Stocks finished mixed-to-lower Monday after Dow component and banking giant J.P. Morgan (NYSE:JPM) $40.30 +10.29% said late Sunday evening that after some prodding by the federal government, it was buying Bear Stearns (NYSE:BSC) $4.81 -83.96% for roughly $236.2 million, or $2 a share in stock.
Treasuries saw some defensive buying with the 13-week, 5-year and 10-year yields all closing at new 52-week lows (price highs). Only the longest-dated 30-year yield ($TYX.X) managed to hold a close "well above" its 1/23/08 low yield close of 41.75, or 4.175%.
J.P. Morgan said late Sunday evening the deal was fast-tracked by the federal government to avoid a Bear Stearns bankruptcy, with the Fed also essentially making the takeover risk-free by saying it would guarantee up to $30 billion of the troubled mortgage and other assets that got the nation's fifth-largest investment bank into trouble.
J.P. Morgan said it would guarantee all business - such as trading and investment banking - until Bear Stearns' shareholders approve the deal, expected to be completed during the second quarter. The acquisition includes Bear Stearns' headquarters, which is one of the world's tallest buildings and reportedly worth more than $1 billion.
JP Morgan / Bear Stearns (Montage) - Daily Interval
Deutsche Bank's Mike Mayo said "One reaction is shock that a company that reaffirmed its book value at around $84 on Wednesday can be worth $2 per share four days later on Sunday."
I (Jeff Bailey) can only echo Mr. Mayo's comments, and I would think some of Bear Stearns' executives would probably do the same.
It is always a "shock" to see any company go bankrupt, but not always a surprise.
In Friday's OptionInvestor.com Market Monitor, I contemplated seriously the selling of a NAKED put in BSC for the March $15 Puts for $1.50, thinking to myself "JPM will buy them, maybe $30/share."
Maybe it was the "luck of the Irish" that had me canceling that order with the thought that BSC may well be headed for bankruptcy, and a low-ball or take-under purchase was in the cards with RISKS really unknown.
While we may find out differently, I do think that many of Bear Stearns' executives spoke the truth early last week when they said they did not have liquidity issues. However, when clients started withdrawing/transferring assets to other banks/brokers, suddenly liquidity became an issue and a run on the bank.
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The "bottom line" as I see it is that I (Jeff Bailey) can't think that anyone knows for certain what their liquidity will be the next day.
The arrangement (JP Morgan / Fed) was the first of its kind since the 1930s with Bear Stearns getting a 28-day loan from J.P. Morgan with the government's guarantee that J.P. Morgan would not suffer any losses on the deal.
At almost the same time the deal was announced, the Fed said it approved a 25 basis point cut in its lending rate to banks (discount rate) to 3.25% from 3.50%.
Sunday's discount rate move found a strong bid for Treasuries as investors rate-watchers seeing the possibility that the FOMC could slash it target rate on fed funds 100 basis points to 2.00% from 3.00% tomorrow.
March 30-day Fed Funds futures (ff08h) settled 97.47 (100 - 97.47 = 2.53%) suggesting 100% probability of at least a 50 basis point cut at tomorrow's FOMC meeting (02:15 PM EDT).
Shares of Lehman Bros. (NYSE:LEH) $31.75 -19.12% were hit hard, but finished well off their lows of $20.25.
Today's internal benchmarks probably don't do justice as to some of the price action from Sunday evening's session and this morning's cash open.
April Mini Gold futures (yg08j) traded as high as $1,033.70 Sunday evening, but settled up $3.20, or +0.32% at $1003.00. Friday's settlement was $999.80.
The U.S. Dollar Index (DXY) was trading 71.40 at today's 04:00 PM EDT hour after having fallen to historic lows of 70.70 Sunday evening. At this morning's 09:30 AM EDT tick, the DXY had recovered to 71.33.
US Dollar Index (DXY) - Daily Intervals
As I type (07:45 PM EDT) the DXY trades 71.48. From what I've been able to ascertain, the DXY's action really seems to be a driving force regarding "sentiment" towards equities.
This observation is really being made on an intra-day basis where it just seems that the major averages soften up when the dollar moves to an new hourly low, but tend to firm, or even see some PRICE gain when the dollar "firms" just a bit.
The dollar, or any currency at this point seems to be trading both on MONETARY policy, and oil's trade.
