Last Sunday I said if the Fed only cuts 25-points and keeps the inflation paragraph in the statement then we should beware the PPI and CPI reports. The Fed has this data ahead of the release date and they clearly considered it relative when they cut rates. They knew the market would tank even worse than it did if the did not cut at all given their pre-meeting Fedspeak. Now we know why they were so wimpy in their actions. The inflation monster is back and he is very hungry.
Dow Chart - 180 min
Nasdaq-100 NDX Chart - Daily
On Thursday the Producer Price Index (PPI) headline number spiked +3.2% and that was the second highest reading since the inception of the report back in 1947. You can try to spin this any way you want but the bottom line is the return of much stronger inflation. The YOY inflation rate spiked from 6.0% to 7.7% and the highest level since 1981. The largest contributor to this spike was a 14.1% jump in energy prices. The core rate, even after taking out food and energy, rose by +0.4%. The jump in inflation was not limited to producer prices. The Consumer Price Index headline number on Friday spiked +0.8% and the largest increase in more than two years. This compares to only a +0.3% rise in October. Even the core index rose +0.3%, after 5-months of +0.2% gains, and the biggest rise since January. Over the last 3-months the top-line CPI has risen at an annualized rate of 5.6%. It would be impossible for the Fed to not react to this sudden return of inflation. The Economist's food-price index is now at its highest since it began in 1845, having risen by one-third over the past year.
The biggest problem for the market late last week was the new inflation revelations. Since the Fed can't ignore the signs they are nearly locked out of any future rate cuts if the current trends last through January. The next meeting is Jan-29/30th and the Fed will have nearly two months of additional data before they have to decide again. This makes the inflation component in any future economic report very key for Fed direction.
There are only a couple of material reports next week but they are likely to be ignored as we head into the holidays. The Risk of Recession update is due out on Monday then we get two activity reports on Thursday. The Chicago Fed National Activity Index and the Philly Fed Survey will probably be the two most watched reports and both are expected to show declines in activity.
Next week will be notable because of the earnings reports by the major brokers. Goldman Sachs reports earnings on Tuesday, Morgan Stanley reports on Wednesday and Bear Stearns on Thursday. Actually for an off week before the holidays there are quite a few major earnings report on tap. Besides the financials there ADBE, ORCL, PALM and RIMM. Those could be some volatile events.
RIMM rebounded from my buy call at $100 last week to $109 but faded into Friday's close at $106. If you took that suggestion you should remember that RIMM has earnings on Thursday. They are expected to have sold 1.65 million BlackBerry phones for the quarter. Some analysts are still saying that RIMM is losing ground in the smart phone market but I am still a believer. I would not recommend holding over earnings but I know many traders do. I still think $100 is decent support but even good stocks sink in a down market. Use your own judgment.
Citigroup finally caved into pressure to take responsibility for their troubled investment funds. Citi had been pressured to take the troubled SIV funds back in house after they broke the arms length rule by putting $10 billion additional capital into them to keep them operational. Investors were suing Citi to recover losses from the subprime funds. On Friday Citi said it would move its seven SIVs back onto its balance sheet. The SIVs have $62 billion in assets or $49 billion excluding cash and cash equivalents and $58 billion in debt. By taking them back onto their balance sheets it guarantees the funds will probably not go under and help create transparency for future dispositions. The new CEO, Vikram Pandit, probably got a blank approval from the board on almost any amount of housecleaning needed to bring Citi back into favor on Wall Street. Taking responsibilities for the SIVs could put Citi into a capital squeeze. Bank America analyst John MacDonald warned Citi capital reserves could drop to 6.8% by year's end. Regulators like banks to remain above 6% and a level they feel is safe. Citi has $2.36 trillion in assets and while a failure is not expected there is concern. Besides the SIVs Citi has $55 billion in direct exposure to subprime mortgages. $43 billion of that is exposure to CDOs. Citi has already said they would write down $11 billion of this debt in Q4 due to decaying credit quality. CIBC World Markets said Citi would have to sell about $100 billion in assets to raise cash and probably cut its 54-cent dividend. The dividend cut is already being priced into the stock. Citi (NYSE:C) lost nearly 10% for the week.
