by phil - October 18th, 2012 8:03 am
EU leaders are meeting in Brussels today and tomorrow.
For anyone who's been paying attention for the last two years – that's usually not a good thing and, as we noted yesterday, it was a strong Euro and a weak Dollar that was driving our little rally. The Dollar bottomed out at 79 and the Euro topped out at $1.314 and the Euro's strength sent the Yen back up to 79.30 to the Dollar (weaker) and that led to a 2% Nikkei rally last night. As you can see from the chart on the right, the S&P for the week is 1% behind UK and Germany and 2.5% behind France and Italy (+4%) and Spain (+7%) – so we have a lot of catching up to do if this rally is real and sustainable.
Still, I sent out an Alert to Members early this morning noting that the Global Markets were holding up well as of 6am and that was encouraging. Yesterday we discussed taking advantage of the run-up in the Russell to make a TZA hedge to lock in some of our gains (see main post) but we still haven't covered XLF (target $16.50 – see Dave Fry's chart) and we're still bullish on AAPL as well. We cashed that ISRG play, as planned for $9 on the spreads (200x = $1,800), spending .30 x 200 ($60) to buy back the callers so that, with the $200 we were paid to take the position is just short of our $2,000 goal at net $1,960 – not bad for a day's "work".
In Member Chat this morning, we discussed GOOG's outlook for earnings this evening and decided they were more likely topping than popping so we have that risk to the Nasdaq for tomorrow. IBM was an 80-point drag on the Dow yesterday but it did manage to finish flat and advancers led decliners on the NYSE by 2:1 so the conditions are still there for a rally and hopefully what we have here a a pause that refreshes and not a triple top from the mid-September highs.
The Nasdaq and the Russell are, in fact, in downtrending channels and, for the Nasdaq, their fate rests on GOOG tonight and AAPL next Thursday – but it's still a long way back to the highs at 3,200.
by phil - September 14th, 2012 8:28 am
$85Bn a month!
Oh boy was I wrong when I said Ben Bernanke wasn't crazy enough to ease into a bull market. Yesterday, he exercised the full power of the Federal Reserve to confiscate your wealth and hand it over to the bankers. That's right, by engaging in what many consider reckless money-printing practices and announcing there is no end in sight, Bernanke caused the Dollar to fall below 79, down from 84 (6%) before all this QE talk began.
That's like taking all $100Tn worth of US Assets – everything you worked for your entire life – and just devaluing them by 6%. Many of our Conservative friends decry the 1% tax on wealth imposed by the French – but at least they are honest about it. At least they debate it and vote on it. Not Bern Bernanke – the Federal Reserve Chairman simply decrees that you will contribute 6% of your dollar-denominated assets towards more bank bail-out and there's no cut-off if you are below the top 2% – this is a confiscation from every man, woman and child in America.
How far down will Dr. Bernanke take your Dollars? That's the beauty of it – there's no limit! He warned Corporate America yesterday that he will continue to give them FREE MONEY as long as they keep refusing to hire more workers. The less American workers they hire – the more money he will give them. Sure, they can hire and spend overseas (most are) because that won't affect US unemployment rates but, if they start hiring Americans – THAT's when he will begin to take away the punch bowl.
See how this scam works?
It is hard to see how another round of QE would help the economy. Long-term interest rates are already at historic lows. With rates this low, even if QE put effective downward pressure on rates — a dubious proposition — the economy would be unlikely to benefit. If a 3.5% mortgage rate is of little consequence, there is no reason to believe that a 3.4% or even 3.3% rate would suddenly produce results.
Nor would quantitative easing result in a burst of money creation, as per traditional monetary policy, because the Fed now pays a quarter-point interest on excess bank reserves. With little growth in the demand 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 Option Review - July 12th, 2012 2:50 pm
Today’s tickers: SVU, KR & IYR
SVU - Supervalu, Inc. – Investors lost their appetite for shares in the third-largest U.S. grocer today, sending the stock down 48% to $2.76 after the company suspended its dividend, reported first quarter earnings and sales that missed estimates and said it will explore alternatives for the business. Options activity on Supervalu exploded on the news, with volume exceeding 65,000 contracts versus the stock’s average daily options volume of 4,722 contracts. Puts are changing hands around 1.5 times for each call options in play so far today. Buyers of more than 8,000 puts at the July $3.0 strike for a premium of $0.30 apiece this morning may profit at expiration next week if shares continue to spiral down. Bearish positioning in the Oct. $2.0 strike put, where a block of 5,000 contracts were picked up at a premium of $0.30 each, suggests one strategist may profit if the stock loses another 40% of its value within the next few months to expiration. Contrarian players are also leaving footprints across SVU options today, with around 6,100 calls at the July $3.0 strike purchased at a premium of $0.21 each earlier in the trading session. Shares in Supervalu would need to rebound 16% off the low of $2.76 in order for call buyers to make money at expiration next week.
