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Daily Newsletter, Monday, 12/23/2002

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The Option Investor Newsletter                   Monday 12-23-2002
Copyright 2002, All rights reserved.                        1 of 2
Redistribution in any form strictly prohibited.

In Section One:

Wrap: A Lump Of Coal For Retail Investors
Futures Wrap: Light But Effective
Index Trader Wrap: Blue-chips lag technology in light volume trade
Weekly Fund Wrap: Another Volatile Week on Wall Street
Traders Corner: What's Your Contingency Plan?

 

Posted online for subscribers at http://www.OptionInvestor.com
*******************************************************************
MARKET WRAP  (view in courier font for table alignment)
*******************************************************************
12-23-2002                High    Low     Volume Advance/Decl
DJIA     8493.29 - 18.03 8554.04 8462.64  1081 mln  1703/1514
NASDAQ   1381.69 + 18.64 1384.29 1358.29  1162 mln  1855/1500
S&P 100   456.06 +  0.60  459.28  453.64    totals  3558/3014
S&P 500   897.38 +  1.62  902.43  892.26
RUS 2000  389.73 +  2.85  390.05  385.41
DJ TRANS 2321.73 -  2.49 2330.70 2301.92
VIX        29.33 -  2.14   31.44   29.33
VIXN       45.89 -  2.62   49.83   45.89
Put/Call Ratio 0.58
*******************************************************************

A Lump Of Coal For Retail Investors 
by Kent Barton

Mall parking lots across the country were jammed to the gills 
today as Holiday shoppers scurried to make some last-minute 
purchases.  Anyone who braved the crowds and long lines would 
probably attest that retail business is humming along just fine.  
Unfortunately for investors within the group, there's a whole 
lot of evidence to the contrary.  

The broader market opened flat this morning as traders digested 
another round of economic data.  Durable goods purchases bounced 
back with a 1.9% gain in November, following the previous month's 
1.3% decline.  A large portion of the gains was attributed to 
strong auto sales, which had been dropping from Q3 levels.  New 
car purchases also helped to push personal spending to a 0.5% 
gain, which was in-line with analyst estimates.  The University of 
Michigan, one of the key gauges of consumer sentiment, came in at 
86.7, one tenth better than expectations.  

Conventional wisdom dictates that strong consumer spending is 
absolutely crucial if the economy is going to avoid a double-dip 
recession.  Today's numbers don't indicate any reduction in 
spending, but you have to wonder how well those lagging indicators 
reflect the current situation.  Monday's news out of the Wal-Mart 
camp paints a far more bearish picture.  Shares of the retail 
behemoth hit a new relative low after the company said that it 
expects December same-store sales to come in at the lower end of 
its 3%-5% growth forecast.  Adding insult to injury, Federated 
Department Stores (the parent company of Bloomingdale's and 
Macy's) said they would probably miss their November/December 
sales targets.  The company said that sales didn't increase as 
much as they had expected during the third week of December.   
After-hours news wasn't much better for retail bulls.  Citing weak 
sales of sporting goods and apparel, Target (TGT) said that same-
store sales had fallen well below expectations for the third 
consecutive week.

Hmmmm...Slower-than-expected holiday sales for the two largest 
discount retailers and a frigid December for one of the leading 
department stores.  If you're getting a distinctly bearish vibe 
from the entire sector you're not alone.  The retail index has 
been in a steady decline for several weeks and today's news 
pushed the RLX.X to new relative lows.  Wall Street, which is 
always looking forward and trying to factor in future economic 
developments, seems to be pricing in a decline in consumer 
spending.  The fact that Americans aren't enthusiastically 
whipping out their pocketbooks during the Holiday season 
doesn't bode well for first quarter of 2003.

Annotated chart - Retail Index



With WMT leading the way lower, the Dow Jones was hard-pressed to 
remain in positive territory.  A morning rally that took the index 
above its 50-dma (8525) quickly petered out near 8550.  The final 
two hours of trading had the Dow trading in a small range without 
any clear direction.  Small gains in MSFT and INTC helped to keep 
the Industrials above short-term support in the 8350-8400 region 
but news that Moody's has downgraded MCD due to their first 
quarterly loss in 47 years and the press release from Citigroup for 
its $1.3 billion charge did their best to make it hard on the 
bulls to get any momentum.

Annotated chart - Dow Industrials:




Tech stocks as a whole faired better, as the semiconductor index 
moved through resistance and finished in the green by 2.7%.  The 
SOX.X has trended higher over the past three sessions and looks 
poised to test its 50-dma at 312.  Looking at the broader tech 
sector today's 18-point gain in the NASDAQ wasn't anything to 
write home about, it's interesting to note that the index was 
able to break above its 50-dma, which acted as resistance on 
Friday.  This level roughly coincides with the 38% retracement 
from the October low to December high. 

Annotated chart - NASDAQ:




Rebalanced trading in the NASDAQ-100 commenced today.  Former tech 
high-flyers such as AMCC, CHTR, VTSS, and PMCS have been cast off 
in favor of companies that are actually turning a profit.  ROST, 
EXPD, XRAY, LAMR, WFMI, FHCC, PETM, PIXR, APCC, FAST, CHRW, PTEN, 
RYAAY, HSIC and GNTX are the additions.  Mutual funds still have 
a few days left to make adjustments, so we may see some added 
volatility in those stocks for the duration of the week.  Speaking 
of fallen angels in the tech sector, Inktomi (INKT) shot higher by 
36% today after Yahoo (YHOO) announced that it would buy the 
software company for $235 million, or $1.65 per share.  Sharp-
minded traders might remember that INKT topped out at a 
whopping $241 per share in early-2000.  Today's investors 
seemed to be pleased with the deal - YHOO finished the session 
with a 3.7% gain. 

After the closing bell this afternoon, a federal judge ruled that 
Microsoft's Windows operating system would have to include Sun's 
Java programming language.  SUNW posted a gain of roughly 10% in 
after-hours trading.  We'll see how this plays out tomorrow, but 
thus far it doesn't look like this news will weigh too heavily on 
Mr. Softee.  Shares finished the extended session with a loss of 
only 10 cents.

