Posts Tagged ‘program trading’

PLUNGE! 1987 Style Sudden Drop in US Stocks Driven by Program Trading and a Ponzi Market Structure

PLUNGE! 1987 Style Sudden Drop in US Stocks Driven by Program Trading and a Ponzi Market Structure


US equities were gripped by panic selling as the Dow plunged almost 1,000 points driven by a cascade of 100 share high frequency program trading, estimated to have been about 80% of volume. Gold rocketed higher to $1,210.

The stock exchange circuit breakers do not effectively apply after 2:30 PM NY time unless the market declines over 20% and they close the exchange for the day.

A bit of a detail perhaps, but it serves to enhance the convenient artificiality of today’s market break.

This is highly reminiscent of the 1987 crash driven by a flawed market structure based on automated trading and bad theories.

The entire stock market rally which we have seen this year off the February lows resembles a low volume Ponzi scheme, and formed a huge air pocket under prices.

This US equity rally was driven by technically oriented buying from the Banks and the hedge funds. There was and still is a lack of legitimate institutional buying at these price levels. This was machine driven speculation enabled by the lack of reform in a system riddled with corruption, from the bottom to the top.

This is yet another indication that the US regulatory and market oversight organizations, especially the SEC and CFTC, continue to be disconnected from and remarkably ineffective in their responsibilities in guarding the public against gross market abuse, price manipulation, and insiders playing games with cheap money supplied by the NY Fed.

And as you might expect, the anchors on financial television are trying to excuse and blame the sell off on a ‘fat finger’ order that caused Proctor and Gamble to drop 20 points in 45 seconds. Or a typist inputting an order to sell 16 million e-mini SP futures, and typing "B" instead of "M." Oops. Crashed the free world.

"Ordinarily, the financial risk in a market, and hence the risk to the economy at large, is limited because the assets traded are finite. There are only so many houses, mortgages, shares of stock, bushels of corn, [bars of silver], or barrels of oil in which to invest.

But a synthetic instrument has no real assets. It is simply a bet on the performance

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Goldman Principal-To-Agency Program Trading Ratio Hits Record 22x

Does a trading monopoly constitute insider trading, or just insider-like trading?  – Ilene

Goldman Principal-To-Agency Program Trading Ratio Hits Record 22x

Courtesy of Tyler Durden

It has been a while since we revisited Goldman’s domination of NYSE program trading courtesy of the SLP [supplemental liquidity providers]. For the past two months we have been waiting for additional information from the NYSE on what other firms are currently SLP vendors to the exchange. By the lack of any data from the NYSE we can only assume that Goldman is still the defacto monopolist in SLP, and in essence the primary privileged DMM on the NYSE. One wonders with liquidity "back to normal" when the NYSE, SEC and Goldman will agree to disassemble the SLP program so that the market can go back to its efficient old-school ways (this is rhetorical).

As the data suggests, Goldman Sachs & Co. now has a staggering 22-to-1 ratio of principal to agency transactions: in the last week Goldman traded 662 million shares in principal capacity (instead of blaming all of this on Goldman’s prop trading cash machine, we would love to be able to break down how much of this is attributable to SLP, but a reborn NYSE which believes in nothing but transparency will simply not provide that data). Taking into account GSEC adds another measly 10 million agency shares doesn’t change the big picture that out of the top 10 NYSE firms, Goldman trades the third lowest amount on an agency basis. Goldman’s casino is now not even pretending to trade on behalf of clients, as all of its money is made on FICC spreads and volumes (aka trading monopoly).

[click on chart to enlarge]

Maybe one of these days Goldman Sachs can do a philanthropic, non-profit seminar on how to ramp futures every single day in the 11pm-3am block. That, or how to use taxpayer money to pay for a trunk line straight into the Marriner Eccles buildling.


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Rosie On Who The Market Buyers Are

Rosie On Who The Market Buyers Are

who's buying stocks?Courtesy Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge

From this morning’s Breakfast With Dave:

Is it the private client? Not really — stock funds actually had net outflows of $1.33 billion last week, while bond funds enjoyed an $8.2 billion net inflow.

Is it corporate insiders? Well, heck no — Robert Toll (CEO of Toll Brothers) just disclosed that he sold a total 1.6 million shares of his company’s stock yesterday.

Is it buybacks? Not at all — in fact, S&P 500 companies bought back a mere $24.4 billion on stock repurchases in 2Q, down 72% from a year ago and the lowest in recorded history, according to Howard Silverblatt of Standard & Poor’s.

So who’s doing the buying? Very likely it is still a combination of program trading, short coverings and portfolio managers desperately trying to make up for last year’s epic losses.

