Option Investor

Daily Newsletter, Saturday, 5/10/2014

Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

Index Divergence Continues

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

The Dow gained for the week and the Russell 2000 lost -1.9%. Confusion abounds.

Market Statistics

With the Dow closing at a new high and the Russell only 4 points above a 10% correction at the morning lows there was a significant divergence of investing opinions. I believe Friday's afternoon rebound was short covering ahead of the weekend but we may be nearing a material change in the markets.

The blue chips are refusing to decline and the drop in the small caps may have found a bottom. If the Russell and the Nasdaq actually had a couple of positive days I think the Dow and S&P would be breaking out to new record highs. Last week the Russell and Nasdaq were the anchors on the big cap indexes and once they begin to rebound the big caps will be set free.

This is the point where analysts expecting a decline in May begin to reevaluate the possibility for a May rally. Obviously, the instant the bears turn bullish it will be the signal for a full fledged market decline.

If you look at the chart of the Russell 2000 there have been five multiple day rebounds since the high at 1,208 on March 5th. That means the +9 point rebound on Friday is not yet a change in trend. However, it did occur at strong support so it does have a better chance of a continued run.

Economics on Friday were minimal. The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) showed hiring ads slowed from 4.1 million to 4.0 million in March. The number of hires also declined from 4.7 million to 4.6 million. This is a lagging report for March and we have already seen the April payroll report so the JOLTS data was ignored.

The Wholesale Trade report for March showed inventories rose +1.1% and in line with expectations. This compares to the upwardly revised +0.7% in February. Sales rose +1.4% compared to +0.9% in February. The inventory to sales ratio declined from 1.19 to 1.18. The upward revisions to February bode well for the future revisions to GDP but it will still be tough to avoid a negative number in the next revision.

We have a full calendar of reports for next week with the Philly Fed Survey on Thursday the biggest report for the week. Expectations are for a decline from 16.6 to 15.4. April retail sales are due out on Tuesday and expectations are for another decline. This could be an upward surprise if April ended the three month bout of cabin fever for consumers.

The CPI and PPI would be of interest to the market if there were any inflation in the economy. These reports are likely to show another month with minimal gains in pricing power.

The Housing Market Index on Thursday and residential construction on Friday should begin to show a rebound now that winter is over.

The earnings cycle will be officially over on Thursday when Walmart (WMT) reports. This is typically considered the end of earnings but Hewlett Packard will drag in late on the following Thursday. The most notable earnings for the week will be Cisco and Walmart followed by Rackspace, Take-Two Interactive and Applied Materials.

So far 451 of the S&P-500 companies have reported. Of those reporters 68% beat estimates, 9% met estimates and 22% missed estimates. The majority of those estimates had previously been lowered, some more than once.

Friday is never a big day for earnings but there were a couple of notable companies that did report. Alcatel Lucent (ALU) posted a loss of 3 cents compared to a loss of 16 cents in the year ago quarter. Expenses declined about 20%. Adjusted earnings of 33 million euros beat estimates for a breakeven quarter. ALU burned through about 398 million euros in the quarter as free cash flow continues to shrink. The company is going through a restructuring that will see 10,000 job cuts and expects to be cash flow positive again in 2015. Shares declined -4% on the news.

Newly public Hilton (HLT) saw profits triple to 12 cents or $123 million. Adjusted earnings were 13 cents compared to estimates of 9 cents. Revenue rose +4.4% to $2.36 billion compared to estimates of $2.37 billion. The company forecast earnings between 18-20 cents for Q2 and analysts were expecting 17 cents. For the full year Hilton projected 64-67 cents and analysts were only expecting 60 cents. Hilton also owns the Double Tree and Waldorf Astoria brands.

Stratasys Systems (SSYS) reported earnings that met estimates at 40 cents and revenue of $151.2 million beat estimates of $143.3 million. The company reiterated the full year forecast and analysts dumped on the stock. Investors fled for greener pastures. The company said operating expenses would increase "materially" this year due to investments in sales and marketing. Operating expenses rose +42% in the quarter. Earnings were also helped by a decline in income tax from $3.1 million to $820,000. The company reiterated full year earnings in the $2.15-$2.25 range and analysts were expecting $2.21. Stratasys said organic sales would grow 25% annually after 2013. Shares fell -5% to $90 on the news but that was about +5% off the reaction lows at $85.

Bloomin Brands (BLMN) reported adjusted earnings of 46 cents that missed estimates of 47 cents by a penny. Revenue of $1.16 billion met estimates. The company guided to full year sales growth of 1% to 2% with adjusted earnings of $1.21 compared to estimates of $1.22. Revenues rose +6% in Q1. However, same store sales declined -1.7% due to weather and the timing of holidays. Shares declined -2.5% today but the outlook is bearish.

Tetra Tech (TTI) reported a loss of 4 cents compared to estimates for a profit of 5 cents. Revenues of $212.9 million missed estimates of $220.9 million. They blamed the weather for delaying field operations. They cautioned that future operations of most segments would be in line with estimates with the exception of their "Production Testing segment where revenue recovery continues to be slower than previously anticipated." Shares fell -8% on the news.

