Archive for 2008

The Foundations Of Skyscrapers!

Marcus Cicero is famous for saying that the man who doesn’t know what happened before he was born goes through life like a child.  Charlie Munger once commented on this with the following sage advice:

"If you generalize Cicero, as I think one should, there are all these other things that you should know in addition to history. And those other things are the big ideas in all the other disciplines.  You have to learn these things in such a way that they’re in a mental latticework in your head and you automatically use them for the rest of your life"

These words from Munger have application to our own quest in the stock market.  How can we generalize Cicero as Munger suggests in the context of stock market trading? 

A first cursory step involves analyzing a stock chart.  This doesn’t mean glancing at what happened last week and commiting capital this week based on a minuscule data set.  Rather, it demands that we evaluate from a charting perspective how a company has performed over the past 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 3 year, 5 year and 10 year timeframes. 

Cramer likes to say that we don’t care where a stock has been, we care where it’s going.  While much of the statement is true, it is helpful to know the historical patterns of a stock chart when gauging probable future movement.  For example, we should have a clear understanding of how a stock reacts around earnings if we are planning to initiate any trades in April (when most companies report earnings).  We should know which, if any, of the moving averages or exponential moving averages are most applicable to a company.  It is redundant to quote a stock being close to its 200-day Moving Average if the 200-day Moving Average for the stock has never held as resistance or support or shown much impact whatsoever on the stock price!

Another application of generalizing Cicero is to review past fundamentals.  While the current fundamentals are important, they often provide just a snapshot of recent performance.  By reviewing a 10-year history, as shown here for Garmin, we see the context of a company’s performance. 

From this analysis we can learn whether a company has consistently performed well or has ragged results.  Stability is a postive.  A company that reports fantastic numbers one year and disappointing numbers the next cannot be…
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Wild Weekly Wrap-Up

What a great week!

While it may have felt a little like a roller coaster again, the fact of the matter is we started Monday morning at 11,800, broke 12,000 and never fell below it, then broke 12,100 on Tuesday and never fell below that, then broke 12,400 on Wednesday morning and finished just under it for the week.  Sounds even better in summary than it actually felt doesn’t it?

We’re still having a wild ride with 1,200 points of up and down moves in just 4 days but at least we’re getting the hang of it and making the right calls, as I said on Thursday morning: "As options players, we are loving this as there are so many rangy stocks and indexes to play that used to take weeks to make 20% but now take hours to make 40%."  The fact that our entire Day Trade Virtual Portfolio is up 83% in just 3 weeks is evidence for that – while still very stressful, this market can be very rewarding when we get on the right side of things.

Even our small virtual portfolios, where we do not day trade and are very limited in the kind of moves we can make, have made tremendous gains the past two weeks.  The $10K Virtual Portfolio was down 30%, to $6,968 on the 9th, getting off to our second worst start ever for a new virtual portfolio but has now recovered to $11,183, a 60% gain in two weeks.  Our $25K Virtual Portfolio was down to $18,507 and has also gained 60%, now at $29,762.  Essentially both virtual portfolios are up the same because we went with the positions I felt had the best possible chance of making money in both small virtual portfolios but I will not take credit for being smart – we got unlucky, then we got lucky, it’s as simple as that.

The real trick will be trying to make the next 60% gain WITHOUT the 40% loss preceeding it, then we’ll be getting somewhere.  Now that we are getting the hang of this nutty market, it will be great to take a reset from a greater cash position and we will be mainly in cash if we don’t get some follow-through to this week’s rally on Monday.

The week really could not have gone much better for the strategy we’ve been playing for as we’ve…
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Despite gold correction, some traders seek Midas touch through calls

Today’s tickers: NEM, AU, GOOG, GDX, DBA, XLE, COCO, BGP, URBN, USO

NEM – A 5% decline in shares of Newmont Mining didn’t deter some option traders from availing themselves of lower call-side premiums to scoop up a bargain on upside share price exposure in the gold-plated miner. With underlying shares at $46.44, we observed heavy buying in April 47.50 calls, at a one-third markdown from yesterday’s levels. These calls, which were bought for around $2.30 apiece today, presuppose a 6% upside recovery for Newmont shares over the next month –option traders currently put the odds of that happening at just under 50/50.