Bank America helped spoil the bounce in bank stocks back on Wednesday when they said the end of year results would be "quite disappointing." The CEO said announced write-downs of $3 billion from bad debt would not be enough and larger losses were still ahead. BAC lost 6.5% for the week despite being named by Inside Mortgage Finance as the largest mortgage loan originator for the first nine months of 2007. BAC originated $110 billion in mortgage loans for the first nine months and that beat Countrywide and Wells Fargo. In just Q3 BAC loans jumped +27% over the same period in 2006. This was mostly due to the problems at Countrywide and people looking for a secure lender to handle their loan. BAC is not nearly as large as Citi but they have 57 million customers. That is a pretty strong ace in the hole when it comes to generating new business.
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All the good news was not enough to rescue traders who bought the end of November dip. Like the housing market traders have been trying to pick a bottom in financials for the last four months to no avail. The XLF fell -8.5% just since the Fed announcement on Tuesday. Once traders figured out the Fed was not coming to their rescue the financials were sold hard.
Black and Decker (BDK) also helped spoil the party on Friday after it warned that earnings would be well below expectations. BDK said it would earn $1.03 after special items and analysts were expecting $1.61. BDK said business conditions had been weaker than expected and sales to home improvement centers had slowed. BDK said they what they were seeing indicated a slowdown in remodeling as well as a slowdown in new home construction. Sales will decrease in the low single digits according to the company spokesman. BDK also said they would take a $25 million charge for a recall on certain DeWalt cordless drills. Brokers fled from BDK leaving estimate cuts in their wake. BDK lost 8.5% on Friday. Whirlpool lost another $2 on the BDK warning and that added up to a -$8 loss from the week's highs.
Oil prices fell a buck on Friday but the big move was a +$4 spike on Wednesday leaving it up +3.10 for the week. There is no reason and worries over rising inflation and gains in the dollar should have held it back. Support is holding at $87 as we await the news of the next cold wave. The U.S. is going to update the long-term weather forecast next week and that could add a little more volatility but the big event will be the expiration of the current January contract on Tuesday. At Friday's close we have moved back into contango meaning the futures contracts for future months are trading at higher prices than the current month. That suggests fears of a winter oil shortage are dissipating. That is somewhat surprising since inventory levels have declined sharply over the last eight weeks. Fog shutdown the Houston ship channel for several days last week so inventory levels could fall even further in Wednesday's report.
The U.S. dollar continued its rebound despite nearly every analyst including Jim Rogers telling traders this is a shorting opportunity. Friday's close was a new 6-week high. This should have some impact on oil prices but a 3-cent move in the dollar is not an earthshaking change in dollar valued oil.
FedEx said Monday would be the biggest shipping day of the year for them. FedEx is expected to haul 10.4 million packages through the system on that day. That is a 6% increase over the 9.8 million shipped on the busiest day in 2006. It is the last day you can ship by FedEx ground and expect it to arrive by Christmas. UPS expects to handle more than 22 million packages with the help of an additional 60,000 seasonal workers. Those workers will be picking up their last paycheck in two weeks and along with retail layoffs putting about 200,000 workers back on unemployment in January. My UPS driver has been coming about 6:PM and he still has a truck full of boxes.
Friday was not a good day in the markets. Actually the last three days have not been exciting for the bulls. When the Fed failed to cut 50 points and failed to issue a strongly worded statement the market support evaporated. Add in the earnings warnings, sector wide downgrades, additional subprime write-downs, recession warnings and sharply rising inflation and there was no reason to buy stocks. In fact there were a lot of reasons to sell stocks rather than buy them. The bulls are still hanging on to their SPX 1550-1600 year-end hopes tighter than a lifejacket on the Titanic. Unfortunately even good people drown when a ship or market sinks.
There are basically eight trading days left in 2007 plus a couple half days of no consequence. Volume is going to continue to decrease and mutual funds are going to quit trading as volume slows. About the only people left in the market are those taking care of tax selling. This means loser stocks are going to be sold even lower as investors sell losers to offset profits from winners. Other tax sellers will be selling winners to offset losses. It is not a pretty picture now that the rebound appears to be dead. As long as there was hope of a year-end rally there were people hanging on to shares. If current support levels break next week it could be an ugly week. November lows could be tested again.
