Option Investor

Daily Newsletter, Monday, 12/09/2002

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The Option Investor Newsletter                   Monday 12-09-2002
Copyright 2002, All rights reserved.                        1 of 2
Redistribution in any form strictly prohibited.

In Section One:

Wrap: Snow Day
Futures Wrap: Strike Three for Bulls?
Index Trader Wrap: Slope of Hope
Weekly Fund Wrap: Unemployment Rises to 6 Percent
Traders Corner: Now That IS Confirmation!

Updated on the site tonight:
Swing Trader Game Plan: Dead Cat Bounce

Posted online for subscribers at http://www.OptionInvestor.com
MARKET WRAP  (view in courier font for table alignment)
12-09-2002                High    Low     Volume Advance/Decl
DJIA     8473.41 -172.36 8643.99  8473.00 1519 mln  206/1250
NASDAQ   1367.14 - 55.30 1411.40  1367.07 1474 mln  103/1360
S&P 100   453.99 - 10.43  464.42  453.99   totals   309/1610
S&P 500   892.00 - 20.23  912.23  891.97
RUS 2000  386.29 - 10.43  396.72  385.93
DJ TRANS 2322.67 - 66.14 2385.06 2321.30
VIX        34.47 +  1.79   34.90  33.50
VIXN       52.98 +  0.70   54.08  52.77
Put/Call Ratio 0.72

Snow Day
by Steven Price

The buyers took a snow day today, staying home and leaving the 
markets in the red from the opening bell. With the Paul O'Neill 
resignation out of the way, and a nomination for a more stimulus-
friendly Treasury Secretary in place, the bulls had little left 
to combat the United Airlines Bankruptcy, IBM downgrade and news 
that the holiday shopping season is looking weak just a week 
after setting a new one-day record.  We re-tested Friday's lows 
in the Dow, OEX, SPX and Nasdaq, with all bleeding red down to a 
new relative lows. Today's drop may simply be the continuation of 
the response to last Friday's jobs data, which showed a higher 
than expected unemployment rate of 6%.  That drop rebounded on 
the news of O'Neill's resignation, but appears to have caught up 
to us today, compounding today's news.

United (UAL) made it official, filing for bankruptcy protection 
on Sunday.  The filing was necessitated by the almost $1 billion 
in debt that comes due starting this week. Chairman Glenn Tilton 
said the company and its employees are prepared to make the 
company profitable once again, but so far the unions and 
management have not had much luck in finding settlements that 
work for both sides. The company's attorney said it was losing 
$22 million each day, more than three times its average daily 
loss in the third quarter.  The stock sold off early in trading, 
but rebounded following UAL's announcement that it was 
implementing pay cuts for officers and salaried and management 
employees.   It finished the day unchanged at $0.93.

President Bush announced his nomination of rail executive John 
Snow to head the Treasury.  Snow is chairman and chief executive 
of freight carrier CSX Corporation, as well as the former head of 
the Business Roundtable, the lobbying group that represents 
corporate leaders in Washington.  He also sits on the boards of 
Johnson & Johnson, Verizon, Circuit City, USX and Sapient.  He 
certainly has plenty of business experience, but his personal 
experience is probably less important than the fact that the 
President put someone in place that will support his tax-cut 
plans. Rather than trying to figure him out, we can assume that 
if we were not in Bush's corner, he would not have the job.  Bush 
said this morning, " I'll be proposing specific steps to increase 
the momentum of our economic recovery, and the Treasury Secretary 
will be at the center of this effort."  He also mentioned that, 
"Many Americans have very little money leftover after taxes."  
Sounds like the economic stimulus plan just took a few steps 
forward and investors can expect a tax break sometime in the next 
year.  Still, the appointment of a Bush-friendly Treasury 
Secretary was not enough to keep Friday's rally going.  Friday 
morning saw a sell-off all the way down to 8501, before a furious 
rally saw the average up on the day.  Today we tested that level 
once again, bouncing at the same point, and then rolling over 
below that support. 

Bush also tapped Stephen Friedman, former CEO of Goldman Sachs, 
to replace Larry Lindsey as head of the National Economic 
Council.  By choosing Friedman, the President has now filled 
vacancies with someone from industry, as well as someone from 
Wall Street, satisfying both factions. 

After today's sell-off in both the techs and industrials, the 
chances of a breakout over the August highs in the Dow and SPX is 
looking less likely before the end of the year.  We took a run at 
that level following Thanksgiving and have seen a decisive 
pullback ever since.  We've seen the most consecutive down days 
in the Dow since the August to October sell-off, and although we 
can expect a bounce at some point, the near-term picture does not 
look promising for a continued rally. As we approach Dow 8300, we 
may be looking at the possibility of a bearish head and shoulders 
formation.  I talked about that possibility back in October, when 
the Dow began to form what looked like a left shoulder at 8550, 
with a head at 8800 on November 6.  I don't want to sound like 
the analyst that cried wolf, so I'll simply suggest that the 8800 
level "may" have been the left shoulder, with the latest run at 
the August high as the head.  The run ended at 9043 on December 
2. I'm not predicting doom and gloom just yet, but another 
rebound from 8300 should be a red flag to traders as we approach 
8800 once again (if we get there). The eventual downside 
objective of an H&S pattern with the head at 9043 and the 
neckline at 8300 would be around 7600.  However, there is still 
plenty of trading ahead of us before the formation fills out and 
at least one big rally to play long.  For the time being, 
however, we continue to bleed red toward that support at 8300. If 
we are going to bounce, however, there are a number of factors 
pointing to it happening soon.  That support at 8300 is awfully 
strong, and coincides with stochastics that are in oversold 
territory. The 50-dma sits at 8345 and has provided both support 
and resistance in the recent past. Add to the mix the seasonal 
rally at the end of the year and a big bounce, however temporary, 
could be in the mix. 

