Option Investor
Newsletter

Daily Newsletter, Saturday, 3/9/2013

Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

Momentum Train Rolling

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

The Dow closed at another new high and posted gains all five days for the first time since September 2011.

Market Statistics

The biggest economic news on Friday was the Nonfarm Payroll report for February. The headline number showed a gain of +236,000 jobs compared to estimates for a gain of +160,000. This was a major surprise and the Dow spiked +88 points at the open but that spike was short lived once the details bubbled to the surface.

The headline number for January was revised lower by -38,000 to +119,000. That makes January the lowest number of job gains since June 2012. However, December was revised higher by +23,000 to 219,000. That raises the monthly average for the last six months to +187,000 jobs. It would take more than five-years of job gains at that rate to make any significant impact on the 12 million people currently unemployed and the 150,000 new workers entering the workforce every month.

The unemployment rate declined to 7.7% because of a drop in the labor force participation rate (LFPR) not because of a surge in hiring. The labor force declined by -130,000 and the participation rate declined -0.01% to 63.5%. That is the lowest LFPR since 1981. If the LFPR was at the same level as it was at the end of the recession in January 2009 (65.6%) the unemployment rate today would be 11.4% not 7.7%. Unemployment for blacks is 13.8%, Hispanics 9.7%, teenagers 23.4% and black teenagers 37.8%. The U6 unemployment rate is 14.4%. That is everyone out of work who would take a job and those working part time because they can't find a full time job.

Those not in the labor force rose by +296,000 to 89.304 million. Millions of workers have been deemed to have dropped out of the workforce because they have been unemployed for more than two years. Are they out of the workforce or just unemployed? The government says they dropped out because politicians have changed the calculations over the years to make the numbers look better.

Since the recession the employment age population has increased by more than 12 million. However, there are 3 million fewer people working today than four years ago. There is something wrong with this picture when the official employment report does not accurately reflect those numbers.

The most telling number was the increase in the number of people employed part time because they can't find a full time job. That number rose by +446,000 to 7.988 million or 10.1%, up from 9.6% in January. There are fewer people working full time today than in February 2012. This is Obamacare at work. Under the Affordable Care Act anyone working at least 30 hours is considered full time and companies have to pay medical benefits. As a result full time workers are declining and part time workers rising as employers adjust their workforce.

Gallup Part Time Workers Chart

This means the number of people forced to work two jobs to make ends meet is rising and is now at the highest level since the recession. Basically people are being forced to work more for less money and no benefits.

Here is the kicker. These people are being counted TWICE in the monthly Nonfarm Payrolls number because they have TWO jobs. The BLS data is wrong when you consider the bigger picture.

Multiple Job Holder Chart

Since the recession the number of people in poverty has risen by +31% to 49.7 million and the number of people on food stamps has risen 80% to 47.7 million.

Analysts were praising the stronger than expected jobs report but that is just one metric in an overall picture that is growing progressively weaker.

The recent sequestration that went into effect on March 1st will impact employment. A study called the "Economic Impact of the Budget Control Act of 2011 on DOD and Non-DOD Agencies" claimed there were 2.14 million jobs at risk from the forced spending cuts. The study claims 48,059 jobs in healthcare, 98,953 in construction, 473,250 in manufacturing and 617,449 federal jobs were at risk. Obviously not all of those jobs will be lost but there will be job losses. Moody's believes the job gains over the next couple of quarters will decline to average only +135,000 as a result of sequestration. I believe that is optimistic.

I am glad to see a better than expected jobs report but we need about 20-30 more in the +250,000 range or higher to make any real difference in the outlook. Remember, one month does not make a trend.

Payroll Chart

The economic calendar for next week is lacking any major reports. The retail sales for February could be a speed bump but I doubt it. The Teflon market has been shaking off any weak economic headlines. The PPI and CPI will be scrutinized for their inflation component but other than food and energy there is no inflation and the government does not count food and energy.

The big event, especially after the better than expected jobs report, is the FOMC meeting the following week.

Economic Calendar

Within minutes of the payroll announcement the debate began on how much longer the Fed would continue the QE program given the stronger jobs numbers. I believe if you read my comments above you understand the economy is only slightly improving despite the better than expected headline number. The Fed is not going to change its QE position in the near future. Bernanke, Yellen and Bullard have said this in speeches over the last two weeks. Regardless of the Fed claims the analysts are going to continue to debate the end of QE until after the FOMC meeting. As we saw two weeks ago this debate can significantly impact the market. Hopefully the recent claims by Bernanke, Yellen and Bullard will be enough to lessen the impact on the market until after the FOMC meeting.

On Friday North Korea cancelled the nonaggression pact between the North and South that officially ended the Korean War in 1953. Kim Jong Un told his troops to "prepare for war." The cancellation of the armistice agreement means the countries are back in a state of war. There are reports North Korea has suddenly begin to camouflage both military and civilian trucks and facilities. The Korean Central News Agency released the country's official statement saying

"Now that the U.S. is set to light a fuse for nuclear war, the revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK will exercise the right to a preemptive nuclear attack to destroy the stronghold of the aggressors and to defend the supreme interests of the country." North korean general, Kang Pyo Yong, said the country had "placed its long-range nuclear tipped missiles on standby." (That is total BS since all military analysts agree they don't have any nuclear missiles, but they are working on them.)

