Option Investor

Daily Newsletter, Monday, 11/18/2002

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The Option Investor Newsletter                   Monday 11-18-2002
Copyright 2002, All rights reserved.                        1 of 2
Redistribution in any form strictly prohibited.

In Section One:

Wrap: Steven Price
Futures Wrap: Gap and Trap
Index Trader Wrap: A little bit of this and a little bit of that
Weekly Fund Wrap: Equity Funds Bounce Back
Traders Corner: Trading Bullish, Even With A Bearish Bias

Updated on the site tonight:
Swing Trader Game Plan: Ready, Set, Go, Maybe

Posted online for subscribers at http://www.OptionInvestor.com
MARKET WRAP  (view in courier font for table alignment)
11-18-2002                High    Low     Volume Advance/Decl
DJIA     8486.57 - 92.52  8636.24 8480.68  1523 mln   644/857
NASDAQ   1393.69 -  17.45 1425.42 1393.66  1681 mln   720/921
S&P 100   396.15 -   7.07  408.26  394.80   totals   1364/1778
S&P 500   900.36 -   9.47  915.91  899.48
RUS 2000  382.58 -   3.34  388.08  381.82
DJ TRANS 2290.64 -  42.56 2349.65 2290.45
VIX        31.11 +   0.28   31.35  29.96
VIXN       48.09 -   1.59   49.46  46.69
Put/Call Ratio  0.65

Both Sides of the Argument
by Steven Price

Everyone take a deep breath; the markets certainly did today. Not 
that the Dow broke its string of triple-digit intraday moves.  
However, it continued that streak on light volume, and gave us 
little indication of momentum. While we finished down on the day, 
it wasn't a powerful sell-off and after the recent rally the 
question is whether this was just a normal pullback on the way 
up, or a trend reversal.  

There are a couple schools of thought for traders to consider.  
First, the bears can look at the still in tact head and shoulders 
pattern that may be forming in the Dow and S&P 500.  The left 
shoulder of that formation has a top at 8547, the head at 8800 
and the right shoulder could be forming anywhere under 8800. The 
recent rebound was necessary for the bearish formation and 
today's rollover in those indices could be just the continuation 
of that pattern.  If we continue to either drop, or go sideways 
and then drop, then the measuring objective of that formation 
would place the Dow at around 7800.  The neckline breakdown 
necessary to complete the formation is between 8300-8400 and 
after a rally of 1600 points since bottoming at 7197 on the 
morning of October 10, we are severely overbought and due for a 
correction.   The bears can also point out that we are still in a 
bear market and that any bear market is subject to intermediate 
rallies on the way down. The fact that previous resistance at 
8500 in the Dow did not serve as support on the pullback also 
appears to be bearish, for those investors who were hoping to 
enter long on a pullback to support. Unemployment still remains 
high and there has been no noticeable up tick in IT or business 
spending.   The Nasdaq Composite has not been able to crack its 
August high of 1426, having found resistance there on each 
subsequent attempt.  Today's high of 1425 found significant 
selling, as the index fell 32 points after failing that level.    
The recent rally is just another shorting opportunity and anyone 
who buys stock in a company that has warned about declining 
revenues and no visible turnaround (as many of the rising chip 
stocks have) ought to have their head examined.  A fool and his 
money....  By now you get the bearish picture.  So why on earth 
is anyone bullish?

Bulls can point to the fact that we are still more than 3000 
points below the Dow's high of 11,750 back in January of 2000.  
The chip stocks, as measured by the Semiconductor Index (SOX) 
have dropped from a high of 1362 in March 2000 to just 319 at 
today's close.   That index was trading as high as 641 back in 
March of this year, and the recent rally in the sector is due to 
the fact that recent earnings were not as bad as expected and 
many of the companies trading in single digits are a steal if IT 
spending ever picks up, which it eventually will.  Bulls can also 
point out the fact that, sure the Dow's point and figure chart 
approximated the same bearish vertical count as the head and 
shoulder's indication, but it reversed up into a buy signal last 
week with the trade of 8550 and some pullback is to be expected 
after such a big recent run.  A trade of 8450 would be required 
to reverse that buy signal and so far we have not reversed that 
far.  The next point and figure sell signal does not come until 
8250, and until that happens, the bullish vertical count is at 
least 9250, and could go higher if the index continues higher 
without a reversal.  The SPX has also held support over 900, and 
although the Dow gave up 8500 today, the S&P is a broader measure 
and is less responsive to a move in just a few of its components, 
with 500 stocks, versus 30 for the Dow. Sure, the Nasdaq has been 
rejected at the August high on several occasions, but doesn't 
that mean that the index is testing its highs?  It is also 
curious that the NDX volatility index (VXN) finished down on the 
day, in spite of the late day sell-off.  If any of the large 
institutions thought we were getting ready for another big drop, 
they certainly weren't buying puts. 

