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Will We Hold It Wednesday – Russell 1,525 Edition

Woah-oh, we're halfway there….

The Russelll 2000 Index is halfway back to 1,750 after falling from there to 1,300 (25.7%) since the August highs.  Yesterday I expressed my misgivings about the recent low-volume rally and it's easy enough to manipulate the Dow, with just 30 stocks, the Nasdaq, with just 100 stocks and even the S&P 500 has half it's market cap in the top 30 stocks so it only takes a bit of firepower aimed at the leaders to prop up the markets so unscrupulous people can pretend things are better than they are

Not so much the Russell, with it's 2,000 small-cap stocks, which are more evenly distributed throughout the index or even the NYSE, with it's 2,800 companies that trade 1.8Bn times a day – those are VERY EXPENSIVE to manipulate but, the good news is that they generally follow the other 3 so manipulating the Big 3 usually leads to the NYSE and Russell following suit.  

Still, when we get to major inflection points, it's often the NYSE or the Russell that warn us that things may not be quite as they seem.  The NYSE topped out at 13,600 last January but then plunged 10% in two days and never regained its highs in the Summer, which is one of the things that kept us cautious while the rest of the indexes were making records.  In December, the low for the NYSE was 10,723 but we'll call the support line 11,000 and that's a 2,600-point fall (19%) and now we're back to test the 50 dma at 12,500 after a 13.5% rally, 2/3 of the way back to the top.

The Russell's 200 dma is at 1,588 and we need to see both of those indexes cross over before we waive the all-clear flage and get back to more bullish betting (we have plenty of bullish bets so less hedges, really).  Until then, we're crossing our fingers that we don't have a repeat of last January, where the market collapsed right after the State of the Union address, leading some people to believe the Administration had manipulated the market into the address in order for Trump to brag about it.

Image result for women's marchThere was nothing to brag about last night and Trump did not mention the stock market, which is down about 5% from his last address.  Trump did take credit for some interesing things yesterday, like the number of Women in Congress which, we would have to admnit, is because of Trump as hundreds of thousands of women marched against Trump's election in Washington DC and thousands of women we're still pissed off enough two years later to run for Congress on a platform aimed at stoping Trump before he could destroy more women's lives.  Trump also thanked them by pledging to attack Roe vs Wade in the courts

Trump called Mexico "The lawless state of our southern border - a threat to the safety, security and financial well-being of all Americans."  I imagine Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) and others will not be impressed this morning.  Of course this whole border security thing is BS, just a story Trump tells to make his base scared enough to want a wall where Trump can direct tens of Billions of Dollars to his builder buddies, with kickbacks for his family for decades to come – THAT is why the wall MUST be built!  

Other Trump claims were a bit more BSy:

“We have created 5.3 million new jobs and importantly added 600,000 new manufacturing jobs.”

Actually it's 4.9M so only a 10% lie and only 436,000 were manufacturing jobs so a 40% lie there but, more importantly, Trump didn't do anything, we lost 2.4M manufacturing jobs under Bush and Obama got 900,000 back and now Trump has added 436,000 but we're still over 1M jobs short so "not fixed yet" is more accurate than "creating jobs".  It's not a new job until it's a job that didn't exist before…

“Wages are rising at the fastest pace in decades.”

Actually inflation is rising at the fastest pace in decades, wages are barely keeping up at just 1.3% ahead of inflation in 2018, slowing from the pace set in 2015 and 2016 BT (before Trump).  The White House argues that traditional economic measures do not full capture increases in compensation, such as bonuses (handed out on Wall Street and to Corporate Executives), and so real wages have actually increased even more than shown in the economic data. 

“Nearly 5 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps.”

3.6M people (40% exaggeration) have stopped RECEIVING food stamps since Trump took office but mostly because he changed the rules so Millions of people are no longer eligible and immigrant families have been scared off the program as receiving food stamps brings the attention of ICE, who like to rip families apart in the middle of the night – that's a lot scarier than going hungry – just ask Anne Frank!  

“The U.S. economy is growing almost twice as fast today as when I took office, and we are considered far and away the hottest economy anywhere in the world — not even close.”