I've shown a couple of different charts for the DXY, but one of the primary ways I'm trying to "define" the DXY is by the October relative high (when the SPX/SPY found its all-time high) now Sunday/Monday's "low."
Note the 1/22/08 inflection high for the DXY, then the 2/26/08 "break down" low. The most recent RELATIVE HIGH for the S&P 500 (SPX.X) came on 02/26/08 and 2/27/08, and today we tested the and briefly violated the 1/23/08 low.
S&P 500 Index (SPX.X) - Daily Intervals
The "only" technical level I saw in today's Market Monitor at 01:24:14 PM EDT that I observed as some type of potential technical support was the mathematically derived (from 2007's high/low/close) yearly S2 (support 2).
The 1/23/08 low holds the CLOSE again and I want to leave my conventional 0% at that level. Note still the 02/26 and 2/27 relative high and my observation of how on a "bigger picture" basis, the dollar's break to a then new low, seemed to have buyers stepping back from the SPX.
Again, I'm unable to make a DXY=SPX price comparison (If the DXY trades XX.XX then the SPX will be trading XXXX.XX). All I can do is make a DXY up, then firm to higher SPX, or DXY down, SPX softening to lower analogy.
SPX Yearly Pivot Levels (Table) -
My year 2008 forecast was for a "modest recession" and it was based largely on technical analysis, using both quarterly and YEARLY pivot levels, as well as historical trade for the SPX.
Under the "For" 2009, those highs, lows, and Year Close is what is CURRENTLY underway for 2008. In essence, so far this year (2008) we've seen SPX trade a high of 1,471 (1-point above 2008 Yearly Pivot) and today we observed a trade at 1,257 (2-points below Yearly S2).
I would say that in 2001, we probably saw a "modest recession" turn "sharp recession" in some part due to 09/11/2001 (terrorist attacks).
Let's call Bear Stearns (BSC) what it is. A "bank failure" that is "rescued" by JP Morgan.
The question I still don't think ANYBODY knows the answer to is "who, if any other bank is next?" And if there is another "bank failure," who will be willing, or able to step up to the plate?
As such, I would want to at least have some technicals, or PRICE comparisons to the year's 2001's low (For 2002 is 2001's high/low/close) and 2002 (For 2003 is 2002's high/low/close).
Let's simply think for now that Bear Stearns is somewhat similar to "9/11" when on 9/10/01, the SPX had just traded a new 52-week low of 1,073.
I dare say at this point, that some of the same "sentiment" towards equities and dollar action holds true for DXY and oil.
Oil's price in my opinion becomes a bit "tricky" to predict even now, but my current bias with the build in unleaded stockpiles (+10% vs. year ago), and U.S. crude oil stockpiles down "just" 4.21% from year-ago levels (as of Wednesday's EIA data), is that oil prices could fall after this Wednesday's April Crude Oil (cl08j) futures settlement.
Much of the "roll" will have taken place late last-week and early this week (traders long crude futures will take possession). However, with unleaded inventory now up 10% versus a year ago, I'm thinking refiners may not be "stockpiling" oil at these level, or buying the commodity, but looking to see if they can't get some type of price relief in oil before they start buying again.
Perhaps get some STRENGTH back in their dollar?
US Oil Fund (USO) - Daily Intervals
It wouldn't be abnormal for any trader short the USO above the most recent 02/20/08 March futures contract settlement date to be looking to get squared up in their trade. While the "fundamentals" didn't look like oil should head higher, it "must have been" the weaker dollar that had traders gobbling up oil to record levels.
Those that could "take the heat," or come up with cash for margin, will likely want to get squared up around USO $80.00. If the dollar can show some STRENGTH above the fibonacci levels, then I would think oil might "soften up" a bit below the $80.00 level.
Much of today's economic data took a backseat to what was happening with the brokers and bankers, but the data should be noted.
U.S. industrial production fell by 0.5% in February, while capacity utilization declined to 80.9% from 81.5%. Economists were looking for a -0.1% decline in production and capacity utilization of 81.2%.
The New York Fed manufacturing index fell to -22.23 in March, eclipsing a record-low of -19.6 set in November 2001.
Meanwhile, the U.S. government said the Q4 2007 current account deficit narrowed, sliding to $172.9 billion. Economists had forecasted a $184 billion deficit.