Chart of the Dow

Point and Figure Chart of the Dow

Chart of the Nasdaq

There were no official economic data releases, but there was one 
report that I give significant weight to.  That would be Wal-
Mart's sales report that said stores open at least a year were 
tracking at the low end of forecasts for the month of November. 
Last week, the retailing behemoth beat earnings expectations, but 
guided toward the low end of earnings forecasts for the fourth 
quarter.  More importantly, Wal-Mart has traditionally forecast 
same store sales at a growth rate of 4-6% per month, and has 
lowered that estimate to 2-4% in recent months.  That essentially 
means Wal-Mart could see growth as low as one third of its 
traditional range. As the world's largest retailer, supplying 
everything from clothing, to groceries, to electronics, a slow 
month heading into the holiday season is a poor sign for consumer 
spending.  While much of Wal-Mart's sales problem has stemmed 
from a decline at its Sam's Club warehouse chain, reflecting the 
fewer number of small businesses, the trend still shows yet 
another month not meeting expectations, but this time at a lower 
level. Federated (FD), owner of Macy's and Bloomingdale's, also 
chimed in with similar comments as those from Wal-Mart, saying 
that sales for the second week of November were "disappointing" 
and reiterated its expectations of same store sales for November 
and December coming in flat to down 2.5%.  This sentiment would 
seem to cover all levels of the income scale, with the higher end 
stores of Federated, and the discounters like Wal-Mart all 
suffering another disappointing month.   Lowe's (LOW) actually 
posted decent earnings numbers, beating estimates and raising 
profit targets, mostly as a result of the housing and refinancing 
boom.  While this was good news for stocks like Lowe's and Home 
Depot (HD), investors apparently put more stock in the far-
reaching Wal-Mart report and sold off even LOW (-$1.60). We have 
seen some conflicting data from the Consumer Confidence Index, 
which has been poor and sinking, and the University of Michigan 
Consumer Sentiment Survey, whose preliminary number was positive 
and beat expectations last week.  The real dollars show up at 
places like Wal-Mart, so for the time being I'll lean toward the 
Confidence report. The Retail Index (RLX.X) appears to be rolling 
over from its fourth lower high, although the last rebound was 
actually a higher low. 

Chart of the RLX

United Airlines announced it would be laying off 9,000 more 
workers and cutting back on flights, as part of a plan to avoid 
bankruptcy and turn a profit by 2004.  Of course, this was part 
of a plan to obtain a $1.8 billion federally guaranteed loan and 
also included the deferment of all scheduled aircraft deliveries 
through 2005. The plan includes a severe reduction in capital 
spending from an annual average of $2.4 billion to $450 million 
in 2003 and $400 million in 2004.  Those are an awful lot of 
dollars out of the spending stream and mirror statements that 
have accompanied most of the largest companies' recent earnings 

Nokia has some positive things to say about the handset market 
growing 10-15% for the next three years.  This is consistent with 
statements from Qualcomm, which has seen increasing shipments for 
wireless phone chips and seems to be one of the few segments of 
the chip sector safe to put money into, when considering a ride 
on the rising wave in the SOX.   The chip sector tested its 
recent highs again today, before dropping with the broader 
markets in the afternoon fade.  It still finished up on the day 
and continues to look resilient in spite of a slew of earnings 
and revenue warnings over the past couple of months. 

With the Dow under 8500 and the SPX over 900 (barely), it is 
tough to pick direction right now.  If this is just another 
pullback and we get a rally tomorrow, then 900 will be the level 
to watch on subsequent pullbacks.  If we continue to drop, then 
it looks like Dow 8500 will be the key to support for a sustained 
rally in the future and the next number to watch will be the 
neckline in the Dow H&S pattern. If the Nasdaq can manage to 
break through that August high, however, I'm stepping out of the 
way short and letting it run. 


Gap and Trap
By John Seckinger

The equity markets gapped higher on Monday and seemed to trap a 
few longs in the process that expected a major move to the 
upside.  It was the tech-laden Nasdaq that failed to confirm such 

Monday, November 18th at 4:15 P.M. 

Contract          Net Change     High        Low        Volume    

ES02Z     899.75     -9.25      916.75      898.50      527,309
YM02Z    8480.00    -86.00     8638.00     8480.00       15,863
NQ02Z    1049.50     -0.50     1077.00     1047.00      215,154

ES02Z  =  E-mini SP500 futures    
YM02Z  =  E-mini Dow $5 futures    
NQ02Z  =  E-mini NDX 100 futures     

Note:  The 02Z suffix stands for 2002, December, and will change 
as the exchanges shift the contract month.  The contract months 
are March, June, September, and December.  The volume stats are 
from Q-charts.  

Fundamental News:  Higher crude oil prices, due mainly to 
nervousness ahead of weapons inspectors’ Iraqi tour that begins 
on December 8th (team arrived in Baghdad on Monday).  Other news 
included positive earnings from Lowe’s (LOW), as well as FDA 
approval for Bristol Myers Squibb (BMY).  Additionally, there was 
a positive Barron’s article regarding Hewlett Packard Co. (HPQ).  
Negative news included downgrade of AT&T from Lehman Brothers 
(“underweight” to “equal-weight”), as well as Wal-Mart stating 
that November Sales at stores open a year or more are currently 
tracking the low end of previous forecasts.    

Technical News:  The Utility Index (UTY) came under pressure and 
closed at 239 and under its 22 DMA (239.97).  Moreover, the Sox 
index collapsed from an intra-day high of 331.63 to 319.71 and 
should have bulls nervous.  The downward objective for the Sox is 
297, while a move back above 330 should generate new buying 
interest.  Elsewhere, the Dec 30-year closed up ’27 ticks to 
111’29 and at its session high.  Further resistance is seen at 
112’11 and 113.  The 22 DMA is underneath at 111’02.  Note:  A 
move under 110’08 would be viewed as bearish for bonds and 
bullish for stocks.  


The Nasdaq Composite

Sometimes the futures market gets a little ahead of themselves.  
On Monday, the NQ02Z contract opened above the 1073 resistance 
area and seemed poised to make a run to 1100.  However, looking 
at the Nasdaq (daily chart), the 1426 resistance area was barely 
missed and quickly gave shorts more of a reason to put on short 
positions while using a tight stop.  If selling pressure does 
continue, look for a move to 1350 (middle green line) and the 22 
DMA (currently at 1345).  

