Option Investor
Newsletter

Daily Newsletter, Saturday, 6/12/2010

Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

Paradigm Shift

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Last week saw a major paradigm shift in investor sentiment due to the sudden burst of good economic news from around the world. Maybe we are not headed off the cliff as analysts thought.

Market Statistics

The economic reports on Friday provided a mixed picture once again. The retail sales for May fell -1.2% after posting a +0.6% increase in April. Sales fell sharply at building materials stores (-9.3%) motor vehicles and parts (-1.7%) and gasoline stations (-3.3%). The furniture sector was the only real gainer at +1.0%. This was the first decline in total sales since September. The decline in the headline number was driven by that big decline in building materials. The decline in building materials was due to the April 30th deadline for the homebuyer tax credit.

The decline in all sectors pretty much confirms a lower forecast for the next couple months. Sales in early Q2 were very strong heading into that tax deadline and there is nothing on the horizon to boost sales again until the back to school surge. Until job losses begin to decline we are not likely to see sales rise.

Weekly jobless claims refuse to decline with 456,000 last week. Claims have hit a plateau at 450,000 per week with spikes to 475,000. This is not a sign of a strong economy. We need to see those claims decline to about 300,000 per week for job gains to stick.

Strangely, despite the high jobless claims the first reading of Consumer Sentiment for June rose to 75.5 and the highest level since January 2008. The present conditions and expectations components both rose +1.9 points. Consumers continue to complain they are depressed but sentiment is slowly creeping higher although it is still at normal recessionary levels. Survey respondents actually lowered their estimates for future inflation from 3.2% to 2.7%. On the positive side gasoline prices are not going up as they normally do this time of year.

Consumer Sentiment Chart

I pointed out a week or so ago that the Weekly Leading Index had collapsed. The predicted annualized growth rate is now -3.5% and this was the first week in negative territory since June 2009. This was the fifth weekly decline in the index and the growth rate and nine of the last ten weeks were declines. Continued weakness in the WLI suggests the recovery is in trouble.

Inventory replenishment was responsible for more than half of the GDP gains in prior quarters and that replenishment cycle has completed its initial rebound and should slow to a more normal trend. The main drag on the WLI and the economy will remain jobs. We are already getting estimates for the June jobs report and the numbers are coming in around a loss of 200,000 jobs.

Weekly Leading Index Chart

There are several major reports on the economic calendar for next week. The NAHB Housing Market Index on Monday should give us an idea how badly the housing market plunged when the tax credit expired. Nevada Senator Harry Reid is facing a tough reelection campaign and he said on Friday he will introduce a bill next week to extend the tax credit through September. This is aimed at people who are having trouble getting closed because banks are dragging their feet on short sales. It is unknown what criteria he will put on the bill and if he will reopen it for new purchases. You can bet other senators will want some of the vote getting fame that would come with another revision to the homebuyer tax credit.

The Producer Price Index and Consumer Price Index will be released and the Fed will be looking for signs of inflation OR deflation in the reports. The CPI is expected to decline another -0.2% and be right on the verge of deflationary. The producer price index is expected to decline by -0.5%.

These reports are a primary reason Bernanke and his ECB counterpart Jean Claude Trichet have pretty much confirmed interest rates are going to remain near zero for a long time. They would rather fight inflation than deflation and with Europe and the U.S. weakening there is no reason to raise rates.

The Philly Fed Manufacturing Survey is on Thursday and it has been rising slowly. Analysts will be looking to see if that trend can continue.

Economic Calendar

The FDIC closed Washington First International Bank in Seattle on Friday bringing the total of banks closed in 2010 to 82. Last year 140 banks were closed compared to 25 in 2008 and three in 2007. However, the FDIC said they expected the number of failing banks to top out in the third quarter.

BP can't get a break. The administration is ramping up its grandstanding attack on BP and trying to force BP to defer its pending dividend. The talk over a potential bankruptcy is increasing daily. Louisiana is already preparing a post BP bankruptcy plan to deal with the remaining cleanup. However, there are rumors that the Gulf States are going to pursue criminal claims if BP did file bankruptcy because criminal acts can't be limited in a bankruptcy.

President Obama talked with British Prime Minister David Cameron at 11:AM on Saturday to try to cool U.S.- U.K. tensions. The talk reportedly lasted 30 minutes and went well according to reports. Both leaders issued press releases that attempted to tone down the animosity. Obama reiterated that BP will be responsible for the cleanup and for compensating the tens of thousands of people who have lost money due to the spill.