Chart of the Dow

The Nasdaq Composite dropped all the way to its November 19 low 
of 1367, which coincides with lows of Dow 8400 (still in place) 
and SPX 893 (broken today). The IBM downgrade from Banc of 
America got the tech ball rolling downhill, with help from a 
Salomon Smith Barney downgrade to Qualcomm. The COMP finished 
down -55.35, accompanied by a -2.73 drop in IBM ($79.59) and -
2.29 drop in Qualcomm ($39.19). The next level of support for the 
COMP is in the 1315-1319 area, which has served as both support 
and resistance.  However, if we are going to get a bounce, this 
level (1367) could give us that bounce, after acting as previous 
support. The sell-off came in spite of a report from Taiwan 
Semiconductor that net year over year sales in November rose 32% 
and that the drop from October's numbers was less than expected. 
The Semiconductor Index (SOX.X) still dropped -23.73 through two 
recent levels of support.  It appears we are seeing "Alice in 
Semiconductor-land," as recent good news about an upturn in 
demand has led to an 86-point sell-off in the last week.  That 
sell-off followed poor earnings reports and poor visibility of an 
increase in IT spending, which fueled a 183-point rally from 
October through November. Confused?  Forget the news trade what 
you see. 

Chart of the Nasdaq Composite (COMPX)

Chart of the SOX

We got some disappointing news from the retail sector, as Wal-
Mart (WMT) said weekly sales came in at the low end of the 
company's 3-5% growth plan.  This came out just a week after the 
company reported record one-day revenues the day after 
Thanksgiving.  The big numbers that day are most likely the 
result of a late Thanksgiving and shoppers having one less week 
to get their shopping done. While shoppers may not purchase fewer 
items because of the late start to the "holiday" shopping season, 
they will purchase a higher amount of gifts during the last two 
weeks before Christmas, when aggressive discounting takes place 
to clear shelves.  This could cut further into retailers' bottom 
lines, which are already being affected by a slow economy.  
Federated (which owns Macy's and Bloomingdale's) saw November 
same store sales down 7.4% and said if December sales are flat, 
that November-December figures should come in at the low end of 
the company's forecast of flat to down 2.5%. The company echoed 
sentiments from Wal-Mart that extreme winter weather in the east 
was partially to blame for the disappointing week.  While that 
may account for some of the disappointment, we got the same 
excuses over the summer, when warm weather supposedly kept 
shoppers from buying sweaters and winter coats.  Guess what?  A 
slowdown in sales meant shoppers were actually buying less!  
Weather has been a convenient excuse for months, but with a 
rising unemployment rate, it appears that the summer/fall's trend 
of disappointing retail sales is simply continuing into the most 
important time of the year for retail sales. Teen-oriented 
retailer Sketchers (SKX) also issued a warning today, saying it 
will lose $0.25-0.35 in the fourth quarter, instead of the $0.05 
profit analysts were expecting.  At this rate, don't be surprised 
to see a big guy in a red suit, with 8 large dogs tied up 
outside, standing in the unemployment line. Retail sales are a 
good measure of consumer spending, which bleeds into all sectors 
of the economy.  I wrote a couple weeks ago about the possibility 
of poor retail sales acting as a time bomb to a soaring market, 
and it appears to be having the stated affect.  The Retail Index 
(RLX.X) lost 2.5% and fell through its 50-dma to close at 276.56. 

With the broader indices all approaching significant support 
levels, I expect the drop of the last week to slow down, or get 
at least a marginal bounce somewhere along the way.  The end of 
the year usually brings a rally and that rally would coincide 
with a bounce off support.  Keep an eye on the levels outlined 
above, because if they fail, it could be a steep drop until we 
find the next floor. If they hold, then we're due for a bounce 
and long plays could be back in season - at least temporarily. 


Strike Three for Bulls?
By John Seckinger

Not even the 22 DMA (exp) could control the selling within the 
Dow, Nasdaq, or S&P 500.  With that said, all indices now 
currently reside underneath their 200, 50, and 22 Daily Moving 
Averages (exp).  When is Barry Bonds going to step up to the 
plate for bullish investors?  

Monday, December 9th at 4:15 P.M. 

Contract          Net Change     High        Low        Volume    

ES02Z     889.50    -24.25      909.00      889.00      568,815
YM02Z    8448.00   -209.00     8675.00     8441.00       23,012
NQ02Z    1015.00    -52.00     1065.50     1014.00      275,902

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:  Investors had to contend with downgrades all 
throughout the tech sector on Monday.  Salomon Smith Barney 
reduced its rating on Qualcomm (QCOM) to In-Line from Outperform,
while Banc of America dropped IBM to Market Perform from a Buy 
rating.  Other downgrades included video-game makers ATVI and 
THQI by UBS Warburg. In other news, UAL filed for bankruptcy and 
Wal-Mart admitted weekly same-store sales came in at the low end 
of expectations.  The drug sector did rise on Monday, following 
an announcement from Schering-Plough (SGP) that will sell 
Claritin without a prescription.  Prudential upgraded shares to 
Buy from Hold, citing its new Zetia franchise.  In political 
news, President Bush announced the nomination of John Snow, CEO 
of CSX Corp, for Treasury Secretary.  