The post Fed volatility and especially volatility into Friday's close could have been accelerated by next week's quadruple witching. Since volume will slow to a crawl next week the big option positions were probably closed over the last couple days. Positions were taken ahead of the Fed and those positions are now being unwound.
A slim positive for Friday was the low volume. Friday's volume was only 5.8 billion shares and nearly 2 billion under a good day's totals. This will shrink even further as next week progresses.
The Dow dropped back to 13400 after Tuesday's Fed announcement. Wednesday's bizarre Fed auction announcement caught all the shorts leaning to the downside again and the +271 point opening spike was a monster short squeeze but traders reloaded again at the top and the indexes have been under pressure ever since. On Friday that 13400 support failed with a -178 drop and a close at 13337. The last material support before retesting the 12800 November lows is 13250. That is only about 80 points under Friday's close and in this market that is about a 15 min move. The volatility has been huge and multiple triple digit moves in opposite directions have been as frequent as Britney's visits to rehab.
The Nasdaq-100 (NDX) has declined to initial support at 2075 and appears to be trying to hang on to that level. With Oracle, Adobe, RIMM, PALM and a handful of chip stocks reporting earnings next week any further weakness in guidance and this support could fail. Next support is 2050 followed by the November lows at 2000. If any tech stocks were going to be bought it would be the big caps in the NDX. Check for weakness here before going long anything else.
S&P-500 Chart - Daily
Russell-2000 Chart - Weekly
The S&P-500 failed at 1490 on Tuesday after the Fed announcement. That was a clear sell signal. The Fed auction spike on Wednesday morning was just another opportunity to get short at a higher level but 1490 was the key. The S&P failed to regain 1490 on either Thursday or Friday and each intraday failure below that level was another sell signal. 1460 is now the target. I said on Tuesday I would look to buy a dip to 1460 on a short-term trade only and we could easily see that on Monday. Under 1460 the same recommendation stands to double up on your shorts with 1420 as a target.
The Russell-2000 is leading the major indexes lower with a 4.1% drop for the week compared to 2+% drops for the other majors. There is no reason to buy small caps ahead of year-end. There was no material Q4 bounce and what little bounce we did see was sold hard after the Fed announcement. With the country headed into recession you don't want to be in small caps. That should be a clear indicator for us for next week. Any continued weakness in the Russell should be copied by the S&P.
The wildcards are going to be the low volume, quadruple witching, tech and financial earnings. The economic reports will be watched by the few traders still showing up for work but there is not likely to be much reaction. Remain short under SPX 1490 and double up under 1460.
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"Averaging down in a down market is tantamount to taking a seat on the down
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Play Editor's Note: Our market bias is bearish but we are adding a couple of call plays on some foreign companies that may be able to stand up on their own strengths. It wasn't hard to find bearish candidates. A few stocks we are keeping an eye on as potential plays are: SYNA, BOOM, BEN, CLF, MAC, REG, NIHD, MAN, JLL, FDX and KMT.
China Security - CSR - close: 23.25 change: +1.85 stop: 19.99
Why We Like It:
BUY CALL JAN 22.50 CSR-AX open interest=384 current ask $2.70
Picked on December 16 at $ 23.25
Mobile Telsys - MBT - cls: 95.22 change: +1.26 stop: 91.75
Why We Like It:
BUY CALL JAN 95.00 MBT-AS open interest=155 current ask $6.70
Picked on December 16 at $ 95.22
Amazon.com - AMZN - cls: 89.08 chg: -3.32 stop: 95.05
Why We Like It:
BUY PUT JAN 90.00 ZQN-MR open interest=14002 current ask $5.00
Picked on December 16 at $ 89.08
Genentech - DNA - close: 68.43 chg: -1.31 stop: 70.85
Why We Like It:
BUY PUT JAN 70.00 DWN-MN open interest=24924 current ask $3.10
Picked on December 16 at $ 68.43
Constellation Energy - CEG - cls: 100.93 chg: -2.71 stop: 97.45
Ouch! CEG just erased most of our unrealized gains. The stock lost 2.6% on Friday and following a week of trading sideways the short-term technical indicators have turned bearish. Stepping back the overall trend is still bullish but CEG may continue to struggle if the markets continue lower (and our market bias is bearish). A bounce from $100 would look like a new bullish entry point but we would hesitate to open new bullish positions at this time. More conservative traders may want to exit early now. We are adjusting our stop loss to $98.49.