In addition to JPM buying BSC, the Chicago Merc (NYSE:CME) $449.20 -7.58% said it reached a definitive agreement to buy Nymex Holdings (NYSE:NMX) $84.30 -11.57% for $9 billion. Deal terms were unchanged from late January, though indicative value had fallen by around $2 billion, reflecting uncertainty over the regulatory climate (i.e. consolidation of commodity brokers being anti-competitive).
Intercontinental Exchange (NYSE:ICE) $122.41 -6.79% slid $8.92/share and traded
an intra-day low of $110.29.
Play Editor's Note: Due to a few technical difficulties I am not adding any new plays tonight. However, I want to point out that that the spike in the VIX to almost 36 is significant and just one more sign suggesting we could be near a short-term market bottom. I believe we're still in a bear market and we have lower lows ahead of us but short-term we could get getting a lot closer to another capitulation day and that means a buying opportunity to switch to short-term bullish trades. Keep in mind that just because the VIX traded near 36, like it did in January 2008 and August 2007, that doesn't mean it can't go a lot higher! I would start looking for stocks we may want to buy on a sudden sharp drop to significant support. It could happen soon.
Core Labs - CLB - close: 117.35 chg: -5.05 stop: 117.99
A nervous market on Monday sold the oil service stocks as crude oil futures pulled back sharply in profit taking. The oil service plays shouldn't be that closely tied to the daily swings in oil. Generally high oil prices will continue to mean strong business for the service companies. Today's move in CLB seems overdone. Right now our suggested trigger to buy calls on CLB is at $125.25. However, we are going to be watching for a potential bounce near $115 as an alternative entry point. We'll make a note if we see it. Right now CLB is testing technical support near its 200-dma. There is potential resistance near $130 so we're setting our first target at $129.85-130.00. We do think CLB will breakout past $130 sooner rather than later so we're setting a second target in the $137.50-140.00 zone.
Picked on March xx at $ xx.xx <-- see TRIGGER
Freeport-Mcmoran - FCX - cls: 94.61 chg: -7.00 stop: 98.99
Again, like the drop in CLB, the move in FCX looks like an over reaction. Investors were a little panicky today given the JPM-BSC news. Why this financial services news would affect FCX so much definitely smells like spooked traders looking to take profits anywhere they can. Shares of FCX dropped sharply and is testing support near its 50 and 200-dma. Volume on today's drop in FCX was above average, which is somewhat bearish. Right now our suggested entry point to buy calls on FCX is at $105.51. However, we are going to be keeping an eye on the $90.00 region as a potential alternative entry point if we see one. We have two targets. Our first target is the $109.85-110.00 range. Our second target is the $117.50-120.00 zone.
Picked on March xx at $ xx.xx <-- see TRIGGER
Ingersoll Rand - IR - close: 43.00 change: -0.15 stop: 40.85
IR gapped open lower but traders bought the dip at $41.60 and the stock recouped most of its losses. We remain bullish on IR but cautious on the market in general. We would hesitate to open new bullish positions at this time. Our target is the 47.00-47.50 zone.
Picked on March 09 at $ 42.87
Joy Global - JOYG - close: 66.52 chg: -2.28 stop: 67.45
JOYG also suffered some profit taking today. A dip near its rising 50-dma might be a tempting entry point but right now we're waiting for a new high. We are suggesting that readers buy calls at $72.50. If triggered our target is the $78.00-80.00 zone. Currently the Point & Figure chart is bullish with an $86 target. Now we do want to warn readers that early this month JOYG's CFO quit. No reason was given for his departure. Normally when the CFO resigns it's not a good sign but investors don't appear to be worried and the next earnings date isn't until late May.
Picked on March xx at $ xx.xx <-- see TRIGGER
Potash Corp. - POT - cls: 155.05 chg: -5.41 stop: 149.00
POT was not immune to the market profit taking today. The intraday weakness that pushed shares of MOS under support at $100 pulled shares of POT to a low of $151.35. We remain bullish on POT but readers may want to wait on new entries. Look for another dip near $150 or better a bounce near $150 as an entry point. If POT rises from here then a new move over $159-160 would look like a new entry point. Our target is the $178.00-180.00 zone. We will consider adding a second, more aggressive target as the play progresses. Remember, these stocks can be very volatile and see some huge intraday swings. We have to label this an aggressive, higher-risk play.