Nobody actually expects North Korea to nuke something but there is a good possibility they will attack something with conventional weapons in order to stress their preparedness. The entire gambit is thought to be a play to get bigger concessions in the next rounds of disarmament talks. However, the new leader may be impressed with himself and trying to flex his muscles to demand more respect. That means we could see a military incident at any time. North Korea did not need to cancel the armistice to attack the South. In 2010 they torpedoed the South Korean ship Cheonan killing 46. Eight months later they shelled South Korea's Yeonpyeong island killing 4 and last year they launched missiles over South Korean territory.

On Thursday the UN Security Council unanimously voted for new sanctions because of the latest nuclear weapon test. The new sanctions require UN member states to stop any North Korean ship or plane suspected of carrying supplies for weapons programs. We could wake up on Monday to an entirely new headline roiling the market.

I would bet that the vast majority of investors did not even see or hear any news on Italy last week. They dropped off the radar and off the investor wall of worry. Fitch cut its rating on Italy on Friday morning from A- to BBB+ saying the inconclusive election could lead to further problems. In the election former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi ended up with a blocking minority in the Senate but he will have to manage his minority from jail. On Friday a Milan court sentenced him to one-year in jail on wire-tap charges. He is currently appealing another conviction on tax fraud and the 76 year-old is also defending himself in another case for sex with an under aged prostitute. I believe the various headlines surrounding all the Italian candidates have pushed the election results well out of the investor news cycle.

In stock news the Fed said late Thursday that 17 of 18 large banks had passed the 2013 stress tests. The tests included things like a 50% drop in stock price and the associated impact on the bank's capital base. Also included was an increase in unemployment to 12%, a -5% decline in GDP growth and a -20% drop in real estate prices. The Fed said the combined losses from the top 18 banks would be $462 billion across the nine quarters of the stress test scenario. Tier 1 capital across all the banks would decline from 11.1% to 7.7% by the fourth quarter of 2014. They must stay above the 5% mandated level in the Dodd Frank Act.

Under the stress scenario Citigroup (Nyse:C) would see its tier 1 capital fall from 12.7% to 8.3% according to the test results. Bank of America would see capital decline from 11.41% to 6.8%. JP Morgan would decline from 10.4% to 6.3%. Wells Fargo would decline from 9.9% to 7.0%. Goldman Sachs would decline to 5.8% according to the Fed. Ally Bank would decline to 1.5% and they were the only bank to fail the stress test.

Goldman Sachs disagreed with the Fed on the test saying they believed their tier 1 capital would only decline to 8.6% compared to the Fed's 5.8% estimate. The Fed said if a bank came in with a higher estimate than the Fed then they were at risk of failure for being too optimistic. Analysts said the Fed would push back on those banks and try to force them to be more conservative. Goldman was expected to have asked for approval of a $5 billion buyback. JP Morgan was expected to ask for a $15 billion buyback and a dividend increase. The Fed will release its approvals for the various capital plans next week. Goldman shares were the biggest loser with a -$3.64 drop on the expectations for denial of their capital plans. Investors should be thrilled with Goldman's performance over the last three months so a $3 decline is nothing.

Goldman Sachs Chart

Pandora (P) spiked +18% to $13.79 after reporting earnings that rose +54%. The company posted a 4 cent loss compared to estimates for a 5 cent loss. They ended the quarter with an 8.5% share of the total U.S. radio audience and 70% of Internet radio listeners or 67 million people. News that Apple delayed its Internet radio product until later in the year also helped push Pandora higher.

Pandora Chart

Dell (DELL) spiked to $14.51 on Wednesday, well over the $13.65 LBO price, on news several other players were investigating the acquisition. Carl Icahn asked Dell to scrap the LBO plans and use its borrowing capability to fund a $9 dividend to shareholders. He argued that if Dell could function as a private company and be profitable after incurring billions in debt for the LBO then it could also be profitable as a public company and use the debt to fund the dividend.

The board is not likely to consider Icahn's plan. The board has watched Dell's fortunes decline as PC sales decline. They may not believe the company has a strong future and taking on billions in debt just to fund a dividend would be really dumb in a declining industry.

Secondly, if the LBO plan blows up there is a good chance Michael Dell would leave the company. He does not like being the CEO of a distressed public company and he definitely will not want to continue as CEO if someone else becomes a majority shareholder. That means a failure of the LBO means risk to shareholders if Dell leaves the company. If Dell remained a public company after incurring a large debt then the leverage on the stock price would increase volatility.

On Friday there were rumors Lenovo and Hewlett Packard were looking at Dell's books during the two-week "go shop" period set out in the LBO agreement. Dell has until March 22nd to shop for a better offer. Lenovo greatly expanded its reach into the PC business when it bought IBM's PC division two years ago. Lenovo is surging right now with smartphones, tablets, PCs and servers. Hewlett Packard may be looking at Dell with a breakup in mind. They could buy Dell and split it up into pieces and sell off the parts keeping only those divisions that would help Hewlett Packard. A Hewlett Packard acquisition could present antitrust concerns.

