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Daily Newsletter, Thursday, 10/12/2006

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Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

The Boy Who Cried Wolf

If you've never read the above book I suggest you do that before reading any further here. I'm certainly beginning to feel like that little boy who cried wolf one too many times. My call for a market top has clearly and irrefutably been the wrong call this month. Each high and I've been ready to call a top. Guess what--I'm not changing my tune after today's rally.

The stock market has gone parabolic and we of course know how these end but in the meantime it's been rather painful stepping in front of this freight train. Bullish sentiment has gone to an extreme the likes of which we haven't seen since 2000 and the VIX is even lower than it was in 2000. Does that scare the bulls? Not yet but it should.

But the party continues and hopefully those who ignored my bearish warnings simply raised your stops and let price do the talking. Keep following this up with the understanding we're into rarified air. For those who've never had the pleasure of breathing at high altitude without oxygen assistance I can tell you it does funny things to your brain and you definitely can not think straight. I'm seeing evidence of that in our current market. Don your oxygen mask here and keep your mind alert. Keep that exit door propped open.

If you've been afraid to buy into this market and wondering where the top could possibly be, you're not alone. I think we're seeing the last of the bears give up in disgust. Certainly a lot of emails that I get indicate such is happening. I've been unsuccessfully trying to pick a top and I'm getting real tired of it. My capitulation, in not wanting to try anymore and instead just join in the buying, is a good contrarian signal that we're not far now. I've been suckered in (or out of a short position) too many times to now know this feeling I'm having is what many other traders are likewise feeling.

So to the diehard bears out there I'm thinking the moment of truth is at hand. We are either truly in a brand new bull market leg (which I seriously doubt) or we're into the final fling of a blow-off top. Today's new 52-week highs were nearly 9:1 better than new lows. Up volume to down volume was 6:1. These are in blow-off top territory. I'll point out in tonight's charts why I am once again willing to cry wolf.

To the diehard bulls out there, you've been right in hanging on for the ride. Stick with it and stay with the momentum. But I would not want to let a pullback get away from me. We've seen relatively shallow pullbacks the whole way up, typically with the 20-dma's acting as support. I suspect when those 20-dma's start breaking is when the exit door will suddenly shrink to one-tenth its normal size. You'll want to be the first out the door. Depending on what you're trading you won't want to get stuck in a fast market and not be able to get the price that was last quoted.

Before proceeding further let me just update the two charts I showed last week that were representative of why I felt the bulls were on borrowed time. Many pundits I've been reading lately are saying the pharmaceuticals are the sector to jump into now (and out of cyclicals). When I looked at the chart last week I thought that might not be a good recommendation.

Pharmaceutical index, Daily chart

Its rally off the June low looks complete from an EW count perspective. The last high in early October had a very large bearish divergence associated with it. The steep uptrend line from July had broken and then price jumped back up for a retest. I had said it looked like a short at that point. It has since broken its 20-dma and as noted above this moving average is an important one. Today saw price rally back above its 20-dma so perhaps the bulls got a stick save today but I have my doubts. Another drop lower will test its 50-dma but I think if that were to happen it would break fairly quickly.

Next I used the NYSE chart because I feel it's a little less manipulated than some of the other indices or sectors.

NYSE chart, Daily

It's been in a clear ascending wedge since its June low, with the negative divergences supporting the bearish interpretation here. Today's high is a break above the wedge. This will be very important from here--a break above and holding above 8600 will be a bonafide breakout and you should abandon thoughts about the short side. But if today's high turns out to be a throw-over, which is a typical way for these ascending wedges to end, and price closes back under 8600 then that will be a sell signal. I'm leaning towards the throw-over interpretation here but obviously we need further price action to determine which it will be. I'll review this chart again next week.

I had mentioned in the recent past that this year has been a year of counter-cyclical moves. In other words, when the market has typically moved one direction at a certain time of the year we've seen it do the opposite this year. October is typically a month where a major low is found followed by a rally into the end of the year. Each year since the 2002 low the DOW has made a significant low in October (Sept 29th in 2003) but this year is an exception. As many who follow cycles are beginning to report, we could be experiencing a "cycle inversion" this year and this month could mark an important high in the cycle instead of a low.

