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Failing Thursday – Rally has a Hard Time Justifying Itself

2,707 on /ES (S&P Futures)

Technically it's bullish but we are sputtering out and I don't see enough good news to sustain us here – even though here is still 170 points (6%) off the January highs and only 150 points (6%) off the Feb and March lows.  So we've hit the lows twice and hit the highs once and now we're struggling at the halfway point?  That doesn't sound very good, does it?  

Apparently, it doesn't sound good to Bond traders, who have are close to inverting the Yield Curve for the first time since 2007, which led to a total melt-down of the Global Economy 18 months later.  The good news is, the markets didn't crash in 2007 – they just flailed along near the highs before completely collapsing.  I tried to warn people then too…

If the barrage of Fedspeak this week is any indication, the persistent flattening is creating a dilemma for officials, who appear intent on gradually tightening policy. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard was the latest to weigh in, saying that central bankers need to debate the yield curve right now, and that it could invert within six months.  “A potential curve inversion should be taken as seriously as always,” Citigroup analysts led by Jabaz Mathai wrote in an April 13 report. “The historical relationship between the curve and implied recession probabilities is highly non-linear: implied probabilities grow very fast when the curve moves into inverted territory.”

A truly inverted curve “is a powerful signal of recessions” that historically has occurred “when the Fed is in a tightening cycle, and markets lose confidence in the economic outlook,” John Williams, the next president of the New York Fed, said Tuesday

I'll be on Benzinga Radio this morning at 8:35 and last time (Feb 23rd) I was on we discussed our GreenCoin (GRE) Trade, which was up to 0.004 at the time, a 10-bagger from where we picked it for them in January and now it's at 0.0098 so almost a penny!  Certainly it's doing a lot better than BitCoin, so we're thrilled. 

We also talked about Barrick Gold (ABX), which has popped 10% since that interview (still cheap) and we discussed the hedging strategy we also discussed during yesterday's Live Trading Webinar (replay available here) and we predicted 2,728 would be the strong bounce line for the S&P 500 on the way down.  Still waiting for that line to be taken back and actually held.

Today is also a good day to revisit my suggestion for a long-term catastrophic hedge like the SQQQ 2020 $20 ($4)/30 ($3.50) bull call spread at 0.50, which pays a fantastic 20:1 if the Nasdaq falls apart.  As I noted on the show, it's useless as a short-term hedge as the short calls will wipe out the gains on the long calls but, if the market tanks and stays down, you can turn $5,000 into $100,000 so we can COMPLETELY insure a $100,000 portfolio for $5,000.  Since our $100,000 Options Opportunity Portfolio is already up 11% ($11,000) for the year, putting aside $2,500 a year for insurance is not that big a deal…

Our HMNY idea was doing well until this morning, when they announced a highly dillutive $150M raise (against a $175M stock) and now we're dropping back from $4 to $3 pre-market.  As I pointed out to our Members however:

As a general note on diluting companies:  If you own a stock at $175M at $4 share and they sell $150M worth of stock.  Now you own 53% of the stock you had + $75M.  In HMNY"s case, there was are 45M authorized shares so you own the stock + $1.66 in cash.  Of course the company plans to spend that money but anything less than a $1.66 drop is in your favor for now and then it's up to the company to make good use of the cash and get your share value back to $4 before the next time they need $150M but, if they can do that, the next round will dilute you much less and, if they grow on track and keep costs down – they'll start to look exciting to investors, like NFLX or AMZN. 

This morning, HMNY is trading at $2.50, down $1.50 from $4 so this is about the point we want to add to our position to maintain our share of the company against the dillution.  In our Options Opportunity Portfolio, we have the following position:

Since we sold the $5 puts for $2.60, our break-even is $2.40 so nothing to really worry about there.  Our net outlay on the spread was $1,225 so we need to be at about $3 to make that on the spread (0.50 x 2,500 options) and we'll see what prices we get today but it's likely we double up on the $2.50 calls if they go below $1.60 and maybe we sell 10 more puts if they are over $4, which would obilgate us to own 2,500 shares at $5 ($12,500) as a worst case.  

We shorted oil at $69.50 (discussed on Benzinga earlier) and we already hit goal at $69 so we cut back 1/2 and keep tight stops on the rest.  The 0.50 drop will get an 0.10 weak bounce to $69.10 but, if that fails, we can get back in the shorts with a stop over $69.20 (strong bounce) but, hopefully, we hit our goal at $68.50 before that happens.  


