Option Investor

Daily Newsletter, Wednesday, 06/11/2008

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Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap


It was another high volatility day. Had you looked at the futures at around 8:30 AM EST and then went off to work the close would have been a huge surprise. There were only a couple sectors that gained ground in todays session. Can you guess which? Energy is the obvious choice today. However, the energy sector wasnt up as much as you might think. The $XOI was up about 1%. We will cover the different sectors later. The Agricultural sector also moved higher today with stocks like MON and MOS advancing aggressively into the close. So far the go away in May adage has been correct.

The above chart shows the four main indices year to date (YTD) returns. The $SPX is leading the losers at down 9.045% with the Dow Jones Industrials ($INDU) down a close second at 8.904%. The technology related sectors are holding up much better. The Russell 2000 ($RUT) is down 6.264% while the Nasdaq 100 ($NDX) is down 7.7% YTD.

Not all of todays internals show that we had a distribution day. For instance, the ARMs index or $TRIN closed at 1.15. The TRIN first measures the ratio of the NYSE advancing issues versus declining issues. Then it calculates the ratio of the advancing/declining volume. Finally, the TRIN equals the NYSE advance/decline ratio divided by the advance/decline volume ratio.

The basic raw calculation is as follows:

Advancing Stocks/Declining Stocks
Advancing Volume/Declining Volume

Extreme oversold levels are usually evident when the $TRIN readings exceed 1.5. The other NYSE internals such as the volume showed that we had another distribution day. How do we determine a distribution day? The market has to decline with greater volume from the previous day. There were a total of 1,710 million shares trades at the NYSE today while the 50 day average volume is 1,570 million. The number of advancing issues totaled 563. While the number of declining issues was 2642. That is a 5 to 1 ratio and is very extreme. With the Advance/Decline ratio that low I am surprised that the $TRIN wasnt higher. Lets travel to midtown from downtown to see what the Nasdaq did. The $TRINQ, however, did exceed 1.5 with a close of 2.12. The Nasdaq has been in a free fall as it is trying to catch up to the $SPX and $INDU YTD returns. While we are on the Nasdaq, it did post a distribution day. Todays volume, at 2086 million shares, was slightly above the 50 day average daily volume (2083 million shares). Keeping with the Nasdaq the number of advancing issues fell to 713 and the number of declining issues totaled 2206 for a 3 to 1 ratio of decliners.

Todays Notable News

Four Fed officials took to the podium today to divulge their latest take on the battered economy. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said inflation is becoming a more pressing concern, while financial market turmoil is waning. The Fed continued to hint it is likely done cutting rates, and its next move will be an increase. Specifically, Fed Reserve Vice Chairman Kohn said anchoring inflation expectations "is critical" and that the gain in oil prices is raising consumer inflation expectations. Fed funds futures suggest a 14% chance the Fed will raise rates by 25 basis points on June 25, and an 86% chance that the Fed will leave the rates unchanged at 2.00%. The Fed's Beige book results were released at 2:00 PM. The book contains economic information from the various Fed districts. The book said consumer spending slowed in March. Five regions reported stable economies, while seven reported softer or sluggish growth. There has been "tighter credit standards" for most loan types. The book reports moderate or limited wage growth.

Crude extended its gains today to close at 136.50. Prior to the crude inventories oil was trading at 135.26 per barrel. Crude inventories for the week ending June 6 fell by 4.6 million barrels. The estimate was only for a decrease of 1.5 million barrels. Oil drillers are advancing while the refiners are declining due to profit margin concerns. Oil isnt the only sector to blame for todays plummet. Financials were dragging the markets down on fears that Lehman Brothers (LEH) will report further write downs. About 96% of the stocks within the financial sector declined today.

Some good news came from the following stocks: MOS, CAT, and CME.

CME Group announced this morning that it reached the second-highest day of volume trading yesterday with 1,264,086 futures and options on futures contracts traded, only surpassed on December 8, 2006, when 1,268,883 contracts were traded. In addition, a new record in the notional value of its FX futures and options on futures contracts was established yesterday, when futures and options contracts worth $168.4 billion were traded. The previous notional value record was traded on March 31, 2008, when futures and options on futures contracts worth $167.9 billion were traded -- a total of 1,217,674 contracts.

