There continues to be technical improvements among some of the beaten up international/emerging equity markets.
This is most evident as the relative strength (vs. the S&P 500) charts show a bullish reversal of trend and points to at least continued near-term outperformance.
Within domestic equities there appears to be a similar changing of the guard as technology (via QQQ) looks to have emerged as a new leadership sector as it has broken through its Sep. 2012 relative strength downtrend line (vs. the S&P 500) and has now clear the 50% Fibonacci retracement of its 2000-2002 decline.
These developments do not mean that all is unwell for the S&P 500. In fact, SPY has broken out to all-time highs and looks poised to go higher.
PowerShares QQQ (QQQ): There have been some significant bullish developments of late for QQQ. First, the relative strength breakout through the Sep. 2012 downtrend line suggests that QQQ is now becoming a domestic leadership sector. From an absolute perspective, important resistance has also been cleared, which corresponded to the Sep. 2012 high (70.58) and the 50% Fibonacci retracement of the 2000-2002 bear market. The breakout of the Dec. 2012 uptrend channel targets a move to 75. Secondary resistance is purely base on round number psychology (80).
iShares MSCI EAFE ETF (EFA): There have been some pretty significant technical improvements over the last month or so. Most notable was the ability to push through the Jan. 2013 relative strength downtrend line versus the S&P 500. This suggests that there should be near-term outperformance to take advantage of. The other is a negation of a large head and shoulders top pattern dating back to 2010. However, an overbought condition now exists and EFA is approaching the next key level of resistance near the May 2011 high (64.35) and the 61.8% Fibonacci retracement of the 2007-2009 decline.
iShares FTSE China Large-Cap ETF (FXI): The ability to maintain support at the 2008 uptrend line during the Jan.-Apr. 2013 decline has led to a technical rally. The rally quickly broke through the top of the Jan. 2012 downtrend channel at the same time it ended the steep relative strength decline versus the S&P 500. This helps to stabilize the selling but it does not suggest the start of the next major move higher. It would likely take a move above the Jan/Feb. 2013 highs and the 2010 downtrend line closer to 42 to confirm a breakout.
iShares MSCI Emerging Market ETF (EEM): There is good news and there is bad news. The good news is that the Jan. 2013 relative strength (vs. S&P 500) downtrend has been broken, but the bad news is that EEM still sports a large head and shoulders top pattern. There is also an ascending triangle pattern that has been forming as the right shoulder since Oct. 2011. The top of the pattern near the Jan. 2013 high (45.33) will therefore act as a key level of resistance. To the downside, initial support rises closer to the 10/30-week moving averages around 42.75.
SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY): SPY has broken out above psychological supply at 160, which looks to have ignited a short-squeeze, forcing the shorts to cover positions. The ability to take out this resistance could also begin to bring in sideline (neutral) money into the market. Whether this is because they like the market at these levels or the have to chase performance is not so clear. Regardless, SPY looks to be headed higher.
J. Beck Investments is an independent provider of technical research for ETFs.