The BP board is scheduled to meet on Monday to discuss whether or not to defer the 84-cent dividend. Millions of Britons depend on the BP dividend for income. It is the most widely held dividend paying stock in Britain.

The median estimate for the current oil flowing from the well is now 30,000 bpd. That would equate to a $130 million government fine PER DAY until the well is capped. Goldman Sachs is now claiming that the worst-case cost to BP for the cleanup could be in the range of $70 billion.

BP claims it will be able to capture up to 25,000 bpd sometime next week and up to 40,000 bpd by July. By all estimates this is a phenomenal well and it is a real shame BP will not get to produce it. The relief wells will kill it and BP claims they won't drill it again because it has run unchecked for too long and has probably ruined the long-term flow rate. However, I would not doubt that someone else will eventually acquire the lease from BP and eventually produce oil from this formation. There could be a huge bankruptcy sale in BP's future.

BP's CEO, Tony Hayward, is meeting with the president for a butt kicking session on Wednesday and testifying before Congress on Thursday. You can bet he is not looking forward to next week. This is going to be a media circus. The president will be making speeches about his meeting and lawmakers will be fighting for face time interrogating Hayward like starving mongrels over a piece of meat. The Hayward testimony will be the equivalent of a public flogging.

BP Chart - Weekly

The big news last week was the surge in business around the world. China reported a 50% surge in exports for May compared to May 2009. Imports surged +48%. Most analysts now believe China is growing somewhere around a 12% rate and even if they successfully slow the economy it may only drop back to 9%. If China's exports are surging so strongly then business much be good in the countries receiving those goods.

Brazil said its Q1 GDP roared at +9% and the highest GDP growth rate since the IBGE started tracking the GDP figures in 1995. It also was the fourth consecutive quarter of growth. Brazil's planning minister said the estimates for full year GDP growth had risen to 6%. Latin America is also on a growth spurt but somewhat less than Brazil's.

The BRIC countries plus Latin America account for more than 50% of the global GDP and India, China, Brazil and Latin America are all streaking ahead of the OECD countries like the U.S. and Europe.

The U.S. is still expected to grow by 3% for all of 2010 according to Bernanke last week. Europe is mixed but it still expected to break even or possibly show some growth despite the austerity measures in the weaker countries.

If more than half the global economy is surging at two to three times the rate of the OECD then the other half should not be able to retard the overall growth. This fact was echoed numerous times last week as various analysts repositioned their forecasts for the next year.

It was announced late Friday that port traffic in California is exploding. The Long Beach port reported incoming container traffic jumped +25% in May and empty containers heading back to Asia jumped by 35%. That is a positive sign because it suggests there is higher demand for empty containers in Asia. The Los Angeles port saw a 20% jump in import traffic and a 58% jump in empty outgoing containers. Exports jumped by 15%. More than 40% of all U.S. imported products come through the LA port.

These numbers are very positive indicators of U.S. consumption and goods trafficking. You may remember back in 2008 I reported that the U.S. railroads had sidelined thousands of container cars for lack of traffic. New Mexico and Arizona looked like a railroad parking lot with every siding full of parked container cars being stored until business returned.

The order cycle is several months long. Retailers have been placing orders for several months for goods that will be sold during the 2010 holiday season. A spokesman for the port of Los Angeles said the ships coming in now are larger than in the past and they are arriving full. The May numbers were the second best ever and eclipsed only by May 2006 at the height of the global economic boom. The LA port processed 502,792 containers in May. Year to date the port has processed 2.9 million containers with 2.3 million going through Long Beach. Those numbers alone stagger the imagination and the biggest volume period is still ahead.

I was impressed that the market held its ground all day on Friday and even recovered from the opening dip. The indexes traded mixed to negative most of the day until the minor short covering spike at the close. After the big short squeeze on Thursday I expected at least a little give back on Friday. Instead of a retracement the Dow used 10,120 as support and after the opening dip it never varied.

However, the volume was the lightest day since April 5th. Only slightly more than seven billion shares changed hands. The Thursday short squeeze just barely ticked over nine billion shares. The extraordinarily low volume on the rally days is a non-confirmation of the moves. The heavier volume on the down days is a confirmation of that trend. Tuesday's decline came on 11.3 billion shares. However, overall the volume in general has been declining the last couple weeks as summer vacations take traders away from the market.

Next Friday is a quadruple witching expiration and much of the volatility last week could have been related to position squaring after a month in a down market. Normally the volatility is in the week before expiration but there could still be plenty left for next week.

