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Tumblin’ Tuesday – Italy’s Looming Default Spooks the Markets


We knew the markets were going down – we just weren't sure which of the many, MANY possible reasons would rise up and finally cause people to re-price risk.  Today it's Italy, which essentially has been unable to form a Government for the past 3 months as President Mattarella has refused to work woth a Euro-skeptic Finance Minister put forth by newly-elected Populist party leaders Salvini and Di Maio.  

At issue is Italy's potential to default on $250Bn worth of bonds and a possible exit from the Euro-Zone, following the UK's Brexit lead and possibly unraveling the whole Union at this point.  If this is a surprise to you – then you don't read our PSW Reports every day as my first bullet-point on July 6th of 2016 was "Italy is spinning out of control and taking the EU down with it." – so we saw this coming from a couple of miles away – aside from our many recent posts on the topic

Image result for defusing nuclear bomb animated gifAt this point, it's very possible that the 5-Star Coalition that controls the biggest voting block in Government will seek to impeach Mattarella and, if that happens, we go from unstable right to the point where the hero is usually sweating over the nuclear bomb with a pair of pliers debating which wire to cut.  

Italy really isn't the important thing, anything could have sent investors flying out of equities and back into bonds (up 1% this morning) and CASH!!! rather than paying 100x earnings for the next "hot" stock.  The market is overpriced and it needs to cool off – any catalyst is a good excuse to do so.  

 On Thursday we called for a short of the Nasdaq (/NQ) Futures at 6,950 and we hit 6,900 this morning for a gain of $1,000 per contract and the S&P (/ES) Futures at 2,728 blew through our 2,712 target to test the 2,700 line for a $1,400 per contract gain so "wheeeeeee!" indeed and a great way to start our week.  Also, Wednesday's webinar play to short oil using the SCO June $14/17 bull call spread at $1.45 is on track for the full $3 as Oil (/CL) falls to $67 now that the holiday pump job is over.  

Remember:  I can only tell you what is likely to happen and how to profit from it – the rest is up to you!  

I don't know how many people took my advice to "sell in May" and take the summer off but it sure will be a lot more relaxing than scrambling to cover now.  I think this morning's sell-off will bounce back – that's why we trade the Futures, we were already able to cash out and now we'll see where we next want to short and, if no shorts present themselves, we'll be using our additional CASH!!! to hunt for equity bargains that other people are panicking out of.

We talked about Limited Brands (LB) on Thursday morning and that bounced back so fast we couldn't fill our new, long position but we're sure glad about our old positions as the stock jammed back to $35.50.  GE was also featured on Thursday as a "screaming buy" at $14 and it's still only $14.50 so, since the LB trade didn't work, how about we try a similar spread on GE:

  • Sell 10 GE 2020 $15 puts for $2.20 ($2,200) 
  • Buy 20 GE 2020 $13 calls for $3.25 ($6,500) 
  • Sell 20 GE 2020 $15 calls for $2.25 ($4,500)

That spread puts you in a $4,000 spread for a net $200 credit so you lay out no cash but you are obligated to buy 1,000 shares of GE at $15 (less the $200 credit) – that's your worst case.  The trade requires $1,534 in ordinary margin, so it's an efficient way to make $4,000 and GE barely has to budge to pay you in full.  

We are being far more aggressive than that in our Options Opportunity Portfolio, selling 10 2020 $20 puts (now $5.90) with 30 long 2020 $13 calls ($3.25) with no short covers as we feel GE should be well over $18 by then – hopefully $20+ so the above trade is what we consider very conservative but a very cheap entry on a great value stock.  

Meanwhile, the disaster in Venezeula continues and that should put somewhat of a floor on oil for the moment.  This is another "unforeseen" event that can rock the markets in the near future and it's supportive of oil, despite Russia and Saudi Arabia this weekend indicating they may raise output to stop US exporters from gaining more market share with their former customers.  

Keep in mind that the Saudis originally cut oil production because more oil was being produced than was being consumed and it was piling up everywhere but cutting production increased the price and allowed new production to come on line that would not have been viable at lower prices.  Most of the new production happened in the US and all the Saudis really accomplished was having their oil supply replaced by new US supply.  Now, in order to get their customers back – they have to supply cheaper oil – at least for a while. 

