Author Archive for OptionSage

3 Steps to Successful Investing

In the words of Warren Buffett’s mentor, Benjamin Graham:

“Investing does not require genius. What it needs is, first, reasonably good intelligence; second, sound principles of operation, third, and most important, firmness of character.”

Since the first item on Graham’s list – “intelligence” – simply means the ability to read, add and subtract, we can skip quickly to “sound principles of operation.” This is where most investors come to a grinding halt, and with good reason. Survey the financial landscape and you will be bombarded with a plethora of investment vehicles including stocks, bonds, options, futures, forex, treasuries, municipals and so forth. Not only is it a challenge to figure out where to begin but, within each choice, the challenge is to figure out what system to apply! So how do you choose?

Follow those that have successfully traversed the rugged terrain already.  Even the man considered to be the greatest investor of all time, Warren Buffett, had a mentor!  At PSW, we love to educate as well as enrich.  In numerous comments and articles, Phil expounds “sound principles of operation”, meaning a system of trading that has consistently worked for him.  The reason the system has been successful is it evolves with the market! 

Although this is a simple concept most fail to trade this way.  Most investors simply sell losing positions and suffer from emotional trading.  In contrast, the approach Phil and I take is to modify our positions as necessary to account for changing trends or unexpected surprises.  We had a great conversation recently about how so many will simply “give up” on a position when in reality there is just no need.  With a little patience, positions can often be turned around and virtual portfolios made profitable.

While the goal of the Short-Term Portfolio is often to make attractive gains over the short-term, Phil’s contingency should a position move against him is to offset an unexpected trend with appropriate options in order to salvage a trade (see "Stupid Option
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Portfolio Margin – Useful and Dangerous Leverage

 

Give me a lever long enough and a place to stand and I will move the entire Earth

 - Archimedes

 

 Margin Basics

Whether you examine the property portfolio of a real estate tycoon or the portfolio of a successful private equity company, you will find a common thread that magnifies returns for each… leverage!  It is no different in the stock market.  In fact, each of us who trades options takes advantage of the leverage they afford us every day.

Leverage simply means using financial instruments, or borrowed capital, such as margin, to increase the potential return of an investment. 

Since we spend our days on the member's site discussing leverage through options, the use of margin sometimes gets less attention than it should, so here’s a quick refresher:

 1.You CAN use margin (borrow from your broker) to purchase stock.

2. You CANNOT use margin to purchase options but there are MARGIN REQUIREMENTS for certain spread positions that we like to take.

This is intuitive when you think about the movements of options relative to those of stocks.  Options can move by 20%, 50%, 100% or more on any given day, even if the underlying stocks move just a fraction of those amounts.  In fact, the frequency with which a stock will drop 50% in price in a very short time period is so low that brokers are currently willing to lend you your entire cash reserves to purchase stock.

Example

If you were to deposit $100,000 in your account, you can borrow another $100,000 from your broker to purchase more stock.  This is represented in our account as follows:

Cash:  $100,000

Stock Buying Power:  $200,000

Option Buying Power: $100,000

Let’s assume we purchase 2,000 shares of a $100 stock, costing us $200,000.  If the stock doubles in value to $200, our $200,000 turns into $400,000 and since we borrowed $100,000 from our broker, we can pay that back with interest and keep…
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The Dawn Breaks…

The hammer dropped Thursday.  The market held firm Friday.  And this next week will be seen in retrospect as the week the market bottomed out and started to rise again – at least for quarter 1 2009. 

Detractors might argue that Circuit City is laying off thousands and Bank of America might be closing locations and commercial real estate is dead and shopping malls are vacant and….

And it may all be true.  But the beauty of integrating fundamental and economic analysis with technical and sentimental analysis is that the big picture appears.  The fundamentals of many stocks are certainly impaired.  Even Kudlow will find it hard to argue in favor of a bullish economy.  But the sentiment is changing.  Watch the VIX over the next few months.  I anticipate it will be lower by March than where it is now even if not within the next few days.  And the technical charts tell stories once you know how to read them.  The news is reflected in the charts and the story the charts tell is bullish.  The markets should go higher in the next few months. 

Can I be certain?  With 100% probability, no!  But actions speak louder than words.  And as the dawn breaks on the coming week I plan on backing the rhetoric with purchases and those purchases shall be on the SSO to amplify the expected gains.  And what of Gold…Gold goes higher too.  Time to get on board the train to $1,000/oz.

To confidently predict direction is not enough.  I need to know I can figure out how to protect myself if I am wrong.  That’s how I made money in 2008 when most lost their shirts.  All you need is a system that works.  And the system I use I also teach.  If you’re interested you too can thrive and prosper.