Trump's first quarter in office showed 1.8% GDP growth and last Quarter showed 3.4% GDP growth and Q4 is thought to be much lower but has been delayed due to the Government shutdown – so who know's what's true there.  Obama's 8-year average, even with the Bush disaster to work out of, was 2.1% and Trump, so far, is averaging 2.8%, which is still a good 33% faster but 33% isn't 100%.

“Unemployment has reached the lowest rate in half a century. African American, Hispanic American and Asian American unemployment have all reached their lowest levels ever recorded.”

Actually, we're only back to where we were this time last year (4%) and African American Unemployment bottomed out at 5.9% in May but is back to 6.8% as of January and Asian unemployment was never something I was worried about but now I am as it popped from 2.1% in May to 3.2% in the last report.

“And now, for the first time in 65 years, we are a net exporter of energy.”

Actually, we've been a net exporter of energy since 2015 – under Obama.  

“We recently imposed tariffs on $250 billion dollars of Chinese goods — and now our Treasury is receiving billions of dollars.”

Treasury data show that there was an increase of $6.7 billion in customs duties collected in the fiscal year that ended in September, and it’s possible most of the increase is due to tariffs. But the exporters do not pay the tariffs; it is the importer, who in turn passes it on to consumers. A study by the Council on Foreign Relations estimated 115% of the money raised from tariffs is being used by the Administration to aid farmers hurt by the tariffs, so it’s a net loser.

“The next major priority for me, and for all of us, should be to lower the cost of health care and prescription drugs — and to protect patients with preexisting conditions.”

We were hoping he'd say that and took a bet on LABD yesterday – we'll see how it goes.

Without me, we'd be at war with North Korea


An economic miracle is taking place in the United States — and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations.  If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn’t work that way!


Anyway, lies and threats were the theme of Trump's message – just like any Mafia guy who takes you to dinner, tells you stories and then threatens to kill you and your family if you mess with their business.  We'll see how the market reacts to this mess but, so far, the Futures seem to be holding up so we're just looking to make those technicals and all will be well(ish).


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  1. Testing the 200 DMA now – except for the Dow already over but that's a joke of an indice. Without AAPL, might still be below. 

  2. Someone must be worried that he asked for an end to the partisan investigation last night. Not sure what he was talking about – the Benghazi investigation that led to no indictments, the new ones from Lindsay Graham into the FBI that won't lead to any either or the Mueller one that has yielded 37 indictments! 

  3. Taking money from the poorest to give to the richest:

  4. Good Morning, All!

    Webinar day! 1pm.

  5. Good Morning!

  6. Snow – A Good Morning to You Sir. Safe travels to Korea!  :)

  7. Phill//  I had posted this in yesterday's post.  Posting it again.  Thanks for your time

    Phil//  I bought 20 WPM Jan 2020 strike $15.00 at 6:40 per unit.  I am looking to sell some short calls against my long and thus make my naked calls into a BCS.  Any recommendations? or just leave it naked?

  8. Morning Phil, I have this position in SDS:

    Bought 20 Jan20 $43 calls at $10.98, now $2.80

    Sold     10 Jan20 $50 calls at $8.33,   now $1.94

    What do you think a good adjustment would be?

    A little background, I have rolled this a couple times, bought back 1/2 of my shorts and tried to roll the longs twice, but never got filled.  I took profits off the table back in early Jan and rolled this March trade out to Jan20. I was thinking of the following trade.  Thoughts on this or a new position??

    Roll 20 Jan20 $43 long calls to 20 Jun19 $36 and sell 10 Jun19 $46 for a net credit of $1.35.  

    As always, thank you! 

  9. Thanks, 1020!

  10. More on that idiotic deal with Foxconn… Disaster for Wisconsin:

    A report from the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, a nonpartisan government agency, estimated the state would be in the red on the deal until at least 2042, and even that projection didn’t account for the kinds of increased public-services costs associated with population growth. It also based income tax revenue projections on the implausible assumption that every employee would live in Wisconsin, whereas some would almost certainly commute from nearby Illinois. “There’s no way this will ever pay itself off,” says Tim Bartik, a senior economist at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. He says Foxconn’s incentives are more than 10 times greater than typical government aid packages of its stripe.

  11. Good morning!

    Big Chart – Anything positive on the S&P or Nas is good enough to get us over the 200 dma and then all we have to do is hold it but, sadly, I don't see how we can with this volume and without a new catalyst and I don't think Trump gave us one though Powell is speaking at 7:30 tonight – he could push us over the top on this critical day (what a coincidence!). 

