By Robert W. Colby, Senior Analyst

Bearish Sentiment Increasing.

The Bear count typically goes up as stocks go down, and this is no exception.

Down 8 of the past 9 trading days, some might say the market is getting oversold–and it is. But sometimes oversold becomes more oversold. Sentiment has not yet reached levels associated with extreme pessimism, so there could be room for further price declines.

Financial Stock Sector Relative Strength Ratio fell to a new 7-year low, and price fell to a new 5-year low. Financial crisis has always been bad for the stock market.

Consumer Staples Stock Sector Relative Strength Ratio rose to a new high. This is a “defensive” sector, relatively immune to recessions. The stock market seems to be anticipating a significant downturn in the economy.

Crude Oil jumped up above 108, a new high, confirming that all trends are Bullish for oil. But high and rising oil prices are no good for the economy and the stock market.

On Monday, the major stock price indexes opened on a firm note but soon turned red. The market worked its way irregularly lower most of the day and closed near the low of the day.

NYSE volume fell 7%, reflecting weak buying pressure. The volume of declining stocks was more than 9 times the volume of advancing stocks, indicating extreme net selling pressure on balance.

Commentators blamed “reports” of further large asset write-downs in the financial sector, and even bankruptcies, as well as rumors of liquidity squeezes at financial institutions.

Technically, all trends are down for the broad-based stock price indexes. Most days, the stock market has been quite reactive to the news, rumors, and “reports” of the day. In recent days, “reports” have been mostly Bearish–but that can change at any moment.

Spotlight on event stocks: Here is a stock screen I designed to pick out potential “event” stocks, both Bullish and Bearish. Sometimes, stocks with large changes in price and volume are revealed to be deal stocks, sooner or later, or are the subject of some other extraordinary events, positive or negative.

Bullish Stocks: Rising Price and Rising Volume
% Price Change, Symbol , Name
2.15% , ACV , Alberto-Culver Co.
2.05% , PSQ , Short 100% QQQ, PSQ
1.98% , MYY , Short 100% MidCap 400, MYY
3.67% , MZZ , Short 200% MidCap 400 PS, MZZ
1.13% , AMGN , AMGEN
2.27% , USO , Oil, Crude, U.S. Oil Fund, USO
1.51% , XRX , XEROX
1.88% , DBC , Commodity Tracking, DBC
0.63% , K , KELLOGG
0.75% , TIP , Bond, TIPS, TIP
1.39% , SH , Short 100% S&P 500, SH
0.21% , DLX , DELUXE
0.71% , UST , UST
0.26% , DGX , QUEST DIAG
0.57% , GLW , CORNING
0.06% , IBM , IBM
0.40% , CL , COLGATE

Bearish Stocks: Falling Price and Rising Volume
% Price Change, Symbol , Name
-11.10% , BSC , BEAR STEARNS
-2.24% , VXF , Extended Mkt VIPERs, VXF
-11.62% , EWM , Malaysia Index, EWM
-4.23% , PBE , Biotech & Genome, PBE
-2.28% , VHT , Health Care VIPERs, VHT
-13.00% , FNM , FANNIE MAE
-2.39% , RPV , Value S&P 500, RPV
-1.87% , IGE , Natural Resource iS GS, IGE
-10.18% , MBI , MBIA
-9.44% , SLM , SLM CORP
-4.75% , SYK , STRYKER
-1.49% , PTE , Telecommunications & Wireless, PTE
-6.29% , LM , LEGG MASON
-2.73% , PJP , Pharmaceuticals, PJP
-1.11% , KLD , LargeCap Blend Socially Responsible iS, KLD
-0.97% , PIC , Insurance, PIC
-0.89% , IGV , Software, IGV
-1.63% , VCR , Consumer D. VIPERs, VCR
-0.72% , PSJ , Software, PSJ
-6.95% , NIHD , NII Holdings, Inc.
-2.41% , PXQ , Networking, PXQ
-1.15% , PSI , Semiconductors, PSI
-3.13% , PXN , Nanotech Lux, PXN
-1.09% , PXE , Energy Exploration & Prod, PXE
-0.63% , IYK , Consumer Non-Cyclical, IYK
-5.28% , GILD , Gilead Sciences Inc
-5.16% , XME , Metals & Mining SPDR, XME
-1.69% , PHW , Hardware & Electronics, PHW
-1.92% , EWK , Belgium Index, EWK
-2.20% , EWY , South Korea Index, EWY
-1.42% , ADRU , Europe 100 BLDRS, ADRU
-4.10% , CHRW.O , CH Robinson Worldwide Inc, CHRWD
-4.09% , HGSI , Human Genome Sciences Inc
-2.45% , PIV , Value Line Timeliness MidCap Gr, PIV
-1.62% , IYC , Consumer Cyclical DJ, IYC

Sectors: among the 9 major U.S. sectors, all 9 fell.
Major Sectors Ranked for the Day
% Price Change Sector

-0.13% Utilities SPDR, XLU
-0.52% Consumer Staples SPDR, XLP
-1.09% Technology SPDR, XLK
-1.16% Consumer Discretionary SPDR, XLY
-1.23% Energy SPDR, XLE
-1.60% Industrial SPDR, XLI
-2.15% Materials SPDR, XLB
-2.33% Health Care SPDR, XLV
-2.84% Financial SPDR, XLF

Looking beyond the daily fluctuation to the major trends (listed in order of long-term relative strength):

Energy (XLE) Neutral, Market Weight. On 3/6/08, the XLE/SPY Relative Strength Ratio rose to new all-time high, confirming a major uptrend.

