Option Investor

Daily Newsletter, Wednesday, 04/06/2005

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Table of Contents

  1. Market Wrap
  2. New Option Plays
  3. In Play Updates and Reviews
  4. Trader's Corner

Market Wrap

The Numbers

The Numbers

Today we saw a very slow and sideways day but heck where have you heard that before. Did you know that 7 out 8 trading days are non-trending making the market a rather boring place to spend your day, if you spend your day here that is.

The DOW gained 27.56 points to close at 10486.02. The S&P grabbed 2.68 points for a 1184.07 close. The Nasdaq composite had a small -0.18 loss to close at 1999.14. The Nasdaq 100 lost a little more -3.08 and closed at 1480.67. Although we have 3 days of modest gains it has been on light volume and no one is buying it - literally. The reason most sited is oil.

The NYSE traded 1.4 million shares, 1,958 stocks rose and 1,324 fell. On the Nasdaq Stock Market traded 1.7 billion shares, 1,624 stocks advanced and 1,471 declined.

A boring day in the equity markets will usually give you a boring day in the bond markets as well but the treasury market did catch a bid early and held the small gains through the session. The lack of economic data is holding the market in tight ranges. Short-covering could have been reason for support today and the decision by authorities in Japan and Australia not to raise interest rates helped as well.

The 30-year Bond gained +9/32 to close at 111 28/32. The 10-year gained 19/64 to close at 109 49/64. The 30-year yield dropped -0.11 to 4.74% and the 10-year yield fell -0.34 to 4.43%

Crude made a small gain on the electronically traded market of 0.05 to close at 55.90.


MBIA Inc. (MBI) may have had a covert agreement with another reinsurance company up and above the one that was responsible for its earnings restatement. MBIA denies any such agreement.

MBI is a "reinsurer," a company that sells insurance to insurance companies, and the investigation is into whether it is disguising reinsurance policies that are in essence loans to take advantage of the more favorable accounting given to reinsurance policies.

The investigation is into whether or not MBIA, the nation's biggest bond insurer, made a covert agreement with Channel Re to protect it from losses resulting from claims it had transferred to the offshore company. If the investigation finds that this is indeed the case then MBIA could be charged with misleading investors. Federal prosecutors are also investigating a reinsurance policy with a French reinsurer that may have been part of the secret agreement.

This morning the Iraqi democratic process got a boost when the parliament selected a three-man, multiethnic presidency. The new president is longtime Kurdish leader, Jalal Talabani. Vice presidents will be Adel Abdul-Mahdi, a Shiite Arab, and current interim President Ghazi al-Yawer, a Sunni. Although the presidency has been known for weeks, a Kurd as Iraqi head of state is in stark contrast to Saddam Hussein regime.

Shiite parties and the Kurds together represent the needed two-thirds majority of the government and it still not clear if they have resolved significant disputes over the control of Iraqi oil revenue and the role of Islam in the new constitution.

The Bush administration definitely welcomed the news out of Iraq because it comes a day after the release of a United Nations report that criticizes the administration for complicating efforts to bring democratic values to the region. The report said "progress toward democracy in the region remained fitful despite American pressure and the best efforts of many Arab reformers."

Three times and you are out! Well maybe. For the third time MCI has rejected Qwest Communications' takeover offer and gave the head nod to the lower bid from Verizon. MCI claims that Verizon will be a stronger partner in the fight for larger business customers because it has a market value of $99 billion. Qwest has hinted it may take a hostile approach, which could start a proxy war.

All is not well at the sot after MCI either. MCI's decision to pick Verizon has investors such as Bill Miller of Legg Mason, a huge Mutual Fund family, upset because he thinks the Verizon's offer is too low.

MCI has asked Qwest to raise their current bid of $27.50 a share to $30 a share and provide assurances that Qwest would stick with the deal in spite of potential customer losses. Qwest had declined to increase its current offer.