The permabid is the new riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an HFT market enema.


In case you’re wondering, does Robert Toll know something?  Zero Hedge informs us on that too. Apparently, he’s out of the JP Morgan circle and is going to feel really silly if the stock hits $29 next year.

Bob Toll Does Not Front Run JP Morgan

Yesterday Bob Toll sells 1.6 million shares of TOL. Today JP Morgan upgrades the stock, raising its recommendation from Neutral to Overweight, and stock price from $17 to $29.

JP Morgan

What are the possible conclusions:

  1. Bob Toll is a hopeless fool who knows nothing about his company’s business prospects (unlikely)
  2. Bob Toll does not have access to the JPM research reports "huddle" (likely)
  3. A Rorschach test of JP Morgan analyst Michael Rehaut using the picture below reveals an answer of "a diamond in the rough" (near certainty)


Top Photo: Buying a book (David Livingstone) by The London Missionary Society, at Wikimedia. 


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High Frequency Trading: Wall Street’s New Rent-Seeking Trick

We’ve been following the HFT story since Zero Hedge first shed light on this unfair practice and noted that the market is increasingly dominated by program trading between investment banks. The article below from Money Morning shows that this issue has finally become well-known and market participants are seeking solutions. High Frequency Trading

Consider Phil’s example from Wednesday’s market update: 

"The lack of a retrace was getting downright unhealthy.  As I often complain – rapid rises in the market, especially when accomplished through what we call “stick saves” create virtual air pockets in stock prices and make investing more and more dangerous as we move up.  A simple example I use for members is to imagine the stock market has just 100 total shares.  In March, those 100 shares were worth $1,000 and there was $1,000 sitting on the sidelines in cash.  Shares are bought and sold every day but it doesn’t really matter as they are never all bought or all sold.  The bottom line is that perhaps 25% of the cash actually moved off the sidelines but the market has gained 50% since March.  Where does that leave us?  Well that means we now have 100 shares of stock “worth” $1,500 but now there is only $750 on the sidelines to buy it.

That makes it exponentially harder to move the market higher as the values grow as it takes more and more sideline capital to grow the market each day… In fact, the entire expansion of “value” of the market is an illusion as it WAS possible in March to exchange 100% of the stocks for the cash on the sidelines for $1,000 (assuming everyone on the sidelines would make the trade).  Now that we have USED 25% of the sideline money to inflate the apparent value of the stocks, we have a serious problem because, even if EVERY SINGLE DOLLAR of sideline capital were exchanged for stocks in a panic sale, there is only enough to pay out 50% of the market’s current ‘value.’"

So, are HFT programs being used to increase the price of stocks on a daily basis? How? If, for example, GS keeps the bid artificially high and moving higher in its program trading, stock prices will rise due to GS’s volume dominance. Stock prices keep rising, but not because each
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Paul Wilmott: “High-Frequency Trading May Increasingly Destabilize The Market”

Paul Wilmott: "High-Frequency Trading May Increasingly Destabilize The Market" 

Tyler Durden's picture

Paul Wilmott is a legend in quant circles: his website, which Zero Hedge highly recommends to all readers for an in depth analysis on all things that are below the surface of the market, is one of the most popular resources dealing with the constantly changing topology of our increasingly more complex equity capital markets. Simply said, his opinion on matters in program and high-frequency trading is second to none.

Which is why we read his latest Op-Ed in the New York Times today, Hurrying Into The Next Panic, very carefully. His piece is a stunner – in summary, and in agreement with what Hedge discussed at length many months ago (we suggest readers familiarize themselves with this ZH piece as it is the one that started it all, and also explains partially our fascination with VWAP), Paul sees HFT as a force that is tantamount to what index arb and "dynamic portfolio insurance" was in the crash of 1987.

Thus the problem with the sudden popularity of high-frequency trading is that it may increasingly destabilize the market. Hedge funds won’t necessarily care whether the increased volatility causes stocks to rise or fall, as long as they can get in and out quickly with a profit. But the rest of the economy will care.

This argument goes to the real heart of the problem with HFT – the monopolization of liquidity provisioning, and the complicit nature of both exchanges and specific broker/dealers who are willing to usurp this "liquidity=volume" fallacy in exchange for perpetuating the $20+ billion revenue stream spread among a minute number of market participants. As such, Zero Hedge increasingly believes that what Goldman does on the NYSE (for example) is not so much an SEC issue (ignore the fact that the SEC is about 10 years behind the curve on this topic) but is in actuality an anti-trust concern.