AU -The slump in gold futures came just in time for one trader to cash in big time on put holdings in AngloGold Ashanti Limited, a holding company for international mines. Today’s 13,500-strong volume in April 50 puts traded to the middle of the market at $19.14 today. Most of the open interest at this strike built up on February 5, when the asking price for the right to sell AngloGold Ashanti Limited shares was $11.55. It looks to us like the trader seized upon today’s 3.7% decline in share price and fresh 52-week low of $30.87 to seize the $7.59 profit margin – which equals $759 per option lot, times 13,500 yielding a $102,465 profit – and reinvest in July 40 puts for $10.09 per contract. The total volume was enough to send Today’s decline notwithstanding AngloGold Ashanti Limited shares have surrendered more than a quarter of their value so far this year.

GDX -This morning’s $25 correction in gold prices sent shares in the Market Vectors-Gold Miners ETF, whose components include gilded eminences Barrick Gold, Goldcorp, Newmont, and Harmony Gold – on a continued downward slope, down 4% to $47.38. A relatively new development over the past 2 weeks has been a consistent rise in implied volatility in the ETF, gapping far above the historic reading. Where the two readings were at parity during the first week of March, option traders are now pricing in a 40% higher risk premium to the gold sector over the next month. Option traders haven’t accumulated anywhere near the level of protective put positions in the gold ETF that they have in the oil or materials funds, which are also trading lower these days. In fact a look at its 300,000-strong open interest shows 2.5 call options open…
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TGI Thursday

What an exciting market!

This is just like trading in Asia, where 300-point moves can happen before, after or during lunch on a daily basis.  As options players, we are loving this as there are so many rangy stocks and indexes to play that used to take weeks to make 20% but now take hours to make 40%.  Of course you can lose it all that quickly too but, if you hedge your virtual portfolio and play a little of each side – so far, both sides get rewarded within days of each other.

I don’t think this will change much until the market starts ignoring the rumor mill, which is driving investors in and out of stocks with a force I haven’t seen since 1999.  Last night, I talked about the MER and HBOS rumors that squeezed both sides of the Atlantic but the real stampede was the run OUT of commodities, which suddenly turned toxic yesterday just a week after I wrote my article explaining why these commodity prices could not be sustained.

I said that day (the 10th): "The CRB index should be at around 308 (220 in 2002 x 140% to adjust for the dollar) but has outpaced the dollar decline by a whopping 33%, a nice toppy little number that’s just begging for a retracement to 370 very soon."  The CRB peaked out at 422 last week and yesterday it dropped to 388 – so far, so good!

My bullish premise for the market is based on a bursting commodity bubble and hopefully we will finally get a real pop, which will be confirmed if we break below 370 on the CRB which has a fair value (as I calculated in the article) of 308.  That should bring oil and gold down about 25% from here, hopefully to $60 oil and $600 gold, both levels we have learned to live with.  At those prices, with $1Bn a day (20M barrels x $50) put back in the pockets of US consumers, many of the problems that we are currently sweating over will fix themselves (and don’t forget to multiply that $1Bn by 4 for the true global impact on consumers).

Line      2005   

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Wednesday Wipe Out

Good golly, what a mess!

And to think I was worried I was being too bearish about that Fed statement…  Being short was like shooting fish in a barrel today as no sector was spared from what was mainly a massive commodity sell-off that I am, on the whole, very pleased with.  Another commodity that is selling off is the Japanese Yen, this is not to be taken lightly as the yen is up 25% to the dollar since last summer and the Yen carry trade, in which investors borrow low interest Yen to buy commodities (including stocks) has been the fuel that has driven this speculative rally.

If commodities start going down, then carry traders are forced to quickly unwind their positions as rising commodity prices have barely kept up with rising Yen prices so they have a tremendous risk (and these are highly leveraged risks) of losing money on the exchange.  You can see the Yen being repatriated as demand for the Yen is dropping fast, causing a 3% drop in 3 days even though the headless BOJ has held rates steady while the Fed tanked the dollar.  Of course investing in dollar denominated assets when the dollar is declining against the Yen you have to pay back to the bank is another problem that has been crushing carry traders so let’s keep our eyes open for signs of trading houses in crisis across the globe.

