Bottoms are an interesting species. They are almost impossible to call in advance and surprisingly difficult to identify with a little hindsight. Typically, by the time you have enough hindsight to say, “Hey that was a bottom back there!” you have already missed a good portion of the move up from that point.
A number of indicators can help raise the probability of calling a bottom, the VIX among them, but we are still in the meteorological realm in terms of accuracy – and very much in the pre-Doppler era at that.
Most students of market bottoms agree that evidence of widespread capitulation is the best way to identify a market bottom. The reasoning is essentially that it is ‘better’ to have one day of extreme investor panic than a number of days in which the cumulative losses add up to one big drop while the psyche of the investor is able to digest the grief on the installment.
According to the reasoning above, yesterday had some elements of extreme investor panic at the open, but the ease with which the markets rallied from that point suggest that there may not have been enough panic or pain to account for a traditional capitulation bottom. This morning’s open was also relatively low in terms of panic and pain – at least on the capitulation scale – so there will be many who will wait for another strong retest of yesterday’s lows (and of investor fortitude) before committing to new bullish positions.
It is worth noting that one major index had yesterday’s low breached this morning: the NASDAQ-100 (NDX). Thanks to AAPL’s weak guidance yesterday after the bell, the stock opened dramatically lower and pulled the NDX down with it. The NDX has since recovered, but it and AAPL should be watched closely, as their support levels will likely be tested before those of the other more widely followed indices.