Over on Capital Hill, life began to return to normal (relatively 
speaking...we're talking about Washington D.C. here) following 
Trent Lott's resignation as Senate majority leader on Friday.  
Sen. Bill Frist was officially chosen as his replacement this 
afternoon.  The GOP, and the White House in particular, can be 
very pleased with how things turned out. In contrast to Lott, who 
initially opposed Bush's candidacy in 1999, Frist has close 
working relationship with the Administration.  This will give the 
President added leverage in pushing through his agenda, including 
larger tax cuts.

Crude oil futures (cl03f) hit a new multi-month high today after 
OPEC decided not to increase output until their price benchmark 
remains above the $22-$28 range for 20 trading days.  The cartel 
seems to view the current Venezuelan labor strike (which has 
entered its fourth week) as a temporary problem that has 
artificially reduced supply.  As it stands now, the country is 
only exporting 10% of its previous output.  The current stalemate 
has President Huge Chavez (who thus far has maintained military 
support) pitted against a widespread opposition that includes 
several high-level oil executives.  A resolution of the strike 
would likely take a few dollars of premium out of crude futures.  

Of course the longer-term worry for OPEC is the United States' 
looming war with Iraq.  Continued hawkish rhetoric from the White 
House and extensive military exercises in Kuwait make an invasion 
appear inevitable.  At this point it's hard to imagine that crude 
will retest its November lows anytime in the near future.  The 
steady beating of war drums may be helping to keep a lid on the 
major market indices as well.  Wall Street loathes uncertainty, 
and nobody knows how an invasion of Iraq would play out.  A quick 
victory could send stocks sharply higher.  Investors were so sure 
of success during the first Gulf War that the market actually 
rallied when the initial air campaign began.  The current 
situation is quite different.  The ouster of Saddam Hussein will 
entail a takeover of Baghdad.  Fighting in an urban environment 
against a motivated Iraqi army protecting their homeland, U.S. 
forces could face a much more difficult task than the relatively 
straight-forward desert warfare that took place in 1991.  A 
prolonged, expensive war in Iraq would have a disastrous effect on 
the market.  These are just some of the concerns that Wall Street 
has to contend with.  In any case, continued high oil prices will 
not have a positive impact on the economy.

The dearth of any noteworthy economic data or earnings reports for 
the rest of the week will put the focus on these geo-political 
situations.  But short of any major developments, tomorrow's 
abbreviated trading day will most likely see extremely thin volume.  
The last time the Dow posted a loss on the day prior to Christmas 
was in 1997.  What exactly gives the market this bullish bias 
during the holidays?  Institutional traders go on vacation, 
leaving their less experienced counterparts in charge with one 
basic command: "Don't screw anything up."  Without the major 
players taking large positions and pushing the market around, 
retail investors have an abnormally large influence.  On a whole 
this group tends to trade with a sharply bullish bias.  Throw in a 
little seasonal cheer, and you've got a recipe for a Santa Claus 
rally.  Of course there are no guarantees, and the Grinch (dressed 
in a bear suit) might be eagerly awaiting another failed rally.  
Those who aren't taking a well-deserved day off tomorrow should pay 
attention to the aforementioned short-term resistance levels.  



**********************  
Annual Renewal Special
**********************  

The annual special this year is far too large to put into an
email. The highlights include two option expiration mousepads
to which we have added the FOMC meeting dates this year. There
are also two videos with Jim, Jeff and Buzz and seven books 
by leading market professionals like John Murphy and and Jim 
Rodgers. We even brought back the Trading Strategies CD from 
last year for all the new subscribers who have been asking 
for it. 

Click here for the full details:  

https://secure.sungrp.com/03renewal/

************
FUTURES WRAP
************

Light But Effective 
By John Seckinger
jseckinger@OptionInvestor.com

Volume was light within the futures markets during trading on 
Monday; nevertheless, both the NQ and ES contract traded 
technically sound and should continue to do so.  

Monday, December 23rd at 4:15 P.M. 

Contract          Net Change     High        Low        Volume    

YM03H    8499.00    -13.00     8537.00     8442.00       10,396
NQ03H    1033.50    +10.00     1039.00     1014.00      118,608
ES03H     897.00     +0.25      902.00      890.25      245,514

ES03H  = E-mini SP500 futures    
YM03H  = E-mini Dow $5 futures    
NQ03H  = E-mini NDX 100 futures     

Note:  The 03H suffix stands for 2003, March, 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:  Concerns from the Retail Sector worried 
traders on Monday, and weakness in shares of Wal-Mart, Federated, 
and THQ Inc. didn’t help soothe investors’ concerns.  In other 
news, OPEC stated that it will not raise output for at least two 
weeks despite supply issues because of the strike in Venezuela.  
Oil rose $1.45 to $31.75 a barrel.  In economic news, Personal 
Spending rose 0.5% in November (in-line with expectations), while 
Personal Income came in one-tenth better than the consensus 0.2% 
projection.  Additionally, the December University of Michigan 
Sentiment report came in at 86.7 and just beat estimates (86.6).  
In company specific news, Disney (DIS) projects Q1 charge of $83 
million or $0.04 cents a share, noting that the UAL aircraft 
lease investment will be written off.   

Note:  The markets will be closing at 1:00 P.M. on Tuesday.  

Technical News:  The Semiconductor Sector (SOX) closed higher on 
Monday by 2.70% to 306, and in the process set a higher daily 
high and higher low for the second straight session.  However, 
resistance from 307-308 (dating back to December 9th) won out as 
trading ended (intra-day high of 308.50).  Resistance above 308 
is seen at 315 and 320, with the latter holding solid importance 
for intermediate traders.  If weakness materializes and the index 
falls under 295, look for more weakness and a drag on the futures 
markets.  The Retail Holders (AMEX:RTH) index lost 2% and just 
closed the gap from October 10th to 11th in the process.  Weakness 
should continue if Monday’s low is taken out (68.85), with a 
downside short-term objective of 68.  Resistance is seen tiered 
higher at 71, 72, and 74.  