When looking at a market from a “sell resistance, buy support” 
mentality, using Stochastics can be a valuable tool.  This 
oscillator works well for range-traders, and is currently 
pointing to overbought conditions.  If, on the other hand, the 
Nasdaq closes above the 1426 level and heads towards its 200 DMA 
(1490) (read: rejecting its range), the importance of Stochastics 
will become diluted.  So, how do we know if the Nasdaq is in a 
range?  Since the green and blue pivotal lines continue to act as 
resistance/support lines, it makes no sense to think otherwise 
(until a close above 1426 or below 1315).  

Chart of Nasdaq, Daily 

Taking things to a more micro level, a 60-minute chart of the 
NQ02Z shows prices above 1073 this morning and then quickly 
reversing back underneath (read: trapping longs).  At the end of 
trading on Monday, the index also managed to close under the 
relative high of 1058 set in August.  With the 22 Period Moving 
Average (PMA) at current levels, prices should not stay at 
1049.50 for long.  With that said, Go SHORT at 1060 with an 
objective of 1023.  Stop at 1075.  Expect support at the 50 PMA, 
currently at 1036.  For bears, the key would be to get the NQ02Z 
to close underneath the rising blue trend line (currently at 
997).  Possible long positions could be either on a bounce upward 
from 1023 or the rising support area (blue line).  Moreover, if 
the Nasdaq closes above 1426, traders should look for a move 
towards 1100.  

Chart of NQ02Z, 60-minute 

Looking at the ES02Z contract, a move under 897.50 and below the 
22 PMA (currently at 898.50) should be the catalyst for a move 
towards 890.25 and the short-term pivot area.  If, on the other 
hand, prices open higher, look to Go SHORT the ES02Z contract 
near 908.75 with an objective of 893.50 (50% retracement level).  
Stop at 913.75.  With MACD still in a downward trend and prices 
clearly falling back into a defined range, it is hard to take a 
bullish perspective in the ES until the contract can close above 
910 in the near term. 

Chart of ES02Z, 120-minute 

A 10-minute chart of the ES02Z contract shows how intra-day 
retracement analysis can be used for short-term traders.  The 
ES02Z contract fell to the 905 level, bid back roughly 50% of its 
decline, and then proceeded to set a triple sell signal at 905 
and trade under 900.  With volume relatively light, selling 
support (at 905 towards the end of the day) can easily produce 
reverse results.  Moreover, at the 50% retracement level, prices 
are considered in a neutral zone and could have kept bidding.  
Therefore, during light volume days, it makes sense to have 
confirmation elsewhere (bond market, etc.).  

Chart of ES02Z, 10-minute 

The YM02Z contract is the best example of a trap, since prices 
gapped above the red resistance line and seems destined to hit 
8700 by day’s end.  However, it was soon afterwards that the YM 
contract went back into its wedge and then used the rising blue 
as resistance instead of support.  Furthermore, neither 8500 nor 
8491 could contain the selling pressure as the session unwound.  

With the stochastics showing an oversold market, there is a 
chance the contract will trade back to 8550 before rolling over 
again.  In theory, prices should not rise above the 8491-8500 
range.  Aggressive traders can look to sell the YM contract near 
8500 with an objective of 8400 and 8530 stop.  If prices gap 
lower, wait to see if the contract bounces from either 8437 or 
8405.  If a bounce takes place, look to go short from near 8480 
with a stop at 8505 and objective of the 200 PMA (currently at 
8360).  The intermediate goal for bears is for a trade of 8280.  
Note:  A close between 8500 and 8550 will take sentiment towards 
neutral levels.  

Chart of YM02Z, 60-minute 

Good Luck.

Questions are welcomed,

John Seckinger


A little bit of this and a little bit of that

Traders, both bullish and bearish had their fair share of news 
from this weekend and even today to make for a very mixed type of 
market.  By session's end, the major indexes edged lower with the 
Dow Industrials (INDU) 8,486 falling 92 points, or -1%, while the 
broader S&P 500 Index (SPX.X) 900 edged down 9.5 points or 1%, 
while gains for technology stocks faded as the more volatile 
NASDAQ-100 Index (NDX.X) 1,045 -1.5% lost 16 points by session's 

With the latest earnings season having almost run its course, the 
next catalysts likely will be economic data and geopolitical 

On the Iraq front, U.N. weapons inspectors returned to the 
country on today after a four-year hiatus to resume the search 
for weapons of mass destruction.

While some cite today's market fade as concern among investors 
that there will be some type of war with Iraq, the markets 
continue to generate mixed signals on this front.  December Crude 
Oil futures (cl02z) $26.71 jumped 4.7% or $1.21, yet defense-
related stocks had both defense indexes $DFI.X 486 -2.3% and 
$DFX.X 152.61 -1.67% continuing last week's downward trend.  

Defense contractor Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC) $87.46 -4.7% 
closed at a 52-week low after achieving its bearish vertical 
count of $90.00 from its point and figure chart.  

In today's Wall Street Journal "Heard on the Street" column, the 
sell off in defense stocks was largely attributed to lofty 
valuations, the belief that the Pentagon's 2003 budget represents 
a peak, and the prospects of a short war with Iraq don't give 
prolonged upside to the sector.  Some feel Northrop Grumman's 
pending acquisition of TRW and string of past acquisitions will 
have the company financially overextended.

Merrill Lynch chief global investment strategist David Bowers 
said that unilateral military action could affect global capital 
flows into the United States, citing the history of the 1956 
crisis over control of the Suez Canal and the run on the 

"Iraq's decision to accept the U.N. resolution has been well 
received by the markets.  While we all hope this reduces the risk 
of military action in the Middle East, it would be na´ve to 
assume that this process is going to proceed smoothly, especially 
if history is a guide," he said.