Technical News:  Beginning with the main indices, down volume 
beat up volume by more than a 6-to-1 margin at the NYSE and 13-
to-1 margin at the Nasdaq.  The Sox fell over 7% to 307 and 
closed under the 310 support area.  Support underneath is felt at 
280 and then the 250 area.  This highly watched index most likely 
will have to get back above 340 before it starts to look 
technically appealing.  Looking elsewhere, the XAU almost broke 
above the 72 level; however, a relatively strong dollar (trades 
inversely to Gold) seemed to curtail the XAU’s rise on Monday.  
Another index making headlines is the Commodity Index (CRX), 
falling 1.76% to 232 and unable to breakout higher from its 
recent wedge.  Further weakness in the CRX should have a negative 
impact on equities.  


The December Mini-sized Dow Contract (YM02Z)

Last weeks bearish engulfing pattern within the Dow, Comp, and 
S&P 500 Index provided a lot of ammunition for bears during 
trading on Monday.  Note:  The Dow is now down 172-points for the 
week, and if this loss widen by Thursday, look for bears to once 
again go for the jugular.  The reasoning is based on the recent 
weekly patterns in the Dow (shown over the weekend), and a down 
week this week should raise the probability for another bad week.  
Therefore, bulls during the latter part of the week will most 
likely step to the sidelines and allow the cycle to continue 
until the following week starts.  

Is there a chance the Dow can recover?  Well, least resistance 
remains lower; however, a start would be a higher opening on 
Tuesday and confirmation that the 8480 level is being watched by 
traders during this pullback (see chart below).  If the market 
opens lower, look for further support near 8400.  This is another 
“efficient” area that became rather pivotal during the rise 
towards 9000.  These levels were formed a few weeks back as the 
Dow engaged in some price compression and formed and apex.  I 
then use these levels as breakout areas, most likely defended by 
longs going forward.  The most important level appears to be 
8147, since it is a significant relative low during the ascent.  
It is no coincidence that it falls near the 50% retracement of 
8120.  Not helping things is a falling MACD oscillator from 
relatively high levels.  

Chart of Dow Jones, Daily

The same form of analysis in the YM contracts shows a pivot at 
8515, lower than the 8585 level used during the weekend and on 
Monday (which worked rather well, actually).  MACD does give the 
indication of an oversold market, but price action always takes 
precedent.  Longs liquidating will most likely not hold onto 
longs if the MACD goes extremely negative, since it comes down to 
financial pain threshold.  If looking from the long side, a move 
back above the 200 PMA (8577) could spark a rally back up to 
8625, but that should be it.  Only a close above 8625 will have 
my sentiment readings turning neutral.  Bullish once above 8725.  
Until then, bears can look to take advantage of small rallies in 
anticipation of a move down to 8400 and below.  As always, trade 
levels.  If the market gaps in-between the mentioned levels, it 
is ok to stay on the sidelines until the dust settles.  

Chart of YM02Z, 60-minute 


Support               Resistance                Pivot    

8400				8515				8515
8350				8600				8400
8294				8625				8725

The December E-mini Nasdaq 100 Contract (NQ02Z)

We got our 1023 test, so bears should be pretty excited.  Going 
forward, look for 1030 to become pivotal instead.  With the 
contract closing almost on top of the 200 PMA, there is a chance 
that the contract might attempt a rally on Tuesday.  Resistance 
is tiered on the upside:  1030, 1040, and 1050.  If selling 
pressure keeps the contract under 1015, expect a test of 1000 
before solid bids enter.  The main downward objective now becomes 
973.  Sentiment will likely remain bearish after trading on 
Tuesday, but a close above 1050 and then consolidation there 
would be a sign that bears are losing control.  

Levels within the NQ02Z match levels seen in the NDX, and even a 
five-minute chart failed to show any real psychological 
importance.  It should be noted that the NQ continues to adhere 
to obvious support and resistance levels better than the ES 
contract; therefore, if only an ES trader, I would begin to watch 
this contract as well.  Additionally, as profiled in a futures 
corner article last week, it was thought that the NQ could fall 
at a more pronounced rate versus the ES contract.  That clearly 
was the case on Monday.  Therefore, if bearish, that should be 
one more reason to watch the NQ.  Another note, if both the NQ 
and ES contracts are “treading water,” turn to the YM contract 
for direction.  It is my opinion that the Dow really does hold 
great importance.  

Chart of NDX, 120-minute


Support              Resistance                 Pivot 

1000				1030				1017
973				1040				1000

Bold signifies levels within the NDX.  

The December E-mini S&P 500 Contract (ES02Z)

I profiled the ADX oscillator over the weekend in the S&P chart, 
and the +DI did in fact fall under the –DI oscillator on Monday; 
thus giving us one more sell signal.  As the chart shows, the 
long-term bearish trend line (red diagonal) acted pivotal once 
again.  With the contract under 900, further selling should take 
the contract back towards 880 and test an important support 
level there.  The MACD oscillator shows more weakness is likely, 
and longs will have to hope for a move back above 900 and the 50 
DMA to provide a much-needed catalyst.  Shorts should be ready at 
900 in an attempt to force prices down to 880.  It will take a 
close above 918 before sentiment turns slightly bullish.   