Tom DeLay is in the news again. It has just come to light that the House Majority Leader's political action and campaign committees have paid his wife and daughter more than $500,000 since 2001. Most of these payments were listed as "fund-raising fees," "campaign management" or "payroll," with no additional details about how they earned the money. According to the Americans for a Republican Majority, Mr. DeLay's national political action committee, these two women have provided "valuable counseling and organizational services to the committee in exchange for the payments."

The global economic recovery may have "peaked." The World Bank warned in its annual report that the global recovery of the last three years has puttied over cracks that need to be fixed and the harshness of the impending slowdown will largely depend on the strength of the US dollar. If we see central banks losing their appetite for U.S. dollar-denominated assets all at once, a dollar selloff that shocks markets would be inevitable. A case in point was how quickly the dollar sold off after some Asian central banks announced recently that they might "diversify" their currency portfolios away from the US dollar.

The bank sees the best-case scenario as a mild slowdown in global economic growth over the next few years and a new global recession as a possibility. "A reduction in the pace at which central banks are accumulating dollars, a weakening in investors' appetite for risk, or a greater-than-anticipated pickup in inflationary pressures could cause interest rates to rise farther than projected, providing a deeper-than-expected slowdown or even a global recession," the report stated.

Economic reports

For the week ending April 1, The Energy Information Administration reported a build in commercial crude oil inventories and in distillate fuel oil stocks for the week ending April 1. The data is moderately bearish for the oil markets because the builds in crude and distillates exceed a draw in gasoline. The American Petroleum Institute also reported a sizable build in commercial crude oil inventories of some four million barrels for the week and a marginal build in gasoline stocks along with a marginal draw in distillates.

Higher mortgage interest rates are taking its toll on the Mortgage industry as the MBA Mortgage Applications Survey showed that demand for new mortgages and refinancing continues to retreat, although demand for new purchases is still strong so far this year. The MBA index for the week ending April 1 fell 4.4% to 644.5, with both the refi and purchase components dropping.

The purchase index has averaged at a lower level than it did for much of last year and many analysts believe the slackening in purchase demand will continue as mortgage interest rates continue to rise and house prices continue to appreciate. With the demand for housing easing, higher mortgage rates will start to impact new purchases more and more.


I have always been a proponent of looking for both good and bad in people and in my charts. If I can see enough good to outweigh the bad in a person then he/she is probably good in my books. If I can find enough bullishness to outweigh the bearishness then the chart is bullish but if the bearish outweighs the bullish then it needs to be put into the bearish column. Then of course you have one index that can weigh in bullish and another that will weigh in bearish so you then need to count how many are bullish and how many are bearish to take a pulse of the whole market.

With that in mind, I am going to do a good news, bad news on the charts and put each one in a bullish or bearish column.

Daily chart of the SPX

First the good news.
1. The double bottom has held so far
2. MACD has turned up
3. 200 EMA has not been breached.

Now the bad.
1. The double bottom has a MACD negative divergence - red trend lines.
2. The rally off the bottom has only made a retracement to the 38% fib retracement, which is a shallow retracement.
3. SPX has not had enough buyers to break the 50 EMA.

This chart is a draw.

Daily chart of DOW

The good news.
1. The double bottom has held so far
2. MACD has turned up

Now the bad.
1. The double bottom has a MACD negative divergence - red trend lines.
2. The rally off the bottom has not even made a retracement to the 38% fib retracement.
3. The DOW has not even come close to the 50 EMA.
4. 200 EMA has been breached.

This chart is bearish.

Daily chart of the Nasdaq composite

The good news.
1. MACD positive divergence
2. MACD has turned up

Now the bad.
1. 200 EMA has been breached.
2. Retracement has not yet made it to the 23.6% marker.
3. Price has not yet come close to touching the 50EMA

This chart is bearish.

Daily chart of the Russell 2000

The good news.
1. MACD positive divergence
2. MACD has turned up
3. 200 EMA has not been breached.
4. Double bottom has held so far.

Now the bad.
1. Retracement has not yet made it to the 38% marker.
2. Price has not yet come close to touching the 50EMA

This chart is bullish.

