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Stock Market Barometers

November 17, 1998

Fundamental and technical indicators of the market's health

Key indexes vs. their 200-day moving averages: A stock index's 200-day moving average indicates the basic trend, up or down. It is generally bullish if the index stays above the average.

S&P 500 (blue-chip stocks), Friday: 1,125.72

200-day moving average, Friday: 1,082.55


Russell 2,000 index (smaller stocks), Friday: 428.23

200-day moving average, Friday: 389.36


Price-to-earnings ratio of Standard & Poor's 500: 24.80*

Based on operating earnings per share, 12 months ended June 30; average since 1923: 13.5


Dividend yield of the Standard & Poor's 500: 1.46%

Average dividend yield of blue-chip stocks; avg. since 1923: 4.5%


Weekly new highs vs. new lows on the NYSE: 133/70

Data for the week ended Friday. More highs indicate a bullish trend.


Investment newsletter sentiment:

Stocks' near-term trend as predicted by 135 independent investment newsletters, weekly survey by Investors Intelligence. The data are often viewed as a contrarian indicator: A rising percentage of bulls can signal a topping market.

Nov. 6

Bullish: 47.8%

Bearish: 38.3

Correction: 13.9



Bullish: 53.1%

Bearish: 35.4

Correction: 11.5


Put-call ratio: 0.48

The ratio of stock put options to call options traded last week on the Chicago Board Options Exchange. Ironically, a low put-call ratio--under 0.40--can be construed as bearish because it indicates a high level of optimism, leaving a lot of room for disappointment.

* Now calculated based on operating earnings, which exclude one-time charges--so P/E is lower than if actual earnings were used.

Source: A.G. Edwards & Sons.

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