Ubiquiti Networks (UBNT) reported earnings on Thursday after the close. Adjusted earnings of 50 cents beat estimates of 49 cents. Revenue rose +78% to $148.3 million and well over estimates of $142 million. However, the stock was crushed on Friday after they forecast revenue of $150 million and EPS of 50 cents. Analysts were expecting $151.8 million. Inventories rose from $32 million to $66 million. That rise was twice the $16 million rise in the prior quarter. Analysts are worried that new equipment is not selling despite a +78% rise in revenue for the quarter. Shares fell -24%.

Apple (AAPL) is said to be near a deal to buy Beats for $3.2 billion. Apple is close to striking a deal with Dr Dre and Jimmy Lovine to acquire the headphone maker and the online streaming music site. Beats Music service charges a fee of $10 a month and subscribers get unlimited access to all the songs in the music catalog through a smartphone, tablet or web browser. Beats is the leader in high priced headphones with prices in the $170 to $450 range for their best models. This would be the largest acquisition ever for Apple but they have $147 billion in cash left so maybe they are about to go on a shopping spree. Apple has made 24 acquisitions over the last 18 months. With iPhone and iPad sales slowing Apple needs to find some other ways to make money.

It is getting harder to buy a car in China but sales increased +13% in April. Some dealerships saw sales increase more than 40% in April. More cities are putting restrictions on the number of cars that can be sold to combat congestion and air pollution but that is only accelerating the purchases. Customers that have cars on order are accelerating their purchases to avoid being shut out of the market by some new regulation. More than 1.5 million cars, trucks and SUVs were sold in April. Six Chinese cities have imposed quotas in recent months. They are limiting the number of license plates that can be sold and those are doled out in a lottery. Winners then resell the plates in the open market for huge premiums. Sales at an auto show in Nanjing occurred at the rate of one every 3 minutes.

Chinese cars are gasoline sippers compared to U.S. cars but adding them at the rate of 1.5 million a month is still increasing gasoline demand significantly. China is on track to add more than 20 million cars/trucks/SUVs in 2014. This is one more reason oil prices will continue to rise long term.

However, China's economic growth is slowing to 7.3% in 2014 and the lowest level since 1990. It is expected to decline to 7.2% in 2015 and be flat at that level in 2016. The decline in GDP and a lower than expected inflation reading last week will give the government plenty of room to add stimulus without worrying about overheating. The CPI rose only +1.8% from year ago levels in April. That was less than the 2.1% consensus and +2.4% gain in march. The producer price index fell -2% and the 26th consecutive monthly decline after a -2.3% decline in March. The record is a 31-month decline that started in 1997. China is struggling through a credit crisis and businesses are finding it much more difficult to obtain credit for things like equipment and inventory.

So far this has not impacted the demand for commodities like iron ore and copper. Bookings of Capesize vessels, which mostly haul iron ore, surged +47% to 90 a month so far in 2014. The number of available ships have shrunk to the point where freight rates are expected to rise from $12,000 a day currently to $20,000 by next month. The price for ore continues to decline and this is leading to a buying frenzy. China is currently investing in large infrastructure projects like roads, bridges, railroads, ports, etc. All of these take enormous amounts of steel and the projects are not impacted by the slowing economy. China imported 83.4 million tons of iron ore in April. That is the highest since records began in 1990.

Venezuela is having economic problems for different reasons. Ford (F) announced it was shutting down operations in the country because it could not obtain dollars from the government to import parts. Suppliers will not accept the Venezuelan Bolivar currency. The government rations dollars to a privileged few companies that are loyal to the government. Columbia halted natural gas sales to Venezuela using the excuse they were holding back in case El Nino returned this year. However, if you can't get paid there is no reason to export it.

Venezuela said it was going to start rationing water and electricity because of an impending drought. In the Chacao business district, home to office towers, restaurants and shopping malls, water service will not be available on Tuesday's and Saturdays. The other five days it will only be available in the evenings. More than 25% of basic goods were out of stock on grocery shelves and the worst since the central bank began keeping records. The lack of products is so bad the central bank quit publishing the lists of shortages because of the negative sentiment.

The economy is so bad only 1,674 cars were sold in March in a country of 28 million people. Inflation rose to 59% in March, the highest in the world. Of course President Maduro is blaming the shortages and inflation on the United States. According to Maduro, it is our fault because we are squeezing his economy in an effort to overthrow his government.

In the U.S. the labor force participation rate for 25-29 year old workers hit a record low of 79.8% in April. That is the lowest since January 1982 when the data was first collected and the participation rate for that group was 80.7%. The 24-29 year old population is very employable and starting their careers. The peak was 1999 when 84.6% of this demographic were employed. It we were at that level today another 4.7 million people would have jobs.

Zerohedge posted this chart last week showing the breakdown of the entire labor force.

The Russell 2000 dipped to 1,091 and came within 4 points of correction territory at 1,087 on Friday before rebounding +16 points to close at 1,107. Since 2010 there have been nine corrections in the Russell of 10% or more. The average was -15%. In every instance the S&P-500 declined about 10%. Today the S&P is currently only a few points from a new high. According to Josh Brown you have to go back more than decade to find a similar divergence.