So we have the SPX a draw, the DOW bearish, the Compq bearish and the Russell 2000 bullish. I guess you would have to say overall the major indexes are bearish but certainly not overly so.

Tomorrow's Economic Reports

Tomorrow we have the weekly Jobless claims report out at 8:30EST for the week ending April 2nd. The Consensus is for 333,000 claims down from the previous week of 350,000.

At 10:00 is the Bureau of Census' February's Wholesale Trade release. This is a report on the inventories to sales ratio, an important indicator of current consumption and future manufacturing activity. Consensus is for 0.7% down from January's 1.0% reading.

At 10:30 is the Energy Information Administration's weekly Natural gas Storage report, which is taking on more significance of late because of the rising price of oil and gas.

At 3:00 is the release of February's Consumer Credit. Consensus 7.6 billion down from January's 11.5 billion, biggest since last October.

Also out tomorrow is Chain store sales for March. I don't have good data on the time or the concensus.

After hours

Dell saying it expects to earn about 37 cents a share on revenue of about $13.4 billion and reiterated its earlier forecast for its profit and sales in the first quarter. It also has doubled a share buyback plan to $2 billion. Shares rose in after-hours trade.

Alcoa kicked off the first-quarter earnings reporting season, saying its net income fell to $260 million, or 31 cents a share, down 27% from a year ago however, the results beat Wall Street forecasts, and Alcoa's shares rose sharply after hours.

In a blow to electronic trading platforms, the SEC as voted 3-2 to disallow the practice of "trading through," which is sending an order to the trading platforms that can process it most quickly, rather than taking time to hunt for the best price. Proponents of the rule argue that speed is more important in trading than finding the absolute best price.


New Plays

New Option Plays

Call Options Plays
Put Options Plays

New Calls

Whole Foods - WFMI - close: 104.16 chg: +2.18 stop: 98.99

Company Description:
Founded in 1980 in Austin, Texas, Whole Foods Market is the largest natural and organic foods retailer. The Company had sales of $3.9 billion in fiscal year 2004 and currently has 168 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. (source: company press release)

Why We Like It:
We have had our eyes on WFMI for a while. Wednesday's breakout from its three-week consolidation above the 50-dma but under the $103 level is just the sort of entry point we've been waiting for. The technical oscillators are turning positive again and its MACD just produced a new buy signal. The P&F chart is bullish with a $139.00 target. The stock has withstood the market volatility pretty well and now that the major averages are trying to bounce WFMI should have a chance to spring higher. Our target is the $112-115.00 range. Our time frame is one month. We plan to exit before the May 3rd (or 4th) earnings report.

Suggested Options:
We are suggesting the May calls.

BUY CALL MAY 100.00 FMQ-ET OI=1017 current ask $5.90
BUY CALL MAY 105.00 FMQ-EA OI=1087 current ask $3.90
BUY CALL MAY 110.00 FMQ-EB OI= 556 current ask $1.95

Picked on April 06 at $104.16
Change since picked: + 0.00
Earnings Date 05/03/05 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 956 thousand

New Puts

None today.

Play Updates

In Play Updates and Reviews

Call Updates

Anadarko Petroleum - APC - cls: 78.23 chg: +1.06 stop: 72.45

No change from previous updates on 04/05/05 and 04/03/05.

Picked on March 31 at $ 76.10
Change since picked: + 2.13
Earnings Date 04/29/05 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 2.3 million


Occidental Petrol. - OXY - cls: 74.16 chg: +1.07 stop: 67.99

No change from previous updates on 04/05/05 and 04/03/05.

Picked on April 03 at $ 73.64
Change since picked: + 0.52
Earnings Date 04/26/05 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 2.4 million


Oil Service Holdrs - OIH - cls: 99.20 chg: +2.10 stop: 92.49

No change from previous updates on 04/05/05 and 04/03/05.