Blackstone (BX) has also been rumored to be examining the books. Analysts are now predicting the buyout price could rise to $14.90-$15.00. Jefferies believes the odds of a higher bid are greater than 50%.

Dell Chart

Analysts claim there has not yet been a rotation out of bonds and into equities but the yield on the ten-year treasury is telling a different story. On Monday when the Dow appeared destined to make a new historic high the selling in bonds began to increase. The Dow closed at 14,125 on Monday with the old high at 14,164. After the actual high was set on Tuesday the selling in treasuries accelerated. A +20 point move in four-days is a major move in treasuries. Yields closed on Friday at 2.056% and a new ten-month high.

Every day the Dow closes at another new high it is going to draw more money out of bonds/treasuries. We are close to real breakout on treasury yields, which means the so called "Great Rotation" may be getting closer. However, the Fed does not want this bond selling to occur so they will keep the QE purchases flowing at the current $4 billion a day. Can the Fed halt the flow of cash out of bonds? The real question is do they want to slow down that cash drain since it is flowing into the equity markets and creating the wealth effect Bernanke wants? My guess is the Fed will want to see equities continue to rise because of the boost to consumer sentiment.

Just to clarify the fallacy of the Great Rotation please consider this. When bond investors get "out" of the bond market where does that money go? If they sell their bonds they get X amount of money and they can invest it somewhere else like equities. However, those bonds did not go away. They still exist. They just transferred to a different investor. The same amount of money is still invested in bonds. Nothing changed but the address to send the interest payments. The key here is that maybe there is one less bond investor and he put money into equities. The bond that was sold may have gone to a new investor or to an investor simply adding to his existing bond portfolio. When you hear about the Great Rotation keep those thoughts in mind. The actual impact to equities is far less than the dollar amount of bonds sold but that trend towards equities is important.

Ten Year Yield Chart - 30 Min

Ten Year Yield Chart - Daily

The dollar rose to a six month high after the jobs data and on ECB news. The euro fell to a three month low after the ECB said the eurozone economy may shrink -0.5% and more than the -0.3% previously expected. They also reduced their inflation forecast. Multiple ECB policy makers were in favor of cutting rates at the last meeting.

The dollar and the U.S. equity markets typically move opposite each other but they are currently showing the least divergence since 2008. With the eurozone economy declining the dollar is now the cleanest shirt in the dirty clothes hamper. The U.S. GDP for Q4 was revised up to a miniscule +0.13% growth but apparently that still beats the eurozone. The CFTC said the net shorts in the euro rose from 9,394 contracts to 26,116 over the last week. The yen declined after Haruhiko Kuroda, the new pick for BOJ governor, told lawmakers the current scale of BOJ asset purchases (QE) was insufficient to achieve the desired inflation rate of 2%. Fire up those presses!

Dollar Index Chart - Daily

The market seemed to gain momentum as the week progressed with all the major indexes except for the Nasdaq 100 closing at new highs on Friday. These gains came despite the dollar also closing at a new six month high. Bullishness is breaking out all over but it has a long way to go. The AAII Investor Sentiment Survey showed bullish level rose only +2.7% to 31.1% and well below the 41.79% level seen just two weeks ago. Strangely, bearish sentiment also rose +1.9% to 38.5%. The neutral responses declined -4.6% to 30.4%. With both bullishness and bearishness rising the investing public is definitely conflicted.

The Dow extended its streak of positive Fridays to 10 weeks. In fact more than 50% of the gains in 2013 have come on Fridays. That is unusual since Fridays are typically profit taking days ahead of the weekend. This was also the first time since September 2011 that the Dow posted gains every day in a week.

Last week was the first time in 13 weeks that all 10 S&P sectors posted gains. The S&P has gained +4% since the dip after the Italian elections. The U.S. markets are trading at historic highs while the rest of the world is lagging. Bloomberg said the 45 largest markets are an average of -27% below their peaks. That kind of out performance attracts money from around the world so U.S. equities are not rising on the strength of U.S. investors alone.

Unfortunately volume on the U.S. markets remains low at an average of 6.2 billion shares for the last three days. There is little conviction and investors are only buying because they have to or they will get left behind. Despite the low volume the 10-day advance/decline line for the S&P reached its highest level in 2013 on Friday. Typically when the A/D line reaches extremes there is a change in direction. In 2013 that change in direction has been minimal and brief.

Morgan Stanley's David Darst has been bearish for months but his tone is changing. On Friday he listed several points for investors to consider before becoming too bearish. I added a couple of my own.

The Russell 2000 small caps and Dow Transports are making new highs.
The U.S. is not yet in recession.
The Fed is buying $1 trillion a year in treasuries.
There is no bullish euphoria to the equity rally.
Valuations are reasonable at 13 times earnings.
Bond spreads are widening indicating rotation into equities.
ISM Manufacturing and Services both surprised to the upside.
Jobless claims were the lowest in seven weeks.
Nonfarm Payrolls are rising.

Another analyst gave his reasoning for why the markets continue to rise. "As long as the music is playing you have to dance." That was originally coined by Chuck Prince, CEO of Citigroup in 2007. He was right to some extent. As long as the market continues to go up the fund managers have to keep buying. They can't afford to be waiting on the sidelines in expectation of a correction while the markets rally another 5-10%. Like musical chairs we never know when the music will stop. Until it does managers have to continue playing the game.