According to J.C. O'Hara at FBN Securities, "Often at the end of bull markets, large cap stocks continue to rise and the smaller stocks begin to falter." The S&P-500 is market cap weighted so the bigger blue chips like Exxon, Apple, IBM, etc, have a much bigger impact on the index. "Large cap stocks have a much larger impact and can mask internal weakness" according to O'Hara. He said the average stock in the S&P-1500, the combination of the large cap S&P-500, Midcap 400 and Small cap 600, is down -12% and the average stocks in the Russell and Nasdaq are down about -20%. The higher weighted stocks are disguising this weakness. "Historically, this sort of divergence does not bode well for the longevity of the market's upward inertia." They also went back and studied the average stocks when markets made new highs and comparatively the market breadth today is "very unhealthy." He said new highs were shrinking, new lows increasing and the breadth divergence was a "major concern." Also, "the powerful message of 'there is something wrong' should not go unnoticed."

The Dow closed at a new high on Friday but there were only 104 new individual highs with 219 new lows. When the Dow was near the highs back on March 6th there were 896 new highs and only 81 new lows. At the December 31st Dow high there were 750 new highs and 98 new lows.

Market breadth is terrible and volume was very low at only 5.7 billion shares.

Chart from FBN Securities, Bloomberg, Business Insider

Michael O'Rourke, of Jones Trading, said the current market was a classic zombie scenario. The dead are dead but they don't know they are dead. Stocks today may be the walking dead. He said despite the Dow and S&P closing near record highs there are headwinds building. O'Rourke said the rot may start with the banks with the biggest names piling up new 52-week lows in the weeks ahead. Many are already at six-month lows and the earnings were not good. He said a big problem for the market is that the leadership of the blue chips has been driven by a defensive rotation. Investors are buying relatively safe stocks because they don't want to be left out of the market and dumping higher priced techs, biotechs, Internet and momentum stocks. "That buying does not represent strong hands and as deterioration accelerates, these players will come out of the market."

O'Rourke pointed to the Russell 3000, which represents about 98% of the investable market. The average stock in that index is down -19% from their 52 week highs but the index is only 17 points below its historic high.

Dan Greenhaus at BTIG warned that half of the Russell 2000 components are down -20% or more and 80% are down -10% or more from their 52-week highs. He believes in the dead stock walking analogy. Former Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O'Neil said he fully believes in the "sell in May" scenario and would not be putting his money in U.S. stocks today.

Apparently the Irish analysts have decided to gang up on the market with O'Neil, O'Rourke and O'Hara all deciding to pick on the Russell index components in the same week. Or, maybe Irish analysts are just smarter.

According to the Investment Company Institute (ICI) U.S. mutual funds saw outflows of $3.9 billion last week for the biggest outflows in a year. The prior high was $4.9 billion in the week ended May 1st, 2013. Are you sensing a pattern here?

The Russell 2000 lost nearly -2% for the week but it is still holding above critical support at 1,096. That level was broken twice intraday on Wednesday and Friday but rebounded into the close. However, the five-week downtrend is still intact with lower highs and lower lows. The support at 1,096 is critical now that support at the 200-day average has failed for four consecutive closes. That is a strong sell signal but the obvious support at 1,096 may be providing hope for those unwilling to close positions.

The S&P-500 tested upper resistance at 1,890 on Thursday and the selling was immediate. Twice in the last two weeks the S&P spiked through to that level and both times was met with heavy selling. Interim support at 1,860 was tested on Wednesday and there was a sharp burst of buying.

The S&P is stuck in a clearly defined range with a solid resistance top. There are two schools of thought on the possible outcome. The first suggests we continue to chip away at the overhead resistance until it weakens and allows a breakout. This is a common event. Every temporary spike through the initial resistance saps the strength of that resistance. If the index remains here long enough eventually the number of sellers will dwindle. Every bout of selling uses up a certain amount of stock and weakens that resistance. Buyers have to exhibit a lot of stubbornness to wear down the sellers.

The second scenario has the buyers giving up. After a number of fruitless attempts to push through that resistance level the buyers give up and cancel their bids. It is the equivalent to banging your head against the wall. Eventually you realize it is painful and the wall is not moving. Buyers decide the resistance is not going to break and they use the next attempt to sell their existing positions and either go to cash or switch sides and short the market.

We have all seen both scenarios many times. We have seen resistance levels attacked repeatedly until they fail. We have also seen unbreakable resistance end rallies and the market reverse to the downside.

The S&P has been fighting this battle since April 22nd when it first tested the 1,885 level. The first test resulted in significant selling that knocked us back to 1,850. The dip last week only took us back to 1,860 and a higher low was made.

With the big caps in the Dow like BA, MMM, MCD, DIS, XOM, PG, AXP, CAT and TRV all holding at multi-week highs the S&P has broad based support in the larger individual stocks. As I mentioned earlier the big caps exert a stronger influence on the indexes than the smaller cap stocks.

What we have had is a defensive rotation from smaller caps into the safety of blue chips. As long as they are deemed to be safe the rotation could continue. Investors don't want to be out of the market during a period of seasonal weakness just in case that weakness does not appear. A market making new highs is a strong incentive for investors to remain invested. Should conditions change and the S&P start making some lower lows that investor sentiment can change very quickly.

