Stocks continued their retreat from last week's Market Wrap and buyers showed little interest as another psychological benchmark, as well as a technical benchmark gets tested.
It would have to be a "chart of the week," perhaps my "chart of the month," a "chart of the year" and even a "chart of half decade" as the very broad NASDAQ Composite retraces 80.9% of its September 2002 low close to recent bull run highs.
Buyers put up little defense for the better part of the session with decliners outnumbering advancers notably from the opening tick.
Commodities, stocks, just about everything traded lower. The loan exception was Treasury prices, resulting in lower yield.
The Dow Industrial shed just more than 400-points with breadth negative at 29:1. General Motors (NYSE:GM) $3.08 +5.47% eased off of Tuesday's 52-week low as traders began to contemplate the increasingly likelihood of new Democratic leadership in Washington bailing out the troubled automaker.
Shares of Ford Motor (NYSE:F) $1.84 +2.22% also edged higher.
That's today's "good news" among the price action I saw.
NASDAQ Composite - Monthly Intervals
"NASDAQ 1,500" was a big psychological level of resistance during the Spring of 2003. A level that "would not be broken" to the upside during one of the great bear markets of our time, and after an historic run that for some reason ended in October 2007, the 1,500 level is traded yet again.
A technician could count the levels here and after each CLOSE below a level, the COMPX has NOT been able to close back above a level. That would be 1,816.52 as I see it currently.
Never say "never" and never say "always."
A good test for the 4-lettered faithful has been delivered in tonight's extended session with Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) $13.54 -2.79%, which was still holding its Oct'02 low of $12.95 was halted for trade, then released to trade as low as $12.36 in the extended session after the biggest maker of chips for personal computers warned that Q4 revenue would come in at $9 billion (+/- $300M), which was below the company's October forecast of $10.1 to $10.9 billion.
Adding to an extended session negative tone, Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT) Chief Executive Mike Splinter said, "The last six weeks of turmoil in the financial markets is unprecedented. The weakening global economy will have significant impact" on all of the chip equipment maker's business.
Mr. Splinter's comments came after the world's largest chip equipment maker reported it recently completed Q4 earnings of $231 million, or $0.17/share.
Oil prices continued a torrid decline ahead of tomorrow's EIA inventory report, which was delayed one day due to yesterday's observance of Veteran's Day.
December Crude Oil futures (cl08z) - Daily Intervals
This is the same chart shown in my 10/22/08 Wrap. However, recent action now has the point and figure chart's bearish vertical count falling further to $50.00.
Global Economic Calendar -
Equities here in the U.S. accelerated losses when Treasury Secretary Paulson signaled readiness to enter the second phase of the $700 billion bailout/rescue, but that is unlikely to include the original proposal to buy up troubled assets. The Treasury is looking at ways to encourage private investors to return to the asset-backed securitization market. Barney Frank said some of the rescue package should be used to buy up troubled mortgages.
The White House again dismissed the use of TARP funds to aid the ailing auto sector.
Global Equities, Currencies, Oil, Gold, HUI.X, OIX.X ...
Mainland China's Shanghai Composite ($SSEC), which has been hardest hit year-to-day does show a gain since last Wednesday's close, but this looks like some "short covering" in what looks to be a more relative "oversold" global equity environment. That is, -64.66% YTD looks more "oversold" relative to other major benchmarks.
US Market Watch - 11/12/08 Close
New 52-week lows noted in red. At a MINIMUM, this suggests to me that SHORTS aren't as eager to cover positions, even under today's declines.
S&P 500 Index (SPX.X) - Daily Intervals
The S&P 500 (SPX.X) nears its 10/10/08 low, but if that's broken, then I'd have to assess further downside to the -11.8% retracement (same use of retracement as cl08z). Tough to try and "hang on" to longs here.
New Option Plays
NEW STRANGLE & SPREAD PLAYS
Ultra S&P500 ProShares - SSO - close: 24.84 change: -2.65 stop: n/a
Why We Like It:
We want to capture the move with a market neutral strategy like a strangle.
Note: The SSO is an ultra-long ETF that typically moves twice the daily performance of the S&P 500 index.
What is a strangle? It's when a trader buys an out-of-the-money (OTM) call and an OTM put on the same stock. The strategy is neutral. You do not care what direction the stock moves as long as the move is big enough to make your investment profitable.
We're suggest readers buy the December $30.00 call (SOJ-LD) and the December $20.00 put (SOJ-XT). Our estimated cost is $3.75. We want to sell if either option hits $6.00.
Entry alert: We would only open positions in the $23.50-26.50 zone. If the SSO gaps open tomorrow wait for a move back into the entry range. The closer to $25.00 the better.