KR - Kroger Co. – Shares in Kroger are down in sympathy with Supervalu today, trading lower by 3.95% to stand at $21.91 as of 12:45 p.m. in New York. Options on SVU’s competitors in the supermarket space are far more active than usual today, including options on Kroger. Volume currently stands at 5,000 contracts versus average daily options volume of 429 contracts. Trading traffic in options set to expire in January of 2013 points to continued volatility in the grocer’s shares. It looks like one trader purchased around 1,300 calls at the Jan. 2013 $22 strike for a premium of…
by phil - July 3rd, 2012 8:28 am
As I said yesterday, we're still looking "constructively bullish" on our Big Chart as long as we hold those lines:
Looks can, of course, be deceiving. Keep in mind that this entire pop to form the right-hand top of a very nasty "M" pattern, that can take us right back to the June lows by the end of the month, is the result of the G20 holding hands and singing Kum Ba Yah – along with a few hundred Billion in extra stimulus and, of course, RULE CHANGES that create stealth stimulus.
So, when you have a leak in a $60Tn pool and the water level is down to $55Tn and you pour in $12Tn worth of stimulus and, 3 years later, the water level is only back to $59Tn – do you say "all we need is another Trillion and we're done" or should you be looking for the leak that continues to drain $8Tn over 3 years from the Global Economic Swimming Pool?
If we don't address the problem (unemployment, inadequate tax collections) – we're never going to find a lasting solution, are we?
On the other hand, if your pool is leaking at a rate of $8Tn over 3 years, that's "only" $222Bn a month so any month you dump more than $222Bn worth of Global Stimulus into the pool, you will see the economic levels rising and you can declare things to be "fixed" and all the bulls can jump in and play again until the next time the activity levels get dangerously close to the line at which the pumps seize up and then we have more meetings and do it all over again.
We have to accept the fact that our "leaders" are unwilling or unable to fix the actual leak and this is essentially the cycle we will have to put up with. If we assume we have an infinite amount of stimulus to keep pumping our economic pool back up – then this system is just fine but, judging from the way they had to scrape up this recent few hundred Billion – do we even have enough ($1.2Tn) fresh water to get us through the end of the year?
by phil - July 2nd, 2012 7:13 am
Now we need follow-through.
I think we've already blown the opportunity. In Stock World Weekly we discussed the stealth bailouts jammed into the Transportation bill on Friday which rightly sent the markets flying higher into the close of the quarter (I know quelle suprise!). As noted by David Fry, GS was working hard behind the scenes to make sure that, in the end, Germany toe'd the line.
For the year so far, the Dow is up 3.89%, S&P is up 6.66% (so you KNOW Goldman is involved), the Nasdaq is up 10.81%, NYSE 2.33% (all of it gained on Friday) and the Russell 6.15%. See how great everything is?
We took the money and ran, again, as we hit some clear resistance lines (see SWW) on our Big Chart and there was no sense risking a 10% gain in our first week in our new $25,000 Portfolio with the July 4th holiday coming up (we have a half-day tomorrow and we're closed on Wednesday).
The only trades we left active in the $25KP was 5 OIH July $35 calls at $1.25 (still $1.25), 10 DIA July $129 calls at $1.10 (now $1.35) and 10 SQQQ July $49/53 bull call spreads at $1 (now .75) we added later in the day to protect them in case we had a big dip this week. If we make it through Friday above the lines on our Big Chart – then we will continue to be "constructively bullish" and we'll be happy to deploy more cash but, into 2 days off – NO THANKS!
In fact, as we're already up 22% on the DIA calls – if we get another pop this morning, those are likely to come off the table as well. After all, how much money should you expect to make in 48 hours? This is a very unnatural and manipulated market and it's great to play it – as long as you keep that in mind! The danger comes when you delude yourself that this is some kind of "investing" environment when it's actually just gambling ahead of Q2 earnings reports – that could send us right back into a tail-spin.
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 19th, 2012 8:28 am
BIG day today!
As you can see from the Big Chart, we are testing the 50 day moving averages on the Dow (12,746), S&P (1,347), Nasdaq (2,920), NYSE (7,756) and the Russell (781) IF all goes well and we move up from here. The Dow is already over and the S&P and Russell are close so we'll be watching them closely this morning to see if we should stay bullish or cash out our winners while we wait for some actual bullish news – because the rumors that are driving us higher so far are running out of steam.
