Option Investor

Daily Newsletter, Monday, 3/25/2013

Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

Did He Really Say That?

by Linda Piazza

Click here to email Linda Piazza
Market Internals


Today, markets first rallied on news that the Cyprus government and the troika had resolved the immediate crisis in Europe. Soon, statements attributed to an eurogroup official reinforced fears that similar bailout deals could be forced on other in-trouble Eurozone countries. Markets dropped. Then a spokeswoman for that official denied he'd ever said that, and markets improved, although closing well off their intraday highs.

The SPX dropped 0.33 percent; the Dow, 0.44 percent; and the NDX, 0.41 percent. The RUT fell only 0.04 percent, and the SOX,0.21 percent. The Dow Jones Transports fell a more significant 0.72 percent. Financials as represented by the KBW Bank Index lost 0.32 percent. Crude settled higher by more than one percent, although that was off the intraday high established early in the day. Gold futures for June delivery settled 0.01 percent lower at 1606.50, off the intraday low of $1,590.40. Volume was double the typical volume. Silver futures for May delivery rose 0.4 percent. Platinum futures for May delivery rose 0.1 percent, also on double the average volume. Crude futures for May delivery rose 1 percent on higher-than-normal volume, although they closed well below the day's high of $95.65. pulled back as the dollar gained. The dollar gained, but its gain churned it within a recent bull-flag-appearing formation.

Monday's Developments

Last evening, a planned Eurogroup, ECB and IMF meeting in Brussels to finalize a plan for Cyprus had still not begun as Sunday's clock ticked into the last hour of the day. The IMF insisted on a merger of the Bank of Cyprus and the Cyprus Popular Bank, a proposal that Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said would force his resignation if passed.

Only a short time later, the troika and the Cypriot government announced a plan that bypassed the need for approval from the Cypriot parliament. The central thesis of last week's agreement, the levy on bank accounts, was ditched. However, that won't help depositors with more than 100,000 euros on deposit.

Banks will be segregated into "good" banks and "bad" banks, including the two largest banks. The Bank of Cyprus will be established as a "good" bank. The Popular Bank of Cyprus, also known as Laiki Bank, will not be designated as such. Deposits under 100,000 at the Laiki Bank will be transferred to the good Bank of Cyprus. Deposits above that amount will be frozen and hefty portions will be employed in meeting the 5.8 billion euro obligation Cyprus must contribute toward its own rescue. Laiki Bank, the second-largest in Cyprus, will wind down, with thousands of employees losing their jobs.

It's a terrible deal for Cyprus in many ways. However, Cyprus was battling that ticking clock, with the ECB vowing to stop emergency funds to Cypriot banks, causing their collapse. Little sympathy was evinced among the Eurogroup participants. When the participants were accused of forcing a solution that harmed a whole nation's people, France's Finance Minister flung the accusation that Cyprus is a "casino economy." The word "was" is probably a better verb form, as the actions taken in this bailout deal have likely killed the Cyprus economic model that was a major portion of the country's economy. The action has certainly incurred the wrath of Russia's government and wealthy Russian depositors, whose estimated $20 billion euros in funds on deposit in Cyprus will be raided. Most commentators agree that money is gone or at least gone for years.

Global bourses initially reacted with relief that any kind of deal was reached. Asian bourses climbed with one perhaps notable exception. The Nikkei 225 rose 1.69 percent; the Hang Seng, 0.61 percent, and the Straits Time, 0.27 percent. China's Shanghai Composite was flat, however, dropping 0.07 percent.

European bourses initially bounced, too, although the new deal quickly came under criticism. When the under-100,000 euro accounts are transferred to the Bank of Cyprus, something else happens: the Bank of Cyprus also receives the bad bank's 9 billion euro debt. Depositors with more than 100,000 euros at the Bank of Cyprus will be paying for that debt, with no bailout funds being used. Commentators believe that up to 40 percent of those uninsured funds at the Bank of Cyprus will also be gone.

Some pundits still believe that the Bank of Cyprus will require more of a cash infusion and a restructuring. Bond holders at both banks will be punished, with Laiki bondholders receiving nothing and the Bank of Cyprus bondholders suffering heavy losses. Economists expect credit crunches, higher interest rates and the probable need for further bailouts in a country still at risk of economic collapse. A disorderly exit from the euro remains a possibility, even if that event has been postponed.

The benefit of this deal, if there was any, was that it preserved the promise that Eurozone deposits under 100,000 euros would be protected, a promise made earlier in the Eurozone crisis. In addition, the benefit to the countries pressing for this package was that it bypasses the need for approval from the Cypriot parliament.