So far this is the fifth longest bull market since 1928. It has lasted 48 months and it is exceedingly rare for one to last more than four years without a bear market interruption. The four longer bull markets and their durations were 1994, 64 months, 1982, 61 months, 2002, 60 months and 1942, 49 months.

Another point to ponder is that bear markets and corrections never come when they are expected. If everyone is waiting for a correction it will never arrive. Corrections come when news appears. Investors are always looking for an event to take profits. They don't realize this but that is the way the investor mindset works. When markets are overvalued they will find an excuse to take profits. Or more appropriately an excuse will find them.

Bank of America technical analyst Mary Ann Bartels sent a note to clients late last week claiming there was a strong sell signal in the market that has not existed in more than three years. She said the cash balances in margin accounts has fallen to three year lows. Margin debt on NYSE stocks has risen to levels not seen since April 2010. Cash balances went negative in January due to excessive margin buying. This generated a tactical sell signal. With limited cash and heavily margined accounts there is no room for error. The slightest dip in the market can force margin call selling.

Today we have no excuse for profit taking. There is no bullish euphoria. There has not been a climax spike. Market momentum is steady and reserved. Economics are mediocre but improving and the U.S. market is a beacon for global investors.

Markets making new highs tend to continue making new highs until a pivotal event appears. Who knows at this point what that event will be? The economics next week are low key and the Fed does not meet until the following week. About the only thing on the global horizon is the threat of North Korea doing something stupid. Maybe I should say doing something else stupid since they continually amaze in that area.

The S&P has become the index to watch. The historic high close at 1564 is only 14 points away and the S&P is the last major index to target its historic high. I am excluding the Nasdaq 100 and the Internet bubble high on the Nasdaq Composite. The Composite is at 12 year highs and that is good enough for me.

On the way to 1564 the S&P has to cross the 1550 level, which is major resistance. Several times over the last 12 years the S&P has done battle with the 1550 level. It started in March of 2000 with the intraday high at 1553. In July 2007 the intraday high was 1555. In October 2007 the high close at 1564 was made but quickly lost. There have only been eight closes over 1550 ever. Friday's close was 1551.18.

The S&P is still facing a triple top at the 1550 level and we could bounce around here for several days until that threat disappears. It would require a close over 1564 and then continued daily gains like we saw when the Dow made a new high last Tuesday. Support is now 1540.

S&P Chart - Monthly

S&P Chart - Daily

S&P Chart - 60 Min

The Dow gained +307 points for the week. It closed at the high for the week at 14,397 and +233 points over the prior historic high close at 14,164. It was a good week for the Dow and it is showing no signs of fading. The Dow is in blue sky territory and support is well below at 14,000.

Dow Chart - Daily

Dow Chart - Monthly

The Nasdaq Composite broke above congestive resistance on Friday to close at 3243. That is a 12 year high. The next uptrend resistance level is about 3265, which happens to be both long and short term resistance. However, as long as the Dow and S&P continue to blaze a trail that long term resistance may fade. If Apple were to suddenly find a bid it could be the motive force to power the Nasdaq to higher highs.

Last year Apple announced its capital distribution plans on March 19th. An unexpected announcement this week could be powerful with the stock severely oversold.

Nasdaq Chart - Short Term Daily

Nasdaq Chart - Long Term Daily

The small cap Russell 2000 has broken out to a new historic high with a +3% gain for the week. There is no short term resistance other than simply being overextended so watch for sudden reversals.

Russell 2000 Chart - Daily

The Dow Transports closed at a new high on Friday BUT it was a lower high than the intraday levels earlier in the week. The transports look tired and I would watch them for the first indications of a weakening of the market in general. The transports led us higher back in January so look for them to lead on the downside when the rally begins to fade.

The combination of the transports and the Russell 2000 could be the ideal indicator for the next decline.

Dow Transports Chart - Daily

The trend is your friend until it ends. I don't see the end from here but it seldom telegraphs the approaching cliff. There are no material economic reports this week to push us off that cliff and no material Fed speak. Just rest assured there is an event in our future that will eventually become the excuse for profit taking.

I would use any dip as a buying opportunity ahead of Q1 earnings. After Q1 earnings I expect to become increasingly bearish. The odds of us being able to buy stocks cheaper at some point in 2013 is about 100%. Those long term buying opportunities normally come in late summer.

Unless North Korea declares war on somebody this week we should continue to see the market creep higher. I don't expect it to be continuous because markets don't go up forever. Expect some volatility to appear and be ready to profit from it.

Daylight Savings Time arrives this weekend. Spring forward an hour on Sunday morning.

The Fed is in control. Don't fight the Fed. Resistance is futile.

Enter passively and exit aggressively!

Jim Brown

Send Jim an email

"Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea."
Robert A. Heinlein

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Index Wrap

New Up Leg Underway Suggests More Upside

by Leigh Stevens

Click here to email Leigh Stevens
THE BOTTOM LINE:

Dow Theory 'confirmation' of a renewed major bull market was on the mark ahead of strong upside of past week. So also was technical 'signal' of the move from the low end of the uptrend channels of the major indexes. Nasdaq is lagging recently but I anticipate catch up later. Apple (AAPL) is lagging but weekly chart shows a bullish downward sloping wedge, a pattern if predictive like I anticipate suggests tech prospects may be better than currently anticipated. Right now it's a Dow and S&P show.

