Wall of Worry Is Strong, Hulbert Says

While the market has jumped in recent weeks, MarketWatch’s Mark Hulbert says sentiment appears to remain low — which is good news for stocks.

According to Hulbert, the average equity exposure among the shortest-term market-timing newsletters he tracks on Hulbert Financial Digest is just 22.1%. The figure is “surprisingly low, given the stock market’s strength in recent weeks,” Hulbert writes, “and suggests that there is widespread skepticism towards the rally. And that’s good news, on the contrarian grounds that the majority is usually wrong about the market’s direction.”

Hulbert says the last time the market was trading at current levels was early May, and at that point average equity exposure was above 50%. “So one way of characterizing the net effect of the stock market’s gyrations since early May is that it has wrung a lot of bullish sentiment out of the market,” he says.

Hulbert stresses that that doesn’t mean the market is guaranteed to go higher, and he says he’s found this type of sentiment analysis to have “maximum forecasting power” over one- to three-month periods, not over the long term. ” But,” he says, “with these qualifications firmly in mind, it is definitely good news that there is a strong wall of worry out there.”

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