It looks like the US/North Korea Summit will be "on again" as Trump scrambles for a win of any kind – especially as he was just ranked as "The Worst President in US History" in an annual poll of Presidential Scholars.  It's tough competion for the bottom spot as Buchanan is credited for causing the Civil War, which divided the country and cost millions of American lives.  Trump is the first President ever to fall below Buchanan – even for a moment – managing to more than double Buchanan's negative score.  


On the bright side, Buchanan was a one-term President who was followed by our best President (Lincoln) and hopefully we also have a savior waiting in the wings (Bernie?) who will unite the nation – hopefully without the armed conflict in-between.  

Will someone finally come along and free the wage-slaves?  Don't hold your breath…


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  1. OLED – Nice call Scottmi.

    ~~Universal Display +12.4% on iPhone OLED report

    • Universal Display (NASDAQ:OLED) shares pop 12.4% premarket on a report that Apple might use OLED screens for all of its upcoming iPhone models.
    • The current generation of iPhones includes an OLED screen in the iPhone X but LCD screens in the 8 and 8 Plus.

  2. Most corrupt administration ever:

    Now, the government ethics watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is reporting that the Chinese government approved five trademark applications for Ivanka Trump’s businesses the same week Trump tweeted his pro-China reversal. Another trademark was approved the previous week. It’s probably just a coincidence.

    You could post similar stories each day!

  3. Fortune takes a shot at GE:

    Whether its storied corporate brand can be revived has become the largest question about GE. The company faces no crisis of survival. Its main businesses will likely carry on in some form. The tension surrounding the company is of a higher nature, befitting GE. It’s whether this extraordinary company will regain its lost luster or descend, at last, to mediocrity.

    Well, I care only if the company survives and keep on paying dividends! Mediocrity means more successful call sales each year!

  4. Link to a good article with some nice charts about the impact of the last recession:

    How can the economy grow when median incomes are going lower!

  5. Good Morning.

  6. Good morning!  

    I hope everyone had a nice vacation.  

    I wasn't too impressed with Albuquerque but then we took a day in Santa Fe, which was so nice I'd like to go back!  

    We're just going to see how bouncy things are this morning – should be super-low volume.  12,525 is the 200 dma on the NYSE and 12,800 is the Must Hold line and whichever way we break out of that squeezy triangle is going to tell us which way to bet but the 50 dma is going to death cross in June unless there's some drastic improvement this week or next so down is more likely at the moment.  

    Don't forget, the month ends on Thursday so windows still need to be dressed.  We started the month at about 2,650 but anything under 2,728 is going to be a fail on /ES.  

    OLED – Seems to be a done deal with AAPL and other screen companies selling off.  $115 is nothing as the prior AAPL speculation took them to $200.  

    The July $115 ($7.60)/$125 ($4.40) bull call spread at $3.20 is a good way to play this as it can make $6.80 very easily for a 200%+ gain in 52 days.

    Big Chart – All about the NYSE but watch the Dow at 24,400 (50 dma) and 6,850 is the Nasdaq's 20 dma and any weakness in the Nas is alarming. 

    GE/StJ – I agree, a lifetime of call selling suits me just fine. 

    Let's say we start with:

    • Selling 20 GE 2020 $18 puts for $4.20 ($8,200) 
    • Buying 40 GE 2020 $13 calls for $3.20 ($12,800) 
    • Selling 40 GE 2020 $18 calls for $2.20 ($8,800)

    That's a $4,200 credit so net $15.90 is your worst entry but, of course, the current $18 puts are $3.50 and the 2020 $15 puts are $2.10 so we could roll to 30 of those and then 40 of the 2022 $13 puts and 60 of the 2024 $10 puts so we're committing to buying 6,000 shares of GE at $10 ($60,000) at which point we'd sell 60 2026 $10 calls for $1.50(ish) and pick up $9,000 (15%) plus the dividends – even if we don't want to sell more puts.  

    On a more optimist note, we could get back $20,000 at $18 in just two years plus the $4,200 credit is net $24,200 profit potential against about $3,000 in ordinary margin.