Much higher levels can be projected longer term as a theoretical upside although 1700 in the S&P 500 and 16000 in the Dow isn't something I'd bank on but wouldn't be surprised to see in the months ahead. The market is getting toward overbought levels but in strong bull trends this isn't a reliable 'timing' tool as to this situation being a 'sell signal'. Quite reliably or quite often bull markets get to extremes on the upside by traditional technical indicators like RSI, MACD, Stochastics and then stay in this condition for weeks at a time. Sideways moves tend to be more the way the market corrects or 'throws off' high readings in the overbought ranges. On an 13-week basis the Dow is the most 'overbought'.

Bullish trader sentiment is still somewhat moderate, although rising, but isn't yet excessively bullish. The pundants anticipating 'public investors' may get burned jumping in at current levels are probably as wrong as ever since they base opinions on stocks already having had a strong move off their lows. Too bad they can't 'read' charts going forward. Just saying!

MAJOR STOCK INDEX TECHNICAL COMMENTARIES

S&P 500 (SPX); DAILY CHART:

The S&P 500 (SPX) should test 2007 highs in the 1550-1555 area and could hit 1570 resistance implied by the top end of SPX's uptrend channel.

Very near support is at 1540, next at 1520, extending to what is probably pretty solid support in the 1500 area.

Those traders who 'believed' in the bullish implication of the Index holding the low end of its broad multimonth uptrend channel were rewarded. That was an 'easy' call in a way relative to predicting just where this rally will pause or pullback. So far it looks good for the bulls still.

S&P 100 (OEX) INDEX; DAILY CHART

The S&P 100 (OEX) chart is bullish in its pattern but resistance implied by the top end of its uptrend channel is close by. The close-only and OHLC bar chart are suggesting resistance comes in around 702-704. Don't hang in too long in calls and bullish strategies if you're a short-term trader type (like me, actually).

Buying interest/support looks like it could come in on dips under 690. Next lower support is at 680, extending to the 677, then down toward 670 on a closing basis.

THE DOW 30 (INDU) AVERAGE; DAILY CHART:

The Dow 30 (INDU) continues to lead the way in this bull market and in this renewed up leg but resistance around 14600 may come into play next.

Strong support is suggested in the 14100-14000 area, extending down to 13800.

I noted in my initial bottom line comments that the Dow was most overbought if measured on 13-week basis, but isn't quite at a major(overbought) extreme near-term; not yet on a 13-day time frame. Still, it's a moderate to high-risk situation if jumping in now to Dow Index calls in terms of 1-2 day corrections.

NASDAQ COMPOSITE (COMP) INDEX; DAILY CHART:

The Nasdaq Composite (COMP) is bullish in its pattern and could reach the 3300 area next.

Near support is at 3200, extending to the 3140 area or the low end of COMP's uptrend channel. Major support begins in the 3100 area.

COMP is the least 'overbought' of the major indexes on a daily and weekly chart basis.

Trader sentiment has been rising but isn't yet at the kind of extremes that I associate with a HIGH risk of a significant pullback.

NASDAQ 100 (NDX); DAILY CHART:

The Nasdaq 100 (NDX) is in a bullish pattern as well as the Composite. If I'm right on a possible longer-term declining 'wedge' pattern on a weekly chart basis for Apple (AAPL), a turnaround in the house of Jobs should coincide with a eventual strong catch up move in the big cap NDX.

The Nas 100 has a big milestone at its prior closing highs in the 2860 area, which also coincides with resistance implied by the top end it broad uptrend channel. I anticipate the prior highs will be tested. I don't look for any big pullback before NDX gets back up over 2850 again.

Technical support is seen in the 2760 area, extending to 2730, with fairly major support coming in around 2700.

NASDAQ 100 TRACKING STOCK (QQQ); DAILY CHART:

The Nasdaq 100 tracking stock (QQQ) reflects the bullish NDX chart of course; only the levels are different in terms of possible chart resistance (around 70.5) or support levels, which are highlighted at 67.6, extending to 66.8.

Volume levels have been low on the most recent rally, which tempts one to say that possible QQQ investors (in the stock) are completely off base or that RISING On Balance Volume or OBV is the only volume measure worth following; probably the later.

RUSSELL 2000 (RUT); DAILY CHART:

The Russell 2000 (RUT) Index is bullish and back on track so to speak as RUT went to new highs finally and looks headed to the upper end of its uptrend channel again, suggesting next serious resistance coming in around 963 or a bit higher over time.

Support is seen at 920, extending to the 910 area on down to 900 a bit under. Major support comes in around 880.



GOOD TRADING SUCCESS!


New Option Plays

Industrial Goods, Rail, & Semiconductors

by James Brown

Click here to email James Brown


NEW DIRECTIONAL CALL PLAYS

Crane Co. - CR - close: 54.97 change: +0.76

Stop Loss: 53.40
Target(s): 58.50
Current Option Gain/Loss: Unopened
Time Frame: 6 to 9 weeks
New Positions: Yes, see below

Company Description

Why We Like It:
CR is in the industrial goods sector. The stock delivered a strong, consistent rally from its November lows until it stalled in mid February. Since then shares have been digesting gains and consolidating sideways. Now three weeks later, CR is breaking out to new highs. These are all-time, historic highs. I want to see a little more follow through since it's possible the $55.00 level could be round-number resistance.