The G20 meeting drags on in day 2 and we await their announcement. China dropped $43Bn into the IMF last night and India, Russia, Brazil and Mexico will also commit $10Bn EACH for another $40Bn and that brings the IMF's war chest up to $456Bn. Even Turkey put up $5Bn – we're talking about an all-out Global effort here so we expect A LOT more from the big guns.
Let's not dwell on what it means that Turkey has to bail out Europe and instead focus on Christine Lagarde's statement that the commitments demonstrate "the broad commitment of the membership to ensure the IMF has access to adequate resources to carry out its mandate in the interests of global financial stability." So now it's up to the G20 and that means it's up to Merkel today and Bernanke tomorrow.
Merkel faces mounting pressure to make even greater concessions, by putting Germany's financial muscle behind an integrated banking and borrowing system to keep the euro intact. The question is whether, after two years of muddling through, Europe's pre- eminent power can act quickly and decisively. "I think she will remain an incrementalist: we have not yet reached the point where it is obvious that we are hanging over the precipice," said Paul de Grauwe, a professor at the London School of Economics. "It looks again that what is going to come out is going to temporarily pacify markets until it is clear that it is not going to be sufficient."
For those of you who don't speak Economics – "not going to be sufficient" = DOOM!!!
by phil - May 10th, 2012 8:28 am
Not much happening overnight.
Dollar at 80.30 as we wait on Bernanke at 9:30. The Euro is still dead at $1.296, Pound up to $1.615 as BOE holds rates steady (easing was expected). 79.65 Yen to the Dollar and 1.201 EUR/CHF shows those guys are still serious about supporting the Euro at all costs – and it must be costing them a fortune to do this.
I would say anyone who is holding large Euro positions and isn't taking advantage of the fact that the Swiss are backstopping it to get out is very foolish. The Euro is closer to dissolving now than it was last year. Greece will default on $500Bn in debt, Portugal will either default or need a huge bailout, as will Spain and just because Italy and France and Ireland are quiet at the moment, doesn't mean they are fixed either.
Clearly the only reason the Euro is holding $1.29 is because the Swiss are buying it – this is certainly not a reason to be holding the currency. If the Dollar were only staying over 80 because Canada was buying them to keep the Loonie from going to $1.20 – would that mean you should stay in or get out before the game falls apart?
If the Euro is artificially strong, then the Dollar is artificially weak and if the Dollar begins to rise (and the BOJ would love to see that) then we know there will be a dip in the price of dollar-denominated equities and commodities. So we need to continue to tread carefully because much of what we currently see is based on this artificial construct of a relatively weak Dollar and a relatively strong Euro – and that's distorting reality in many ways.
Also keep in mind that these little CB money-printing schemes can go on much longer than one would think logical so it's more of a big-picture sort of observation than an actionable item other than I sure wouldn't want to tie up too much money in Euros – just in case the SNB does run out of money one day.
by phil - April 10th, 2012 8:29 am
Bernanke gave a whole speech last night titles "Fostering Financial Stability" at the Federal Reserve's Stone Mountain, Georgia conference and didn't say one thing about more quantitative easing – not even a hint. Without an endless supply of MORE FREE MONEY from the Fed – what is going to hold our markets up at these inflated levels?
Goldman Sachs immediately covered their assets, putting out a note indicating "A number of factors reinforce our desire to be more cautious about the data in the near term:"
- First, our US forecast has continued to embody a relatively flat 2%-ish type GDP growth trajectory, so the notion that acceleration is now coming to an end is consistent with that forecast view.
- Second, we have become more confident that the weather has played an important role in some earlier data strength. The payback here may have begun, but there is probably more ahead. There is also rising focus on the US "fiscal cliff" at the end of this year, as Alec Phillips has described.
- Third, in the current post-bust setting, even modest slowing in growth feels more dangerous than normal. Fiscal policy is consolidating and conventional monetary policy has been exhausted in many places. And with plenty of leverage in parts of the global economy, slowing growth quickly also raises questions about debt sustainability in places. As a result, financial risks can re-emerge more quickly than normal as growth slows.
And, as pointed out by Business Insider – Goldman Sachs can't possibly be wrong. Not because they are smart, nor because they are amoral, evil, greedy, manipulative bastards (allegedly) – but because they talk out both sides of their Corporate mouth so they can always point back at something to "prove" they called it. Kind of like Cramer's daily flip-flop scam only with more people.
Business inside points out that while Jim O'Neill is on CNBC standing behind Peter Oppenheimer and Abby Cohen's bullish calls for the retail suckers who watch TV for investing advice, the official firm stance of David Kostin (Chief Equity Strategist) and Stuart Kaiser, who put out the above note – is, in fact, BEARISH.