Some feel that any evidence of mass destruction weapons by itself 
will call for the resignation/overthrow of Saddam Hussein and an 
overthrow would not come without some type of outside military 
action.  Conversely, any "lack of evidence" of weapons by the 
U.N. will have the Bush administration questioning the U.N.'s 
accessibility to all facilities and storage areas and keep U.S. / 
Iraq tensions high.

Terrorism jitters may return to the fore amid reports that the 
al-Qaida terrorist network is again planning "spectacular 
attacks" on American soil.  Still, a senior Bush administration 
official said Sunday the United States is safer from terrorist 
attacks than it was a year ago.  On Monday, intelligence sources 
said terror chief Osama bin Laden is still alive based on a 
recent audiotape.  Despite these finding, Homeland Security left 
the nation's alert system at "code yellow."

Dow Industrials Chart - Daily Interval

Stocks like 3M (NYSE:MMM) $127.50 -1.54%, which have found 
resistance at $130 historically and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) 
$59.06, which has found resistance at $61.00 have been unable to 
break and hold 52-week highs and relative highs respectively.  
With stochastics approaching "overbought" and MACD still below 
Signal, I'm not compelled to initiate a bullish or bearish entry 
at this point.  The Dow Industrials have really been little 
changed the past four weeks with scalp traders doing good to get 
a 2% move in either direction.  The narrowing upper and lower 
Bollinger Bands hints of further range-bound trading and close 
right on the 21-day SMA has a trader looking at a 50/50 trade 

While very narrow and only 30-stocks, the Dow Industrials Bullish 
% ($BPINDU) remained unchanged after today's action and still 
"bull confirmed" at 66.67%.  The bearish side of me is hesitant 
to trade against the internals, while a level so near 70% tells 
me that risk for bulls is much higher than it was a month ago at 
3.33% bullish.  

S&P 500 Index Chart - Daily Interval

Technology sector gains were somewhat offset by weakness in 
financials in the morning session and near the close, financial 
sectors, especially banks, lead lower and technology sectors 
finished rather mixed.  Add in some marginal buying in Treasuries 
ahead of tomorrow's economic data and bulls seemed hesitant.

Today's action saw no net change in the S&P 500 Bullish % 
($BPSPX) and current reading remains "bull alert" at 55.6%.  A 
reading at 60% would have this index reaching "bull confirmed" 
while it would take a reversal lower at 50% to turn back to "bear 

Last week's overall Producer Price Index (PPI) rather unexpected 
1.1% rise will have tomorrow's Consumer Price Index (CPI) reading 
getting a little more attention than usual.  Consensus is for the 
overall CPI to rise 0.3% in October, while the core rate 
(excluding more volatile food and energy components) to rise 
0.2%.  The Fed will be watching these numbers rather closely too 
as it has deemed the low rates of inflation as giving it the 
ability to be more generous with its interest rate cuts.

December Gold Futures (gc02z) $319.50 are edging up 10 cents as I 
write, but were rather calm today and traded down $1.50 to close 
at $319.40 today.

Also due out before the equity markets open is the U.S. Trade 
balance for September.  Economists are looking for a deficit of 
-$37.3 billion, which would be down from prior -$38.5 billion.  
This is simply a measure of imports versus exports.  Most likely, 
the weaker U.S. Dollar Index (dx00y) 105.07 +0.02% over the last 
couple of weeks from the 108 levels is reason to expect the trade 
deficit to shrink a bit.

S&P 100 Index Chart - Daily Interval

A negative pre-market reaction to the CPI numbers can have a 
short-term bear implementing a trade at the open, just as a 
positive response will have a bull doing the same.  As things 
stand right now, I'm more bullish the OEX than bearish, but my 
trading range of 440-480 puts me just in the middle of this type 
of range, therefore a small position is warranted as risk/reward 
is 50/50.  The last recent high found Stochastics in overbought 
territory for a brief 2-sesson amount of time, just as the dip to 
447 saw a brief low.  As such, traders will be well served to 
trade targets to the upside of 480 near-term and downside of 440.

Today's action saw no net change in the S&P 100 Bullish % 
($BPOEX) and status remains "bull confirmed" at 65%.  Friday was 
the relative high reading since the move off the bottom and hints 
ever so slightly of "bullish DIVERGENCE" where the internals hold 
up, while the OEX is just off its relative high.  

NASDAQ-100 Index Chart - Daily Interval

The NDX traded strong up until the end of the session.  Last week 
we thought the YLS.X was the sector to look for some bullish 
leadership and that group has cleared its July highs, while the 
NDX and QQQ struggle with those relative highs as resistance.  
Microsoft (MSFT) $55.85 -1.48%, which is the largest weighted 
component acts a bit like MMM and JNJ in the Dow as a stock that 
seems to be waiting for bulls to push it to the next level and 
help get the index above near-term resistance.  

Microsoft (MSFT) did edge up at the open, but a report in 
Europe's Financial Times that MSFT has revealed for the first 
time that is has made profit margins of 85% on its Windows 
operating system while its remaining businesses made losses, 
raised some questions about the benefits of MSFT's costly efforts 
to diversify away from its popular operating system.  That report 
not only weighed on MSFT today, but really kept the NDX and QQQ 
from breaking much above July's horizontal resistance.  

Tomorrow, if stock futures react negatively to a much stronger 
CPI number and Treasuries see buying, I'd look to short/put the 
NDX/QQQ with a tight stop just above today's highs.

Today's high in the NDX was 1,075.51, so stop would be placed at 
1,080.  QQQ high was $26.77, so stop above $27.  Downside targets 
would be NDX= 1,000 and QQQ $24.75 to begin with.  Then as we get 
a pulse from the bond market may adjust targets, but I'm willing 
to trade for narrow profits right now.