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  1. How much is bitcoin worth:

    Here’s how it works. By knowing a money’s total supply, its velocity—the rate at which people use each coin—and the amount of goods and services on which it’s spent, you should be able to calculate price. Estimating Bitcoin’s supply at about 15 million coins (it’s currently a bit more), and assuming each one is used an average of about four times a year, led Jackman and Savouri to calculate that 60 million Bitcoin payments were supporting their assumed $1.2 billion worth of total U.S. dollar-denominated purchases. Using the theory popularized by Fisher and his followers, you can—simplifying things somewhat—divide the $1.2 billion by the 60 million Bitcoin payments to get the price of Bitcoin in dollars. That’s $20.

    So far, so straightforward. It turns out, however, that when it comes to putting a price on Bitcoin, the same equation can yield many different answers. In September, Dan Davies, an analyst at financial research firm Frontline Analysts Ltd., wrote up a “guesstimate” of Bitcoin’s value that he’d originally conducted in 2014 using—again—the quantity theory of money. He plugged in estimates for each variable and got about $600.

    On Dec. 10, Mark Kirker, a high school math teacher in California, published an analysis online using the same equation for the same purpose. He concluded that Bitcoin should be way above then-current levels. He’s since revised the number. Contacted by Bloomberg, he says it could be $15,000.

  2. The effect of raising minimum wage:

    So this is all great news. Raising the minimum wage does exactly what it should—it raises wages for the lowest-earning Americans, and it continues to benefit them for years after the increase takes effect. Additionally, it looks like raising the wages for the lowest-paid workers could create a cascading effect that generates raises for employees higher up the earning ladder.

    But where does this money come from? Well, it’s simple: the people who got the raises when the minimum wage went up then spent that money—money which, by the way, didn’t spread through the local economy at such fantastic speed and volume before the wage increased. The money they spend then creates jobs and higher wages for everyone, from the bottom of the wage scale on up.

    And we know that corporations do have the money to spend on wages—many hundreds of billions of dollars, in fact. They’re just currently keeping that money away from workers in a shell-game of stock buybacks that keeps the money out of local economies. When some of that money is returned to workers, good things happen for everyone in the form of increased growth.

  3. Closed my eyes, gritted my teeth and bought some HMNY at $2.54.

  4. ~~•Helios & Matheson (HMNY ) prices $30 mln unit offering at $2.75/unit.

  5. Good morning, All!

    The webinar replay is now available!

  6. Good morning! 

    Stop on oil is now $69.10 (after strong bounce at $69.20 failed, retested $69 then weak bounce becomes stop) - I feel so much better!   I took 4 off at $69, so now I have 4 short at $69.  As long as /ES is under 2,700 I feel confident.

    Big Chart – Generally bullish as we're over the 50 dmas.  

    BitCoin/StJ – Lots of assumptions in that thing.  Correct answer is – no one knows.  

    Wages/StJ – They need a study for that?  I've been saying that all decade!  

  7. Good Morning.

  8. Dumb !

  9. Looks like you picked the wrong day to go bottom fishing Albo! Would not touch these guys with 100 ft pole!

  10. Covered the HMNY with Aug 2.5 calls for .60.

  11. Dumb and Dumber – I bought some too!  :)

  12. $2.35 on HMNY is -40%, that should be bouncy on a $1.50 drop so 0.30 to $2.65 is the weak bounce and 0.60 to $2.95 will be strong.  I'm waiting for the options to price it in but:

    In the OOP, let's sell 10 more 2020 $5 puts  for $4 if we can and let's buy 25 more 2020 $2.50 calls for $1.

    In the LTP, we have 20 short 2020 $7.50 puts, now $6 and we will roll them to 50 short 2020 $5 puts at $4 but don't let $3.50 get away.  We will also buy 50 more long 2020 $2.50s for $1.



  13. On a happier note, CLDR has gone straight up after adding it on Apr 10.

  14. Stop on oil now $69! 

    I have an interview at the Nasdaq at 2 so I'm out of here at 12:30 but I'll check in on the IPad. 