It was unlikely that depositors of under 100,000 euros are going to have their trust reestablished by this deal, however. They recently saw a levy proposed against their accounts, too, and they see wealthier depositors' funds frozen and employed in resolving Cypriot debt. Although Europe initially celebrated, it was also unlikely that depositors in other troubled Eurozone countries such as Spain, Portugal, Italy would look on this solution with anything other than alarm. Italy's situation is further complicated by political uncertainty. Today, Italian Democratic Party leader Bersani characterized his country as dealing with a crisis that was difficult to resolve, with Former PM Silvio Berlusconi still pushing to be included in a new Italian government.

Those fears among troubled countries were heightened when the eurogroup's head, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, was reported earlier today as confirming that the rescue package put together for Cyprus might be the template for future rescue packages for other countries. Later in the day, Dijsselbloem's spokesperson denied he had called the bailout a template for future rescue plans. Dijsselbloem issued an official statement that referred to Cyprus as a "specific case with exceptional challenges." The damage had been done, however, and was likely done the first time anyone proposed that all bank accounts be levied.

What did the eurogroup's head actually say? According to The Tell, he said, "The consequences [of taking on too much risk] may be that it's the end of story, and that is an approach that I think, now that we are out of the heat of the crisis, we should take." The approach in question is asking the shareholders and bondholders and, if needed, the uninsured deposit holders to recapitalize a bank that cannot recapitalize itself. That "approach" sounds just a bit like a template, and later, he uses the term "bail-in track" repeats the "approach" term.

With the exception of the Bank of Cyprus and Laiki Bank, Cypriot banks are scheduled to open tomorrow.

European bourses gained in early trading but then sank into negative territory. The FTSE 100 lost 0.22 percent; the DAX, 0.51 percent; and the CAC 40, 1.12 percent. Spain's IBEX 25 dropped a heftier 2.27 percent, and Italy's FTSE MIB, 2.50 percent. It's natural to expect that Spain and Italy would be hit harder by concerns about the structure of the bailout.

In the U.S., a couple of Fed numbers and two Fed speakers filled out the economic calendar. At 8:30 am EST, the February Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) release jumped to 0.44 from a prior revised -0.49. The CNFAI compiles a weighted index from 85 existing monthly indicators.

Production-related indicators led the number into positive territory, the Chicago Fed concluded, but all four broad categories of indicators within the number increased from January's readings. Production-related indicators added 0.34 to that reading. Employment-related indicators added 0.20. Sales, orders and inventories added 0.05. The consumption and housing category remained negative, at -0.16, but it rose from January's more negative -0.19.

The reading indicated that national economic activity's growth was "somewhat above its historical trend," the Chicago Fed concluded. The three-month moving average fell to 0.09 from the prior 0.28, however.

At 10:30 AM EST, the Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey blew expectations out of the water. In February, the Dallas Fed had reported the number as 2.2, with expectations that the March report would rise to 3.4. Instead, it rose to 7.4, with the production component rising to 9.9 from a prior 6.2. Order and shipments jumped back into positive territory. New orders rose to 8.7 from 2.8, and shipments rose to 10.6 from a prior 2.6. The Dallas Fed labeled labor market indicators "mixed." Components measuring costs such as the raw materials price index, the finished goods price index and wages and benefit index all increased, pointing to upward pressure on prices and wages.

In other news, another tax-haven country may have its tax-haven status threatened. The U.S. Justice Department has requested that Liechtenstein authorities provide the department with the number of foundations set up by financial advisers, asset managers, accountants or lawyers for the benefit of American taxpayers. Liechtenstein is a German-speaking principality bordered by Switzerland and Austria, known as a tax haven and boasting the highest GDP/person in the world.

Firms already being investigated include Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN) and Julius Baer Group Ltd. (BAER). Some experts believe that the information gathered could be employed in investigating more Swiss banks. Some of those banks, such as UBS AG, have already resolved such issues by paying fines and/or providing information to the IRS. Liechtenstein has already amended a tax law so that it can provide this data on American clients.

In other news, President Obama's spokesperson said today that the president was likely to sign the funding measures over the next few days.

Other events today included the Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William Dudley's speech at the Economic Club in New York at 12:15 pm EST and FOMC President Ben Bernanke's participation in a panel discussion at London's School of Economics at 1:15 pm EST. The Bank of England's Governor Mervyn King also participated on that panel.

William Dudley's message was that the Fed must maintain an accommodative monetary policy. He is a voting member of the FOMC. He believes that interest rates would rise before asset sales would occur. He also tagged the next 3-6 months as those presenting the most risk of a slowdown in economic activity.