Consumer Staples (XLP) Neutral, Market Weight. On 3/10/08, the XLP/SPY Relative Strength Ratio rose to new 4-year high.

Materials (XLB) Neutral, Market Weight. On 3/6/08, the XLB/SPY Relative Strength Ratio rose to a new all-time high, confirming a major uptrend.

Utilities (XLU) Neutral, Market Weight. The XLU/SPY Relative Strength Ratio has eroded significantly since its all-time high on 1/9/08, and so Utilities have been slipping in these rankings.

Industrial (XLI) Neutral, Market Weight. On 3/6/08, the XLI/SPY Relative Strength Ratio made a new all-time high.

Health Care (XLV) Neutral, Market Weight. The XLV/SPY Relative Strength Ratio has eroded significantly since its 2-year high on 1/17/08, and so XLV has been slipping in these rankings.

Technology (XLK) Bearish, Underweight. On 2/25/08, the XLK/SPY Relative Strength Ratio fell to a new 10-month low, confirming a significant downtrend.

Consumer Discretionary (XLY) Bearish, Underweight. On 2/21/08, the XLY/SPY Relative Strength Ratio fell to a new 3-week low, suggesting short-term weakness. On 1/11/08, the XLY/SPY Relative Strength Ratio fell to a new 6-year low, confirming a major downtrend.

Financial (XLF) Bearish, Underweight. On 3/10/08, the XLF/SPY Relative Strength Ratio fell to a new 7-year low, and price fell to a new 5-year low.

Foreign stock indexes have been relatively strong for the short term since 2/11/08. Intermediate term, however, the EFA (the EAFE, international developed country stock markets,(ex the U.S. and Canada) has underperformed since 11/27/07.

NASDAQ Composite price remains Bearish. On 3/3/08, Relative Strength fell to a new 9-month low, confirming a significant downtrend.

Growth Stock/Value Stock Relative Strength Ratio has recovered significantly from a low on 2/1/08 but still has underperformed since the peak on 11/7/07. The Growth/Value ratio (IWF/IWD) appears to be in an intermediate-term uncertain phase.

The Small Cap/Large Cap Relative Strength Ratio broke down to a new 2.5-year low on 1/11/07. It has been trending down since 4/19/06. The main long-term trend is Relatively Bearish for Small Caps.

Crude Oil (April futures contract) moved above 108, and all trends are Bullish. The U.S. OIL FUND ETF (AMEX: USO) is not a pure play on Crude Oil, although it generally moves in the same direction.

The Energy stock sector has underperformed Crude Oil since 12/10/07.

Gold (April futures contract) pulled back slightly but the trends are Bullish.

Silver outperformed Gold since 12/14/07. Although Silver has been strong over this intermediate term, iShares Silver Trust (AMEX: SLV) has been relatively weak compared to Gold longer term, since 12/7/06. In addition, for the past 28 years, since 1/2/80, Silver has underperformed Gold.

The Gold Miners ETF (GDX) fell sharply since 3/4/08. And longer-term, GDX significantly underperformed Gold since 10/31/07. Therefore, GDX trends have been Bearish relative to Gold itself.

U.S. Treasury Bond prices jumped sharply higher. Bonds benefit from financial crisis. U.S. governments are stronger than corporates. Bonds generally have been reactive to news about the credit crisis: the worse the credit crisis, the higher the Bond prices; the better the credit crisis, the lower the Bond prices.

The U.S. dollar has repeatedly confirmed its downtrend in all time frames. All trends are Bearish.

The Art of Contrary Thinking: Traders need to be extremely nimble to keep up with rapid changes in the mass mood of late. Beyond the day-to-day swings, sentiment never really reached levels associated with extreme pessimism. So, crowd psychology could get more Bearish before it is over. The business and financial news has flipped from fear to hope and back again every few days. Investors’ moods and stock volatility have jumped up and down abruptly with the latest “reports”. When mass psychology shifts so dramatically and unpredictably from hope to fear from one day to the next, risk control becomes more important than aggressive profit seeking. Stay flexible.

Sentiment/Contrary Opinion: There are still more Bulls than Bears. According to the weekly Investors Intelligence newsletter survey as of 3/5/08, there were 41.9% Bulls and 36.6% Bears. The ratio of Bullish advisors to Bearish advisors fell to 1.14, up from 1.15 to 1 the previous week. This is below its 38-year median at 1.47 to 1. The ratio’s 38-year range is 0.28 to 17.51.