    Meanwhile, I'm going to be buried in Portfolio Reviews…

  15. Short-Term Portfolio Review (STP):  $180,487 is up $40,319 (40%) since our 3/13 review and that's up 80.5% for the year so far.  Fortunately the NFLX short calls were pre-earnings as we knew not to mess around with earnings on them!  As noted in yesterday's webinar, our ability to adjust our hedges within the channel has served us well and we still have very good protection but let's make sure it's good enough to protect the LTP:

    • NFLX – This one expired worthless.
    • SQQQ – The 50 short May $20s are covered by the 80/40 Sept $15/20 spread so it's at least 80 x $5 protection for $40,000 here and currently worth $14,400 so $25,600 worth of protection if the Nas tanks.  That's not much…

    Short Puts – All are offsets to pay for the hedges and, if any of them go in the money, we'll have to move them to the LTP and turn them into positions (assuming we still like them).  By taking the loss in the STP and moving a "better" put to the LTP, we're effectively transferring money to the LTP when the market is down.   WHR is redundant – I'll fix that.  

    • DXD – Let's buy back the short July $10 calls for 0.18 – that will make us more bearish for just $1,800.  DXD is at $8.34 and it's a 2x ETF so if the Dow drops 10%, DXD will go up 20% to $10 and we collect $20,000, this gives us another $20,000 worth of protection on a 20% drop without spending much cash.  

    I don't see the point in getting too bearish now.  We still have to punch below the 50 dmas before we have to worry that $60,000 worth of hedges won't be enough to cover us.  

  16. NFLX April callers don't expire worthless unless NFLX drops nearly 30 points by tomorrow.

    I rolled mine to June 310's

  17. Phil / IBM – you mentioned getting more aggressive on this one with a '20 130 put…. is there a BCS you would look at to pair that with?

  18. NFLX/Pstas – Those were pre-earnings calls, expired on the 6th.  For the others, the roll is good.

    IBM/Batman – I'll consider as we do the reviews.  

    Oil stopped out.  sad

  19. I am still one short on CL but this is a hedge on a fair amount of long positions I have in oil stocks.

    HMNY / covered my Jan 2020 $ 2.5 short  calls at 0.35. and added Jan 2020 $ 2.50 calls at 0.90 for an average of $1.95. Still waiting for a fill at on the $5 PUTS at to sell at $4.00

  20. MO down big today.

  21. Albo/MO

    Seems to be trading off PM results.  Took a small nibble.  5% dividend down here.

  22. Thanks, Dclark.

  23. PM taking a big hit today

  24. Phil// Question on HMNY

    (a)  NFLX, TSLA are also loosing money but they seemed to get better ratings and following while HMNY doesn't have the same level of confidence among investors.  What is the difference you see?  Is it the management doesn't have the same credibility as the others?  Is it because the company has come out with few rounds of dilutive measures that implies that the company has  more rounds of such measures to come?

    (b)   Could you explain in more details about the numbers (such as 53% of the stock, +$75M and the $1.66) you had arrived in your post. Sorry I am not able to follow you on this.  You could explain after hours the math behind this.  Thanks

     " a general note on diluting companies:  If you own a stock at $175M at $4 share and they sell $150M worth of stock.  Now you own 53% of the stock you had + $75M.  In HMNY"s case, there was are 45M authorized shares so you own the stock + $1.66".  

  25. Options Opportunity Portfolio Review (OOP):  We took a big hit this morning on HMNY but still at $110,597 which is up a fantastic $14,124 (14%) since our 3/13 review and, best of all, we made no changes at all, so now we know that the positions we have will perform very solidly in a flattish market and we should only have to make minor adjustments to stay on track.  As I noted the first few months – building a portfolio by selling premium is a bitch and you don't make much money at first but, once those premium Dollars start rolling in – it's like a tidal wave!  