When the panel participants compared the Federal Reserve's bond-buying program to a "beggar thy neighbor" policy from the 1930's, FOMC President Ben Bernanke denied that the bond-buying program was meant to devalue the dollar against other currencies. He pointed to accommodative policy in most G-7 countries. He said that a disordered abandonment of the gold standard, after that gold standard had been found to contribute to runs such as bank runs, as leading to that "beggar thy neighbor" policy from the past. He used, as an example, the U.K.'s abandonment of the gold standard, forced by a speculative run. He noted that in 2008, we saw runs on institutions such as structured investment vehicles rather than runs on banks, complicating the diagnosis of what he views as "a classic financial panic." Another unique feature of the crisis, he said, was the extent of international cooperation to resolve it.

Story stocks include Dell (DELL, 14.51, up 0.37 or 2.62 percent), reported to be considering two new buyout offers. At first examination, the board considers the $14.23/share offers from Blackstone Group and $15.00/share proposal of Carl Icahn to be superior to the $13.67/share offer made by Silver Lake Partners and Michael Dell. However, the board must consider conditions other than the per/share offer, including the requirement under both the Blackstone and Icahn offers that some shares remain publicly traded. As of the close today, all potential clients were remaining mum on the negotiations.

Facebook (FB, 25.13, down 0.60 or 2.33 percent) made the list of story stocks, too, if somewhat obliquely. The SEC approved the rule changes Nasdaq's OMX Group needed in order to expand its compensation pool for member firms above its previous $3 million cap. This action paves the way for the group to pay $62 million in compensation for brokers that suffered due to the group's bungling of the FB IPO.

That might sound like good news for Wall Street firms that suffered losses. However, those firms say they suffered losses much higher than $62 million, rendering the agreement reached with the SEC a disappointment. In particular, Citigroup (C, 44.49, down 0.74 or 1.64 percent) and UBS AG had lobbied the SEC to reject the offer. The SEC essentially told them "something is better than nothing."

In reaching this decision, however, the SEC did not address the question of whether Nasdaq OMX Group should receive regulatory immunity. The settlement will require members to release it from legal liability before receiving compensation. Today's action may not have prevented further litigation.

Raytheon (RTN, 56.76, down 0.28 or 0.49 percent) announced a reorganization that would consolidate businesses and trim about 200 jobs. The reorganization required a new structuring of key executive role, too, and those were also announced. The company said the changes are not expected to impact the guidance for 2013.

Dollar General (DG, 51.08, up 1.01 or 2.02 percent) reported earnings, beating EPS expectations by five cents. Revenues of $4.21 billion were shy of the expected $4.26 billion, however. Increases in sales of consumables and increased customer traffic and average transaction amounts drove same-store sales higher by 3.0 percent. With the company rolling out tobacco sales to almost all stores this year, the company predicts stronger sales and EPS growth in the second half of the year. FY14 guidance was in line with expectations, however. The company also announced a stock buyback program. The company noted continuing pressures on the consumer and DG's costs, resulting from volatility in the macro-environment.

Apollo Group's (APOL, 18.25, up 1.21 or 7.10 percent) earnings report was a bad news/good news kind of thing. The bad news was that earnings of $0.12/share were well below the year-ago earnings of $0.51/share and also below expectations of $0.19/share. Lower enrollment and higher marketing costs led to the lower EPS. The company guided expectations for fiscal 2013 to $3.65-3.75 billion. That appears to be a lowering of expectations, since the average is below the prior expectation of $3.73 billion. The good news was that the $838.4 million revenue, although also below the year-ago level, was well above the $824.9 million expectation. However, perhaps in a sell-the-rumor, buy-the-fact reaction, APOL shares popped along with other equities this morning. Although APOL pulled back off its early morning high when other equities did, it remained in positive territory.

United Therapeutics Corporation's (UTHR, 59.62, down 1.33 or 2.18 percent) hypertension pill, treprostinil diolamine, has been rejected by the FDA. The company has requested a meeting with the FDA and says it remains confident that this medication will one day be a valuable treatment for pulmonary arterial hypertension.

After hours, Nike (NKE, 59.56, up 0.03 or 0.05 percent) reported earnings and was moving higher as this report was prepared. After excluding costs of divesting the Cole Hahn and Umbro brands, NKE earned $0.73/share against expectations of $0.67/share. Sales were slightly shy of expectations, at $6.19 billion rather than the expected $6.2 billion. Orders for delivery from March-July rose 6 percent, meeting expectations.