I had mentioned in the Market Monitor this week that part of this cycle inversion could be a result of the 4-year cycle running its course. We had a low in October 1998, a low in October 2002 and now a high in October 2006. George Lindsay, who had very good success at calling major bottoms and tops in the market, had identified a pattern that he referred to as a bottom-to-bottom-to-top pattern. He pointed out that these patterns typically had equal time spans between them. By this pattern he'd be calling this October's move as the end to the bull rally.

Jeff Cooper, another very sharp market analyst, refers to today, the Thursday prior to opex week, as the "misdirection" day. He made note of this last month on the Thursday prior to the September options expiration week. That day (September 7th) followed a sharply down day on September 6th and it looked ominous. Then the market turned around on Friday and we saw a strong rally through the rest of the following week. The question for us tonight is whether or not today was a misdirection day. If so then we'll see the market reverse and sell off into next week.

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When I think about the mega-banks' trading teams and how they make their gazillions I have to wonder what their plan is for next week. I suspect they make the bulk of their money during opex when they can buy cheap front-month OTM options and sell the opposite deep ITM options. So here we are in an extended market to the upside with everyone and their mother buying this market and thinking DOW 12K is a given (and higher). Can they really drive it that much higher from here? I suppose so but what about the profit potential the other way? Today would have been a perfect day for the Boyz to load up on cheap October puts and sell deep ITM calls. With everyone leaning over the bullish side of the boat, a relatively small bearish wind will tip the boat right over.

This is of course all speculation as to why the market might start to sell off but as I'll show in the charts, the setup is there for an important high. Perhaps a quick pop higher Friday morning and then a reversal. I am once again crying wolf and we'll just have to see if anyone comes to my rescue or instead lets the bulls stampede over me.

Economic reports today included the unemployment claims. After revising the previous week's initial claims to 304K from 302K, new claims for the latest week rose slightly to 308K. Continuing claims were also up by 5K to 2.44M, bumping the number up to its highest level in a little over a month.

Trade deficit numbers were released and showed a widening in our deficit by +2.7% to a record $69.9B. This large of an increase surprised economists who had been expecting the number to drop below July's $68B to something around $66B. That makes the trade deficit for the first 8 months of the year almost $523B which is well ahead of last year's record pace of $457B. Our trade deficit with China widened to a record $22B. Personally I think China should take all that money we're giving them and go kick N. Korea's insolent little butt. But hey, that's just me.

Speaking of N. Korea, for those who don't have the pleasure of receiving the not-always-PC daily cartoons from Slate Magazine I thought the following was rather poignant:

Security Council letter to N. Korea, courtesy Slate Magazine

At 2:00 we got the release of the Fed's Beige Book, which is economic information collected from the 12 Fed regional banks. It showed a mixed bag for the economy but from the reaction of the stock market you would have thought it was the perfect report for the economy. The smart traders, the bond market, gave a yawn of a response to the report. This shows that the stock market was ready to rally regardless of what the report had said. A slowing economy? The Fed will stand pat on rates so let's rally! A booming economy which means the Fed will raise rates? Ignore that Fed part, the economy is growing, let's rally!

Four out of the 12 districts reported growth while two (Philly and Dallas) reported a "cooling" of activity. The rest were "moderate or mixed". Consumer spending was stronger in most districts (and meanwhile the savings rate continues to be negative). Auto and home-related sales were weaker. But generally speaking there were no surprises and most expect the data to support the idea that the Fed remains on hold in their interest rate policy.

And now onto the charts.

DOW chart, Daily

If I draw a trend line along the lows since October 2004 and then attach a parallel line to the January 2004 high, I get a parallel channel. These channels do a very good job at identifying "measured" moves and you can think of the moves within these channels as cycles. The up cycle, by this channel, is nearly over since the top of the channel is at DOW 12K. What a fitting place for that channel top to reside. This weekly chart shows the bigger picture for this channel:

DOW chart, Weekly

The other thing to look at on the weekly chart is the volume. The move up from June is on lower volume. This should not inspire bulls to want to buy more.

