Analysts see an upbeat in rock-and-roll market motion

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Philip B. Erlanger calls it a ''rock-and-roll'' market. But Mr. Erlanger, chief technical analyst of the Advest brokerage firm of Hartford, Conn., gives rock-and-roll a twofold meaning. Not only does he expect the stock market to rock up and roll back through the months ahead. He also sees it as being similar to the market of the rock-and-roll music era: the 1950s.

In many ways, Erlanger says, this market exists in conditions that resemble the era when ''stocks rocked and rolled their way through the biggest advance in modern history'' - from a Dow Jones industrial average of 255 in 1953 to 1,000 in 1966. That occurred in an environment of moderate inflation, with steady American (and global) economic growth.

From 1966 until '82, inflation ravaged the market, he notes, ratcheting the DJIA down from 1,000 to 780. If each point on the Dow equals $1, then in constant 1966 dollars, $780 in 1982 was actually equal to $255, the 1953 Dow level.

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Since mid-'82, inflation has been reined in. That has been an important cause of the advance of the market that began in August of that year. From a strictly technical standpoint - with most outside factors eliminated - ''the current vertical speed of the market is equivalent to that of 1953-54,'' he says, ''and if it continues we should see a 1,600 Dow before year-end.''

As it was, the DJIA closed out five sessions of consolidation Friday at 1,270 .10, down 16.54 points for the week.

But if, as Mr. Erlanger believes, moderate inflation is the key, then investors received more good news Friday. The Labor DepaBtment reported wholesale prices rose 0.2 percent in December, resulting in an increase of 0.6 percent for all of 1983, the smallest annual rise in 19 years. The Reagan administration cited this as further evidence that inflation had been brought under control.

''I think we are due in the long term for slow inflation or even disinflation ,'' Erlanger says. ''Today's market fits with the long-term rising bull-market cycle.''

At Merrill Lynch, technical analyst Hans Schueren also expects the market to rock and roll, though he does not use that exact term. The DJIA is ''laboring into the mid-1,300s,'' he says, and there might be a ''nasty correction'' affecting the blue chips during the first quarter.

Mr. Schueren's key indicator is institutional cash. In surveying Merrill Lynch clients, he has detected a steady accumulation of cash reserves by institutional investors since the second quarter of last year, rising from 9.1 percent of total assets at that time to 10.4 percent in the fourth quarter.

''That is ammunition for the market (to advance),'' Mr. Schueren says, ''although it is not dramatic enough to cause an explosive high move.''

By contrast, in March 1980 and June 1982 - just before two sustained market advances - institutional cash was up to 16.1 percent of total assets. Schueren is also concerned about the continued divergence between high-capitalization stocks, as registered by the DJIA, and the lower-cap equities registered by the Value Line composite index. This is evidence the market has not yet really taken off.

''I would like to have seen follow-through (on the advance that occurred the first week of January),'' Schueren says. ''At any rate the market did not collapse.''

Mr. Erlanger is more enthusiastic. He believes it is the sign of a healthy market to leap ahead and then to consolidate, as it has done the past two weeks: ''I definitely like what I see. Not mnly is there the same kind of rock-and-roll , but the rhythm is the same.''

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