Yesterday, CSX Corporation (NYSE:CSX) reported earnings after hours and the reaction to the report was a 6% drop overnight. Typically, CSX kicks off the earnings season for the rail companies and sets the tone for what investors should expect from its peers. The drop in CSX shares suggests that there could be weakness when the other companies report. Will the disappointment with the report signal an end to the recent run in the rails, or is this a buying opportunity?

IN PICTURES: 7 Tools Of The Trade

While that question will remain unanswered for a while, it makes sense to step back and review where the rails are in their longer term trends. In looking a the chart for CSX Corporation, the stock cleared a base in early November, but failed to gain much traction after the breakout. The stock has been trading sideways save for a breakout attempt earlier this year. That breakout failed as CSX retraced the entire move, but CSX remained above the prior base. The gap down on earnings has put CSX in a precarious position, as it is now trading near the original breakout area and at a level where it's possible that it will receive buying support. How CSX reacts to this level will likely have important ramifications for the rest of the group. (For related reading, check out Five Strategies For Surviving Tough Times.)


In looking at some other rails, many appear to have similar charts to CSX. Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE:NSC), for instance, also cleared its base in November and has been basically trading sideways since then. It remains to be seen how the weakness in CSX impacts Norfolk, but there are a few levels to watch moving forward. The prior breakout area near $50 would be the logical place to expect support, and needs to be watched. A failure there would lead to NSC breaking back into the prior base and would be considered a negative development.


Union Pacific Corp. (NSYE:UNP) also looks much like the other rails. It cleared a base in November, although that base was sloppy and volatile. It also hasn't gained much traction after the breakout, and is looking vulnerable. It was already at the 50-day moving average and will likely gap below that level. An important level to watch is near $62.50, which was a level of support through the end of 2009 and into 2010. (For more, see The Anatomy Of Trading Breakouts.)


Kansas City Southern (NYSE:KSU) was one of the few rails that rallied after clearing its base in November. It has been consolidating well above the base and technically appears to be in a healthy uptrend. KSU had been retracing to its rising 20-day moving average, but with the expected weakness, it will more likely trade to its 50-day moving average. That would be a level to watch, but the prior breakout area near $29.50 is the key level to keep an eye on.


Bottom Line
All these stocks remain above the recent base and have left clear levels to watch, but they are likely to remain under pressure in the near term. It's important to watch how the rails act as they approach support levels. A breakdown into the prior base would be a negative development and could signal a larger topping process. However, holding these levels could offer a buying opportunity as these stocks approach support levels. The best approach may be to wait until the dust settles, but this is a key sector to track for the overall health of the markets.

Use the Investopedia Stock Simulator to trade the stocks mentioned in this stock analysis, risk free!

At the time of writing Joey Fundora did not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article.

Related Articles
  1. Chart Advisor

    ChartAdvisor for November 27 2015

    Weekly technical summary of the major U.S. indexes.
  2. Chart Advisor

    Pay Attention To These Stock Patterns Playing Out

    The stocks are all moving different types of patterns. A breakout could signal a major price move in the trending direction, or it could reverse the trend.
  3. Chart Advisor

    Now Could Be The Time To Buy IPOs

    There has been lots of hype around the IPO market lately. We'll take a look at whether now is the time to buy.
  4. Chart Advisor

    Copper Continues Its Descent

    Copper prices have been under pressure lately and based on these charts it doesn't seem that it will reverse any time soon.
  5. Technical Indicators

    Using Pivot Points For Predictions

    Learn one of the most common methods of finding support and resistance levels.
  6. Chart Advisor

    Watch These Stocks for Breakouts

    These four stocks are moving within price patterns of various size, shape and duration, and are worth watching for a breakout
  7. Chart Advisor

    ChartAdvisor for November 20 2015

    Weekly technical summary of the major U.S. indexes.
  8. Chart Advisor

    Like Ranges? These Are Stocks to Consider

    Whether you want to trade the price fluctuations within a range, or await a breakout, here are four stocks for you.
  9. Chart Advisor

    Is This The Beginning Of A Downtrend In Home Builders?

    Falling lumber prices and weakness on the charts of home builders suggest that the next leg of the trend could be downward.
  10. Chart Advisor

    Low P/E Stocks Ready for a Turnaround?

    These stocks appear to be of great value based on P/E and Forward P/E.
  1. What are some of the most common technical indicators that back up Doji patterns?

    The doji candlestick is important enough that Steve Nison devotes an entire chapter to it in his definitive work on candlestick ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Tame Panic Selling with the Exhausted Selling Model

    The exhausted selling model is a pricing strategy used to identify and trade based off of the price floor of a security. ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Point and Figure Charting Using Count Analysis

    Count analysis is a means of interpreting point and figure charts to measure vertical price movements. Technical analysts ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What assumptions are made when conducting a t-test?

    The common assumptions made when doing a t-test include those regarding the scale of measurement, random sampling, normality ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How are double exponential moving averages applied in technical analysis?

    Double exponential moving averages (DEMAS) are commonly used in technical analysis like any other moving average indicator ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How do you know where on the oscillator you should make a purchase or sale?

    Common oscillator readings to consider making a buy or sale are below 20 or above 80, respectively. More aggressive investors ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center