Picked on March 14 at $162.75 *triggered
Research In Motion - RIMM - cls: 98.12 chg: -3.57 stop: 94.49
The NASDAQ was really getting hammered intraday and shares of RIMM dipped to $96.05 before bouncing. The close under $100 is bearish and traders need to be defensive here. Currently RIMM is holding near its 50-dma. We would watch for a new bounce near $95 or a new rise over $100.50 as potential entry points to buy calls. We're going to leave our stop loss at $94.49 for now and see if RIMM can hold in the $95-105 region. Our short-term target is the $110.00-112.00 zone.
Picked on March 11 at $100.74
Yahoo! Inc. - YHOO - close: 25.85 change: -0.86 stop: n/a
YHOO continues to get hammered. Last week's Thursday-Friday decline continued into Monday and YHOO was plunging into the closing bell. Shares have now broken their 50 and 200-dma. There are only three days left for March options and at this point we would expect them to expire worthless. We are not suggesting new positions in April options at this time.
Picked on February 17 at $ 29.66
Ambac Fincl. - ABK - cls: 5.41 change: -0.81 stop: n/a
The subprime contagion has claimed a high-profile casualty in BSC today. Financials stocks got clobbered. Shares of ABK lost another 13% and closed under the $6.00 level. We are not suggesting new bearish positions in ABK. This remains a very speculative play. We will definitely hold over the April earnings if we get the chance. Previously we had been suggesting the May out-of-the money puts ($5.00 and $2.50 strikes) and an optional speculative out-of-the money March ($20) call as a hedge should a bailout plan come to pass.
Picked on January 27 at $ 11.54
Cytec Ind. - CYT - close: 52.37 chg: -1.95 stop: 57.15
CYT gapped open lower and closed with a 3.5% loss. Volume remained rather stable. Shares continue to look bearish but we're not suggesting new positions at this time. More conservative traders might want to move their stop closer to the $56 region. The $50.00 level looks like nearest support so we are targeting a drop into the $50.25-50.00 zone.
Picked on March 09 at $ 54.72
Express Scripts - ESRX - cls: 56.26 chg: -0.17 stop: 60.55
ESRX produced another failed rally near $58.00 today. Shares continue to look vulnerable. ESRX is nearing our first target in the $55.50-55.00 zone we would still consider new positions. The second target is the $51.50-50.00 range. We don't see any changes from our weekend comments on healthcare. FYI: The most recent data listed short interest at 3.8% of the 251 million-share float, which is about 3.4 days worth of short interest.
Picked on March 09 at $ 58.51
FedEx - FDX - close: 82.55 change: -2.25 stop: 86.05 *new*
Normally you might think that transports would bounce on a pull back in crude oil but that didn't happen today. FDX gapped open lower and ended the session with a 2.9% loss. We're running out of time. FDX is due to report earnings on Thursday morning, March 20th. We do not want to hold over the report. If FDX doesn't hit our target first we'll plan to exit on Wednesday at the closing bell. Please note we are moving the stop loss to $86.05. Our target is the $80.50-80.00 zone. FYI: The most recent data lists short interest at 3% of the 289 million-share float.
Picked on March 10 at $ 85.95 *triggered
Harley-Davidson - HOG - close: 34.90 chg: -0.51 stop: 38.51 *new*
Shares of HOG slipped to a new multi-year low midday. The action in the shares this afternoon continues to look bearish. We would still consider new put positions. Please note that we are adjusting our stop loss to $38.51, which is a several cents above the descending 50-dma. Our target is the $30.50-30.00 zone although it wouldn't surprise me to see a drop closer to $25. The P&F chart is bearish with a bearish triangle breakdown sell signal. FYI: The most recent data lists short interest at 9.6% of the 236 million-share float. That is an above average amount of short interest and raises our risk of a short squeeze.
Picked on March 10 at $ 34.69 *triggered
MBIA Inc. - MBI - close: 10.80 change: -0.14 stop: n/a
MBI performed a lot better than ABK. The stock experienced a sharp bounce in the last hour of trading. Why MBI was bouncing is currently unknown. The overall trend is still bearish and MBI looks poised to breakdown under the $10 level. We're not suggesting new bearish positions at this time. We had been suggesting the out-of-the-money May puts (7.50, 5.00 and 2.50 strikes) and an optional March $22.50 (or $20.00) call as a hedge in case a bailout plan for the bond insurers does get done. We will definitely hold over the April earnings if we get the chance.