I still believe there is going to be massive resistance at 1,900. Back in March when the S&P hit 1,897 intraday there were multiple sell programs triggered and a steep decline lasted two days. I believe that resistance still exists so getting through the 1,885 and 1,890 resistance levels is not the end of the battle.

The Dow closed at a new historic high at 16,583, only 3 points above the old high set the prior Wednesday. I warned everyone two weeks ago that 16,580 was going to be a critical level and that came to pass. Since the Dow is the bluest of the blue chips and a price weighted index the defensive rotation into the blue chips has a direct impact on the Dow. As a narrow 30 stock index only a few bullish stocks can overcome lackluster performance by the rest of the components.

It is entirely possible the Dow could continue to climb while the Russell and Nasdaq weaken further. However, if the Dow does break out from this current resistance level it could bolster market sentiment across the board. For the vast majority of low information investors the Dow is the market. "If the Dow is breaking out then the market must be bullish."

Conversely if the Dow begins to break down the decline in the small caps should accelerate.

Ignoring the ugly market internals and the weak economics the Dow chart looks more bullish than bearish. The constant chipping away at resistance and the pattern of higher lows suggests there may be a breakout soon. That assumes no geopolitical headlines that tank the market. We could be setting up for a decent run if the selling in the Russell were to end. The rebound from the critical support at 1,096 on Friday could have been a bottom forming after two tests in three days. We won't know that until we see what next week brings.

If the Russell just remains positive it would help the Dow break through resistance. The Russell would not have to add a large number of points but simply quit declining.

The Nasdaq rebounded +20 points on Friday. Based on the short term chart below I don't find that encouraging. That 20 point rebound to 4,071 was just a drop in the proverbial bucket and still -38 points below the Thursday high at 4,109. Granted all the big name stocks are on the winning side of the table below but despite all those gainers it was still a lackluster performance considering how oversold the tech sector was.

The key number for next week will be the support at 4,025 which has been tested several times since the April 15th low at 3,946. That 4,025 level is now critical. A lower close means the selling is not over and 4,000 and then 3,946 becomes the next targets.

In summary I would like to think the Dow will breakout next week and create some bullish market sentiment that spreads to the Russell and Nasdaq. However, hope has never been a successful trading strategy. We need to be prepared for a potential breakout but also be mindful of the potential for a continued decline in the Russell and Nasdaq. Neither of those charts have any material bullish patterns. The earnings cycle is basically over and summer is approaching. That means lower volumes and declining interest in the market. Thoughts will soon turn to weekends at the beach and away from the market.

Random Thoughts

This is an interesting article on the fallacies in Janet Yellen's testimony last week. Numerous lawmakers asked her pointed questions about Fed policies, job growth and the economy and the answers appeared to be "Don't worry, be happy, the Fed is in control." Unfortunately we know they are not in control and they don't have a plan for extricating themselves from $4 trillion in treasuries. 6 dubious Yellenisms from the Fed chair's testimony

China's bad debt problem could be a serious problem for global growth. I alluded to this earlier but here is an article with some facts. China Debt Could Spark Global Growth Slump

Home ownership is at a 19 year low. Home mortgage rates are at a 7-month low at 4.21%. New home sales, existing home sales and builder sentiment have been declining. So why are more people not buying homes? One analyst that just bought a home said the qualification process was like a "financial colonoscopy." The average person can't qualify and fears of being turned down are causing many people to not even apply.

The current economic expansion is the 6th longest in history and the current bull market is the 4th longest. Equity valuations are at the highest level since the dot.com bubble. The willingness to overlook negative data is the strongest when markets are at their highs. Bull markets are often been called parties and the Fed is slowly withdrawing the punchbowl. Interest rates are not going to stay low forever. It has been 17 months since we have had a meaningful decline. Small caps and momentum stocks typically lead us up and lead us down.

After a six-pack at a party a member of the opposite sex previously rated a 4 on a scale of 1-10 suddenly begins looking like a 7. After two six-packs they move up to a 10. The next morning, when reality returns and you think back on that individual they return to a 4. What was I thinking? The same is true as a bull market peaks. Investors are looking at stocks after a euphoric 2-3 six-pack binge as those stocks rose in price. Bear markets appear when the beer wears off and those same stocks are viewed in the light of day.

The energy sector has been leading the market for the last month. Click the advertisement below for a free trial to the OilSlick.com newsletter.

Enter passively and exit aggressively!

Jim Brown

Send Jim an email

"Expertise is great, but it has a bad side effect: It tends to create the inability to accept new ideas."
Dean Williams, Investor


Index Wrap

A Bullish Outlook is Suggested, Not Yet 'Proven'

by Leigh Stevens

Click here to email Leigh Stevens

My outlook is toward more upside potential then not overall, with good potential for an upside breakout in the S&P and Dow but probably not before Nasdaq establishes a bottom and that seems to be in process. More in that section. I also show potential for RUT to be at or near a bottom.