BUY CALL DEC 30.00 SOJ-LD open interest=3687 current ask $1.95 -and- BUY PUT DEC 20.00 SOJ-XT open interest= 393 current ask $1.80
In Play Updates and Reviews
Apollo Group Inc. - APOL - close: 68.05 change: -2.26 stop: 66.45
As the sell-off intensifies in the broader market the strength in APOL is starting to crack. Today's session saw APOL lose 3.2% and close under its simple 10-dma. If the S&P 500 breaks down under its October lows then I would expect APOL to become a big target for profit taking. More conservative traders may want to exit early right now. We are not suggesting new positions at this time.
Our target is $79.90. The stock's chart has resistance in the $80-81 zone. The Point & Figure chart is bullish with an $80 target.
FedEx Corp. - FDX - close: 63.10 change: -3.40 stop: 61.95
FDX ignored another 4.9% drop in oil and kept pace with the 5% sell-off in the S&P 500 instead. Shares of FDX are testing what should be very short-term support around $62.50. Readers have a choice to make.
Tomorrow morning is shaping up to be a very ugly open so we may not have many choices here. One choice is to exit immediately and try to cut our losses early. A second choice is to stick with the plan right now with our stop at $61.95 but given how after hours futures are shaping up I would bet on us being stopped out on an intraday spike early tomorrow. A third choice and not one I'm recommending would be to widen your stop with the expectation that tomorrow's intraday spike lower will be temporary and stocks will quickly bounce back. Where you widen your stop to would be up to you but at least under the $60.00 mark. Remember, I'm not recommending you widen your stop but it's an option.
We are not suggesting new positions at this time. We have two targets. Our first target is $68.85. Our second target is 73.00 or its 50-dma, whichever one FDX hits first. FYI: The Point & Figure chart is bullish with a $100 target.
Gilead Sciences - GILD - close: 44.45 change: +0.31 stop: 46.05
GILD actually gapped open lower this morning at $43.57. Our suggested entry point to buy puts was $43.65 so the play was open immediately. Unfortunately, GILD bounced back into the green showing a lot of relative strength on a very down day for the markets. We remain bearish but would wait for another drop under $44.00 or $43.65 before initiating new put positions.
We have two targets. Our first target is $40.25. Our second target is $37.50.
SPDR Gold ETF - GLD - close: 70.00 change: -2.05 stop: 75.01
GLD continues to slide following the breakout in the U.S. dollar. Today the GLD lost 2.8% and settled right at the $70.00 mark (equates to $700.00/ounce for gold). If we see a bounce a failed rally near $72.50-73.00 would be a new entry point for puts.
Our target is $65.25. More aggressive traders could aim lower.
Joy Global Inc. - JOYG - close: 23.55 change: -2.37 stop: 27.31
As expected JOYG broke support at $25.00. Shares hit our trigger to buy puts at $24.75. The stock ended the session down 9% and poised to drop toward $20.00.
Our target is $20.25. We'd be tempted to switch directions and buy calls on a test of or bounce from the $20.00 region.
Millicom Intl. - MICC - close: 34.06 change: -2.74 stop: 40.25*new*
MICC's sell-off continues. The stock lost another 7.4% and closed on its lows for the day, which is bearish for tomorrow. We are adjusting the stop loss to $40.25.
Our first target is $31.00. Our secondary target is $27.00.
Volatility Index - VIX - cls: 66.46 chg: + 5.02 stop: n/a
The action in the VIX today is bearish for the market and it's very bad for our put positions or if you sold any November calls. We've got four days left and I would not expect the VIX to close under 50.00 or its 50-dma before expiration. At this point it could be over 70.00 at expiration. If you sold short calls I would strongly consider buying them back right here and cutting your losses (if any).
We are not suggesting new positions in the VIX at this time.
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:
The highest spike in the VIX in history has ruined our chances for success with these put positions. Now after a sharp correction the VIX is climbing again. Our September 16th put position (suggested entry at 30.30) has a 25.50 target. In all honesty this position is dead. The September 29th position (suggested entry at 46.72) is also dead and had two targets at 36.00 and 31.00. Our October 8th position (entry 57.53) has two targets at 40.00 and 35.00. Right now we'd be happy with breakeven on the Oct. 8th position.
SPDR GOLD Trust - GLD - close: 70.00 change: -2.05 stop: n/a
The breakdown in gold prices continue and the GLD has settled at the $70.00 mark. We are not suggesting new strangle positions at this time.
We listed two strangles to take advantage of what appeared to be an imminent breakout, up or down, in gold prices.
The first strangle uses November options, which expire in two weeks. Thus it's much more risky. The second strangle uses December options.
What is a strangle?