I went into this commentary with a change in heart. I was shedding my bearish fur and contemplating a switch to a bullish bias. However, as I warned last week, any rebound off the lows that failed to more over SPX 1105 was just another range bound week. We need a break above that resistance before we can start turning bullish.

I do want to emphasize that the news from China, Brazil, Latin America and the California ports is bullish. Offsetting that bullish uptick in news is the summer doldrums, low volume and the lack of a compelling reason to be long. I do believe that we are approaching the point where conditions will change. Earnings are expected to be good although the comparisons are going to start getting a lot harder. We have not had that many warnings but we are just moving into that part of the cycle.

The U.S. economy is experiencing signs of stress but not yet in full retreat unless of course you look at the Weekly Leading Indicators. To put it bluntly the U.S. recovery is struggling but the patient is expected to survive.

I sat down at noon on Friday to write this with an improved bias. By midnight I had received several dozen emails from my normal subscription list and from readers and other editors. Every single one was bearish. One from Mark Steele, BMO Capital Markets head of quantitative and technical research was headed "Go To Cash." He advocated exiting any equity positions and going to cash. His rationale was based on the worsening of the global credit markets and the sovereign debt crisis being far from over.

The SocGen head of global strategy, Albert Edwards, called for the resumption of the structural bear market. He pointed to the decline in the Weekly Leading Indicators as evidence of a big economic decline ahead. Glad to see I am not the only one to use that report.

Richard Russell, editor of the Dow Theory Letters was adamant that readers get out of stocks. Woody Dorsey's proprietary sentiment indicators have fallen to a measly 1% compared to the 100% reading in April.

Now we can take all this bearishness as a sign the market is about to decline significantly to at least a 20% dip around 975 on the S&P or we can take it as a sign that maximum bearishness is the sign of a market bottom.

Unfortunately there is a third option. The excitement over the Q2 earnings may not be strong enough to rescue us from the summer doldrums but may be just enough to trick a few investors back into the market. That plus the relatively bullish global news could break us out of our recent range but fall short of producing a real rally.

I realize this creates an investing conundrum. How do we manage our plays when the outlook is so mixed? In this environment we have to fall back to the simple technical indicators because the fundamentals are skewed by the politics of the financial reform bill, debt crisis and politics. Jobs in July are going to be ugly but will be explained way as census terminations and the regular summer slump.

To escape this whirlpool of conflicts we simply need to watch the S&P 500. If it moves over the 200-day average at 1107 we enter long plays. If the S&P moves back below 1100 we enter short plays. It sounds absurdly simple and the devil is always in the details.

The markets are oversold even after the Thursday short squeeze. Sentiment is extremely negative. If we were to see some event push the S&P over 1107 the short squeeze would be much stronger and could last for several days.

I am not looking for a long-term rally but a move over 1107 could last for several days to several weeks depending on the news events. The S&P tested support at 1050 three times in 2010. The last test on Tuesday produced a decent bounce that overcame additional selling on Wednesday. This is the cheese in the trap. Millions of traders are eyeing that cheese and wishing they had the guts to have bought that Tuesday dip but they didn't. When/If the S&P moves over 1107 they will remember a week of wishing they had bought the dip and then jump on the breakout to avoid a second missed opportunity. At least that is my theory and I am sticking with it.

Should that happen we would probably stall somewhere under 1150 and then chop around for the rest of the summer. Personally I am not worried about the rest of the summer but just getting past the next couple of weeks. That makes our task easy. We buy the breakout over 1107 and short a failure at 1100. Let the high paid analysts bet their jobs on the market direction. We will just trade what it gives us.

S&P-500 Chart - 90 Min

S&P-500 Chart - Daily

The Dow also has a clearly defined resistance battle ahead at 10,220-10,260. The 200-day is slightly higher at 10,310 and the 50% retracement level of the March lows at 10340. The first problem is what I will call the 10250 wall. Rather than discussing the 220-260 level repeatedly I am going to call it 250 and forget it. With only 30 stocks in the Dow the potential for random spikes and dips prevents being very specific on support and resistance levels.

If the Dow moves over the 10,250 barrier it may stumble at the 200-day but the Dow is not normally moving average reactive. There may be some hesitancy when it crosses averages but the spikes in the individual stocks is much more a factor so don't get frustrated watching moving averages on the Dow.

If the Dow moves over 10,250 we could see some short covering. The Caterpillar CEO was on CNBC on Friday and saying positive things about the global economy but negative things about U.S. politics and its impact on business. He believes the global economy will prevail and sees a strong recovery in progress.

