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Jim Cramer says the stock market is getting closer to forming a bottom

CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Thursday he believes the stock market is getting closer to reaching an investable bottom after a challenging start to the new year.

The “Mad Money” host’s comments mark a shift in outlook compared to two weeks ago, when Cramer contended it was too early to buy aggressively based on a 10-item checklist he uses to determine when stocks are bottoming.

“Considering that we’ve now got many boxes checked, it means that something we didn’t have two weeks ago, we now have,” Cramer said. However, he said the market’s steep turnaround late in Thursday’s session “inspired a lot of terror” and signals the market “still has some work to do” before reaching a trough.

For example, Cramer said he’s now seeing a “sickening level of negativity” on Wall Street, pointing to the American Association of Individual Investors’ sentiment survey that shows nearly 47% of members hold a bearish outlook. That’s up from roughly 38% a week ago.

“This is an astounding level of negativity,” said Cramer, who added that he also is observing analyst downgrades on a range of companies from AMD to Ford Motor. Two weeks ago, he said analysts had yet to throw in the towel.

Another sign a bottom is forming is companies that report strong earnings are showing an ability to swim against the bearish tide, Cramer said. Procter & Gamble serves as one example, he said.

To be sure, Cramer said the picture is too opaque to check some boxes on his list, including whether cash on the sidelines is ready to come in and buy the dip. Even so, he stressed he’s “feeling a little more confident” about stocks than he was two weeks earlier.

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