Chart of S&P 500 Index, Daily

The ES02Z contract quickly fell under 905 and did find 900 rather 
quickly.  The middle of the regression channel is at 894, while 
the top end is currently at 905.  If the contract does try to 
bid, bears should make sure the ES stays within this bearish 
channel (give or take just a couple of points).  With the 
contract taking out our last support area given this weekend 
(890), bearish traders will most likely continue thinking selling 
the ES will remain easy and rather organized.  This thinking is 
fine; however, once a technical resistance level is taken out to 
the upside, it is important to make sure bulls are not gaining 
the upper hand.  If not bearish, I would either look for a bounce 
at 880 or an extended move above 900 with an objective of 905 and 
then 910.  

Chart of ES02Z, 30-minute 


Support              Resistance                 Pivot    

880-885			900				905
869				905				880

Bold signifies levels within the S&P 500.  

Good Luck.

Questions are welcomed,

John Seckinger


Slope of Hope
By Jonathan Levinson

Well, equities didn't go up today.   They gapped down and never 
looked back, with a brief rise best described as a pause in the 
mid afternoon before going on to close at their lows of the day.
We saw some impressively high TRIN and TRINQ readings, with the 
TRINQ (Nasdaq Short term trading or "Arms" index) in particular 
going... nuts at 2:30 in the afternoon.  By nuts, I mean 
printing successive candles 1 point long for longer than an hour,
 leading some to conclude that the data was bad, while others 
attributed the strange breadth to excessive volume in a small 
number of stocks.  In any event, I had never before seen the tick-
by-tick swings that the TRINQ printed today.  This volatility 
aside, traders should be asking whether these huge TRIN and 
TRINQ readings are calling for at least a short term bounce.  
The quick answer is "yes", and predicting these bounces tends to 
be what the Arms Index does best.  However, it's a very sensitive 
indicator, and as we saw at the beginning of the October rally, 
back when it was still a "bounce", the TRINQ got down to below .
20 and stayed there for days.  As I pointed out then, it was 
telling us that a reversal was on its way shortly, or that it 
was signally a monster move.  Well, we got the latter.  If you're 
measuring little wavelets and a tsunami is building, you'll see 
aberrant data that violates the average range for an aberrant 
period of time-  the extreme readings just seem to go on and on.  
Such is the case with extreme Arms readings.  Today's action tells 
me to stay close on the stops- trailing stops on bearish positions 
will work best here.  If price continues to decline, fine.  If it 
reverses, hasta la vista.
Many were expecting a bounce off the open, others kept waiting for 
it to materialize, and with $7B in overnight repos from the fed 
announced at 10AM, a bounce seemed like the high-odds play, but it 
never came.  The bullish expectation of a bounce was reflected in 
the CBOE put to call ratio, which opened at its high of the day 
and fell progressively lower before kicking up at the end of the 
day.  In other words, bearish speculation was at its highest at 
the open (.79 reading), and declined throughout the day, even as 
the indices continued to decline.  Usually, we see the reverse, 
and this more than anything leads me to expect the decline to 
continue tomorrow.  The final reading was of .75, as traders began 
to realize that it was looking like a pretty bearish day after all.
 However, .75 is very low given the extent of the declines we saw- 
INDU -172, COMPX -55, SPX -20, OEX -10.
Volume was on the light side, with just over 1.2B shares on the 
NYSE and just under 1.5B on the Nasdaq.  Declines tend to recruit 
volume on the way down, and bottoms (and tops) tend to show the 
highest volume.  If this is the case, then today's internals 
again lead me to conclude that there's more downside to come, 
barring the unexpected.  Yields were negative but not extremely 
so, with the five year yield off 4.9 bps, the ten year down 4.3, 
and the thirty down 3.9 bps.
Let's look at the charts:

The big news today was the confirmation of the failure at the 
midpoint of the bollinger bands, implying a move to the flat lower 
band at 873, which (coincidentally?) is one point above fibonacci 
support on the hourly charts at 872.  However, I expect to see 
first support from the 50 dma at 883, which should be good for at 
least a pause on the way down.  Note that the MacD and the 
stochastics are both bearish, and while the 5 day stochastic can be 
very fickle, there's nothing amibivalent about the bearish cross 
that the MacD gave us last week.  On the other hand, note that the 
SPX closed just at trendline support, with upsloping triple bottom 
support from today, Nov 11th, and Oct 15th.  While a bounce from 
here is a possibility, I would expect it, if at all, from the lower 
levels identified above.

The same comments apply to the Dow, except that we see that the 
trendline was violated today with a close below the 
psychologically significant 8500 support level.  As well, note how 
the 50 dma and the lower bollinger band support are both much 
closer together, and it looks like the 8300 area will be the one 
to watch.  We have the same sell signal on the MacD, and while the 
stochastics are oversold, this chart is telling me that they're 
aiming to become moreso.  Of course, oscillators do not predict 
the future-  they merely give a hyperaccurate snapshot of the past 
and the present.  Nevertheless, both the stochastics and the MacD 
are looking very bearish at this point in time.

True to form, the COMPX is leading the indices downward (and 
within it, the NDX, as well shall see below), having decisively 
violated trendline support while closing right on a fibonacci 
support line at 1367.  The steep decline we're seeing is either a 
bull flag or an expanding wedge on these daily candles, and if the 
latter, it's a relatively unpredictable pattern as all expanding 
patterns tend to be.  We'll get a chance to find out at the 1320-
1330 level, on which both the 50 dma and the lower flat bollinger 
band are unanimous.

The same story is repeated in the OEX, with the exception that the 
OEX actually closed below its nearest fibonacci retracement line, 
which was 455, and bears should be targetting the zero line of 445 
going back to November 11th and coincides with the lower bollinger 
band support line.