Caterpillar is raising its quarterly dividend by $0.06 to $0.42. CAT closed down $1.17.

Mosaic (MOS) and other agricultural stocks surged today after Canadian company Agrium (AGU) increased its second quarter earnings guidance by more than 35%. Monsanto also had its 2008 and 2009 earnings estimates raised at UBS.

If you are a commodities trader, you should know that Commodities as a whole spiked up 2.7%, with grains gaining 5.5%. Wet weather and flooding is expected to decrease crop yields. Specifically, July Corn futures closed up 35 at 708, Soybeans closed up 70 at 1516 and Sugar bounced up 0.81 to 10.65. July Wheat also bounced strongly breaking above the 50 day moving average. If you arent a commodities trader and would like to be exposed to these markets you can buy a few exchange traded funds (ETF) and exchange traded notes (ETN). ETFs that provide upside exposure to agricultural include Market Vectors (MOO) and the Powershares (DBA). Barclays, the provider of iShares, has a variety of ETNs that gain implied exposure to the commodities. However, there isnt much data on whether or not the ETFs and ETNs actually use futures contracts or how much leverage they use.

The S&P 500

The S&P 500 has declined over 100 points since the intraday high of 1440 reached on 5/21/08. Not only has the index broken the uptrend line, it has broken the 50% retracement line (shown above). We are looking at the Fibonacci levels from the March low to the May high, a 185 point range). With the 5 bar RSI back below 30, the oversold barrier, the index is approaching an extreme oversold level to bounce from. A popular trade is to take a long position near the 50 percent Fibonacci level (50% isnt actually a Fib number) and use the 61.8% level as a floor that provides some risk management. The next Fibonacci level is another 8 points lower at 1327. Should the market hold here it could bounce up to 1370 or the 38.20% Fibonacci level. The most recent support level was from the June 3rd low at 1370. That is a coincidence. Since that support level was broken it is now resistance. Old support is new resistance. Another coincidence is that the next support line is at 1324 from the April 15th low. The Bollinger Bands are expanding which indicates the increasing volatility of the index. As the bands expand it provides a greater range for the stock to trade in. The lower band is declining faster than the upper band is increasing. But the upper band doesnt usually increase that much during declining markets. If the move down is sustained the upper Bollinger band will begin to decline. The $SPX closed (1335) above the Lower Bollinger Band (1333). Often times when the price closes outside the bands it represents extreme levels and provides a contrary move the next day. However, the move might not be sustained.

The Slow Stochastic is also oversold at 10.83 and beginning to slow its decline. A re emergence of the indicator above 20 is considered a strong confirmation to buy. Last week I wrote that since the 50 day exponential and simple moving average couldnt be broken and closed above the 89 day Moving Average (Grey line) was the next support level to be tested. I was right about that. As mentioned earlier, the next price support is at 1324 from the price support and also at 1327 from the Fibonacci numbers. We need to watch to make sure these levels arent broken because there isnt much support until the March lows. With the weakening economy and the Fed out of ammunition the market may be left to peril this summer.

The Nasdaq 100 ($NDX)

The $NDX has been in catch up mode this week. While the $SPX failed to retest its May 21st highs the $NDX broke its previous high last Thursday and ended at the high. The move was an exhausted move because the $NDX gapped down the next day and has continued down since. The index has declined over 130 points to 1924. The next level of support after the 200 day Exponential Moving Average (pink line below) is from the Fibonacci level and not a price support.

Since early May, the 200 day Simple Moving Average (SMA) has served as the primary support for the $NDX. While it traded below the 200 day, not until today did the index close below the 200 day SMA. In one fellow swoop the $NDX broke and closed below the 200 SMA (Red line), the 50 SMA (Blue Line) and SMA (Orange Line). The $NDX did, however, close just above the 200 day Exponential Moving Average at 1919 or 5 points lower. I have a feeling that the market may open higher and then fail back to the 200 EMA. Why? The market closed at its absolute low just as it closed at its absolute high last Thursday.