Micron (MU, 9.88, down 0.16 or 1.59 percent) reported revenue of $2.08 billion, more than the anticipated $1.92 billion. The company reported a loss of $0.28/share, more than the expected $0.20/share. The stock was reported as moving higher in after-hours trading, but no quotes were available from my usual sources.

Tech Data Corp. (TECD, 45.24, 0.76 or 1.65 percent) was being hit in after-hours trading. It was last at 45.30 as this report was prepared. The company announced that improprieties in the preparations of earnings results from its U.K. subsidiary would require the company to restate up to three years' worth of results. The improprieties concerned the way the subsidiary dealt with vendor accounting.

In late-breaking news, Reuters announced that Hulu's board was reaching out to several prospective buyers. The information was from an anonymous source. Owners News Corp. and Walt Disney are allegedly also considering buying each other out.


Those new to my Monday Wraps might find the following paragraphs useful when interpreting my charts. Those who have read the Wraps can skip straight to the charts. I set up nested Keltner channels on my charts. It's a run-of-the-mill channeling system like the more familiar Bollinger Bands. As with those more familiar BB's, channel boundaries are often targets for upside or downside moves. They also mark levels where prices might find support or resistance on closes. When several channel lines converge, that potential resistance or support might appear stronger, just as it would if 20-, 50- and 100-sma's all converge in one spot.

For the benefit of subscribers, I mark potential upside and downside target/support/resistance levels with ovals, usually green for upside and red for downside. Orange ovals are sometimes used when the darker-colored ones would not allow for a clear examination of the next target. From now on, I will mention the nearest potential support or resistance level in the discussion on the chart, but not the further-out ones. They can be located on the charts if price breaks through the nearest levels on consistent daily closes. If an interpretation such as "support levels appear stronger than resistance, so up looks more likely than down" is possible, I'll tell you. Often we traders must be able to defend our trade against a move in either direction.

As with any type of potential support or resistance, those with profits should be protective of those profits as support or resistance is tested. If prices find support and climb, look to the next higher oval, even one just broken through, as potential resistance. Do the reverse when resistance is breached. Hopefully, this format provides you with the information you need without requiring all night to read as happens when I list each potential support or resistance level individually.

Annotated Daily Chart of the SPX:

Since hitting its 3/15 high, the SPX had been pulling back in a bull-flag type formation. That formation hit the lower support of the grey channel last week and pulled up sharply off that potential support that same day, just as bulls would hope it would do. Friday's close was back above the red 9-ema, another bullish condition checked off the list. If the rally pattern was to continue, it was time today for a bigger gain that broke the SPX up above the bull flag's resistance, producing another close above the red 9-ema. The 1565.15 previous closing high still beckoned.

The SPX could not reinstitute its rally pattern today. After reaching up within a few cents of that prior closing high, it dropped back through almost all of Friday's range before pulling up off that low of the day and closing with a relatively small-bodied candle.

The close was at the red 9-ema. Consistent closes beneath the flattened red 9-ema would suggest a potential downside target at the grey-channel support. That support now converges with historical support at the late February swing highs near 1531. If that support is tested and fails on daily closes, the next downside target is marked on the chart, with potential support on daily closes residing there.

If the SPX bounces and maintains values above about 1560 on daily closes, the next upside target might be more likely. That target is marked by the highest yellow-orange rectangle. If the Dow breaks out to higher levels, I would follow price action higher with my stops on short-term long trades.

For now, the SPX coils rather than reinstituting its strongest rally pattern. It chops back and forth across the 9-ema, and that average has flattened. We must remember the example of the NDX. When an uptrend stalls, daily candles can chop back and forth across a flattening 9-ema, with closes above or below that moving average not being predictive of the next move. We could see something like that happen as the SPX coils.

The coil tightens, but it is impossible from this chart evidence alone to predict the direction or timing of the next breakout. Bulls will point out that coiling behavior at the top of a climb is often followed by an upside breakout. Bears will point out that the cumulative behavior over the last week has failed to replicate the strongest rally behavior, questioning any continuation of rally behavior before a deeper pullback.

Annotated Daily Chart of the Dow:

Like the SPX, the $DJI had pulled back last week in what appeared to be a bull-flag formation. It did not pull back all the way to test the grey channel support but instead managed closes at or above the red 9-ema. As today's trading opened, it was time for the Dow to break above the bull flag and resume its rally pattern.

The Dow did jump higher, creating yet another new intraday high, but it couldn't maintain that high any better than the SPX could maintain its early intraday high. Everything said about the SPX could be said about the Dow, with the exception that the Dow today closely approached the upper boundary of its grey channel and was slapped back from that close approach. Was that enough to consider today's test a failed test of higher levels?