On the support side we have 10,120 from Friday and 9800 from last week's lows.

Dow Chart

The Nasdaq has been lagging the broader market but the pattern was the same last week. Tech traders seem to be focusing on only a handful of stocks and ignoring the rest. Support at 2140 was tested twice and a couple upgrades on the chip stocks helped prevent a meltdown. Apple's post announcement slide was erased by the Thursday short covering and the short squeeze in the last 15 minutes of trading on Friday.

I am not bullish on the Nasdaq today. Resistance is 2275-2300 and several tech stocks have warned on earnings. I suspect techs are going to lag any breakout by the S&P.

Nasdaq Chart

The Russell lagged the other indexes last week and that is not a bullish sign. We saw some sharp drops when the markets were weak and the RUT appeared to be headed for 600 but never made it. Resistance at 650 tends to get lost in the shuffle with the real resistance at 670. Support is 620 but that was broken twice last week.

Russell 2000 Chart

In summary I started out this commentary with a slightly more bullish mindset and without the dozens of bearish emails I probably would have kept that view. The global economy is improving without us and should eventually drag us kicking and screaming into a full-blown recovery by late 2011. That may not help our markets next week since that view is long term and the market is struggling to get by day to day.

We could have enough momentum to manage a breakout over S&P 1107 but I did not see it in the volume. Gains on two-month lows in volume tend to be lipstick on a pig rather than the real pinup girl.

I recommend putting on the blinders and ignoring the news and focusing on the charts. If we move over 1107 I would go long for a trade. If we fail at 1100 I would think about going short. That keeps our life simple and carefree and does not keep you up at night trying to sort through all the global economics and geopolitical mess.

Jim Brown


Index Wrap

Double Bottom as Bullishness Wanes

by Leigh Stevens

Click here to email Leigh Stevens
THE BOTTOM LINE:

To be bullish on this recent rally, one excess that needed to be dampened was persistent and high (and unrealistic in most markets) bullish sentiment. A moderation of bullish expectations on the recent rally, coupled with the double bottom low, suggests more upside to come.

This past week went pretty much as expected with the prior lows holding as support and the "W" bottom pattern that got traced out; as highlighted on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite charts. The subsequent rally off the recent bottom has now some important emerging bullish aspects as of the Fri, 6/11 close:

Nasdaq back above 200-day average; the Composite (COMP) on Friday and the Nas 100 (NDX) and Russell 2000 (RUT) on Thursday.

The S&P 500 (SPX), 100 (OEX) and the Dow 30 (INDU) closed above their late-April to early June down trendlines.

To gain perspective it should be noted that, relative to its March 2009-April 2010 run up, SPX has so far just retraced 33% of this prior advance. An even more 'shallow' retracement to date is seen with the Nasdaq Composite. In strong or dominant trends, corrections are rarely more than a quarter to a third, or to the well-known fibonacci 38%, of the prior advance. Assuming the line of prior lows holds up, a shallow correction such as we're seeing to date in terms of the primary trend is an indirect suggestion that the correction has likely run its course and the next significant leg will be up. This is not to say that we won't continue to see periods of intense volatility as summer heats up, including failed rally attempts. Near support is seen in the 1075 area and now more than ever, major support comes in around 1040.

Another decline might also 'set up' an oversold RSI (seen above) as measured on a 2-month/8-week basis for SPX. That would then be an optimal time to buy in addition to anything bought at the recent double bottom. (As always in buying at 'assumed bottoms', exit points for trades should be at or near recent lows.)

Only 10, a third, of the 30 Dow stocks are trading above their 200-day moving averages, a couple just recently regaining life above this important 'benchmark'. Still, these 10 are the ones that big fund managers will tend to buy and that buying will help pull up still other Dow stocks and beyond just the INDU 30.

MAJOR STOCK INDEX TECHNICAL COMMENTARIES

S&P 500 (SPX); DAILY CHART:

While no confirmed chart reversal is seen until/unless the S&P 500 (SPX) gets back above 1100, the index has had an initial bullish breakout above its current down trendline as highlighted on the daily chart below.

Per what I what last week: "We can assess the upside 'breakout' point as being at this trendline, as well as in the area of the 200-day moving average." Check on piercing the trendline. The 200-day average is another story and as highlighted below, an area of possible resistance at 1108 currently.

