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Daily Newsletter, Thursday, 06/21/2007

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Table of Contents

  1. Market Wrap
  2. New Option Plays
  3. In Play Updates and Reviews

Market Wrap

It's Yields in One Corner; Crude, in the Other

Going into the day's trading session, yields were favored as the likely driver of market action while crude was the dark horse. It's possible that crude won the day's round as the strongest influence on trading patterns but yields may pull ahead tomorrow, either pushing equities one direction or the other or pinning them down.

During the early morning hours in pre-market trading, U.S. futures traders labored to send futures higher. They gasped to a stop in their efforts as futures approached their fair values. Headlines had attributed earlier weakness in U.S. futures and European bourses to rate-hike worries. Attention during the pre-market session remained on bond yields, almost to the exclusion of another worry: crude prices approaching $70 a barrel.

Introduction

The ten-year yield had just approached its 10-sma from the underside, pausing there, as the cash equity market opened. The euro/JPY and the U.S. dollar/JPY pairs offered no clues as to equity direction, consolidating sideways as they have been for days.

At least during the pre-market session, it looked as if the headline writers might be at least partly right: the outcome might be at least partly dependent on what happened with treasuries. Bear Stearns' (BSC) announcement yesterday that it was unwinding positions related to two mortgage hedge funds focused attention on treasures and yields.

Many market watchers weren't willing to discount the impact of crude prices, however. Shortly after the cash open, crude prices approached the day's high of $69.85, just cents shy of $70.00. Some worry that the strike in Nigeria will result in violence and that shipments could be impacted, driving crude prices higher. The first equity reaction was to pull back as that test of the $70.00 level was attempted.

By the end of the day, ten-year yields ended up near their 10-sma, barely above where they'd started the day, and the USD/JPY had spent the day consolidating sideways, but crude had pulled back sharply from its day's high. Equities had bounced off their lows while crude was doing so, turning the typical consolidation Thursday into a different kind of day, in which many stocks and indices bounced strongly off their lows. Crude for August delivery was to end the day lower by $0.26 at $68.60 per barrel, well off its intraday high. This pullback occurred as an analyst with the Eurasia Group labeled the labor strike in Nigeria as a "grandstanding" effort by the labor unions, as quoted in a Marketwatch.com article.

Charts

The SPX posted a strong gain, but a gain that brought it up into the center of a forming neutral triangle. I wouldn't be surprised to see that triangle narrow further as next week's rate-hike decision approaches.

Annotated Daily Chart of the SPX:

For the sake of clarity, I haven't shown RSI, but it measures 51.6 on the daily chart, a neutral reading to go with the neutral position between support and resistance.

Squarely between strongest support and strongest resistance could describe the Dow's position, too. RSI (not shown) measures a neutral 52.12.

Annotated Daily Chart of the Dow:

The Dow will require a strong push above its recent highs to invalidate the rounding-over appearance on its daily chart. It can be done and has been done, but for now the formation looks potentially bearish.

Annotated Daily Chart of the Nasdaq:

RSI measures a slightly more bullish 58.16 on the Nasdaq chart.

There was nothing neutral about the SOX today, including RSI, which currently measures 72.07.

Annotated Daily Chart of the SOX:

Since early this year, RSI values near 70, when coupled with tests of the upper rising red trendline, have indicating an impending pullback. The SOX can and does trend. If it's about to begin a trending-higher pattern, that elevated RSI level won't matter, but for now, it signals that bulls need to maintain careful account-management plans as resistance is tested.

Annotated Daily Chart of the RUT:


Annotated Daily Chart of the TNX:


Annotated Daily Chart of Crude:

So far, this looks like a choppy pullback and not the start of a steep decline, but then so did some other pullbacks as they began.

Today's Developments

Today's reports on the economy began with the 8:30 EST report on initial and continuing jobless claims for the week of June 16. Experts expected 308,000 initial claims, down slightly from the previous week's 311,000 claims. Instead, the initial claims rose 10,000 to 324,000, their highest level since April. The four-week moving average, deemed more reliable, also rose. It climbed 2,500 to 314,500. Continuing claims rose 39,000 to 2.523 million, but the four-week moving average rose only 250 to 2.500 million. The insured unemployment rate again stayed at 1.9 percent.