My Index Wrap this week should be considered in tandem with what you'll seeing by going to my 5/8 Trader's Corner piece of two days ago.

If you go to the above LINK it will set the stage for my brief 'bottom line' commentary here. As we're in a rotational correction period, SPX, OEX and INDU are held back from breaking out above their respective lines of resistance. All it would appear to take for that to happen is for the Nasdaq to find some footing. That looks like its happening. See charts.

For a speculative play, the Russell 2000 (RUT) looks to be at or near a bottom. Check out the upside reversal history of RUT in prior instances when the Index the highlighted area of low extremes in the Relative Strength Index (RSI). See my last chart below.



The yellow box highlighting the potentially bullish rectangle in the S&P 500 (SPX) is from my Trader's Corner column of the other day. The point with rectangle patterns, which are sideways trading ranges that can persist of over weeks or longer is that there is a tendency for a strong move in EITHER direction assuming a move through the high end OR below the low end of the price range box that the index (or stock) as been in.

What we ASSUME with a sideways trend WITHIN a long-term up trend, is that this most likely represents a bullish consolidation. A potential next leg up is 'signaled' with a decisive upside penetration of 1897-1900 in the case here of SPX.

This chart could also be said to 'show' possible formation of a Head & Shoulder's Top, but I don't see it as SPX continues to consolidate just under the HIGH end of its range and (very important) ABOVE the 21 and 50-day moving averages.

Bullish sentiment is coming down and sets the stage I think for another rally ahead. If so, upside potential can be projected to the 1980-1985 area at least.

Near support and pivotal is at 1860; once proven strong support was seen in the 1825-1815 zone. Near resistance is seen at the upper end of its trading range when SPX last approached 1900. Above 1900, resistance is projected next for the 1930 area.


The S&P 100 (OEX) is in what I consider to a bullish rectangle pattern which is fancy for a sideways trading range with multiple peaks and valleys that touch the same price area on the upside and with multiple prior lows on the downside.

Since the move back above its 50 and 21-day moving averages, OEX has traded above these averages which sustains some upside momentum. A dramatic pulling away from these averages is another story. I see modest upside potential above 840 but the Index has to clear this line of resistance. If so, a next advance in OEX could carry to the 852 level and higher over time; e.g., to 870.

Key near support is at 825, extending to 820, then 815. A Close below 805 would be bearish, especially if not reversed (back to the upside) the following trading day.


The Dow 30 Average (INDU) has the same potentially bullish pattern I'm seeing with the two S&P indices. The Average keeps re-bounding to the area of prior highs and has been trading above its key 50 and 21-day moving averages. In a long-term uptrend, which the Dow is still in, sideways moves, even prolonged ones, that travel in a lateral to curving higher line are bullish consolidations in about 7 of 10 instances.

If Nasdaq finds some base of support, it appears likely INDU could find the spark for a next move above its key near resistance at 16600-16630. If so, a next run to a next higher resistance could carry to the 16850.

Near support is at 16400-16350, extending then to 16200. 16000 should offer fairly major support/buying interest.


The Nasdaq Composite Index (COMP) chart is bearish on a short term basis for sure. An intermediate trend reversal to down as well would occur if COMP were to start trading below the prior (down)swing low as shown below as a likely 'double bottom'.

The potential that we've seen a significant bottom form is not only because good buying interest/support was found in the area of the prior low, but because the Index also got fully oversold per the RSI. Moreover, COMP is holding above long range support implied by its 200-day moving average, so far at least.

I assess some likelihood that COMP will hold above 4000 week to week ahead. I've highlighted near support at 4020, but it might as well be 4000. Next support at the prior lows at 3969 but the most recent intraday low slid to the 3950 area. I don't see another big downside move coming in Nasdaq. Stay tuned on that!

Key overhead resistance is suggested by the down trendline intersecting currently at 4156. Key resistance starts at 4050 and extends 4156-4160.


The Nasdaq 100 (NDX) is potentially 'building' a bottom by its most recent pattern of higher intraday lows (off the mid-March bottom) and generally moving in an overall sideways trend. This after the early-February, mid-March bottoms formed in the same area. The longer that the NDX trades above this 'assumed' double bottom the more it can establish that all important base of support.

Since the cluster of lows made at 3450-3419 area, NDX price action is showing a tendency to rebound. The Nas 100 just hasn't been able to gain sustained UPSIDE traction and pierce that pesky downtrend line. The Nasdaq 100 VXN volatility index (last at 16.5) is lately declining a bit. All the more reason to think that the last low, at a VXN over 22, was a significant one.

Most of what I have to say about the way NDX may go ahead is noted on the chart. What I can add here is that 3550 is a somewhat pivotal level. More trade above 3550 and less back to the 3500 area keeps bullish NDX upside potential on my radar.

Near resistance at the trendline is 3590 just ahead and to 3650 as a next bullish target assuming NDX can trade above 3600 for a period of a couple or more sessions.


The Nasdaq 100 tracking stock (QQQ) shows of course the same pattern as the NDX chart above. I don't know why I feel compelled to say that but only the support/resistance levels are different. Same significant double bottom is suggested.