On the last sell off, support/buying interest resurfaced in the 1040 area. The pattern now takes on a bullish "W" bottom shape. Near support is seen now in the 1075 area and more than ever, major support comes in around 1040.

Near resistance is at 1100, extending up to 1108. Fairly major resistance begins at 1150 and extends to the 1170 area.

MARKET SENTIMENT:

As I noted in my initial 'bottom line' comments, the recent moderation or drop in bullish sentiment readings now 'supports' a bullish double bottom chart interpretation here. Even though a technical indicator, which is derived from price action, can't be a primary signal for trade action, it can add to or subtract from what the chart pattern suggests.

The see-sawing back and forth during Friday's session no doubt led to more put buying than if the rally had simply continued from early trade. Still, the fact that bullishness doesn't immediately shoot up during a rally off a prior low, suggests that the market is ready to do better on the upside.

S&P 100 (OEX) INDEX; DAILY CHART

The S&P 100 (OEX) chart has to be rated bearish until/unless OEX pierces its prior 501 high. (There's then a next rally high on the chain for OEX to climb). However, the exact double bottom low traced out to date, in an oversold market, suggests that the OEX can continue to recoup more of its recent steep decline dating from late-April high into the recent twin bottoms.

From last week: "No possibility for a V shaped bottom any longer and it may end up looking a 'W'..." and "I'm not currently looking for a new down leg in an oversold market." Sometimes you're reading the unfolding pattern correctly, sometimes not. Mostly, you can bet on the upside as soon as a double bottom forms in an oversold market. Not only is the upside potential substantial, it is especially substantial in terms of the dollar risk for trade exit just under a second double bottom low. This means actually placing (whenever possible) an exiting 'stop' exit order or adhering to your exit point on a manual order-entry basis. Near support is seen in the 1075 area and now more than ever, major support comes in around 1040.

We'll see where this rally goes. Resistance remains potentially quite stubborn in the 500 area, extending to 510. Ability to trade back above its 200-day moving average at 510 would be another 'confirming' sign of renewed upside momentum.

Near support is suggested at the (previously pierced) down trendline, currently intersecting at 487. Significant support is anticipated on any further dips toward 480, extending to the area of the twin intraday lows at 473.

DOW 30 (INDU) AVERAGE; DAILY CHART:

As I noted about the Dow 30 (INDU) Average in my initial general comments, only 10 stocks or a third of the INDU (as of the Friday 6/11 close) are trading above their 200-day averages; however, the most recent rebound brings this up from 8.

Fund managers will tend to do their initial buying in a recovery rally within the stocks leading the pack before a correction and holding up best DURING the correction. In this case we can anticipate further buying interest in AXP, BA, CAT, DD, DIS, HD, IBM, KFT, MCD and PG.

As anticipated, significant buying interest surfaced this past week around 9800 and where expected in terms of the prior bottom. This kind of predication has more solid footing in an oversold market. By week's end INDU was back above 10000 thereby giving market mavens big talking points. While I may have pooh-poohed the technical importance of 10000, the psychological importance of a big round number like this is important for 'mood' and reassurance that the sky isn't falling.

Pivotal resistance remains the 10260 to 10325 area. A close above 10300 should help keep this recent rally going.

Near support is noted on my Dow chart at the previously penetrated down trendline, intersecting currently at 10040. Major support remains 9800. Last week I suggested that Dow Index calls RISK protection was an exit at INDU 9800. More than 'my bad' to have not made clear this as an exit on a close below 9800, where major technical support was indicated.

NASDAQ COMPOSITE (COMP) INDEX, DAILY CHART:

The Nasdaq Composite (COMP) Index has completed the other side of what looks to be a "W" bottom. Last week I was anticipating significant support (again) in COMP on dips to the 2150 area; more so at major support at 2100. The bulls have more choppy ground ahead no doubt but I wouldn't bet against tech just in here or going forward.

Key resistance is 2250, at the down trendline and 21-day average. Next pivotal resistance is 2300. Friday's close put COMP back above its 200-day moving average and a fair gauge of the longer-term trend.

Near support, 2192-2200, with major support in the 2140 area. The early-February dip to 2100 was short-lived.

Bullish sentiment, as I discussed in my SPX commentary, has been what I was thinking was 'stubborningly' high, at least in terms of expecting a bottom. Bullishness, per the fluctuations of my 'CPRATIO' indicator, finally moderated this past week as our last rebound was not accompanied by a similar jump in call activity. The bulls may be cowed and subdued for awhile. The longer they are (cowed), the 'better' to see our recent rally extending to another challenge of the 2300 area, perhaps beyond.

