Charting a slow-motion breakout attempt: Nasdaq, Dow industrials press record highs

U.S. stocks are higher early Thursday, rising amid renewed optimism over fiscal-stimulus prospects.

Against this backdrop, each big three U.S. benchmark has challenged its prevailing range top — levels defining record highs — amid a slow-motion breakout attempt.

Before detailing the U.S. markets’ wider view, the S&P 500’s US:SPX  hourly chart highlights the past two weeks.

As illustrated, the S&P remains range-bound. The prevailing flag pattern — the tight five-session range — is a bullish continuation pattern.

From current levels, the S&P’s record close (3,824.68) and absolute record peak (3,826.69) remain just overhead.

Similarly, the Dow Jones Industrial Average US:DJIA  has asserted a bullish holding pattern.

To reiterate, the blue-chip benchmark’s record close (31,097.97) and absolute record peak (31,193.40) are under siege early Thursday.

The early session high (31,223) has marked a nominal new record amid a breakout attempt that remains underway.

Against this backdrop, the Nasdaq Composite US:COMP has also sustained its recent breakout.

Here again, the Nasdaq’s record close (13,201.97) and absolute record peak (13,208.09) have been challenged early Thursday.

Conversely, recall that the breakout point (12,973) has underpinned the prevailing range. Bullish price action.

Widening the view to six months adds perspective.

On this wider view, the Nasdaq has sustained its January breakout.

Recall that Tuesday’s session low (12,964) closely matched the breakout point (12,973) to punctuate a successful retest.

On further strength, a near-term target projects to the 13,450 area.

Looking elsewhere, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has sustained a technically more aggressive breakout.

As detailed repeatedly, the initial spike marked a two standard deviation breakout, encompassing three straight closes atop the 20-day Bollinger bands.

The index has subsequently hugged the 31,000 mark amid still muted selling pressure.

The prevailing flag pattern — following the statistically unusual breakout — improves the chances of upside follow-through. The Dow has tagged a nominal new high early Thursday.

Similarly, the S&P 500 is digesting a decisive early-January breakout.

In its case, the index has not strayed too far from the 3,800 mark, notching three straight closes within 10 points of the round number.

The bigger picture

Collectively, the major U.S. benchmarks remain range-bound, consolidating statistically unusual early-month breakouts.

Still, range-bound is bullish against the prevailing backdrop.

Moreover, the Nasdaq Composite and Dow industrials briefly tagged nominal new highs early Thursday, rising amid a slow-motion breakout attempt of sorts.

Moving to the small-caps, the iShares Russell 2000 ETF US:IWM  is refusing to pull in.

Recall that its strong 5.0% January breakout confirms the primary uptrend.

Similarly, the SPDR S&P MidCap 400 ETF US:MDY  has formed a flag-like pattern, of sorts, amid recently decreased volume.

Recall that the small- and mid-cap breakouts initially encompassed four closes atop the 20-day volatility bands across a five-session span. Bullish price action for the longer-term.

Looking elsewhere, the SPDR Trust S&P 500 US:SPY  is consolidating a less-decisive breakout.

Here again, this week’s bull flag has formed amid decreased volume, improving the chances of eventual upside follow-through.

Placing a finer point on the S&P 500, the index has effectively flatlined just under record highs. (The 3,800 mark almost bisects the prevailing range.)

Tactically, the prevailing range bottom (3,783) is followed by support, circa 3,764.

Delving deeper, the 3,723-to-3,726 area marks the S&P’s first significant floor, levels matching the December gap and the former breakout point.

Widening to the six-month view, the S&P’s prevailing flag pattern punctuates a statistically unusual early-January breakout.

Slightly more broadly, the prevailing grinding-higher follow-through — hinged to the late-2020 double bottom — has been underpinned by the 20-day moving average, currently 3,744. As always, the 20-day is a a widely-tracked near-term trending indicator.

Delving deeper, the S&P’s 50-day moving average, currently 3,660, is followed by the former breakout point (3,646), an area that underpinned the December range.