Not quite. The Dow, like the SPX, coils. Another upper grey channel boundary test may be as possible as a test of the lower grey channel boundary. The coil has tightened and the break out could come at any time, although timing and direction prove difficult to anticipate. If the lower grey channel boundary is tested and its support fails on daily closes, the next lower potential target is marked. That target converges with historical support at February's congestion zone.

If the Dow breaks higher again and maintains closes above Friday's, I would still follow the Dow higher with my stops on short-term Dow positions since the pattern appears to be breaking apart a little on some indices.

Annotated Daily Chart of the NDX:

Last week's NDX daily candle bodies were larger than those in the preceding week, showing increasing volatility. We knew that was a possibility. Despite the increasing intraday volatility, the NDX essentially moved sideways last week. The increased volatility warned that a breakout one direction or the other might be near.

That breakout didn't occur today. Like the other indices, the NDX attempted an upside breakout this morning. Like them, it was knocked back off a five-month intraday high. Also like the other indices, its behavior was consistent with a coiling behavior. You know the deal with the NDX: a breakout up to test the yellow-orange rectangle's resistance or breakdown to test the nearest red rectangle's support appear equally likely from here. Daily candles chopping back and forth across a flattened 9-ema show us a trendless market, with no preference given for an upside breakout or a downside breakdown.

Other targets are marked on the charts in the event the NDX should break through the nearest ones on consistent daily closes.

Annotated Daily Chart of the RUT:

As of last week, the RUT had been pulling back off its 3/15 high. Its pullback looked like a triangular coiling more than it did a possible bull flag, but it's quibbling over minor differences to label one a triangle coiling and another, a bull-flag pullback. As this week opened, it was time for the RUT to break out to the upside if it was going to continue the typical strongest rally pattern. The RUT had already spent its limit of time testing the red 9-ema's support for the typical rally pattern. That action had flattened that moving average.

The RUT attempted an upside breakout this morning as did the other indices and was knocked back just as soundly. The late afternoon bounce helped produce a small-bodied candle at support. The timing or direction of a breakout remain clouded. Traders must prepare for either an upside breakout to test the potential resistance at the top of the RUT's smallest grey channel or a downside breakdown to test the potential support at the lower boundary of the grey channel. Downside support converges with historical support presumed to exist at the February swing high.

In case of a downside break and a failure of grey-channel and historical support to hold on daily closes, the next lower potential targets are marked in succession. If the RUT breaks to the upside and exceeds the grey channel's presumed resistance, watch the RUT's behavior with respect to the red 9-ema, as well as the red 9-ema's direction. Bulls would want to see consistent daily closes above a rising red 9-ema.

Annotated Daily Chart of the Dow Jones Transports:

The Transports underperformed many indices today.

Last week, the $DJT fell out of its bull-flag formation, price dropping all the way into a retest of the grey-channel support. As this week opened, it was time for the $DJT to scramble back above the red 9-ema and produce consistent daily closes back above that average or risk falling back into a retest of last week's lows.

The DJT's attempt at an upside breakout was no more successful than was that seen on the other charts. Nor was the $DJT able to close back above the red 9-ema, much less turn that average higher again. Moreover, if the other charts look as if price is coiling, the DJT's look as if the $DJT is verging on filling out a head-and-shoulder's formation. These types of formations don't prove as trustworthy as they once did, it seems lately, and the $DJT has been known to confirm such a formation by falling through the neckline only to turn around the next day and zoom higher. Potential downside targets and support on daily closes are marked on the chart in case of a downside breakdown. If the $DJT can break back above the red 9-ema on consistent daily closes, the next potential upside target is at the convergence of the upper boundary of the grey channel and the prior $DJT high at 6291.65.

Remember that we watch the $DJT for guidance into the underpinnings of the economy, rather than for trading. It is not optionable. It does, however, sometimes lead the way for the Dow and also the SPX and OEX, although I would not use it for market timing.

Tomorrow's Economic and Earnings Releases

This week's important economic events are carried forward from Jim Brown's weekend Wrap.

Traders should also note that the Bank of Japan's Governor Haruhiko Kuroda, noted for his intention to do whatever it takes to combat deflation, will be speaking about monetary policy to parliament tonight. That speech can roil currency markets, and that can, in turn, impact equities and commodities.

What about Tomorrow?