Here is Zero Hedge’s 2 cents: Christine Varney, forget about Google for one day and instead focus on what is easily the scariest, stealthiest, and potentially most expensive anti-trust issue in American society (and history) – that of HFT’s increasingly monopolizing capital markets.

All this other talk about Flash frontrunning is for all

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SP Futures Hourly Chart at 2:30 EDT

SP Futures Hourly Chart at 2:30 EDT

Jesse's Cafe AmericainCourtesy of Jesse’s Café Américain

Some short term indicators are flashing that we are nearing at least a short term top. There is also indication of distribution of stock here by insiders to the public, which is also an indication of a possible top. This judgement is based on many charts and indicators not shown here.

Having said that, our discipline will not prompt us to do any seriously non-hedged shorting until the ‘trendline’ Key Pivot is violated at least on a daily close, and then confirmed by a move lower.

The market is rising on thin volumes, and unless the sellers come back in, it can continue to drift higher on program trading and short squeezes.

We are within two weeks of a potential ‘crash window’ where a final top will be made, and a selloff with a significant leg lower will be seen into the end of year. The window is a bit wide for now, a six week period starting around August 17th. We will hope to tighten that up by the end of July.

This is only a probability, not a hard forecast. But it has us edgy to be on the long side, even in precious metals miners, without hedging a general market decline. The Cashflow in the market is looking a bit stretched. We may have to wait until later in earnings season for this to shake out.

In sum, the markets seem ‘precarious’ and unstable to us, but not enough to jump in front of the market to the bear side yet. 

As an aside, we are seeing quite an increase in ‘screwy fills’ on the bid ask level II where fills on the retail side seem to be made ‘out of bounds’ of the usual bid/ask action.

We do not use market orders normally and would not suggest them here for those that do. The market makers are shaving fills and front running perhaps although that is harder to spot except on the thinly traded stocks where other issues may come into play.

But we are seeing far too many fills BELOW our limit bids on some stocks to believe this market is functioning normally.

[Click on chart to enlarge]


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The Latest Wall Street Trading Scam That Costs You Billions

The Latest Wall Street Trading Scam That Costs You Billions

Courtesy of Henry Blodget at Clusterstock

craps player, gambling, clusterstock's photoA paper has been going around that describes a startling new world of high-velocity computerized trading that causes volume and volatility to soar and costs ordinary investors billions of dollars.

The paper, Toxic Equity Trading On Wall Street, appears to have been published late last year by Sal Arnuk and Joseph Saluzzi from a firm called Themis Trading.  (One word of caution: We have not yet verified a single assertion made in the paper, and we had not heard of Themis Trading.  We would be grateful if those of you with insight into this would help us understand the real facts here.)

The paper is embedded below (you can also download it at Themis’s web site).  Here, in brief, is the world it describes:

Many trading orders these days are executed by computers.  Like human traders, the computers break big orders into small chunks (say, 100 or 500 shares) and then match them with orders on electronic stock exchanges.  The reason the orders are broken into chunks is so they won’t move the market too much.  Stock trading is relatively illiquid, and big orders can drive the price of a stock sharply up or down.  Since the dawn of Wall Street time, clever traders have tried to hide the amount of stock they ultimately want to buy or sell to avoid having their own orders move the market sharply against them.

In recent years, such "algorithmic" electronic trading execution has grown in popularity, and a number of electronic trading strategies have sprung up to exploit it. 

In one of these strategies, called "liquidity rebate trading," a program analyzes the incoming order flow on an electronic exchange to try to spot a big institutional order that is just hitting the market (apparently this is relatively easy to do).  The program then front-runs the order by modestly outbidding the institution for the stock and then turning around and selling it to the institution at a higher price than the institution would have otherwise paid.

Front-running is an age-old cheating technique: A trading firm gets a big order from a client and, before it executes it, buys some of the same stock for itself.  Front-running is, in fact, what many Wall Street insiders thought Bernie Madoff was doing before they discovered he…
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Buddy, Can You Spare $5 Trillion?

Is Japan turning into Zimbabwe?  And if you see green shoots after this one, let me know what you’re drinking! 

Buddy, Can You Spare $5 Trillion?

$5 trillion shortfall, need a drinkCourtesy of John Mauldin

This Is Outrageous
The Land of the Setting Sun
Buddy, Can You Spare $5 Trillion?