86 is key near support, followed by 85 even. Key resistance is at QQQ's down trendline, so first comes this at 87.6 in the Q's. If the tracking stock climbs above 87.6 and then 88, it could see a next advance to 89.5. Stay tuned on that.

Daily trading volume recently quite low and I wouldn't expect a panic 'spike' in volume unless 86 gives way in a waterfall type decline.


I'm not looking at the Russell 2000 (RUT) as being in a death spiral but only as finally oversold and looking like it has potentially formed its OWN double bottom like the big boy indexes. True that RUT has been trading lately BELOW the important longer range 200-day moving average. I look more at price patterns as more key than this (still short-lived) dip below the 200-day being a sign of a bear market in the small cap stocks of RUT.

I've highlighted resistance at 1123; call it 1120-1123 as the key area for the Index to overcome first. Next resistance is 1140, then 1160. RUT is sometimes a harbinger of an overall market move and sometimes just diverging. If RUT has hit bottom, the overall Market adds a secondary reason to work higher.

I think a bullish play, on a risk to reward basis, in the Russell is at or near at hand, with an exit on a close below 1080. The technical aspect that's important to me is RUT got fully oversold again with a bottom holding at the prior major downswing. A possible trade to like: in prior cases this kind of price/indicator patterns suggesting limited downside relative to even a modest rebound.


New Option Plays

Chemicals, Deliveries, & TV Channels

by James Brown

Click here to email James Brown


LyondellBasell Industries - LYB - close: 95.45 change: +1.00

Stop Loss: 92.45
Target(s): to be determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: Unopened
Time Frame: 6 to 9 weeks
New Positions: Yes, see below

Company Description

Why We Like It:
LYB is in the basic materials sector. The company manufactures chemicals and polymers. This stock has been consistently pushing higher in spite of a disappointing earnings report in late April. We see this as a relative strength trade.

LYB just recently broke through resistance near $94.00 and shares bounced there, near $94, on Thursday and Friday. We're suggesting new bullish positions at the opening bell on Monday with a stop loss at $92.45. It is possible that the $100.00 level could be round-number resistance but we are aiming higher. The Point & Figure chart for LYB is bullish with a $110 target.

FYI: LYB will begin trading ex-dividend on May 12th. The quarterly dividend should be 70 cents.

- Suggested Positions -

Buy the Sep $100 call (LYB140920C100)* current ask $2.55

*I've provided the more standardized option symbol format.

Annotated Chart:

Entry on May -- at $---.--
Average Daily Volume = 3.1 million
Listed on May 10, 2014

United Parcel Service - UPS - close: 99.76 change: +0.77

Stop Loss: 97.75
Target(s): to be determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: Unopened
Time Frame: 4 to 8 weeks
New Positions: Yes, see below

Company Description

Why We Like It:
UPS is in the services sector. The company provides ground and air freight delivery services. Last year the stock market delivered a stellar performance. Shares of UPS certainly enjoyed the bull market last year and produced big gains in the fourth quarter. December 31st proved to be the peak as profit taking set in immediately and the first month of 2014 was painful for UPS. The company lowered their guidance in January, which only fueled the sell-off.

Fortunately UPS has found support at a long-term trend of higher lows. Even their recent disappointing earnings report and cautious guidance has failed to dislodge the up trend. Now we see UPS on the verge of breaking out past resistance at the $100.00 mark.

We're suggesting a trigger to buy calls at $100.25. If triggered we will start with a stop loss at $97.75. We're not setting an exit target yet but the Point & Figure chart for UPS is bullish with a $114 target.

Trigger @ $100.25

- Suggested Positions -

Buy the Jul $100 call (UPS140719C100)* current ask $1.75
*I've provided the more standardized option symbol format.

Annotated Chart:

Weekly Chart:

Entry on May -- at $---.--
Average Daily Volume = 2.9 million
Listed on May 10, 2014


Discovery Communications - DISCA - close: 73.06 change: -1.30

Stop Loss: 75.05
Target(s): to be determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: Unopened
Time Frame: 3 to 4 weeks
New Positions: Yes, see below

Company Description

Why We Like It:
DISCA is in the services sector. The company operates as a media company with three segments: U.S. Networks, International Networks, and Education. In the U.S. they are probably best known for their Discovery Channel. The stock has had an amazing run over the last five years but the stock is starting to look broken with the correction in 2014. As of Friday's close DISCA is down -19% from its late December highs. That's almost bear-market territory.

The company's latest earnings report just a few days ago was mixed. DISCA beat the bottom line estimate by 4 cents with 75 cents a share. Revenues missed at $1.41 billion for the quarter. DISCA reaffirmed its 2014 guidance. Unfortunately investors sold the news. Now DISCA is sinking to new multi-month lows and is breaking some significant long-term trend lines.

We are suggesting a trigger to buy puts at $72.25. If triggered we will start with a stop loss at $75.05. We're not setting a target yet but the Point & Figure chart for DISCA is bearish with a $59 target.

Trigger @ $72.25

- Suggested Positions -

Buy the Jul $70 PUT (DISCA140719P70)* current ask $1.50
*I've provided the more standardized option symbol format.

