by phil - September 4th, 2012 8:26 am
If it's Tuesday, we must be at the week's highs.
Obviously, we're still bearish and the news we've been discussing this morning in Member Chat certainly hasn't changed my opinion on that. Back on August 7th (first Tuesday of last month), I said we were about $700Bn in stimulus short of what we need to support S&P 1,400 and we knew we would have to wait a month to see how much we got from Draghi and Bernanke but, so far, and with Ben already out of the way, we have zero.
At $10Bn per S&P point that puts our fair value all the way down to 1,330 but keep in mind that the $500Bn we did get only lasts for 6 months so more like 1,310 at this point without a proper commitment by the ECB or Fed this week. Even 1,310 would be up 50 from the June lows and it would represent a neat 2/3 retracement of the rally since then. Our $25,000 Portfolio has, if anything, gotten more bearish as we dragged along the top but another thing we've done each Tuesday has been to take aggressive bullish positions to cover ourselves IN CASE someone actually does put up the cash needed to goose the markets over our breakout levels (see Friday's post for current positions in the virtual Portfolio and our levels).
On Tuesday, August 14th, our trade ideas were as follows:
by phil - August 28th, 2012 8:29 am
Seriously, this is 4 Tuesday's in row – is anyone seeing a pattern?
Of course this Tuesday we are 100 Dow points lower than we were last Tuesday and the BS pre-market pump job at 6am has already faded (7:30) although we're still working short bets on the Russell futures (/TF) and the Euro (EUR/USD) from 813 and $1.256 as I put up a note in early morning Member Chat as we spiked on – get this – the news that Draghi cancelled his appearance at Jackson Hole this weekend.
Why would it be good that Draghi is NOT going to the last Central Bankster conference of the year but the buzz is that he MUST be so close to a masterful solution to all of Europe's problems that he can't be bothered to gather with his brother bankers on the eve of his triumph. The announcement was timed to coincide (10 minutes before) bond auctions by Spain ($2Bn 3-month notes at 0.95%) and Italy ($3.75Bn of 2-year notes at 3.06%) and the Euro jumped 0.7% into the auction – lowering the effective rates and both auctions were a "success".
That pulled the EU markets off the floor (still down half a point at 8am) and got the US futures out of the red zone as we finally pushed the Dollar under that pesky 81.50 line, goosing the indexes and commodities. Unfortunately, it's just a sugar rush and we've already run out of steam but I'm sure someone will start another rumor around 9:15 to get us back to green into the open.
As I said last Tuesday, with the Dollar at 81.50 we're looking for adjusted levels of: Dow 13,464, S&P 1,428, Nasdaq 3,060, NYSE 8,160 and Russell 816 and we held the Nasdaq yesterday but that was all so no reason to capitulate on our bearish stance just yet. Last Tuesday we also discussed 3 more trades (there we 3 the Tuesday before) to make 300% if the market did break higher and our first batch had several 100% winners so let's see how our 3 new trades did in a downtrend:
- 2 FAS Oct $107/117 bull call spreads at $2.05, selling 1 BBY 2014 $15 puts for $3.75 for net .35 is now net $1.52 – up 334%
- AGQ Oct $38/45 bull call spread at $3.10, selling BTU 2014 $20 puts for $3.60 for
by phil - August 21st, 2012 6:58 am
Here we go again (again)!
Yep, that's what I said last Tuesday and the Tuesday before that because Tuesday is a day they push the Futures higher and ditch the Dollar and tell you that this time it's different because of the same rumors they had the Tuesday before only this week – the data is getting worse and worse, as we know is better, right?
Last Tuesday we set levels to capitulate and go fully bullish at Dow 13,464, S&P 1,428, Nasdaq 3,060, NYSE 8,160 and Russell 816 and, as of yesterday's close we had the Nasdaq and the Russell over their marks needing just one confirmation to make it 3 of 5 and begin to flip our short-term portfolios (the $25KPs) bullish. We are soooo close but, so far – no cigar.