Of course that’s also the problem.  US markets were taken down today on rumors that MER was in trouble and 290,000 put contracts crossed the wire yesterday with the implied volatility of MER contracts rising 66% in afternoon trading and the stock fell 11% on triple volume.  At the same time the MER was under attack, British hyenas were trying to take down HBOS, causing the BOE to take the unprecedented step of issuing a formal denial that the bank was in trouble.  The bank dropped 17% and still finished the day down 7%, even after the denial.

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) said that it would pursue traders guilty of “market abuse” by spreading untrue claims that banks were on the brink of collapse.  "The authorities believe that the fear and uncertainty in financial markets are allowing unscrupulous traders to make multimillion-pound profits by whipping up hysteria about the stability of big banks."  Finally someone in
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Morgan Stanley straddle pays handsomely…and is Auxilium headed for a new all-time high…?

Today’s tickers: MS, XLF, AUXL, CCU, ERIC, XLNX, SCHW, MF

MS – Tolerable numbers out of Morgan Stanley were good enough today for a market pointing up signs of survival out of the brokerage space. Investors rewarded its 42% decline in Q1 earnings – less dire than some analysts had predicted – with a near-8% rise in share price to $45.75 this morning. It’s interesting to see that the price of the at-the-money straddle yesterday portended a $3.60 up-or-down price movement for Morgan Stanley shares, today’s $3.10 upside price move appears to be right in range for that and the price of the $40 straddle has ballooned to $6.35, providing a nice 104% profit for traders who took the opportunity afforded by yesterday’s pre-earnings drop in implied volatility to position long the $40 straddle. With implied volatility continuing its comedown – now gapping some 28% below the historic volatility reading – calls in Morgan Stanley are outmoving puts by a factor of 1.3, with the current price of the April 45 call at $3.20 currently pricing in a better than 50/50 chance that Morgan Stanley shares can hold at current levels through April. A buyer of that position today would need to see another $3 in upside just to break even.

XLF– Financials are holding on to a 2% gain this morning, with the financial sector ETF at $25.92, aided by tolerable numbers this morning out of Morgan Stanley, and despite a bit of retracement to the downside out of the other brokerages. With more than 452,000 options trading in the first 2 hours of the market, the XLF remains one of the most active tickers on our platform, and what’s remarkable to note here is the pullback in implied volatility to just about 41% – this is down more than a quarter from last Friday’s super-elevated 57% level, and is well below the 48% historic volatility reading for XLF shares. March 25 calls have sold off quickly, as many traders may be taking advantage of today’s 40% increase in premiums at that strike to close out positions ahead of tomorrow’s contract expiration. The same strike in the April contract continues to attract buyers, open interest at this strike having mushroomed about 300% over the past 5 sessions. Selling at the 27 call strike could be an indication of some paring of upside bets among option traders all-too-cognizant that…
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Which Way Wednesday?

We're pretty well covered after yesterday's move, hopefully not too well covered.

I outlined my case for caution in the evening post so we can spend this morning looking forward to where we want to be into expirations tomorrow.  Having a short expiration week is always a pain in the neck and there is no way I wanted to go into this weekend uncovered so I decided that yesterday afternoon was as good a time as any to cover our positions ahead of rolling to April calls today and tomorrow.  Just in case we get a pullback this morning, it's nice to pick up a little extra cash from our March callers to make up for the lower rate we'll collect from the Aprils.  Should we go up, our half sales are merely deposits taken in March against the April calls we were going to sell anyway.  So far this morning, the covers seem like a pretty good idea.

Why are we down in pre-markets?  Well there is no particular bad news, just a lack of faith on the part of foreign investors as this is the 3rd Fed bail-out of 2008 and the first two didn't work.  We can only hope the international investing community hasn't adopted one of those tough "three strikes and you're out" policies or we may simply have too much riding on this week's action.