VIX “Fear Index”, now at 29.38, is relatively normal by Bear Market standards (around 20 to 40) but relatively high by Bull Market standards (around 10 to 20). Longer term, VIX has been in a rising trend since it hit a 13-year low of 9.89 on 1/24/07. The all-time high was 45.74 on 10/8/98. VIX is a market estimate of expected constant 30-day volatility, calculated by weighting S&P 500 Index CBOE option bid/ask quotes spanning a wide range of strike prices for the two nearest expiration dates.

VXN “Fear Index”, now at 31.38, is relatively low by Bear Market standards (around 35 to 80) but relatively high by Bull Market standards (around 12 to 26). Longer term, VXN has been in a rising trend since it hit its all-time low of 12.61 on 7/29/05. The all-time high was 114.23 on 10/8/98. VXN measures Nasdaq Volatility using a method comparable to that used for VIX.

CBOE Put/Call Ratio is 0.99, which indicates Bearish sentiment. Its 4-year simple moving average and median are 0.62, and its 4- year range is 0.35 to 1.28.

ISEE Call/Put Ratio is 0.56, which indicates Bearish sentiment. It is below its 4-year simple moving average at 1.50 and its 4-year median at 1.47. That means customers opened fewer long call options and more long put options than normal. Its 4-year range is 0.51 to 3.04.

Fundamentals: The 2003-2007 Bull Market was fed by abundant global liquidly, M&A, leveraged buyouts, corporate stock buybacks, and the net balance of positive earnings surprises. The unfolding fallout from the subprime credit market crisis has derailed that engine. Economic statistics and corporate earnings have been weakening.

The Primary Tide Major Trend turned Bearish, and that is a strong force. The Dow Theory confirmed a Primary Bear Market on 11/21/07 when both the Dow-Jones Industrial Average and the Dow-Jones Transportation Average closed below their respective closing price lows of August, 2007. On 11/7/07, the Transports closed below their 8/16/07 closing price low of 4,671.88. Then on 11/21/07, the Dow-Jones Industrial Average closed below its 8/16/07 closing price low of 12,845.78, thereby turning the Primary Tide Bearish.

Daily Rankings of Major Global Markets, Ranked from Strongest to Weakest of the Day:

0.91% Hang Seng
0.37% Disk Drives
0.09% 30Y T-Bond
-0.09% Austria
-0.34% Oil
-0.39% Spain
-0.42% Japan
-0.60% Switzerland
-0.65% AMEX Composite
-0.67% Utilities
-0.71% Sweden
-0.74% Comp. Tech
-0.80% Hong Kong
-0.84% Dow Utilities
-0.88% United Kingdom
-0.97% France
-0.97% Netherlands
-1.01% German DAX
-1.03% Drugs
-1.04% Euro Top 100
-1.06% Germany
-1.08% Hospitals
-1.10% Singapore
-1.13% French CAC
-1.21% Health Care
-1.24% London FTSE
-1.29% Dow Industrial
-1.37% Natural Gas
-1.39% Insurance
-1.39% Italy
-1.42% Semis
-1.43% Hardware
-1.44% Health Care Products
-1.55% S&P 500
-1.57% DOT
-1.61% Dow World Index
-1.64% NYSE Composite
-1.69% REITs
-1.74% Sydney All Ords
-1.79% Retailers
-1.82% Telecoms
-1.84% Mexico
-1.92% Belgium
-1.94% Australia
-1.95% Nasdaq Composite
-1.96% Tokyo Nikkei
-2.02% Nasdaq 100
-2.03% Dow Transports
-2.03% Taiwan
-2.08% Toronto 300
-2.13% S&P Small Caps
-2.14% Internet
-2.20% South Korea
-2.30% Banks
-2.36% CDNX Composite
-2.45% Russell 2000
-2.46% Paper
-2.50% Network
-2.51% Canada
-2.72% Commodities
-2.84% Oil Services
-3.06% Biotechs
-3.35% Chemicals
-3.35% Brazil
-3.80% Gold
-3.94% Transport
-4.66% Broker Dealers
-5.58% Airlines
-11.62% Malaysia

To discover the next Resistance, traders probably will be watching how the market acts at the following levels for the Standard & Poor’s 500 cash index (1,273.37):

Potential Resistance
1,576.09, high of 10/11/2007
1,552.76, high of 10/31/2007
1,523.57, high of 12/11/2007
1,498.85, high of 12/26/2007
1,403.45, low of 1/7/2008
1,396.02, high of 2/1/2008
1,388.34, high of 2/27/2008

To discover the next Support, traders probably will be watching how the market acts at the following levels for the S&P 500 cash index (1,273.37):

Potential Support
1,270.05, low of 1/23/2008
1,261.30, low of 8/10/2006
1,224.54, low of 7/18/2006
1,219.29, low of 6/14/2006
1,214.45, low of 11/4/2005
1,201.07, low of 11/2/2005
1,168.20, low of 10/13/2005
1,163.23, high of 3/5/2004
1,159.86, low of 5/17/2005
1,153.64, low of 5/16/2005
1,146.18, low of 5/13/2005
1,139.14, low of 4/29/2005
1,136.37, low of 4/20/2005