The NDX also closed below fibonacci support at 1015, and 972 is 
the next stop on that scale.  Support should assert itself first 
at the 50 dma, followed by 974 which coincides with fibonacci 
support and should be strong.
What should be apparent from the above charts is that the previous 
two sessions have violated major support levels, while plunging 
the indices into congestion zones.  The indices have spent many 
sessions chopping unhappily along in the current price area, and 
what that tells traders is that they can expect rangebound action 
until bulls and bears reach a consensus on nearterm direction.  Of 
course, externalities have a way of intervening, as we saw today 
with the well-received Court of Appeal decision regarding Dow 
Chemical which caused the brief afternoon "bounce" or pause, and 
the markets could choose a direction quickly.  Nevertheless, the 
story as depicted in the charts is one of recently failed support.
The bullish percent indices also rolled over further today, and it 
appears that the top put in by the BPNDX of 82 at the beginning of 
this month (BPOEX 76, BPSPX 68.40) might well have marked the 
nearterm top.  Jeff has shown remarkable prescience using the 
Bullish Percent index to call major turns, and barring a 
significant run back up to the rally highs, it looks like this 
measure has done it again.  With the longer oscillators topped 
out and rolling over, my bias is to the downside.  However, a safe 
trader is a happy trader, and bears should be watching the 
potential bounce points identified above.  Bulls would be happiest 
to gain an entry at the lower support levels, but again, with the 
bullish percent indices and the MacD rolling over, bulls will want 
to be tight on their stops and quick on the exit in the event of a 
subsequent rollover.

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Unemployment Rises to 6 Percent

News of a spike in the unemployment rate to 6.0% in November 2002 
contributed to losses last week on Wall Street, with the Wilshire 
5000 total market index down 2.4% last week and the average stock 
fund following suit.  According to the Lipper index update, 13 of 
18 equity fund indices had negative weekly returns of more than 2 
percent, led lower by tech funds, which lost 5.8% on average over 
the week.  Growth funds were generally harder hit than those with 
value-oriented styles.


The popular S&P 500 index was 2.5% lower for the week, while the 
Wilshire 4500 "completion" index finished 2.1% lower.  It helped 
to have a value bias last week with energy stocks gaining ground, 
while it hurt to have a growth bias or to be heavily invested in 
technology stocks.  

Gold funds benefitted from the week's market volatility, gaining 
8.2% on average per Lipper.  Balanced funds, equity income funds, 
small-cap value funds and emerging markets funds lost less than 2 
percent on average, holding up a little better last week than the 
other equity fund indices.  The average international equity fund 
lost 2.5% during the week, similar to U.S. stock funds yet better 
than the 3.2% weekly decline per the MSCI EAFE index of developed 
foreign markets (Europe, Australia and Far East).    

While the global equity markets were losing ground, global income 
markets and bond mutual funds were producing positive results for 
investors.  The Lehman Brothers Aggregate Bond index finished the 
week up 0.6%, while the average intermediate-term bond fund ended 
the week 0.5% higher per Lipper.  Weekly returns increased as you 
moved long in maturity, with the long-term bond index up about 1% 
for the week.

Global and international fixed income funds were each 0.8% higher 
on average during the week.  The dollar fell against the Japanese 
Yen and Euro last week, boosting the returns reported by non-U.S. 
income funds.  That trend may continue with the dismissal Friday 
of Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and economic adviser Lawrence 
Lindsey.  O'Neill was perceived to be a "strong dollar" advocate.

The iMoneyNet.com all-taxable money market fund average stood at 
just 0.95% as of Tuesday, December 3, 2002, down one basis point 
(0.01%) in average 7-day simple yield from the week before.  The 
historically low money market yields haven't stopped the inflows 
into the group however.  According to the ICI (www.ici.org), the 
assets of retail and institutional money market funds increased 
by $25.6 billion to $2.38 trillion for the week ended December 4, 
2002.  As of October 2002, money market funds represented nearly 
35 percent of total mutual fund industry assets according to the 
Investment Company Institute.

Lipper Fund Indices

You can get a sense of the breadth and depth of losses last week 
among equity funds by looking at Lipper's equity fund indices as 
of Friday, December 6, 2002.  Below are selected Lipper averages 
for some of the more popular equity fund groups.

 Selected Lipper Equity Fund Indices:
 -1.4% Balanced Fund (YTD -9.5%)
 -1.9% Equity Income Fund (YTD -14.8%)
 -2.3% Large-Cap Value Fund (YTD -17.6%)
 -2.1% Large-Cap Core Fund (YTD -18.6%)
 -2.5% Large-Cap Growth Fund (YTD -24.6%)
 -5.8% Science & Technology Fund (YTD -36.8%)
 -2.5% International Equity Fund (YTD -13.2%)

No surprises here with more conservative groups such as balanced 
and equity-income funds minimizing losses relative to other fund 
objectives.  Riskier groups such as large-cap growth, technology 
and international equity funds lost 2.5% or more during the week.  

One stock fund category bucking the negative trend last week was 
energy sector funds.  The group's largest fund, the $2.2 billion 
Vanguard Energy Fund, generated a 2.2% total return for the week 
as an example.  Meanwhile, gold mutual funds produced an average 
weekly return of 8.2%, per Lipper, with confidence in the dollar 
shaken last week.     

The fixed income markets provided shelter from the storm, rising 
in value as stock prices fell.  Few funds came close to the 1.1% 
weekly total return generated by the Vanguard long-term Treasury 
bond index fund, but all Lipper income fund indices finished the 
week higher.  Below are selected Lipper bond fund groups through 
Friday, December 6, 2002. 