Asian stocks did well but not great at the Hang Seng and the Nikkei both gained back about 2.5% but Japan's Parliament rejected another banker to replace Fukui as none of the nominees names proposed by Prime Minister Fukuda were funny enough to hear CNBC anchors try to avoid saying.  This leaves the BOJ without a Governor for the first time since WWII and indicates what a serious rift there is between Japan's slit political factions.  This type of instability in the world's second largest economy is the kind of thing that can damage the markets all by itself.  Also, we REALLY REALLY need Japan to bail out the dollar, which is still languishing below 72

Europe is trading down about a point but they opened up about a point so things are pretty ugly there.  BNP said they would NOT be bidding for SocGen and Sony/Ericsson said high-end phone sales are falling "on slowing consumer spending
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Tuesday Top Off

Well I chickened out!

Even though I called the day's move within 8 points (I predicted a .75 rate cut would give us a 150-point pop over the 12,250 consolidation point I noted in the morning post), the actual Fed statement and the drastic .75 move in the discount window made me wonder if there was yet another big financial shoe to drop on the markets:

So, according to the Fed, the economy is worse, credit conditions are getting worse, housing is worse and they expect the problems to continue for the next few quarters.  Inflation is up and they admit they are uncertain about their 10th consecutive assumption (and they are 0 for 9 so far) that it will moderate on it's own, even as they drop $100Bn out of a helicopter every week or so.  Could it be that they are finally catching on to the cause and effect of inflation or are they only simply seeing that cutting rates from 5.25% to 2.25% hasn't done a damn thing so far?

I shouldn't complain, we had another really great day but so did oil and that is NOT how we are going to fix the economy as this Fed action is aimed at bailing out the rich at the inflationary expense of the poor.  It's the basics that are flying up in price – food, energy, clothing… at the same time as the value of most families' savings, which is pretty much their home, is either declining or totally wiped out.  We are sitting here fretting about the solvency of the bondholders and the solvency of the investment houses yet 270M out of 300M people in this country don't have a penny in either of those things and there are just 800,000 people on this planet who subscribe to the Wall Street Journal so we are in a very rarefied group if we are concerned about whether or not BSC goes under.

The Fed is doing exactly what it was designed to do, bailing out rich folks – but what happens if screwing over the poor people has finally become a bad idea.  Even the Roman armies had limits on how much they would pillage because they recognized that there were long-term benefits to leaving the conquered lands intact, so they could eventually become
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As Amgen sets new 52-week low, traders hunker down for downside

Today’s tickers: AMGN, SHW, BSC, XLF, MS, LEH, GS, EWJ, SRZ, SHPGY, INTU

AMGN- Option traders are cushioning defensively against further downside in shares of drug maker Amgen, which lost 4% today to trade at $41.21 – this despite a federal judge ruling in favor of Amgen in a drug patent suit against Roche Holding AG involving an anemia drug. What’s interesting here is the gradual upward climb in the implied volatility of Amgen options over the past 5 days – as of last Thursday, the reading stood at 30%, with option traders expecting no extra fluctuation in share price above and beyond the 30% degree of historic volatility. Since that time, the implied vol reading has increased by nearly half, and with shares now at a fresh 52-week low, option traders are pricing in an added 20% risk premium over the next month. And they’re seeking protection from declines via April puts at strikes of 37.50 and 40, both of which traded to buyers on volume more than twice the open interest today. Heading into today, open interest had favored the bullish calls by a factor of 1.5.

SHW– Despite a 5% gain in its share price today to $53.84, option traders are taking anything but a rosy-red view of paint maker Sherwin-Williams’ prospects heading into the second half of the year. Last week, Crain’s Cleveland Business reported that the company’s CEO painted a bleak view of the outlook for the homebuilder sector, upon which Sherwin-Williams is heavily dependent, and stating that he did not anticipated a rebound in the market for new homes before 2009. As for today’s option action, traders sent overall volume to more than 16 times the normal level with a trader closing out a position in the March 55 puts and rolling into the June contract at the 50 put strike for $3.00. It’s significant to note the price positioning here, as it implies a new break for Sherwin-Williams shares – which are down 7.8% for the year-to-date – below the standing 52-week high of $49.98 set back on March 7. In fact, the buyer of this June 50 put doesn’t stand to profit until shares drop another $2 below that 52-week low

BSC – Options action in Bear Stearns is retaining all the nerve-racking swagger of its pre-crash levels today as the share trades an astounding 25% higher at $6.02 – more…
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Tuesday The Markets See Fed

Hey, didn't we just get a Fed gift last Tuesday?