Bankster Quotations

"If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issuance of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."  Thomas Jefferson
 
"I sincerely believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.  The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people to whom it properly belongs"  Thomas Jefferson
 
"History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling money and its issuance" James Madison
  
"Most americans have no real understanding of the operation of the international moneylenders…the accounts of the Federal Reserve System have never been audited.  It operates outside the control of congress and manipulates the credit of the United States." Sen Barry Goldwater
 
"Neither a borrower nor a lender be" (Shakespeare)
 
"The Federal Reserve definitely caused the Great Depression by contracting the amount of currency in circulation by one third from 1929 to 1933"  Milton Friedman
 
"If our nation can issue a dollar bond it can issue a dollar bill.  The element that makes the bond good make the bill good also.  The difference between the bond and the bill is the bond lets money brokers collect twice the amount of the bond and an additional 20% whereas the currency pays nobody but those who contribute directly in some useful way"  Thomas Edison
 
"It is absurd to say that our country can issue $30m in bonds and not $30m in currency.  Both are promises to pay, but one promise fattens the usurers and the other helps the people"  Thomas Edison
 
"We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled governments in the civilized world – no longer a government of free opinion, no longer a government..by a vote of majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men" President Woodrow Wilson
 
"The Federal Reserve Board has pumped so many billions of dollars into Germany that they dare not name the total"  Senator Louis McFadden prior to


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Danger + Opportunity

 

As 2007 drew to a close, Phil predicted ‘Asian-style’ moves in US indexes and I wrote an article projecting 2008 would be a very difficult year to trade due to ‘unprecedented volatility’. As 2008 draws to a close it looks like both predictions were realized but pleasure does not necessarily accompany vindication. As John Maynard Keynes wrote: 
It is usually better to be conventionally wrong than unconventionally right
In short, when you are right about bad news, little benefit is experienced because so many will have suffered whereas being wrong with the crowd means comfort in numbers.
As I watched CNBC’s Year in Review last night I was struck by how many times the commentators noted that nobody could have foreseen the carnage. In fact, many were anticipating a recovery in the middle of the year including Hank Paulson! When history judges such projections unfavorably, credibility quickly diminishes. And in the financial industry, credibility is more important than almost any other criterion. With the credibility of so many in tatters, the onus is on you the individual to acquire the financial knowledge necessary to protect your own virtual portfolio and to anticipate the future based on facts rather than on opinions.
For example, if we were to evaluate the current economic situation with that of the 1930s we might find interesting comparisons that would lead us to be concerned about the future. For example, the 1930s manufacturing based economy has largely been replaced by a services economy, home owners have been replaced by home borrowers, a national surplus has been replaced by a national deficit, and a reliance on saving has been replaced by a reliance on credit. Counter arguments could be made such as the US, unlike many countries which have experienced economic turmoil, has a substantial capability to be self-sufficient, university education is world class, and an indomitable spirit of optimism pervades the culture.
This same spirit can be the catalyst to success in spite of the perils that may lie ahead. It is well known that in Chinese the word crisis is written as a composition of symbols representing ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’. But preparation is a pre-requisite to taking advantage of opportunity. So, although the danger may be high, opportunities will present for those who are prepared. And to truly be prepared one must


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Danger + Opportunity

 As 2007 drew to a close, Phil predicted ‘Asian-style’ moves in US indexes and I wrote an article projecting 2008 would be a very difficult year to trade due to ‘unprecedented volatility’. As 2008 draws to a close it looks like both predictions were realized but pleasure does not necessarily accompany vindication. As John Maynard Keynes wrote: 

It is usually better to be conventionally wrong than unconventionally right
In short, when you are right about bad news, little benefit is experienced because so many will have suffered whereas being wrong with the crowd means comfort in numbers.
As I watched CNBC’s Year in Review last night I was struck by how many times the commentators noted that nobody could have foreseen the carnage. In fact, many were anticipating a recovery in the middle of the year including Hank Paulson! When history judges such projections unfavorably, credibility quickly diminishes. And in the financial industry, credibility is more important than almost any other criterion. With the credibility of so many in tatters, the onus is on you the individual to acquire the financial knowledge necessary to protect your own virtual portfolio and to anticipate the future based on facts rather than on opinions.
For example, if we were to evaluate the current economic situation with that of the 1930s we might find interesting comparisons that would lead us to be concerned about the future. For example, the 1930s manufacturing based economy has largely been replaced by a services economy, home owners have been replaced by home borrowers, a national surplus has been replaced by a national deficit, and a reliance on saving has been replaced by a reliance on credit. Counter arguments could be made such as the US, unlike many countries which have experienced economic turmoil, has a substantial capability to be self-sufficient, university education is world class, and an indomitable spirit of optimism pervades the culture.
This same spirit can be the catalyst to success in spite of the perils that may lie ahead. It is well known that in Chinese the word crisis is written as a composition of symbols representing ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’. But preparation is a pre-requisite to taking advantage of opportunity. So, although the danger may be high, opportunities will present for those who are prepared. And to truly be prepared one must have the knowledge necessary to


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A MUST Read!