Although not an economic report, Freddie Mac reported that the average for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 6.69 percent for the week ending Thursday. The previous week's average had been 6.74 percent. FRE reported that rates also decreased in other types of mortgages.

The Conference Board's Leading Indicators does not typically move the markets, but equities began rebounding from an early dip concurrently with the 10:00 release of May's figure. Whether this release prompted the bounce, the bounce was due to the pullback in crude prices, or they all merely occurred at the same time was unclear.

This Leading Indicators number was expected to show an increase of 0.2 percent after the previous decline of 0.5 percent. However, as part of today's release, April's numbers were revised to a more modest decline of 0.3 percent. May's rose 0.3 percent, beating expectations.

Although the Conference Board did not see increases in all the categories in which increases are sought, headlines and equity markets reacted as if the news were all good. The Conference Board's economist felt the same way, noting that the economy might have withstood the negative impacts of higher gas prices and a slumping housing market.

The Department of Energy reported Natural Gas Storage inventories thirty minutes later. Those supplies rose 89 billion cubic feet.

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The most important report of the day didn't arrive until noon. The Philly Fed Survey, one of the two district manufacturing surveys that are presumed to give some insight into the important national ISM report, was released at that time. Economists had predicted that June's number would be 5.0-8.0 percent, depending on the source, up from the previous 4.2 percent. Instead, the headline number jumped to 18.0 percent in June, a much bigger jump than had been anticipated by even the most optimistic of the predictions I had found. It was apparently the highest number this diffusion index had reached in two years.

Neither equities nor bond yields reacted strongly at first, although the initial reaction was bond-yield and dollar positive and equity negative. This immediate reaction was likely due to today's global attention to rate-hike fears. That immediate reaction was soon reversed, however.

This report surveys mid-Atlantic area manufacturers. The reporting firms did note cost pressures, but only a few more manufacturers reported the ability to pass those costs on to their customers. The prices-paid index eased to 29.7 from May's 32.3, and the prices received index rose to 5.1 from May's 2.2. New orders rose but shipments declined. Employment eased to 5.6 from the previous 12.9.

In company-related news that had wider impact for U.S. equities, Merrill Lynch (MER) auctioned assets it had seized from the mortgage hedge fund that was unwound. MER received prices that reassured markets somewhat, according to some articles.

In other company-related news, GE said that it had halted talks with Pearson PLC to bid for Dow Jones and Company.

Tomorrow's Economic and Earnings Releases

Tomorrow will be light on economic releases, with only the May Mass Layoffs, reported at 10:00, and the ECRI Weekly Leading Index, reported at 10:30. All money managers will be busy positioning their portfolios ahead of next week's two-day rate-hike meeting, however, with that meeting on the 27th and 28th.

Although not an economic release or an earnings' release, tomorrow's launch of the Blackstone IPO, if it does occur, could certainly impact trading, too. As Jim noted on Tuesday, this could be the fourth largest IPO in U.S. history, with some noting that it could be the sixth largest globally. The launch could produce a drain on funds allotted to equities tomorrow. News reports today said that investors from Asian, the Middle East and Europe are interested in acquiring shares of this IPO.

The emphasis should remain on how this IPO "could" use up available equity funds, however, as an exciting debut could also pump up enthusiasm for equities and draw cash from the sidelines. Some market watchers believed that today's midday bounce was attributable at least in part to enthusiasm for equities ahead of that IPO.

The emphasis on "could" is also due to the unique structure of this IPO. Few voting rights are conveyed because those buying the IPO buy only a piece of its management division, an AP article noted. Some market watchers have questioned whether pre-launch interest will turn into post-launch buying.

And, of course, there's another "could" caveat. This afternoon, U.S. Representative Henry Waxman requested that the SEC delay the IPO. He wants a Congressional hearing before the IPO takes place. I did not see a decision as this report was written and cannot judge how likely the SEC is to rule in favor of Representative Waxman's request. I did hear a lot of yelling on CNBC as various commentators including the former SEC head debated the propriety and outcome of this request, but I did not hear any resolution.