Annotated 30-Minute Chart of the SPX:

In most trading conditions, thirty-minute closes are contained within the purple channel's boundaries. That's normal, and that happened today. What's not quite so normal is that the price would move up from the middle of that channel all the way to the top, swoop almost down to the bottom, climb to the middle again and then fall back again and bounce yet again. Prices are churning more than is typical between those channel boundaries. No reliable pattern for the near term is discernible.

The close of the day left the next action in question, too. Price had found support just above the day's close and the grey channel's lower support, and bounced into the close. Is this a sign that the next move will be an upside one? I wouldn't go that far.

Unfortunately for those trying to gauge next direction, the setup suggests that any closes between the purple channel's boundaries, particularly while that channel is flattened, constitute noise and not a prediction of next movement. That doesn't render these charts useless. Instead, the setup tells its own story of what might be noise and what might not be noise. Potential support and resistance levels inside the purple channel are marked for the benefit of those who need some ideas about closest support and resistance early tomorrow, but whether they will prove reliable in this environment is questionable and they will certainly be dragged around by market action like that we saw today. Sustained thirty-minute closes outside the purple channel's boundaries set up the next marked potential targets.

Note that the red 9-ema is not marked as potential support or resistance on this or the charts that follow. In churning markets, the SPX and other indices tend to churn back and forth across that red 9-ema. This moving average can still be watched to see if a pattern of closes above it or below it is established and then watched to see if that pattern continues or breaks up again. Watching it in that manner gives some early insight into whether a rally or decline might be beginning and when that pattern dissolves again. For now, there's no pattern.

Annotated 30-Minute Chart of the Dow:

Everything said about the SPX holds true for the Dow Jones Industrials, too. The setup suggests that any movement producing closes between the purple channel lines is noise, not particularly predictive of next direction. Consistent closes outside that channel will set up the next potential targets, marked on the chart. Potential support and resistance levels inside the purple channel are also marked, but whether they're meaningful support or resistance on 30-minute closes is impossible to determine. They will also be moved around by price action tomorrow.

Annotated 30-Minute Chart of the NDX:

The NDX also churns between the purple channel's boundaries. Thirty-minute closes between those boundaries predict little about next direction. Potential support and resistance levels within that channel's boundaries are marked, but the supposed support or resistance may not be reliable in this environment. Consistent 30-minute closes outside that channel's boundaries set up the next potential targets.

Annotated 30-Minute Chart of the Russell 2000:

That price action is a mess, isn't it? Prices churn all over the place, but thirty-minute closes were contained by the purple channel's outer boundaries. Thirty-minute closes between the boundaries is noise, as they are for other indices. In the event of sustained 30-minute closes outside those boundaries, next potential targets are marked. Some potential support and resistance levels on thirty-minute closes are marked inside the channel, too, but consider those less reliable than they typically might be. Was any inner-channel support or resistance reliable today?

Both daily and 30-minute charts indicate coiling, churning action without a clear next direction or a clear idea about when the next direction might be established. Perhaps the precipitating force that will break these coils will be delivered by currency action, news from Europe or our economic releases. Perhaps that will happen tomorrow or perhaps markets will churn for days longer before a precipitating force is delivered. At this point, it's a wait-and-see market. We know that the indices are not quite delivering on their typical strong rally pattern, but that's all we know.

New Plays


by James Brown

Click here to email James Brown


AmSurg Corp. - AMSG - close: 33.20 change: +0.48

Stop Loss: 31.85
Target(s): 36.75
Current Gain/Loss: unopened

Entry on March 26 at $--.--
Listed on March 25, 2013
Time Frame: 6 to 8 weeks
Average Daily Volume = 218 thousand
New Positions: Yes, see below

Company Description

Why We Like It:
Ambulatory surgery centers (ASC) are AMSG's specialty. The company currently runs or owns 240 various surgery related centers. Believe it or not but AMSG missed the earnings estimate when they reported back in February and management actually guided lower for the first quarter. Yet traders bounce the dip in late February and again in early March. Since then AMSG has been showing lots of strength and recently hit new all-time highs.

Traders bought the dip today near its rising 10-dma. I am suggesting we take advantage of this bounce and buy AMSG tomorrow at the opening bell. We will start with a stop loss at $31.85. More conservative traders may want to consider a stop closer to today's low (32.48) instead. Our target is $36.75. The Point & Figure chart for AMSG is bullish with a long-term $50.00 target.

Suggested Position: buy AMSG stock @ (the open)

Annotated chart:

In Play Updates and Reviews

A Lackluster Monday

by James Brown

Click here to email James Brown

Editor's Note:
The stock market's early morning strength faded and equities plunged midday only to rebound before the closing bell.