"Life will teach you the lessons, it’s up to you to learn them"  

Don’t read any further if you are happy with your trading results this year.

If you know in your heart you could have done better trading this year then you MUST learn a lesson from your trading performance.  You MUST or are you are destined to repeat it again.  And if it feels painful the first time, it will feel much more painful next time around!  The lesson you MUST learn is simple but immensely powerful; it is truly a paradigm shift in trading. 

You MUST learn to adjust your trades to the market trend.  That’s it.  If you understand what that means and how to successfully execute, read no further.

What does this ‘adjusting’ really mean?  It means no longer buying and hoping, it means no longer is a binary trading system appropriate; binary meaning no longer will you win if you are right and lose if you are wrong.  What if you could screw up on picking the direction and still win??  Well, you can when you know how to ‘adjust’  to the market trend. 

The power of knowing how to successfully and competently adjust is immeasurable.  At the very least what it accomplishes is ZERO fear and ZERO greed.  When you pre-define your risk and reward levels prior to every trade AND know exactly what Contingency Exit Plan you should execute EVEN if you are wrong, you reach a trading level few will ever conceive of - let alone reach. 

You can learn how to do this from the masters but the knowledge is guarded by most and the cost to learn is usually very expensive because you will rarely be told everything at first (and will be charged more to learn the rest!).

So, why am I telling you all this?  Because I paid the price.  I learned a most powerful trading system of adjustments which I am confident is truly the last trading system anybody needs to know.  I learned it so well, I was invited to start hedge funds and teach around the world.  But as the days went by this past year and I realized how tough trading was for many friends and how they were losing their shirts I decided I had to get the knowledge to everyone without them paying crazy fees. 

And then BAM!  Like lightning the idea came to me and I started Stock…
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Trivia Time!

Let’s say you decide to deposit $100,000 into a brokerage account.  You decide you will check your virtual portfolio on a weekly basis.  Now let’s further assume that the first week has passed and you are about to log in to your account.  But before you do, you are told that one of two things has happened in the past week.

[1]  Your virtual portfolio went up $10,000 and then dropped $10,000

[2]  Your virtual portfolio went up 10% and then dropped 10%.

So, the trivia question is:  In case [1], what should you expect your account value to be and is that the same figure as in case [2]?

If you answered $100,000 in case [1], you would be absolutely correct!  If you answered that this is the same as in case [2] you would be absolutely incorrect!  Why?  Well let’s take a look at what happens when the virtual portfolio rises 10% first; it goes from $100,000 to $110,000.  But then we’re told it drops 10%.  10% of $110,000 is $11,000.  So the virtual portfolio drops from $110,000 to $99,000. 

Now how can this help us in our trading decisions?  In its simplest form, this tells us that if we were to simply buy stocks that over the long run had a tendency to rise up substantially and fall down substantially ie starting at 0% and rising up and ultimately falling back to 0%, the volatility is impacting long-term returns.  In statistics, that percentage swing would denote variance, which in turn is often equated with risk.  Another term for risk is beta.  High beta stocks tend to move more than the market and tend to have greater variance.

So, if you are in the market for the long-term, you should certainly pay close attention to the impact of variance.   Over time the impact to the $100,000 virtual portfolio is not just a drop of $1,000 as in the period shown above, but that virtual portfolio erosion continues over time to the detriment of overall wealth.  Unless….

Unless, you know how to take advantage of such volatility.  Buying and holding stocks is about as advanced a trading technique in this day and age as owning a cell phone that simply operates as a phone.  Why accept bare functionality when you can combine the basics with so much more.  In the stock market, this means using options.  (In cell phones we…
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Vacation Proofing Your Virtual Portfolio

 

NEW INFORMATION = TAKE ACTION

Save it.  Post-it.  Record it.  Use it.