Picked on April 03 at $ 98.70
Change since picked: + 0.50
Earnings Date 00/00/00 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 3.9 million


PalmOne - PLMO - close: 24.55 chg: -0.17 stop: 23.85

No change from previous updates on 04/05/05 and 04/03/05.

Picked on March 23 at $ 25.71
Change since picked: - 1.16
Earnings Date 03/17/05 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 3.2 million


Potash Corp. - POT - close: 89.49 chg: -0.69 stop: 85.99

No change from previous update on 04/05/05.

Picked on April 05 at $ 90.18
Change since picked: - 0.69
Earnings Date 04/27/05 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 504 thousand


Red Robin Burger - RRGBE - cls: 52.56 chg: +1.92 stop: 47.85

RRGBE soared again this time adding 3.79 percent. The stock is performing pretty well over the last couple of sessions. More conservative traders may want to think about exiting soon or even exiting now. One could always consider taking some profits off the table here. Our target remains the $54.00 level.

Picked on March 10 at $ 48.00
Change since picked: + 4.56
Earnings Date 02/14/05 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 199 thousand

Put Updates

Allergan - AGN - close: 71.11 chg: +0.08 stop: 72.51

No change from previous update on 04/05/05.

Picked on March 13 at $ 73.09
Change since picked: - 1.98
Earnings Date 04/29/05 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 777 thousand


Beazer Homes - BZH - close: 48.98 chg: -1.26 stop: 53.01

The home construction sector took a tumble on Wednesday as the DJUSHB index lost 1.88 percent. Shares of BZH lead the way lower falling 2.5 percent and dropping back under the $50.00 mark. More importantly BZH closed under its simple 100-dma for the first time in many months. Our target remains the $48.00-46.50 range. Readers can prepare to exit.

Picked on March 17 at $ 51.43
Change since picked: - 2.45
Earnings Date 04/28/05 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 742 thousand


Intl Bus. Mach. - IBM - close: 89.00 chg: -0.57 stop 92.15

No change from previous update on 04/05/05. Volume was pretty heavy on today's decline. The stock still lost ground despite two Wall Street firms trying to defend the stock by reiterating their "buy" ratings.

Picked on March 17 at $ 89.86
Change since picked: - 0.86
Earnings Date 04/18/05 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 4.8 million


MGM Mirage - MGG - close: 70.29 chg: +0.32 stop: 72.51

No change from previous update on 04/05/05. Our entry point to buy puts is $68.75.

Picked on March xx at $ xx.xx <-- see TRIGGER
Change since picked: + 0.00
Earnings Date 04/19/05 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 997 thousand


Mcgraw Hill Cos - MHP - close: 85.80 chg: -1.02 stop: 88.51

No change from previous update dated (04/03/05).

Picked on March 15 at $ 88.40
Change since picked: - 2.60
Earnings Date 04/26/05 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 751 thousand


Millipore - MIL - close: 43.88 chg: +0.72 stop: 45.05

No change from previous update on 04/05/05. As expected MIL rallied back toward resistance near $44 and its 50-dma.

Picked on March 16 at $ 43.95
Change since picked: - 0.07
Earnings Date 04/21/05 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 358 thousand


Pacificare Health - PHS - cls: 59.08 chg: +0.52 stop: 60.05

No change from previous update on 04/05/05.

Picked on March 20 at $ 59.04
Change since picked: + 0.04
Earnings Date 04/28/05 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 1.1 million


Wynn Resorts - WYNN - cls: 64.05 chg: +0.40 stop: 70.05

No change from previous update on 04/05/05.

Picked on April 03 at $ 66.04
Change since picked: - 1.99
Earnings Date 04/29/05 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 1.1 million

Dropped Calls


Dropped Puts


Trader's Corner

Finding Support & Resistance

"Your support/resistance predictions have been very helpful to me in my index options trading. If you could tell me more about how you arrive at these numbers, I'd like to learn more about your methods!