First sign of near-term trouble in MSFT would be a trade at $53, 
which would be a double-bottom sell signal and potential pullback 
to $51 might have NDX and QQQ testing their respective 50-day 
SMA's and that would be correlative also with lower end of 
Bollinger Band and ultimate swing-trade type target for a bear.

With the Wireless Sector (YLS.X) 53.70 +1.37% holding above its 
still trending lower 200-day SMA, a NDX and QQQ bear need to 
assess minimum near-term risk to respective 200-day SMA's.  

Today's action saw no net change in the NASDAQ-100 Bullish % 
($BPNDX) and status remains "bull confirmed" at 68%.  This is 
close to the "overbought" level of 70% and any bearish traders at 
this level are still VERY EARLY and trying to pick a top.  As 
such, partial positions only on both bullish and bearish camps as 
risk for bull is higher than early October at 14%, but bear 
understands internals still strong.  As such, bear understands if 
bullish % were to reverse lower and end up near the more 
"oversold" level of 30%, he/she wouldn't need a full position at 
current levels to make a nice profit should that type of weakness 
unfold in the coming months.

Jeff Bailey

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Equity Funds Bounce Back

The 5-day period ended Friday, November 15, 2002 was a reversal 
of the prior week's fortunes, with U.S. equity funds rebounding 
to post moderate gains while bond funds gave back some of their 
gains from the week before.  Technology funds led the way, with 
an average weekly total return of 4.5%, using Lipper's indices.  

Vanguard 500 Index Fund, which mirrors the broad S&P 500 index, 
produced a 1.7% weekly total return while Vanguard Midcap Index 
Fund, which follows the S&P Midcap 400 index, had a 2.2% weekly 
return to beat the large-cap index benchmark. 

A number of U.S. equity funds had weekly returns of over 2.0%, 
particularly those with pro-growth styles and relatively high 
exposures to technology.  The average "multi-cap growth" fund 
generated a 2.5% weekly return, best among diversified equity 
fund categories, using Lipper's indices.     

Vanguard Developed Markets Index Fund, which mirrors the MSCI 
EAFE index, had a 0.9% weekly total return, with most non-U.S. 
stock funds falling short of the benchmark.  The two regional 
components of the EAFE index generated very different results, 
with the European stock index 1.9% higher for the week and the 
Pacific stock index 1.3% in the red.  Most international funds 
posted weekly total returns of 0.5% or less.

Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund, which tracks the return 
performance of the Lehman Brothers Aggregate Bond index, ended 
the week with a negative 0.5% weekly return.  The intermediate 
term sector lost 0.7% for the week, while the long-term sector 
finished 1.2% lower using Vanguard bond index funds as proxies.

The hardest hit bond fund groups according to Lipper were U.S. 
government funds, down 0.6% on average last week, followed by 
international income funds which lost 0.5% on average.  Short-
term bond funds had de minimus losses, preserving money better 
than other investment grade fund indices, per Lipper's numbers.

Vanguard Index Funds

Below are selected Vanguard index funds, which serve as index 
benchmarks for different types of stock and bond mutual funds.  
Weekly and YTD returns are through Friday, November 15, 2002.

 U.S. Equity Benchmarks:
 +0.9% Vanguard Balanced Index (VBINX) YTD -8.8%
 +1.7% Vanguard 500 Index (VFINX) YTD -19.7%
 +2.2% Vanguard Mid-Cap Index (VIMSX) YTD -14.0%
 +1.9% Vanguard Small-Cap Index (NAESX) YTD -19.6%
 +1.8% Vanguard Total Stock Market Index (VTSMX) -18.9%
 International Equity Benchmarks:
 +0.9% Vanguard Developed Markets Index (VDMIX) YTD -15.1%
 -0.4% Vanguard Emerging Markets Index (VEIEX) YTD -7.3%
 +0.8% Vanguard Total International Stock (VGTSX) YTD -14.5%
 U.S. Fixed Income Benchmarks:
 -0.1% Vanguard Short-Term Bond Index (VBISX) YTD +4.6%
 -0.7% Vanguard Intermediate-Term Bond Index (VBIIX) YTD +7.8%
 -1.2% Vanguard Long-Term Bond Index (VBLTX) YTD +10.7%
 -0.5% Vanguard Total Bond Market Index (VBMFX) YTD +6.2%

Lipper Fund Indices

Below are selected Lipper fund indices for the week ended Friday, 
November 15, 2002, reflecting some of the more popular stock and 
bond fund categories today based on assets invested.  They serve 
as benchmarks for equity and fixed income fund performance.

 Selected Lipper Equity Indices:
 +1.0% Balanced Fund (YTD -10.1%)
 +1.2% Equity Income Fund (YTD -16.1%)
 +1.4% Large-Cap Value Fund (YTD -18.7%)
 +1.4% Large-Cap Core Fund (YTD -18.4%)
 +2.3% Large-Cap Growth Fund (YTD -23.7%)
 +4.5% Science & Technology Fund (YTD -37.5%)
 +0.5% International Equity Fund (YTD -13.6%)

 Selected Lipper Income Indices:
 -0.6% U.S. Government Fund (YTD +8.4%)
 -0.3% GNMA Fund (YTD +7.3%)
 -0.0% Short-Term Investment-Grade Fund (YTD +3.3%)
 -0.2% Intermediate-Term Investment-Grade Fund (YTD +6.2%)
 -0.3% Corporate A-Rated Debt Fund (YTD +6.4%)
 +1.0% High Current Yield Fund (YTD -5.9%)
 -0.5% International Income Fund (YTD +13.4%) 

You can see that more conservative equity objectives, such as 
balanced funds, equity income funds and large-cap value funds, 
generally lagged the broad market, as measured by the S&P 500 
index (Vanguard 500 Index Fund).  More aggressive stock funds, 
such as large-cap growth funds and tech sector funds, produced 
above average weekly returns in contrast. 