What about Tomorrow?

With few economic reports to distract traders tomorrow, the Blackstone IPO, crude costs and especially pre-FOMC position of portfolios may govern the action on equity markets. I don't believe anyone predicts that the Feds will hike rates, but many fear a change in the statement accompanying the decision. Bond yields may assume exaggerated importance tomorrow, so it will be important that our subscribers watch them, too.

Annotated 30-Minute Chart of the SPX:

With SPX prices closing 30-minute periods above the central basis line now at 1519.08 all afternoon, it might be possible to determine a slightly bullish bias to this chart, but that would be stretching it. I've found that when channels line up like this, prices tend to move with equanimity across the lined-up-in-the-middle basis lines for these channels without it meaning much when they do.

Annotated 30-Minute Chart of the Nasdaq:


Annotated 30-Minute Chart of the RUT:

The SOX's chart is different. The SOX is in breakout mode, with the breakout level now at about 509.00-509.50 on 30-minute closes. Until and unless the SOX begins closing 30-minute periods beneath that breakout level, which will change as the day progresses tomorrow, it's in breakout mode. Do beware if the SOX were to gap lower beneath that level tomorrow and then find resistance there on attempts to bounce. That may mean that this climb through the rising price channel on its daily chart is ending.

I can't give you any more than that and can't pull predictions out of a hat. It's big money that drives the markets, with their concerted actions setting up chart formations. If they can't decide on a direction or if they'd decided not to take a new direction and the charts indicate that lack of direction, who am I to be able to predict where markets will go? There's a slight, slight bullish bias on some charts and the springs from the day's low suggest the possibility of more upside, but the setups on these intraday charts really suggest a neutral bias more than anything else.

We don't have economic numbers to determine direction tomorrow, and few companies reporting earnings. The focus will likely be on what will happen next week. It's a bit unusual for markets to start clamping down into that deadly dull pre-FOMC meeting behavior this soon, but I've seen it happen. I can give no suggestions other than that inter-market relationships--currency, bond yields and crude--might assume exaggerated importance in such a climate. Lately, equities have tended to move in opposition to bond yields and crude prices and in concert with the movement in the USD/JPY and EUR/JPY.

There is no guidance to be found in these charts other than guesswork, so if you're tempted into the market, commit fewer funds than usual. Be prepared for a possible prolonged choppy mess, as that's certainly one possibility.
 


New Plays

New Option Plays

Call Options Plays
Put Options Plays
Strangle Options Plays
None None None

New Calls

None today.
 

New Puts

None today.
 

New Strangles

None today.
 


Play Updates

In Play Updates and Reviews

Call Updates

Ashland - ASH - cls: 62.77 change: +0.33 stop: 59.95

Most of the market was weak this morning and ASH was no exception. Fortunately, traders bought the dip near $61.50 and the stock bounced back into the green. This looks like a new bullish entry point to buy calls, especially if you think ASH can trade over $65.00, but we reiterate our warning that the 100-dma overhead is still resistance. Our target is the 200-dma (currently at $64.48). More aggressive traders may want to aim higher but we would not hold over the late July earnings report.

Picked on June 10 at $ 61.49
Change since picked: + 1.28
Earnings Date 07/23/07 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 657 thousand

---

Avery Dennison - AVY - cls: 66.70 chg: +0.17 stop: 64.19

AVY reversed yesterday's minor loss after traders bought the dip at the stock's rising 10-dma. The stock looks like it's coiling for a breakout over the $67.00 level soon. More conservative traders might still want to tighten their stops toward $64.80-65.00. Our target is the $69.75-70.00 range.

Picked on June 11 at $ 66.05
Change since picked: + 0.65
Earnings Date 07/24/07 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 728 thousand

---

BP Plc. - BP - close: 69.23 change: +0.34 stop: 67.85

Oil stocks rebounded nicely in spite of a bearish failed rally for crude oil under the $70.00 a barrel level. We're still sitting on the sidelines with BP. We are sticking to our plan and waiting for a breakout over resistance at $70.00. We are suggesting a trigger to buy calls at $70.25. If triggered our target is the $74.85-75.00 range. We do see some resistance near $73.50. Friday's rally hit an intraday high of $70.05 and that move over $70.00 has produced a new triple-top breakout buy signal on the Point & Figure chart with a $90.00 target. More aggressive traders may want to aim higher than our $75 target but keep in mind that we plan to exit ahead of the late July earnings report.

