Lately, on any given day, I get asked about three times a day when is the market is going to go back up. While I don’t exactly know when or why the markets while bounce, I am beginning to think that it doesn’t matter. What!? Huh?! By now most of you know that I am a big proponent of the contrarian methodology. At times the contrarian concept treads on that old “Murphy’s Law” which generally points that things happen to you when you least expect them to happen. In the beginning of this May the media began to report that the old market timing strategy that suggests that investors “Sell in May and go away” wasn’t going to work. They went so far as to have “experts” on the strategy. I use the term “experts” loosely. Because, as of late, the truth about how much the media and what is referred to as the talking heads have been wrong. In May, I watched the market advance upward while they kept talking about how the strategy doesn’t always work or it may (no pun intended) never work again. When the masses know that they are the herd, they don’t walk gleefully into the slaughterhouse. Finally, the media stopped discussing the strategy around the middle of the month and the sell off began. The other part of the strategy is that you are supposed to put your cash to work at the end of baseball season. Since the media hasn’t picked up on this story yet, there is a chance that the buy side will work once the World Series is over. Long story short, I think the market will go up when everyone stops asking when, why or how? A good example of this is when the $VIX spiked in July and the media wrote about how those levels hadn’t been seen for years and that they usually provide a buy signal. It took a little longer for the market to bottom because when people know that they are being watched they act different. Since everyone was waiting for other people to buy it took longer for the signal to occur. Once the media stopped reporting about the volatility, the market ran up.Story Time
Verizon (VZ) helped the telecom sector’s performance today by reporting a 4.8% year-over-year increase in third quarter earnings per share that met both EPS and revenue expectations. The company said that strength in cellular and FiOS helped offset weakness in its traditional telecom business. Verizon reported third quarter (Sep) earnings of $0.66 per share. Revenues rose 4.1% year/year to $24.75 billion versus the $24.52 billion consensus. VZ closed up $2.56 to 27.61 on 33 million shares. VZ has a 6.6% yield and a PE of 13.53.
At about 3:30 PM EST Moody's lowered General Motors’ (GM) rating to Caa2 and stated that the outlook is negative. The market didn’t sell off because GM’s credit was lowered. However, it is as if the market sold off when it was realized that Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s weren’t done manipulating prices. It is my opinion that the market would welcome the SEC and/or Congress halting the rating’s agencies from issuing any rating updates until there has been a complete overhaul of the system. These companies kept the ratings of the Mortgage Backed Securities, CMOs and CDOs at AAA for too long. Then when the truth of the quality of the underlying assets came to fruition the ratings were subsequently lowered. Then, the companies that owned the structured products as part of their portfolio were downgraded to reflect the true quality of their holdings. One would think that Eliot Spitzers efforts to tidy up the ratings and research reports from investment banking firms would have spilled over to other ratings agencies.
Foreign Markets had the US futures markets indicating a 30 point gap lower. The British FTSE closed down at 3855.5 while the German DAX closed off 47.8 at 4247.8. Finally in Europe, the French CAC closed the day at 3074.6, which was down 119.2 or -3.7%. In Asian Markets the Nikkei closed down 6.4% or 486.20 points to 7162.90. The Hang Seng fell 12.7% or 1,602.5 at 11,015.84.In the US markets, the S&P 500 (SPX) was down 2.4% in early trade and then up over 1.9% as late as 1:45 PM before closing down over 3.2%. The NYSE closed down 4.29% on light volume of 1.8 billion shares. There were 701 advancing issues versus 2,507 decliners. Only 1 New 52 Week High was posted while 617 New 52 Week Lows were recorded. The TRIN or Arms Index closed at 1.81. In normal markets, this is a buy signal. Unfortunately, we aren’t in a normal market. The NASDAQ Composite fell 2.97% on 2.26 billion shares. There were 681 advancers and 2180 declining issues today. I am starting to believe that the low volume on the sell side is coming less from individual investors. They might be watching the TV and waiting for the bottom to occur. The huge sell offs at the close have been coming from sell on close imbalances from mutual fund redemption requests.
Economists had forecast New Home Sales of a month-over-month decline of 2.2% to 450,000. However, sales for September rose 2.7% month-over-month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 464,000. Sales are down 33.1% year-over-year. The median sales price of a new house is down 0.9% month-over-month and down 9.1% year-over-year. The inventory level declined 1.0 to 10.4 months, which is a good sign.
Tomorrow morning should provide some insight into broader sentiment when Consumer Confidence is released at 10:00 am. The market expects a decline to 52 from 59.8. But all eyes are pealed on the Federal Reserve on Wednesday when they release their FOMC Policy Statement at 2:15 PM. The rest of the week is full of reports that would usually push the market around. But I think the catalyst is a revision of the SEC’s uptick rule along with a complete overhaul of the ratings systems.