As always, it’s not just what an index does, it’s how it does it. But broadly speaking, the S&P’s intermediate-term bias remains bullish barring a violation of these areas.

Thursday’s Watch List

The charts below detail names that are technically well positioned. These are radar screen names — sectors or stocks poised to move in the near term. For the original comments on the stocks below, see The Technical Indicator Library.

Drilling down further, the SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF US:XHB  is acting well technically.

As illustrated, the group has reached record highs, edging atop resistance matching the December peak.

The prevailing upturn punctuates a successful test of the 50-day moving average. A near-term target projects to the 63 area.

More broadly, the group is breaking out even amid recently surging Treasury yields, most recently detailed Tuesday. Though rising interest rates would conventionally present a sector headwind, rates are currently lifting from historic lows, and remain nominally low.

Zebra Technologies Corp. US:ZBRA  is a large-cap developer of data-capture and automatic-identification solutions.

Earlier this month, the shares knifed to all-time highs, rising from a tight December range — a bullish continuation pattern — hinged to the steep November rally.

More immediately, the prevailing flag-like pattern signals still muted selling pressure, positioning the shares to extend the uptrend. Tactically, a sustained posture atop the breakout point (388.90) signals a bullish bias.

Initially profiled Nov. 18, Kohl’s Corp. US:KSS  has returned 54.3% and remains well positioned.

Technically, the shares have knifed from the December range, reaching 10-month highs.

Though near-term extended, and due to consolidate, the shares are attractive on a pullback. The breakout point (41.00) marks well-defined support.

More broadly, the shares are well positioned on the three-year chart, rising atop the February 2020 breakdown point.

Williams-Sonoma, Inc. US:WSM  is a large-cap home furnishings retailer. (Yield = 1.8%.)

As illustrated, the shares have knifed to record highs. The nearly straightline spike marks a two standard deviation breakout, encompassing consecutive closes atop the 20-day volatility bands.

Though near-term extended, the decisive strong-volume breakout improves the chances of longer-term follow-through. A well-defined floor matches the breakout point (113.40).

Juniper Networks, Inc. US:JNPR  is a well positioned large-cap name. (Yield = 3.3%.)

The shares started January with a breakout, knifing atop the 200-day moving average to reach four-month highs.

The subsequent pullback has been comparably flat, placing the shares 3.1% under the January peak. Tactically, the breakout point, circa 23.50, is followed by the deeper 200-day moving average, currently 22.88. The prevailing rally attempt is intact barring a violation.

Finally, Fate Therapeutics, Inc. US:FATE  is a well positioned large-cap biotech name.

The shares initially spiked five weeks ago, gapping higher after positive early-phase trial results for the company’s cancer treatment.

The January follow-through has been fueled by a volume spike, placing the shares at record highs.

And more immediately, the prevailing flag pattern has formed amid decreased volume, positioning the shares to build on recent breakouts. Tactically, the post-breakout low (107.40) is followed by the former range top (102.30).

Still well positioned

The table below includes names recently profiled in The Technical Indicator that remain well positioned. For the original comments, see The Technical Indicator Library.