SPX chart, Daily

SPX climbed above its trend line along the highs since January 2004 and May 2006, which is currently just below 1360. If SPX can't hold above this line, now that it has punched above it, it will look like a throw-over. A close back below 1359 would be a sell signal. So the bulls know what they have to do tomorrow. For that matter the bears know what they have to do too. If you were to draw uptrend lines off the lows, starting at the June low, you would see that the trend lines are getting steeper and steeper. This is the definition of a parabolic move. We know parabolic moves don't end well and I have no reason to believe it will be different this time.

Nasdaq chart, Daily

The COMP has been rallying in a very tight and steep up-channel. This steep a rise is unsustainable. It's that simple. This rally is on borrowed time. Picking a top is dangerous but I think it's also dangerous for longs up here, especially those getting sucked into this rally near the highs. Where's a logical stop for new entries? If you pick the 20-dma (logical place) that's way down near 2260 or almost 90 points below. No thank you. With price at the top of its steep up-channel and testing its broken uptrend line from October 2002 I'd say this is a short play setup. Aaooooo... I heard a wolf, really.

SMH index, Daily chart

The semi's finally kicked it into gear today after starting off slowly and hanging back. Finally the buyers couldn't stand it anymore and started snapping up the "deals". SMH is now right into that congestion zone I mentioned last week--just above $35 has trend lines, a 50-62% Fib retracement zone and the 200-dma that could prove to be a tough wall of resistance. MACD is Not getting into gear to the upside here and could leave another bearish divergence if it doesn't keep rallying.

One reason that we've been hearing lately as to why the stock market is rallying is because of the likelihood that the Fed has not only stopped rate increases and may be close to a rate decrease. Looking over the daily yield charts the other day caused me to think about a possible pattern that could play out--an inverse H&S. There are a couple of reasons I'm entertaining this thought. One, the quick bounce back up in yields that nearly retraced the spike down in September looks bullish (bearish for bond prices). Two, what if the bond market has been making the wrong assumption about what the Fed will do next? An inverse H&S pattern could set up in this way:

30-year Yield, Daily chart

I showed this yield chart late yesterday on the Market Monitor and thought I'd share my thoughts here. The confluence of moving averages, especially the 50 and 200-dma's at the current level (just above 4.9%), and the longer term downtrend line from January 2000 (at 4.94%), makes for a tough wall of resistance right now. A pullback would be very natural here. If the pullback is relatively minor and then breaks higher again, it will have created the inverse H&S with a "price" objective near 5.2%, or back up near this year's high.

The question of course is why interest rates would do that. The answer would be because the bond market guessed wrong about what the Fed will do next. If the Fed is boxed into a corner and is forced to raise rates again because of inflation concerns (which they're helping to create with their flood of dollars into the market), then the bond market will react with a sell off in bonds (increase in yields). And if the bond market reacts that way then we can be sure that the stock market will also sell off. Keep your eye on the yields over the next few weeks.

BIX banking index, Daily chart

The banking index is close to hitting the top of a parallel up-channel for its price action since the June low and at the same time a potential Fib projection for two equal legs up at 401.39. The bearish divergences continue to hold and therefore I don't see anything bullish about the new high in banks.

Securities broker index, Daily chart

Another parallel up-channel, another potential top. After hitting the top of its channel (with a small throw-over), the broker index got slammed to the downside yesterday. Today's bounce took it to a near-perfect touch of its 50% retracement of that slap down at 233.66. Today's high was 233.67. Also at that 233.66 level is the broken uptrend line from May 2005. This is the same trend line that the broker index jumped above in early July and then failed that retest. You can see how many times in the past few months that line has acted as resistance and may once again do so. A failed retest here should send the brokers lower. And a broader market rally without the brokers is suspect.

U.S. Home Construction Index chart, DJUSHB, Daily

The bear flag pattern for the bounce in the home builders continues to hold but I'm confident the bear flag interpretation here is the correct one. We should see the home builders head for new lows once this correction is finished.

Crude and natural gas inventories were released and showed NG supplies to have increased to the point where they're nearly 14% above year-ago levels. Jim has discussed this issue and why we'll likely see a bump in inventories for at least several weeks. Price of NG dropped on the news to $5.78, down $0.37 and at its lowest level since October 3rd. Crude oil closed slightly higher after inventories showed an increase of 2.4M barrels to 330.5M and are 6.8% above the year-ago level. Distillate inventories fell for the first time in nine weeks.