There are over 200 foreign and domestic companies reporting their earnings in the next 24 hours. I picked out some of the stocks that are more widely followed. Boyd Gaming is a small casino operator that generally underperforms the large conglomerates. BYD may provide some insight into the tendencies of the smaller bankroll gambler. DreamWorks and Martha Stewart are more entertainment stocks than consumer stocks. I am curious to see what medical supply companies like Dentsply and American Dental Partners will report. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCL) reports tomorrow as well. I don’t expect too much from travel dependent companies. Denny’s, a low cost restaurant, could actually bode well in a slowing economy. Look at how well McDonalds has done. Last week’s AAPL trade worked well. Almost any of the stocks above could be EPS short volatility trades. One should see if the front month options’ Implied Volatility is 10% greater than the December or January options.The S&P 500
I showed an intraday chart of the S&P 500 earlier that showed the later part of today’s trading (Shown lower too). As mentioned before, the market was quite volatile today.
The above chart is of the SPX where each bar is 2 minutes and the green moving average shows the 2 day average and the pink line shows the 1 day moving average. I like to see where the market is currently trading as compared to the 1 and 2 day average price. You can emulate this chart by creating a 2 minute chart for 2 or 3 days and inserting a 195 minute and a 390 minute simple moving average. When the 1 day is less than the 2 day moving average, the market is in a distribution phase. These moving averages tend to act as intraday support and resistance a lot.
The daily chart above shows the Fibonacci retracement from the recent low of 839.80 on 10/10 to the high of 1045. The 127.2% retracement/extension is at $784.31. I believe that with so many people thinking we have already seen the bottom, the bottom is lower. The MoneyFlow Index hasn’t provided a clear signal until it actually dips below 20. The ADX is back to advancing which translates into confirming the trend. We could wake up tomorrow and the futures are surprisingly flat followed by a small steady advance. That would be different and possibly signal strength. But I don’t expect anything subdued with such a violent close.
Yet again the RSI and Slow Stochastics are in oversold territory. If you have been trading for a little while, you should know that technical indicators can stay oversold far longer than you can stay solvent. I prefer to buy the re-emergence from oversold territory and cover/stop reverse at a test of resistance when the market is in a downtrend. The lower Bollinger band declined today which opens up the downside target range of the SPX. The Bollinger bands represent the last 21 days of actual volatility and therefore provides a hypothetical or implied range for the security should the level of volatility stay the same. The 8 day Exponential Moving Average continues to be the resistance level for the SPX. The 21 day EMA hasn’t been tested since late September. Once we have a close above the 8 day EMA a long can be established with a stop/reverse short on a break below the 8 day EMA and a profit target at the 21 day EMA. I don’t think that the first test of the 21 day EMA will be the end of the Bear Market. But these are my opinions from the analysis I have performed and witnessed.The Russell 2000 (RUT)
While the SPX and Dow Jones have been weak, the small and mid cap stocks have been in a free fall. The RUT fell 22.72 points or 4.6% to 448.40. The lower chart is that of the RUT shown on a daily time frame with Bollinger bands and the standard oscillators. Today’s close was a yearly low for the small cap index. Usually recoveries are based upon the soldiers leading the march and the general (Large Caps) following. The small and mid caps are getting sold off because the lack of credit for these companies is likely greater than the large cap financial companies.
The lower Bollinger band is at 425 and is slightly less than the 127.2% Fibonacci Extension line at 435. Therefore, the near support is at about 425 – 435 on a daily basis. The RSI and Slow Stochastics are both oversold. But only the Stochastics is looking like it might begin to move upward.
The above chart is also of the RUT but it shows the longer term moving averages that I and a lot of others use which include the 50, 89 and 200 day SMA. At 652, the 50 day SMA is very far away from coming into play. The MoneyFlow Index is strongly advancing while the RUT continues to decline. However, ADX has continued to advance while the RUT has declined. The ADX is a trend strength indicator and identifies when directional momentum in prevalent. When the ADX is lower than 15 the security is trading in a choppy manner. At low ADX levels, a scalping strategy is best. While higher ADX levels indicate the security is more prone to longer duration directional plays.The TNX
I am going to end tonight’s Market Wrap with a look at the CBOE 10 Year Yield or TNX. It rolled over last Monday and gapped down on Tuesday. By Friday, the 10 Year Yield had dipped to 3.5% and is back to 3.73%. The yield has been establishing higher lows and higher highs, which appears strange just before the Federal Reserve meets tomorrow and reports the policy on Wednesday. There is a gap in the yield at just below 3.9%. The higher the US Treasury can keep the yield the more likely foreign money will come in and buy US products. Watch the Euro or the Pound Sterling for signs of strength to find a point when the treasuries will begin to sell off. If the Fed lowers rates again, it may make the yield spread between currency pairs to shrink. Therefore, the desire for US dollars will reduce and the Euro and Pound should move higher. The FXE and FXB are the CurrencyShares ETFs for the long Euro and Pound, respectively. There are options available in one point increments on these ETFs. Assuming you are bearish on the dollar at $1.2455/Euro, you could buy the underlying and hedge with calls or sell the puts as a stock purchase alternative. Good night. Good trading.