Current Portfolio:

BULLISH Play Updates

CSX Corp. - CSX - close: 23.89 change: -0.14

Stop Loss: 23.49
Target(s): 26.50
Current Gain/Loss: unopened

Entry on March -- at $--.--
Listed on March 19, 2013
Time Frame: 6 to 8 weeks
Average Daily Volume = 8.7 million
New Positions: Yes, see below

03/25/13: CSX is still consolidating sideways between short-term resistance near $24.30 and short-term support at its 10-dma. The weakness in the transportation sector might be a warning signal today. If we see CSX close below $23.75 we might drop it as a bullish candidate. Currently our plan is to launch positions at $24.40.
FYI: The Point & Figure chart for CSX is bullish with a $34.50 target.

Trigger @ 24.40

Suggested Position: buy CSX stock @ (trigger)

iShares Japan Index - EWJ - close: 10.67 change: -0.10

Stop Loss: 10.18
Target(s): 11.40
Current Gain/Loss: + 2.2%

Entry on March 12 at $10.44
Listed on March 11, 2013
Time Frame: 9 to 12 weeks
Average Daily Volume = 30 million
New Positions: see below

03/25/13: The oversold bounce in the yen could be having an effect on shares of EWJ. The yen is up three days in a row. The EWJ hit some profit taking today but have yet to test short-term support at the 10-dma. Look for additional support near $10.50 and $10.20 if the EWJ sees any significant selling pressure.

Earlier Comments:
We have a longer-term time frame for this trade to work. If you're going to play it, be patient.

Current Position: Long the EWJ @ $10.44

03/20/13 new stop loss @ 10.18

Hanesbrands Inc. - HBI - close: 43.88 change: +1.14

Stop Loss: 40.40
Target(s): 44.90
Current Gain/Loss: + 1.7%

Entry on March 22 at $43.14
Listed on March 21, 2013
Time Frame: 6 to 8 weeks
Average Daily Volume = 1.0 million
New Positions: see below

03/25/13: Bullish analyst comments and a new $50 price target helped shares of HBI outperform today. The stock surged with a +2.6% gain and a new all-time, closing high. I am adjusting our exit target to $44.90. More aggressive traders could aim higher.

*Small Positions*

current Position: long HBI stock @ $43.14

03/25/13 adjust exit target to $44.90
03/23/13 new stop loss @ 40.40
03/22/13 triggered on gap open higher at $43.14, trigger was $42.25

Lithia Motors - LAD - close: 46.18 change: +0.30

Stop Loss: 44.45
Target(s): 49.90
Current Gain/Loss: unopened

Entry on March -- at $--.--
Listed on March 23, 2013
Time Frame: 4 to 6 weeks
Average Daily Volume = 242 thousand
New Positions: Yes, see below

03/25/13: LAD managed to outperform the broader market with a +0.6% gain today. Yet the stock failed to breakout past its recent high. Our plan is to launch bullish positions when LAD hits $46.75.

Earlier Comments:
LAD now looks poised to break out higher again. The high on March 15h was $46.58. I am suggesting a trigger to launch small bullish positions at $46.75. If triggered our short-term target is $49.90. More aggressive traders may want to aim higher. FYI: The Point & Figure chart for LAD is bullish with a long-term $65 target.

Trigger @ 46.75 *Small Positions*

Suggested Position: buy LAD stock @ (trigger)

Mattel, Inc. - MAT - close: 43.51 change: +0.27

Stop Loss: 41.80
Target(s): 44.50
Current Gain/Loss: + 5.2%

Entry on March 06 at $41.35
Listed on March 02, 2013
Time Frame: 6 to 8 weeks
Average Daily Volume = 2.7 million
New Positions: see below

03/25/13: Shares of MAT continue to rally and the stock spiked toward $44.00 this morning. Traders bought the dip twice midday and MAT was on the rebound when the closing bell rung. I am raising our stop loss to $41.80. I am not suggesting new positions at this time.

Earlier Comments:
We may have to exercise some patience on this trade. It could take a while to get to the $45.00 level since MAT doesn't move very fast but the long-term trend is definitely higher.

current Position: Long MAT stock @ $41.35

03/25/13 new stop loss at $41.80
03/23/13 new stop loss at $41.40, adjust exit target to $44.50
03/21/13 new stop loss at $40.95
03/20/13 new stop loss at $40.75

Plum Creek Timber Co. - PCL - close: 50.33 change: -0.15

Stop Loss: 49.40
Target(s): 54.50
Current Gain/Loss: -0.5%

Entry on March 25 at $--.--
Listed on March 23, 2013
Time Frame: 6 to 8 weeks
Average Daily Volume = 732 thousand
New Positions: see below

03/25/13: It was not the best day for PCL. Shares only lost 15 cents but the action today looks bearish. The stock opened at $50.56 and rallied toward $51.00 but reversed as the market turned lower. Shares gave back all their gains and more. It's possible this could be a short-term top. On a short-term basis I would expect PCL to dip toward support near $50.00 and its 10-dma. We can use a dip near $50.00 or better yet a bounce off the $50.00 mark as a new bullish entry point. Right now our stop loss is at $49.40. You might want to inch your stop closer to the $50 level.