Bond funds enjoyed big gains two weeks ago, and then this week, 
gave some of it back, with the Lehman Aggregate bond index 0.5% 
lower over the week.  Only U.S. government funds did worse than 
that, losing 0.6% on average last week, per Lipper.  High yield 
bond funds continued their recent run, returning nearly 1.0% on 
average last week, following a 1.5% average gain the prior week.

Largest Mutual Funds

The largest stock funds and balanced funds in America generated 
moderate gains last week, while the largest bond funds produced 
negative results.  Below are the weekly and YTD returns for the 
nation's most popular funds using data through Friday, November 
15, 2002.  
 Largest Equity Funds:
 +1.7% Vanguard: 500 Index (VFINX) YTD -19.7%
 +1.8% Fidelity: Magellan (FMAGX) YTD -20.3% 
 +0.9% Investment Company of America (AIVSX) YTD -14.1%
 +1.9% Washington Mutual Investors (AWSHX) YTD -14.9%
 +1.9% Growth Fund of America (AGTHX) YTD -18.6%
 +0.2% EuroPacific Growth (AEPGX) YTD -13.9%
 +0.8% New Perspective (ANWPX) YTD -15.1%
 +0.4% Vanguard Wellington (VWELX) YTD -7.7%
 +0.9% Income Fund of America (AMECX) YTD -6.7%
 +1.8% Vanguard Total Stock Market Index (VTSMX) YTD -18.9% 
 Largest Income Funds:
 -0.2% PIMCo Total Return (PTTRX) YTD +8.1%
 -0.3% Vanguard GNMA (VFIIX) YTD +8.4%
 -0.5% Vanguard Total Bond Market (VBMFX) YTD +6.2%
 +0.5% Bond Fund of America (ABNDX) YTD +2.7%
 -0.1% Vanguard Short-Term Corporate (VFSTX) YTD +3.7%

Money Market Funds

With the Fed rate cut the prior week, the iMoneyNet all-taxable 
money market fund average dropped 16 basis points, to 1.05%, as 
of Tuesday, November 12.  Expect the average 7-day simple yield 
to slide further next week as money market fund holdings mature 
and new, lower yielding paper is purchased.      

PayPal Money Market Fund remains the top yielding prime retail 
money market fund with a 7-day simple yield of 1.70%.  Next is 
Touchstone Money Market Fund with a 7-day simple yield of 1.59%.  
They are the only two prime retail money funds with yields over 
1.50% today, a significant yield advantage over the all-taxable 
fund average.  

The $57.1 billion Fidelity Cash Reserves stands at 1.42%, while 
the $50.4 billion Vanguard Prime Money Market Fund has a simple 
yield of 1.44%, per iMoneyNet.com.

Mutual Fund News

Morningstar's Fund Times weekly article indicates more mutual 
fund consolidation in the process, with Strong and Enterprise 
among the fund families to jettison one or more of their weak 
fund performers.  Strong Funds announced it will merge its $2 
million Strong Foreign MajorMarkets Fund (SFMMX) with its $44 
million Strong Overseas Fund (SOVRX) while Enterprise said it 
will merge two tiny funds into bigger siblings.

AIM Funds, which Morningstar cites is in the midst of cutting 
staff through early retirements and layoffs, said four equity 
portfolio managers will retire from the firm by year's end or 
early 2003.  A number of AIM equity funds are affected, so if 
you're an AIM shareholder, you'll want to read the Morningstar 
article and talk to your financial advisor.

Effective today, Fidelity's Low-Priced Stock Fund (FLPSX) has 
reopened to new investors.  The $14.5 billion small-cap value 
fund managed by star manager, Joel Tillinghast, has lost just 
5.7% since December 31, better than 80% of its category peers 
according to Morningstar.  Its long-term results, Morningstar 
says, are in the category's top decile.

Franklin-Templeton Funds said it will reopen its Franklin U.S. 
Long-Short Fund (FUSLX) on November 25, 2002, and keep it open 
until it reaches $350 million in assets, Morningstar reported.

In other news, the Brazos Funds, run by John McStay Investment 
Counsel, are going back to a no-load cost structure, stripping 
the sales loads from the class A shares and changing them into 
new, class N shares.  The Brazos Funds had been a no-load fund 
family until American International Group (AIG) purchased them 
during 1999.  The reported changes affect all of Brazos' funds: 
Micro Cap (BJMIX), Small Cap (BJSCX), Mid Cap (BJMCX), Multi Cap 
(BJGRX), and Real Estate (BJRSX).

That's it for this week's report.  Have a great week.  

Steve Wagner
Editor, Mutual Investor 


Trading Bullish, Even With A Bearish Bias
by Mark Phillips

Readers that have been following my weekly ramblings should have
a pretty good idea that my overall bias for the market is
bearish.  I know it is a well-accepted fact that having a market
bias can often be detrimental to your financial health.  But
try as I might, I can't shed the bias that I develop through the
research process I go through every day.  My job as a trader
though, is to try to put that bias aside and trade what I see.
The chart of the S&P 500 shown below pretty much sums up my bias
in the current market.

Daily Chart of the S&P 500 ($SPX)

The venerable SPX is still confined to the broad descending
channel it has occupied for the past 2 years and has a lot of
work to do if it is going to challenge the top of that range
just above 1000.  Not only that, but the descending trendline
from the March and May highs has come into play twice in the
past couple weeks and both times the bulls have been turned back
from this level of resistance.  Adding fuel to my bearish bias
is the bearish Stochastics divergence currently in play.  While
the price high 2 weeks ago was actually higher than what was
seen in late October, the Stochastics failed to confirm,
posting a lower high.