Annotated Chart:

Weekly Chart:

Entry on May -- at $---.--
Average Daily Volume = 1.63 million
Listed on May 10, 2014

In Play Updates and Reviews

Stocks End Week On Up Note

by James Brown

Click here to email James Brown

Editor's Note:

The U.S. market ended the week on an up note although some have suggested it was merely short covering ahead of the weekend.

AYI hit our entry trigger. OMC was stopped out.

Current Portfolio:

CALL Play Updates

The Boeing Company - BA - close: 131.10 change: +0.53

Stop Loss: 128.40
Target(s): to be determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: -12.9%
Time Frame: 6 to 9 weeks
New Positions: see below

05/10/14: Shares of BA bounced near the $130 level and managed to outperform the S&P 500 with a +0.4% gain. The stock looks poised to move higher if the market will cooperate. Readers might want to wait for a new rise above $131.50 before considering new positions.

- Suggested Positions -

Long Jul $135 Call (BA1419G135) entry $2.75

05/05/14 triggered at $132.00


Entry on May 05 at $132.00
Average Daily Volume = 3.7 million
Listed on May 03, 2014

Gilead Sciences - GILD - close: 79.76 change: +1.03

Stop Loss: 75.75
Target(s): to be determined (potentially $85.00)
Current Option Gain/Loss: +36.3%
Time Frame: 4 to 8 weeks
New Positions: see below

05/10/14: Biotech stocks spiked lower on Friday morning and then rebounded with a big bounce to outperform the major indices. Shares of GILD followed a similar path. The stock dipped to short-term support at its 10-dma and rebounded to a +1.3% gain. GILD is once again testing round-number resistance near $80.00.

Tonight I am moving our stop loss up to $75.75. More conservative traders may want to move their stop closer to the 10-dma instead.

- Suggested Positions -

Long Jun $80 call (GILD1421F80) entry $2.12

05/10/14 new stop @ 75.75
05/01/14 new stop @ 74.45
04/30/14 triggered @ 77.00


Entry on April 30 at $77.00
Average Daily Volume = 23 million
Listed on April 29, 2014

3M Company - MMM - close: 141.34 change: +0.51

Stop Loss: 138.45
Target(s): to be determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: -15.6%
Time Frame: 4 to 8 weeks
New Positions: see below

05/10/14: Traders continue to buy the dips in MMM. The stock is less than a dollar away from new all-time highs. Investors may want to wait for MMM to trade above $142.00 again before initiating new positions.

Earlier Comments:
We're not setting an exit target yet but the Point & Figure chart for MMM is bullish with a $174 target.

- Suggested Positions -

Long Jun $140 call (MMM1421F140) entry $3.45*

05/08/14 triggered @ $142.00


Entry on May 08 at $142.00
Average Daily Volume = 2.65 million
Listed on May 07, 2014

Pacira Pharmaceuticals - PCRX - close: 73.50 change: -2.06

Stop Loss: 69.95
Target(s): to be determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: - 28.5%
Time Frame: 6 to 8 weeks
New Positions: see below

05/10/14: It was another volatile week for shares of PCRX with big intraday swings. The stock was underperforming on Friday and closed down -2.7%. Traders may want to look for another bounce off its simple 10-dma (currently at 71.70) before considering new bullish positions.

Earlier Comments:
If PCRX does breakout it could see a short squeeze. The most recent data listed short interest at 17% of the 33.6 million share float. This is a somewhat aggressive trade because the option spreads on PCRX are a bit wider than we like. The Point & Figure chart for PCRX is bullish with a $93 target.

- Suggested Positions -

Long Aug $80 call (PCRX1416H80) entry $7.00

05/06/14 triggered on gap higher at $75.32, suggested entry was $74.25


Entry on May 06 at $75.32
Average Daily Volume = 602 thousand
Listed on May 05, 2014

Potasch Corp. of Saskatchewan - POT - close: 36.04 change: -0.22

Stop Loss: 34.45
Target(s): to be determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: -15.0%
Time Frame: 3 to 4 months
New Positions: see below

05/10/14: POT held up well on Friday considering disappointing earnings from a rival. Shares of POT did close below their 10-dma for the first time in three weeks. There is short-term support near $35.75 but I would not be surprised to see a pullback into the $35.50-35.00 area.

POT's failure at a new trend line of higher highs is somewhat troubling. I am not suggesting new positions.

- Suggested Positions -

Long Sept $35 call (POT1420i35) entry $2.65

05/02/14 triggered @ 36.50


Entry on May 02 at $36.50
Average Daily Volume = 5.0 million
Listed on April 26, 2014

Ventas, Inc. - VTR - close: 67.76 change: -0.64

Stop Loss: 65.75
Target(s): to be determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: +20.0%
Time Frame: 6 to 8 weeks
New Positions: see below

05/10/14: Warning! The action in VTR on Friday looks bearish. The stock was showing relative strength all week long. Then on Friday it spiked up to $69.09 before reversing lower. Technically Friday's move is a bearish engulfing candlestick reversal pattern.

I am moving our stop loss up to $65.75. More conservative traders may want to move theirs higher. I am not suggesting new positions at this time.