Oil chart, November contract, 120-min chart

The daily chart shows a very steep decline for oil and is hard to analyze. So I'm keeping with the 120-min chart in order to study the internal moves. I'm expecting a further consolidation sideways rather than a continuation lower from here. The bullish divergences support my short term bullish expectation. But once the consolidation is finished I expect to see another new low before oil is ready for a bigger bounce. If oil drops earlier, from here, then we could be closer to a low than I think.

Oil Index chart, Daily

The oil stocks appear to also be consolidating in a sideways move and once the correction is finished we should see these stocks head lower again. Firmer support, for a bigger bounce, should be found around 540.

Transportation Index chart, TRAN, Daily

With all the hoopla about the DOW making new all-time highs, where are the Trannies. Without them participating we have a significant bearish non-confirmation. Unless Mr. Dow's Theory is no longer valid for the current market. Maybe we're in a new paradigm. Remember that in 1999 and 2000? What a joke that was. The Trannies look like they're close to finishing a corrective bounce to the earlier decline. A 62% retracement at 4670 bears watching.

U.S. Dollar chart, Daily

I've been leaning more and more to the idea that the US dollar is in for a longer consolidation before proceeding lower again. A descending triangle within its larger pattern would be a continuation pattern and that would mean a continuation lower. Assuming the dollar rolls back over here (and resistance at its 200-dma would be a natural place to get pushed back down) this triangle still needs a down-up sequence to finish it and that could easily take us into the new year. After this pattern is finished we'd be looking at a down year for the US dollar with a downside target in the upper $70's. If that happens then that suggests we'll see more money creation out of the Fed which deflates the value of the dollar (in their effort to monetize our debt?) and it will cause inflationary problems for our economy. Inflationary problems for our economy would send bonds lower (yields higher) and stocks lower. It's all tied together.

Gold chart, December contract, Daily

If the US dollar is forming an ascending triangle then it's possible we're in the middle stage of a descending triangle (flat bottom, declining top) for gold. It would be a bullish continuation pattern in its longer term chart. I don't have that shown on this chart in a similar way that I showed it for the dollar above, but it's something I'm toying with here. In the meantime gold is still inside its down-channel from the July high. Any break below the channel would be bearish for gold. Bullish divergence at the last low suggests gold is due for a bounce.

Results of today's economic reports and tomorrow's reports include the following:

It will be busy tomorrow for economic reports and a surprise by any number could be an excuse to start taking profits in the stock market. But in reality it's not going to matter what the numbers are. Bullish or bearish sentiment is what matters and we'll have to see if the market is ready for a switch or not.

SPX chart, Weekly, More Immediately Bearish

As shown on the daily chart at the beginning of this report, SPX has now climbed up to the trend line along the highs since January 2004. This should be significant resistance. If we're truly in a blow-off top then who knows how high this can continue. But as I look at this, with long term bearish divergences, overbought on the weekly and up against resistance, well excuse me if I can't get bullish here. I've clearly been way too early on my bearish call and missed this nice bullish run but I'll be dipped if I'll buy it here. Selling it here looks like the right call. Aaoooo... Yep, I hear a wolf.

One last thing about why today's high is a potentially important one--it has to do with where SPX stopped. For those who follow Gann or have looked at the Square-of-Nine chart that I showed many months ago, SPX 1363 is an important number. It is 360 degrees up from the 1219 June low. These 360 degree cycles on the Gann chart are often important support and resistance levels. Today's high was 1363.76 and it closed at 1362.83. We're there. So for all the reasons I cited at the beginning of this report, and the SPX Gann number of 1363, and its location at the top of its parallel up-channel, and a small throw-over above its trend line across the highs since January 2004, and ..., well you get my drift. I may be crying wolf again, but I've got a lot of reasons to be afraid for this market. Take a down day tomorrow seriously since it just might be an important signal. If on the other hand the market continues to power higher then I say run with the bulls because it could have a lot more to run this month.

Good luck tomorrow and I'll see you back here next Thursday or on the Market Monitor tomorrow.
 