Wow, this is getting to be a weekly thing with Ben, he is such a swell guy!  Of course it's easy to be generous when you are giving away other people's money (in this case, our children's) but people sure do love to get free cash.  Thank goodness the Fed gave JPM $30Bn yesterday to make sure all the wealthy bondholders of BSC and all the HNW individuals and hedge funds who invest in them get out whole while selling the retail shareholders down the river.

Our man Cramer was all over the place on BSC but rather than point out his shenanigans myself I'll point you to this excellent summary from Don Harrold, who straightens out Cramer's BS quite nicely.  I feel for Cramer, the financials are confusing and we've been in and out ourselves.  Yesterday we were left with naked GS in our LTP and a new mildly bullish spread on LEH as we call a hopeful bottom on the financials.

We had a fantastic day yesterday and the futures market is so bright, we've gotta wear shades as of 8:30 despite the PPI coming in hot, up 0.5% (6.4% year over year) and even the Core PPI is up 0.3%.  Housing starts are off just 0.6% but Building Permits Fell 7.8% and this would usually be considered bad but, as you can see from the picture, it's raining money today.

Unfortunately, all that cash will buoy the commodity bulls, who we had on the run yesterday and we NEED those commodities to sell off or today's PPI numbers will seem mild by the end of the year.  The Fed cannot keep putting liquidity into the system while we spend $110 per barrel x 20M barrels a day ($2.2Bn per day) on something we burn up.  Oil is the ultimate disposable and no more jobs are created when we spend $800Bn a year (at $105) than we have when we spend $450Bn a year (at $60) but it does create a $350Bn trade deficit and it does take $350Bn out of the pockets of US consumer and $1.4Tn out of the pockets of global consumers.  Pretending this isn't a crisis is the crime this administration should be tried for!

Asia made a mild recovery with the Hang Seng getting…
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Zero Hedge

Enemy Of The People?

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Via The Zman blog,

There has never been a time when normal people did not know the media was biased and biased in a predictable direction. For every non-liberal in the media, there were at least ten liberals. The ratio was probably higher, but then, as now, some lefties liked to pretend they were independents or some third option.

The media used to invest a lot of time denying they had a bias and an agenda, but the only people who believed them were on the Left, which had the odd effect of confirming they had a bias and an agenda.


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Phil's Favorites

A 2019 Earnings Recession?


A 2019 Earnings Recession?

Courtesy of 

Shout to Leigh!

On the new Talk Your Book – Josh Brown is joined by Leigh Drogen of Estimize, one of the leading providers of crowdsourced financial and economic data to talk about the trend in corporate profits that could potentially lead to an earnings recession later this year.

What is the thing that Leigh is seeing in the data that Wall Street isn’t yet picking up on? What segment of the stock market is most at risk? Why is the crowd smarter than the narrow consensus of Wall Street analysts?

Check out Estimize ...

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D.E. Shaw Investment Calls For Leadership Change At EQT

By ActivistInsight. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Elliott Management has offered to acquire QEP Resources for approximately $2.1 billion, contending the oil and gas explorer’s turnaround efforts have done little to lift the company’s share price. The company responded and said that a thorough review of the proposition is imperative in order to properly act in the best interests of shareholders, “taking into account the company’s other alternatives and current market conditions.” The news came only a month after Travelport Worldwide agreed to sell itself to Siris Capital Group and Elliott’s private equity arm Evergreen Coast Capital for $4.4 billion in cash and two months after Athenahealth was bought by Veritas and Evergreen for $5.7 bi...

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Kimble Charting Solutions

Gold & Silver Testing Important Breakout Levels!

