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Big move for vol of vol

Big move for vol of vol

(October 17, 14)

Courtesy of

Staying with the volatility theme, the latest jump in VIX was clearly dwarfed by what we saw in 2008 or even in 2011. However that's not true for the volatility of VIX – the so-called "vol of vol". The CBOE's VVIX Index, "an indicator of the expected volatility of the 30-day forward price of the VIX" (see description), has been comparable to or higher than what we saw during those high stress periods. The possibility of VIX doubling or even tripling ("tail" risk) does not seem outside of the realm of possibilities these days – even from the current elevated levels. And traders are willing to pay a relatively high premium to be able to take advantage of such moves.



Implied vol dislocation

(October 16, 14)

The recent spike in volatility has created a "dislocation" in US equity options markets. VIX, which is a measure of implied volatility for large cap shares is now higher than RVX – the small-cap equivalent. This is highly unusual, since small caps tend to be more volatile. Part of the issue is the outsized spike in the volatility of large energy shares due to the recent sell-off in crude oil.



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S&P 500 Snapshot: A Friday Rally Trims the Weekly Loss to -1.02%

Courtesy of Doug Short.

The S&P 500 opened higher and rallied to its 1.90% intraday high in the late morning. The afternoon was a bit less jubilant, and the index finished Friday with a 1.29% advance, thus ending a highly volatile week with a loss of 1.02%. This was the fourth consecutive weekly decline — the longest such string of red since the four-week selloff in summer of 2011. Prior to that was the six-week dive in May of 2011.

I refer to the past week as “highly volatile” because of the 5.02% high-low spread.

The yield on the 10-year Note closed at 2.22%, up 5 bps from yesterday’s close but 9 bps below last week’s close.

Here is a 15-minute chart of the week.

Here is a weekly chart of the SPY ETF, which gives us a better picture of investor behavior. Trading volume was 126% above its 10-week moving average..

A Perspective on Drawdowns

How close were we to an “official” correction, generally defined as a 10% drawdown from a high (based on daily closes)? The chart below incorporates a percent-off-high calculation to illustrate the drawdowns greater than 5% since the trough in 2009.

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For a longer-term perspective, here is a pair of charts based on daily closes starting with the all-time high prior to the Great Recession.

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ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update

Courtesy of Doug Short.

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 134.4, up slightly from the previous week’s 134.1. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) is at 1.0, down from 1.5 the previous week.

ECRI has been at the center of a prolonged controversy since publicizing its recession call on September 30, 2011. The company had made the announcement to its private clients on September 21st. ECRI’s cofounder and spokesman, Lakshman Achuthan, subsequently forecast that the recession would begin in Q1 2012, or Q2 at the latest. He later identified mid-2012 as the start of the recession. Over the past two years he has been a frequent guest on the likes of CNBC and Bloomberg TV. In recent months he has adjusted the company’s position, identifying the recession’s “epicenter” as the half-year spanning Q4 2012 and Q1 2013.

Early Warning of Global Slowdown

ECRI’s website now featurs a summary the recent findings of their Long Leading Index of Global Growth (LLIGG) and their Coincident Index of Global Growth (CIGG).

We concluded that, “[w]ith trend growth continuing to slow in major developed economies, and their long leading indexes showing more widespread weakness, the global economy’s vulnerability to shocks – including myriad potential geopolitical ones – is growing.” Since that is the essence of the worries roiling the markets, the LLIGG and CIGG bear watching for early clues to the evolution of the global growth outlook. [full report]

The ECRI Indicator Year-over-Year

Below is a chart of ECRI’s data that illustrates why the company’s published proprietary indicator has lost credibility as a recession indicator. It’s the smoothed year-over-year percent change since 2000 of their weekly leading index. I’ve highlighted the 2011 date of ECRI’s original recession call and the hypothetical July 2012 business cycle peak, which the company previously claimed was the start of a recession. I’ve update the chart to include the “epicenter” (Achuthan’s terminology) of the hypothetical recession.

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As for the disconnect between the stock market and the mid-2012 recession start date, Achuthan has repeatedly pointed out that the market can rise during recessions. See for example the 2:05 minute point in the November 4th
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Michigan Consumer Sentiment at Highest Level Since July 2007

Courtesy of Doug Short.

The Preliminary University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment for October came in at 86.4, a rise from the September Final of 84.6. This is the highest level since July 2007. Today’s number was above the forecast of 84.1.