=================================================================

The March Mini-sized Dow Contract (YM03H)

A light volume session in the Dow did manage to propel the index 
above 8515 for a period of time; however, enthusiasm quickly 
faded as the 22 DMA (exp) was tested at 8553 (intra-day high was 
8554).  Since the Dow bounced from the 38.2% retracement area at 
8338, I have begun doing retracement analysis regarding a 
continuing rebound.  The most common retracement levels are 38.2, 
50, and 61.8 percent; however, it is interesting how half of 38.2 
(19.1) works pretty well.  This level came in on Monday at 8464 
and was just a few points above the intra-day low.  Therefore, 
when the market(s) become quiet or seem hard to read, turn to 
retracement analysis in order to gauge sentiment and try to get 
into the mind of a market maker.   

Chart of Dow Jones, Daily



A 60-minute chart of the YM contract shows how retracement 
analysis outside the ‘normal’ levels can work as well.  I 
recommend starting with 19.1, 38.2, 50, and 61.8; then 
experimenting with others if the particular contract doesn’t
follow the popular levels.  On Tuesday, the pivot in the YM 
contract is at 8492.75 and should fall back on the top of the 
regression channel (blue line).  If weakness continues, look at 
the 22 and 50 PMA’s (exp) for guidance.  The first support level 
posted (S1) is at 8448 and under these moving averages; 
therefore, risk going long at that level might be greater than 
under normal situations.  8397.75 seems more favorable to longs.  
Another note on retracement analysis: If the first resistance 
level at 8543.50 is taken out, moving stops to just under this 
level does make sense and can help control risk if obvious stop 
levels are not seen.  

Chart of YM03H, 60-minute



YM03H

Support               Resistance                Pivot    

8448.50			8543.50			8492.75
8397.75			8587.75	

Bold signifies levels based on Pivot Analysis (Globex included).  

The March E-mini Nasdaq 100 Contract (NQ03H)

The NDX contract did rise above 1019 on Monday and had problems 
with its 200 PMA (currently at 1036) shortly thereafter.  On the 
other hand, the contract closed above a 19.1% retracement level 
(129.53) and used its 50 DMA (exp) as support after the morning’s 
initial run-up.  With that said, look for bids to enter if the 
200 PMA is cleared, while also expecting more selling if the 
19.1% and 50 PMA (only 3 points apart) fail to hold.  The MACD 
oscillator has broken the recent 60-minute bearish trend, and 
this should help bulls if a rally is attempted during trading on 
Tuesday.  A range trade mentality could work its way into the NDX 
during trading on Tuesday; therefore, remember to tighten stops 
once either the moving averages or listed levels are cleared.  

Chart of NDX, 60 Minute



Retracement analysis once again.  First, the upward trending blue 
line acted perfectly as support (1014) early on Monday, followed 
by the 38.2% retracement area matching up well with the falling 
red trend line.  Once that level reversed rolls and became 
support, the contract appeared to be taken over by moves between 
the 50 to 61.8% retracement levels.  As a rule, once the 61.8% 
was cleared, it is expected that the next level at 1040 will be 
tested.  When the contract did reverse down back underneath the 
1036 area, a failure did materialize.  This is common, and I 
recommend watching for these patterns.  Going forward, resistance 
is seen just under the 84.1% retracement level at 1046.50.  
Disclaimer:  Put more weight in the pivot analysis calculations 
than retracement levels.  It looks like the rising trend line 
could line up well with the 50% level; therefore, expect its 
importance to grow.  If the blue line fails, look for weakness 
down towards 1018.  

Chart of NQ03H, 30 Minute



NQ03H
Support              Resistance                 Pivot 
								
1018.50			1046.50			1028.75
1000.75			1056.75

Bold signifies levels based on Pivot Analysis (Globex included).  

NQ03H    1033.50    +10.00     1039.00     1014.00      

The March E-mini S&P 500 Contract (ES03H)

The follow-through above 901 never materialized; however, 
Monday’s close still paints a slightly bullish picture as the 
contract is above the rising blue trend line and a 19.1% 
retracement level at 894.  If 894 is taken out, sentiment will 
quickly change to more slightly bearish readings (portend a move 
back to 883).  It certainly wasn’t encouraging to see the move 
above both the 200 and 50 PMA’s fail; however, until the trend 
line and 19.1% level is taken out, bulls may not mind getting 
involved.  Note:  A fall in the contract could result in the 50 
PMA crossing underneath the 200 PMA, a bearish sign.  

Chart of S&P 500 Index, 120-minute



The profiled 901.25 resistance area was just too much for the 
ES03H contract during trading on Monday.  Still in the middle of 
its recent range, I turned to a simple moving average for the 200 
PMA (green) in order to get a better feel for the contract.  The 
50 PMA (purple) will remain exponentially calculated.  Going 
forward, continue to play levels both to the upside and downside.  
One note:  If 902 is taken out, make sure it is accompanied with 
a relatively stronger stochastics reading.  If not, this would be 
a bearish divergence.  The SPX contract should be given more 
weight during Tuesday’s shortened session, but a move above 900 
in either contract could portend a pick up in volatility.  Longs 
need 900 (200 SMA) to become support, while bears could play 
either a move from 891 to 884.75 or potential failure at either 
of the aforementioned resistance levels.   

Chart of ES03H, 30-minute



ES03H

Support              Resistance            Pivot    

891.00			902.75		896.50
884.75                  908.25

Bold signifies levels based on Pivot Analysis (Globex included).  

Good Luck.

Questions are welcomed,

John Seckinger
jseckinger@OptionInvestor.com 

**********************  
Annual Renewal Special
**********************  

The annual special this year is far too large to put into an
email. The highlights include two option expiration mousepads
to which we have added the FOMC meeting dates this year. There
are also two videos with Jim, Jeff and Buzz and seven books 
by leading market professionals like John Murphy and and Jim 
Rodgers. We even brought back the Trading Strategies CD from 
last year for all the new subscribers who have been asking 
for it. 

