Audrey Deschenes
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S&P 500 reaches a bull-bear crossroad

Technically speaking, the S&P 500 Index has reached a major crossroad.

Specifically, the index has knifed to major resistance — S&P 1,993 — an area defining the immediate bull-bear battleground. Based on today’s backdrop, the market technicals support a bearish view.

Before detailing the U.S. markets’ wider view, the S&P 500’s SPX, +0.80% hourly chart highlights the past two weeks.

As illustrated, the S&P has knifed from major support, rising to two-week highs.

In the process, it’s reached resistance at its range top spanning from 1,988 to 1,993. This area marks a major technical inflection point, with a posture lower broadly supporting a bearish view.

Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.73% is currently the strongest U.S. benchmark.

Here again, the index has spiked from major support, rising to two-week highs.

The Dow’s technical levels are better illustrated on the daily chart, though first support currently holds around 16,670.

And the Nasdaq Composite’s COMP, +0.90% near-term backdrop remains characteristically weaker.

Still, the index has rallied sharply from the September low, nailing its two-week range top of 4,785.

First support now rests at the top of the gap — Nasdaq 4,742 — and is followed by a firmer floor just above the 4,700 mark, better illustrated below.

Widening the view to six months adds perspective.

On this wider view, the Nasdaq continues to whipsaw through less-charted territory. Next resistance rests at the 2014 peak of 4,815, and is followed by the 50-day moving average, currently 4,852.

Conversely, notable support holds just above the 4,700 mark, offering market bulls an area to work against.

Looking elsewhere, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has knifed from major support, rising to its 50-day moving average. This is the lone U.S. benchmark to reach its 50-day moving average, currently 16,771.

A break higher would open the path to the September peak of 16,933, and additional overhead at 17,125.

Conversely, notable support rests at 16,670, and a violation would place the Dow back in bearish consolidation mode.

(Consider that he Dow’s relative strength may be partly attributed to the Federal Reserve’s recent “dollar-protective” language. The large-cap multinationals have been pressured by the U.S. dollar’s persistent strength.)

And the S&P 500 has staged the U.S. markets’ headline technical move.

To start, the index bottomed last week at 1,871, just above major support at the August low.

It’s subsequently knifed to major resistance, topping Monday just four points lower.

Price action within the range is technically bearish, though the S&P’s response to the range top is worth tracking. The S&P’s 50-day moving average (1,998) is descending to match resistance.

The bigger picture

As detailed above, the major U.S. benchmarks have knifed from recent lows, making the bull-bear debate more balanced.

Still, based on today’s backdrop, the market technicals support a bearish view.

Beyond the headline benchmarks, consider the small- and mid-caps:

Starting with the small-caps, the iShares Russell 2000 ETF has rallied from 11-month lows.