Picked on January 27 at $ 14.20
3M Co. - MMM - close: 78.51 change: +0.98 stop: 80.25
MMM displayed a significant amount of relative strength today. Shares saw a morning spike to $75.24 and then rebounded back to $79.26 at its high. A bounce near $75.00 is not a surprise but the strength of the bounce is surprising. We remain bearish with MMM under $80.00 but today's move might make us pause before opening new plays. We have set two targets. The first target is the $72.25 level, just above the January 2008 lows. Our second target is the $68.00 level, which should be closer to the bottom edge of MMM's bearish channel. The P&F chart is currently bearish with a $62 target. FYI: The most recent data lists short interest at just 1.5% of the 707 million-share float.
Picked on March 09 at $ 76.51
Sears Holding - SHLD - close: 95.27 change: +0.20 stop: 100.51
The relative strength in SHLD today is also a surprise. The stock actually managed to trade above short-term resistance near $96.00 late this afternoon. We would take a step back and wait for this bounce to fail before considering new put positions. Our target is the $85.50-85.00 zone. There are a lot of investors who believe SHLD is going lower. The most recent data puts short interest at more than 19% of the 65 million-share float. That is almost 7 days worth of short interest. Naturally that raises our risk of a short squeeze.
Picked on March 06 at $ 94.00 *triggered
Wynn Resorts - WYNN - close: 96.94 chg: +0.27 stop: 95.55 *new*
If you are a day trader then WYNN has been perfect for you. Shares just produced another day or bouncing around the $92.50-98.00 zone. Down in the morning and up by late afternoon has been a consistent pattern. Boosting shares of WYNN today was a broker upgrade to "out perform". We are adjusting our stop loss to $98.55. If WYNN can trade over $100.50 it might be worth a short-term bullish trade. We're not suggesting new put plays at this time. Our target was the $86.50-85.00 zone. The P&F chart is bearish with a $64 target.
Picked on March 04 at $ 94.27 *gap down
FMC Tech. - FTI - close: 55.31 chg: -2.99 stop: 54.45
FTI was a brand new call play from our weekend newsletter. Sadly a panic sell-off in stocks and oil as traders rushed to take profits on anything they could hit shares of FTI for a 5% loss. FTI gapped open lower at $56.83 and plunged to $53.49 (-8%) intraday before bouncing back. We remain bullish on the oil service plays like FTI but we'll wait another day or two and see how things shake out. A rebound near its 200-dma or the $50 zone might be an attractive entry point or a new rise past $58 or $59 again would be tempting.
Picked on March 16 at $ 58.18
General Dynamic - GD - close: 84.28 chg: -0.11 stop: 82.99
Monday morning would definitely be classified as a "fast" market. Investors were nervous and a lot of stocks gapped open lower. A lot of quote services are going to tell you that GD's opening trade was at $82.92. This would have been under our stop loss and would have stopped us out. However, I contest this data! I went to the time and sales this morning. GD did gap open lower but the first trade appears to be $83.21 at 09:31:59. GD quickly dipped to $83.19 and that was the low for the session. We know bad ticks are a market hazard so we're going to close GD as a bullish play. However, we are keeping it on our watch list for another breakout over the $85.00 level.
Picked on March 13 at $ 86.10 /stopped 82.92 bad tick
Mosaic - MOS - close: 102.91 change: -4.32 stop: 99.89
We knew MOS was a volatile stock. We warned readers that it would be. However, seeing our MOS play get stopped out with an intraday low of $99.75 makes it a struggle to keep emotion out of the trade. We are still very bullish on MOS and would strongly consider buying this dip here at $102.91. However, we're going to wait and see what happens tomorrow first. Tuesday's FOMC meeting could bring more market volatility.
Picked on March 14 at $111.25 *gap open /stopped at 99.89
NII Holdings - NIHD - close: 31.23 change: -1.43 stop: 38.25
Target achieved. NIHD continues to slide lower. The stock hit an intraday low of $30.77. Our second target was the $31.00-30.00 zone. Shares look very oversold and due for a bounce so if you have not excited yet proceed with caution!
Picked on March 04 at $ 38.95 *triggered /2nd target 31.00
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