    • AAPL – So not worried about this one, just waiting to collect the rest of our $5,100 ($4,688 potential gain).  Good for a new trade with this dip.  
    • CHL – Good for a new trade, we want to sell 5 2020 $45 puts for $3+ if it dips.  As it stands, we're net $5,400 on the $7,500 spread so potential is ($2,100) 
    • FTR – Finally working!  Net $6,524 out of $12,000 if called away at $8 so upside is ($5,476) 

    • ABX – Back on track and good for a new trade.  Net $3,795 out of potential $20,000 so upside potential is ($16,205).
    • ALK – People seem to think ALK is a terrible airline but, hopefully, they bought Virgin to get better and not to make Virgin worse.  Meanwhile, they are doing well and we're net -$4,305 because we liked them so much we double sold the puts (to cover a hedge) and our upside potential is $5,000 so net ($9,305) potential but, as a new trade, I'd just sell 5 puts.  
    • BBBY – Took a huge hit this week as well but I still like them and they are right on our target line so good for a new trade a bit better than we started.  Potential is $7,500 and currently net $247 so ($7,253) potential.  

    • CBI – Still waiting for that infrastructure bill but I like them @ net -$1,750 on the $10,000 spread ($11,750).
    • CDE – On track and still good for a new trade at $1,475 on the $6,000 spread ($4,525) 
    • CG – Cheaper than our entry but I have faith and we weren't going for a big win.  Net -$500 on the $2,500 spread ($3,000) 
    • CHK – This is the one I'm closet to cutting.  We'll see how earnings go.  It's a $5,000 spread at net $-1,675 so ($6,675) potential at $5.  Red means I'm not going to count it when looking at our potential gains.

    • F – If we are called away at $9.87, that's $14,805 and the net is now $11,746 so only $3,059 but we are safely in the money and will collect 7 0.15 dividends x 1,500 so another $1,575 while we wait means ($4,634) is the upside potential and that's 31% in 20 months – a very nice rate of return on a play that is deeply in the money.  They don't all have to be huge winners, this is the kind of trade you can park a lot of cash in!  
    • FNSR – Chip companies cycle up and down but this down cycle for FNSR is very painful.  Not bad enough to panic yet but we'll look carefully at earnings before adjusting (or bailing).  Currently net $750 on the $14,000 spread so ($13,250) if it comes back but, like CHK, I'm making it red as a warning and we won't count it as potentially likely.  
    • GE – You might thing this should be red but I'm banging the table on this one.  We're already in aggressively with 30 $13 calls uncovered and I don't want to push our luck but I strongly believe in our $20 target.  It's net $2,125 and let's say we hit $17.  That would make our 30 calls $4 for $12,000 and the 10 short puts would be down $3,000 so net $11,000 is a target I can certainly live with and that would be + ($8,875). 

    • GNC – Another hated stock I like.  It's a long turnaround story.  We're only shooting for $5, which would pay us $5,000 and currently net $1,800 so upside potential is ($3,200)
    • HBI – Down and down they go, at our $18 floor target.  Not worth adjusting ahead of earnings so we'll see.  ($4,988).  
    • HMNY – We just made an adjustment as follows:  In the OOP, let's sell 10 more 2020 $5 puts  for $4 if we can and let's buy 25 more 2020 $2.50 calls for $1.   $3.60 is the most we got for the puts so far but we won't sell unless we get $4 (though in the LTP we'll take $3.60 as it's a roll).  As it stands, we spent $2,500 more so net -$1,775 and now we have 50 2020 $2.50 calls and, if we hit our $5 target, that's $25,000 so $26,775 but even at $4 it's $12,500 but we'd lose $1,500 on the short puts so net $11,000 is a target I can stand behind plus our credit balance is ($12,775).
    • HRB – Usually they get a better boost into tax season.  We'll see how earnings go but it's at the top of our range which pays $5,000 if it holds up and now net $975 so ($4,025) upside potential and that's 4x even as a new trade.
    • IMAX – Making a nice comeback for us, well over our target at net $7,300 on our $10,000 spread but I see no reason to get out early as it's an easy ($2,700) by September.  
    • LB – Another retail catastrophe but only a small loss as we played conservatively.  Not going to add until we see earnings and now net -$650 on the $10,000 spread that's $1,100 in the money.  I'd say we get to at least $40 so that would be ($5,650).   Certainly good for a new trade as it's our Trade of the Year!  
    • NAK – Very speculative and getting killed.  Another read at net $1,389 but, with 10,000 shares, if we get to just $1 it's $10,000 back and the short $2 puts would cost us $5,000 but that's still net $5,000 or ($3,611) and I think that's very conservative.