Company Symbol* (Click symbol for chart.) Date Profiled
SolarEdge Technologies, Inc. SEDG Jan. 12
Chegg, Inc. CHGG Jan. 11
Ambarella, Inc. AMBA Jan. 11
Macy’s, Inc. M Jan. 11
Nexstar Media Group, Inc. NXST Jan. 11
iShares Transportation Average ETF IYT Jan. 11
Energy Select Sector SPDR XLE Jan. 8
Teledoc Health, Inc. TDOC Jan. 8
Dollar Tree, Inc. DLTR Jan. 8
Skyworks Solutions, Inc. SWKS Jan. 7
DexCom, Inc. DXCM Jan. 7
Financial Select Sector SPDR XLF Jan. 7
Devon Energy Corp. DVN Jan. 6
Alcoa Corp. AA Jan. 6
FireEye, Inc. FEYE Jan. 5
Check Point Software Technologies CHKP Jan. 4
Synaptics, Inc. SYNA Jan. 4
Ceridian HCM Holding, Inc. CDAY Jan. 4
Lumentum Holdings, Inc. LITE Dec. 23
Sunrun, Inc. RUN Dec. 23
ShockWave Medical, Inc. SWAV Dec. 23
JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPM Dec. 22
Coupa Software, Inc. COUP Dec. 22
PagSeguro Digital Ltd. PAGS Dec. 22
Ballard Power Systems, Inc. BLDP Dec. 21
LivePerson, Inc. LPSN Dec. 21
United Therapeutics Corp. UTHR Dec. 21
Shopify, Inc. SHOP Dec. 18
CyberArk Software Ltd. CYBR Dec. 18
Apellis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. APLS Dec. 18
iShares Silver Trust SLV Dec. 17
Calix, Inc. CALX Dec. 17
Elastic N.V. ESTC Dec. 17
Cerner Corp. CERN Dec. 17
Universal Health Services, Inc. UHS Dec. 16
Tenet Healthcare Corp. THC Dec. 16
Sunnova Energy International, Inc. NOVA Dec. 16
Xilinx, Inc. XLNX Dec. 15
Toyota Motor Co. TM Dec. 15
Williams-Sonoma, Inc. WSM Dec. 15
iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF IBB Dec. 15
SDPR S&P Regional Banking ETF KRE Dec. 14
Etsy, Inc. ETSY Dec. 14
Surface Oncology, Inc. SURF Dec. 14
Autodesk, Inc. ADSK Dec. 9
Monster Beverage Corp. MNST Dec. 9
Cimarex Energy Co. XEC Dec. 9
Plug Power, Inc. PLUG Dec. 9
F5 Networks, Inc. FFIV Dec. 8
Emerson Electric Co. EMR Dec. 8
Zscaler, Inc. ZS Dec. 7
Fortinet, Inc. FTNT Dec. 7
Kulicke and Soffa Industries, Inc. KLIC Dec. 7
Honeywell International, Inc. HON Dec. 7
Dillard’s, Inc. DDS Dec. 4
Caleres, Inc. CAL Dec. 4
Spotify Technology S.A. SPOT Dec. 3
Align Technology, Inc. ALGN Dec. 3
Valero Energy Corp. VLO Dec. 3
Analog Devices, Inc. ADI Dec. 2
Cirrus Logic, Inc. CRUS Dec. 1
Sonos, Inc. SONO Dec. 1
Dollar Tree, Inc. DLTR Dec. 1
Nuance Communications, Inc. NUAN Nov. 30
Northern Trust Corp. NTRS Nov. 30
American Airlines Group, Inc. AAL Nov. 30
Microchip Technology, Inc. MCHP Nov. 24
Zillow Group, Inc. ZG Nov. 23
Yeti Holdings, Inc. YETI Nov. 23
Palo Alto Networks, Inc. PANW Nov. 20
Bank of America Corp. BAC Nov. 20
Eaton Corp. ETN Nov. 20
SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration and Production ETF XOP Nov. 20
MetLife, Inc. MET Nov. 19
Hilton Worldwide Holdings, Inc. HLT Nov. 19
American Express Co. AXP Nov. 18
Kohl’s Corp. KSS Nov. 18
FleetCor Technologies FLT Nov. 18
Applied Materials, Inc. AMAT Nov. 17
Delta Air Lines, Inc. DAL Nov. 17
Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR XLP Nov. 17
Ross Stores, Inc. ROST Nov. 16
RingCentral, Inc. RNG Nov. 13
Regions Financial Corp. RF Nov. 13
iShares Europe ETF IEV Nov. 13
