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Did the SEC Admit That It Knows the Stock Market is Rigged?

Courtesy of Pam Martens.

Can This Watchdog Still Hunt?

Last month, the Securities and Exchange Commission released the second in what looks to be a never-ending, head-scratching study into whether some aspects of high frequency trading are, in fact, the equivalent of rigging the stock market and thus patently illegal under existing law. In one long paragraph, the SEC appears to emphatically say that two strategies, order anticipation and momentum ignition, are manipulative and illegal. The SEC writes:

“Directional strategies generally involve establishing a long or short position in anticipation of a price move up or down. The Concept Release requested comment on two types of directional strategies – order anticipation and momentum ignition – that ‘may pose particular problems for long-term investors’ and ‘may present serious problems in today’s market structure.’  An order anticipation strategy seeks to ascertain the existence of large buyers or sellers in the marketplace and then trade ahead of those buyers or sellers in anticipation that their large orders will move market prices (up for large buyers and down for large sellers).  A momentum ignition strategy involves initiating a series of orders and trades in an attempt to ignite a rapid price move up or down.  As noted in the Concept Release, any market participant that manipulates the market has engaged in conduct that already is illegal.  The Concept Release focused on the issue of whether additional regulatory tools were needed to address illegal practices, as well as any other practices associated with momentum ignition strategies.”

We have italicized the following phrases in the above paragraph: “trade ahead”; “in an attempt to ignite a rapid price move up or down”; and “conduct that already is illegal.” The SEC certainly appears to be saying that it recognizes these activities to be market manipulation and illegal under the statutory framework of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

So why has the SEC been studying this problem for the past four years instead of charging those deploying these strategies with crimes? We can thank former SEC trial attorney, James Kidney, for answering that question: the revolving doors of the SEC have morphed it into a Federal agency “that polices the broken windows on the street level and rarely goes to the penthouse floors.  On the rare occasions when Enforcement does go to the penthouse, good…
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Einhorn Shorts “Cool Kid” Bubble Tech Stocks

Courtesy of Mish.

Greenlight Capital hedge fund manager Einhorn Shorting Tech as ‘Cool Kid’ Stocks Show Bubble.

Greenlight Capital Inc., the $10.3 billion hedge-fund firm run by David Einhorn, said it was betting against a group of technology stocks as evidence grows of a bubble.

“There is a clear consensus that we are witnessing our second tech bubble in 15 years,” the New York-based firm said in a quarterly letter to clients today.

Greenlight said that companies it’s betting against may fall by at least 90 percent “if and when the market reapplies traditional valuations,” according to the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News.

Greenlight cited initial public offerings of technology firms that have “done little more than use the right buzzwords and attract the right venture capital” as evidence of how far along the current bubble is.

Greenlight, best known for wagering on a decline in Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. before the bank collapsed in 2008, said it was betting against a group of stocks because it reduces the potential of a single investment becoming too costly. The firm didn’t identify the individual companies.

Greenlight questioned whether technology companies would be able to keep their highly skilled employees if they stopped giving them large amounts of equity. The firm said it was hard to ignore the future dilution of shares that result from paying employees in stock.

“Once again, certain ‘cool kid’ companies and the cheerleading analysts are pretending that compensation paid in equity isn’t an expense because it is ‘non-cash’,” Greenlight wrote.

Valuations are without a doubt back in bubble land. The only open question is whether the time is finally ripe for shorting.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com



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Debt Rattle Apr 23 2014: QE Is A Fraud Perpetrated By Made Men

Courtesy of The Automatic Earth.


Arthur Rothstein Planting beans near Belle Glade, Florida January 1937

QE Is A Fraud Perpetrated By Made Men

A lot of words are being spent again these days on deflation and the QE measures that are supposed to “cure” it. Paul Krugman, who when it comes to stimulus is a hammer seeing nails only, now has it in for Sweden’s central bank, which he labels monetary sadists for not opening the spigots. But it’s all a hugely deceptive false flag; it’s not an issue of whether you launch QE or not. There’s a third, and much more valid, way of looking at this.

First of all, one should wonder if QE is the right kind of stimulus, if growth and recovery in the real economy is the objective. Which in present circumstances is a very big IF ,that is surprisingly, hardly ever questioned. But if the real economy is the target area, it’s highly likely that something like Steve Keen’s version of a debt jubilee, where every citizen receives an X amount, first to be used to pay off any debts, would be far more effective. Or the Positive Money ideal, in which central banks, not commercial banks, have the ability to create fresh credit.

