Friday, June 1, 2007

HOTS Weekly Options Commentary

HOTS Weekly Options CommentarySocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Peter Stolcers

Last week was shortened by the holiday. Traders often struggle to get their bearings after a long weekend. The tone was set two weeks ago when the S&P 500 dropped 16 points on Thursday. Jitters going into the week were exacerbated Wednesday when the Shanghai Index dropped 6% overnight. A .2% increase in the stamp tax placed on Chinese stock trades was to blame. The media sensationalized the event by emphasizing that the rate had tripled. While accurate, it made the news seem bigger than it actually was. From a trader’s perspective, if I'm trading a parabolic market, higher margins or commissions or exchange fees are not going to impact my activity - especially when it only amounts to .2%. Our market opened lower and it looked like profit taking might set in. By mid-morning, prices stabilized and the stage was set for a huge intraday reversal. This pattern has been very pronounced over the last few months. The market has a big one day drop and then it reverses and surges higher. The take away from all of this is that the China "bubble" is factored into prices. That market has made a huge move and everyone is expecting a pullback of decent magnitude. It’s a "closed market" and judging from this week's reaction, the consensus is that the selling can be quarantined. This was not the same reaction we saw after the one-day 10% drop in February. The Chinese can change the rules of the game at a whim and that market is treading on thin ice.

As the week progressed our market digested economic numbers and it continued to make new all-time highs. The biggest move came on Friday’s Unemployment Report. Despite a .3% rise in hourly wages, the market pushed higher. Two months ago the reaction to wage inflation would have caused a sell off. That's because some traders still hoped for a Fed ease and that component of the release would have dashed their spirit. The market is growing accustomed to the Fed’s "tight light" bias. Now it's almost a matter of how long they will wait before raising rates. I believe interest rates will remain unchanged the rest of the year.

The week ahead is very light in terms of economic releases (ISM services, productivity, unit labor costs, wholesale trade, consumer credit, trade balance) and I don't see any of these numbers driving the market. When the earnings calendar is highlighted by stocks like GES, ZQK and SFD, you know it's going to be a quiet week.

Next week we can expect dull summer-like trading. There is no news to drive the market. We are past end-of-month fund buying and we are a week away from option expiration. The path of least resistance is up and until I see a breakdown with follow through, I will stay bullish.

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