When driving a car and some object appears on the road ahead do you usually run right over it or do your best to avoid it?  Don’t we all take action in real-life based on the new information we receive that changes the old paradigm?  Take the first two guys in this video:  Who would you rather be, the first or the second guy?  While the second gentleman reacts and looks ridiculous in so doing, he’s the guy that is more likely to survive when real disaster hits because he’s reacting to new information.  In fact he doesn’t even know what’s making everyone else react, he just knows that when 99% are moving one way in panic, it’s best not to fight the crowd or he will be trampled.  It’s no different in the market.  Pride, ego and old theses have no place when new information directly contradicts an existing trade.

When the market is up, we use DIA puts and calls to "react" to quick changes in the market while we wait for better information before making more permanent changes in our positions.  This gave us the benefit of the quick reaction of gentleman #2, the one who went unquestioningly with the crowd, while also giving us the "wisdom" of gentleman #1, who was confident (or oblivious) enough to soldier onward, despite the fact that the world seemed briefly to be against him.

When new information does arrive, one of the first things I look to do is minimize risk - hedging the existing position.  The next step for me is to become more aggressive in reacting to the new information and shifting the bias of the trade in the opposite direction.  In this article, I will outline our basic strategy for protecting your virtual portfolio from a major dip, which can then be used to adjust your risk profile, based on changes in outlook arising from new information. 

The strategy outlined can be applied also when you know that you will be…
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The Trading Virus

This article is best read after a substantial rise has occurred in the market following a period of sustained bearishness.  Why?  Because it is precisely the time when many will have seen the direction of the virtual portfolios turn.  Some may even have caught the bottom in stocks like Bank of America, up 50% in less than 10 days!  When wealth is attained so rapidly, a tendency towards confidence or more particularly over-confidence is natural.  Short-term results vindicate decision-making at the bottom to ‘bet heavily’ or ‘go all in’.  And they solidify a belief that the next bottom can be called successfully also.  This may indeed occur.  But a danger exists, which I call the Trading Virus.
 
The Trading Virus affects almost every trader.  The victim is affected soon after a successful outcome in the stock market.  The virus manifests as excessive confidence and belief in one’s ability to time the market.  For most the virus is a lifelong condition.  Bulls and bears are equally affected.  As stock markets rise, bulls are infected and ride the glorious waves higher and higher until the inevitable crash cycles around again.  And bears rarely hold out long enough in sustained bull markets to enjoy those crashing sounds. 
 
For both bulls and bears, the virus implants a disease called ‘Results-Focus’.  Each is a keen market observer driven to action or inaction by the latest direction of streaming quotes, media hype, account value or some other short-term mechanism.  And a dependency is soon created; a dependency that demands information in the short-term that produces adrenalin rushes that lead to action that further lead to hopeful and expected results.  This is not to say that, in the short-term, talented traders cannot profit. Of course, they can.  But for most, the disease is a lifelong incurable condition because something very important is overlooked – the process of wealth accumulation.
 
Those successful shorter-term traders succeed not because they are results-oriented but because they are process-oriented.  And those victims who cure themselves do so precisely because they transition from the trap of attempting to time the market perfectly all the time to creating a process that succeeds at all times.  You will quickly see at PhilStockWorld that Phil and Optrader are both highly successful traders.  Both use options to take advantage, albeit in slightly different manners.  And that’s the key.  Each


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Phil's Favorites

Senate GOP advances a health care bill. Now what?

 

Senate GOP advances a health care bill. Now what?

Courtesy of Jeffrey Lazarus, Georgia State University; David McLennan, Meredith College, and Rachel Caufield, Drake University

On July 25, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell narrowly managed to keep a Republican effort to reform health care alive. We asked our experts to consider the importance of this procedural vote and what happens next.

Jeffrey Lazarus, Georgia State University

Which...

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ValueWalk

Illinois and Connecticut Face Pension Collapse

By insidesources. Originally published at ValueWalk.

It’s shocking to see the budget horror stories coming out of two of the nation’s leading states. Illinois and Connecticut are in fiscal freefall, and their leaders are taking the exact wrong approach in their misguided efforts to turn things around. If they were smart, they would look to the example of states like Florida to discover how to weather fiscal storms.

tpsdave / Pixabay

Illinois faces a staggering budget gap of close to $10 billion, a crisis worsened by a state pension program funded at just 37 percent and credit downgrades that leave th...



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Zero Hedge

"If The VIX Goes Bananas", Morgan Stanley Shows What It Would Look Like

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

From Chris Metli of Morgan Stanley

It’s easy to become numb to the low volatility environment and the risks it presents.  While trying to pick a trough in vol has been a fool’s errand, focusing on the risks resulting from vol being so low is not.  Low volatility has produced a regime where the risks are asymmetric and negatively convex, so being prepared for an unwind is critical.  This is not a call that vol is about to spike, but you need a plan if it does.