    • SPWR – Very nice recovery on these, I'm so glad we got more bullish.  The 2020 $10 calls are now $2.30 and it would be irresponsible of us not to sell 20 (2/3 cover) at hopefully $2.50 or higher but, if they go lower, no less than $2.  That drops $5,000 cash into our portfolio, still gives us a great upside on our $5 calls and we still have 10 naked longs.  ($10,000+)
    • SQQQ – This hedge couldn't be doing better for us.   The rising VIX has driven up the price of our Jan longs while the Sept shorts have lost a lot of value.  The spread is currently net $13,525 and pays $20,000 over $20 but we'll be slicing and dicing it to squeeze out more than $6,475 BUT for the purpose of calculating the portfolios potential gains, we have to assume we will LOSE 1/2 of the $13,525 under the conditions where the market pays us off on the other trades so (-$6,750)
    • THC – Grand slam on this one, out of the ballpark less than 2 months after we bought them.  Already net $5,350 but it's a $10,500 spread so plenty to go ($5,150), in fact so it's good for a new trade if you want to double up.  
    • TZA – Like SQQQ, we could do well but we'll count it as a loss.  Protection-wise, it's net $6,174 on about $35,000 worth of protection so plenty of protection for our small portfolio but we'll assume we lose 1/2 in a bull market for (-$3,100)
    • VRX – Hopefully they keep it together and just net $1,135 on the $7,000 spread that's $2,000 in the money so still great for a new trade and upside potential is ($5,865)
    • WPM – Our 2017 Trade of the Year is back on track at net $10,730 on the $20,000+ spread (10 calls are uncovered) so upside potential is at least ($9,270) and this is a double-dip for us as we already cashed this out last year with great profits. 

    So that's $140,520 of upside potential on the trades we're confident in against $8,250 expected losses on our hedges but, of course, the longs are mostly 2-years and the hedges are not so a few more rounds of hedges along the way is the price of protecting our longs.  

    Still, we're well on track to hit our goals and we are well-hedged so we can look forward to another month of barely touching our portfolio while it cranks out gains!  

  26. it's hard to invest in a stock paying 5% dividend knowing they kill 160,000 people per year with just small cell lung cancer alone, and that's just in the united states. I'm not singing kumbayah over here, I'm just saying it's hard.

  27. phil, .good call on the XLF 27/27.5 spreads.  thanks.  do you think 27.5 holds?

    also, would appreciate your thoughts on SKX--earnings tonight.

  28. Well it looks like the rest of the reviews will have to be tomorrow as I have to get ready to go to NYC.

    MO/Albo – Good time to add a bull call spread to our short puts.  

    Danger Will Robinson:  10 year note failed 120!  

    Dollar rising too:

    HMNY/State, ALL – I'd sell 1/2 the $5 puts at $3.60 and then hope to get the rest for $4 to avg $3.80 but no guarantee we get to $4, which is net $1.

    HMNY/Rookie – This is year 1 for HMNY and year 13 for TSLA and year 20 for NFLX.  They both had rough starts so I don't see any difference, you can bail on any of them after one or two quarters because they went down instead of up.  Yes, they will almost certainly have to dilute more since they have a model that burns cash (like TSLA).  

    OMG, down 75%, what a POS in 2002, right?  In 2005 they were back to $1.50 (from $6) so again, a chance to join the crowd and bail.  It took them until 2009 to stay over $5 and now $330 but why wait 6 months for a speculative stock to take off?

    Remind me re. numbers later – I have to go to NYC now.

    MO/BDC – Well I justify it as money I put towards donations and charities that fight against them (on Cigs and ECigs – I support Pot entirely).  Where better to get the money from?  The company doesn't benefit from my stock interest, especially with options.  

    XLF/Lunar – As I said yesterday, if you can cash out now for 0.47+, why take a risk?  Remind me later re. SKX – I have to go now.

    Don't let the market collapse while I'm gone, please.  I'll check in from the road. 

    There are no changes of note in the LTP, so I'm not too worried about that review – it just takes a long time.  Money Talk, of course, doesn't get touched so here's that one:

    Down 7% from yesterday – very volatile, though a lot of it may just be intra-day sentiment re-pricing options.  

  29. -hbi hmny mo lb f ftr ibm ge gnc gis cbi abx ftr teva imax

    hope the flea collar comes soon

  30. The remarkable irresponsibility of Donald Trump’s Stormy Daniels tweet

  31. Thanks Phil for /CL trade in webinar. I had 2 shorts at 68.46 and held till now (watching the loss go to > 1200$) but closed at 68.25 now with 440$ profit.

