Bull vs Bear Battleground: A Tour Through SLX

The materials sector is one of the best areas for both bulls and bears right now, and I say both because there will be a spectacular move from here. I think the evidence weights bearish and points to major declines in many steelmarkers and related companies. On the flip side, there are still some bullish formations that if completed, would point to major gains in the sector. Or at least, if these bearish formations fail, it would invalidate the harsher bear forecasts for the global economy.

My base macro case is that the U.S. dollar will rally. Developed market currencies will depreciate. Emerging market currencies could implode. China's economy is slowing and at risk of tipping into a full-on recession with negative GDP growth or at least major sector damage. Some secondary evidence is the housing markets in Canada and Australia being extensions of the China/commodities slowdown. Drilling down to steel itself, China has been boosting production to lift its GDP. Assuming China does slow, a massive wave of steel will eventually pour out of China and hammer the global steel industry. Or if every nation throws up high tariffs, China will choke on its own production and iron ore demand will fall through the floor.

With the VanEck Steel ETF (SLX), the measured move indicated by the chart suggests my macro case is at least correct in size. China will either accelerate or decelerate, the chart says whichever way it moves will be explosive. I view the charts and macro as reflexive, that is to say I'm becoming more confident in a bold bearish call on China as charts of steelmakers (as one example) look increasingly bearish.

The long-term pattern on SLX looks like a monster inverted H&S. If SLX were to rally past the $46 area, it would open up a move to the $75 area and that would open up a move back to the all-time high on this ETF. The macro case for such a move is the central banks succeed in generating an inflationary global growth cycle beyond anything seen over the past decade. Commodities and material prices rally as they did in the early 2000s. China's economy rebounds and there's enough growth to go around, trade wars or not.
This inverted H&S pattern experienced a false breakout from February to May 2018. The timing is important because this overlays with the broader stock market being in a trading range since January 2018 (the widening megaphone). My assumption is both this pattern in SLX and the broader market are related.

Drilling into the shorter-term, the developing H&S pattern since November 2016 also correlates with the broader market. The S&P 500 Index was trading at the same level in December 2014 and in the days before Election Day 2016. For those looking for the hand of the central bankers, October 2014 was the end of quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve. October 2017 was when the Fed began reducing its balance sheet.
This pattern has completed and a retest of former support (now resistance) is underway. If this pattern is not violated with a break of resistance, the expected move is a roughly 50 percent decline from current levels.

With all that said, let's take a tour through the listed steel industry via an ETF, VanEck Steel (SLX). SLX isn't very heavily traded and doesn't have many options traded, but some of the holdings are liquid. Many of these holdings also appear in SPDR S&P Metals & Mining (XME). I will go through the charts in alphabetical order. Full disclosure: I am currently short STLD, ATI and NUE, and was short CMC in the recent past.

First up is AK Steel (AKS). This looks like a triple bottom, but Slopecharts let's me adjust the Y-axis. If this is actually a topping pattern, I'm afraid this company might be going bankrupt.
Allegheny Technology (ATI). I missed the break, but added puts last week. The topping pattern since August 2017 is what I'm focused on here. The target for this pattern is in the $14 area, I slapped on a horizontal around possible support. However, there's a similarity to AKS that suggests larger losses in the context of a 50-percent move in SLX.
Cleveland Cliffs (CLF), an iron ore miner. This chart has some bullish potential. The pattern since 2016 looks similar to precious metals miners. However, the uptrend was violated last week. Would like to see another break there for a clear bear signal.
Commercial Metals (CMC). There's a small inverse H&S pattern potentially forming.
Here's a great bull-bear chart from Carpenter Technology (CRS). There are three topping patterns since 2008, but also a rising trendline of support. Even if this is an ultimately bullish pattern, it could drop about 20 percent to the horizontal first.
Gerdau SA (GGB). Above $3.73 (the horizontal) looks bullish. Break the smaller horizontal at $2.45 and good night Gracie, the 2001 low near $0.25 opens up.
ArcelorMittor (MT). Massive wedge. Long-term support and resistance cross in March 2022. Won't have to wait that long for a resolution.
Nucor (NUE). This stock is relatively strong. Above $60 and it looks bullish. It recently touched the underside of support from the 2003 low. Major support back to the early 1980s is about 20 percent below.
Posco (PKX). See MT above.
Rio Tinto (RTP). Violated, then retook trendline from 2016 low. Very bullish above $70, 40 percent above. Major support around $20, 60 percent below.
Gibraltar Industries (ROCK). Below $31.71 and it's a failed breakout. From the macro perspective, I like the potential. A failed breakout starts with a loss of more than 20 percent. Looking back, there is a failed breakout analog ahead of the 2008 collapse.
Reliance Steel (RS) is above resistance.
Ryerson (RYI)
Schnitzer Steel (SCHN)
Comphania Siderurgica Nacional (SID). A double towards $9 (blue horizonal) or a potential breakdown to sub-$1.
Steel Dynamics (STLD). Similar to Nucor.
SunCoke Energy (SXC).
Timken Steel (TMST)
Tenaris SA (TS)
Ternium SA (TX). I had a bunch of horizontals on here and tried the Fibonacci instead, and they were really close.
Vale (VALE)
Vedanta (VEDL). A fourth topping pattern in a little over a decade is completed.
Worthington Industries (WOR).
US Steel (X). I pulled the Y-axis to show the downside potential if this is topped out.
Olympic Steel (ZEUS)

No comments:

Post a Comment