    WPM/Rookie – I'm never a fan of holding naked calls – especially as WPM has popped from $15 to $21 (40%) since Dec – even a great stock pulls back at some point.  The 2020 $15s are now $6.85 and the 2021 $15s are $7.30 so I think, for less than 0.50, I'd want to give them another year to go higher but, also, there's no need to be so deep in the money when you can buy the 2021 $17.50 ($5.60)/22.50 ($3.20) bull call spreads for $2.40 so 20 of those will make $2.60 (108%) at just $22.50 while you'd need to be at $24 on the calls you have now but this spread costs just $4,800 and you can put $8,900 back in your pocket.  That way, if WPM goes lower you will say "Yay! Now I can roll my $17.50s to the $12.50s for $2.50 ($5,000) and widen the spread and I'll still have $5,000 in my pocket!" or, if it doesn't go lower, you make $5,200 and move onto the next trade that will make you 54% a year with low risk.

    SDS/Grass – Well the half cover was very aggressive but water under the bridge now.  SDS is at $36 and it's a 2x ETF so a 10% correction will pop it 20% ($7.20) to $43 so the $43 calls are kind of a pointless hedge – that's what you always need to stay on top of – having reasonable targets.  If your targets are right, you can fully cover but if you have unrealistic targets, not only do you feel the need to 1/2 cover in order for the spread to "work" but you end up paying SHAMEFUL amounts of premium – making you the sucker who is giving all his money to the house.  I would think I had taught you better!  

    It doesn't matter what you have, what matters is what's a good spread.  Bear in mind that a Jan spread will not give you any kind of reward unless there is a long-term correction where the S&P STAYS DOWN through Jan so, if you will need short-term money to cover – this spread would be counter-productive.  We use them to hedge the LTP because there's very little chance we'd have to close any positions in a downturn so we'd ride them out and, if they were STILL down in Jan, THEN we get paid (and put that money into more adjustments).  

    So to hedge for a 10% correction the S&P, our target is SDS $43 and our choices are March (too soon), June, Sept and Jan (too long) so June it is – but only if you follow the rules you have failed to follow which means you roll the long calls when they fall to the price of the net of the spread you started with.  THAT is when you go to Jan.

    The June $32 calls are $4 and the June $40 calls are $1.55 so that's a net $2.45 spread that pays $8 at $40 so $4,900 returns $16,000 on 20 units.  If the price of the $32s drops to $2.50 or lower, THEN it is time to roll them to the Jan whatever spread is $2.50 that is also reasonably in the 10% range.  That's how you manage your hedges – you shouldn't be taking these big hits.

    Foxconn/StJ – They should call it off while they still can.  Such nonsense!  

    Oops, all red now.  Same lines as yesterday for shorting at 25,300 on /YM and 1,520 on /RTY.  Lined up with 2,730 and 7,010.

  12. Rookie I would roll Jan 20 to Jan 21 17.50 call for a credit and sell equal amount of callers Jan 21 25 call fo 2.45. Sell half amount of Jan 21 15 puts for .85 cents and than you can sell half monthly cherry calls against you BCS. Start Mar 22.5 for .32 cents

  13. Oil up 1.3Mb, Gasoline down 500K, Distillates down 2.3Mb so a good report for oil at $53.35 with /BZ $61.94 and /RB $1.425.   Not good enough to bet but should push them back up.  

    • EIA Petroleum Inventories: Crude +1.3M barrels vs. +2.2M consensus, +0.9M last week.
    • Gasoline +0.5M barrels vs. +1.6M consensus, -2.2M last week.
    • Distillates -2.3M barrels vs. -1.8M consensus, -1.1M last week.
    • Futures -0.97% to $53.14.

    Oil Ends Down on Weak Services Data; U.S. Crude Build Seen

    OPEC seeking formal pact with Russia to manage global oil market – WSJ

    We got a little dip in the indexes but it didn't last.

  14. Thanks Phil and Yodi.

  15. Phil,

    When you have a moment, can you suggest what I should do with this BCS position.