- Suggested Positions -

Long Aug $65 call (VTR1416H65) entry $2.75

05/10/14 new stop @ 65.75
05/01/14 triggered @ 66.35


Entry on May 01 at $66.35
Average Daily Volume = 1.6 million
Listed on April 28, 2014

PUT Play Updates

ASML Holdings - ASML - close: 80.32 change: -0.58

Stop Loss: 82.05
Target(s): to be determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: -19.2%
Time Frame: 6 to 8 weeks
New Positions: see below

05/10/14: It looks like ASML's bounce is fading and shares look ready to resume the down trend. Shares are currently resting on round-number support near $80.00. The intraday low on May 6th was $79.66. Readers might want to wait for ASML to trade below this level before initiating new bearish positions.

Earlier Comments:
ASML might have some support near $75.00, which is near a long-term trend line of higher lows. However, the Point & Figure chart for ASML is bearish with a $67.00 target.

- Suggested Positions -

Long Jun $80 (ASML1421F80) entry $2.60*

05/06/14 triggered @ 79.85
*option entry price is an estimate since the option did not trade at the time our play was opened.


Entry on May 06 at $79.85
Average Daily Volume = 1.4 million
Listed on April 30, 2014

Acuity Brands, Inc. - AYI - close: 119.93 change: +0.69

Stop Loss: 121.75
Target(s): 112.00
Current Option Gain/Loss: -16.0%
Time Frame: 4 to 6 weeks
New Positions: see below

05/10/14: AYI fell to new relative lows on Friday. The plan was to buy puts at $118.75 but AYI actually gapped down at $118.51. Unfortunately the stock bounced after slipping to an intraday low of $116.77. AYI rebounded back toward prior support and what should be new resistance at the $120.00 mark.

Our trade is open but I would watch for this bounce to fail before initiating new positions.

Earlier Comments:
Our target is $112.00. More aggressive traders could aim lower since the Point & Figure chart for AYI is bearish with a $98 target.

- Suggested Positions -

Long Jun $115 PUT (AYI14R115) entry $2.80

05/09/14 triggered on gap down at $118.51, suggested entry point $118.75


Entry on May 09 at $118.51
Average Daily Volume = 375 thousand
Listed on May 08, 2014

Fluor Corp. - FLR - close: 75.10 change: -0.18

Stop Loss: 75.55
Target(s): to be determined (possibly $67.00)
Current Option Gain/Loss: Unopened
Time Frame: 4 to 6 weeks
New Positions: Yes, see below

05/10/14: FLR is still churning sideways between support at $74.00 and resistance at its trend of lower highs. This pattern is bearish and should produce a breakdown soon.

Earlier Comments:
I am suggesting a trigger to buy puts at $73.25. We're not setting an exit target yet but I am tentatively aiming for the $67 area. The Point & Figure chart for FLR is bearish with a $64 target.

Trigger @ $73.25

- Suggested Positions -

Buy the Jun $72.50 PUT (FLR1421R72.5) current ask $1.20


Entry on May -- at $---.--
Average Daily Volume = 1.2 million
Listed on May 05, 2014

LinkedIn Corp. - LNKD - close: 148.69 change: + 3.62

Stop Loss: 155.25
Target(s): to be determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: -27.6%
Time Frame: 4 to 8 weeks
New Positions: see below

05/10/14: It was a painful week for internet-related stocks. LNKD has seen a $12 bounce off its intraday low from Wednesday. Thus far the bounce has been failing at short-term technical resistance at its simple 10-dma. If LNKD can push up through the $150 level it will probably sprint toward $155 or even $160. Currently our stop loss is at $155.25. I am not suggesting new positions at this time.

Earlier Comments:
Traders should consider this an aggressive, higher-risk trade due to LNKD's volatility. The stock can see big swings. Many of its bounces within the current down trend are $20-$30 each. I suggest small positions to limit risk.

*small positions* - Suggested Positions -

Long Jun $140 PUT (LNKD1421R140) entry $7.05

05/06/14 new stop @ 155.25
05/05/14 trade opens. LNKD gapped down at $144.40
(the whole market gapped/spiked down at the open and then bounced)


Entry on May 05 at $144.40
Average Daily Volume = 3.8 million
Listed on May 03, 2014


Omnicom Group - OMC - close: 67.66 change: +1.46

Stop Loss: 67.55
Target(s): 60.50
Current Option Gain/Loss: -41.8%
Time Frame: 4 to 8 weeks
New Positions: see below

05/10/14: OMC's business and its stock price was starting to suffer from an increasingly contentious merger with its rival Publicis. Investors applauded the surprising news on Friday morning that OMC and Publicis were canceling their $35 billion "merger of equals".

The stock reacted with a big bounce that erased several days worth of losses. Our stop loss was hit at $67.55.

- Suggested Positions -

Jul $65 PUT (OMC1419S65) entry $2.65 exit $1.54* (-41.8%)

05/09/14 stopped out after OMC canceled merger plans
*option exit price is an estimate since the option did not trade at the time our play was closed.
05/07/14 triggered @ 65.75


Entry on May 07 at $65.75
Average Daily Volume = 2.0 million
Listed on May 06, 2014