However that may be, what everybody should realize is that QE or another form of stimulus MIGHT work, but only if they’re executed in the proper fashion, that is, if debts are restructured at the same time stimulus is unleashed, i.e. the financial system is purged, which is the only way to restore trust and confidence. Debt restructuring must be a core element of any stimulus, and if it’s not, wherever you live, you know you’re being screwed.

In essence, what central banks have done so far, first in Japan, then in the US and EU, is to cordon off the debts residing in their banks (e.g. in the form of swaps and not-so-securities), and then flood these same banks with money/credit, in order to make them look healthy. Since all these nations’ banks have the same debt issues, they all agreed to ignore each other’s obvious sleight of hand. And anyone can understand that if these banks are still sitting on huge amounts of debt, any and all stimulus must and will at some point disappear into…
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Not So Fast: Allergan Adopts Poison Pill, Valeant CEO “Disappointed” – What Happens Next

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

As we reported yesterday, Bill Ackman bought up only $76 million in Allergan stock knowing well in advance Valeant would submit a bid for the company, guaranteeing (as in absolutely no risk at all) that the stock would soar, with the rest of the purchase comprising of AGN calls. It is unclear just how much actual capital at risk he put up but indicatively May $150 call options that cost $1.55 per contract on Monday were trading at $15.53 in midmorning trading on Tuesday, a roughly ten-fold increase in one day.

In other words, Ackman not only used material [non]public information to frame his trade – perfectly legally, thank you SEC – but, as is to be expected of a hedge fund manager whose recent track record has been spotty, applied massive leverage in the form of calls to make up for any residual humiliation. That said, Ackman may want to consider selling his calls to the primary (and very unhappy because no amount of delta hedging could have offset all the losses) broker he bought them from while they are still solidly in the money, because Allergan may have a very different opinion on promptly selling itself to Valeant than what Ackman thought.

Specifically, Allergan on Tuesday night said that its board of directors had adopted a one-year stockholder rights plan to give it more time to consider takeover proposals. The Valeant offer was made with Pershing Square Capital Management hedge fund, which built up a stake in the company.

The chief executive officer of Valeant Pharmaceuticals, which made a $47 billion unsolicited offer for competitor Allergan Inc. on Tuesday, said during an interview on CNBC that he was "disappointed" with Allergan's so-called poison pill.

"We are disappointed but on the other hand, I think this deal will get done," Valeant CEO Michael Pearson said on Wednesday.

So besides accepting or outright rejecting Valeant's bid, what other options does Allergan have? Here is Bloomberg with the full menu:

Valeant’s proposal currently stands at $48 billion, or almost $161 a share. Sterne Agee Group Inc. said the offer is too low because Allergan has appealing growth prospects as a stand-alone entity. Shareholders may demand a price closer


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Why Expect Change?


Courtesy of Lee Adler of the Wall Street Examiner

Lee Adler talks about what the lack of recovery in housing while prices bubble higher means. He says that the energy boom helps only a few, but helps create the illusion that the US economy is growing at a healthy pace. Finally, where are stocks and bond headed. Is this the top? Are we headed for a crash, or is something more prosaic at hand? 

Why Expect Change?

To listen to a free clip or sign up for Lee's biweekly podcasts, click here. 

Copyright © 2012 The Wall Street Examiner. All Rights Reserved. 

 





Chris Whalen: True Perpetrators in Michael Lewis’ Tale of Wall Street Greed and Corruption Are Congress, SEC, FINRA, Major Exchanges

Courtesy of Larry Doyle.

Today I am pleased to elevate author and investment banker Chris Whalen into the highest echelon of the Sense on Cents Hall of Fame.

Whalen distinguishes himself as he properly frames the ongoing debate surrounding the scandalous practices within high frequency trading in a recent commentary that ran at Zero Hedge entitled, In “Flash Boys” Michael Lewis Misses the Point — Deliberately.

Let’s navigate as Whalen further exposes how our public officials and regulators charged with protecting the public interest are really “in bed with Wall Street.”

Whalen outlines,

All of the strategies used in HFT are not only legal, but they are the result of extensive rule making and public hearings by Congress, the Securities and Exchange Commission, FINRA and the major exchanges. So while Lewis is right to say that these strategies “screw” retail customers in a practical sense, the fact is that the activity has been entirely blessed by Congress, regulators and the major exchanges . . . structural duplicity is programmed into the system.