Flex, Inc. FLEX Nov. 9
Snap, Inc. SNAP Nov. 9
Norfolk Southern Corp. NSC Nov. 9
Communications Services Select Sector SPDR XLC Nov. 5
Health Care Select Sector SPDR XLV Nov. 5
Alphabet, Inc. GOOGL Nov. 5
Uber Technologies, Inc. UBER Nov. 5
Keysight Technologies, Inc. KEYS Nov. 4
Harley-Davidson, Inc. HOG Nov. 4
Garmin, Ltd. GRMN Nov. 4
Pinterest, Inc. PINS Nov. 3
Sony Corp. SNE Nov. 3
8×8, Inc. EGHT Nov. 3
Exact Sciences Corp. EXAS Nov. 2
Universal Display Corp. OLED Nov. 2
Dentsply Sirona, Inc. XRAY Oct. 27
Maxim Integrated Products, Inc. MXIM Oct. 21
The Travelers Companies, Inc. TRV Oct. 21
Micron Technology, Inc. MU Oct. 20
Vulcan Materials Co. VMC Oct. 19
ON Semiconductor Corp. ON Oct. 16
Ford Motor Co. F Oct. 15
Texas Instruments, Inc. TXN Oct. 15
First Solar, Inc. FSLR Oct. 13
Nevro Corp. NVRO Oct. 12
Teradyne, Inc. TER Oct. 12
SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF XHB Oct. 9
Shake Shack, Inc. SHAK Oct. 9
SPDR S&P Biotech ETF XBI Oct. 8
Twilio, Inc. TWLO Oct. 8
Cloudflare, Inc. NET Oct. 7
Ceridian HCM Holding, Inc. CDAY Oct. 7
RSailPoint Technology Holdings, Inc. SAIL Oct. 1
Martin Marietta Materials, Inc. MLM Sept. 30
Abercrombie & Fitch Co. ANF Sept. 29
Zendesk, Inc. ZEN Sept. 23
Scientific Games Corp. SGMS Sept. 23
Crocs, Inc. CROX Sept. 14
Five Below, Inc. FIVE Sept. 10
Eastman Chemical Co. EMN Sept. 10
International Paper Co. IP Sept. 3
Anaplan, Inc. PLAN Sept. 2
Celanese Corp. CE Aug. 26
Westlake Chemical Corp. WLK Aug. 25
Deere & Co. DE Aug. 24
Expedia Group, Inc. EXPE Aug. 24
Johnson Controls International JCI Aug. 21
Canadian Solar, Inc. CSIQ Aug. 20
General Motors Co. GM Aug. 20
Starbucks Corp. SBUX Aug. 18
Builders FirstSource, Inc. BLDR Aug. 18
Steel Dynamics, Inc. STLD Aug. 17
Brinker International, Inc. EAT Aug. 13
Enphase Energy, Inc. ENPH Aug. 13
Nucor Corp. NUE Aug. 11
Freeport McMoRan, Inc. FCX Aug. 10
Natera, Inc. NTRA Aug. 10
Industrial Select Sector SPDR XLI Aug. 6
Penn National Gaming, Inc. PENN July 30
SPDR S&P Metals & Mining ETF XME July 28
iShares MSCI South Korea ETF EWY July 28
Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. AMD July 23
Materials Select Sector SPDR XLB July 20
Caterpillar, Inc. CAT July 20
Roku, Inc. ROKU July 16
Cognizant Technology Solutions, Inc. CTSH July 16
Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR XLY July 13
SunPower Corp. SPWR July 13
Walmart, Inc. WMT July 8
Danaher Corp. DHR June 24
Fiverr International, Ltd. FVRR June 19
HubSpot, Inc. HUBS June 8
Square, Inc. SQ June 8
SPDR S&P Retail ETF XRT June 3
iShares MSCI Japan ETF EWJ May 29
Synopsis, Inc. SNPS May 27
Agilent Technologies, Inc. A May 15
Qualcomm, Inc. QCOM May 12
Five9, Inc. FIVN Apr. 24
Chewy, Inc. CHWY Apr. 24
Tesla, Inc. TSLA Apr. 23
VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF SMH Apr. 17
Okta, Inc. OKTA Apr. 16
Target Corp. TGT Apr. 16
Invesco QQQ Trust QQQ Apr. 14
Apple, Inc. AAPL Mar. 27
Nvidia Corp. NVDA Mar. 27
iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF EEM Mar. 19
Microsoft Corp. MSFT Feb. 22
* Click each symbol for current chart.