This note details how a short vol unwind might develop. A violent rise in volatility c...



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Digital Currencies

SEC Cracks Down On "Initial Coin Offerings": Concludes Tokens Are Subject To Securities Laws

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

In potentially groundbreaking news for the blockchain community, moments ago the SEC issued a press release, referencing an investor bulletin on Initial Coin Offerings, which concluded that DAO Tokens, a Digital Asset, are securities for ...



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Biotech

Biologics: The pricey drugs transforming medicine

Reminder: Pharmboy and Ilene available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

 

Biologics: The pricey drugs transforming medicine

Courtesy of Ian HaydonUniversity of Washington

The cells inside this bioreactor are the real pharmaceutical factories. Sanofi Pasteur, CC BY-NC-ND

In a factory just outside San Francisco, there’s an upright stainless steel vat the size of a small car, and it’s got something swirling inside.

The vat is stud...



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Insider Scoop

Morgan Stanley Joins Bull Thesis TEAM On Atlassian Corporation

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Related Benzinga's Top Upgrades, Downgrades For July 25, 2017 20 Stocks Moving In Monday's Pre-Market Session ...

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Chart School

Tech Gaining Momentum. Small Caps Recover.

Courtesy of Declan.

Tech markets continued the good work from Friday as buyers continued to bid up the Nasdaq and Nasdaq 100. Large Caps posted small losses but this was more about attention elsewhere than any Large Cap specifics.

The Nasdaq experienced a mini-breakout from the consolidation over the last 3 days (traders on the hourly time frame may find some joy here) which keeps the index on course to test larger upper channel resistance. Technicals are net bullish but its relative performance against peer indices which is doing particularly well; Large Caps in particular.

...

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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of July 24th, 2017

Reminder: OpTrader is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

 

This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current  trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).

We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options. 

Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.

To learn more about the swing trading virtual portfolio (strategy, performance, FAQ, etc.), please click here ...



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Members' Corner

Why we need to act on climate change now

 

Why we need to act on climate change now

Interview with Jan Dash PhD, by Ilene Carrie, Editor at Phil’s Stock World

Jan Dash PhD is a physicist, an expert at quantitative finance and risk management, and a consultant at Bloomberg LP. In his thought-provoking book, Quantitative Finance and Risk Management, A Physicist's Approach, Jan devotes a chapter to climate change and its long-term systemic risk. In this article, Ilene interviews Jan regarding his thoughts on climate change and the way it can affect our futu...



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Mapping The Market

The App Economy Will Be Worth $6 Trillion in Five Years

Courtesy of Jean-Luc

This would be excellent news for AAPL and GOOG to a lesser extent although not inconsequential:

The App Economy Will Be Worth $6 Trillion in Five Years 

In five years, the app economy will be worth $6.3 trillion, up from $1.3 trillion last year, according to a report released today by app measurement company App Annie. What explains the growth? More people are spending more time and -- crucially -- more money in apps. While on average people aren't downloading many more apps, App Annie expects global app usership to nearly double to 6.3 billion people in the next five years while the time spent in apps will more than double. And, it expects the...



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Promotions

NewsWare: Watch Today's Webinar!

 

We have a great guest at today's webinar!

Bill Olsen from NewsWare will be giving us a fun and lively demonstration of the advantages that real-time news provides. NewsWare is a market intelligence tool for news. In today's data driven markets, it is truly beneficial to have a tool that delivers access to the professional sources where you can obtain the facts in real time.

Join our webinar, free, it's open to all. 

Just click here at 1 pm est and join in!

[For more information on NewsWare, click here. For a list of prices: NewsWar...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Brazil; Waterfall in prices starting? Impact U.S.?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

Below looks at the Brazil ETF (EWZ) over the last decade. The rally over the past year has it facing a critical level, from a Power of the Pattern perspective.

CLICK ON CHART TO ENLARGE

EWZ is facing dual resistance at (1), while in a 9-year down trend of lower highs and lower lows. The counter trend rally over the past 17-months has it testing key falling resistance. Did the counter trend reflation rally just end at dual resistance???

If EWZ b...



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All About Trends

Mid-Day Update

Reminder: Harlan is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Click here for the full report.




To learn more, sign up for David's free newsletter and receive the free report from All About Trends - "How To Outperform 90% Of Wall Street With Just $500 A Week." Tell David PSW sent you. - Ilene...

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FeedTheBull - Top Stock market and Finance Sites



About Phil:

Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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About Ilene:

Ilene is editor and affiliate program coordinator for PSW. She manages the site market shadows, archives, more. Contact Ilene to learn about our affiliate and content sharing programs.

Market Shadows >>