We are suggesting small bullish positions if CR can trade at $55.25. If triggered our multi-week target is $58.50. More aggressive traders could certainly aim higher but CR doesn't move super fast.

Trigger @ 55.25

- Suggested Positions -

buy the Apr $55 call (CR1322F55) current ask $2.40

Annotated Chart:

Entry on March -- at $---.--
Average Daily Volume = 314 thousand
Listed on March 09, 2012


Genesee & Wyoming - GWR - close: 92.22 change: +1.25

Stop Loss: 89.65
Target(s): 98.50
Current Option Gain/Loss: Unopened
Time Frame: 3 to 6 weeks
New Positions: Yes, see below

Company Description

Why We Like It:
GWR is in the railroad industry. The transportation sector has been showing lots of strength. The railroad component has helped push the transports to all-time highs. GWR is also trading at all-time highs.

We want to jump on board this momentum. I am suggesting a trigger to buy calls at $92.35. If triggered our target is $98.50. I would keep your position size small to limit our risk.

Trigger @ 92.35 *Small Positions*

- Suggested Positions -

buy the Apr $95 call (GWR1320D95) current ask $1.40

Annotated Chart:

Entry on March -- at $---.--
Average Daily Volume = 407 thousand
Listed on March 09, 2012


NEW DIRECTIONAL PUT PLAYS

ASML Holdings - ASML - close: 69.73 change: -1.11

Stop Loss: 70.65
Target(s): 65.25
Current Option Gain/Loss: Unopened
Time Frame: 3 to 4 weeks
New Positions: Yes, see below

Company Description

Why We Like It:
ASML is in the semiconductor industry and shares are definitely underperforming the SOX semiconductor index, which just hit new multi-month highs. It is worth noting that ASML surged to historic highs by the end of January, just a few weeks ago. Yet shares have been down every week since (five weeks in a row). ASML just broke down below what should have been support at $70.00 and its simple 50-dma. Friday's low was $69.42. I am suggesting a trigger to buy puts at $69.35. If triggered our target is $65.25.

Trigger @ 69.35

- Suggested Positions -

buy the Apr $67.50 PUT (ASML1320p67.5) current ask $1.95

Annotated Chart:

Entry on March -- at $---.--
Average Daily Volume = 1.4 million
Listed on March 09, 2012



In Play Updates and Reviews

ONXX Hit Our Target

by James Brown

Click here to email James Brown

Editor's Note:

Shares of Onyx Pharmaceuticals (ONXX) hit our bullish target on Friday.

MCD also displayed significant strength on Friday and we want to exit our MCD positions on Monday.


Current Portfolio:


CALL Play Updates

Cerner Corp. - CERN - close: 92.29 change: +0.78

Stop Loss: 89.45
Target(s): 97.50
Current Option Gain/Loss: +26.9%
Time Frame: 4 to 6 weeks
New Positions: see below

Comments:
03/09/13: CERN rebounded again on Friday with a +0.8% gain. The trend of higher lows continues. If the market cooperates we should see CERN rally to new highs this week. I am raising our stop loss up to $89.45.

FYI: The Point & Figure chart for CERN is bullish with a long-term $141 target.

- Suggested Positions -

Long Apr $90 call (CERN1320d90) entry $3.15

03/09/13 new stop loss @ 89.45

chart:

Entry on March 05 at $90.25
Average Daily Volume = 916 thousand
Listed on March 02, 2012


Computer Sciences Corp. - CSC - close: 49.76 change: -0.09

Stop Loss: 48.40
Target(s): 54.50
Current Option Gain/Loss: Unopened
Time Frame: 3 to 6 weeks
New Positions: Yes, see below

Comments:
03/09/13: CSC retreated from resistance near the $50.00 level on Friday morning. Fortunately traders bought the dip midday and shares pared their losses. We are waiting on a bullish breakout past resistance. I am suggesting a trigger to buy calls at $50.25. If triggered our target is $54.50.

FYI: The Point & Figure chart for CSC is bullish with a $59 target. Plus, CSC's next dividend (20 cents) is payable on April 15, 2013 to shareholders on record as of March 18th.

Trigger @ 50.25

- Suggested Positions -

buy the Apr $50 call (CSC1320d50) current ask $1.30

chart:

Entry on March -- at $---.--
Average Daily Volume = 1.6 million
Listed on March 07, 2012


Green Mountain Coffee Roasters - GMCR - close: 52.87 chg: +1.31

Stop Loss: 49.45
Target(s): 54.50
Current Option Gain/Loss: +104.7%
Time Frame: 3 to 6 weeks
New Positions: see below

Comments:
03/09/13: Thursday's rally continued into Friday with GMCR adding +2.5% and hitting new multi-month highs. I would not chase it here. If you're looking for a new entry point, wait for a pullback. We are raising the stop loss to $49.45. More conservative traders may want to take profits now since our call option has doubled. I am adjusting our exit target down to $54.50.