Picked on November 20 at $100.56
Energizer - ENR - close: 115.00 chg: -1.39 stop: 109.95
The short-term bullish trend in ENR is also struggling. Short-term technical indicators have turned bearish over the last week. On the positive side volume has been light on the consolidation. If you do not want to endure a dip back toward support near $112.50 or $110 then we would suggest exiting now or raising your stop loss toward $114.00. We are not suggesting new positions. Our target has been the $119.00-120.00 range and shares hit $118.88 on Wednesday last week. FYI: The P&F chart has a very bullish pattern called a bullish triangle breakout and it is forecasting a $157 target.
Picked on November 26 at $112.75 *triggered
Holly Corp. - HOC - close: 48.95 change: +2.47 stop: 44.95
HOC displayed some relative strength on Friday. Moving the stock was news that a Goldman Sachs analyst had raised his view on the oil refining sector. Plus, HOC was added to one of Goldman's "buy" lists. The stock added 5.3% on above average volume, which is bullish. Shares are poised for a potential breakout from this consolidation. A strong move over $50 would make this look like a bottom has formed over the past few weeks. It would be tempting to buy this bounce but readers will probably want to wait for the breakout over $50.00. Our target on HOC is the $54.75-55.00 range.
Picked on December 03 at $ 50.58 *bad tick/gap open
Itron Inc. - ITRI - close: 78.69 change: -1.28 stop: 77.85
Did we get too greedy? Maybe. ITRI triggered our bullish play on the breakout over resistance at $80.00. Our trigger was $80.26. The stock rallied to within a couple of cents of $85.00. However, we were aiming for the early November highs closer to $86-87. The stock has since given back all of its gains. Is it game over? The close under $80.00 and its 200-dma is definitely bearish. Short-term technicals have turned negative but after a week of selling is it time for a bounce again? We would suggest buying calls again if ITRI can trade above $80.25 one more time. Unfortunately, the market mood has turned bearish and ITRI may continue to sink. This time we're adjusting our target to $84.90-86.00. More aggressive traders could aim for the 50 or 100-dma near $87.50. FYI: The P&F chart is bullish with a $107 target. Meanwhile the most recent data puts short interest on the stock at more than 15% of the 29.75-million share float. That is a high amount of short interest and raises the risk of a short squeeze, which would obviously be a great thing for us at this point!
Picked on December 06 at $ 80.26 *triggered
Nat.Oilwell - NOV - close: 77.37 change: +0.72 stop: 69.99*new*
NOV continues to rally and shares hit an intraday high of $78.34. Our target is the $79.00-80.00 range but we would strongly suggest that readers consider exiting now and locking in a gain. The stock is starting to look oversold and due for a dip. We are expecting a pull back on Monday back to the $75.50-74.50 region. We are adjusting our stop loss to $69.99 but more conservative trades (who choose not to exit now) will want to consider a higher stop. We are not suggesting new positions at this time.
Picked on December 03 at $ 70.73
Union Pacific - UNP - close: 130.56 chg: -3.24 stop: 129.45*new*
Hmm... traders have a tough choice to make with UNP. The stock has been trading with big intraday swings in the $130-136 range all week long. While it is encouraging to see support at $130.00 hold up so well the trading above $130 has been bearish! Furthermore the major indices, including the transportation index, look like they're growing more bearish. If the transports breakdown we would expect UNP to follow suit. At this time more conservative traders will want to strongly consider an early exit right here. We are raising our stop loss to $129.45. We're not suggesting new positions.
Picked on December 06 at $130.50 *triggered
Agrium - AGU - close: 57.96 change: -0.04 stop: 65.01
Are we missing something? Shares of AGU traded sideways in an extremely narrow range on Friday. It's almost like investors are waiting for something. I checked the news again and I didn't see anything that might suggest this sort of holding pattern. The trend still looks like the stock has produced a bearish double-top pattern. Watch for a failed rally near $60 as a new entry point for puts. Our target is the $55.10-55.00 zone but more aggressive traders may want to aim for the rising 100-dma closer to $52.00.