    BMY announced CELG acquisition for approx $100 in early 2019:

    Long 10 Jan 2020 CELG 90 Call; Paid $14.30 (now approx $8)

    Short 10 Jan 2020 CELG 100 Call; Received $9.90 (now approx $3.20)

    FYI – I also have short 6 Jan 2021 $70 puts sold for $7 – I am hoping this would expire worthless because of the acquisition.


  16. MU breaking out to new recovery high.

  17. Long /NG at 7004.  Risking 10 pts.  Small.

  18. An interesting (but somewhat doom/gloom) interview with Grant Williams, on what he thinks is going to happen with Europe, and the global economy in the coming years.

    It is pretty long, but I would be very interested in your view on this Phil if you get a chance to read.

  19. Stops up to entry on /NG.

  20. MU – this is what is moving it today:

    Micron's current ratings and Outlook reflect Fitch's expectation for lower permanent debt levels after Micron used elevated cash flow from record memory prices and issued equity to repay debt over the past two years, resulting in a stronger financial profile. While DRAM prices have fallen from record levels in the first half of calendar 2018, Fitch expects robust data growth, end market diversification and increasing memory and storage content will drive strong demand, while above-average rational supply additions will reduce cyclicality. Micron is also benefiting from a richer sales mix and more competitive technology. Fitch expects total leverage will remain solid for the rating through the memory cycle and that Micron will fund its $10 billion share repurchase authorization with FCF rather than existing cash balances.

  21. Tech on a tear – rest is flat to down…..  I wonder if there is more progress on tarriffs than is being outlooked?

  22. /NG out at entry.  

  23. Back in TRVG.  Sold some July $5 puts for .62.

  24. do you think the dollar will go much over 96 phil or should it head back down


  25. CELG/Vkat – It depends how sure you are the deal will go through but the offer was over $100 so your spread should pay the full $10 and the short puts will be worthless if acquired above $70 so not much to do but wait.  Clearly the market thinks there's a good chance the deal won't happen as the stock is at $88 but there's no logic in you giving the short caller $3 and the $80s are $14.50 so $6.50 to roll down $10 isn't that good of a deal so nothing to do but wait unless you want to be radical and take $8 ($8,000) for the 2020 $90 calls and buy 15 of the 2021 $90 ($9.60)/100 ($5.50) bull call spreads for $4.10 ($6,150) and hopefully they do get bought right around $100 and you pay the short calls very little and collect another $15,000.  That way, if they don't get bought, you have $1,850 in pocket and the short calls go worthless and then you can adjust the 2021 spread or sell more short calls or whatever.

    MU/Albo – Finally! 

    Gaining a little TOO fast now as we have short 2020 $42s but only 15/40 so I'm not complaining.

    Short Call 2020 17-JAN 55.00 CALL [MU @ $41.50 $2.13] -20 8/17/2018 (345) $-10,000 $5.00 $-1.75 $-0.45     $3.25 $0.70 $3,500 35.0% $-6,500
    Short Put 2020 17-JAN 42.00 PUT [MU @ $41.50 $2.13] -15 8/17/2018 (345) $-7,500 $5.00 $1.85     $6.85 $-0.60 $-2,775 -37.0% $-10,275
    Long Call 2021 15-JAN 35.00 CALL [MU @ $41.50 $2.13] 40 10/23/2018 (709) $48,000 $12.00 $2.20     $14.20 $1.64 $8,800 18.3% $56,800
    Short Call 2021 15-JAN 55.00 CALL [MU @ $41.50 $2.13] -40 10/22/2018 (709) $-26,800 $6.70 $-0.23     $6.48 $0.58 $900 3.4% $-25,900

    Even better in the OOP, where we didn't sell short calls in the smaller, more conservative portfolio:

    Long Call 2021 15-JAN 25.00 CALL [MU @ $41.50 $2.13] 20 12/12/2018 (709) $30,000 $15.00 $5.53 $12.45     $20.53 $2.28 $11,050 36.8% $41,050
    Short Call 2021 15-JAN 38.00 CALL [MU @ $41.50 $2.13] -10 12/12/2018 (709) $-10,000 $10.00 $2.63     $12.63 - $-2,625 -26.3% $-12,625
    Short Put 2021 15-JAN 25.00 PUT [MU @ $41.50 $2.13] -15 12/26/2018 (709) $-6,750 $4.50 $-2.25     $2.26 - $3,368 49.9% $-3,383

    This is what I mean when I say "Still good for a new trade" in our reviews:

    Was net $14,747, now net $25,042 – not bad for a few weeks!  