While we waited, we looked at some upside hedges that would do well if the market continued higher. Just as we get downside protection when we're bullish – we use upside protection when we're bearish and I suggested taking 5% or 10% positions in aggressive upside plays to help balance a bearish portfolio against – well against exactly what happened in the past 7 days. Our trade ideas were:
- 2 FAS Oct $105/115 bull call spread at $2, selling 1 BBY 2014 $18 puts for $3.25 for net .75, now $1.15 – up 53%
- 2014 SHLD $32.50 puts sold for $7.50, now $6.40 – up 15%
- 6 EWJ Jan $9 calls at .53, selling 1 BBY 2014 $18 put at $3.25 for a net .07 credit, still net .07 credit – even
- TNA Oct $55/61 bull call spread at $2.50, selling Oct $42 puts for $1.90 for net .60, now $1.80 – up 200%
The BBY puts jumped over 20% yesterday, from below $3 to $3.75 and that killed two of our trades (and worse today after earnings!), that were up significantly in Friday's update (which is why we take quick gains like that off the table). The good news is the EWJ play gives us a nice, new entry at the same net price so that one is still good and, of course, we are done with TNA after making 200% in a week and we'll find a fresh horse for that money.
by phil - June 26th, 2012 8:45 am
OK, now we are pushing it.
Our danger zone is the bottom of the top of those "V" patterns that we formed in the early June dip. Those lines must hold and they are roughly Dow 12,400, S&P 1,310, Nas 2,800, NYSE 7,450 and Russell 750 – all are holding so far but we really can't afford another red day here if we want to stay bullish.
Although we reminded Members to watch our primary hedges (TZA and EDZ spreads) in the Morning Alert - both of them have bullish offsets (short BTU and USO puts) that will zero out the trade if the market recovers – so we do remain generally bullish as long as our levels hold (and we can stop out our short puts and go more bearish if our levels fail).
Our other trades for the day were still bullish pokes from our very cashy positions – still hoping for the EU to lead us to the promised land – or at least give us a fix that gets us high for another day or two. That's all we need man, just a fix, come on Angela – do us a solid!
We added more CHK longs as they tested $17 again – that is one fun stock to trade if you have good range discipline! TLT got high again so we went short on them in both of our $25,000 Portfolios and we reiterated Friday's AAPL play (see Stock World Weekly) and we went long on oil Futures at $78.50 for a lunch-time trade and got a quick .75 gain ($750 per contract) along with the Dow at 12,400, which gave us a quick 50 points but "just" $5 per penny per contract ($250) for that one.
For the Futures-challenged, we added 20 USO July $29/30 bull call spreads at .52 to both our Aggressive and Regular $25,000 Portfolios and USO promptly shot up to $29.80, which is just lovely as we seek to turn $1,040 into $2,000 in 24 days with no margin required on the straight bull call spread. FAS was also too tempting to turn down and we went with a more aggressive spread there and that's using margin to get a 500% return in 24 days if all goes well.
by phil - June 20th, 2012 8:07 am
Dude, where's my bailout?
The tentative deal at the G20 summit to mobilize the EU's rescue machinery to douse the raging fire in Spain and Italy comes in the nick of time, but is fraught with fresh dangers. According to Ambrose Pritchard:
Monday's explosive rise in Spanish two-year bond yields was a warning that Spain's crisis would spiral out of control within days, taking Italy with it. Yet the deal explored over ceviche and mango at Los Cabos in Mexico remains murky. Any plan will backfire horribly unless conducted in the right way, and with overwhelming force.
From what we know, the eurozone's leaders aim to deploy the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) to cap borrowing costs for Spain and Italy by purchasing sovereign bonds on the open market. Unfortunately, the ESM fund does not yet exist. It has not been ratified by Germany and Italy. When it does come into being, it won't have much money. It has a theoretical limit of €500bn — a nice wish — but its paid up capital will start at just €22bn.
Britain's George Osborne cautioned against exuberance. "One thing we have learnt is: don't expect a single summit to solve the eurozone's problems, otherwise you are going to be disappointed. The eurozone is inching towards solutions."
David Owen from Jefferies Fixed Income said the Franco-German plan will fail unless EU leaders give the ESM a banking licence to borrow from the European Central Bank. "This is not going work unless they let the fund gear up and draw on the full firepower of the ECB," said. Such a move that has been blocked until now by Germany.
The ECB's chief Mario Draghi has in the past scoffed at the idea, saying it would be a back-door bailout of sovereign states and would violate the spirit — if not the letter — of the Lisbon Treaty. Mr Owen said the ECB is the "only institution with the credibility and balance sheet to reassure markets. It would be much simpler if the ECB carried out quantitative easing but that does not seem to be an option".
Lack of direct action by the G20 (in the G20 Communique, they essentially promise to do something, but no specifics) puts the ball back in Bernanke's court today (conference at 2:15, after Fed Statement) and then we have an EU meeting…
by phil - April 19th, 2012 8:28 am
We are just loving these crazy-assed market moves. Every morning we have a pump job to short into and every afternoon there is a BS stick-save to re-establish our shorts. It's merely a matter of time before those floors begin to crack. I mean, really – how much of this abuse can they take?