    When the worst case seems like owning a nice, annual dividend-payer and the best case is 10x back on your credit – you have to work very hard to find a reason NOT to take a trade!  

    Net worth/StJ – That's why I tend to stay away from companies that depend on the disposable income of the Bottom 80%.

  7. Phil OLED do you have this right Jul 115/125 Vertical is only 2.25 and not 3.20. On top way OTM

  8. GE / Phil – The key word is of course survival! And I think that jet engines, wind turbine and health care equipment have a nice future. They could shed the rest and I would not care… 

  9. Yodi – OLED has pulled back quite a bit since Phil put the trade on.

  10. Albo Thanks still can not understand to buy a BCS OTM of which you lose the first day already 2$

  11. Worst president ever – even worse than Charles I. And see how his trial turned out.

  12. TWTR – Strong today.

  13. OLED/Albo – yeah, exciting pop there for a bit!

  14. OLED/Yodi – Prices are very volatile, that's what they were when I suggested but better now.  

    Yikes, bounces failed and down we go.  

    /RTY is being supported by strong Dollar but that won't last so I like that short below the 1,625 line with tight stops above. 

    • U.S. banks take a hit as investors worry about Italy and Spain's political dramas and what that means for the euro. Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEARCA:XLF-1.4% in pre-market trading, sinking further than the broader markets; S&P Futures -0.68% and Dow Futures -0.66.
    • Among some of the ETF's biggest holdings: Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS-1.4%, Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS-1.5%, Citigroup (NYSE:C-1.4%, Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), -1.7%, Bank of America (NYSE:BAC-1.3%, and JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) -1.2%.
    • Previously: Periphery panic sparks selling in stocks, rally in Treasurys (May 29)
    • Europe's down 1.4% midday, led by a 3.1% plunge in Italy as investors in that country's government paper run for the exits (the 10-year Italian bond yield is up 41 basis points).
    • That's got S&P 500 futures down 0.7%, and the 10-year Treasury yield down six basis points to 2.87%.
    • That may or may not be helping a bounce in cryptos after a brutal few weeks for the sector. Bitcoin (BTC-USD+4.1%, Ether (ETH-USD+7.7%, Ripple (XRP-USD+7.7%, Bitcoin Cash (BCH-USD+10.6%, Litecoin (LTC-USD+8%.
    • Previously: Periphery panic sparks selling in stocks, rally in Treasurys (May 29)

    • Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey+26.8 vs. +23.3 consensus and +21.8 prior.
    • Production: +35.2 vs. +25.3 prior.
    • Capacity Utilization: +32.2 vs. +18.7 prior.
    • New Orders: +27.7 vs. +27.9 prior.

    • Despite what the government over the weekend said was a deal with the major truck drivers' union, the strike is apparently continuing.
    • Also at work are global markets lit up bright red while the world waits for the ECB to maybe come to the rescue of Italy.
    • The iShares MSCI Brazil Capped ETF (NYSEARCA:EWZ) is down 5.7% premarket.
    • VALE -2.7%ITUB -4.8%CBD -2%PAGS -1.4%BSBR -1.2%BBD -4.8%