The above chart is of the daily Nasdaq over the past three or so months. On this chart we are viewing the Bollinger bands, RSI and the 8 and 21 day Exponential Moving Averages. The 38.2% level (1908) may serve as both a magnet for the index to test as well as a decent support level. It would be coincidental if this level served as support while the 200 day EMA was being violated intraday. One other note of support comes from the 4/30 low at 1912. Sometimes slight discrepancies in the coincidence indicators allow for traders to establish longs just below one because the average trader will be selling, stopped and/or shorting at a break of the extreme (200 day EMA). Should the 1907 level be broken there is support again at the 50% retracement and also coincidentally at the April 22nd low of 1867 and the 89 day SMA. I realize these numbers are exact but when is anything in the market. There is a huge gap at 1849 that may need to be filled and therefore may act as a huge black hole for this market. Today the 8 day EMA closed below the 21 day EMA. I look at the short term charts for confirmation and the long term charts for support and resistance levels. Many times the market bounces after the initial moving average cross over. The 5 bar RSI is below 30 at 23.72 and is in oversold territory. The Bollinger bands on the $NDX are similar to that of the $SPXs mentioned earlier. Basically the markets are in an oversold state with some support near by. Should these levels be broken, there is a lot of room to decline.

Open Interest

I also write the Contrarian each Wednesday and we went to a Negative (short) bias last week and a Neutral bias two weeks ago. As a contrarian I also like to look at Open Interest levels of the major indices. I mainly watch the $SPX and the $NDX but will occasionally monitor the $RUT (Russell 2000) and the $OEX (S&P 100). Personally I like to trade the $SPX up to Thursday and the $OEX for Friday weekly expiration. The $SPX and $OEX ($XEO = European expiration) are the only index options that offer weekly expirations. When viewing the Open Interest, I tend to look at the front month option until the last week when many hedgers, institutional and commercial traders roll out to the next expiration.

The NDX support is achieved through the peak PUT open interest. At the close today the $NDX was at 1924. The next level of peak support isnt until 1850. However, there is some open interest at 1900. The market really broke the highest level of open interest at the 2000 strike. On the CALL side the open interest represents resistance. The peak there is simply the 2000 strike. In last weeks Thursday newsletter I wrote that the 2000 level would become a magnet for the $NDX to trade to as we approach expiration. So far the magnet was too strong and pulled the $NDX way below the floor. Perhaps a bounce will make me right by next Thursdays close.

There are a lot more strike prices on the $SPX to monitor than the $NDX. However, on the CALLs there peak resistance at 1350 with 145000 contracts open. The closest strike for the PUTS is also the 1350 strike with 198000 contracts open. The next lower level of peak open interest is at 1325 followed by 1300. The absolute peak level of resistance for the SPX is really at the 1400 strike. Major century marks are often levels of peak open interest.

I dont trade any of these but if you do, here is some EPS data.

Tomorrow is chalk full of economic data that can move the markets. Initial Claims and Retail sales probably have the greatest influence for tomorrows early action. Friday has the May CPI and Michigan Sentiment for June. The NAZ Futures are up over 8 points as I write and the SPOOZ are up 2.5. Fair value for the S&P is 1335.25 and 1925 for the Nasdaq.

As always I had fun writing and I hope you have a profitable day tomorrow.

New Plays

Most Recent Plays

Click here to email James
New Plays
Long Plays
Short Plays
None ALL

New Long Plays

None today.

New Short Plays

Allstate - ALL - close: 49.31 change: -0.88 stop: 51.51

Company Description:
The Allstate Corporation is the nations largest publicly held personal lines insurer. (source: company press release or website)

Why We Like It:
ALL has broken down under its two-month trendline of support and technical support at its 50-dma. This breakdown follows multiple failed rallies at its 200-dma overhead. ALL does not move very fast but the trend definitely looks like it's turned bearish again. We're suggesting a stop loss at $51.51 but more conservative traders might want to put theirs near $51.00 instead. Our target is the $45.25-45.00 zone.

Picked on June 11 at $49.31
Change since picked: + 0.00
Earnings Date 07/23/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 3.9 million


Kraft Inc. - KFT - close: 30.78 change: -0.46 stop: 31.85

Company Description:
For more than a century, Kraft has offered delicious foods and beverages that fit the way consumers live. Today, we are turning the brands that consumers have lived with for years into brands they can't live without. Millions of times a day in more than 150 countries around the world, consumers reach for their favorite Kraft brands. (source: company press release or website)

Why We Like It:
Last night I mentioned KFT as a trading candidate in my play editor's note. Today's market weakness has pushed KFT through support at its four-month trendline and at its 100-dma near $31.00. While shares are arguably oversold this is an entry point for shorts. We're suggesting a stop loss at $31.85. Our target is $29.00. Our time frame is three or four weeks.