See the chart below for a long-term perspective on this widely watched indicator. I’ve highlighted recessions and included real GDP to help evaluate the correlation between the Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index and the broader economy.

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To put today’s report into the larger historical context since its beginning in 1978, consumer sentiment is now 2 percent above the average reading (arithmetic mean) and 3 percent above the geometric mean. The current index level is at the 46th percentile of the 442 monthly data points in this series.

The Michigan average since its inception is 85.1. During non-recessionary years the average is 87.4. The average during the five recessions is 69.3. So the latest sentiment number puts us 17.1 points above the average recession mindset and 1.0 points below the non-recession average.

Note that this indicator is somewhat volatile with a 3.1 point absolute average monthly change. The latest month is a somewhat smaller 1.8 point change. For a visual sense of the volatility, here is a chart with the monthly data and a three-month moving average.

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For the sake of comparison, here is a chart of the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index (monthly update here). The Conference Board Index is the more volatile of the two, but the broad pattern and general trends have been remarkably similar to the Michigan Index.

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And finally, the prevailing mood of the Michigan survey is also similar to the mood of small business owners, as captured by the NFIB Business Optimism Index (monthly update here).

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The general trend in the Michigan Sentiment Index since the Financial Crisis lows has been one of slow improvement. But we are now at a post-recession high.

The Four Totally Bad Bear Recoveries: Where Are We Now?

Courtesy of Doug Short.

Note from dshort: At the request of The Advisory Group in San Francisco, here’s updated comparison of four major cyclical bear markets. The numbers are through the October 16th close.

This chart series features an overlay of the Four Bad Bears in U.S. history since the market peak in 1929. They are:

  1. The Crash of 1929, which eventually ushered in the Great Depression,
  2. The Oil Embargo of 1973, which was followed by a vicious bout of stagflation,
  3. The 2000 Tech Bubble bust and,
  4. The Financial Crisis following the record high in October 2007.

The series includes four versions of the overlay: nominal, real (inflation-adjusted), total-return with dividends reinvested and real total-return.

The first chart shows the price, excluding dividends for these four historic declines and their aftermath. As of yesterday’s close are now 1768 market days from the 2007 peak in the S&P 500.

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Inflation-Adjusted Performance

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Nominal Total Returns

Now let’s look at a total return comparison with dividends reinvested. The recovery following the 1973 Oil Embargo Bear is the top performer, up 60.9% from the 2007 peak, with the current post-Financial Crisis recovery a distant second.

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Real (Inflation-Adjusted) Total Returns

When we adjust total returns for inflation, the picture significantly changes. The spread between three of the four markets narrows, and the current real total return has pulled far ahead of the others. Second place, by this metric, goes to the recovery following Tech Bubble.

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Here is a table showing the relative performance of these four cycles at the equivalent point in time.

For a better sense of how these cycles figure into a larger historical context, here’s a long-term view of secular bull and bear markets, adjusted for inflation, in the S&P Composite since 1871.

These charts are not intended as a forecast but rather as a way to study the current market…
continue reading

Contained Buying for Indices

Courtesy of Declan.

It wasn’t the day I expected, but bulls can take some comfort it wasn’t worse.  Some indices fared better than others.

The S&P finished on the bearish side, despite closing a little higher. The inside day to yesterday’s wide range day looks like something which will deliver more weakness in the days ahead. A close above yesterday’s high would confirm a bottom (maybe not ‘the’ bottom), but this is something for tomorrow. A 2011 style bottom would still need another 5-6% decline to suggest this.

The Nasdaq had a better day than the S&P, closing with a bullish engulfing pattern. This should be enough for a retest of the 200-day MA, although risk on a loss of 4,116 isn’t great. On an intraday time frame there are support levels around 4,200 and 4,180 which may be used as alternatives.

I was doubtful on the Russell 2000 breakout today when I saw European action, but in the end it delivered. The index finished with a tag of 1,090 resistance which might halt things, along with a fast falling 20-day MA, although it’s more likely to go sideways from here. However, the index is enjoying a sharp relative advance against Tech and Large Caps as it looks like the worst of the selling may be behind it (or at least, near exhaustion).

As a final note, the Semiconductor Index is shaping a good bounce, with the gap breakdown ready to suck prices up.