New Plays

Most Recent Plays

New Plays
Long Plays
Short Plays
PALM None
WTI  

New Long Plays

Palm Inc. - PALM - close: 16.22 chg: +0.91 stop: 14.99

Company Description:
Palm, Inc., a leader in mobile computing, strives to put the power of computing in people's hands so they can access and share their most important information. The company's products for consumers, mobile professionals and businesses include Palm Treo(TM) smartphones, Palm handheld computers, and Palm LifeDrive(TM) mobile managers, as well as software, services and accessories. (source: company press release or website)

Why We Like It:
Normally we would not want to chase a big move like the one seen in PALM over the last couple of days. However, today's rally (+5.9%) was fueled by very strong volume (more than three times the norm) and today's rally is also a breakout through the top of a three-month trading range. Fueling the move was an analyst upgrade to "strong buy" and plenty of positive news from the company. We are suggesting long positions with PALM above $16.00. More conservative traders may want to wait for a move past the exponential 200-dma at $16.32. Our target is the $17.90-18.00 range near its 200-dma. More conservative traders might also want to use a stop loss closer to today's low (15.51). We would consider this a higher-risk play. FYI: The P&F chart points to a $20 target.

Picked on October 12 at $16.22
Change since picked: + 0.00
Earnings Date 12/20/06 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 4.0 million

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W&T Offshore - WTI - close: 29.53 chg: +1.21 stop: 28.35

Company Description:
Founded in 1983, W&T Offshore is an independent oil and natural gas company focused primarily in the Gulf of Mexico, including exploration in the deepwater, where it has developed significant technical expertise. W&T has grown through acquisition, exploitation and exploration and now holds working interests in over 200 fields in federal and state waters and a majority of its daily production is derived from wells it operates. (source: company press release or website)

Why We Like It:
The oil sector appears to have produced a bottom over the last month. A large number of stocks in the group, including WTI, have produced a double-bottom type pattern. Currently it looks like WTI is poised to breakout through the top of its recent trading range and resistance at the $30.00 level. The strong volume on today's rally was definitely bullish. Unfortunately, due to crude oil's volatile these days we feel the need to label this a more aggressive trade. We're suggesting a trigger to go long the stock at $30.21, which is just above its descending 50-dma. If triggered our target is the $34.00-35.00 range. We will be watching the 100-dma as potential resistance too. Please note we do not want to hold over the November earnings report.

Picked on October xx at $xx.xx <-- see TRIGGER
Change since picked: + 0.00
Earnings Date 11/09/06 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 534 thousand
 

New Short Plays

None today.
 

Play Updates

Updates On Latest Picks

Long Play Updates

ACADIA - ACAD - close: 9.83 chg: +0.50 stop: 8.85 *new*

Another strong day for biotechs and ACAD out performed the broader market and its peers. The stock rose 5.3% with most of the gains coming in the last hour. Shares are very close to our target in the $9.95-10.00 range. We're raising the stop loss to $8.85.

Picked on October 05 at $ 8.85
Change since picked: + 0.98
Earnings Date 11/10/06 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 225 thousand

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Arch Coal - ACI - close: 31.04 change: +1.01 stop: 27.99

Coal stocks turned in a strong performance on Thursday. Shares of ACI added 3.3% and look poised to challenge the 50-dma soon. Our target is the $34.00-35.00 range. We only have a few days since we want to avoid holding over ACI's earnings report.

Picked on October 10 at $30.32
Change since picked: + 0.72
Earnings Date 10/20/06 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 3.5 million

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Anheuser-Busch - BUD - close: 47.69 change: +0.22 stop: 46.85

We're growing increasingly concerned with BUD. The stock did add 0.4% today but shares really failed to participate with the strength in the broader market. The stock remains inside its $47-48 trading range. If the stock doesn't turn higher tomorrow we'll probably cut our losses and exit early! We are not suggesting new positions with BUD under $48.20.

Picked on October 10 at $48.21
Change since picked: - 0.52
Earnings Date 10/25/06 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 2.6 million

---

D.R.Horton - DHI - close: 24.80 change: +0.61 stop: 22.99

Homebuilders were another very strong sector on Thursday. DHI added 2.5% but volume continues to come in light. We're waiting for a breakout over resistance and we're suggesting a trigger to go long at $25.51. If triggered at $25.51 our target is the $29.00-30.00 range although more conservative traders may want to exit at the 200-dma currently near 28.55.