Notice, in Dave Fry's SPY chart, the high-volume selling followed by low-volume pumping – that's the very unhealthy pattern the "rally" was built on, which means there really aren't any buyers waiting to scoop up shares when they dip – just Trade Bots that tease the indexes higher so the IBanks can keep pulling in the bag-holders as the "smart money" stampedes for the exits.
Yesterday was great fun. As I noted in the morning post, we went short on the Oil Futures (/CL) at $104.50 in our morning Member Chat and even in the morning post there was still time to catch it at $104. Oil sold off all the way to $102.60 at 2:10 and my 2:14 comment to Members nailed the turn as I said:
Oil coming right to our goal at $102.50 ($38.50 USO) so let's not be greedy and look to take $1.20 off the table on those 1/2 USO positions in the $25KP and $5KP as it's better to get out while the gettin's good.
That's what we mean when we talk about taking non-greedy exits (I had set $38.50 as my USO target for our exit at 11:08 but it didn't look like we'd get it so we got out). We caught the bottom and got out clean and this morning we got a chance to re-load our shorts at $103.50 on that predictable morning pump. Sure, you can say the markets aren't fixed and maybe we just have amazingly good timing – either way we make the same money!
We did manage to find a few things we liked, one of which was CHK, as the stock plunged to $17.20 on much ado about not too much as people took issue with the CEO borrowing money to invest in their wells. We didn't think it was such a big deal and our trade idea at at 10:23 in Member Chat gave us a good opportunity to buy right into the day's low at…
by phil - April 16th, 2012 7:53 am
Despite Asia continuing their downhill slide, despite the Bank of Korea lowering their Economic Outlook, despite Swiss PPI showing DEflation, despite Spain's 10-year bonds rising to 6.07%, despite India's inflation at 6.89%, despite the 5-year CDS spread on Spanish debt hitting new records, despite James Galbraith warning that the EU periphery will collapse, despite the Saudi TASI Index dropping 4% in the last two days, despite the biggest weekly drop in Copper Futures of the year, despite Credit Suisse cutting 5,000 jobs and Best Buy closing 42 stores and even BMW sales off 30% in Brazil….
Despite ALL these weekend news items and DESPITE our very Depressing Weekend Reading – the bears, as Steve Martin says in the above clip, still have DOUBT in their heart and are allowing the Futures to rise this morning (7:30) as Europe bounces up 1% from their 30-day lows in this traveling revival show known as the stock market.
Faith is a wonderful thing and we all like to believe in miracles but a good investor demands PROOF – much the way many of our biblical heroes required signs from the Lord before making their own commitments. We don't need a burning bush but we do need more than vague promises of EU action before we believe their 5 loaves and 2 fish will be enough to bail out the entire continent, right?
On the chart above, I drew a blue line across the 50% levels between the tops of the last 6 days and the bottom. Not reflected on these charts is the fact that the Nikkei FELL another 1.74% this morning or that the Hang Seng dropped 0.44% – pushing them further from their goals.
As I mentioned above, the EU markets are off to the races on rumors that US Retail Sales will save the World at 8:30 with an upside surprise off very low expectations. Even if we do get a bump – so what? Retail sales were anemic last month except Gasoline, which was up 3.3% while General Merchandise was DOWN 0.1%. Gasoline was up 10% in March so YAY!, I guess – but is that really what we're going to base a rally on?
by phil - April 3rd, 2012 8:42 am
When will I see you again?
When will our hearts beat together?
Are we in love or just friends?
Is this my beginning or is this the end? – The Three Degrees
Will the S&P see 1,420, will the Russell see 860 again?
We need to see 13,600 on the Dow to flip our bull switch and we're happy to play that index bullish with something like the DDM (now $71.03 with the Dow at 13,264) $68/70 bull call spread at $1.15, which pays $2 (up 74%) if the Dow simply doesn't fail 13,200.
The potential loss of $1.15 on the trade can be offset with the sale of the May $127 puts at $1.10, which is a bet the Dow holds 12,700 (down 4.25%) or you can pick a stock you would REALLY like to own if it gets cheaper like AAPL, and sell the May $460 puts (down 25%) for $1 or a stock I would love to buy cheap(er) like BTU May $28 puts (down 5%) for $1.25 or CHK July $21 puts (down 14%) for .90. Assuming you offset $1 of the $1.15, then you are in for net .15 on the $2 spread with the potential for a 1,333% return on cash if the Dow simply doesn't go down from here. If you are not willing to make that bet, then you are simply not bullish.