Click here for the full details:  

https://secure.sungrp.com/03renewal/


********************
INDEX TRADER SUMMARY
********************

Blue-chips lag technology in light volume trade

Blue-chips as depicted by the Dow Industrials (INDU) 8,493 -0.21 
fell 18 points as the larger caps of the S&P 100 Index (OEX.X) 
456.06 +0.13% eked out a fractional gain, while the NASDAQ-100 
Index (NDX.X) 1,032.30 +1.86% celebrated an 18 point rise after 
adding 15 of this years top performing NASDAQ stocks, while 
ridding itself of 15 under performers.

In what many expect to be a light volume week, today's volume of 
just over 1 billion shares for both the NYSE and NASDAQ hints 
that institutional activity will be light this week.

While breadth was unchanged at the midpoint of today's session, a 
late push by bulls had breadth positive by the close with 17 
stocks advancing versus 13 decliners on the NYSE, while NASDAQ 
reversed negative breadth to finish with an advance/decline 
ration of 9 to 7.

Breadth at the new 52-week high versus 52-week low level also 
finished positive with 68 stocks trading a new 52-week high on 
the NYSE versus 47 stocks at new lows, while NASDAQ had 65 stocks 
trading new 52-week highs compared to 60 stocks hitting new lows.

Telecom sectors got a lift today after Qwest Communications 
(NYSE:Q) $5.68 +7.35% announced it had received unanimous 
approval from the FCC to re-enter the long-distance business in 
nine states, where it currently severs more than nine million 
customers in some of the states.  The news bolstered both the 
North American Telecom Index (XTC.X) 480 +1.74% and Combined 
Telecom Index (IXTCX) 113 +2.92% on hopes that a "friendlier" FCC 
opening long-distance markets to local telecom carriers might 
spur top-line growth (sales/revenue).

Today's action had the smaller-capped Russell 2000 Index (RUT.X) 
389.73 +0.73% seeing a successful test and bounce from its 
rounding higher 50-day SMA of 383, which was tested on Thursday 
as support, and may have market technicians looking for some 
leadership from the smaller-caps on a Russell 2000 (RUT.X) break 
back above the 400 level.

Russell 2000 Index (RUT.X) - Daily Chart



While shorting in and of itself doesn't make for a lower equity 
market, the smaller caps of the Russell 2000 (RUT.X), which 
comprise both NYSSE and NASDAQ listed stocks tend to not be as 
heavily shorted as their larger-cap brethren and many do not 
trade options, which unlike a larger capped index may have not 
see trading as "influenced" by option expiration last week as the 
Dow, SPX, OEX and NDX.  As such, the ability of the RUT.X to have 
held its rising 50-day SMA as support has the smaller caps 
looking slightly more technically sound.  To stay technically 
sound, the RUT.X should not break below the 378 level.  A move 
back above the rounding 21-day SMA and MACD cross above signal 
would be sign that Santa is indeed coming and a later-year or 
early 2003 rally is still a possibility.  Not only for the 
smaller caps, but the other major indexes as well.

The conventional $5 box scale of the Russell 2000 Index (RUT.X) 
shows a spread-double top at 410, with longer-term bearish 
resistance trend at 415.  The RUT.X is still on a p/f "buy 
signal" and first sign of meaningful weakness would be a trade at 
365, which would be a double-bottom sell signal.

NASDAQ-100 Index Chart - Daily Interval



The NASDAQ-100 found the addition of 15 new stocks to the index 
to its liking and lead today's major index gains.  A simple 
breadth check of the 15 stocks added versus those removed showed 
some daily strength by session's end.

Retailers were weak today as the S&P Retail Index (RLX.X) 264.30 
-2.46% lead today's sector losers.  Newly added retailing 
components to the NASDAQ-100 had shares of Ross Stores 
(NASDAQ:ROST) $41.45 -2.35% giving a triple-bottom sell signal at 
$41 and subtracting 1 stock from the NASDAQ-100 bullish % "buy 
signal" list, while the other retailing component added over the 
weekend had shares of PETsMART (NASDAQ:PETM) $17.34 trading 
unchanged.  The sole "technology" addition had American Power 
Conversion (NASDAQ:APCC) $15.37 +6.0% recouping the bulk of 
Friday's losses.

With the adjustments made to the NASDAQ-100 Index this weekend, 
combined with today's action, there was no net change in the 
NASDAQ-100 Bullish % ($BPNDX).  Status remains "bear alert" at 
62% bullish.

S&P 500 Index Chart - Daily Interval



The larger capped S&P 500 Index (SPX.X) traded in a very tight 
range today and while bulls were able to get the SPX back above 
the psychological 900 level for about an hour, there just didn't 
seem to be enough conviction to keep it there.  Tomorrow is a 
trade shortened session with markets closing at 01:00 PM EST and 
with many traders taking the week off, any type of surprise from 
tomorrow morning's 08:30 AM EST release of durable goods orders 
will most likely set the tone of the shortened trading session.

I personally would hesitate to trade a call option long, and then 
lose 1.5 days expiration, but would play a break above today's 
high on a SHORT-TERM basis to the rolling 21-day SMA of 910 in 
the AMEX:SPY (today's high SPY $90.47, 21-day SMA is $91.54).  A 
weak durable goods order, which has consensus at +0.8% most 
likely finds the SPX below Thursday's low and trading the 878 
level with a "bah humbug" into the Christmas holiday.

Today's action saw the S&P 500 Index (SPX.X) find a net gain of 3 
stocks to point and figure buy signals as the bullish % inches up 
to 59.6%.  Current status remains "bull correction" and a 
reversal higher reading of 66% is currently needed for the SPX 
bullish % to reverse back into "bull confirmed" status.

S&P 100 Index Chart - $2.5 box scale




The OEX successfully held its most critical support by NOT 
trading 445 on Thursday of last week and has gotten a bounce the 
past two sessions.  In this weekend's "Ask the Analyst" column we 
answered a trader's question regarding Intl. Business Machines 
(NYSE:IBM) $80.26 +0.58% and went through somewhat of a "history" 
since its October lows.  I think an OEX trader might look to 
correlate an IBM break lower at $78 and further weakness below 
$76 with a break lower in the OEX at 445.  I'm looking for OEX 
resistance near the 465 level.  