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

Gold and Silver from a long-term perspective have created a series of lower highs over the past 8-years. Will 2019 bring a change to this trend? A big test is in play!

Gold since the lows in 2016 has created a series of higher lows, while Silver may have created a double bottom.

Gold & Silver are currently facing break attempts a (1) and (2). These falling resistance lines have disappointed metals bulls for the past few years.

The direction of Gold and Silver weeks and months from now should be highly influenced by what each does as they are attempting to break above important resistance levels.

To become a member of Kimbl...

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Insider Scoop

UBS Says Disney's Streaming Ambition Gives It A 'New Hope'

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Related DIS Despite Some Risks, Analysts Still Expecting Double Digit Growth From Communications Services In Q4 ... more from Insider

Digital Currencies

Russia Prepares To Buy Up To $10 Billion In Bitcoin To Evade US Sanctions

Courtesy of Zero Hedge

While the market has been increasingly focused on the rising headwinds in the global economy in general, and China's economic slowdown in particular, while the media is obsessing over daily revelations that Trump may or may not have colluded with Russia to get elected, a far more critical, if underreported, shift has been taking place over the past year.

As we reported in June, whether due to concerns over draconian western sanctions and asset confiscations following the poisoning of former Russian military officer Sergei Skripal, or simply because it wanted to diversify away from the dollar, Russia liquidated virtually all of its Treasury holdings in the late spri...

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Chart School

Weekly Market Recap Jan 13, 2019

Courtesy of Blain.

In last week’s recap we asked:  “Has the Fed solved all the market’s problems in 1 speech?”

Thus far the market says yes!  As Guns n Roses preached – all we need is a little “patience”.  Four up days followed by a nominal down day Friday had the market following it’s normal pattern the past nearly 30 years – jumping whenever the Federal Reserve hints (or essentially says outright) it is here for the markets.   And in case you missed it the prior Friday, Chairman Powell came back out Thursday to reiterate the news – so…so… so… patient!

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell reinforced that message Thursday during a discussion at the Economic Club of Washington where he said that the central bank will be “fle...

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Members' Corner

Why Trump Can't Learn


Bill Eddy (lawyer, therapist, author) predicted Trump's failure based on his personality, which was evident years ago. This article, written in 2017, references a prescient article Bill wrote before Trump became president, in July, 2016, 5 Reasons Trump Can’t Learn. ~ Ilene 

Why Trump Can’t Learn

Donald Trump by Gage Skidmore (...

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Opening Pandora's Box: Gene editing and its consequences

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


Opening Pandora's Box: Gene editing and its consequences

Bacteriophage viruses infecting bacterial cells , Bacterial viruses. from

Courtesy of John Bergeron, McGill University

Today, the scientific community is aghast at the prospect of gene editing to create “designer” humans. Gene editing may be of greater consequence than climate change, or even the consequences of unleashing the energy of the atom.


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Mapping The Market

Trump: "I Won't Be Here" When It Blows Up

By Jean-Luc

Maybe we should simply try him for treason right now:

Trump on Coming Debt Crisis: ‘I Won’t Be Here’ When It Blows Up

The president thinks the balancing of the nation’s books is going to, ultimately, be a future president’s problem.

By Asawin Suebsaeng and Lachlan Markay, Daily Beast

The friction came to a head in early 2017 when senior officials offered Trump charts and graphics laying out the numbers and showing a “hockey stick” spike in the nationa...

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Swing trading portfolio - week of September 11th, 2017

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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Free eBook - "My Top Strategies for 2017"



Here's a free ebook for you to check out! 

Phil has a chapter in a newly-released eBook that we think you’ll enjoy.

In My Top Strategies for 2017, Phil's chapter is Secret Santa’s Inflation Hedges for 2017.

This chapter isn’t about risk or leverage. Phil present a few smart, practical ideas you can use as a hedge against inflation as well as hedging strategies designed to assist you in staying ahead of the markets.

Some other great content in this free eBook includes:


·       How 2017 Will Affect Oil, the US Dollar and the European Union


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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...

Learn more About Phil >>

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About Ilene:

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.

Market Shadows >>