For tomorrow, it looks like the Russell 2000, Nasdaq and Semiconductor Index are set up for gains tomorrow, but the S&P didn’t do enough to escape the clutches of Wednesday’s bearish action. Those looking to buy long term can probably find value (especially in Small Caps), but it may be prudent to build such positions over the next few weeks than take a chance this ‘is’ the bottom.

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S&P 500 Snapshot: A Volatile Road to Nowhere

Courtesy of Doug Short.

The big pre-open economic news today was the big drop in new jobless claims, now at a 14-year low. Interestingly enough, index futures dropped on the news, perhaps because the actual trough in claims in 2000 was on April 15, 2000. It was preceded by the S&P 500 Tech Bubble peak three weeks earlier on March 24th.

The S&P 500 opened lower and sold off to its -1.47% intraday low about 45 minutes later. The index then zigzagged to its 0.73% intraday high in the early afternoon. The volatile session ended by essentially going nowhere, up 0.01% at the close. The 2.23% high-low range was at the 98th percentile of the 200 market days of 2014. Yesterday’s 2.94% high-low range was this year’s most biggest range.

The yield on the 10-year Note closed at 2.17, up 2 bps from yesterday.

Today’s announcement of the latest 30-Year Fixed Rate Mortgage Average, at 3.97%, is the lowest rate since June of last year.

Here is a 15-minute chart of the past five S&P 500 sessions.

Here is a daily chart of the SPY ETF, which gives us a better picture of investor trading volume. In contrast to the underlying index he ETF posted a fractional decline. Volume was massive, although off the surge yesterday, which was the biggest since November 2011.

A Perspective on Drawdowns

How close are we to a correction, generally defined as a 10% drawdown from a high (based on daily closes)? The chart below incorporates a percent-off-high calculation to illustrate the drawdowns greater than 5% since the trough in 2009.

Click to View
Click for a larger image

For a longer-term perspective, here is a pair of charts based on daily closes starting with the all-time high prior to the Great Recession.

Click to View
Click for a larger image

Click to View
Click for a larger image

Philly Fed Business Outlook: Slightly Slower Growth

Courtesy of Doug Short.

Note from Doug: Having lived for two wonderful years in Paoli, PA, a suburb west of Philadelphia just south of Valley Forge, I have a special interest in this regional indicator. But, more importantly, it gives a generally reliable clue as to direction of the broader Chicago Fed’s National Activity Index.

The Philly Fed’s Business Outlook Survey is a monthly report for the Third Federal Reserve District, covers eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and Delaware. The latest gauge of General Activity came in at 20.7, a small decrease from last month’s 22.5. The 3-month moving average came in at 23.7, down from 24.8 last month. Since this is a diffusion index, negative readings indicate contraction, positive ones indicate expansion. The Six-Month Outlook slipped to 54.5 from last month’s 56.

Here is the introduction from the Business Outlook Survey released today:

Firms responding to the October Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey indicated continued growth in the region’s manufacturing sector this month. Most broad indicators of current growth, while positive, weakened from higher readings last month. The current activity, shipments, and employment indexes declined, while the index for new orders was at a higher level compared with September. A larger percentage of firms reported higher prices for their own manufactured goods this month. The survey’s indicators for future manufacturing conditions fell from higher readings but continued to reflect general optimism about growth in activity and employment over the next six months. (Full PDF Report)

Today’s 20.7 came in fractionally above the 20.0 forecast at

The first chart below gives us a look at this diffusion index since 2000, which shows us how it has behaved in proximity to the two 21st century recessions. The red dots show the indicator itself, which is quite noisy, and the 3-month moving average, which is more useful as an indicator of coincident economic activity. We can see periods of contraction in 2011 and 2012 and a shallower contraction in 2013. The indicator is now above its post-contraction peak in September of last year.

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In the next chart we see the complete series, which dates from May…
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The Big Four Economic Indicators: Industrial Production

Courtesy of Doug Short.

Note from dshort: This commentary has been updated this morning’s release September Industrial Production.

Official recession calls are the responsibility of the NBER Business Cycle Dating Committee, which is understandably vague about the specific indicators on which they base their decisions. This committee statement is about as close as they get to identifying their method.

There is, however, a general belief that there are four big indicators that the committee weighs heavily in their cycle identification process. They are:

  • Industrial Production
  • Real Personal Income (excluding Transfer Payments)
  • Nonfarm Employment
  • Real Retail Sales
  • The Latest Indicator Data

    According to the Federal Reserve, “Industrial production increased 1.0 percent in September and advanced at an annual rate of 3.2 percent in the third quarter of 2014, roughly its average quarterly increase since the end of 2010.” The full report is available here.