Picked on December 11 at $ 59.66
Boeing - BA - close: 88.42 change: -0.13 stop: 93.26
Entry point alert! BA rallied toward short-term resistance near $90.00 and reversed. This failed rally pattern is a new entry point to buy puts. Currently our target is the $85.55-85.00 range. We are also adding a second, more-aggressive target in the $81.50-80.00 zone. The P&F chart is bearish with a $75 target.
BUY PUT JAN 90.00 BA-MR open interest=28659 current ask $3.80
BUY PUT FEB 90.00 BA-NR open interest= 7612 current ask $5.00
Picked on December 04 at $ 91.43 *triggered/gap down
Garmin - GRMN - close: 104.04 chg: -1.02 stop: 112.55
We also have a new bearish entry point for GRMN. The stock rallied to $107.26 and then reversed back into the red. This is the sort of failed rally we suggested readers use to buy puts. Remember, this is an aggressive, higher-risk play because the stock can be so volatile and there is still a lot of bullish expectations out there for GRMN's Christmas season. We have two targets. Our first target is the $96.00-95.00 zone. Our second target is the $91.00-90.00 zone.
BUY PUT JAN 105 RZJ-MA open interest=4714 current ask $7.80
Picked on December 11 at $104.78
Sears Holding - SHLD - cls: 105.24 chg: -4.10 stop: 117.55
SHLD is starting to see some follow through on last week's bearish reversal pattern. The stock broke down under short-term support near $107.50 and closed near its lows for the session on Friday. We don't see any changes from our previous comments. A failed rally under $110 could be used as a new entry point for puts. We have two targets. Our first target is the $100.50-100.00 range. Our second more-aggressive target is the $92.50-90.00 zone. The P&F chart is bearish with a $78 target.
Picked on December 11 at $110.28
Shire Plc - SHPGY - close: 67.98 change: +0.97 stop: 73.51
We cautioned readers to expect an oversold bounce on Friday and SHPGY delivered. At this time our bias is still bearish but the stock could try and "fill the gap" from last Thursday. A failed rally near $70.00 would be our preferred entry point to buy puts again. Our initial target is the $65.25-65.00 range although we're considering a more aggressive target in the $62-60 region. FYI: Any time we play a biotech or even a drug stock we're dealing with a higher-risk situation. We are at risk that some FDA decision or some clinical trial news could send the stock gapping one direction or the other.
Picked on December 13 at $ 68.07 *triggered/gap down entry
Excel Maritime - EXM - close: 48.20 change: -2.25 stop: 46.45
EXM has not performed as we expected it to. There was no follow through on the bounce a few days ago and we are seeing another pattern of lower highs develop. We did label this as an aggressive, higher risk play but we're going to abandon ship now and cut our losses early. Another bounce near $40 or its rising 200-dma might be a potential bullish entry point.
Picked on December 09 at $ 50.16
JA Solar - JASO - close: 69.85 change: +6.83 stop: 56.25
Target exceeded (again)! Some of the solar energy stocks continue to buck the trend and JASO soared on Friday. Boosting the shares was news that one analyst raised their price target on JASO to $100. JASO gapped open at $65.94 and then sprinted to an intraday high of $71.95 before paring its gains and closing with a 10% rally. Our second, more aggressive target was the $69.00-70.00 range.
Picked on December 03 at $ 56.25 *triggered
Nucor - NUE - close: 59.93 change: -0.83 stop: 56.75
We are giving up on NUE. The stock continues to find short-term support near $59.00 and should have additional support near $57.50 but given the bearish reversal in the major averages this week we're suggesting an early exit in NUE. Nimble traders may want to watch for a decline under $57.50 as a bearish entry point.
Picked on December 06 at $ 60.15 *triggered
Research In Motion - RIMM - cls: 105.98 chg: +1.68 stop: 96.75
All we needed was another 29 cents. Our target on RIMM was the $109.50-110.00 range. Shares rallied to an intraday high of $109.21 before paring its gains. This looks like a potential bearish reversal under resistance near $110. More aggressive traders could keep the play open. RIMM is due to report earnings this week on December 20th (Thursday) and it's anyone's guess if shares will rally into earnings, get stuck trading sideways, or move lower with the markets. I'm suggesting readers exit early before seeing any potential gains evaporate.
