A second consecutive down day for shares in airline stocks spurred heavy trading traffic in options across the largest market-cap names, including United Continental Holdings, Inc. (Ticker: UAL), Delta Air Lines, Inc. (Ticker: DAL), American Airlines Inc. (Ticker: AAL), and JetBlue Airways Corporation (Ticker: JBLU). Shares in these air carriers are down roughly 6.0%, 5.0%, 5.5% and 4.0%, respectively, as of the time of this writing amid higher oil prices and in the wake of Lufthansa’s cut to its 2014 profit guidance on Wednesday.
Options on American Airlines and Delta Air Lines are seeing the most volume overall with more than 55,000 contracts traded on each, while JetBlue is experiencing the highest volume relative to its average daily options volume. Volume in JBLU options is nearing 40,000 contracts just before midday in New York, which is approximately four times its average daily reading of around 9,200 contracts.
Meanwhile, smaller air carrier, Hawaiian Holdings, Inc. (Ticker: HA), Hawaii’s biggest and longest-serving airline, with a market cap of around $816 million (vs. roughly $33 billion market-cap for Delta Air Lines and $29 billion for American Airlines), also attracted heavier than usual options activity. Upwards of 4,100 contracts have changed hands on Hawaiian Holdings as of 11:30 am ET, which compares to average daily volume for the stock of around 640 contracts. Shares in HA are down 3.5% on the session at $14.65 as of the time of this writing. Hawaiian shares on Monday of this week traded up to a record high of $16.49.
As the chart below shows, shares in the air carriers mentioned have lost some altitude lately, but the stocks are still up, in some cases significantly, for the most recent six month period.
Chart – Six-month chart of AAL, DAL, UAL, JBLU & HA
Wasn't it just 2 days ago that the EU was all set to pop the ESM to $1.25Tn and the IMF was going to add another Trillion and the Fed was talking about more QE in the $1.25Tn range, which plunged the Dollar to multi-week lows? Shouldn't adding 6% of the entire planet's GDP in additional stimulus give us more than a one-day pop in the markets?
As I pointed out in Monday's Morning Alert to Members – these are all just RUMORS and my conclusion in the Alert was:
Despite the bullish turn of events (which we anticipated last week) we're more inclined to cash out our bullish trades into the excitement and press our bear bets and TOMORROW, if we're still over our levels – THEN we will scramble to add some aggressive bullish trades to our virtual portfolios. Again, I cannot stress enough that CASH is my preferred position because this market is tough to call and you need to be very flexible and very nimble to trade it.
We proceeded as planned and, so far, we haven't had any reason to capitulate and get more bullish and that is both surprising and disappointing as this is the end of the first quarter of 2012 – if not now – when? As David Fry notes:
Monday’s rally was typical as we head toward the end of the quarter. Hedge fund performance fees are on the line and any way to boost these profits is job one. Top holdings for hedge funds include the usual suspects: AAPL, IBM, INTC, BAC, DIS, HD etc.
With little volume it’s easy for algos and hedge funds to prop stocks on little hard news. Tuesday we briefly saw more of this. Just as markets were weakening a story appeared using the Fed’s favorite oracle, the WSJ, as Fed governor Rosengren stated, “more stimulus is on the table”. Immediately HFT algos jumped and markets rose if only briefly.
It's very exciting for us as PLCN (see Thursday's notes) went all the way up to $736 on Monday and sold off on some pretty heavy trading yesterday. Slowly but surely, our negative premise is beginning to take shape as Piper Jaffray is finally catching up with us and noting "a sharp decline in unique visitors to Priceline's booking.com" from growth of 61 percent during the…
The Refik Saydam National Public Health Agency has released 29 HA [hemagglutinin] sequences from Ankara, Turkey. Several were partial sequences, but 26 covered the receptor binding domain and 8 had D225E,… while one had D225N,…
My comment: D225 is the most common or wild-type receptor binding protein - the hemagglutinin (HA) protein – which enables the virus to bind to tissues in the respiratory tract of infected people.
A change in the amino acid in position 225 of the receptor binding domain (RBD) is symbolized by using the letter representing the new amino acid, e.g. "G" for glycine in "D225G." The marker D225G signifies that a glycine (G) is present in the 225 position, replacing the amino acid usually in this position, aspartic acid, or D (hence the wild-type marker is "D225"). Glutamic acid, E, and asparagine, N, are two other amino acids that have been found in this position in non-wild-type swine flu viruses.
The change in the receptor binding protein from D to G alters the protein’s preference for binding to human tissues. Viruses with the D225G marker bind in the lung tissue, rather than binding in the upper respiratory tract (nasal area and throat), the more typical target. This appears to result in more severe disesase which may trigger a "cytokine storm" reaction in the lungs. Whether substitution with "E" or "N" causes similar changes is not known. Theoretically, if the immune response is generated against the wild-type protein D225, viruses with D225G, D225E or D225N markers might avoid the immune system’s response.
[Back to Dr. Niman] The outcomes of these patients were not given but media reports have described a rapid in increase in H1N1 fatalities in Turkey. A large number of HA sequences with D225E has been published from Spain, and recently released GISAID sequences from Sweden and the UK also have D225E, including three fatal cases from Sweden. The prior reports of D225G and D225N associations with fatal cases has raised concerns that changes at position 225 could alter tissue tropism or aid in immune escape, leading to more severe and fatal cases.