    /NG/Albo – I hope you meant /NQ though I would disagree with that long. 

    Homework/Palotay – Geez, 18 pages?  Actually I agree with a lot of Grant's negative assessments but I think the Central Banks and Governments still have the firepower to prop things up so I'm not ready to go all cash yet (as if cash will save you if those doom and gloom scenarios play out).  I do like to keep gold (miners) as a hedge but, for many years now – it hasn't been a productive hedge – though I would not sleep well without it due to the same issues Grant is pushing. 

    Tariffs/Batman – Same crap, the administration says they are making progress but no confirmation from China makes it all seem very suspicious.  They'll get a pass until 3/31 but then it's going to be time to put up or shut up.

    Speaking of /NG, signs of life.

    Dollar/Tommy – Long-term I think the Euro will fall and the Dollar will hit 100 again.  Short-term, depends what Powell says tonight but more doveish comments will keep us around 96 for the month.


    Dollar is only up about 7% (past year) while the Euro fell 9% (10% and a weak bounce so far) and the Dollar is 60% of all currency and the Euro is 30% so nothing else really matters anyway.  The Swiss are propping up the Euro for now and Canada is weak with low oil prices and Australia is weak because of China, who peg to the Dollar so their currency is meaningless and the UK is down with Brexit and won't get magically fixed so that's that…

  26. Duh !

    Of course, it was the NQH19. 8-)

    Still looking for another entry in /NQ.  Everything is just choppy right now.

  27. NAK finally above the 200 DMA. 

  28. Americans Name the 10 Most Significant Historic Events of Their Lifetimes

  29. Elizabeth Warren’s Native American problem just got even worse

  30. Well, not much happening and we'll just have to see what effect Powell has this evening.

  31. Phil / CMG earnings – this has had a significant run up into earnings today….  It will be interesting to see if they can justify a 525 price target

  32. Phil – looking for your take on a current HBI position I have considering earnings are coming up tomorrow morning. 

    initially (back in late 2017) I had: 

    short 10 HBI $18 2020 puts

    long 15 HBI $18/$23 Bull Call spreads

    net of that position was approx -$600 so a nice cheap entry.

    HBI subsequently dropped nearly 30% and I made some adjustments early this year;

    rolled the 10 short puts to 15 short $15 puts for about even. 

    rolled 15 2020 $18 calls down and out to 15 2021 $13 calls for approx $3000 cost

    bought back the short $23 calls for about $300

    So Im now in the position for about $3900, but the calls are uncovered (I'm planning to sell some short calls to cover obviously) so that cost will end up dropping. And actually I was pleased with how the adjustments have been working for this position, it shows that having a little flexibility to adjust can make a big difference, taking a position that was on track to be a big loser after a 30% drop and turning it into one that is now back near its breakeven point (before even selling the calls again). 

    But anyway, back to my main question, I dont want to get to fancy just want to sell 15 calls to re-cover the position (either shorter term and keep selling/rolling or longer). Im mainly looking for input on when and at what strike level you think I should sell calls at? Do i sell now before earnings (i suppose into higher expected vol? which should beef up the prices), or do I wait on earnings and hope to sell on a post earnings pop?

    any input much appreciated!

  33. PHIL/NLY

    I have the stock along with the short Jan 8  call, and the short '21 10 put. Do you have a suggestion for another stock with a good yield and good options?

  34. CMG/Batman – I hope not, we are short $500 calls in the hedge fund (against longs). 

    HBI/Crs – Still very cheap at $15.50.  You have 15 2020 $13s, naked I think and the 10 short $15 puts and you are right, now that you are even, there's no sense in taking a big risk.  They should make about $650M so $6.5Bn should be the bottom of their range and they are currently at $5.6Bn so 20% higher would be, say $19 and the 200 dma is $17.50 so certainly up there.  The $10s are $6 and the $13s are $3.80 so paying $1.20 for $3 in position makes sense and the $8s are $7.60 so paying $1.20 more for $2 is not as good so I'd roll to the $10s and sell the $17s for $2.05 to pay for it and that takes 0.85 ($1,275) off the table and leaves you with 15 $10/17 spreads ($10,500) that, hopefully, you won't need to think much about for the next two years until its time to collect your winnings.  