The question begs as to who was truly representing the public interest when systems and practices were developed and implemented that allowed for the legal ‘screwing’ of retail customers. Whalen continues and nails the real cause behind the symptomatic injustice that is embedded within high frequency trading activity:

. . .  the real scandal is that all of this has been entirely blessed by the SEC, FINRA and the major exchanges . . .   the crime of HFT is that Congress, the SEC and other regulators have allowed a handful of Wall Street firms to assemble a set of opaque market rules that few people understand.

Whalen trashes the presumption that Congress and our financial regulators actually protect the public interest. How and why do you think this ‘scandal’ and ‘crime’ happen? Because Congress and the regulators are getting paid to do so. The payola comes in the form of massive campaign contributions and lobbying funds and a spin through the revolving door to a high paying job in the industry. Those on the outside would define these practices as corruption. Those on the inside of these rackets would define them as ‘business as usual.’

Whalen concludes,

We should thank Michael Lewis for using his celebrity and considerable writing skills to draw attention to this issue of HFT, but “Flash


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China Manufacturing Output and New Orders Contract Once Again

Courtesy of Mish.

Chinese manufacturing remains in contraction for 2014. Output and new orders were down for the 4th consecutive month, but at a slightly reduced pace according to the HSBC Flash China Manufacturing PMI.

Commenting on the Flash China Manufacturing PMI survey, Hongbin Qu, Chief Economist, China & Co – Head of Asian Economic Research at HSBC said:

The HSBC Flash China Manufacturing PMI stabilised at 48.3 in April, up from 48.0 in March. Domestic demand showed mild improvement and deflationary pressures eased, but downside risks to growth are still evident as both new export orders and employment contracted. The State Council released new measures to support growth and employment after the release of Q1 GDP. Whilst initial impact will likely be limited, they signalled readiness to do more if necessary. We think more measures may be unveiled in the coming months and the PBoC will keep sufficient liquidity.

There is a massive expectation that China will step on the gas at any time now to improve conditions. I rather doubt it, unless there is a far bigger, disorderly breakdown.

China needs to rebalance, and will. Slower and slower GDP growth will generally be the norm, most likely for years to come, perhaps interrupted by an occassional unsustainable spurt here or there.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com



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Ex-Morgan Stanley Chief Economist Admits “Fed Is Distorting Markets”

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Stephen Roach, former Chief Economist at Morgan Stanley, has never been shy to share his opinions about the world and having left the Wall Street firm is even freer to speak uncomfortable truthiness. This brief clip, as Sovereign Man's Simon Black notes, says it all so succinctly… "The market has been distorted by far bigger forces than flash trading. To me, the force that has rigged the market… is the Federal Reserve, not the flash traders."

We recommend skipping to 13:05 for about 30 seconds of brilliance if you’re pressed for time:





What Will December 31, 2014 Financial Headlines Look Like?

What Will December 31, 2014 Financial Headlines Look Like?

By Elliott Wave International

The financial forecasts around the end of 2013 brimmed with optimism. Here are just a few examples:

  1. Many scoff at notion stock bubble exists — Associated Press, Nov. 19, 2013
  2. Economy Entering New Year on a Roll — Bloomberg, Dec. 25, 2013
  3. 'We have entered a 15- to 20-year bull market' — CNBC, Dec. 30, 2013
  4. Economy poised for strong 2014 — Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jan. 1, 2014
  5. Market Prediction: Bull will keep charging in 2014 — USA Today, Jan. 2, 2014
  6. Bull Market has Years Left Based on S&P 500 Valuations — Bloomberg, Jan. 6, 2014
  7. Economist tells Denver audience to be aggressive over next four years — Denver Post, Jan. 9, 2014

This super bullish outlook was also expressed just before the 2000 and 2007 market tops. Indeed, a chart from the April 2014 Elliott Wave Financial Forecast shows that investment pros are more bullish now than before the two prior major market peaks.

EWI's special report, The State of the U.S. Markets — 2014 Edition notes:

Investors are even more optimistic than economists. While the overall economy barely grinds ahead in first gear, indicators of Wall Street psychology stand at historic extremes of optimism. This optimism is the only thing holding up nominal stock prices.

Market history shows that extremes in psychology always reach a turning point. The Wave Principle can help you identify when the market's trend is about to change.