Picked on June 11 at $30.78
Change since picked: + 0.00
Earnings Date 07/30/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 7.8 million

Play Updates

Updates On Latest Picks

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Long Play Updates

Adaptec - ADPT - close: 3.17 change: -0.02 stop: 3.13

ADPT's momentum still looks like it's fading. We would strongly consider an early exit now to cut our losses since the market is acting so weak. However, we are going to keep the stock on the play list for now. We're not suggesting new positions at this time. Our target is the $3.65-3.70 zone. The stock can be somewhat volatile so we do consider this a higher-risk play. Our time frame is several weeks. FYI: The most recent data listed short interest at more than 7% of the 118 million-share float. Based on ADPT's average daily volume that is a lot of short interest and the stock could see a short squeeze.

Picked on May 28 at $ 3.25
Change since picked: - 0.08
Earnings Date 05/08/08 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 559 thousand


BJ Services - BJS - close: 31.21 change: +0.01 stop: 29.89

The OSX oil service index did not make much progress even though crude oil gushed $5 higher. Shares of BJS followed the OSX sideways. The trend in BJS is still a positive one but we're not suggesting new positions at this time. Our initial target is the $33.00-34.00 range. The P&F chart is bullish with a $52 target.

Picked on May 28 at $30.45
Change since picked: + 0.76
Earnings Date 07/24/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 6.9 million


Uranium Resources - URRE - close: 3.00 chg: -0.26 stop: 2.89

Our buy the bounce from support play in URRE is not off to a good start. A widespread market meltdown today let URRE collapse under its own weight (again). The stock lost 7.9% but managed to hold above the $3.00 level - at least for now. We would wait for a rebound before considering new bullish positions. More conservative traders might want to tighten their stops closer to the $3.00 level. Our short-term target is the $3.95 mark. This should be considered an aggressive play.

Picked on June 10 at $ 3.26
Change since picked: - 0.26
Earnings Date 08/04/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 393 thousand


Williams Cos. - WMB - close: 39.17 change: +0.41 stop: 37.75

Natural gas stocks did not fare as well as the oil stocks but the trend was still up. We remain bullish on WMB. Our target is the $42.00-42.50 zone. More aggressive traders may want to aim higher. The Point & Figure chart points to $56.

Picked on May 22 at $38.40
Change since picked: + 0.88
Earnings Date 07/31/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 6.7 million


Wal-Mart - WMT - close: 58.52 change: -1.26 stop: 56.49

The mighty WMT could not withstand the market's turmoil today. Shares lost more than 2% and we're seeing the potential for a bearish divergence between price and its MACD on the daily chart. We are not suggesting new positions at this time. WMT has exceeded our first target at $59.00. The Point & Figure chart points to a $68 target. We have a second, more aggressive target at $62.00.

Picked on May 22 at $56.05 /1st target exceeded
Change since picked: + 2.47
Earnings Date 08/14/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 19.1 million

Short Play Updates

Amer.Capital Strat. - ACAS - cls: 28.94 chg: -1.11 stop: 32.05*new*

Financial stocks were hammered again. This time ACAS lost 3.7% and broke down under round-number support at $30.00. We are aiming for the January 2008 lows so our target is the $26.50-26.00 zone. Please note that our new stop loss is $32.05. The P&F chart is bearish with a $22 target. FYI: It is important for readers to note that ACAS has above average short interest. A lot of investors have seen the trend and they're piling on. The most recent data listed short interest at 15.5% of the 199-million share float. That is more than a week's worth of short interest and raises the risk of a short squeeze.

Picked on June 08 at $30.95
Change since picked: - 2.01
Earnings Date 07/31/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 2.4 million


Darden Rest. - DRI - close: 30.74 change: -1.35 stop: 34.81

DRI almost hit our first target today near $30.00 but the play isn't even open yet. Shares lost another 4.2% thanks to a broad-based market sell-off. The $30.00 level is probably short-term support so expect a bounce. We are going to keep DRI on the newsletter with an entry point to short it in the $32.50-33.50 zone. Our new stop loss will be $34.55. If triggered we have two targets. Our first target is $30.10. Our second target is $27.75.

