MARKETS

Record stock prices can even make experts uneasy, as some are now hedging their bets about the future of the rally. But the long-term picture still looks intact, writes MoneyShow's Howard R. Gold, also of The Independent Agenda.

Big news: The Dow Jones Industrial Average made an all-time high Tuesday, closing at 14,253.77. It set another new mark on Wednesday, advancing 42.47 to close at 14,296.24.

But there was little celebration in the financial media, as skeptical journalists bent over backward to not get carried away with the hype such magic numbers inevitably bring. Even congenitally optimistic Wall Street was strangely subdued.

And two long-time bulls, whose sanguine views were featured in this column last September, sounded cautious notes this week—at least for the short run.

On Monday, Craig Johnson, technical market strategist for Piper Jaffray, declared that the market had entered the “drop” phase of what he called “a hop, a drop, and a pop,” after a key indicator gave a “sell” signal.

Citing “technical damage” from a “deterioration in the market internals over the past several weeks,” he recommended that investors lighten up on stocks for a while. “We...suspect a ‘drop’ (a pullback of 5% to 10% in the S&P 500) is now likely to unfold over the next several months,” he wrote.

That sell-off could take the S&P down to around the 1,400 area, a key support area where he expects it to retest its 40-week moving average.

Then, on Wednesday, Mark Arbeter, chief technical strategist of Standard & Poor’s Capital IQ, urged subscribers to “take profits here and on any additional price strength.”

“It has been quite a run, and we think it’s closing in on the time for the stock market to recharge its batteries,” Arbeter wrote. He added that the S&P was close to his recent target of 1,550, and that “major long-term chart resistance...lies between 1,550 and 1,575.”

“It would shock me if we just busted through this area, especially considering the run we’ve had in recent months.” Arbeter wrote. That’s why he thinks we could see “a decent pullback in the coming weeks of 3% to 5%." That would take the benchmark index back down to around 1,465.

Last September, Johnson and Arbeter were as bullish as you could get. Back then, Arbeter talked about “the end to the secular bear and a new secular bull emerging,” while Johnson said we were in “a multiple-year run.”

Arbeter predicted correctly that “we can get near or top the old highs in the first quarter of 2013.” In his missive this week, he said he thinks we’re still heading higher. “We do not think we are anywhere near a major, long-term high,” he wrote.

And Johnson maintains his price targets for the S&P of 1,700 this year and 2,000 in 2014. He says the coming pullback “may represent the single best buying opportunity this year.”

NEXT: No Need to Panic

Tickers Mentioned: Tickers: SPX