 Selected Lipper Income Fund Indices:
 +0.6% U.S. Government Fund (YTD +8.5%)
 +0.4% GNMA Fund (YTD +7.8%)
 +0.3% Short Investment-Grade Fund (YTD +3.6%)
 +0.5% Intermediate Investment-Grade Fund (YTD +6.7%)
 +0.6% Corporate A-Rated Debt Fund (YTD +6.9%)
 +0.2% High-Yield Fund (YTD -3.2%)
 +0.8% International Income Fund (YTD +13.3%) 

The week's top returns were produced by long-term bond funds and 
global/international fixed income funds.  The Vanguard Long-Term 
U.S. Treasury (VUSTX) and Long-Term Bond Index (VBLTX) funds had 
weekly total returns of 1.1% and 1.0%, respectively, to lead the 
way.  Vanguard Intermediate-Term Bond Index (VBIIX), up 0.8% for 
the week, was hard to beat also.  The average intermediate-term, 
investment-grade bond fund increased in value by 0.5% per Lipper.

High-yield funds lagged the broad peer group but still ended the 
week in positive turf, despite the poor equity market conditions.  
A weaker dollar padded the returns produced by international and 
global bond funds, with the average international income fund up 
0.8% over the 5-day period.  American Funds Capital World Bond A 
(CWBFX) led the way with a 1.1% weekly total return.  

Largest Mutual Funds

Below are 5-day and year-to-date investment results as of Friday, 
December 6, 2002 for the nation's largest and most popular mutual 
funds.  For comparison purposes, we use the class A shares of the 
American Funds, and the institutional class shares of PIMCo Total 
Return Fund (PTTRX).  Funds are ranked based on their total asset 
values (all share classes combined) using Morningstar's net asset 

 Largest Fidelity Funds:
 -2.4% Magellan (FMAGX) YTD -20.4%
 -0.1% Contrafund (FCNTX) YTD -9.2%
 -1.2% Growth & Income (FGRIX) YTD -16.4%
 -2.5% Equity Income (FEQIX) YTD -15.3%
 -1.3% Puritan (FPURX) YTD -7.2%

 Largest Vanguard Funds:
 -2.5% 500 Index (VFINX) YTD -19.4% 
 +0.4% GNMA (VFIIX) YTD +8.8%
 +0.6% Total Bond Market Index (VBMFX) YTD +6.6%
 -1.3% Wellington (VWELX) YTD -6.3% 
 -2.4% Total Stock Market Index (VTSMX) YTD -18.3%

 Largest American Funds:
 -1.9% Investment Company of America (AIVSX) YTD -12.9%
 -2.2% Washington Mutual Investors (AWSHX) YTD -13.5%
 -3.4% Growth Fund of America (AGTHX) YTD -18.4%
 -1.8% EuroPacific Growth (AEPGX) YTD -12.9%
 -2.7% New Perspective (ANWPX) YTD -14.4%

 Largest PIMCo Funds:
 +0.5% PIMCo Total Return I (PTTRX) YTD +8.5%
Fidelity Puritan and Vanguard Wellington saw their asset values 
decline by 1.3% last week, consistent with other balanced funds.  
Fidelity Magellan lost 2.4% over the 5-day period compared with 
Vanguard 500's 2.5% weekly loss.  Magellan is down 20.4% so far 
this year, a full percentage point more than rival Vanguard 500.

PIMCo Total Return Fund had a 0.5% weekly total return, matching 
the average intermediate, investment-grade bond fund per Lipper.  
Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund, a benchmark for the broad 
U.S. investment-grade bond market, finished the week 0.6% higher.  

Other Vanguard winners included Vanguard Intermediate-Term Bond 
Index (+0.8%) and three long-term products: Vanguard Long-Term 
Corporate Bond (+0.9%), Long-Term Bond Index (+1.0%), and Long-
Term U.S. Treasury (+1.1%).  Only global and international bond 
funds matched those kinds of returns last week.  

Money Market Funds

The average 7-day simple yield for all taxable money market funds 
as of Tuesday, December 3, 2002 stood at 0.95% per iMoneyNet.com, 
down one basis point (0.01) during the week.  PayPal Money Market 
Fund (1.58%) remains the highest yielding fund today among prime-
retail money market funds.  McMorgan Principal Preservation Fund, 
third last week, moves to second place with a current 7-day yield 
of 1.45%.  Bunker Hill Money Market Fund (1.41%) slides to third.

Two of the largest retail money funds in the U.S., Fidelity Cash 
Reserves Fund and Vanguard Prime Money Market Fund, have current 
7-day yields of 1.24% and 1.32%, respectively, per iMoneyNet.com.  
Both funds are still well above the 0.95% all-taxable money fund 
average yield.  

Mutual Fund News

CBS Marketwatch reported last week that Bill Gross, bond guru and 
chief investment officer of Pacific Investment Management Company 
(PIMCO), whose assets now surpass $300 billion, is warning income 
investors that bond returns are in jeopardy.  The articles states 
that Gross is predicting returns of closer to 5 percent following 
a period where bond returns exceeded 8 percent.  Gross admits the 
risks of higher inflation may mean the three-year bond bull rally 
could be over soon.

Gross' warnings are commended and appropriate at this time, after 
a long period of above-market type bond returns, fueled primarily 
by declining interest rates.  They are similar to warnings issued 
by former Vanguard Funds chairman John C. Bogle and others at the 
height of the bull stock market.  Many analysts describe the bond 
market today as overbought.