NASDAQ 100 (NDX) DAILY CHART:

After this last dip under 1800, the Nasdaq 100 (NDX) had a good-sized rebound from a 1770 low; a low that was above the prior intraday low at 1756. That low in turn was above the 'flash' wind down of early-May (5/6). Hey, definition of an UPtrend is exactly that of reaction lows being successively higher on a rally that is strong technically. So far so good, but technical resistance at the down trendline remains a key test ahead. Crossing above the 200-day average on Thursday was a bullish plus; more important technically is what happens at the trendline. Consequently, I've noted first key resistance on my NDX chart at 1857. An even more pivotal resistance is apparent at 1900. Based on the pattern I'm seeing, NDX could easily see another run to 1900 or more.

Near support is 1800, extending to 1770, then 1750.

NASDAQ 100 TRACKING STOCK (QQQQ); DAILY CHART:

The chart pattern suggests some potential for a move back above 45.8-46.0 resistance. The next key test would be for QQQQ to retest its prior 46.8 top. Trendline resistance seen at 45.8 is the immediate pivotal resistance; more so from an overall chart perspective is any successful (or not) retest of the Q's prior upswing high at 46.8.

Pivotal support is 44, extending to 43.6.

This most recent rally was not accompanied by a volume surge, which suggests continued caution in buying and typical for the NDX tracking stock; e.g., volume surges tend to come on holders of the stock bailing on big price breaks.

RUSSELL 2000 (RUT) DAILY CHART:

The Russell 2000 (RUT) has seen a snappy come back rally this past week from a sell off that took the index close to 600. I'll be a mild bullish believer with a continuation of this recent rebound that carries above RUT's down trendline at 652. Next major technical resistance then is at 670-675 and what would put RUT back in the area of its previously broken up trendline dating from 2009 lows.

RUT cleared resistance pegged at its 200-day moving average this past Thursday, then found support right at this line the next day (Friday, 6/11) and tacked on more gains, suggesting continued long-term investor interest given levels that start to look 'cheap'.

I've noted support at 620, extending to the recent 607 low.



GOOD TRADING SUCCESS!



NOTES ON MY TRADING GUIDELINES AND SUGGESTIONS

CHART MARKINGS:

1. Technical support or areas of likely buying interest and highlighted with green up arrows.

2. Resistance or areas of likely selling interest and notated by the use of red down arrows.

I WRITE ABOUT:

3. Index price areas where I have a bullish bias or interest in buying index calls, selling puts or other bullish strategies.

4. Price levels where I suggest buying index puts or adopting other bearish option strategies.

5. Bullish or Bearish trader sentiment and display the graph of a CBOE daily call to put volume ratio for equities only (CPRATIO) with the S&P 100 (OEX) chart. However, this indicator pertains to the market as a whole, not just OEX. I divide calls BY puts rather than the reverse (i.e., the put/call ratio). In my indicator a LOW reading is bullish and a HIGH reading bearish, consistent with other overbought/oversold indicators.

Trading suggestions are based on Index levels, not a specific option (month and strike price) and entry price for that option. My outlook often focuses on the intermediate-term trend (next few weeks) rather than the next several days of the short-term trend.

Having at least 3-4 weeks to expiration tends to be my guideline for trade entry choice. I attempt to pick only what I consider to be 'high-potential' trades; e.g., a defined risk point would equal in points only 1/3 or less of the index price target.

I tend to favor At The Money (ATM), In The Money (ITM) or only slightly Out of The Money (OTM) strike prices so that premium levels are not as cheap as would otherwise be the case, which helps in not overtrading an account. Exit or stop points, as well as projected profitable index price targets, are based on my technical analysis of the underlying indexes.


New Option Plays

Let's Give the Retail Sector One More Try

by Scott Hawes

Click here to email Scott Hawes


NEW DIRECTIONAL PUT PLAYS

Home Depot - HD - close 32.22 change -0.50 stop 33.65

Company Description:
The Home Depot, Inc. is a home improvement retailer. The Home Depot stores sell an assortment of building materials, home improvement and lawn and garden products and provide a number of services. The Home Depot stores average approximately 105,000 square feet of enclosed space, with approximately 24,000 additional square feet of outside garden area. As of January 31, 2010, it had 2,244 The Home Depot stores located throughout the United States, including the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the territories of the United States Virgin Islands and Guam (U.S.), Canada, China and Mexico.