It is a thrilling experience to pinpoint a turn, and the Wave Principle is the only approach that can occasionally provide the opportunity to do so.

The ability to identify such junctures is remarkable enough, but the Wave Principle is the only method of analysis that also provides guidelines for forecasting

It is our practice to try to determine in advance where the next move will likely take the market.

Elliott Wave Principle: Key to Market Behavior, tenth edition, p. 96

Be aware that the Wave Principle has now identified what appears to be a history making…
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Amazing Surge in Middle-Aged Folks Moving in With Parents

Courtesy of Mish.

Moving back home with parents is not just for millennials. A large number of those aged 50 to 64 are moving back home, for economic reasons, not for providing care to aged parents.

The LA Times reports Moving in with Parents Becomes More Common for the Middle-Aged

At a time when the still sluggish economy has sent a flood of jobless young adults back home, older people are quietly moving in with their parents at twice the rate of their younger counterparts.

For seven years through 2012, the number of Californians aged 50 to 64 who live in their parents’ homes swelled 67.6% to about 194,000, according to the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development.

The jump is almost exclusively the result of financial hardship caused by the recession rather than for other reasons, such as the need to care for aging parents, said Steven P. Wallace, a UCLA professor of public health who crunched the data.

“The numbers are pretty amazing,” Wallace said. “It’s an age group that you normally think of as pretty financially stable. They’re mid-career. They may be thinking ahead toward retirement. They’ve got a nest egg going. And then all of a sudden you see this huge push back into their parents’ homes.”

Many more young adults live with their parents than those in their 50s and early 60s live with theirs. Among 18- to 29-year-olds, 1.6 million Californians have taken up residence in their childhood bedrooms, according to the data.

Though that’s a 33% jump from 2006, the pace is half that of the 50 to 64 age group.

The surge in middle-aged people moving in with parents reflects the grim economic reality that has taken hold in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

Long-term unemployment is especially acute for older people. The number of Americans 55 and older who have been out of work for a year or more was 617,000 at the end of December, a fivefold jump from the end of 2007 when the recession hit, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Those in their 50s move in only as a last resort. Many have exhausted savings. Some have jobs but can’t shoulder soaring rents in areas such as Los


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Zero Hedge

Thomas Piketty's "Sensational" New Book

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Submitted by Hunter Lewis via The Mises Economic blog,

This 42 year economist from French academe has written a hot new book: Capital in the Twenty-First Century. The US edition has been published by Harvard University Press and, remarkably, is leading the best seller list, the first time that a Harvard book has done so. A recent review describes Piketty as the man “who exposed capitalism’s fatal flaw.”

So what is this flaw? Supposedly under capitalism the rich get steadily richer in relation to everyone else; inequality gets worse and worse. It is all baked into the cake, unavoid...



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Phil's Favorites

French Telecom Company Does Biggest Junk Bond Sale Ever; Bidding Wars for Junk; AOL Flashback

Courtesy of Mish.

With central bankers globally suppressing interest rates, the such for yield elsewhere is on. One of the places investors have turned is speculative junk bond offerings.

Please consider French Company Does Biggest Junk Bond Sale Ever.
Numericable (NUM), which provides cable and internet service in France and other European markets, sold a record amount of high-yield bonds Wednesday with some priced in dollars and others in euros.

It's sold $7.78 billion and €2.25 billion in notes that yield 5% or more, according to a statement from Altice, the multinational telecom group that owns Numericable. Altice issued $2.9 bill...



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Chart School

Get Ready for Europe to Print

Courtesy of Doug Short.

Summary:

  • Core Eurozone CPI inflation rate falls to 0.70%, a multi-decade low
  • This occurs at a time when the PIGS' average unemployment rate rests near 24%
  • Deflation threat in Europe real as GDP in Europe likely to peak this year
  • European hawks moving towards dovish side of the fence, opening door for more QE
  • Implications: stronger European stock market, stronger USD, weaker commodity prices, stronger global growth

Back in February I laid the groundwork for why we should expect to see the European Central Bank (ECB) massively expand its balance sheet (see article). The case for expecting to see the ECB print is only increasing as core Eurozone inflation is c...



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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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Insider Scoop

Yum! Brands Conference Call Highlights; All About China

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Related YUM China Drives Yum! Brands Q1 Earnings - Analyst Blog Market Sentiment Flat Due To A Barrage Of Unimpressive Q1 Earnings Reports - Economic Highlights Rallying Ahead of Earnings (Fox Business)

Yum! Brands (NYSE: YUM) reported its first quarter earnings on April 23, 2014. Shares of the company are down 0.86 percent or $...



