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The stock market may look oversold, but it can fall even further, technical strategists say

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The selling on Wall Street may not be over even after a rough month where every sector of the stock market was hit hard, according to several technical strategists. The S & P 500 fell 9% in September, and along the way it took out its previous lows for the year and broke below key technical levels. The sell-off also included several days of extremely broad selling that is sometimes called a “washout” day and can be seen as a sign of capitulation. But as the calendar turns to October, technical strategists are still reluctant to call a bottom. BTIG strategist Jonathan Krinsky wrote in a note to clients on Sunday that, even though the S & P 500 has fallen to another key moving average that could be a rebound point, stocks seem likely to keep dropping. “We closed Friday almost dead on the 200-week MA, similar to what happened in 2018. The difference, however, was during the 2018 low the VIX curve was 12 points inverted, and currently it’s essentially flat. Therefore, we don’t think 3,589 will mark the low, and could see a possible overshoot towards 3,400 before a more durable low forms later in October,” Krinsky said. The VIX is the Cboe Volatility Index , often called Wall Street’s “fear gauge,” and it is based on volatility implied by the options market. The general calmness of that measure has puzzled strategists during this bear market, as it remains well below its peak in March 2020 during the Covid-driven market plunge. Bank of America strategist Stephen Suttmeier agreed that the market probably has more room to fall. He also pointed to options market indicators that suggested the bottom was not in yet. “On a near-term basis, more tactical capitulation may be needed. The 3-month VIX vs VIX moved below 1.0 last week, but the 5-day and 25-day put/calls may require spikes above 1.2 and 1.1, respectively, for tactical capitulation,” Suttmeier wrote. Another group of indicators used by technical strategists are investor surveys of positioning and sentiment. Many of these show that the mood among money-managers is near a bottom, but that doesn’t mean a rebound is imminent. “The most recent exposure data from NAAIM , shows the average active manager is just 12% exposed to stocks. This reading is down from the prior week’s 30% and below the quarterly average of 41%,” JC O’Hara of MKM Partners wrote in a note to clients. “Historically this is a very rare reading, but we have found that while low exposure readings are contrarian in message, the timing is not precise. Several instances of similar low readings marked a low however, 2008 shows exposure levels have the ability to stay depressed for long periods of time,” he added. — CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this report.

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