This general subject, of how to find support and resistance levels on charts, also requires some discussion about being aware of prior lows and highs, potential resistance or support at certain key moving average (e.g., 21, 50 and 200-day averages), drawing trendlines, following trend retracements, moving average envelopes and constructing price channels.

There is a combination of things or tools that I use to try to figure support and resistance areas. First let me address the question of then trying to predict at which of these points an Index might turn or reverse trend.

I like to buy Index calls and puts especially, where it's like paying wholesale for the option and not retail. That is, anticipating WHERE the market will most likely TURN (i.e., reverse) and buying calls just at where you think significant support will be and just at where you assess significant resistance. This method attempts to pick tops and bottoms before its clear that they are going to be that. And, different than "trend following" techniques, where you watch for clear signs of price momentum in a new direction before taking a trade.

HOWEVER, if your skill and analysis are sound, these support and resistance points will be where:
1. Premiums are cheap as the market trend hasn't reversed (yet).
2. It doesn't "cost" as much if you're wrong - why? Because you can exit just below or above your projected support or resistance point, when the projected support/resistance levels are penetrated.

I also tend to go out at least a few weeks in terms of expiration
and to stay more or less at the money (ATM) in terms of strike. I may not go as far as 2-3 months out, but am usually wanting to go beyond the current month's expiration if I think that a trend reversal will be pretty big this depends on a method or ability to ANTICIPATE support and resistance.

The greatest option trader I ever knew, Mark Weinstein (not the
writer, rather a very private trader) - a complete unknown except for being in Jack Schwager's "Market Wizards" book. He had the kind of confidence I am speaking about as far picking buy points ahead of where the market reversed. And, this trader taught me that, for catching the bigger moves, it was necessary to anticipate areas to buy options before the crowd bought them and the market makers jacked the premiums way up.

It's a well-known style or theory and one even Warren Buffet uses so well - buy em when no one wants em or when the world isn't looking at the thing.

Getting back to the "how to" aspect - there are a few different things that I use in the way of indicators or patterns and chart examples follow

This seems almost too obvious, but it's amazing how many traders lose track of a prior significant high or low. What makes prior lows or highs "significant" is that such prior highs or lows were reversal points; e.g., after the high point of the last advance, the trend turned down after that, but some weeks later prices have climbed back to near the prior price peak.

Anyway, number one on the checklist so to speak to keep aware of where key prior lows or highs ARE and recognize that certain prior lows will be strong areas of buying interest (support) and certain prior highs strong areas of selling interest (resistance).

A case in point is provided by today's daily chart of the S&P 500 Index (SPX)

The prior low of significance was made in January in the 1165 area and, so far, a rebound has developed from just this price area, after being reached in late-March.

Assuming that this prior 1165 low was going to "hold" and a low was going to again form in the same price area, I bought S&P May calls (many traders would have bought April's) and set as an initial getting out/exit point as 1157.

I could have risked initially to just 1160, but that level also represents the 50% retracement level of the Oct March advance and SPX may yet test or fall to the 1160 area; or, a bit lower, to the up trendline coming up through the October low. (Of course, this trendline will intersect at a higher level over time due to its slope.) For this much "risk" I assessed "reward" (upside) potential for the Index as back up to 1200. Risk 7, potential to make 30 points. Good risk to reward.

A high potential area for the market to find support, or hit resistance, is at a trendline (i.e., a straight line drawn through at least 2-3 lows or 2-3 highs. Especially so, when a correction is more "technical" in nature; e.g., the market got overextended and stocks are being sold that got overvalued and would be buyers are backing off from doing new buying until valuations get cheaper again.

In early-March the S&P trend was still up and the fundamentals probably not all that different from prior weeks. However, the rally back to the trendline, drawn through the prior peaks, signaled resistance at 586. Use of trendlines is sometimes the best way to anticipate a reversal point, as can be seen below in the S&P 100 (OEX) daily chart at the downside reversal of early-March

Of course, most of the time we use the up trendline to determine potential support on pullbacks

On the left hand side of the QQQQ Weekly chart below, the third low, within the yellow circle, established the stock's up trendline in 2003. Subsequent pullbacks to this bullish up trendline, at the green arrows, were points to buy. Moreover, use of the trendline created a method to exit the stock when it got pierced. The concept of the "trailing stop" is based on the idea that you follow a trendline higher by raising your sell stop exit point to just below the trendline.

