As we all know, stock market volatility made a big comeback last month after a long absence. The February volatility surge had us waiving the caution flag while also emphasizing a “wait and see” approach.

Indeed, the US stock market did come roaring back… but today we’re seeing more and more signs of internal market weakness… and more and more reasons to start building up some cash reserves.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average in particular is a concern here. We looked at price data for the components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average dating back to 1997 (more than twenty years).

What we found was that, when 40% or more of the Dow’s components are in the Red Zone according to our TradeStops SSI system, there is high likelihood of a moderate to serious correction.

The table below shows what happens after 40% or more of the stocks in the Dow are in the SSI Red Zone (with data going back to 1997).

 Symbol 40% Stop Out Date Maximum Decline


From the point in time when 40% or more Dow components are stopped out, the average decline is another 11.44%.

40% of the DJIA components officially entered the SSI Red Zone February 22, 2018.

The chart below shows the trigger points for this 40%-stopped-out condition.

Chart displays trigger points for the 40% stopped-out condition

Out of the 11 times in the past 20 years that we got this condition, there were 4 times when the DJIA itself was also in the SSI Red Zone. The table below shows what happened (again since 1997) the 4 times that we had the 40%-stopped-out condition along with the DJIA itself being in the SSI Red Zone.

I must warn you: The numbers are far more grim…

 Symbol 40% Stop Out Date SSI Stop Out Date Maximum Decline


When both of the conditions are met – the 40% threshold for Dow components and the Dow itself stopped out via SSI – the average decline over the past twenty-plus years has been 27.13%. That is full-fledged bear market territory.

The chart below highlights the periods during which both of these conditions were in place.

Chart displays results when both conditions present
And I hate to say it, but… both of these Dow warning signals are in effect now, as you read this. We now have ample reason to be cautious… and to give more consideration to cash in our portfolios.

Our nine-sector ETF strategy echoes this message too. With only six of nine ETF sectors active right now, our ETF strategy is not rebalancing the portfolio. Instead, stopped-out positions go to cash.

Only six of nine ETF sectors within TradeStops Nine-Sector ETF Strategy are active
I don’t know about you, but I’m getting increasingly comfortable pocketing my cash these days when I get stopped out of positions from my own portfolio.

It looks to me like the winds are whipping up a bit. Be careful out there,


Richard Smith, PhD
CEO & Founder, TradeStops