Picked on June xx at $ xx.xx <-- see TRIGGER
Change since picked: + 0.00
Earnings Date 07/24/07 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 3.5 million

---

Central Euro. Media - CETV - cls: 94.68 chg: +1.39 stop: 89.75

Bulls were quick to buy the dip in CETV. The stock rallied to almost $96.00 before paring its gains. We remain bullish on the stock but we're not suggesting new positions at current levels. The May 2007 highs in the $96-97 range look like resistance but we're aiming for the $99-100 range. The P&F chart is bullish with a $103 target.

Picked on June 17 at $ 92.75
Change since picked: + 1.93
Earnings Date 08/02/07 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 124 thousand

---

Chevron Corp. - CVX - close: 82.85 chg: +1.88 stop: 79.90

Oil stocks bounced back sharply on Thursday. CVX rallied 2.3% and the bounce should nullify yesterday's bearish sell signal. More aggressive traders may want to use today's session as a new entry point to buy calls. Today's move in the stock is technically an "inside day" and traders should wait to see if CVX breaks higher or lower from here to set short-term direction. More conservative traders can wait for a new relative high over $84.00 before considering new positions.

Picked on June 18 at $ 83.75
Change since picked: - 0.90
Earnings Date 07/27/07 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 9.1 million

---

Deere Co - DE - close: 124.30 change: +2.80 stop: 117.45

Thursday's rally in DE was very encouraging. There was no follow through after yesterday's bearish failed rally pattern. Traders immediately bought the pull back and the stock rose past prior resistance. We see today's move as a new entry point to buy calls. We have two targets. Our first target is the $129.50-130.00 range. Our second, more aggressive target is the $134.00-135.00 range.

Picked on June 20 at $123.55
Change since picked: + 0.75
Earnings Date 08/15/07 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 2.6 million

---

Global SantaFe - GSF - cls: 72.93 chg: +0.85 stop: 66.65

GSF also enjoyed a nice bounce today. Bulls bought the dip at $70.91 and volume came in above average on the rebound. We're not suggesting new positions at this time. We reiterate our previous suggestion to lock in a gain now. Our target is the $74.50-75.00 range.

Picked on June 03 at $ 68.86
Change since picked: + 4.07
Earnings Date 08/01/07 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 4.8 million

---

Manpower - MAN - cls: 94.10 change: +2.61 stop: 89.90

It is amazing the difference a day can make. Yesterday afternoon shares of MAN closed lower and looked poised to plunge toward the $90 level. The stock opened higher and climbed throughout the session to close up 2.8%. Volume was light but that might be attributed to summer. The close over $94.00 looks like a brand new entry point to buy calls. More conservative traders may want to adjust their stop loss toward $91.00. Our target is the $99.50-100.00 range.

Picked on June 20 at $ 94.15
Change since picked: - 0.05
Earnings Date 07/20/07 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 829 thousand

---

PACCAR - PCAR - cls: 89.43 change: +0.76 stop: 85.95

The $88.00 level is holding as support for PCAR and traders bought the dip there again today. More aggressive traders might want to buy today's bounce. We're suggesting that more conservative traders will want to think about raising their stop loss toward $88.00 and look for a new rally past $92.00 before opening positions. Our target is the $99.00-100.00 range.

Picked on June 17 at $ 90.66
Change since picked: - 1.23
Earnings Date 07/24/07 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 1.7 million

---

Penn National Gaming - PENN - cls: 62.18 chg: -0.67 stop: n/a

We don't see any changes from our previous comments on PENN. We are speculating that there will be more suitors making bets to acquire PENN. It's a high-risk bet. If another bidder fails to show up then any out-of-the-money calls will evaporate pretty quickly. FYI: August strikes are now available.