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Market Shadows

Soy Numero Uno

Soy Numero Uno

By Paul Price of Market Shadows

Bunge Limited (BG) is the world’s largest processor of soybeans. It is also a major producer of vegetable oils, fertilizer, sugar and bioenergy.

When commodities got hot in 2007-08, Bunge’s EPS shot up and the stock followed, rising 185% in 19 months.

The Great Recession took its toll on operations, dropping EPS to a low of $2.22 in 2009.  Since then profits have recovered.  They ranged from $4.62 - $5.90 in the latest three years. 2014 appears poised for a large increase. Consensus views from multiple sources see BG earning $7.04 - $7.10 this year and then $7.83 - $7.94 in 2015.

...



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Option Review

Casino Stocks LVS, WYNN On The Run Ahead of Earnings

Shares in Las Vegas Sands Corp. (Ticker: LVS) are up sharply today, gaining as much as 5.7% to touch $80.12 and the highest level since April 4th, mirroring gains in shares of resort casino operator Wynn Resorts Ltd. (Ticker: WYNN). The move in Wynn shares appears, at least in part, to follow a big increase in target price from analysts at CLSA who upped their target on the ‘buy’ rated stock to $350 from $250 a share. CLSA also has a ‘buy’ rating on Las Vegas Sands with a $100 price target according to a note from reporter, Janet Freund, on Bloomberg. Both companies are scheduled to report first-quarter earnings after the closing bell on Thursday.

...

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Sabrient

What the Market Wants: Market Poised to Head Higher: 3 Stocks to Consider

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

Courtesy of David Brown, Sabrient Systems and Gradient Analytics

Yesterday, the market continued its winning ways for the fifth consecutive day.  The S&P 500 closed within 1% of its all-time high, and the DJI was even closer to its all-time high.  Healthcare, Energy and Technology led the sectors while Financials, Telecom, and Utilities finished slightly in the red.  All three sectors in the red are typically flight-to-safety stocks, so despite lower than average volume, the market appears poised to make new highs.

Mid-cap Growth led the style/caps last week, up 2.87%, and Small-cap Growth trailed, up 2.22%. This week will bring well over 100 S&P 500 stocks reporting their March quarter earn...



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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - Week of April 21st, 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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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. Click here and sign in with your PSW user name and password, or sign up for a free trial.

...

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Digital Currencies

Facebook Takes Life Seriously and Moves To Create Its Own Virtual Currency, Increases UltraCoin Valuation Significantly

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Reggie Middleton.

The Financial Times reports:

[Facebook] The social network is only weeks away from obtaining regulatory approval in Ireland for a service that would allow its users to store money on Facebook and use it to pay and exchange money with others, according to several people involved in the process. 

The authorisation from Ireland’s central bank to become an “e-money” institution would allow ...



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Promotions

See Live Demo Of This Google-Like Trade Algorithm

I just wanted to be sure you saw this.  There’s a ‘live’ training webinar this Thursday, March 27th at Noon or 9:00 pm ET.

If GOOGLE, the NSA, and Steve Jobs all got together in a room with the task of building a tremendously accurate trading algorithm… it wouldn’t just be any ordinary system… it’d be the greatest trading algorithm in the world.

Well, I hate to break it to you though… they never got around to building it, but my friends at Market Tamer did.

Follow this link to register for their training webinar where they’ll demonstrate the tested and proven Algorithm powered by the same technological principles that have made GOOGLE the #1 search engine on the planet!

And get this…had you done nothing b...



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Pharmboy

Here We Go Again - Pharma & Biotechs 2014

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

Ladies and Gentlemen, hobos and tramps,
Cross-eyed mosquitoes, and Bow-legged ants,
I come before you, To stand behind you,
To tell you something, I know nothing about.

And so the circus begins in Union Square, San Francisco for this weeks JP Morgan Healthcare Conference.  Will the momentum from 2013, which carried the S&P Spider Biotech ETF to all time highs, carry on in 2014?  The Biotech ETF beat the S&P by better than 3 points.

As I noted in my previous post, Biotechs Galore - IPOs and More, biotechs were rushing to IPOs so that venture capitalists could unwind their holdings (funds are usually 5-7 years), as well as take advantage of the opportune moment...



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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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