Thursday, March 15, 2007

Equity Index Update

Equity Index UpdateSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Brad Sullivan

BEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH…so warned Mr. Shakespeare long, long ago. Maybe he should have written beware selling new lows for the move in the index markets the day before the ides of March. The tide turned awfully fast across the board for those trading indices yesterday in the late morning. After undercutting the previous lows made from our downdraft in the last two weeks buyers came rushing in and fresh shorts were forced to pay up in order to cover. When the dust settled it was a fabulous show of strength from the Hedgies ahead of this critical expiration…and to that end I say touché.

This morning the index markets, which had been trading higher earlier, are called to open lower on the heels of our PPI reading this morning. The reading came in at +1.3 on the headline and +0.4 on the core…well above expectations on both counts. However, this reading is notoriously volatile and fickle – my assumption is that the markets will wait until we get tomorrow’s CPI before making any rush to judgment about inflation. Accordingly, I would take this open with a grain of salt and assume that the path of least resistance will be towards the upside.

March Madness begins today, I would anticipate a lightening of the volume by mid-morning ahead of this annual gambling extravaganza. Beware…

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Wednesday of Options X -- The Low we put in Today, was that the Bottom you were looking for?

Wednesday of Options X -- The Low we put in Today, was that the Bottom you were looking for?SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Fari Hamzei

Not exactly !!

I was asked that question a number of times earlier today, both by professional and institutional traders.

IMHO, the market is following the Script we put out two Sundays ago on this blog (see

Our Script calls for a volalitity retest in the +4 to +5 sigma region. That should translate to a test of our last May 2006 high (~1326 on SPX), now acting as a critical Support. If that support level does not hold, the next logical stop is 1280 on SPX (July 2006 highs).

Here are two Volatility Indices that we follow very closely. (I am in the Prof. Robert Whaely's camp (the orginal VIX inventor), now called VXO -- and yes, I don't like the new VIX, as it has to do with its construct).

During this vol retest, we should see the VXO between the high 20s to low 30s, and

We should see VXN in the mid 30s before the dust settles. As far as its timing, with this week's quad-witching March Expiry as a backdrop, market should sell thru Friday and Monday ahead of Tuesday which happens to be Vernal Equinox (First Day of the Spring or "Norouz" in Persian).

Equity Index Update

Equity Index UpdateSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Brad Sullivan

Was it the other shoe…or did we just untie it? That is the question, and the only question that really matters facing the domestic and global index markets over the next several weeks. Yesterday’s severe decline was the 2nd such implosion over the last 11 sessions and laid to rest the silly notion that the massive selling from two weeks ago was due to a computer glitch revolving around the DJIA pricing. Given the complete lack of volume on any of the higher sessions during this bounce phase, yesterday’s action does not come as a total surprise. Sooner or later something would trigger another round of selling and the fact that it happened during expiration only exaggerates the move. More importantly, this downdraft may continue to spiral lower due to the expiration of options and futures this week. I have continued to point out that the favorite fund game on the board over the last 3 trading years has been to sell naked puts…when the jig is up on expiration week the moves, potentially speaking, can become quite severe. Yesterday morning I commented that this market had about 5% of downside risk by Friday. After yesterday, we are only 3% away. While I felt the odds of such a trade were remote, they have increased dramatically after yesterday’s action and those that are speculatively short --- particularly those that have watched out of the money puts become in the money --- are faced with the decision as to take in some of the position, all of the position or none of the position. Personally I took in enough yesterday to give me a free roll + profits no matter what plays out from here.

