Monday, March 19, 2007

HOTS Weekly Options Commentary

HOTS Weekly Options CommentarySocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Peter Stolcers

Last week I did not see the activity on Tuesday's sell off or on Wednesday's rally back to tell me that the lows are in. A "V" bottom will be formed when there is fear and volume on the way down and confidence and volume on the way up. The bears want each market rally to find resistance a little sooner than the time before. Eventually, the market will drift lower and test support. When it fails to bounce after a decline and we get 2-3 consecutive days of selling, fear will set in. We have not seen that yet and bullish speculators have not been scared out - yet. The bid to the market continues to surprise me. Thursday we saw the market rally after a "hot" PPI number. Friday morning we woke up to global market weakness and it looked like we might open lower. The CPI came in "hot" and it exceeded estimates by .1%. Then, consumer confidence fell to its lowest level in 2 years. The market dismissed both economic indicators and staged an early quad-witch rally.

During the week, Norway and Switzerland were added to the list of countries that have recently raised interest rates. If our interest rates remain unchanged (as opposed to going higher), this puts downward pressure on the dollar. Recently, the market has been declining when the dollar falls.

Single digit earnings growth is expected this quarter and the market lacks a catalyst to drive stock prices higher. I feel that the price action is getting heavy and that the market has shouldered all of the bad news it can take. If you look at the chart you can see the SPY 141 resistance level. The longer the market stays below that level, the more significant that resistance becomes. Also note the blue dotted lines in the chart. You can see that the market made a lower low on the second wave of selling and the bounce was weaker. Sellers were more aggressive this time around and they started hitting bids before the market could make another assault on SPY 141. The message is pretty clear to me.

The housing market is weak and with inflation on the rise, the Fed will not be in a position to help out by lowering rates. The slump will have to cycle through the economy on its own. If you're wondering how important housing is to the economy, here is an interesting statistic. From 2001 - 2006, 50% of US job growth came from this industry. That includes lending, sales and construction. Sub-prime may be a small part of the total picture, but there is a ripple affect. There are many more marginal homeowners with adjustable rate mortgages that will convert from a low 3-year fixed rate to an ARM in the next year. This is certain to affect consumption. The economic releases are very light next week and they are highlighted by more housing data.

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