    Today’s month-over-month increase of 1.0% beat the forecast of 0.4%.

    My personal view is that Industrial Production is probably the least useful of the Big Four economic indicators. It’s a hodge-podge of underlying index components and subject to major revisions, which undercuts its value as a near-term indicator of economic health. As a long-term indicator, it needs two key adjustments to have any correlation with Industrial Production reality. First, it should be adjusted for inflation using some sort of deflator relevant to production. Second, it should be population-adjusted.

    The chart below is my preferred way to look at Industrial Production over the long haul. I’ve used the Producer Price Index for All Commodities as the deflator and Census Bureau’s mid-month population estimates to adjust for population growth. I’ve indexed the adjusted series so that 2007=100.

    Click to View
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    The most recent data point in this adjusted series is an interim high off the post-recession trough (see the inset above). But it remains below the post-recession highs in 2009 and 2010.

    The Generic Big Four

    The chart and table below illustrate the performance of the generic Big Four with an overlay of a simple average of the four since the end…
    continue reading

    New Jobless Claims Hit a 14+ Year Low

    Courtesy of Doug Short.

    Here is the opening statement from the Department of Labor:

    In the week ending October 11, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 264,000, a decrease of 23,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 287,000. This is the lowest level for initial claims since April 15, 2000 when it was 259,000. The 4-week moving average was 283,500, a decrease of 4,250 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 287,750. This is the lowest level for this average since June 10, 2000 when it was 283,500.

    There were no special factors impacting this week’s initial claims. [See full report]

    Today’s seasonally adjusted number at 264K was substantially lower than the forecast of 290K.

    Sidebar on the BLS’s Attention Grabber: The April 2000 claims level mentioned in today’s report was sixteen market days after the S&P 500 hit its record close at the top of the Tech Bubble.

    Here is a close look at the data over the past few years (with a callout for the past year), which gives a clearer sense of the overall trend in relation to the last recession and the volatility in recent months.

    Click to View
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    As we can see, there’s a good bit of volatility in this indicator, which is why the 4-week moving average (the highlighted number) is a more useful number than the weekly data. Here is the complete data series.

    Click to View
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    Occasionally I see articles critical of seasonal adjustment, especially when the non-adjusted number better suits the author’s bias. But a comparison of these two charts clearly shows extreme volatility of the non-adjusted data, and the 4-week MA gives an indication of the recurring pattern of seasonal change in the second chart (note, for example, those regular January spikes).

    Click to View
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    Because of the extreme volatility of the non-adjusted weekly data, a 52-week moving average gives a better sense of the secular trends. I’ve added a linear regression…
    continue reading


    Help One Of Our Own PSW Members

    "Hello PSW Members –

    This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible.  Feel free to contact me directly at with any questions.

    Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts.  After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.)  Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.

    Thank you for you time!


    Zero Hedge

    Equity Levitation Stumbles After Second ECB Denial Of Corporate Bond Buying, Report Of 11 Stress Test Failures

    Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

    Submitted by Tyler Durden.

    A day after a Reuters headline blast proclaimed that, in a stunning turn of events, the ECB which has barely started buying covered bond (of countries like Germany today for example, because the record low yielding Bunds clearly need help from the ECB) will also buy corporate bonds, sending the stock market soaring the most in 2014, it has now backtracked for the second time, and following a report from the FT yesterday which denied the report, the second denial came straight from Reuters itself which hours ago said that the ECB "has no concrete plans to buy corporate b...

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    Poster Children

    Poster Children

    Courtesy of 

    IBM, Coca-Cola and McDonalds are three of America’s largest corporations and most well-known brands. They are true multinationals in every sense of the word and they dominate their industries both at home and abroad. They are numbers 23, 58 and 106 on the Fortune 500 list, respectively. Together, they make up 12 percent of the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s total weighting.

    And all three are plagued by the same problem – they’re shrinking. More than this, their shrinkage is finally being recognized on The Street, now that investors are peeling back all of the layers of buybac...

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    Chart School

    S&P 500 Snapshot: Biggest Gain in More Than a Year

    Courtesy of Doug Short.