*Small Positions*

Current Position: Long PCL stock @ $50.56

- (or for more adventurous traders, try this option) -

Long May $50 call (PCL1318E50) entry $1.40*

*option entry price is an estimate since the option did not trade at the time our play was opened.

Tesla Motors - TSLA - close: 37.53 change: +0.91

Stop Loss: 34.90
Target(s): 39.25
Current Gain/Loss: + 3.7%

Entry on March 21 at $36.20
Listed on March 19, 2013
Time Frame: 3 to 6 weeks
Average Daily Volume = 2.2 million
New Positions: see below

03/25/13: TSLA outperformed the market with a +2.4% gain on Monday. Shares were much higher intraday as the stock reacted to a tweet from company CEO Elon Musk, who said TSLA would have an "exciting" announcement later this week (possibly Thursday).

Much of the late day gains faded. I am not suggesting new positions at this time. Bear I mind that any really big news could spark some short covering.

Earlier Comments:
If shares can breakout past $40.00 it could really fly on a short squeeze. The most recent data listed short interest at 64% of the 72 million share float.

current Position: long TSLA stock @ $36.20

Waste Connections - WCN - close: 36.20 change: -0.21

Stop Loss: 35.40
Target(s): 39.50
Current Gain/Loss: -0.8%

Entry on March 25 at $36.50
Listed on March 23, 2013
Time Frame: 6 to 8 weeks
Average Daily Volume = 566 thousand
New Positions: see below

03/25/13: WCN gave back about half of Friday's gains with a 21-cent pullback on Monday. Broken resistance near $36.00 should be support. Traders could use a dip or a bounce near the $36.00 level as a new bullish entry point.

*Small Positions*

Current Position: Long WCN stock @ $36.50

BEARISH Play Updates

Brunswick Corp - BC - close: 33.78 change: -0.55

Stop Loss: 35.30
Target(s): 30.30
Current Gain/Loss: + 0.4%

Entry on March 18 at $33.78
Listed on March 12, 2013
Time Frame: 6 to 8 weeks
Average Daily Volume = 786 thousand
New Positions: see below

03/25/13: The stock market's widespread, early morning rally lifted shares of BC to technical resistance near its 20-dma and 50-dma. There the stock quickly reversed lower. Shares underperformed the market with a -1.6% decline on the session. Readers could use today's intraday reversal as a new bearish entry point.

Suggested Position: short BC stock @ $33.78

03/18/13 triggered on gap down at $33.78. Trigger was $33.90

Garmin Ltd. - GRMN - close: 33.44 change: +0.19

Stop Loss: 35.05
Target(s): 30.25
Current Gain/Loss: +1.4%

Entry on March 20 at $33.93
Listed on March 19, 2013
Time Frame: 6 to 8 weeks
Average Daily Volume = 1.5 million
New Positions: see below

03/25/13: GRMN only added 19 cents on Monday but the afternoon rebound looks worrisome if you're short the stock. I am concerned that we're going to see GRMN produce an oversold bounce back toward the $34.00 area or its 10-dma. I'm not suggesting new bearish positions at current levels.

current Position: short GRMN stock @ $33.93

- (or for more adventurous traders, try this option) -

Long Apr $33 PUT (GRMN1320P33) entry $0.39

03/23/13 new stop loss @ 34.60
Our April $33 put has almost doubled in value. Readers may want to take profits early right now.

Teck Resources - TCK - close: 28.07 change: -0.05

Stop Loss: 29.25
Target(s): 26.25
Current Gain/Loss: +3.2%

Entry on March 19 at $29.00
Listed on March 18, 2013
Time Frame: 6 to 8 weeks
Average Daily Volume = 2.0 million
New Positions: see below

03/25/13: TCK continues to churn sideways near the $28.00 level. I am not suggesting new positions at this time. If TCK does manage a bounce, look for short-term resistance near $29.00 and its 10-dma.

current Position: short TCK stock @ $29.00

03/19/13 new stop loss @ 29.25