Picked on December 11 at $100.00 *triggered
Lehman Brothers - LEH - close: 62.24 chg: +0.87 stop: n/a
We are hitting the eject button on the LEH strangle. Our plan was to capture any post-earnings volatility following the company's earnings report on Thursday morning. There was no volatility and with option expiration next week shares will probably keep trading sideways in the $58-66 range.
Picked on December 11 at $ 61.14
Volatility has ruled the markets lately, especially since the November 26 Trader's Corner. That was when we last looked at what the corrective fan principle was telling us about the downtrend.
What was the conclusion of that November 26 article? "The conclusion is that, if RSI breaks through that [second] descending trendline [off the October RSI high], a relief bounce might ensue. If so, traders should trade that bounce only if they're comfortable trading a rally that's occurring in the context of a downtrend that appears to be intact so far, at least according to the corrective fan principle. Others should watch for rollover potential, either at the dotted or solid blue trendlines, if prices should rally that high."
Let's take a look at all those trendlines mentioned. Keep in mind that the article was written the middle of last week and so charts do not reflect current values.
Annotated Daily Chart of the SPX, Snapped 12/12/07
At the time of the November 24 article, RSI had not yet broken up through its first (lowest) descending blue trendline. The article speculated that, if it did, a relief rally might ensue and that rollover potential existed either at the descending dotted blue line or at the solid blue one. The confusion existed because, at the time, the RSI setup and other chart characteristics suggested that the dotted blue line might be the second trendline of the three that are usually formed in a corrective fan. This wasn't a classical setup of the fan, as all three fanlines typically radiate from a single high. The action since has clarified the fanlines a bit, at least in my opinion.
The corrective fan principle suggests that any trend, either an uptrend or a downtrend, forms three fanlines or trendlines radiating from a single swing high or a low. The first trendline is formed in the early days of the trend, and it's the steepest. It's too steep, its slope too extreme, to be maintained.
Since we're looking at a downtrend, I'll use downtrend examples in my explanation. In a downtrend, prices eventually break up through that first too-steep trendline. Some bullish traders who have been following the downtrend exult in that break through that first trendline. The downtrend is over, they reason. Indeed, the upside break through that first trendline is often accompanied by a steep relief rally.
However, Martin Pring, author of many texts on technical analysis, would caution that the exultation is a bit premature. When explaining the corrective fan principle, he explains that all that's occurring after that first break is the establishment of a second and more sustainable descending trendline with a slope that isn't quite so steep. Prices will find resistance at that second trendline.
RSI and price breaks through their respective trendlines in late October resulted in the formation of that solid blue trendline. The breaks also began the process that resulted in the confusing and non-classical descending dotted blue trendline.
That solid blue trendline was the one tested this week, as prices rose ahead of the FOMC decision. Prices in fact overran that fanline or trendline a bit, but the sharp pullback from the trendline validated its authenticity as the second trendline or fanline of the corrective fan principle.
What does that mean? First, if the principle holds true again, as it has several times over the last 12-18 months that we've been examining it in these articles, the downtrend off October's high hasn't been concluded. According to that theory, a third descending trendline or fanline will still be established.
The principle suggests then that while relief rallies can still be abrupt and sharp, we're still in a sell-the-rallies mode on the intermediate term. Rallies that drive up to the blue trendline or fanline might fail at that point, but even a casual glance at that chart shows that such rallies can be sharp.
The possibility exists that the pre-FOMC breakthrough of the solid blue trendline was not a simple momentum-driven overrunning of resistance, but rather was the beginning of the establishment of a third trendline or fanline, shown in dotted green on the chart below:
Annotated Daily Chart of the SPX, snapped 12/12/07:
Remember that this chart, too, was snapped midweek. Since then, the SPX has
consolidated beneath both the top trendlines. We'll check back later, in another
article, to see how it's behaved into the future. For now, consider the
possibility that the last month's sharp rally was nothing more than a relief
rally up to the second of three descending trendlines or fanlines that will
Today's Newsletter Notes: Market Wrap by Jim Brown, Trader's Corner by Linda
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