The Morningstar.com website ran an article on their 2002 nominees 
for international equity fund manager of the year.  The nominated 
funds for 2002 are American Funds Capital World Growth & Income A 
(CWGIX), First Eagle SoGen Overseas (SGOVX), Harbor International 
(HAINX), William Blair International Growth (WBIGX), and Julius 
Baer International Equity (BJBIX).  We'll compare these nominees 
tomorrow and give you our selection for international equity fund 
manager of 2002.

Steve Wagner
Editor, Mutual Investor 


Now That IS Confirmation!
by Mark Phillips

Give a man a fish, and he can feed himself.  Give a man an open
forum and he'll eventually do or say something to look truly
foolish.  That's certainly an apt description (with the benefit
of hindsight) of what I accomplished with my Options 101 column
last week.  While all the concepts we talked about there are
certainly valid, I can't deny the feeling of having a bit of egg
on my face.

Recall I spent the better part of 1400 words detailing why I
didn't think AIG would make a good short play.  Well, the very
next day, the stock showed up on the OI Put Play list and
traders playing the stock short from that point in time have
done alright so far.  Alright, I didn't actually say that the
stock wouldn't go down -- just that based on the various levels
of support, I didn't like the risk to reward of a short play on
the stock at that point in time.  AIG was then trading at $62.61,
and had significant support at $62, $61 and $60 (actually $59.80),
with the nearest significant overhead resistance (used for
setting a stop) resting up in the $65-66 area.  Over the past 3
days, the technical picture has changed markedly and I think it
would be worth looking at those changes.  But we'll get to that
in a bit.

First I think my Inbox deserves a bit of attention.  My request
for solid candidates for analysis last week yielded quite a long
list, from GM and GE to BRCM and MSFT.  There was a smattering
of well-known names and several more obscure stocks to be sure.
But of the entire list, I think BRCM best captures the point I
was trying to convey in my Confirmation Is Crucial article.
Let's start with a daily chart with the Moving Average Ribbon
displayed.  Keep in mind that these candidates all came in last
Wednesday and Thursday, so we're going to assume that we're
viewing these charts live as of Wednesday's close.

BRCM Daily Chart - As Of 12/04/02

As you can see, Wednesday's sizable gap down delivered the
second consecutive close under the lower moving average,
producing a textbook Sell signal.  Not only that, but the day's
close was below the bottom of the November 20th gap up,
effectively removing the $17.65 level as a potential area of
support.  That meant the next logical level of support was in
the $15.50 area, but with stronger support down near $14.
Since BRCM was now under $18 again, we can see from the daily
chart that the $18.00-18.50 area should provide solid resistance,
making for a logical level for our stop.  Without looking at
anything else, we can see that a short play on BRCM at this point
makes sense from a risk/reward standpoint.  There was roughly
$1.00-1.20 of upside risk, while the downside provided from
$1.85 to $3.35 of profit potential.

Taking a look at the Semiconductor sector (SOX.X), we could see
there was definitely some selling pressure evident, as the index
was threatening the $330 support level.  With all of the gains in
this sector since the October lows with negligible fundamental
improvement, this would be one of the prime candidates (in my
view) for short plays looking to take advantage of the subsequent
profit taking.  Alright, so the Ribbon system and daily
Stochastics are giving us a clear Sell signal, and the sector is
weak.  What else can we dig up to confirm this is a solid trade
candidate?  How about the Point and Figure chart?  Earlier in
the week, BRCM had generated a fresh PnF Sell signal when it
traded below $18.  Wednesday's action lengthened the column of
O's, stretching the bearish price target to $14.50.  All in all,
BRCM looked like a solid short play, with only mild support until
back in the $14.00-14.50 area.  So let's check out the action and
see what happened.

Daily Chart of BRCM - Current

Well, you really couldn't have scripted it any better if you
had tried.  With Stochastics already pointed south, the stock
tried to bounce and failed right at the $18 level, providing a
great entry point in the process.  Monday's action (which was
really painful for Semiconductor bulls) drove the stock down to
just above that first support near $15.50.  Daily Stochastics
are continuing their southward trek and the PnF chart lends
credence to the idea that there is further to fall.  That
column of O's has now lengthened to the point that a bearish
target of $11.50 is now in play.  I would expect the bulls to
attempt a rebound in the vicinity of $14, as this broken
resistance level should now serve as support.  Barring a new
surge of strength in the SOX, I would expect that bounce to fail
at a lower level (perhaps ($17.00-17.50), leading the stock
down to test major support in the $11.50-12.50 area.

Putting all the pieces together, I would have had a hard time
arguing with a short in BRCM as of last Wednesday, and I hope
those readers that sent it in as a candidate put their research
into action and profited from the move.  See how all the pieces
came together, confirming the initial signal provided by the
Ribbon system?  It doesn't matter what indicators or system you
happen to use for generating your trading ideas, it is the
confirmation that is crucial to long-term success.

I promised we'd go back and look at AIG again today, due to
my belief that the picture has changed.  And change it has!

AIG - Daily Chart

A big part of my trepidation about the short side in AIG last
week was the significant support in the $60-62 area.  The stock
needed to print $62 in order to produce a PnF Sell signal, but
that would leave the stock resting right on its bullish support
line.  Looking at the blue lines on the chart above, we can see
the significance of support, first at $62, then $61 and finally
just below $60.  Bit by bit, the stock has churned through each
of these support levels, culminating with today's breakdown
below $60.  Perhaps the factor most supportive of further
downside in the stock is the changed picture on the PnF chart.
We got that triple-bottom Sell signal and the penetration of
the bullish support line.  Looking at the vertical count, the
stock now has downside risk to $53, which is just above the
October lows.  Connecting the lows in July and August produces
an ascending trendline that currently rests near $56.