Picked on June 17 at $ 62.12
Change since picked: + 0.06
Earnings Date 07/26/07 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 1.0 million

---

SanDisk - SNDK - cls: 48.54 change: +2.09 stop: 43.45

We did not have to wait very long for SNDK to show us a bounce. Investors rushed in this morning and the stock rallied 4.4% on strong volume. More conservative traders may want to raise their stops. We have two targets. Our conservative target is the $49.50-50.00 range. Our aggressive target is the $52.50-55.00 range, which might be too optimistic given our time frame. We don't want to hold over the mid July earnings report.

Picked on June 17 at $ 46.40
Change since picked: + 2.14
Earnings Date 07/19/07 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 7.6 million

---

SunPower - SPWR - cls: 60.77 change: +1.32 stop: 52.49

Bulls should be encouraged by today's rally (+2.2%) in SPWR. Yesterday's session, while positive, looked like a big bearish failed rally pattern and a potential double-top. We're not suggesting new positions at this time. More conservative traders may want to raise their stop loss toward the $55 level. Our target is the $64.00-65.00 range.

Picked on June 17 at $ 57.94
Change since picked: + 2.83
Earnings Date 07/19/07 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 1.5 million

---

Valero Energy - VLO - cls: 76.57 chg: +1.65 stop: 72.45

A pull back in crude oil futures did not impede the rally in oil stocks. VLO gapped open higher at $75.74 and rose to a 2.2% gain. The move is technically an "inside day" and readers should wait to see if the stock breaks up or down from here, which should determine short-term direction. Our bias is bullish so we'd suggest new positions now. More conservative types might want to wait for a new relative high over $78.00 before initiating positions. Our target is the $84.50-85.00 range.

Picked on June 18 at $ 77.55
Change since picked: - 0.98
Earnings Date 07/26/07 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 13.2 million

---

XTO Energy - XTO - cls: 62.34 chg: +0.35 stop: 58.95

Shares of XTO actually under performed the rally across the rest of the energy sector. We are not suggesting new bullish positions. We strongly suggest that readers do some profit taking of their own and lock in a gain. If you choose not to exit early but want to reduce your risk consider raising your stop toward $60.00 or $61.00. Our target is the $64.75-67.50 range.

Picked on May 27 at $ 57.63
Change since picked: + 4.71
Earnings Date 07/25/07 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 3.2 million
 

Put Updates

Allegheny Tech - ATI - cls: 109.25 chg: +0.98 stop: 112.15

Once again we have to urge caution with ATI. The stock is seeing a lot of volatility. Shares plunged to $105.60 this morning. The drop under $108 and at $106 looked like new bearish entry points to buy puts. Yet shares rallied sharply after testing the mid June lows and now we're looking at a potential bullish double-bottom pattern. We are not suggesting new positions at this time. Odds are very good that ATI will re-challenge the $111-112 zone soon. Longer-term the bullish momentum is definitely in jeopardy but short-term it could be painful for the bears.

Picked on June 12 at $106.70
Change since picked: + 2.55
Earnings Date 07/25/07 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 2.1 million

---

Gilead Sciences - GILD - cls: 79.35 chg: +0.25 stop: 82.55

The bounce in GILD was pretty anemic. That's good news for the bears. The BTK biotech index was one of the few sector indices to close in the red today. The overall trend, with the breakdown in early June and the oversold bounce reversing near $82.00, definitely looks bearish but further strength in the broad market indices could make this a challenging trade. More conservative traders may want to tighten their stops. Our target is the $75.25-72.50 range but traders should be aware that the simple 100-dma nearing $77.50 might be technical support. FYI: The stock is set to split 2-for-1 on June 25th.

Picked on June 07 at $ 79.90
Change since picked: - 0.55
Earnings Date 07/18/07 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 4.1 million

---

Las Vegas Sands - LVS - cls: 75.35 chg: -0.71 stop: 80.26

LVS continues to under perform the market. Shares did not participate in the market's rally today. The intraday breakdown under $75.00 looked like another entry point for puts. Lack of true follow through lower has us worried that LVS may attempt another oversold bounce soon. Stay on your toes. This has been a tough market for bearish strategies for the last few months. Our target is the $70.50-70.00 range. More aggressive traders may want to aim lower.