    Worse than it looks:  U.S. auto sales expected to drop in May
    • J.D. Power estimates that new retail auto sales fell 1.0% Y/Y in May to 1.270M units. Total vehicle sales are expected to be down 0.6%. The research firm sees a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 16.6M units.
    • May had one extra selling day in 2018 than a year ago.
    • Retail transaction prices are anticipated to rise to $32,380 to set a new record for the month.
    • "May represents another modest deterioration of the retail sales pace, but volumes still remain relatively strong from a historical perspective," says J.D. Power's Thomas King.
    • "More notable is that average transaction prices are up $1,192 month to date, while incentive spending per unit is flat compared with the same period last year at $3,665 per unit. This is good news for manufacturers given that the Memorial Day holiday weekend is one of the busiest car-buying periods of the year, with almost 250,000 vehicles sold over the holiday weekend last year," he adds.
    • LMC Automotive partnered with J.D. Power on the forecast.
    • Kinder Morgan (KMIOTCPK:KMLGF) confirms the Canadian government has agreed to purchase the Trans Mountain Pipeline system and expansion project for C$4.5B (~US$3.5B).
    • KMI says the federal government will to fund the resumption of expansion project planning and construction work by guaranteeing advances under a separate recourse credit facility until the transaction closes, which the parties expect in late Q3 or early Q4.
    • "Despite losing the EBITDA associated with the Trans Mountain system, we still expect to meet or exceed our 2018 distributable cash flow per share target," KMI says. "We continue to expect a 2018 annualized dividend of $0.80/share, followed by $1.00/share in 2019 and $1.25/share in 2020, a growth rate of 25% annually."
    • PG&E (PCG -4.8%) plunges at the open after Cal Fire's investigation determines at least three northern California wildfires last October were caused by the company's poor maintenance that allowed tree branches to come into contact with power lines.
    • Cal Fire says it found evidence that PG&E violated state laws in the Lobo fire and McCourtney fire in Nevada County as well as the Honey fire in Butte County, including not leaving adequate clearance between trees and power lines; PG&E did not break state rules in the La Porte fire in Butte County, according to the investigation.
    • “The key question will be if any of the fires resulted in negligence or imprudence on the part of the utility,” says Paul Patterson, a utility analyst at Glenrock Associates.
    • In response, PG&E says it meets or exceeds regulatory requirements for pole integrity management, but "years of drought, extreme heat and 129 million dead trees have created a 'new normal'" for California.

    Largest U.S. cannabis company listed on Canadian exchange

    • Via a reverse merger, leading U.S. cannabis producer MM Enterprises, renamed MedMen Enterprises, will begin trading today on the Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE) under the symbol "MMEN."
    • The company raised CA$143M in a private placement, valuing the organization at CA$2.14B (US$1.65B).
    • Blackswells Capital files proxy material to back its slate of six candidates for the board of directors at Supervalu (NYSE:SVU).
    • Blackswells on SVU: "Over the last decade, Supervalu’s share price has declined 92%, reflecting the loss of over $5.4 billion for its shareholders. Over the same period, the Russell 2000 Consumer Staples Index has risen 134%. Blackwells believes this (stark) juxtaposition is symptomatic of an ensconced Board that lacks the requisite experience to oversee a winning strategy. Further, owning just 0.53% of the Company’s shares, the Board has de minimis alignment with shareholders."
    • Blackwells holds a 7.3% stake in Supervalu.
    • SEC Form 14A

    • William Hill (OTCPK:WIMHFOTCPK:WIMHY) announces a sports book deal with the Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
    • The Ocean Resort Casino (formerly called the Revel Casino Hotel) is due to open on June 28 with a 7.5K-square foot sports book operated by William Hill that allow visitors to bet on football, basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer, tennis, and more.
    • The Ocean Resort Casino is owned by AC Ocean Walk.
    • The House of Representatives in Japan passed a bill on gambling addiction countermeasures seen as an important first step before the IR Implementation Bill is teed up to allow casinos in Japan.
    • The ruling Liberal Democratic Party has marked the IR bill as a priority on the current legislative agenda.
    • MGM Resorts (NYSE:MGM) CEO James Murren says action is going to start building up on Japan gaming with the Diet facing a June 20 deadline. He also reminds that the Japanese market will be "vastly largely" than Singapore, even with just three licenses awarded. Murren says casinos would be "economically feasible" in Japan even if they are limited to 3% of a resorts' total floor space and taxed at a 30% rate. Nikkei reports that Murren travels to Japan every two months and has visited 23 of the nation's 47 prefectures.
    • Development of integrated resorts in Japan is seen as a potential boon to overall tourism.
    • Casino ETF: BJK.
    • Shares of Fred's (NASDAQ:FRED) are down 8.58% after the company is bounced from the S&P SmallCap 600 Index.
    • Fred's trades just a penny higher than its all-time low of $1.53.