We still favor cash in this very uncertain market but we've been more enthusiastic about adding bearish trade ideas, on the whole. Our very bearish, very aggressive, short-term $25,000 Portfolio gained a virtual $20,000 in the past two weeks DESPITE the fact that we're re-testing the tippy top of the market.
That's because we are essentially doing the opposite of "buying the dips", which is "selling the rips" – taking advantage of the excitement of the bulls, who are whipped into an almost daily frenzy by these low-volume rallies.
I'm happy to be bullish, really I am, but SHOW ME THE EARINGS! We are now up 10% since January earnings and 25% since October's report so I am looking forward to some SPECTACULAR numbers to back up these new and vastly improved valuations for all these companies. Heck PCLN (on our Long Put List and now in our $25KP) is up $250 (55%) since January alone…
by phil - February 20th, 2012 6:37 am
Why do we scream at each other
This is what it sounds like
When doves cry – Prince
It's no coincidence that this week we will be hearing from Fed Governors Kocherllakota (1pm Tues), Hoenig (12:30 Weds), Plosser (1:30 Weds), and Bullard (9:15 Thurs) ahead of our 2-Year Note Auction (1pm Tues), 5-Year Note Auction (1pm Weds) and 7-Year Note Auction (1pm Thursday) as the Fed needs to bring out 4 of it's 5 most hawkish members to talk up the Dollar (by talking down QE3) to keep those rates paid as low as possible for Treasury.
Once the Hawks drive the rates down and the notes are sold, the Doves will once again be released to talk them back up by extolling the glories of QE3 – completely reversing whatever was said before just as the Hawks will once again be called upon to reverse what the Doves say at a later date – when they need rates to come back down. The joke of it all is that traders will react to each statement, every time, as if it's a "game changer" and adjust their positions to reflect the new reality of the moment. It reminds me of a quote from Orwell's 1984:
As soon as all the corrections which happened to be necessary in any particular number of The Times had been assembled and collated, that number would be reprinted, the original copy destroyed, and the corrected copy placed on the files in its stead. This process of continuous alteration was applied not only to newspapers, but to books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films, sound-tracks, cartoons, photographs – to every kind of literature or documentation which might conceivably hold any political or ideological significance.
Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct, nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary. In no case would it have been possible, once the deed was done, to prove that any falsification had taken place.
by phil - February 8th, 2012 5:16 am
78.50 on the Dollar!
The Yen finally got back to 77 and EUR/CHF back to 1.21 so my theory that the BOJ has given up on the Dollar and moved to boosting the Euro is playing out nicely.
This does not make me more bullish (expecting falling Dollar to boost the markets) because, in the grand scheme of things, this is kind of like now there are two kids building a sand wall on the beach instead of one – sure it will last longer than the wall just one kid was building but, eventually, the tide will get it anyway or, as Jimi Hendrix said more poetically: "Castles made of sand, fall in the sea, eventually."
Once you start messing around with Forex markets, you are messing with major macro forces that are hard to control. Japanese banks have $7.5Tn of Japanese bonds at 1% – what happens to the value of those bonds if the BOJ does push the Yen down 10%? Who takes that $750Bn hit? What if rates go up to 2% – what's the value of the bonds then? Who will bail out the Japanese Banks when they have a multi-Trillion Dollar (several hundred Trillion Yen) hole in their balance sheets? Do Japanese spreadsheets even have room for Quadrillions? They are going to need it!
Then there's this Bloomberg article on the Central Banks, who have doubled their balance sheets since 2006 to $13.2Tn but, magically, have caused no inflation (according to Ben Bernanke – not according to people who actually buy food and stuff). China is now sitting on $4.5Tn of other people's TBills (mostly ours) and that's up $1.5Tn in a year. The ECB is right behind them with $3.6Tn and another $1Tn supposedly coming in the next EFSF round and the Fed has $2.9Tn plus whatever nonsense they are running off book.
So, how is it that WE are the bad currency here? If the Dollar is a problem, then China, who's GDP is only about $8Tn (optimistically, possibly $5.5Tn depending on who's measuring) is almost as insane as Japanese bankers and maybe more so as they are betting on our country's ability to pay and maintain the value of the Dollar (already a fail, right?). I suppose no one can ever recognize losses and just carry more and more junk…