by phil - January 17th, 2012 7:54 am
Isn't this exciting!
The pre-markets are up 1% after a long weekend. That hasn't happened since – two weeks ago! Of course last Tuesday, we were jammed up as well and the Tuesday after Christmas, we were jammed up as well but THIS TIME – we're REALLY feeling it, right?
The funniest thing is the way they have dozens of idiots saying all sorts of ridiculous things on CNBC and not one of them mentions even the vaguest hint of deja vu in what has been the most consistent pattern of late 2011, early 2012.
On this Dollar chart from Scott Pluschau, you can see the dives that are occasionally taken to goose the markets and we have another one this morning with the Dollar down 1%, making the 1% pop in the futures slightly less impressive when taken in context.
This time may be different because, according to Friday's Legacy Commitments of Traders Report released by the CTFC, Commercial Traders are now net short on the Dollar to the tune of 59,023 to just 6,061 longs – about a 10:1 ratio that is EXTREME to say the least. Non-Reportable, Non-Commercial Traders (ie. Speculators), on the other hand, are almost 10:1 the other way with 9,765 long contracts and just 1,390 shorts. Reportable Non-Commercial Traders (Hedge Funds) fill out the rest of the longs with 52,644 long contracts against just 8,057 shorts.
To some extent, hedge funds are also speculators and usually you would assume their bets are covered but that's kind of hard to see with a 7:1 long/short ratio. Keep in mind that Commercial Traders are institutions with business reasons to hedge – they are not going to be flip-flopping their positions so they will NOT be buying Dollars just because they get cheaper. So, if it all hits the fan and the Funds shift to short – we could get quite a tidal-wave of Dollar selling.
That's an odd sort of positions for the speculating class to be taking (super-long on the Dollar) considering the possibility of a highly dilutive quantitative event (QE3) in the very near future. This is why we can't be gung-ho bearish – tempting though it may be and this is why every little rumor of Europe being "fixed" sends the Dollar flying down – there are no buyers – only nervous long Dollar holders.
by phil - December 16th, 2011 8:25 am
It’s party time!
A lot of investors have been saying "Phuket" lately and they can only be referring to the annual Patong Carnival in Thailand, where the tourist bureau wants you to know the tuberculosis outbreak is "under control." Actually, it’s an amazingly beautiful place with great people – must be why so many people keep mentioning it when starting at the markets this week…
As I mentioned yesterday, we had to flip bullish because our bearish bets were no fun and we felt that A) the bottom was a little forced in order for Timmy to peddle his T-Bills and B) that Santa Clause is coming to town. Actually, we had plenty of bearish bets from when the market was high so we needed the bullish bets to get BALANCE!
Balance was the theme of our virtual White Christmas Portfolio and we added another $3,615 in gains over the past two weeks to bring us very close to a triple at $42,925 off our $15,000 start back on November 21st. This is a very aggressive virtual portfolio where we are practicing the art of hit and run trading. The positions we closed in the last 9 sessions were bullish bets with FAS, XLF, FAS, DIA, GLD, XLF, FAS and XLF and bearish bets with GLL, TZA, FAS (spread), USO, DIA, TZA, DIA, DIA, DIA, DXD. See – BALANCE!
We thought the market would go up and down (I know, such a stretch!) and the markets did, in fact go up AND down with an AVERAGE swing of 1.5% PER DAY but, in the end, we’re still consolidating around our Must Hold lines and right back where we were at the last options expiration day of November 18th – causing almost all puts and calls sold to sucker a month ago to expire worthless. Isn’t it a funny coincidence how all that seems to work out for the Banksters?
As I reminded our Members, our cynical motto at PSW is "We don’t care IF the game is fixed, as long as we can figure out HOW the game is fixed and place our bets accordingly."
by Option Review - December 14th, 2011 2:35 pm
Today’s tickers: AVP, FSLR & GLD
AVP - Avon Products, Inc. – Investors cheered news that the beauty products seller will seek a replacement for its current CEO next year, sending shares in Avon Products up as much as 11.1% to $17.93 at the start of the trading session. The purchase of 10,000 calls at the July 2012 $20 strike on a 33 delta may at first glance appear to be the work of a bullish investor gearing up for shares in the cosmetics seller to extend gains. However, the long calls were tied to short stock, indicating the trader responsible is bearish on Avon and hoping to profit from a pullback in the price of the underlying. The investor sold 330,000 shares of AVP stock at $17.40 this morning and bought the calls, thereby synthetically buying long puts to benefit from share price erosion.