    LG Display +4.1% on iPhone OLED panel report

    • LG Display (NYSE:LPL) shares are up 4.1% after this morning’s report that Apple will switch to OLED screens for all of this year’s iPhone models.
    • Apple used Samsung as its sole OLED supplier in the iPhone X but had hoped to bring LG Display on as a second supplier to lower costs and the risk of production delays. 
    • In April, the WSJ reported that LG was experiencing difficulties getting its OLED panels produced in smartphone size without compromising quality. The production issues caused LG to fall behind the typical mass production schedule for iPhones.  
    • Previously: iPhone display makers sink on OLED report (May 29)
    • Previously: Universal Display +12.4% on iPhone OLED report (May 29)


    Nokia -3.8% after Nordea cuts rating to Hold

    • Nokia (NYSE:NOK) is 3.8% lower after a cut to Hold at Nordea Securities.
    • The firm downgraded its rating from Buy, departing from a generally bullish chorus of more than a dozen analysts holding Buy ratings.
    • Nokia shares are up 31.8% in 2018 despite a decline (of 4.1%) over the past 12 months.
    • Walt Disney (DIS -0.6%) is lining up financing, just in case the board at Twenty-First Century Fox (FOX -0.4%FOXA -0.5%) demands cash for its media assets, CNBC reports.
    • The two have a $52.4B deal for Fox to transfer those assets for Disney stock.
    • But the new move comes with Comcast (CMCSA -0.3%) reportedly preparing a cash bid for the assets, including the movie studio.
    • Disney's prepared to offer significant cash if needed, sources told CNBC.
    • MKM Partners maintains a Buy rating for Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and raises the price target from $1,750 to $1,840, a 14% upside to Friday’s close.
    • Analyst Rob Sanderson thinks Amazon’s share of the total U.S. retail sales market could grow to 14.5% by 2025, up from 5.2% last year, with third parties representing 80% of Amazon’s share. 
    • In other Amazon news, the Amazon Publishing imprint announces a two-book deal with bestselling author Patricia Cromwell with the first title arriving in late 2019.
    • Amazon shares are down 0.2% to $1,607.16. 

  15. Phil / GE BCS –  I don't see the 2018 18 calls at 2.xx. I see them at 1.xx. ? can you help me with this?

  16. That wasn't so bad – back to 2,700 and 24,500 at the EU close.  

    GE/Batman – Oops, you're right, that was the $15s, not the $18s.  I'd spend the extra $4,000 and get $1.10 for the $18s though or, you can cut it down to 30 spreads and still net the $2,200 credit but the upside would be just $17,000.  

  17. Phil / GE – Thanks….   I have some naked 2020 13 calls at the moment that I am selling short callers on waiting for a pop to sell the 18's was hoping was reading  it wrong and would be able to cover….

  18. Europe finishing at lows – down 1.5%

    So from 2,728 to 2,700 is 28 and we'll call it 5-point bounces to 2,705 (weak) and 2,710 (strong) and 2,712 was where we expected to fall to so all makes sense so far.  

    NYSE 12,493 is NOT GOOD! 

    Unfortunately, Batman, my mistakes don't override the actual prices…  wink

  19. SCO blasted over our goal at $18.27!  

    The $14s are $4.30 and the $17s are now $1.45 so net $2.85 from $1.45 is good enough for me to cash out rather than give them 17 days to screw me.

  20. Wow, down 300 now – don't forget those /RTY shorts!  

  21. Italy’s Nightmare Has No End In Sight

  22. A nice drop on /NG, is this a good time to reload? 

  23. Wow, that /RTY bounced back fast.  Markets are so silly.  Stopped out with about $350 per contract gains around 1,617 but should have done better as I wasn't looking.  Low was 1,610!

    Now /ES is 2,728 to 2,680 so 48 points and we'll call it 10-point bounces to 2,690 (weak) and 2,700 (strong). 

  24. Banks Hunting Growth Loosen Terms on Business Loans

  25. This day is flying – have to leave at 2:30 for a meeting.

    • Helios and Matheson (NASDAQ:HMNY) share jump 13.3% to $0.46 after disclosing that Citadel Securities has amassed 5.4% of the common stock.
    • Helios and Matheson is the majority owner of MoviePass.  
    • HMNY shares are down 39% in the past week, 84% this month, and 94% YTD.  
    • Micron (NASDAQ:MU) shares are up 2.4% to $62.83 with no new catalyst.  
    • The company hit a new 18-year high today and shares are up 19% since the catalyst-filled analyst day last week.
    • Micron shares are up 22% in the past month, 28% in the quarter, and 180% in the past year.  
    • Previously: Micron still trading higher on analyst day, $10B share repurchase (May 24)