Earlier Comments:
Our short-term target is $54.75. More aggressive traders could aim for the $58.50-60.00 zone instead.

- Suggested Positions -

Long Apr $55 call (GMCR1320d55) entry $1.05

03/09/13 new stop loss @ 49.45, adjust exit to $54.50

chart:

Entry on March 07 at $50.25
Average Daily Volume = 5.3 million
Listed on March 06, 2012


Home Depot - HD - close: 71.37 change: +1.12

Stop Loss: 69.25
Target(s): 74.00
Current Option Gain/Loss: +106.0%
Time Frame: 3 to 6 weeks
New Positions: see below

Comments:
03/09/13: Home Depot has broken out past resistance at $70.00 to close at new all-time, historic highs. Our call option has doubled and more conservative traders may want to take profits now. We are aiming for the $74.00 level. I am adjusting our stop loss to $69.25.

Earlier Comments:
It is possible that the $70.00 level could act as round-number, psychological resistance especially since the stock failed their multiple times in the 1999-2000 time frame. However, we are going to set our sights on a run to $74.00. FYI: The Point & Figure chart for HD is bullish with a long-term $95 target.

- Suggested Positions -

Long Apr $70 call (HD1320d70) entry $1.00

03/09/13 new stop loss @ 69.25

chart:

Entry on February 28 at $ 68.50
Average Daily Volume = 6.9 million
Listed on February 27, 2012


IntercontinentalExchange - ICE - close: 158.60 change: -0.14

Stop Loss: 154.75
Target(s): 164.50
Current Option Gain/Loss: + 3.0%
Time Frame: 3 to 4 weeks
New Positions: see below

Comments:
03/09/13: Shares of ICE underperformed the market on Friday and closed virtually unchanged for the session. For the last day and a half the stock has found short-term support near the $158.00 level. I am not suggesting new positions at this time. More conservative traders may want to consider a higher stop loss but remember that ICE can be a volatile stock.

Earlier Comments:
ICE can be a volatile stock so I am suggesting small positions.

*Small Positions* - Suggested Positions -

Long Apr $160 call (ICE1320d160) entry $3.30

03/06/13 new stop loss @ 154.75
03/05/13 trade opened on gap open higher at $157.08, above our trigger of $156.85

chart:

Entry on March 05 at $157.08
Average Daily Volume = 1.2 million
Listed on March 04, 2012


McDonald's - MCD - close: 98.71 change: +1.62

Stop Loss: 94.75
Target(s): 99.50
Current Option Gain/Loss: +153.0%
Time Frame: 3 to 6 weeks
New Positions: see below

Comments:
03/09/13: On Friday morning MCD announced its February 2013 same-store sales data. The results were -1.5% compared to +7.5% a year ago and -1.9% the prior month (January 2013). Of course last year February had 29 days so if you back out the extra day then February 2013 same-store sales were up +1.7%. This news was enough to send the stock higher. Shares gapped open at $98.13 and closed at new multi-month highs with a +1.6% gain on Friday.

Our option is up +153%. I am suggesting we go ahead and exit positions now on Monday morning at the open to lock in gains. More aggressive traders could aim for the $99.50-100.00 zone or even consider aiming for the 2012 highs near $102 but keep in mind that MCD is looking short-term overbought.

- Suggested *Small* Positions -

Long Apr $95 call (MCD1320d95) entry $1.66

03/09/13 prepare to exit on Monday to lock in gains.
current bid for our option is $4.20
03/07/13 adjust exit target to $99.50
03/04/13 new stop loss @ 94.75
03/02/13 new stop loss @ 94.25

chart:

Entry on February 25 at $95.38
Average Daily Volume = 4.9 million
Listed on February 23, 2012


Pharmacyclics Inc. - PCYC - close: 92.25 change: -1.95

Stop Loss: 89.25
Target(s): 99.00
Current Option Gain/Loss: -16.6%
Time Frame: 3 to 6 weeks
New Positions: see below

Comments:
03/09/13: On Thursday night I warned readers to exit a drop in PCYC on Friday morning in reaction to news the company was planning to sell an additional 2.2 million shares of stock (3.1% of shares outstanding). Surprisingly PCYC did not immediately sell-off. The stock hovered near the $94.00 the first half of Friday's session and only gave into profit taking later in the day.

It was revealed that PCYC plans to sell these 2.2 million shares of stock at $94.20 a share and complete the offering by March 13th. At this point I would not be surprised to see a decline into the $91-90 zone. Nimble traders could buy a dip or a bounce near 490.00 or its 10-dma (90.75). I am raising our stop loss to $89.25.

Earlier Comments:
PCYC can be a volatile stock so we do want to keep our position size small to limit our risk.

*Small Positions* - Suggested Positions -

Long Apr $95 call (PCYC1320d95) entry $4.80

03/09/13 new stop loss @ 89.25

chart:

Entry on March 05 at $91.75
Average Daily Volume = 788 thousand
Listed on March 04, 2012


Phillips 66 - PSX - close: 66.03 change: +0.16

Stop Loss: 63.75
Target(s): 69.75
Current Option Gain/Loss: -13.9%
Time Frame: 3 to 6 weeks
New Positions: see below

Comments:
03/09/13: Friday was a very quiet day for shares of PSX. The stock hovered on either side of $66.00 all day long. Friday's high was $66.28. Readers might want to consider waiting for a rally past $66.35 before initiating new positions.