FSLR - First Solar, Inc. – Options activity suggests the end of this week may be even uglier for First Solar shareholders who saw the price of the stock tank today after the company again cut its earnings and revenue forecasts for 2011. Shares in the largest U.S. solar company are currently trading at their lowest since 2007, down 20.0% on the day at $33.98 as of 12:15 PM in New York. The stock has dropped more than 80.0% off the February 18, 2011, two-year high of $175.45. December expiry call and put trading on First Solar indicates investors are expecting the sell-off to continue through the end of the trading week and expiration. Bears purchased in- and out-of-the-money puts to prepare for further share price erosion in the next few days. Strategists positioning for the stock to sink to fresh lows picked up 1,600 puts at the Dec. $33 strike this morning for an average premium of $0.78 each.…
by phil - November 21st, 2011 6:41 am
Mariano Rajoy won the biggest majority in a Spanish election in almost 30 years, and told Spaniards to brace for hard times as the nation fights to avoid being overwhelmed by the debt crisis. Bonds continued to drop. Rajoy’s People’s Party swept the ruling Socialists from power after eight years, winning 186 of the 350 seats in Parliament, compared with 110 for the Socialists’ candidate Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba.
“Hard times lie ahead,” Rajoy, 56, told supporters outside the PP’s headquarters in Madrid, giving no new details of his plans. “We are going to govern in the most delicate situation Spain has faced in 30 years.”
Spanish borrowing costs continued rising toward euro-era records (6.6% this morning) even as the PP won a mandate to slash the budget deficit, overhaul the stagnant economy and reduce the 23 percent jobless rate. Rajoy, who hasn’t given details of his proposals, won’t take over for a month, prompting him to say on Nov 18th he hoped Spain wouldn’t need a bailout before he’s sworn in. Miguel Arias Canete, head of the PP’s electoral committee and a former minister, said today markets need to give the party time, as ministers won’t be appointed until Dec. 21 and Spanish law doesn’t allow Parliament to resume any sooner than Dec. 13.
So NO QUICK FIX IN SPAIN IS POSSIBLE – let’s face that fact now so we’re not endlessly surprised by it as the rumor-mongers can now have a field day attacking the lame-duck outgoing Government ahead of the transition. Meanwhile, our own do-nothing Congress looks to be heading towards certain disaster as we have what appears to be a TOTAL FAILURE of the US Deficit Reduction Committee to do anything to actually reduce our deficit.
Now I don’t want to point fingers (cough, Republicans, cough, cough) ahead of our National Holiday that celebrates unity and goodwill and crap like that. Let’s just say "they" couldn’t agree, so now it’s going to be Hard Times for America as we, in theory, will kick in $1.2Tn of automatic cuts including (gasp!) over 5% of our nation’s Trillion-Dollar annual Defense budget. Oh, not until 2013, of course because our Government doesn’t really have the balls to cut anything under any circumstances.
by phil - November 17th, 2011 8:40 am
Wheeeee – isn’t this fun?
To paraphrase Lloyd Bridges in "Airplane" – looks like I picked the wrong week to short oil. We attempted to short oil at $100 and that did not work. Then we attempted to short it at $102 and that did not work but $103 finally worked like a charm this morning as Oil Futures (/CL) plunged back to $100 between 4am and 7:30.
The trick with playing the futures is to play them like a series of momentum trades with tight stops (see our Strategy Section) above a certain resistance point. As long as you manage your losses, you can simply re-enter at the next resistance and try again. For example, if you picked the $100 line yesterday to short with a stop at $100.10, loss of $100. Then the $102 line seemed like it would work but another $100 lost but $103 (we play the crosses back under, of course) became a huge winner, without a serious pullback until the bounce off $100 for a gain of $2,500-$3,000 – depending on how tightly you set your stops.
So far, the $100 line held up (only because the Dollar was slapped back down from 78.65 to 78.35) but there are still 86M barrels of oil open on the NYMEX and scheduled for December delivery. That’s right, as I predicted yesterday, 60M barrels worth of oil contracts scheduled for December delivery were cancelled yesterday in a blatant attempt to create an artificial supply shortage for oil in the US.
|Current Session||Prior Day||Opt’s|
by phil - October 13th, 2011 8:24 am
Wheeeee, what a ride!
I hate to say I told you so but I did tell you so in yesterday’s morning post when I said: "Not to be cynical but, if you are going to have some Slovakian Government officials torpedo a vote that will tank the markets – isn’t it a good idea to run them up first and bring in a bunch of suckers to sell to? We remain a bit skeptical until we get back over our "Must Hold" levels and hold them for more than a day." As you can see from David Fry’s chart, a little cynicism is a good thing in these markets as the Slovakian vote was delayed again and the FT rumor popped the day’s bubble.