IBM has been holding above its trending lower 200-day SMA the 
past 11 sessions as it tests this longer-term SMA as support and 
it may indeed take an IBM close below the 200-day SMA of $78.49 
and a double-bottom sell signal at $78 to have the OEX giving up 
the 445 level.

Today's action saw no net change in the S&P 100 Bullish % 
($BPOEX) and status remains "bear alert" at 57%.  It would 
currently take a reversal high reading of 64% to have the OEX 
bullish % back up to "bull confirmed" status.

Dow Industrials Chart - Daily Interval




Wal-Mart's (NYSE:WMT) 49.59 -2.36% news that holiday sales were 
hurt by a shortened shopping season didn't help the Dow, nor did 
Honeywell's (NYSE:HON) $22.80 -3.10% continuing decline after 
Thursday's news it would take a $1.9 billion charge related to 
asbestos claims.  Those losses offset gains in components 
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) $54.00 +1.8% and AT&T (NYSE:T) $27.30 
+2.70%.

While technology stocks bucked today's lackluster performance 
from the Dow, SPX and OEX, I do feel that even the NASDAQ and 
NASDAQ-100 would want the Dow to show a rebound to help bolster 
investor/trader enthusiasm and I'm just not seeing that from the 
Dow Industrials.

While many institutional traders take the week off for the 
Christmas holiday, tomorrow morning's durable goods orders will 
be key.  This morning's personal spending numbers did give hint 
to a potential upside surprise in December durable goods orders 
as the personal spending data showed that purchases of durable 
goods rose 1.9% in November, after falling 1.3% in October.  The 
difference between the two would be a net gain of 0.6% for the 
two months, and consensus among analysts for December durable 
goods is for a gain of 0.8%.  This has me thinking the MARKET 
will want to see a gain above the 0.8% if its going to get into 
rally mode.

 


**********************  
Annual Renewal Special
**********************  

The annual special this year is far too large to put into an
email. The highlights include two option expiration mousepads
to which we have added the FOMC meeting dates this year. There
are also two videos with Jim, Jeff and Buzz and seven books 
by leading market professionals like John Murphy and and Jim 
Rodgers. We even brought back the Trading Strategies CD from 
last year for all the new subscribers who have been asking 
for it. 

Click here for the full details:  

https://secure.sungrp.com/03renewal/


****************
WEEKLY FUND WRAP
****************

Another Volatile Week on Wall Street

Most stock funds eked out small gains in a volatile session that 
saw stock prices rise, fall and rise again to close out the week.  
Techs and telecom stocks led Monday's advance, but a slew of bad 
news sank the market during the next three sessions.  McDonald's 
warned it will have its first quarterly loss ever, disheartening 
investors, while tech industry losses continued to mount.  

The U.S. dollar hit new lows last week, while gold set new 5-year 
highs before slightly retreating, a Bloomberg news report stated.  
Meanwhile, oil prices remain near 2-month peaks of $30 per barrel 
amid disrupted deliveries from Venezuela, the result of political 
strife there.  Stocks rebounded Friday as major brokerages agreed 
to pay $1.4 billion to settle probes into analysts' "conflicts of 
interest" and Fed Chairman Greenspan gave a cautiously optimistic 
speech to N.Y. economists.

For the week, the Vanguard 500 Index Fund, which tracks the total 
return performance of the S&P 500 large-cap index, increased 0.7% 
as did its sibling, Vanguard Mid-Cap Index Fund, which tracks the 
S&P Midcap 400 index return.  Value stocks did better than growth 
stocks overall.  Meanwhile, small-cap stocks produced losses over 
the week, lagging the rest of the market.




All of Lipper's equity fund indices were higher for the week with 
the exception of science and technology funds and small-cap funds 
(all styles).  Large-cap value funds were up 1.1% on average last 
week to lead the diversified equity fund group.  Emerging markets 
equity funds rose 1.1% on average to lead the international stock 
fund group, per Lipperweb.com. 

Small-cap funds and tech funds closed the week with modest losses 
of up to one percent, with small-cap growth funds the hardest hit 
segment.  According to Lipper, the average small-cap growth stock 
fund lost 0.8% on average during the 5-day period.  Not all small 
capitalization funds lost ground; a few finished the week higher.

Lipper's fixed income fund indices put in another good show, with 
three categories producing an average weekly total return of over 
0.6 percent, including corporate A-rated debt funds, intermediate 
investment-grade bond funds, and global fixed income funds.  That 
compares with a weekly return of 0.6% for the Vanguard Total Bond 
Market Index Fund, which replicates the Lehman Brothers Aggregate 
Bond Index.  Longer maturity funds did better than short-duration 
funds, with the intermediate-term index up 0.9% and the long-term 
index up 1.0%, using their respective Vanguard index funds as the 
yardsticks.

Below is a performance summary through Friday, December 20, 2002 
for selected Vanguard index funds.  They give a sense of how the 
various markets performed last week in mutual fund (total return) 
terms.  Vanguard balanced index fund is composed of 60% Wilshire 
5000 (total market) index and 40% Lehman Brothers Aggregate Bond 
index.

 Vanguard Equity Index Funds:
 +0.6% Balanced Index (VBALX) YTD -8.9%
 +0.7% 500 Index (VFINX) YTD -20.8%
 +0.7% MidCap Index (VIMSX) YTD -13.7%
 -0.2% SmallCap Index (NAESX) YTD -19.3%
 +0.2% Developed Markets Index (VDMIX) YTD -16.8%
 
 Vanguard Fixed Income Index Funds:
 +0.5% Short-Term Bond Index (VBISX) YTD +5.6%
 +0.9% Intermediate-Term Bond Index (VBIIX) YTD +9.6%
 +1.0% Long-Term Bond Index (VBLTX) YTD +12.8%
 +0.6% Total Bond Market Index (VBMFX) YTD +7.6%
 
In the next section, we see how the various categories of funds 
performed last week relative to their respective market indices.


Lipper Fund Indices


Below are selected Lipper equity and income fund indices for the 
weekly and year-to-date periods ended Friday, December 20, 2002.  