    Samsung Electronics: 5G And AI Create A New Cycle

    • AT&T (T -0.6%) and Google (GOOG -1.1%GOOGL -1%) are forging deeper ties on cloud services through a new partnership initiative at Google.
    • Through the new Partner Interconnect, businesses will be able to connect to Google's Cloud Platform using AT&T NetBond for Cloud.
    • The arrangement also makes Google's enterprise G Suite offering available through AT&T's Collaborate solution; that gives businesses a single source for chat, voice, video and desktop sharing.
    • Partner Interconnect allows for organizations to connect privately to Google Cloud Platform and move workloads across multiple cloud environments without touching the public Internet.

  26. /NG/Grass – /NG is down because Russia seems to be opening up supplies to Europe and Asia and, since we're now in a global pricing game – people are backing off the longs until they get some clarity on total projected supply.  

    Wa also got rejected at $3 off a run from $2.50 so $2.90 and $2.80 would be the retraces – hopefully we hit $2.80 and test that support – that's a very attractive entry.

    LOL, Roseanne cancelled by DIS/ABC.  Good for them, would have been very hypocritical if they didn't – even though it was a hit show.   DIS takes a 2.5% hit on the news, $99.76.

    Wow!  There is no good reason for any web page to be 5.5MB


    Presidential Moral Leadership Less Important to Republicans…

    Not sure how humanity has survived this long.

    Why Big Wins & Small Losses = Profitability

    Risk/Reward Ratio needed for a win rate to break even.

    Why some emerging markets are melting down

  27. Well, I have to run to a meeting – don't let the Dow fall more than 500 while I'm gone!

  28. DIS / PHIL – What is your target price on this?…. I had it at 110 so was looking getting the 2020 95 110 BCS  FOR ABOUT 7?

    on this pull back?

  29. Phil

    Who is the #9 on the list of global Brands

    Can not read on my screen


  30. Bat To Pay 7$ for expecting to get 15 is not such a bad deal. Sell the 90 put fpor 5.65 and you only down 1.35.

  31. Why a strong economy won’t save Republicans in the 2018 midterms

  32. #9/qcmike, I think it is Alibaba

  33. mikezuela 



  34. Good for ABC to cancel Roseanne! But all the crap that she peddles comes from the top. Maybe it's time to cancel this season of the White House Apprentice!

    In the meantime, her co-stars must be pissed – all that BS leads to lost income for them. I hope she is happy.

  35. Yodi / DIS – thanks. I ended up buying the '20 90/105….  have only bought the long leg at 16.9. looking to sell the 105 leg at 9.5 to 10 I'd like to get north of 5 on the putter but this may be getting away.

  36. DIS is probably not helped by the smaller than anticipated Solo movie numbers! 

  37. can somebody please tell me why I am in such a good mood today?

  38. Been selling some VXX calls last week and today. Sold the July 60 last week and added July 70 today. The returns are OK – 10% on margin or so which is not bad for 2 months of work! In the last big VIX spike we had, VXX ran to 55 so I feel pretty confident and in any case, they roll nicely to the September 80 or so! Room to run.

  39. Bat, there is always a different way to buy a BCS. For my part I only buy them combined. Yes I know some will say, I wait for a higher price of the caller. But I have been burned too many times. The same I do apply with Strangles and srtaddles.

  40. BDC don't worry, be happy

  41. Yody / BCS – Yes it is more risky to go naked on this.  I do try not to leave calls unbalanced very long, and will typically fill at least 30 % in a week ( at best price) and then fill in each week till done.   In addition, I also leave myself the option of buying more calls on the way down.  Like DIS If I continues to fall I may sell puts later, or roll down or sell more at 90 coupled w/ short cherry calls.   On DIS I think this reaction was over done and will have a bounce back…. if it does I'm good, if not I go from a 116% gain to a 97% gain…  still ok.

  42. Yodi/Batman, Great discussion on DIS, very educational for us newbies.  thank u!  

    /NGV – Phil, thank you for the insight.  I took one contract @ $2.89, willing to DD at $2.80, and again at $2.70.   

  43. Top 5 Market Cap Weights – S&P 500

  44. Trump blows up G7 agenda