We discussed shorting oil at $86 (now $84) and gold at $1,695 (now $1,670) as good plays off the morning pump and, as usual, shorting TLT was a winner but now we’re near their theoretical support by the Fed so we’d rather see a run-up to $120 before we play them again. At 1pm, we have a 30-year note auction of just $13Bn but, as I pointed out to Members in Chat, this makes $52.5Bn of 30-year borrowing since August 15th – that’s not even two months!
Who can keep funding this kind of debt load? And it’s not just the US that’s borrowing at an ever-increasing pace – the EU is borrowing as much as we are and Japan is borrowing and Russia is borrowing and Brazil and India are borrowing – Africa would borrow if anyone would lend it to them and our NAFTA buddies, Canada and Mexico, who also borrow about $50Bn a year to fund their own deficits.
How is it possible, a logical person may ask, for almost every single country in the World to run a deficit at the same time? Either A) China has so much of a surplus that they are funding everyone else or B) Everyone is printing money 24/7 to pay bills they don’t have the income for and, if B is the case – where’s the inflation? Is it really possible that, on a planet with a $60Tn GDP and a $4Tn annual deficit (and yes, half of it is ours!) that prices go up less than the 6.66% (why does that number come up so often) printing of…
by phil - September 26th, 2011 8:27 am
Up, up and away!
As I mentioned in Friday’s morning’s post, we did a lot of bottom-fishing on Thursday as we began to develop Disaster fatigue with long plays on XLF at $11.50, shorting TLT at $123, shorting VXX at $49.50, TNA at $34.50, BRK.B at $65, AA at $10.20, VLO at $19, IMAX at $15.75, BA at $58.32, AGQ at $170, CHK at $27.50, DIS at $30.14 and ABX at $47.50. They were hedged, of course and, for the most part, you still had a nice chance to make those entries on Friday – but not so much this morning as the futures are up about 1.5% already (7:30).
Friday morning, in my Alert to Members, I reminded them that BCS looked like an excellent VALUE to me, no matter what the PRICE was ($8.75 after hitting $8.40 the day before) and this morning, that PRICE is up well over 10% in EU trading. Did the VALUE of BCS change materially over the weekend? Of course not, certainly not by the $4Bn their market cap gained – like the song, the VALUE remains the same – only the highly variable price of a share of BCS is undergoing ch-ch-changes…
I pointed out similar hedged, long-term plays could be made on GS ($94), MS ($13), BAC ($6) and C ($24). Of course we hedged them per our discussion in the morning post (TZA was our morning choice but we’re out over 650 on the RUT) but then we went long on EWG (Germany) again with the very aggressive Oct $16,18 bull call spread at $1.30, offset by the sale of the $17 puts for .90 for net .40 on the $2 spread. 10 of those in our virtual $25,000 Portfolio cost $400 and can return $2,000 in less than 30 days if EWG is over $18 and, guess what – they’re over $18 this morning!
Another bullish bet we placed was USO Nov $28/30 bull call spread at $1.30, selling the $27 puts for $1.10 for net .20 on the $2 spread with a 900% upside if USO simply doesn’t drop from where it is now. That’s what’s nice about options – you don’t need the market to go up to make money good money. On this trade idea, your worst-case scenario is owning USO at net $27.20, about 10% lower than it…
by phil - September 23rd, 2011 8:35 am
What a disaster!
Of course, that’s why we have Disaster Hedges, right? August 11th was the last time we did a "Hedging for Disaster" post which included a LONG trade idea on gold that’s done now (we’re short) after gaining over 300%. We’re a little mixed in our results on the other hedges but that means we can SWITCH HORSES – from the trades that have already worked to the ones that haven’t yet. That’s how we cash out our winners on a regular basis – it’s the pony express of investing. Our other Disaster Hedges from that post were:
- DXD Oct $23 calls at $2, selling Oct $27 calls for $1.15 and the Oct $19 puts for .70 for net .10. That spread is currently -.05 so down 150% so far and a nice horse to switch to, offering a .05 credit on the $4 spread.
- FAZ Oct $65 calls at $22, selling Oct $72 calls for $20 and selling JPM 2013 $20 puts for $2.05 was a net .05 credit as a backstop to our long financial plays. FAZ is now at $71.34 and the October FAZ spread is now $3.70 but the JPM puts are now $3 so net .70 is only up 1,500% so far. Should the financials stay low, we get the full $7 from the spread and we’re obligated to buy JPM for $20 (now $29.27) in 2013.