CBOE Volatility Index - VIX - cls: 66.46 chg: + 5.02 stop: n/a
A bullish breakout in the VIX with just four days left before November VIX options expire is very unfortunate. Anything can happen in the next four days. We saw how quickly the VIX deflated in late October. However, at this point the VIX is climbing again.
If you opened new VIX spread positions in the last two weeks I would strongly consider exiting now and cutting your losses. Actually readers will want to consider cutting their losses on all positions listed below. I repeat, readers may want to exit any and all bearish VIX strategies, especially if you sold the overhead call that we initially listed as a hedge. Seriously, no one knows if the VIX will be trading at 45 or 80 by next Tuesday. There is a growing expectation that we might see a stock market spike lower tomorrow and then reverse higher marking another selling climax. This sort of move could produce a bearish reversal in the VIX but it's just speculation.
Please see the CBOE website for details on margin requirements for selling VIX options. Link:
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 #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.
Hypothetically we have sold the November 30 calls at $8.60 (credit). We bought the Nov. 50 calls for $1.61 (debit). Based on these numbers we would need the VIX to close under 37.00 for us to be profitable. If it closes higher than 37.00 then the intrinsic value of the Nov. 30 calls will be higher than what we paid for it and we'll have to come up with the difference. Example: if the VIX is at 40.00 another $1.40 will be taken out of our accounts when the VIX options are settled because the Nov. 30 call will be worth $10.00.
Now, if you sold the higher-strike call (Nov.50) when we discussed it a couple of weeks ago you could have gotten $9.00-11.00 for it. Let's say you got $10.00 for it. Now our "credit" to our account is $8.60 for the Nov. 30 calls and $8.39 ($10.00 for selling Nov. 50 call minus the $1.61 we paid for it) for a total income of $16.99. This gives us a much wider margin for error. With this scenario, the VIX would have to close over 47.00 before we lost any money.
Alternatively if you sold the Nov. 50 call around $5.00 then our breakeven point is a VIX settling at 42.00.
In a different format the play is:
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.
Hypothetically we have sold the November 35 calls at $14.00 (credit). We bought the Nov. 60 calls for $3.00 (debit). Based on these numbers we would need the VIX to close under 46.00 for us to be profitable. If it closes higher than 46.00 then the intrinsic value of the Nov. 35 calls will be higher than what we paid for it and we'll have to come up with the difference. Example: if the VIX is at 50.00 at settlement another $6.00 because the Nov. 35 call will be worth $20.00.
Now, if you sold the higher-strike call (Nov.60) when we discussed it a couple of weeks ago you could have gotten $5.50-6.50 for it. Let's say you got $6.00 for it. Now our "credit" to our account is $14.00 for the Nov. 35 calls and $3.00 ($6.00 for selling the Nov. 60 call minus the $3.00 we paid for it) for a total income of $17.00. This gives us a much wider margin for error. With this scenario, the VIX would have to close over 52.00 before we lost any money.
Alternatively if you sold the Nov. 50 call around $3.00 then our breakeven point is a VIX settling at 49.00.
In a different format the play is:
We are suggesting investors cover their short Nov. 50 call position (currently worth about $14.20).
Now, the next step is up to you. You could sell the long Nov. 65 call and lock in a loss of $5.55 (give or take). Or you can let the long Nov. 65 call position ride. If the VIX rises another 5 points then we might be able to recoup our losses. It's a gamble but the trend is in our favor.
Update: Currently we're down about $5.55 on this play.
Sold Nov.50 call (14.20 - 6.00) = $8.20 - Bought Nov.65 call (4.40 - 1.75)= $2.65 = $5.55 increase in short call value.
Since we're short the call, an increase in the Nov. 50 call's value is a loss for us offset by any gains in the Nov. 65 call.
We wanted to SELL the November 50 calls (11/10/08 opening price was $ 6.00) and BUY the November 65 (11/10/08 opening price was $1.75) as a hedge against the VIX remaining elevated. Our account will be credited with the amount for selling the November 50 calls, while the price paid for the 60 calls will be deducted.
In a different format the play is:
Bunge Ltd. - BG - close: 39.83 change: -3.67 stop: 40.49
The widespread market weakness was enough to push BG to an 8.4% sell-off. The stock broke technical support at its 10-dma and round-number support at $40.00. Shares hit our stop loss at $40.49 closing the play.
Nimble traders may want to switch to bearish positions if BG trades under $39.45 again.
ITT Educ. Services - ESI - close: 83.70 change: -3.47 stop: 83.95
Last night we wanted to reduce our risk so we raised the stop loss to $83.95. ESI followed the stock market lower today and hit our stop loss closing the play. The intermediate trend is still bullish for ESI. We'd keep an eye on it for another opportunity down the road.
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