    NLY/Zten – CIM is run by the same group and ARR, NRZ and SKT are the other REITs I really like – all in the LTP.  

  35. Phil,

    Thanks for the detailed adjustment options (pun intended) on CELG. I have 2 more positions that need your comments on when you have some time.

    1. PXD Pioneer drilling

    Long 6 PXD Jan 2020 160 Call; Paid $35 (about $13 now)

    Short 6 Jan 2020 190 Call; Got $21 (about $5.50 now)


    2. SQQQ hedge – 37 days to expiration

    Long 10 March 2019 13 Calls; Paid $2.29 (now $0.60)

    Short 10 March 2019 20 Calls; Got $0.80 (now $0.1)



  36. TWTR reports tomorrow morning.

  37. PXD/Vkat – So it's a net $14 spread and now the long calls are $13 so the move is to take the $13 and leave the short $190s to expire (assuming you have the margin to do that) and find a more realistic 2021 spread that can cover them (and make you money).  I don't think PXD is particularly cheap at $142 as that's $24.2Bn and they are a cyclical that's not good for more than $1.5Bn so p/e around 16 in the best case is not at all impressive.  If you must stick with them,. I'd play the 2021 $130 ($36)/160 ($23) bull call spread at $13 for the $30 spread that's $12 in the money.  That way, you don't owe anything to the short caller unless your spread is $30 in the money (and up about $22.50).  Maybe put a stop on 2 short calls at $7.50 and 2 more at $10 to stay safe.

    SQQQ/VKat – I do not like short-term covers as your premium runs dry (as it did) too quickly.  You paid $1.49 and now 0.50 so very late on the roll so essentially it's a loss and you simply find a new trade.  I'd go with the above SDS over SQQQ though as I think AAPL can still go up a lot, taking the Qs with it and then you lose the new money too.  Unless your REALLY need an SQQQ hedge, then I'd go with the June $10 ($2.65)/15 ($1) bull call spread at $1.65 but you REALLY have to roll the $10s BEFORE they go below $1.50 or you may as well burn the money now.  

    A little stick kept us green into the close but not very impressive.

  38. cmg???

  39. boom!!!

  40. CMG with nice beat, blasting up through $550.  Looks like we'll have to beef up our longs and roll the short calls.  frown

  41. America’s Largest Cities Are Practically Broke

  42. Ever heard of modern monetary theory?

  43. Thanks Phil for commenting on SQQQ and PXD.

  44.  Phil / cmg.  Very strong qtr and good outlook. 

    I have. 25x Jan ‘21 480 (90) /  540 (65) 

    Also short 5x apr ‘19 550 call (21).  May need to roll and and adjust.


    any ideas.  


    I need to revalue but will need to go be this a higher multiple will do so tonight.   

  45. I see member questions but not Phil's reply in the Posts????

  46. mill/invisible Phil

    Did you accidentally “ignore” him?

  47. Millard / Can't see – check to see if you blocked Phil by accident.  If you blocked anyone it will show up at bottom of page website

  48. BRK.A – Does anyone know when they report the portfolio holdings?

  49. CTSH – Reported a solid Qtr / year and has outlooked reasonably well for next year (they are typically conservative).  EPS has gone from from 3.39, 3.77, 4.57 from '16 to '18 while earnings are beating the revenue  growth.  I've outlooked them for about a 5.12 this year and 5.7 in '20.  I have them pegged at price of 80 to 90 this year and 95 to 105 in '20.  this is on a 17PE which is lower than they have been trading for. 

  50. Good morning and wheeee!  

    Well, only 150 points so far but it is following the pattern we saw after the last SOTU – we'll just have to see what holds.

    Powell was no help yesterday and /NG tumbled again so thank goodness for /YM 2,150! 

    S&P Stalls At Key Technical Level As Earnings Expectations Crash To 6-Month Lows. 

    Fed's Powell reveals biggest economic challenge over the next decade

    Janet Yellen: Possible next Fed move is a cut if global growth continues to slow.

    Chipotle(CMG) shares jump after company crushes earnings estimates, as turnaround pace picks up