  32. Does anyone know whether a skeleton of Phil's position work-sheet exists for on-line use or is there another  you can recommend?   Thanks.

  33. You’re welcome Ayyaps.   Was not an easy road, but we got there. 

    Work-sheet/Taihu – It’s a paid service,  

  34. Taking profit on the CL futures

  35. Hi Phil.  Difficulty following the HMNY adjustments.  I have 20 Jan19  5/10 BCS, basis 2.05 and -5 Jan19 7.50 puts, basis 2.75.   Also have 25  2020 2.5/7.5 BCS, basis 1.70 and -15 2020 5 puts, basis 2.25.  Help please.  Thanks.

  36. Phil, wanted to ask you about SKX again. There are some fat premiums for tomorrow’s expirations. Any play?

  37. Sorry guys I’m not back yet, Hopefully home by four

  38. From Briefing :

    ~  Bloomberg reports Deputy AG told President Trump he is not a target in Special Counsel's Mueller's probe.   

  39. The real reason Michael Cohen just dropped his Trump-Russia suit

  40. AT&T Chief Takes Stand to Defend Time Warner Deal

  41. Bad traffic but I see the indexes are right wher they were when I left, so another quiet afternoon, right? ????

  42. Don't people understand math?

    Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s official portrait will cost $85,000, which is more than taxpayers shelled out for paintings of his three predecessors combined.

    It takes 3x the amount of paint to do a life-size portrait of Christie!

  43. Just got home, NYC is becoming a traffic catastrophe.  

    HMNY/Taihu – Jan 2019?  Those are worse, of course.  I'm guessing you mean you paid $2.05 for the spread and now the Jan $5s are 0.40 so all you can do is salvage those.  I'd roll them to the 2020 $2.50 puts, which are now $1.05 so + 0.65 and that puts you in 20 for $2.70 and then if you DD to 40, that's an average of $1.65ish.  The short calls aren't worth buying back and I wouldn't cover until they rally and you can sell the $7.50s for $1 or the $10s for $1 if we get a better move.  That would cut your net to 0.65, which would be great again (like America!).  The Jan $7.50 puts are $5.50 and we rolled to 2x the 2020 $5 puts, which were last at $3.50 so that would put a bit in pocket.  The 25 $2.50/7.50 spreads are fine as is – that's still our target range.  

    SKX/Lunar – I'd short them!  Well, that's my answer now that I see them going down.  Wow, down 18%!   Missed by a penny but lower guidance sends people out the door.  I'm telling you, this earnings season will be brutal!  

    So we had a rumor that Trump was not a target in the Mueller probe (yeah, right) and GS stooge (and BOE Chief) Mark Carney says markets should not bet on May rate hike – that's what banged us up into the close. 

    LOL StJ!  

  44. VLO -  Explosion at Texas City Refinery – breaking news on ABC.   

  45. Last quarter VLO throughput was 3 million bpd (barrels per day), the Texas city refinery has a throughput of  260,000 bpd.  so roughly 9% of production impacted assuming this refinery is shut down for some time.

  46. Phil, I have this position in SQQQ:

    Bought 10 2019 $15 calls at $3.33 now $3.70

    Bought 5 2020 $20 calls at $7.17, now $2.55

    Sold 10 2020 $25 calls at $2.35, now $1.83

    What do you think a good adjustment would be?  I rolled the position down, 5 of the $20's didn't fill.

  47. What Trump doesn’t say about his own tax plan

  48. This Tells You Nothing

  49. Donald Trump has late night meltdown after James Comey memos backfire on him

  50. GE 

    General Electric beats by $0.05, beats on revs; reaffirms FY18 EPS guidance .

  51. Good morning!

    Trump knocked oil down a quick buck.


    Looks like OPEC is at it again. With record amounts of Oil all over the place, including the fully loaded ships at sea, Oil prices are artificially Very High! No good and will not be accepted!

    See, sometimes he ends up on our side!  Sounds like he listened to me on TV yesterday

    Futures fighting to get back to even this morning.

    SQQQ/Grass – Bring it to the new post please.

    GE/Albo – That should get us back to $15!