Play Editor's Note: I'm adding new bearish plays because the trend is still down but traders opening new positions now are at a severe risk for a short-covering rally. No one knows what will spark the next short-covering rally but when it occurs it will charge through everyone's stops. The next opportunity is probably the Wednesday decision on interest rates.
NEW DIRECTIONAL PUT PLAYS
AutoZone - AZO - close: 102.88 change: +0.18 stop: 107.05
Why We Like It:
BUY PUT NOV 100.0 AZO-WT open interest= 313 current ask $6.40
Picked on October 27 at $102.88
McDonald's - MCD - close: 51.76 change: -1.30 stop: 54.55
Why We Like It:
BUY PUT NOV 50.00 MCD-WJ open interest=9665 current ask $2.60
Picked on October 27 at $ 51.76
PriceLine.com - PCLN - close: 49.26 change: -2.69 stop: 54.15
Why We Like It:
BUY PUT NOV 50.00 PUZ-WJ open interest= 257 current ask $6.70
Picked on October 27 at $ 49.25
Burlington Northern - BNI - cls: 78.67 chg: -1.33 stop: 73.85
Traders should note that even during the market's best levels of the day that shares of BNI failed to climb over Friday's high. The short-term bearish trend of lower highs prevail. We don't see any changes from our previous comments.
We want to buy calls on another dip near support. Our suggested entry zone is the $75.50-74.00 region with a stop loss at $73.85. If triggered our first target is the $79.95 mark. We unload most of our position there. We are listing a secondary, more aggressive target at $84.00. Note: BNI is also a short-term put play as we try to catch the drop to $75.
Picked on October xx at $ xx.xx <-- see TRIGGER
CSX Corp. - CSX - close: 40.66 chg: -1.72 stop: 38.90
CSX delivered another gap down this morning but it wasn't as bad as Friday's. The trend remains lower as CSX nears support near $40.00. Over the weekend we suggested that readers wait for another dip before considering new bullish positions. I want to repeat that more conservative traders will want to consider a tighter stop in the $39.50-39.95 zone.
A breakdown under $40 or $39.00 would be extremely bearish and I would look for an immediate drop to the $37.50-37.00 zone.
At the moment it looks like readers could wait for a dip into the $40.25-40.00 zone to open bullish positions as CSX closed at its lows for the day, which is a bearish sign for tomorrow morning.
Our target on CSX is $49.90.
Picked on October 23 at $ 40.41 /gap down entry
Freeport McMoran - FCX - close: 23.75 change: -1.11 stop: 18.45
There were no surprises here. FCX attempted to rally and rolled over. Nimble traders might want to consider short-term bearish trades with a stop above today's high and a $20.50 target. We are currently suggesting readers buy calls on FCX on a dip into the $21.00-20.00 zone. We'll use a stop loss at $18.45. Our first target is $29.00. Our secondary target is $37.50.
Picked on October xx at $ xx.xx <-- see TRIGGER
Hansen Natural - HANS - close: 21.00 change: -0.12 stop: 19.95
I have to say it's not looking well for HANS if you're a bull. The stock only lost 12 cents but the intraday movement was very bearish with another failed rally attempt. I would expect a dip toward $20.00 soon. If you are willing to buy a bounce then wait for a dip near $20.00 and a rebound over $21.00 before jumping into a position. We have two targets. Our first target is $26.85. Our secondary target is $30.00.
Note: If HANS breaks down under $20.00 it would be very bearish. We're suggesting readers buy November puts on HANS if the stock trades under $19.50 and target the $15.50-15.00 zone.
Picked on October 23 at $ 21.47 /gap down entry
MasterCard - MA - close: 126.35 chg: - 4.27 stop: 118.99
It's the same story but with a different stock here. The intraday rebound failed and MA closed near its lows for the session, which is bearish for tomorrow. I would expect a retest of the $121-120 zone soon. I'd also be tempted to buy calls on a dip to the $120 region. However, at this point, with the lack of follow through on the bounces, it doesn't look good for the bulls and we're just speculating on a bottom. Historical support levels don't seem to mean much in this market.
We have two targets. Our first target is $158.00. Our second target is $169.50. If we get stopped out at $118.99 I would be looking for another bullish entry point near the $100 zone.