There is no doubt that the US is in financial trouble. Those talking of a strong recovery are just not dealing with reality. But the US is in better shape than a lot of countries. This week, we begin by looking at Japan. I have written for years about how large their debt-to-GDP ratio is, yet they keep on issuing more debt and seemingly getting away with it. But now, several factors are conspiring to create real problems for the Land of the Rising Sun. They may soon run into a very serious-sized wall. And it is not just Japan. Where will the world find $5 trillion to finance government debt? We look at some very worrisome graphs. Those in the US who think that what happens in the rest of the world doesn’t matter just don’t get it. There is a lot to cover in what will be a very interesting letter. I suggest removing sharp objects or pouring yourself a nice adult beverage.

This Is Outrageous

But first, I want to direct the attention of those in the US finance industry to a white paper written by Themis Trading, called "Toxic Equity Trading Order Flow on Wall Street." Basically, they outline why volume and volatility have jumped so much since 2007; and it’s not due to the credit crisis. They estimate that 70% of the volume in today’s markets is from high-frequency program trading. They outline how large brokers and funds can buy and sell a stock for the same price and still make 0.5 cents. Do that a million times a day and the money adds up. Or maybe do it 8 billion times. It requires powerful computers, complicity of the exchanges (because the exchanges get paid a lot), and highly proximate computer connections. Literally, the need for speed is so important that to play this game you have to have your servers physically at the exchange. Across the river in New Jersey is too slow. Forget Texas or California. This is a game played out in microseconds.

The retail world doesn’t get…
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Goldman: Pwned?

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Goldman SachsGoldman: Pwned?

Courtesy of Karl Denninger at The Market Ticker

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Is A Case Of Quant Trading Sabotage About To Destroy Goldman Sachs

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Is A Case Of Quant Trading Sabotage About To Destroy Goldman Sachs?

Courtesy of Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge

Major developing story: Matt Goldstein over at Reuters may have just broken a story that could spell doom if not [for] the entire Goldman Sachs program trading group, then at least those who deal with "low latency (microseconds) event-driven market data processing, strategy, and order submissions." Visions of swirling, gray storm clouds over Goldman’s SLP and hi-fi traders begin to form.

Back-up: This week’s NYSE Program Trading report was very odd: not only because program trading hit 48.6% of all NYSE trading, a record high at least since the NYSE has kept tabs on this data, and a datapoint which in itself was startling enough to cause some serious red flags as I jaunt from village to village in what little is left of Europe’s bison country, but what was shocking was the disappearance of the #1 mainstay of complete trading domination (i.e., Goldman Sachs) from not just the aforementioned #1 spot, but the entire complete list. In other words: Goldman went from 1st to N/A in one week.

Even more odd, this "disappearance" comes hot on the heels of what Zero Hedge reported could be potentially a major change to the way the NYSE provides its weekly program trading report. Of course, Ray over at the NYSE immediately replied to Zero Hedge that all was going to be same as always … Odd, maybe he meant that all is back to normal except the reporting of Goldman’s trades. Either way, it might very well be time for proactive readers to again contact the two employees publicly disclosed by the NYSE as lead-contacts on the issue.  Readers will recall that it was these same two who were previously steadfastly assuring anyone who would listen that there would be no change at all in data reporting.

Robert Airo, Senior Vice President, NYSE Euronext at (212) 656-5663 or
Aleksandra Radakovic, Vice President, NYSE Regulation at (212) 656-4144

Alas, the just released weekly data proves that either theirs was a material misrepresentation of facts, or Goldman simply suddenly decided to stop transacting with the

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Zero Hedge

It's The Entrepreneur That Saves An Economy - Not The Fed

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Authored by Mark St.Cyr,

Once again via a stunningly dismal monthly “jobs” report we were shown just how inept the Federal Reserve is in its ability to deliver a qualitative as well as quantitative resolution to one of its core mandates. Only if you use the “math” now prevalent (as well as rampant) within economics can one look at any part of it and say “the economy is creating jobs” without bursting out in laughter, or, busting out in tears.

Yet, just when one thinks it couldn’t get any worse, all one needs to hear is an explanation fr...

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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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Phil's Favorites

Fraudulent Medicare, Medicaid, EITC, Tax Refunds, etc. Total $1 Trillion Since 2003

Courtesy of Mish.

A huge chunk of your tax dollars every year goes straight into the pockets of crooks. Nearly one in three earned income credits (EIC) is fraudulent. And the numbers keep getting bigger every year according to the Government Accountability Office.

Please consider GAO: Feds Made Nearly $1 Trillion in Overpayments Since Fiscal 2003.
Government waste took a significant turn for the worse in fiscal 2014, rising dramatically to $124.7 billion from $105.8 billion in fiscal 2013.

Since fiscal 2003, “cumulative improper payment estimates have totaled almost $1 trillion,” the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a new report.

U.S. Comptroller General Gen...