With daily Stochastics now buried in oversold, I wouldn't be
surprised to see an oversold rebound later this week.  But I
expect the trend to remain down until the stock at least tests
support in the $55-56 area.  I would not be a fan of trying to
initiate new positions near current levels.  Once again, the
risk/reward ratio is not conducive to success in that venture.
But bringing old support/new resistance into the equation, I
like the prospects of a new short on a failed rally near the
$61-62 area.  

My intent here is not to pick a winning trade.  My intent is
to SHOW HOW to pick a winning trade.  If you get nothing else
from this rambling discussion, you should pick up on the
important point of the significant changes to the risk/reward
dynamic.  All of the significant support levels I was concerned
about last week have been taken out, while the PnF chart has
become much more favorable to the bears.  It is in many respects
the same trade we talked about last week, but supply has
definitely increased, while demand has waned.  

There are many other technical studies that could be applied to
AIG and I invite you to do so in order to benefit from the
exercise of confirmation.  The more ways you can look at a trade
and still get the same answer (in this case "Short"), the better
your odds of success.

Have a great week!


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Dead Cat Bounce

Guess that pop we got on Friday was the quintessential "dead-cat
bounce."With the "O'Neill effect" behind us, the Dow, SPX and 
OEX all rolled over and took out the lows from Friday morning.

To read the rest of the Swing Trader Game Plan Click here:

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

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The Option Investor Newsletter                   Monday 12-09-2002
Copyright 2002, All rights reserved.                        2 of 2
Redistribution in any form strictly prohibited.

In Section Two:

Stop Loss Updates: AIG, CDWC
Dropped Calls: GENZ
Dropped Puts: none
Play of the Day: Put - AIG

Updated on the site tonight:
Market Watch
Market Posture

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Stop-Loss Adjustments

AIG - put
Adjust from $65.51 down to $63

CDWC - put
Adjust from $51 down to $50



GENZ $32.87 -1.56 (-1.56) After bucking the bearish trend in the
broad market for most of last week, the Biotechnology index
decided to participate in the bearish party on Monday, shedding
3.85% in the process.  GENZ had been holding above the $34
support level, but the sector weakness dragged it under that
support level and then the sellers pressured the stock down to
close at its low of the day.  With support broken and our $33.50
stop violated, GENZ is a clear drop tonight.  Any open positions
should be stopped out, as the next clear level of support is down
at the $31 level.



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

_7 Steps to Success _ Trading Options Online_.

Order today and save 25% (only $15) by clicking on PreferredTrade
and clicking on the link to the book on its home page.



AIG - American Intl. $59.57 -0.92 (-0.92 this week)

Company Summary:
IG is the world's leading U.S.-based international insurance and
financial services organization, the largest underwriter of
commercial and industrial insurance in the United States, and
among the top-ranked U.S. life insurers. Its member companies
write a wide range of general insurance and life insurance
products for commercial, institutional and individual customers
through a variety of distribution channels in approximately 130
countries and jurisdictions throughout the world. AIG's global
businesses also include financial services, retirement savings
and asset management. AIG's financial services businesses include
aircraft leasing, financial products, trading and market making,
and consumer finance. (source: company press release)

Why We Like It:
An unexpected rise in unemployment numbers sent the market lower
on Friday morning.  AIG gapped down with the major indices and
bounced just over the PnF bullish resistance breakdown level of
$60.00, hitting a low of $60.05.  The stock remained rangebound
between $60.50 and $61.00 for most of the day before a late-
session breakdown took AIG to the $60.05 level.  Bulls will point
to the subsequent rebound as a positive sign, but we wouldn't
read too much into this successful test of support - It looked
like many short traders simply wanted to get flat before the
weekend.  Today's relative weakness versus the Dow Jones and
IUX.X Insurance index (which violated its 50-dma on an intraday
basis) bodes well for the bears.  The recent triple-bottom
breakdown on the PnF chart sure isn't going to inspire much
buying either.  New entries can be gauged on a move below $60.00.
We think AIG could quickly fall to the $55.00 area once this
level of support gives way.  Our stop is set at $65.51, twelve
cents above the 200-dma.

Why This is our Play of the Day

As the broad market continues to grind through one support level
after another, AIG has followed suit.  First taking out support
at $62 and then $61 late last week, the stock followed up on
Monday by dropping through the $60 level to post its lowest close
since mid-October.  While still below the ADV, selling volume has
been rising the past few days, which hints that the bears are
determined to fill the gap down to $58.30.  Given the fact that
the stock has been losing ground for the past 6 sessions, an
oversold bounce is probably just around the corner.  Traders with
open positions may want to consider harvesting partial gains near
the bottom of that gap and then look to re-enter on the next
failed bounce.  The $62 level will now present strong resistance,
as it is just below the 50-dma ($62.25), and a rollover there
would make for an attractive entry point.  Lower stops to $63.

*** December contracts expire in less than two weeks ***

BUY PUT DEC-60 AIG-XL OI= 6990 at $2.10 SL=1.00
BUY PUT JAN-60*AIG-ML OI=19900 at $3.50 SL=1.75

Average Daily Volume = 6.41 mln

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Lower Ceiling

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


Bounce Time?

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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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