired.
It’s tried on several occasions in recent trading sessions to convincingly climb above the 14,000 level, and failed.
Take Monday’s trading session, for example. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU13,837.59, -105.83, -0.8%) got within 27 points of the 14,000 level within the first couple of hours of trading, but fell back by the close - finishing 57 points below the psychologically important level.
The actions Thursday and Friday weren’t dissimilar. On Thursday, the Dow managed to close above the 14K level, but just barely - by only 0.41 points in fact. And, as though it had expended every last bit of energy to do that, it collapsed on Friday, falling some 149 points.
This was enough to satisfy the definition of what Michael Burke and John Gray of Investors Intelligence call a "buying climax." This happens whenever a security makes a new 12-month high and then closes the week with a loss. Buying climaxes "are a sign that stocks are moving from strong hands to weak ones," the editors argue.
Not only did the overall market experience a buying climax last week, but lots of individual stocks did so as well. According to Investors Intelligence, in fact, no fewer than 362 issues last week had a buying climax.
What does this mean for the overall market? Burke and Gray report that they have found, in their work, that 80% of the time following a buying climax, prices in four months’ time are lower.
They emphasize that not all of the myriad technical indicators that they follow are flashing sell signals right now. And it’s furthermore worth noting that even if the bearish four-month forecast of the buying climax turns out to be correct, the stock market doesn’t have to fall right away.
The bottom line, according to Burke and Gray? While what has happened in recent sessions doesn’t amount to an "immediate sell signal," it does indicate that stock market risk has risen.
Investor Intelligence’s track record suggests we pay attention to what Burke and Gray have to say. In fact, their stock-market timing advice is tied for third place right now for performance since 1985 among all the market timing newsletters tracked by the Hulbert Financial Digest.
Stock market bulls, take note.
Mark Hulbert is the founder of Hulbert Financial Digest in Annandale, Va. He has been tracking the advice of more than 160 financial newsletters since 1980.