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Market News

News You Can Use From Phil's Stock World


Financial Markets and Economy

Taking Intelligent Risks: How To Stay In The Trading Game (Trader Feed)

You have to risk money to make money.  You have to make sure you don't risk so much money that you can lose your stake and go out of business as a trader.  Bet too little and you never make a good return on your capital.  Bet too much and you court career risks.  So much of trading success boils down to taking intelligent risks.

Here is a useful calculation tool that can tell you the probability of hitting a drawdown threshold.  


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Chart School

SP500 Wyckoff Review

Courtesy of Read the Ticker.

Review of the SP500, pre Oct 2015, fire fighting the technical damage.

More from RTT Tv

NOTE: does allow users to load objects and text on charts, however some annotations are by a free third party image tool named

Investing Quote...

.."Your goals are to select only stocks that move soonest, fastest and farthest in bull or bear markets. Limited losses and let profits run."..

Richard D Wyckoff

..“Don’t try to buy at the bottom and sell at the top. It can’t be done except by liars.”..


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Kimble Charting Solutions

Opportunity Friday…What would you do with these Opportunities?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

Opportunities are knocking at our door friends! I’ve been sharing the Power of the Pattern with customers for the past 20-years. In my humble opinion, some really nice opportunities (based on price, momentum and sentiment) are forming for investors around the world. Below is two of the dozens of rare patterns I am seeing, that I wanted to share with you today.

What would you do with this opportunity?


As shared above, this asset has fallen around 35% of late. The decline has taken it down to its 4-year rising channel support l...

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Swing trading portfolio - week of September 28th, 2015

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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Sector Detector: No rate hike translates into heightened wall of worry

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

Courtesy of Sabrient Systems and Gradient Analytics

The Fed’s decision to not raise the fed funds rate at this time was ultimately taken by the market as a no-confidence vote on our economic health, which just added to the fear and uncertainty that was already present. Rather than cheering the decision, market participants took the initial euphoric rally as a selling opportunity, and the proverbial wall of worry grew a bit higher. Nevertheless, keep in mind that markets prefer to climb a wall of worry rather than ride a crowded bandwagon, and I continue to envision higher levels for the markets after further backing-and-filling and testing of support levels (perhaps even including the August lows).


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Some Hedge Funds "Hedged" During Stock Market Sell Off, Others Not As Risk Focused

By Mark Melin. Originally published at ValueWalk.

With the VIX index jumping 120 percent on a weekly basis, the most in its history, and with the index measuring volatility or "fear" up near 47 percent on the day, one might think professional investors might be concerned. While the sell off did surprise some, certain hedge fund managers have started to dip their toes in the water to buy stocks they have on their accumulation list, while other algorithmic strategies are actually prospering in this volatile but generally consistently trending market.

Stock market sell off surprises some while others were prepared and are hedged prospering

While so...

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Baxter's Spinoff

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

Baxter Int. (BAX) is splitting off its BioSciences division into a new company called Baxalta. Shares of Baxalta will be given as a tax-free dividend, in the ratio of one to one, to BAX holders on record on June 17, 2015. That means, if you want to receive the Baxalta dividend, you need to buy the stock this week (on or before June 12).

The Baxalta Spinoff

By Ilene with Trevor of Lowenthal Capital Partners and Paul Price

In its recent filing with the SEC, Baxter provides:

“This information statement is being ...

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Mapping The Market

An update on oil proxies

Courtesy of Jean-Luc Saillard

Back in December, I wrote a post on my blog where I compared the performances of various ETFs related to the oil industry. I was looking for the best possible proxy to match the moves of oil prices if you didn't want to play with futures. At the time, I concluded that for medium term trades, USO and the leveraged ETFs UCO and SCO were the most promising. Longer term, broader ETFs like OIH and XLE might make better investment if oil prices do recover to more profitable prices since ETF linked to futures like USO, UCO and SCO do suffer from decay. It also seemed that DIG and DUG could be promising if OIH could recover as it should with the price of oil, but that they don't make a good proxy for the price of oil itself. 


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Watch the Phil Davis Special on Money Talk on BNN TV!

Kim Parlee interviews Phil on Money Talk. Be sure to watch the replays if you missed the show live on Wednesday night (it was recorded on Monday). As usual, Phil provides an excellent program packed with macro analysis, important lessons and trading ideas. ~ Ilene


The replay is now available on BNN's website. For the three part series, click on the links below. 

Part 1 is here (discussing the macro outlook for the markets) Part 2 is here. (discussing our main trading strategies) Part 3 is here. (reviewing our pick of th...

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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!

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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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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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