Our short-term target is $69.75. More aggressive traders could certainly aim higher.

- Suggested Positions -

Long Apr $67.50 call (PSX1320d67.5) entry $2.15

chart:

Entry on March 06 at $66.15
Average Daily Volume = 3.9 million
Listed on March 05, 2012


Toyota Motors - TM - close: 103.69 change: +0.43

Stop Loss: 99.95
Target(s): 108.00
Current Option Gain/Loss: - 6.2%
Time Frame: 3 to 6 weeks
New Positions: see below

Comments:
03/09/13: TM is still trading near the bottom of its bullish channel. It's rumored that Japan is poised to start its own quantitative easing program soon. Combine that with the country's recent attempts to keep the yen currency lower and it should all be bullish for Toyota's exports.

I would still consider new bullish positions at current levels in TM. Or you could wait for a dip into the $103-102 zone but there is no guarantee TM will see such a dip.

Earlier Comments:
Our target is $108.00. More aggressive traders could aim higher.

I do want to warn you that shares of TM tend to gap open (up or down) each day as the U.S. shares adjust for trading that occurs back home in Japan.

- Suggested Positions -

Long Apr $105 call (TM1320d105) entry $2.25

chart:

Entry on March 05 at $103.25
Average Daily Volume = 686 thousand
Listed on March 02, 2012


CBOE Volatility Index - VIX - close: 12.59 change: -0.47

Stop Loss: 11.45
Target(s): 19.90
Current Option Gain/Loss: -36.8%
Time Frame: 8 to 9 weeks
New Positions: see below

Comments:
03/09/13: I cautioned readers a few days ago that if the stock market continued to climb we could see the VIX retest its recent lows. The volatility index is definitely getting close. It certainly looks like the VIX could hit the 12.00 level soon. We have a stop loss at 11.45. More aggressive traders may want to widen their stop. Meanwhile a dip to or a bounce from the 12.00 area can be used as a new bullish entry point.

- Suggested Positions -

Long Apr $16 call (VIX1317D16) entry $1.90

02/25/13 adjust exit target to 19.90

chart:

Entry on February 10 at $13.37
Average Daily Volume = n/a
Listed on February 09, 2012


PUT Play Updates

Quest Diagnostic - DGX - close: 55.94 change: +0.52

Stop Loss: 56.25
Target(s): 51.00
Current Option Gain/Loss: Unopened
Time Frame: 3 to 4 weeks
New Positions: Yes, see below

Comments:
03/09/13: There was no follow through on DGX's decline from Thursday. Overall I don't see any changes from my prior comments. We're currently waiting for a breakdown to new lows.

The Feb. 26th low was $55.16. I am suggesting a trigger to open bearish positions at $54.85, so about 30 cents under that low. If triggered our target is $51.00. More aggressive traders could aim lower. FYI: The Point & Figure chart for DGX is bearish with a $50 target.

Trigger @ 54.85

- Suggested Positions -

buy the Apr $55 PUT (DGX1320p55)

chart:

Entry on March -- at $---.--
Average Daily Volume = 1.2 million
Listed on March 07, 2012


F5 Networks - FFIV - close: 94.01 change: -0.22

Stop Loss: 96.75
Target(s): 86.50
Current Option Gain/Loss: -40.5%
Time Frame: 3 to 4 weeks
New Positions: see below

Comments:
03/09/13: FFIV gapped open higher on Friday morning but traders quickly sold the strength and shares fell toward the $94.00 level. The stock was stuck there, near $94.00, the rest of the session. I am not suggesting new positions.

I want to remind you that we have March put options that expire in five trading days. These options are going to be very volatile to any movement in shares of FFIV.

Earlier Comments:
It's possible the $90.00 level could act as round-number, psychological support but we are going to aim for the $86.50 level.

- Suggested Positions -

Long Mar $95 PUT (FFIV1316o95) entry $3.55

03/09/13 only five trading days left for our March options.
02/28/13 corrected the option entry price to $3.55

chart:

Entry on February 27 at $93.50
Average Daily Volume = 1.4 million
Listed on February 26, 2012


CLOSED BULLISH PLAYS

Onyx Pharmaceuticals - ONXX - close: 85.65 change: +2.16

Stop Loss: 77.75
Target(s): 84.85
Current Option Gain/Loss: +76.3
Time Frame: 3 to 6 weeks
New Positions: see below

Comments:
03/09/13: Target achieved.

The bullish surge in shares of ONXX continued on Friday and the stock challenged its January 2013 highs. Our exit target at $84.85 was hit along the way.

Earlier Comments:
Trading biotech stocks always carries a bit of danger. You never know when the wrong headline can send a stock gapping lower (or higher). Therefore I am suggesting small positions to try and limit our risk.

*Small Positions* - Suggested Positions -

Apr $82.50 call (ONXX1320d82.5) entry $2.75 exit $4.85 (+76.3%)

03/08/13 target hit

chart:

Entry on March 07 at $80.30
Average Daily Volume = 1.3 million
Listed on March 06, 2012