Picked on June 17 at $ 76.78
Change since picked: - 1.43
Earnings Date 08/01/07 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 3.0 million

---

Mettler Toledo - MTD - cls: 94.83 chg: -0.22 stop: 99.11

MTD displayed some real weakness this morning. The stock gapped open lower at $93.68. We cautioned readers about the rising 100-dma as potential support and traders did buy the dip there at $93.25. The bounce back might be nothing more than an oversold bounce but we don't think it's over. Wait and watch for a failed rally near $96.00 or near its 50-dma as a new entry point. Our target is the $90.50-90.00 range. FYI: The P&F chart has reversed into a new triple-bottom breakdown sell signal with an $87 target (was $91).

Picked on June 19 at $ 96.75
Change since picked: - 1.92
Earnings Date 07/26/07 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 215 thousand

---

QUALCOMM - QCOM - cls: 43.56 change: +0.49 stop: 44.05

We are growing more concerned about the strength in QCOM. If you recall we added QCOM to the list as a put candidate because the company was on the losing end of a patent infringement lawsuit with BRCM. The ITC had recently announced a two-year ban on importing any new mobile phones with QCOM's new 3G chips. Thus far the market is ignoring that news, which suggest that QCOM will find a way around the ban or get it reversed. On a technical basis the stock is growing more bullish and shares look ready to breakout over resistance near $44.00. We would strongly consider an early exit here to cut our losses. We're not suggesting new positions.

Picked on June 10 at $ 41.87
Change since picked: + 1.69
Earnings Date 07/18/07 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 18.0 million

---

Weyerhauser - WY - cls: 81.60 chg: +0.92 stop: 82.05

WY almost hit our trigger to buy puts today. The stock plunged through support near $80.00 and its 50 and 100-dma this morning but bulls bought the dip at $79.54. Our suggested trigger to buy puts is at $79.49. Thankfully we're still on the sidelines because the rebound looks pretty bullish. Aggressive traders could buy calls on this bounce with a stop loss under today's low. If WY continues to rally we'll drop it as a bearish candidate.

Picked on June xx at $ xx.xx <-- see TRIGGER
Change since picked: + 0.00
Earnings Date 08/03/07 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 2.1 million
 

Strangle Updates

None
 

Dropped Calls

General Dynamics - GD - cls: 78.90 change: -0.58 stop: 78.35

GD might be showing its true colors today. After bouncing sideways for days and producing multiple failed rallies the stock finally hit our stop loss at $78.35. Shares did bounce from their lows but we'd be very careful about considering new bullish positions any time soon.

Picked on June 10 at $ 80.58
Change since picked: - 1.68
Earnings Date 07/18/07 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 1.3 million

---

China Life - LFC - cls: 55.08 chg: +3.32 stop: 47.95

The Shanghai index rallied again up 1.1% and the Hang Seng index rose 1.3%. Money rushed in to follow the strength in Chinese stocks and LFC produced a big 6.4% gain. The U.S. traded ADR shares of LFC gapped open at $54.35 and rallied to $55.10 with big volume behind the move. Our target was the $54.00-55.00 range so we would have exited at the opening trade.

Picked on June 14 at $ 48.25
Change since picked: + 6.83
Earnings Date 08/25/07 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 1.0 million
 

Dropped Puts

Regency Centers - REG - cls: 71.01 chg: -0.28 stop: 77.76

Target achieved and exceeded. REITs continued to show weakness on Thursday. Shares of REG gapped open lower at $70.99 and dipped to $69.69 before bouncing back. Our target was the $70.50-70.00 range. Given the rebound and the $70 level as potential support we'd expect a rebound toward the 10-dma soon.

Picked on June 11 at $ 74.68
Change since picked: - 3.67
Earnings Date 08/01/07 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 374 thousand
 

Dropped Strangles

None
 

Today's Newsletter Notes: Market Wrap by Linda Piazza and all other plays and content by the Option Investor staff.

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