DRYS DryShips, Inc. – The drybulk carrier’s share price rally of more than 25% to $6.94 breathes new life into DryShips’ sails today amid an upgrade to ‘outperform’ from ‘market perform’ by an analyst at Oppenheimer & Co. this morning. The company has also managed to raise $500 million via equity offering that it plans to use to decrease its massive debt. Option investors saluted the bullish news by purchasing calls in the May contract. At the May 7.5 strike price 7,300 calls were picked up for an average premium of 59 cents apiece. Shares need only rise by an additional 7% in order for the May 7.5 strike calls to land in-the-money by expiration next month. More optimistic traders selected the May 9.0 strike and bought 3,000 calls for about 28 cents per contract. Another positive sign for the cargo-carrier was the sale of 1,400 puts at the May 6.0 strike price for 74 cents each as some investors hope that shares remain above the breakeven on the trade at $5.26 by expiration. While much of the activity we observed was bullish in the May contract, we did notice that some downside protection was sought at the May 7.5 strike price as about 2,100 in-the-money puts were picked up at an average premium of 1.55 each.
XTO XTO Energy, Inc. – Shares of the oil and gas exploration company have rallied by more than 3% to $35.20. XTO edged onto our ‘most active by options volume’ market scanner after one investor took profits by closing a short put position. It appears that this individual originally established a short position on March 11, 2009, by selling 19,500 puts at the August 22.5 strike price for a premium of 1.86 apiece. Today, he purchased the lot of 19,500 puts at the same strike for an average price of 75 cents apiece. The difference between the two put premiums yields this investor 1.11 today for closing the position. It looks as though he plans to once again profit from a similar trade as he sold 15,000 puts at the August 26 strike price for an average premium of 1.35 apiece.
LGF Lions Gate Entertainment Corporation – The diversified independent producer and distributor of motion pictures jumped to the top of our ‘hot by options volume’ market scanner after one investor…
Look at those wonderful jobs numbers. It’s like a beautiful house where, hidden from view, termites are quietly and insidiously, slowly but surely, eating away at its structural elements. Eventually the building just starts falling apart and must be condemned.
The seasonally adjusted headline number for nonfarm payroll jobs added in February was 295,000. The consensus estimate of Wall Street conomists had been for a gain of 240,000. That beat of 55,000 was enough to surprise the hell out of the market and not in a good way, as I had warned based on the weekly jobless claims and re...
This morning's release of the February employment report surprised to the upside on new nonfarm jobs, and the unemployment rate dropped from 5.7% to 5.5%. But good economic news freaked out the market, with pundits jabbering about the increased odds of a Fed rate hike. The S&P 500 dropped at the open and sold off through the day, closing with a 1.42% decline. The tally for the week was a 1.58% loss. It remains in the green year-to-date by a fractional 0.60%.
Not surprisingly, Treasuries plunged. The yield on the 10-year note closed at 2.24%, up 13 bps from yesterday's close and up 36 bps from its 2015 low at the beginning of February. That equates to a 21.4% rise in yield.
Here is a 15-minute chart of the last five sessions.
Chris Kimble shared his chart of the Utilities Select Sector SPDR ETF, XLU, with us.
The one month performance inset shows XLU’s uninspiring performance compared to every other ETF on the list. However, the rather steep bullish falling wedge pattern says that it may be time for a bounce.
[Click on chart to enlarge]
Chris likes XLU for a short-term bounce off the 200 day moving average at $44. One way to play this setup is to buy the XLU outright. Chris suggests a 3% stop loss on the shares.
Another bullish play is to use options in a strategy designed by Phil:
Options volume on Alibaba Group Holdings is poised to end at the session at approximately three times the average daily level, with volume in BABA contracts approaching 300,000 contracts versus average daily volume of 105,000 contracts and less than 30 minutes to go before the closing bell. Shares in BABA are down 3.0% as of the time of this writing to stand at $81.50, off the intraday and fresh 52-week low of $80.03 set earlier this afternoon.
Across all available expiries, the 80.0 strike put options are seeing notable activity, with cumulative volume in excess of 30,000 contracts. As for trading in BABA...
Despite low trading volume, a strong dollar, mixed economic and earnings reports, paralyzing weather conditions throughout much of the U.S., and ominous global news events, stocks continue to march ever higher. The world remains on edge about potential Black Swan events from the likes of Russia, Greece, or ISIS (or lone wolf extremists). Moreover, the economic recovery of the U.S. may be feeling the pull of the proverbial ball-and-chain from the rest of the world’s economies. Nevertheless, awash in investable cash, global investors see few choices better than U.S. equities.
In this weekly update, I give my view of the current market environment, offer a technical analysis of the S&P 500 chart, review our weekly fundamentals-based SectorCast rankings of the ten U.S. business sectors, and then ...
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PSW Members - well, what a year for biotechs! The Biotech Index (IBB) is up a whopping 40%, beating the S&P hands down! The healthcare sector has had a number of high flying IPOs, and beat the Tech Sector in total nubmer of IPOs in the past 12 months. What could go wrong?
Phil has given his Secret Santa Inflation Hedges for 2015, and since I have been trying to keep my head above water between work, PSW, and baseball with my boys...it is time that something is put together for PSW on biotechs in 2015.
Cancer and fibrosis remain two of the hottest areas for VC backed biotechs to invest their monies. A number of companies have gone IPO which have drugs/technologies that fight cancer, includin...
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 email@example.com 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.
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