- SDS Sept $26 calls at $3.20, selling Sept $32 calls for $1.65 and selling VLO Jan $15 puts for $1.20 for net .35. SDS is only at $25.73 so far (not a disaster yet) and the spread is now net $1.25 and the short VLO puts are .17 so net $1.08 on this one is up 208% and we’re not even at goal – that’s pretty good! Note the spread is LOWER than when we started so this can also be used as a fresh horse with a different offset, like X Jan $15 puts for $1.20 for a net .05 trade.
- TBT was stopped out with a small loss at $24 (fortunately). My comment at the time, with TBT at $24.88 was: "Keep in mind though, that the Fed has said rates will stay low through 2013 so it would be wise to uses stops on the puts, at least, if TBT fails to hold $24!"
by phil - September 21st, 2011 8:28 am
Strap in folks, it’s going to be another wild ride!
As you can see from Doug Short’s S&P chart,we are about to slam right into that collapsing 50-day moving average, now at 1,223.40 – right about where the S&P topped out on yesterday’s morning spike. Unfortunately, the Nasdaq topped out and headed down before the other indexes got a chance to complete their up cycle and the Dollar rose back over the 77.50 line and tanked the market – exactly as we predicted it would at the bottom of yesterday morning’s post.
Of course, I can’t MAKE these things happen – I can only tell you what’s going to happen and give you trade ideas to help you profit from it. I mentioned that we had picked up 10 DIA 9/30 $115.75 calls in our virtual $25,000 Portfolio at $1.05 on Monday and they topped out at $1.75 (up 66%) but we took a non-greedy exit at $1.45 in the morning spike (up 33%) and we switched to 20 QQQ 9/30 $57 calls at .45 in the afternoon sell-off. So, we made $350 off a $1,050 investment and then we spend $900 but now we have 20 contracts instead of 10 but we also have $450 in cash so now risking just $600 of our original investment on the much more volatile Fed day.
Another trade idea we like ahead of the Fed that’s still playable is 20 FAS weekly $13/14 bull call spreads at .38 ($760), selling 10 JPM Oct $28 put for .55 ($550) for net $210 invested on the 20 $1 spreads. The worst-case on this spread is owning JPM for net $28.10, which is 13% off the current price and the best case is a $1,790 profit (852%) in a week. That sounds like a lot but options let you do funny things like at 11:30 in Member Chat, we saw PCLN making new highs against news that we thought was not actually that good for them on closer examination. Our trade idea to take advantage of that was:
If you want to play PCLN bearish – it’s very risky but the weekly $565/555 bear put spread is $6 and you can sell the $565 calls for $4.70 for net $1.30 on the $10 spread. Oct $620s are $4.10 so your bet is
by phil - September 20th, 2011 8:28 am
Yay! Another crisis averted.
Well until next quarter, at least, when we can begin the "crisis" cycle all over again. As it stands, after much hand wringing yesterday, Greece will get the $11Bn they need to fund their nation for another 3 months. Yes, as I noted yesterday, this is not a typo – Greece needed $11Bn and the global markets gave up $1Tn in value because we weren’t sure if they were going to get it on Monday morning.
To meet their budget goals in a declining economy, Greece is being pressure to cut 100,000 public jobs by 2015. With just 11M people in Greece, cutting 100,000 jobs is like asking the US Government to cut 3M jobs – isn’t that insane? And by insane, of course, I mean – isn’t that the Republican platform? Yes, nothing say "economic recovery" like firing 3M people in this topsy-turvry World.
We expected this, of course, and we got very bullish with our picks yesterday morning and were handsomely rewarded into the close and hope to be even more handsomely rewarded this morning as QE FEVER once again takes over the nation (see November’s "POMO Fever" article to review the scam).
Interestingly, my main suggestion for playing QE2 last year was: "We can bet on inflation with our gold plays with potentials for 923%, 309%, 3,900%, 567%, 276% and 46%." Gold was "only" $1,300 last November and I was still enthusiastic about it at the time. Yesterday we shorted it with the GLD Nov $180/174 bear put spread at $3.30, selling $193 calls for $3 for a net .30 trade that bets gold won’t hold $2,000 through Thanksgiving.
Also different this year is that we are betting against TLT (also in yesterday’s main post) and we got fabulous prices for our short play yesterday as TLT ran all the way up to our goal at $115. As we got a nice sell-off at the open, my morning Alert to Members had trade ideas to go long on Oil Futures (/CL) off the $85 line (now $87, up $2,000 per contract) and we sold some DIA Oct $111 puts for $3.10 in the Income Portfolio, which are already down to $2.70 (up 13%) – simply following our rule of ALWAYS selling into the initial excitement.