Picked on October xx at $xx.xx <-- see TRIGGER
Change since picked: + 0.00
Earnings Date 11/14/06 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 4.1 million

---

IAC/InterActive - IACI - close: 29.43 change: +0.40 stop: 28.69

Volume in IACI is getting worse. The stock added 1.3% following yesterday's intraday bounce, which would normally look pretty bullish but we're not sure we can trust it without any volume behind it. We would be extra cautious if you're opening new positions. Our target is the $31.40-31.50 range. We do not want to hold over the late October earnings report.

Picked on October 04 at $29.73
Change since picked: - 0.30
Earnings Date 10/31/06 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 2.2 million

---

Intl. Game Tech. - IGT - cls: 42.50 chg: +0.37 stop: 40.95 *new*

IGT is still inching higher. We're not suggesting new positions at this time. Please note we're raising the stop loss to $40.95. Our target is the $44.00-45.00 range. We do not want to hold over the early November earnings report.

Picked on September 17 at $40.26
Change since picked: + 2.24
Earnings Date 11/02/06 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 2.2 million

---

Ingersoll-Rand - IR - close: 40.12 chg: -0.08 stop: 37.99

IR failed to participate with the market's broad-based rally on Thursday. This relative weakness is discouraging, especially with volume rising to above average levels today. Traders might want to wait for a dip/bounce near $39.00-39.50 as the next entry point. We do not want to hold over the October 27th earnings report so our short-term target is the $43.00-43.50 range. We'll raise our stop loss once we see IR push past potential overhead resistance at its 200-dma near 40.75.

Picked on October 08 at $40.20
Change since picked: - 0.08
Earnings Date 10/27/06 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 2.8 million

---

Kinetic Concepts - KCI - cls: 32.09 chg: -0.17 stop: 31.49 *new*

KCI displayed relative weakness with a 0.5% decline. This is not a good sign given the strength in the markets. More conservative traders may want to exit early right here. We're going to raise our stop loss to $31.49. We're not suggesting new positions at this time. We do not want to hold over the late October earnings report.

Picked on October 08 at $33.35
Change since picked: - 1.26
Earnings Date 10/30/06 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 1.4 million

---

Acc. Home Lenders - LEND - cls: 35.85 chg: +0.80 stop: 34.95

Aggressive traders might want to consider long positions on today's 2.2% bounce in LEND. We're still waiting for a breakout over resistance near $37.00. We're suggesting a trigger to go long at $37.16. If triggered our target is the $42.00-42.50 range. Please note that there is potential resistance at the bottom of its gap down at $38.71, and potential resistance at $40.00. The P&F chart is positive with a $50 target. We do not want to hold over the late October earnings report.

Picked on October xx at $xx.xx <-- see TRIGGER
Change since picked: + 0.00
Earnings Date 10/31/06 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 759 thousand

---

PDL BioPharma - PDLI - close: 20.52 chg: +0.39 stop: 18.69

Biotech stocks continued to rally and PDLI added just over 1.9%. Today's bounce from the $20 region looks like a new entry point to go long the stock. More conservative traders may want to tighten their stops. Our target is the $22.25-22.50 range. We do not want to hold over the early November earnings report.

Picked on October 05 at $20.11
Change since picked: + 0.41
Earnings Date 11/02/06 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 1.3 million

---

Titanium Metals - TIE - close: 27.69 change: +0.48 stop: 25.49

TIE continues to rise although we noted that volume came in low today. We'd still consider new positions at this time. Our target is the $29.90-30.00 range. We don't want to hold over the October 23rd earnings report (still an unconfirmed date).

Picked on October 11 at $27.01
Change since picked: + 0.68
Earnings Date 10/23/06 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 4.3 million
 

Short Play Updates

None
 

Closed Long Plays

None
 

Closed Short Plays

None
 

Today's Newsletter Notes: Market Wrap by Keene H. Little and all other plays and content by the Option Investor staff.

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