Option Investor
Index Wrap

Please Pass The Crow

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        WE 6-08          WE 6-01          WE 5-18          WE 5-11
DOW    10977.00 - 13.41 10990.41 + 78.47 11005.37 -296.37  +480.43
Nasdaq  2215.10 + 65.66  2149.44 + 38.95  2251.03 + 52.15  + 91.45
S&P-100  651.92 +  2.31   649.61 +  3.38   658.29 - 10.09  + 22.95
S&P-500 1264.96 +  4.28  1260.67 +  4.85  1277.89 - 14.07  + 46.29
W5000  11736.70 + 65.13 11671.40 + 61.20 11849.89 - 73.63  +432.18
RUT      511.64 +  9.92   501.72 +  5.22   508.62 +  2.34  + 18.92
TRAN    2882.09 -  4.96  2887.05 - 58.85  2929.20 - 49.75  + 99.39
VIX       21.41 -  2.55    23.96 -  2.00    23.15 -  1.11  -  3.22
Put/Call    .54              .53              .62              .47 

Please Pass The Crow
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Sure I was thinking of Peking Duck after last nights winning cheer by Intel at The Market Cheerleader Challenge. But Friday morning, the squad from Juniper wrecked the party by stating they have no visibility and would offer no visibility for the second half - sore losers, Killjoys! They could have simply said things are not so good, however demand has remained steady for the last two days, and we are optimistic about our future.

But no. They were brutally honest with their comments and got slammed for a $6 loss just as any honest company would for speaking the truth. "Tell me anything. Just do not make me mad!" investors seemed to be saying. Perhaps a nicer way of saying that would be that if every company told it like it is, valuations would be more attractive and we would already have reached a market bottom. But as long as truth is a scarcity, the market will have optimists willing to accept the obfuscation.

Personally, I think there was another angle to today's selloff. It stemmed from the new software implanted by the NYSE last night. In short, it did not work correctly, which forced a shutdown of the whole exchange. Naturally that led to a shutdown of the futures market. Immediately upon its reopen, the futures tanked, and when the NYSE reverted the old system an hour later, it tanked too upon its reopening. Once the selling ended, a slow, protracted move up ensued with decent volume late in the day that made up for the deficit formed during the hours of closure. Surprisingly, volume was NOT the lowest of the year.

I am not saying the downdraft under 11,000 on the Dow was a fluke; there was some technical damage done there. However, I think it was borne of investors not wanting to get in trades if they could not close them, which was the case for anyone long during that time, and not wanting to remain in them once the market reopened. Fear of the unknown is a scary thing. Just ask Juniper investors.

The good news is that there was a recovery attempt that had some staying power. With some weak bulls shaken out by NYSE events, the regular longhorns appeared back in graze mode. Bulls are far from dead; bears would like to eat. The two are likely to remain in a tug-o-war as the summer lowers the volume and the markets become stuck in a range.

This really was a big news week for the markets - much of it negative. A Fed governor quit. Intel warned and offered roses last night that died this morning. Juniper gave black roses and got killed. Phillip Morris got killed by a $3 bln jury award and warned that cigarette smoking is still dangerous. Hewlett Packard notified the world that the whole world was experiencing an economic slowdown. Rumors flew. Fed rate-cut speculation flew. Earnings warning speculation flew.

But in the end, the markets did not. This was a flat week and in the end, uneventful, except for its volatility. The Dow lost only 13 points on the week, while the NASDAQ-100 gained 56, and the S&P 500 gained 4. Bullish investors could have cared less about the news and were able to buck the bears' advances. Volume is not enough in abundance to set any new records to the upside, nor the downside.

Brace yourselves! (Not really) After today, markets are mixed, once again suggesting markets are headed for a summer trading range. Fundamentally, the markets stink. Everyone knows that and does not care. So as much as I see a bunch of fundamental downside, the market says I am wrong. As I have said before, I would rather be wrong and make money than be right and lose my account. How about we take a peak at some charts for guidance?

Dow Industrial chart (INDU):

Hmmm. . .I double-doji dare you! At least I would if we focused only on the weekly charts. Check out the last two candles on the left chart - indecision with oscillators warning to look out below. The daily however still shows its bullish divergence. But it also shows a neutral wedge that could break either up or down in coming days. Hanging out midway between the Bollinger bands at the 20-dma is also a sign of neutrality. Frankly, the stochastic oscillator does not look good and has reversed to the downside in mid-upstroke. That is the sign of the bear. The bulls though would note the upturn in the 60/30 stochastic and the slow but steady price action after this mornings NYSE technology challenge selloff.

NASDAQ-100 (NDX) chart:

Neither fish nor fowl. Bullish divergence appears here too with good support at 1750. However the stochastic pause mid-stroke on the daily chart is not encouraging for bulls. Nor is the "tweezer top" of the last two daily candles at a lower level. Possibility of a head and shoulders formation (bearish) exists too, but that will be confirmed later. While the 20-dma held, the Bollinger bands suggest a move in either direction is possible. There is no conviction. The SOX, which theoretically leads the technology issues, bumped squarely into 700 resistance and rolled over today too. Perhaps techs will follow, but the 60/30 charts suggest that we get one move bullish move before bears own the territory. We will flip a coin on Monday morning.

S&P 500 chart (SPX):

Same story here too. SPX sits in the middle of its trading range defined by the Bollinger bands and could trade either way. Bears can point to the potential for a head and shoulders formation on the daily chart, which would also be the establishment of a new downward trading channel. Again, the stochastic glitch in mid-stroke speaks well for the bears too. However, the bulls would say that the 60/30 stochastic is reversing for the upside and will correct the daily chart in the process before it has a chance to complete a stochastic cross. While it is not shown here, bullish divergence is still intact on the daily chart.

Heads we win; tails they lose. Who is with me? I wish it really worked that way. But now my sincerest hope is that we all see the difficulty in trying to forecast this market in one direction or the other. The wrap last night suggested that bulls were still in control and that may still be the case. But as I was preparing my crow for lunch following the anticipation of duck, an interesting thing took place this morning as JNPR got clobbered and INTC's investor love-fest of last night turned into a regretful morning after. We might now think that brutal honesty tips the scales for the bears, but that did not matter just yesterday when Lattice Semi was also brutally honest and lost only $0.20 on the day.

The lesson is that profile counts. If the company does not offer significant "mindshare" or brand image, warnings are forgiven. Apparently not so for the #1 or #2 company in their respective businesses. Beware, significant warnings are likely to start next week.

The VIX too hovering just above 20 at 21.41 suggests option holders are betting heavily on the call side. Contrarians could take note any day now and begin to raise the VIX by purchasing puts from the current lack of fear in the market. Or not. . .The VIX can stay lower for a long time. This is a tough market for even skilled daytraders.

The best way I can think of right now to profit from this market is to not lose money any by keeping cash firmly planted in the brokerage account and not in the market. As Jim Brown has noted in the past, "only trade when it is profitable to do so". With the market fraught with dangers all over, everyone is twitchy, including me. Cheap volatility in the form of straddles with at least 90 days to expiration (that leaves 30 days to be right and 60 days to still preserve some time value if we are wrong) may be the way to play the coming weeks as long as the VIX remains low. When/if the market moves drastically, the position not only wins from underlying movement, but from expanding volatility (VIX). If you have to play, that is one way to do it. Otherwise, our skills of predicting directional movement need to be deadly accurate.

Make a great weekend for yourselves, and we will see you at the bell on Monday!

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