 Selected Lipper Equity Fund Indices:
 +0.6% Balanced (YTD -10.2%)
 +1.0% Equity Income (YTD -15.4%)
 +1.1% Large-Cap Value (YTD -18.5%)
 +0.6% Large-Cap Core (YTD -20.0%)
 +0.2% Large-Cap Growth (YTD -26.7%)
 -0.5% Science & Technology (YTD -40.0%)
 +0.0% International (YTD -14.5%)

 Selected Lipper Income Fund Indices:
 +0.5% U.S. Government (YTD +9.3%)
 +0.4% GNMA (YTD +8.3%)
 +0.3% Short Investment-Grade (YTD +4.0%)
 +0.6% Intermediate Investment-Grade (YTD +7.7%)
 +0.6% Corporate A-Rated Debt (YTD +7.9%)
 +0.5% High-Yield (YTD -2.6%)
 +0.6% International Income (YTD +15.9%) 

Since balanced funds and large-cap funds are where most industry 
assets are held, the bulk of equity investors gained ground last 
week.  Among large-cap funds, you can see that returns decreased 
as you moved from value to growth.  Funds with greater exposures 
to utilities, financials and natural resources sectors were last 
week's top performers.  

Over on the fixed income side, weekly returns were strong across 
all Lipper income fund objectives.  Government bond funds had an 
average weekly return of 0.5%, while corporate bond funds gained 
0.6% on average.  The average international bond fund closed the 
week 0.6% higher - again the beneficiary of a languishing dollar.  
High yield bond funds participated in the bond rally rising 0.5% 
on average.


Largest Mutual Funds


Below is a performance summary through Friday, December 20, 2002 
for the nation's largest mutual funds in four broad fund groups: 
domestic equity, international equity, bond, and domestic hybrid.  
The domestic hybrid group includes traditional balanced funds as 
well as asset allocation funds.  

 Largest Domestic Stock Funds:
 +0.7% Vanguard 500 Index (VFINX) YTD -20.8%
 +0.4% Fidelity Magellan (FMAGX) YTD -22.2%
 +0.7% Investment Company of America A (AIVSX) YTD -13.7%
 +1.1% Washington Mutual Investors A (AWSHX) YTD -14.0%
 -0.1% Growth Fund of America A (AGTHX) YTD -21.0%

 Largest International Stock Funds:
 +0.6% EuroPacific Growth A (AEPGX) YTD -13.5%
 +0.2% New Perspective A (ANWPX) YTD -15.7%
 +0.3% Janus Worldwide (JAWWX) YTD -25.4%
 +0.7% Templeton Growth A (TEPLX) YTD -24.0%
 +0.9% Capital Income Builder A (CAIBX) YTD +0.5%
 
 Largest Taxable Bond Funds:
 +0.6% PIMCO Total Return I (PTTRX) YTD +9.7%
 +0.4% Vanguard GNMA (VFIIX) YTD +9.4%
 +0.6% Vanguard Total Bond Market Index (VBMFX) YTD +7.6%
 +0.7% Bond Fund of America A (ABNDX) YTD +5.4%
 +0.4% Vanguard Short-Term Corporate (VFSTX) YTD +4.8%

 Largest Domestic Hybrid Funds:
 +0.9% Vanguard Wellington (VWELX) YTD -6.4%
 +1.1% Income Fund of America (AMECX) YTD -4.4%
 +1.1% Fidelity Puritan (FPURX) YTD -7.2%
 +0.7% American Balanced A (ABALX) YTD -5.8%
 +0.4% Fidelity Asset Manager (FASMX) YTD -7.3%

Among domestic stock funds, large-cap value funds like American 
Funds Washington Mutual Investors A (AWSHX) gained 1.1% for the 
week to beat the market (S&P 500 index).  Its large-growth fund 
sibling, American Funds Growth Fund of America A (AGTHX), ended 
the week with a slight 0.1% loss.  

International stock fund returns were comparable to U.S. equity 
funds, while some balanced funds produced weekly returns of 1.0% 
or more, including American Funds Income Fund of America (AMECX) 
and Fidelity Puritan Fund (FPURX).  Both funds rose by 1.1% over 
the 5-day period ended December 20, 2002.

All of the income fund bellwethers produced positive results for 
the week, led by the American Funds Bond Fund of America (ABNDX) 
which increased in value by 0.7 percent.  The largest bond fund, 
PIMCO Total Return (PTTRX) earned a 0.6% total return, matching 
the weekly increase of the Lehman Brothers Aggregate Bond Index.


Money Market Funds


The average 7-day simple yield for all taxable money market funds 
currently stands at 0.90% per iMoneyNet.com, down one basis point 
for the week.  PayPal Money Market Fund continues to have the top 
yield among prime retail funds at 1.50%, followed by Bunker Hill 
Money Market Fund at 1.40%.  McMorgan Principal Preservation Fund 
is third with a current 1.35% yield.

Retail money market fund bellwethers, Fidelity Cash Reserves and 
Vanguard Prime Money Market, have current 7-day simple yields of 
1.22% and 1.28%, respectively, per iMoneyNet.


Mutual Fund News


Weitz Hickory Fund's worst calendar year ever (down 23.4% through 
December 20, 2002) has taken its toll on manager Dick Lawson, who 
will leave the firm at the end of the year, per Morningstar.  The 
small-cap manager's losses in 2002 rank the Weitz Hickory Fund in 
the 95th percentile of the small-blend category, per Morningstar.  

That follows a 4.7% loss in 2001 (93rd percentile) and 17.2% loss 
in 2000 (99th percentile).  Despite the poor relative returns the 
past three years, Lawson's average annual return of 1.3% over the 
trailing 5-year period through December 20, 2002 beat the S&P 500 
index by 1.1% a year and the Russell 2000 small-cap index by 2.9% 
a year.

Weitz & Company's founder Wally Weitz said the decision to resign 
was Lawson's.  According to Morningstar, Mr. Weitz will take over 
Hickory Fund in 2003, and will continue to manage Weitz Value and 
Weitz Partners Value funds, his two other charges.  The small-cap 
Hickory fund will remain closed to new investors, to preserve its 
ability to invest in small stocks.