Picked on October 23 at $131.00 *triggered 10/23
Energy SPDR - XLE - close: 40.86 chg: -2.79 stop: 37.45
The energy sector got crushed today as crude oil slipped to new relative lows. The XLE gave up more than 6%. This energy ETF should hit our suggested trigger to buy calls very soon. Currently our entry point is the $40.50-39.00 zone. More conservative traders will want to consider a tighter stop loss near the October 2008 low of 38.84.
If triggered we're setting two targets. Our first target is $45.00. Our second target is $49.75.
Picked on October xx at $ xx.xx <-- see TRIGGER
---------------------- PUT Play Updates ----------------------
Burlington Northern - BNI - cls: 78.67 chg: -1.33 stop: 82.35
BNI tried to rally intraday but couldn't get over its trend of lower highs. This sort of action increases the odds that BNI will indeed retest support near $75. Our target to exit is $75.50. This is where we would switch directions and buy calls.
Picked on October 26 at $ 80.00
Chattem Inc. - CHTT - close: 68.63 chg: +0.90 stop: 70.75
CHTT bucked the trend in the markets most of the day and actually closed in the green. Shares traded above their simple 200-dma for a few moments this afternoon. If there is a continuation of the bounce tomorrow watch for resistance near $70.00 and its 20-dma. We remain bearish and would still open new put positions here.
We're setting two targets. Our first target is $61.50 near the October 2008 lows. Our secondary, more aggressive target is the 58.00 level near its summer 2008 lows. FYI: I would consider this a more aggressive play because CHTT doesn't have a lot of volume and the option spreads are a little wide!
Picked on October 26 at $ 67.73
Volatility Index - VIX - cls: 80.06 chg: + 0.93 stop: n/a
The VIX continues to see big intraday swings. It spiked to 81.65 this morning, dipped to 71.29 and then back to 80.00 before the closing bell. We don't see any changes from our weekend comments. At these levels we'd rather be selling volatility not buying it. We're not suggesting new directional put positions at this time.
Instead I would consider selling November calls. It's up to you if you want to sell in-the-money, at-the-money or out-of-the-money calls.
If the VIX is under your call's strike price at expiration they'll expire at zero ($0.00) and you keep all the premium you sold it for.
Note: The VIX options, which are European style options, have a unique expiration date. November VIX options expire on November 19th, 2008. The last day of trading for these options is the Tuesday before expiration. For more information check this link: http://www.cboe.com/Products/indexopts/vixoptions_spec.aspx
Our September 16th put position (suggested entry at 30.30) has a 25.50 target. In all honesty this position may be dead. We still have plenty of time with these next two. The September 29th position (suggested entry at 46.72) has two targets at 36.00 and 31.00. Our October 8th position (entry 57.53) has two targets at 40.00 and 35.00.
Picked on September 16 at = 30.30 first position
---------------------- Strangle & Spread Play Updates ----------------------
CBOE Volatility Index - VIX - cls: 80.06 chg: + 0.93 stop: n/a
The VIX remains extremely elevated. We don't see any changes from our weekend comments. If you're launching new spreads now consider adjusting your strike prices higher than the ones we have listed.
Trading Note: Here's a thought... if you think the VIX is topping out here near 80 then consider the following. What if you sold your calls that we bought here with the VIX at 80 or on another spike into the 85-90 zone. This way we capture a maximum amount of appreciation in the higher-strike call because when the VIX finally does reverse these calls will evaporate the fastest.
This would leave us short the lower-strike call position. This move only makes sense if you think the VIX has reached its peak. If you think the market is going to see another dramatic plunge then the VIX might spike past 90, which would be an even more opportune time to sell the calls you own but you'll need to be paying attention since such a move might not last very long.
Please see the CBOE website or our Sunday, October 12th play description for details on margin requirements for selling VIX options. Link: http://www.cboe.com/Products/indexopts/vixoptions_spec.aspx
Note: VIX options are European style options that settle for cash at expiration. Furthermore VIX options have unique expiration dates. November options expire on Wednesday, November 19, 2008 and will stop trading on Tuesday, November 18th.
VIX spread #1 has been completed.
VIX spread #2 with November options (date Oct. 12th):
We wanted to SELL the November 30 calls (opening price 10/13/08 was $ 8.60) and BUY the November 50 (opening price was $1.61) as a hedge against the VIX remaining elevated.
In a different format the play is:
SELL CALL NOV 30.00 VIX-KF.
Picked on October 12 at $ 69.95
VIX spread #3 with November options (published 10/22/08):
We wanted to SELL the November 35 calls (10/23/08 opening price was $ 14.00) and BUY the November 60 (10/23/08 opening price was $3.00) as a hedge against the VIX remaining elevated. We'll fill in the prices Thursday morning. Our account will be credited with the amount for selling the November 35 calls, while it the price paid for the 60 calls will be deducted.
In a different format the play is:
SELL CALL NOV 35.00 VIX-KI
BUY CALL NOV 60.00 VIX-KN
Picked on October 12 at $ 69.65
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