That's all fine and dandy, but looking at the current state of
price and Stochastics and it is clear that the bulls are building
up a head of steam for another test of the 925 level which served
as resistance  weeks ago.  I've highlighted the critical features
of this chart with circles.  First off, we're going to need to see
how price behaves when it nears 925 resistance.  Will we finally
break out?  I personally think that it just might (at least on an
intraday basis), but that doesn't signal an all-clear by any
means.  To confirm the breakout, Stochastics need to move above
their most recent high.  The reason why is that if price and
Stochastics roll over again with another higher high in price
and another lower low in Stochastics, then we'll have a second
observation on the bearish Stochastics divergence.  That would
in my mind strengthen the case for a near-term end to this 6-week
old rally.  I hesitate to call it a 6-week rally due to the fact
that the gains of the past 3 weeks have been pretty tepid, at
least as far as the SPX is concerned.  What we have seen in the
past 3 weeks has been little more than a holding action, while
the Bullish % readings have crept ever closer to overbought.

That is the other leg of my bearish thesis that I think
deserves attention.  The Bullish % for the SPX edged up again
on Friday, coming to rest at 55.60%, just below the peak of
early November.  Overbought territory doesn't come into play
until above 70%, but it is worth noting that we are getting very
close to the 60% level that provided a ceiling in August before
the decline into the October lows.  My read on the Bullish %
says it could go either way -- we could break out over the August
highs, with the SPX pushing up to its next level of resistance
near 960 and then on towards the 1000 area (which also has the
200-dma looming at 990), or this rally could fail near current
levels and we'd be on our way back down the charts.

Another big piece of the bullish picture is the historical
pattern of the markets to rally from November into the end of
the year.  Not only that, but we are now in the bullish portion
of the presidential cycle, and there are many that hope a
GOP-controlled Congress will lead to the passage of some
business-friendly legislation (maybe tax cuts?).  Will this
year be controlled by historical precedent, or by investors
starting to pay attention to the fact that the fundamental
picture for business hasn't improved one bit?  I wish I knew!

My lack of conviction sent me on a little research expedition
last weekend.  My conviction that this is just another bear
market rally needs to be measured against actual market action.
The conclusive evidence is not yet apparent.  But I sure found
some interesting charts that give a hint that this rally is
somehow different than what we saw in August.  I'm seeing some
significant breakouts in stocks that really couldn't gain
traction a few months ago.  Care to take a look at a few?

I've followed AIG for years now, and I traded the stock
repeatedly on the downside over the past year, as it has
remained stubbornly below its descending trendline.  The last
time I traded it, the $66 level seemed to be important
resistance, at least partially due to the fact that this level
was close to the 200-dma.  So I set an alert in Qcharts to let
me know if the stock ever traded above that level.  My thinking
at the time was that I'd look to buy puts again on such a move,
fading the latest failed rally.

My alert went off last Thursday, as AIG blasted through $66,
the 200-dma and actually tested $68 before the close, all on
above-average volume.  I quickly shed my desire to buy puts
based on what I saw on the chart and put it on my bullish watch

American International Group (AIG) Daily Chart

The longer a trend holds sway, the more powerful and believable
the breakout is when it finally arrives.  With AIG now above
$66 resistance and the 200-dma, as well as that long-term
descending trendline.  I really like the way AIG found support
on top of that trendline in the past couple weeks leading up to
last Friday's breakout.  My read is that this is an important
technical move and likely a change of trend.  Once above the
$68-69 resistance level, I'll have more conviction, but so far,
I like what I see.  This stock wouldn't normally get me to
rethink my bearish market bias, but it is one of the largest
Insurers in the world.  Is the stock's action telling us that
this area of the business world is improving?

Some of the other stocks that have caught my attention are as

QCOM - The stock has managed a strong breakout over the 200-dma,
consolidating above it and then broken out again over the
mid-October highs.  Last week's breakout really caught my
attention due to the strong ramp in buying volume.  QCOM's
performance has been impressive, but the entire Wireless sector
as measured by the YLS.X index is looking quite strong, having
staged its own breakout above both the 200-dma and the early
November highs.

MHK - This is a stock that I don't normally follow, but I
remember putting it in a quote sheet several months ago, even
though I don't remember why.  The company is a manufacturer of
floorcovering products for residential and commercial
applications in the United States.  After a sharp decline in
July, the stock has been making a consistent comeback and really
broke out nicely last week, clearing resistance near $56, the
200-dma and the descending trendline from just before the
breakdown.  Volume has been strengthening lately and I can't
help but wonder what it says about my expectations for weakness
in the Housing sector, when MHK is performing so well.

Internets - I list the sector here because of the prominent names
in this prior momentum sector that are really on fire.  AMZN is
breaking above $23 for the first time in almost 2 years and YHOO
broke out above the 200-dma, consolidated and then is breaking
out again.  EBAY has been on fire for the past several weeks,
breaking numerous levels of resistance in the process.  I still
tend to pay attention to the Internet sector because of its
speculative nature.  If this sector is continuing to find new
money, then it really throws cold water on my overall bearish

Semis - There are numerous stocks in the Chip arena with very
strong bullish charts right now, among them CCMP, MXIM, GNSS,
BRCM, CREE and SNDK.  While there are numerous other stocks in
the sector that are still struggling below resistance, I can't
ignore what appears to be some serious buying in the sector.
And of course, the overall Semiconductor index (SOX.X) is once
again challenging resistance.  Fundamentally, I see no incentive
for a bullish trade in the sector, but I can't argue with what
appears to be some very healthy price action.