In other Morningstar news, James Gilligan, manager of Van Kampen 
Equity and Income Fund (ACEIX) is on course to beat the category 
average for a 12th consecutive year, a streak that would have no 
peers.  Fidelity Magellan's Peter Lynch (1977-1987) and Franklin 
Templeton Foreign Fund's Mark Holoweski (1987-1997) put together 
strings of 11 straight years of category outperformance but like 
in sports, records are made to be broken.  Gilligan's annualized 
return of 11.9% for the 10-year period through November 30, 2002 
was 1.8% a year better than the S&P 500 index and good enough to 
rank the fund in the top 3% of the domestic hybrid fund category 
per Morningstar.

Over the past couple weeks we looked at the Morningstar nominees 
for 2002 domestic stock and international equity managers of the 
year.  Last week, Morningstar announced the candidates for 2002 
bond fund manager of the year.  Check back Tuesday when we delve 
into these 2002 winners.



Steve Wagner
Editor, Mutual Investor 
steve@mutualinvestor.com





**************
TRADERS CORNER
**************

What's Your Contingency Plan?
by Mark Phillips
mphillips@OptionInvestor.com

Like most of you, the past few weeks for me have been filled to
overflowing.  Between, shopping, decorating, cleaning and baking,
it seems like there hasn't been a spare moment in our household.
And of course, what holiday would be complete without a major
appliance or two giving up the ghost.  This year, we actually got
lucky -- the dishwasher has been the only casualty so far, and
I'm feeling a bit ahead of my game.  Afterall, I've replaced the
broken appliance BEFORE the holiday, so I won't be confronted
with the turmoil that accompanies such a crisis on Christmas Day!
I've been there before and don't look forward to a repeat anytime
soon.

My wife, Sherri and I live about 10 minutes from her parents in
the high desert of Southern California.  We've said since we
moved here that part of our rationale for the move was to be
close to her parents, just in case they need us.  There's been a
lot of excitement (and extra work) surrounding the holidays this
year, as the remainder of Sherri's family is coming out from the
east coast this year, and it will be the first time in 15 years
that the whole family has been together for the holidays.  Throw
in the fact that I married into a traditional Polish family and
you know the sort of preparation that goes into the holidays.
Between the big Christmas Eve feast and then Christmas dinner,
it seems the food preparation frenzy runs non-stop for about a
week.

Those of you with a short attention span are wondering when I'm
ever going to get to trading and how you can make a buck in this
game.  Stick with me -- this article will be one of the most
important things you read this year, if you get it.  

If the scene I've described above sounds like barely-controlled
chaos, you got it just about right.  Sherri and I managed to
carve out a bit of sanity-time on Saturday evening and went to
a holiday party with about half a dozen of our closest friends.
We knew there was still a lot to do before Tuesday night, but
figured we could just really hustle all day on Sunday and catch
up.  We guessed wrong.

About 8:30am, the phone rings and it is Sherri's dad, calling us
on the way to the hospital with chest pains.  Well, you know
where the rest of the day went -- Sherri and her parents at the
hospital, and me trying to keep all the balls in the air that the
four of us were supposed to be juggling together.  It looks like
he's going to be fine, and this was just a wake up call to take
better care of himself.  But he'll still be in the hospital
until midday tomorrow.  Just for reference, he is THE master
chef of the family, and there is a lot of food preparation that
just isn't going to happen this year.  But guess what?
Everything critical will get done -- it just won't happen the
way everyone envisioned a week ago.

The whole process over the past 30 hours has been truly amazing
to witness.  Extended family from all over Southern California
and the rest of the U.S. have called to offer support, with some
of those in Southern California offering to come up and help
with all the preparations.  It is uncanny the way the wheels
spin into motion and everyone knows exactly what needs to be
done and it gets done, almost as though it has been rehearsed.
I can't speak of other groups, but it has been my experience that
this is exactly the way large families from the 'old country'
work -- like a well-oiled machine.

Now, here's where it gets interesting.  Let's put the above story
into the context of the world of trading.  This particular
situation has had no impact on my trading decisions for the
week -- I have no intention of entering new positions this week
due to the light holiday volume and the longer-term positions
have resting stops in place.  So if I am forced to be away from
the market for a few days, no big deal.  This is where the
addendum to my business plan comes into play.  I make the
assumption at the close of trading every day, that I may not be
able to watch the market tomorrow...or the next day, or even
for the next week.  

What happens if I get in a serious car accident on the way out
to dinner tonight and can't be in front of the computer for the
next week or two?  What is the worst thing that can happen to
my trading account?  Those questions need to be answered if we
are to call our trading business plan complete.  There has to
be a contingency plan for how we handle unforeseen events
outside of the market that can have a direct impact on our
ability to trade.  For those of you that are writing (or
re-writing) your business plan before starting the new year,
please make sure to account for emergency situations.  It is my
sincere wish that you never need those contingency plans, but I
view them like an insurance policy.  You hope you never need
it, but you darn sure better have it, just in case.

The Right Priorities

There's another aspect to this family situation that needs to be
highlighted.  Because I have my priorities in the right balance
(Family first, and then the markets), I have the ability to
provide the proper level of support to my family when they need
it.  I wrote an article back in July that discusses my thoughts
on putting emphasis on what's really important.  If you haven't
read it, I strongly recommend you take the time to do so at the
following link.

Options, Priorities and Balance

Putting the emphasis on the proper priorities will pay benefits
well into the future, both in quality of life, as well as
success in the trading profession.  This is the time of year
when most of us reflect on the past year and look forward to the
next one, with an eye towards what we can do differently to make
the new year even better.  Let me encourage you to take advantage
of this time when trading opportunities are few and far between
to make the changes necessary to ensure a broader range of
opportunities in the year to come.

Regardless of your beliefs, this season is all about giving.
What I think many of us lose sight of in the hustle and bustle
of the season is what is really important.  Let your loved ones
know how important they are, not so much through gifts, but
through the most important gift of all -- your time.  It is
uncanny, the tremendous dividends that you earn through this
process.  Carry that perspective throughout the new year and
beyond, and you'll look back and realize the power of keeping
life and the markets in the proper perspective.