Conversely, the exiting sell "signal" came after the trendline no longer coincided with support and buying interest as happened finally in late February of last year (2004). The down trendline that got established by connecting the Jan July highs was tentatively figured to define a falling resistance. The breakout above the trend (at the down red arrow) was a signal to exit any short or put positions.

There is an art to drawing trendlines. Draw them though 2-3 lows or highs and through the MOST number of points - don't worry about the basic charting concept about only using the lowest low and the highest high always.

The thing with trendlines is that you need to develop some faith that they "work" more often than not - it's not that you have the attitude that I will believe it when I see it - waiting until there is a strong recovery rally will mean that the option will not be as cheap. That's ok too, but this is my style and I have developed some confidence in trendlines, especially coupled with other technical patterns.

It helps when you see 2 or 3 days worth of highs or lows in the area of a prior high or low; or, at trendline

There are a few lows made, so far, in the 10,400 area of the Dow 30 (INDU) and this is providing an idea that a double bottom could be setting up.

Use em! If an Index or a stock for that matter retraces around half of what it gained on the last rally, a 50% giveback is about all it will typically give back before reversing back to the upside in an uptrend - the exact reverse in a downtrend.

You'll notice in the daily chart of the Nasdaq 100 (NDX) below, that the index has fallen under its prior low of January, but is so far holding in the area of its 50% retracement.

The first down arrow above points to a second high made in the 1150 area in NDX, which activates the prior high rule.

In this example above with the NDX chart, its apparent that buying interest is coming in when the index has made approximately (not always exactly) this one half retracement of the last major advance. This is an area of perceived value.

I wrote about so-called "Fibonacci" retracements more in depth in my LAST week's Trader's Corner article which can be viewed again by clicking here.

Moving averages and moving average envelope lines often highlight support and resistance, especially the 21, 50 and 200-day moving averages in stocks and stock indexes.

The point with moving average envelopes is also that there is some "art" in using them and part of that is knowing that they give not only an idea of when the market is extended, such as on the downside, but what that price area might be based on prior history of volatility or range.

Why did I have the lower envelope percentage set so that the lower and upper lines were set to represent the price always 4.5% above or below the 21-day moving average? As above (often), so

When, in an uptrend, daily highs are tracking a moving average envelope line that is 3%, such as in the S&P 500 (SPX) or 4.5%, appropriate for the more volatile Nasdaq Composite (COMP), I often assume that in a good-sized correction, the lows will also reach that same extreme as at the peaks.

Of course, a downtrend can just follow this line lower and it does not necessarily mark a reversal point. Again, look at both this and other indicators for further clues. At a minimum I often figure that a first rally will take the Index back up to the 21-day moving average.

It's apparent in the COMP chart above that the 21-day average often coincided with support and resistance. Sometimes, the same with the 2oo-day moving average.

You may have noticed in my Index Trader commentaries that I often work with trendline channels, both on hourly and daily charts. What you can see on the daily chart is what you can also see on the hourly charts, only in better detail.

It's a tip off to buying developing or emerging buying interest when lows start being made repeatedly in the same area. And when that area is also at the lower boundary of a trend channel or a single trendline that intersects 2-3 or more lows. The upper channel line is simply the parallel line to the lower one in this example of the S&P 100 hourly chart below -

I'll go into the technique of drawing trend channels in my next Trader's Corner.

Please send any technical and Index-related questions for possible use in my next Trader's Corner article to support@optioninvestor.com with 'Leigh Stevens' in the Subject line.

Good Trading Success!!

Today's Newsletter Notes: Market Wrap by Jane Fox, Trader's Corner by Leigh Stevens and all other plays and content by the Option Investor staff.


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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