MSFT - While we haven't seen a breakout here quite yet, (in my
mind that would require a close over $58), it is interesting how
this huge Software stock is steadily posting higher highs and
higher lows and looks to be brewing up a big breakout now that
the DOJ hurdle is in the rear-view mirror.  Due to its prominence
is all of the major indices, a breakout in MSFT could quite
easily spread to the broad market.

The wild card in the whole picture is what is happening with the
VIX.  We've discussed this measure of broad-market volatility at
great length in several other articles.  Most recently we talked
about the possibility that the VIX could be defining a new,
higher range.  That idea is certainly being tested today, with
an intraday low of 29.97.  If the VIX does manage to break into
its historical 20-30 range, it will likely be accompanied by a
broad market breakout above recent resistance.  That breakout
would likely be led by those stocks (some of which are listed
above) that have been providing leadership lately, and that's
where I would look for bullish trade candidates.  Something else
to watch for is a failure of any of these listed breakouts.  If
they fail to hold, that will provide an important clue that my
bearish bias is likely correct.

As you can see, even with the big picture looking weak to
inconclusive, there are some solid bullish trades to be had.
While I may not take any of them, just knowing they are out
there is enough to keep me cautious about pressing downside
trades just yet.  Hopefully this little discussion gives you
a glimpse into my rambling thought process and shows how you
can have a market bias, but not be ruled by it.

Until next time, keep that bias in check!


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Ready, Set, Go, Maybe

The markets failed at resistance today and pulled back to 
close at support. Actually it was the Nasdaq that failed 
at 1425 and that failure kept the broader markets from 
reaching the same equivalent levels. Clearly our November 
outlook remains dependent on tech stocks.

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options,_ claims author Larry Spears in his new compact guide

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The Option Investor Newsletter                   Wednesday 11-18-2002
Copyright 2002, All rights reserved.                        2 of 2
Redistribution in any form strictly prohibited.

In Section Two:

Stop Loss Updates: none
Dropped Calls: none
Dropped Puts: none
Play of the Day: Put - ABC

Updated on the site tonight:
Market Watch
Market Posture

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ABC – AmerisourceBergen Corporation $63.40 -1.61 (-1.61 this week)

Company Summary:
AmerisourceBergen is a pharmaceutical services company dedicated
solely to the pharmaceutical supply chain.  The company markets
its products and services to hospital systems (hospitals and
acute care facilities), alternate care customers (mail order
facilities, physicians' offices, long-term care institutions and
clinics), independent community pharmacies, and regional
drugstore and food merchandising chains.  ABC also provides
outsourced pharmacies to long-term care and workers' compensation
programs.  ABC perates in two segments: Pharmaceutical
Distribution and PharMerica.  The Pharmaceutical Distribution
division is primarily the company's wholesale and specialty drug
distribution business, and PharMerica is the company's
institutional pharmacy business.

Just like clockwork, ABC bounced from the $63 support level on
Friday.  Recall from our initial writeup, that an immediate break
below that level was very unlikely due to the fact that it was the
site of the bullish support line on the PnF chart.  Friday's
rebound was just about what we expected, as it stalled out near
the $65.50 level and came on rather tepid volume compared to the
past couple weeks.  If this is in fact just a weak oversold
bounce, then it ought to run out of steam early next week either
in the $66-67 area, or possibly as high as $68 if the broad market
really gets moving.  Breaking above the $68 level would break the
recent string of lower highs, making it the ideal location for our
stop.  There's no need to hurry into new positions in ABC, as we
want to wait for this rebound to run its course.  Look for a
rollover from resistance before initiating new positions.  Traders
that want to enter on a breakdown will need to wait for a decisive
break of the $62.50 level before playing.  Regardless of entry
strategy chosen, look to harvest gains on a decline into the
$57-58 area, which is the site of the July lows.

Why This is our Play of the Day

With the muted action in the broad markets on Monday, ABC
continued to build a bearish triangle pattern on the intraday
charts and looks so very close to breaking down from this
pattern.  The top of this triangle begins on November 7th and
it connects both on November 13th and then again this morning.
Intraday support has been consistent over the past few days near
the $63 level.  Should price action break down below that level
tomorrow, it could provide for a clean momentum entry to the
downside.  While there is the intraday low of $62.85 from last
Thursday to contend with, once below that level, we could be
looking at a swift decline down to the $57-58 area, where the
stock found support back in July.  Traders looking to fade a
failed bounce will want to keep their eyes on the $66 level.
This has been providing consistent resistance over the past few
days and a rollover there can be used for an entry point.  Until
we get a solid breakdown under $63, keep stops in place at $68.

BUY PUT DEC-65*ABC-XM OI=522 at $4.50 SL=2.75
BUY PUT DEC-60 ABC-XL OI=145 at $2.60 SL=1.25

Average Daily Volume = 1.24 mln

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No Man's Land

To Read The Rest of The OptionInvestor.com Market Watch Click Here


Fuel for a Blast Off!

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Option Investor Inc is neither a registered Investment Advisor nor a Broker/Dealer. Readers are advised that all information is issued solely for informational purposes and is not to be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy, nor is it to be construed as a recommendation to buy, hold or sell (short or otherwise) any security. All opinions, analyses and information included herein are based on sources believed to be reliable and written in good faith, but no representation or warranty of any kind, expressed or implied, is made including but not limited to any representation or warranty concerning accuracy, completeness, correctness, timeliness or appropriateness. In addition, we do not necessarily update such opinions, analysis or information. Owners, employees and writers may have long or short positions in the securities that are discussed.

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