    Europe was in rally mode when the US markets opened, and the EURO STOXX 50 would subsequently close with a 2.19% gain. The S&P 500 opened at its intraday low, up 0.28%, and headed higher through the day to its 2.02% high in the final hour. Its closing gain of 1.96% was its best one-day performance since its 2.18% surge on October 10th of last year. The popular financial press attibutes today's gain to speculation more ECB stimulus and the strong Apple-earnings effect.

    The yield on the 10-year Note closed at 2.23%, up 3 bps from yesterday's close.

    Here is a 15-minute chart of the past five sessions.

    Here is a daily chart of the index. In yesterday's update I pointed out the proximity of the close to the 200-day price moving average. It certainly offered no resistance today, and volume was 23% above its 50...

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    All About Trends

    Mid-Day Update

    Reminder: David 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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    Sector Detector: Sharp selloff in stocks sets up long-awaiting buying opportunity

    Courtesy of Sabrient Systems and Gradient Analytics

    Last week brought even more stock market weakness and volatility as the selloff became self-perpetuating, with nobody mid-day on Wednesday wanting to be the last guy left holding equities. Hedge funds and other weak holders exacerbated the situation. But the extreme volatility and panic selling finally led some bulls (along with many corporate insiders) to summon a little backbone and buy into weakness, and the market finished the week on a high note, with continued momentum likely into the first part of this week.

    Despite concerns about global economic growth and a persistent lack of inflation, especially given all the global quantitative easing, fundamentals for U.S. stocks still look good, and I believe this overdue correction ultimately will shape up to be a great buying opportunity -- i.e., th...

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    Digital Currencies

    Goodbye War On Drugs, Hello Libertarian Utopia. Dominic Frisby's Bitcoin: The Future of Money?

    Courtesy of John Rubino.

    Now that bitcoin has subsided from speculative bubble to functioning currency (see the price chart below), it’s safe for non-speculators to explore the whole “cryptocurrency” thing. So…is bitcoin or one of its growing list of competitors a useful addition to the average person’s array of bank accounts and credit cards — or is it a replacement for most of those things? And how does one make this transition?

    With his usual excellent timing, London-based financial writer/actor/stand-up comic Dominic Frisby has just released Bitcoin: The Future of Money? in which he explains all this in terms most readers will have no tr...

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    Swing trading portfolio - week of October 20th, 2014

    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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    Market Shadows

    Falling Energy Prices: Sober Look takes a Sober Look

    Falling Energy Prices: Sober Look takes a Sober Look

    What do falling energy prices mean for the US consumer? Sober Look writes a brief yet thorough overview of the consequences of the correction in the price of crude oil. There are good aspects, particularly for the consumer, bad aspects, and out-right ugly possibilities. For more on this subject, read James Hamilton's How will Saudi Arabia respond to lower oil prices?  In previous eras, Saudi Arabia would tighten the supply to help increase prices, but in this "game of chicken," the rules m...

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    Stock World Weekly

    Stock World Weekly

    Newsletter writers are available to chat with Members regarding topics presented in SWW, comments are found below each post.

    Here's this week's Stock World Weekly. Just sign in with your PSW user name and password. (Or take a free trial.)

    #457319216 /



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    Option Review

    Release Of Fed Minutes, Icahn Tweet Boost Shares In Apple

    Shares in Apple (Ticker: AAPL) are near their highs of the session in the final hour of trading on Wednesday, adding to the muted gains seen earlier in the day, following the release of the September FOMC meeting minutes and after activist investor and Apple shareholder Carl Icahn tweeted, “Tmrw we’ll be sending an open letter to @tim_cook. Believe it will be interesting.” Icahn’s tweet hit the ether at 2:33 pm ET and was met with a spike in volume in Apple shares. The stock is currently up 2.0% on the day at $100.75 as of 3:15 pm ET.

    Chart – Apple rally accelerate...

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    Biotechs & Bubbles

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

    Well PSW Subscribers....I am still here, barely.  From my last post a few months ago to now, nothing has changed much, but there are a few bargins out there that as investors, should be put on the watch list (again) and if so a small amount.

    First, the media is on a tear against biotechs/pharma, ripping companies for their drug prices.  Gilead's HepC drug, Sovaldi, is priced at $84K for the 12-week treatment.  Pundits were screaming bloody murder that it was a total rip off, but when one investigates the other drugs out there, and the consequences of not taking Sovaldi vs. another drug combinations, then things become clearer.  For instance, Olysio (JNJ) is about $66,000 for a 12-week treatment, but is approved for fewer types of patients AND...

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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.

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