Picked on June xx at $xx.xx <-- see TRIGGER
Change since picked: + 0.00
Earnings Date 06/24/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 2.0 million


Paychex Inc. - PAYX - close: 33.28 change: -0.06 stop: 34.87*new*

PAYX continues to slide and the intraday bounce failed at the $33 level, which is good news for the bears. We are adjusting our stop loss to $34.87. We're not suggesting new positions in PAYX at this time. Our target is the $31.00-30.00 zone. FYI: The most recent data listed short interest at 5% of the 320 million-share float. That's several days worth of short interest.

Picked on May 22 at $34.87
Change since picked: - 1.59
Earnings Date 06/25/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 2.4 million


Patterson Cos. - PDCO - close: 32.45 change: -0.45 stop: 34.21

PDCO has broken down to a new relative low. This looks like a new entry point for shorts. Our target is the $30.50-30.00 zone. The P&F chart is bearish with a $28 target. FYI: The most recent data listed short interest at about 11% of the 98 million-share float. That is a relatively high degree of short interest for this stock.

Picked on June 03 at $33.42
Change since picked: - 0.97
Earnings Date 08/21/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 1.6 million

Closed Long Plays

Axsys Tech. - AXYS - close: 57.40 change: -4.06 stop: 57.95

Selling picked up speed in AXYS. After more than a week of consolidating sideways above the $60.00 level, suddenly and without warning, AXYS dropped 6.4% and plunged through additional support at the $58.00 level. We could not find any news that might account for AXYS' relative weakness. You might say this is the danger of trading a thinly traded stock. When the selling picked up the stock overreacted. The trade went from +$2.30 to -$1.76 except that our stop loss was at $57.95. The trend is still bullish so we'd keep AXYS on our watch list. Our target had been $64.00 and AXYS hit $63.88 on June 9th.

Picked on June 01 at $59.16 /stopped out 57.95
Change since picked: - 1.76
Earnings Date 07/24/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 124 thousand


Mercury General - MCY - close: 49.39 change: -2.23 stop: 49.99

Wow! Murphy's law is out to get us today. First AXYS, which had been a winning play for us suddenly crashed on us. Now MCY, which was showing strength just as suddenly collapsed. The stock actually gapped open lower at $51.93 and then just fell off a cliff. Yet we couldn't find any news that my account for the sudden weakness. MCY broke support at its trendline of higher lows and broke support at the $50.00 level. Our stop loss was at $49.99.

Picked on May 28 at $50.92 *stopped out/gap higher entry
Change since picked: - 1.53
Earnings Date 05/05/08 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 264 thousand

Closed Short Plays

Dover Corp. - DOV - close: 49.83 change: -2.20 stop: 54.51

Our direction on DOV was correct but our timing was a little off. We thought shares might bounce a bit more before declining. The stock hit $52.60 intraday yesterday. Our suggested entry point was $52.75. The stock lost 4.2% today and is testing support near $50 and its 50-dma. We are dropping DOV as a short because we're not going to chase it. However, we would keep DOV on your watch list. Another failed rally in the $52-53 zone might be another bearish entry point.

Picked on June xx at $xx.xx *never opened
Change since picked: + 0.00
Earnings Date 07/23/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 1.8 million

Today's Newsletter Notes: Market Wrap by Robert Ogilvie and all other plays and content by the Option Investor staff.


Option Investor Inc is neither a registered Investment Advisor nor a Broker/Dealer. Readers are advised that all information is issued solely for informational purposes and is not to be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy, nor is it to be construed as a recommendation to buy, hold or sell (short or otherwise) any security. All opinions, analyses and information included herein are based on sources believed to be reliable and written in good faith, but no representation or warranty of any kind, expressed or implied, is made including but not limited to any representation or warranty concerning accuracy, completeness, correctness, timeliness or appropriateness. In addition, we do not necessarily update such opinions, analysis or information. Owners, employees and writers may have long or short positions in the securities that are discussed.

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