Prosperous Holiday Wishes to All!


Mark


**********************  
Annual Renewal Special
**********************  

The annual special this year is far too large to put into an
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to which we have added the FOMC meeting dates this year. There
are also two videos with Jim, Jeff and Buzz and seven books 
by leading market professionals like John Murphy and and Jim 
Rodgers. We even brought back the Trading Strategies CD from 
last year for all the new subscribers who have been asking 
for it. 

Click here for the full details:  

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***********************
SWING TRADER GAME PLANS
***********************

There will be no swing trader tonight.

To read the rest of the Swing Trader Game Plan Click here:
http://www.OptionInvestor.com/itrader/indexes/swing.asp


**********************  
Annual Renewal Special
**********************  

The annual special this year is far too large to put into an
email. The highlights include two option expiration mousepads
to which we have added the FOMC meeting dates this year. There
are also two videos with Jim, Jeff and Buzz and seven books 
by leading market professionals like John Murphy and and Jim 
Rodgers. We even brought back the Trading Strategies CD from 
last year for all the new subscribers who have been asking 
for it. 

Click here for the full details:  

https://secure.sungrp.com/03renewal/


*******************
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*******************

If you like the results you have been receiving we
would welcome you as a permanent subscriber.

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The Option Investor Newsletter                   Monday 12-23-2002
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: Call – BEAS

Updated on the site tonight:
Market Watch
Market Posture

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**********************
PLAY OF THE DAY - CALL
**********************

BEAS – BEA Systems $12.15 +0.30 (+0.30 this week)

Company Summary:
As a provider of e-commerce infrastructure software, BEAS
helps companies of all sizes extend investments in existing
computer systems and provide the foundation for running a
successful integrated e-business.  The company's products have
been adopted in a wide variety of industries, including
commercial and investment banking, securities trading,
telecommunications, airlines, retail, manufacturing and
government.  BEAS' products serve as a platform or integration
tool for applications such as billing, customer service,
electronic funds transfers, ATM networks, Internet sales,
supply chain management, and hotel, airline and rental car
reservations.

Why We Like It:
Traders looking to capitalize on bullish moves want to have as
many factors in their favor as possible, especially in an
uncertain market environment like we've seen over the last few
weeks.  A breakout above significant highs is good, but when it
comes on huge volume, that's a nice bonus.  BEAS had a great run
from the October lows, moving from below $5 to above $11 in the
space of about 6 weeks.  That's nothing special, as a lot of
Technology stocks can lay claim to that sort of performance.
Where BEAS distances itself from the crowd though is in the
shallowness of its pullback and the subsequent price action over
the past two weeks.  The stock drifted down to the $9 level,
rebounded from the 200-dma and as of Friday's close, is up 33%
from its December 9th close.  Throughout the rally of the past 2
weeks, volume has been expanding, and the stock broke out above
its late-November highs on Friday, with volume 2.5 times the ADV.
In other words, serious, give it to me now, buying.  The PnF
chart is a thing of beauty as well, with the initial Buy signal
off the October lows generating a price target of $20, which is
still very much in play.  Friday's breakout confirmed the bullish
strength with another PnF Buy signal.  Friday's breakout also
pushed On Balance Volume to its highest level since January,
confirming that we've got serious buying in progress.  There's
one more bullish factor at work as well, as we got the bullish
cross of the 50-dma ($9.11) over the 200-dma ($9.05).  This is
the first time the 50-dma has been above the 200-dma since
February 2001.  Clearly, BEAS is under accumulation, but that
doesn't mean its going to go straight up the charts.  In fact,
with solid resistance at $12.50-13.00 and then again at $15,
there will definitely be some bumps in the carpet on the way to
that $20 target.  With light volume likely to be the rule next
week, we're looking for a pullback near $11.50 or even $11 to
provide for a more palatable entry point into the play.
Momentum traders can certainly chase the stock higher, but it
would seem prudent to only do so on a decisive move above $13
on continued heavy buying volume.  To give BEAS room to move in
the near-term, we're initially setting our stop at $10, just
below the intraday lows following the gap up on December 12th.

Why This is our Play of the Day

It was really no great surprise to see the broad market drift
sideways on Monday as traders hit the road early for the
holidays.  That makes BEAS' action all the more impressive, as
the bulls tacked on another 2.46% on average volume.  While
significantly below Friday's breakout volume, BEAS showed how
much demand there is for the stock by refusing to sell off and
actually advancing on solid volume when the rest of the market
was running from 30-50% below average volume.  Despite the
bullish action, we're still looking for a mild pullback to
provide the best entry point.  A pullback and rebound from
the $11.00-11.50 area still looks good, with stops set at $10.

BUY CALL JAN-10*BUC-AB OI=18726 at $2.65 SL=1.25
BUY CALL JAN-12 BUC-AV OI= 4161 at $1.15 SL=0.50
BUY CALL MAR-12 BUC-CV OI= 1197 at $1.95 SL=1.00
BUY CALL MAR-15 BUC-CC OI=  763 at $1.10 SL=0.50

Average Daily Volume = 10.5 mln


**********************  
Annual Renewal Special
**********************  

The annual special this year is far too large to put into an
email. The highlights include two option expiration mousepads
to which we have added the FOMC meeting dates this year. There
are also two videos with Jim, Jeff and Buzz and seven books 
by leading market professionals like John Murphy and and Jim 
Rodgers. We even brought back the Trading Strategies CD from 
last year for all the new subscribers who have been asking 
for it. 

Click here for the full details:  

https://secure.sungrp.com/03renewal/



**************
MARKET POSTURE
**************

No Parking Spaces

To Read The Rest of The OptionInvestor.com Market Watch Click Here
http://www.OptionInvestor.com/marketposture/mp_122302.asp


************
MARKET WATCH
************

So Little Time

To Read The Rest of The OptionInvestor.com Market Watch Click Here
http://members.OptionInvestor.com/watchlist/wl_122302.asp


*******************
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