Target(s): 31.35, 30.10
Key Support/Resistance Areas: 33.25, 32.90, 32.15, 31.25, 29.95
Time Frame: 1 to 2 weeks

Why We Like It:
I'm going to give the retail sector one more shot. HD is struggling to get through resistance and a congestion area in the $32.15 to $32.90 area. There is also a downtrend line just overhead. $32.65 provides an ideal entry point and I expect HD to retest its recent lows and possibly even make a trip down to its 200-day SMA. We'll use an initial stop at $33.65 which is above the declining 20-day SMA. A tighter stop could be placed at $33.05 which would get you out of the trade if HD begins to fill the gap lower from 6/3 to 6/4.

Suggested Position: Buy July $32.00 PUTS if HD trades up near $32.65, current ask $1.50, estimated ask at entry $1.25.

Annotated chart:

Entry on June xx
Earnings 8/18/2010 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 23 million
Listed on June 12, 2010


In Play Updates and Reviews

PBR, ALTR Closed

by Scott Hawes

Click here to email Scott Hawes
Current Portfolio:


CALL Play Updates

Direct TV - DTV - close 38.47 change -0.08 stop 35.70

Target(s): 38.20, 38.50, 39.50, 41.50
Key Support/Resistance Areas: 38.60, 37.00, 36.30
Current Gain/Loss: N/A
Time Frame: Several weeks
New Positions: Waiting to be triggered

Comments:
I am keeping the set-up on this trade the same and waiting for the stock to trade near its 50-day SMA prior to entering. It has to trade down there and we will be ready to pounce on the stock when it does. The 50-day SMA is currently $36.70 and it is rising but placing an order slightly above this is suggested.

Suggested Position: Buy July $37.00 CALL if DTV trades down near $36.80 which is just above its 50-day SMA, current ask $2.24, estimated ask at entry $1.40

Annotated chart:

Entry on June xx
Earnings Date 8/5/10 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 12.3 million
Listed on 6/5/10


Qualcomm Inc - QCOM - close 35.36 change +0.33 stop 34.20

Target(s): 20-day SMA, 36.00, 36.45 (hit), 36.75, 38.00, 38.95
Key Support/Resistance Areas: 37.50, 37.00, 36.25, 35.25, 34.50
Current Gain/Loss: -12%
Time Frame: 1 to 2 weeks
New Positions: No

Comments:
QCOM is finally showing some life here and is above its long term support line in the $35.00 to $35.25 area. My exit strategy remains the same. I expect QCOM to at least trade up to its 20-day SMA which is about $35.70. This should create a small winner and is good place to tighten stops to see if we can get more out the stock. I've also listed $36.00 as a possible target which near many of the stock's closing prices in late May.

Current Position: July $36.00 CALL, entry at $1.30

Annotated chart:

Entry on 6/1/2010
Earnings Date 7/21/2010 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 26 million
Listed on 5/29/10


Quest Software - QSFT - close 19.35 change +0.59 stop 18.58

Target(s): 19.50, 20.00, 20.50, 21.00
Key Support/Resistance Areas: 18.40, 18.70, 19.36, 20-day SMA, 50-day SMA
Current Gain/Loss: -29%
Time Frame: Several weeks
New Positions: Yes

Comments:
QSFT is gaining momentum and I expect it to hit our target(s) this week. I have adjusted our first target to $19.50. I can't figure out why the July $20 call option has lost money when the stock has gained in value. The delta is .41 which means that for every price move in the underlying stock the price of the option should move at a rate of 41% of the move. So if QSFT gained 50 cents the price of the option would increase by about 20 cents, or about +24% of our entry price. I suspect the volatility has been sucked out of the premium we paid. I doubt it has to do with time decay because there are still 5 weeks left until July expiry. In any event, if the volatility is decreasing in the stock it should bode well for another push higher this week. I suggest selling into further strength this week or tighten stops to protect any profits. A tighter stop could be placed $18.90.

Current Position: July $20.00 CALL, entry at $0.85

Annotated chart:

Entry on June 7, 2010
Earnings Date 8/10/10 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 1.9 million
Listed on 6/2/10


PUT Play Updates

Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold - FCX - close 64.93 change +0.57 stop 68.80

Target(s): 58.30, 55.20, 52.10
Key Support/Resistance Areas: 66.00, 65.00, 64.00, 58.00, 55.00, 52.00
Current Gain/Loss: -4.2%
Time Frame: 1 weeks
New Positions: Yes

Why We Like It:
FCX traded up to our entry at $65.00. There is formidable resistance in the $65 to $66 area that I think may act as a stone wall for FCX to continue its down move. The stock's 20-day SMA is just overhead along with the a downtrend line that has been intact since the April highs. I view this trade as aggressive and quick so proper position size should be used to limit risk. I am also choosing an out of the money option to limit capital at risk.

Current Position: July $60.00 PUT, entry was at $2.38

Annotated chart:

Entry on June xx
Earnings 7/21/2010 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 19 million
Listed on June 10, 2010


SPDR S&P 500 ETF - SPY - close 109.68 change +0.53 stop 112.10

Target(s): 107.50, 105.00, 103.50, 102.25
Key Support/Resistance Areas: 111.00, 110.00, 109.00, 108.00
Current Gain/Loss: -9.3%
Time Frame: 1 to 2 weeks
New Positions: Yes

Comments:
We are now long July SPY $109 puts. The stock closed above its 20-day SMA which was providing resistance most of the day on Friday up until the late afternoon surge higher. There is still plenty of resistance overhead at 110.00 and 111.00 which is the 200-day SMA. I have listed a another target of 107.50 for readers looking for a quicker exit. And I have adjusted the stop up 60 cents to account for a possible gap fill if SPY makes it through 111.00.

Current Position: July $109.00 PUTS, entry was at $3.75

Annotated chart:

Entry on June xx
Earnings N/A (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 340 million
Listed on June 10, 2010


Toronto Dominion Bank - TD - close 68.20 change +0.18 stop 69.90

Target(s): 65.60, 64.50, 62.20, 60.50
Key Support/Resistance Areas: 69.15, 68.00, 66.50, 65.60, 64.50, 63.00
Current Gain/Loss: -23.6%
Time Frame: 1 to 2 weeks
New Positions: Yes, but preferably on bounces

Comments:
TD was in the in the red most of the day until the late afternoon surge. The stock is sitting near its 20-day and 100-day SMA's and two downtrend lines. I am expect these to hold and the stock to move lower with the broader market this week. I've listed a higher target of $65.60 which is just above the stocks lowest close since February. This is logical place to tighten stops.

Current Position: July $65.00 PUT, entry was at $1.90

Annotated chart:

Entry on June 9, 2010
Earnings 9/2/2010 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 1.4 million
Listed on June 8, 2010


CLOSED BULLISH PLAYS

Petroleo Brasileiro SA - PBR - close 38.32 change -0.25 stop 37.65

Target(s): 38.50 (HIT), 39.25, 39.95
Key Support/Resistance Areas: 37.45, 36.25
Final Gain/Loss: +23.4%
Time Frame: 1 week
New Positions: Closed

Comments:
We closed PBR when at our target of $38.50 which was also hit on Thursday. We are flat the position for a +23.4% gain. For readers who still have positions the above targets, stop, and support/resistance areas can be used as a guide to protect profits. PBR may have some room to run here but I would rather take the profit than be surprised with a gap down in the market that could wipe out profits.

Closed Position: July $37.00 CALL at $2.95, entry was at $2.39

Annotated chart:

Entry on June 9, 2010
Earnings Date 8/13/10 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 19.6 million
Listed on 6/8/10


CLOSED BEARISH PLAYS

Altera Corp - ALTR - close 24.38 change +0.81 stop 24.25

Target(s): 23.15, 22.60
Key Support/Resistance Areas: 24.15, 23.80, 23.15
Final Gain/Loss: -11.7% Time Frame: 1 to 2 weeks

Comments:
The head and shoulders pattern on ALTR failed and the stock ran right up through our stop. So we are right out of the trade as instructed in the play release. Considering the immense strength in ALTR on Friday morning positions really should not have been opened. It was apparent the pattern was going to fail in the first 30 minutes of trading. For any readers who have positions I suggest placing a stop above the opening range on Monday and see if ALTR reverses. There is resistance right where the stock closed and it could be forming a double top with the highs from 6/3 and 6/4 and is also approaching its 50-day SMA from below. I actually like the short set-up here with a tight stop at $23.75 which is above the 50-day SMA. In hindsight we probably should have waited for ALTR to reach its 50-day SMA and then entered a short position but I saw the head shoulders pattern and was anticipating a move lower off of the right shoulder. I've provided an hourly chart for illustration.

Closed Position: July $25.00 PUTS @ $1.50, entry was at $1.70

Annotated chart:

Entry on June 11, 2010
Earnings 7/20/2010 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 9.7 million
Listed on June 10, 2010