Subprime...I am wondering if it will become a verb in the next few years, like “Homer” in the classic Simpson’s episode where Homer’s constant idiocy becomes a cult classic of “ oop’s I did a Homer” when making a mistake. Only time will tell. But, there is no question that this fiasco lit the fuse yesterday. Accredited Home Lenders (LEND) got the ball rolling saying it was in financial trouble and in need of waivers on outstanding debt. New Century (NEW) was delisted from the NYSE and closed at .85 on the pink sheets. Bear Stearns is the supposed target of subpoena’s on bullish research in this zone. Essentially, we are watching a implosion of a financial product that created affordable homes and thousands of jobs – Savings and Loan scandal anyone? This will end when there is no longer a purely subprime lender left in the building, and at the rate of descent, that may happen sooner than one can imagine. The only question that matters within this arena is will this meltdown trickle through the broader economy? If it does, as many of the bears are forecasting, the result will be recessionary in nature. After a choppy overnight session, the indices have caught a bid from their respective lows and are called to open around UNCH. The Yen/Dollar is trading around UNCH as well after having been well bid earlier in the evening session. Keep a close eye on all product classes today as yesterday’s equity market action drove prices lower in grains, gold, crude and higher in treasuries. Funds are forced to push out positions in one market as their other positions lose value…sell beans, sell SPM7 for example. I don’t expect that to change anytime soon.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Equity Index Update

Equity Index UpdateSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Brad Sullivan

The index markets are called to open at or near their respective low trading zones over the past 3 trading sessions. A combination of the sub-prime lending blowup, a weak retail sales report and – most importantly – whispers of INFLATION out of the BOJ last night has produced another big leg of unwinding in the YEN carry trade. On the flip side, GS produced blow out numbers on its quarterly earnings report released this morning…keep a close eye on this stock as it has been our proxy over the last several months.

One of the concerns behind yesterday’s small move higher was the complete lack of volume. It seemed as though it was a holiday trade yesterday as players were on the sidelines…this morning it appears players have awoken from their collective slumber and appear ready to monitor their collective portfolio risk. One key aspect of the trade that few have discussed is the expiration week that we are currently 1/5th of the way through.

Since our massive selling 2 weeks ago today, the indices have been able to hold at higher, but rather uninspired levels. There is little question that this move has been propped by large demand amongst the funds as they try and protect their favorite trade of selling options. If there were to be an unwinding this week of the YEN/DOLLAR it would have dramatic ramifications on the index market. Players are holding their breadth that this does not turn out to be the case, but, if they must let their positioning go due to the risk department LOOK OUT. Certainly the odds of such an event are outlier by definition. However, when looking at such events in a historical context there is always a trigger. The index markets are faced with a POTENTIAL trigger of a YEN carry unwinding that forces index positions out of portfolios creating a vacuum of selling. If this scenario plays out – I would suspect the SPX would fall roughly -4% by Friday’s close from current levels. Keep in mind that the probability of such a happening is small – perhaps as little as 5% to 10% so any plays on this theory should be done with ample speculative cash.

Finally, keep a close eye on GS…a reversal below 200 would put the overall market in jeopardy.

Monday, March 12, 2007

HOTS Weekly Options Commentary

HOTS Weekly Options CommentarySocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Peter Stolcers

The character of the market has changed in the last two weeks. From September through most of February, we experienced a nice, tight upward trending channel. Option premiums dropped to historically low levels and the public borrowed on margin to buy into the global growth story. Along the way, we heard the words “soft landing” over and over again.

Out of nowhere, we hit an “air pocket” and the bid to the market was gone. After establishing a low Monday, the market rallied the rest of the week and formed a “V” bottom. The initial drop tells me that there was a legitimate concern with the Yen-Carry trade. Most of the large brokerage firms that clear hedge fund trades also engage in proprietary trading and they know the risk exposure. On the retail side of the equation, the public was reassured to stay the course. Paper losses were mitigated last week and now retail traders are hoping for another rally to make them whole. I believe a warning shot has been fired and the market will retest the lows from Monday.

The “air pocket” I spoke of is caused by fear and it suggests that liquidity is drying up. A few weeks ago, China raised its reserve requirements. Two weeks ago, Japan raised interest rates and last week the ECB raised interest rates. Domestically, lenders are tightening credit policies after seeing the defaults in the sub-prime sector.

I see two problems. First, traders are over-leveraged. The run-up in emerging markets, the Yen-Carry trade, the premiums being paid in private equity deals and the debit margin carried by retail traders are examples of excess speculation. Secondly, the market lacks a catalyst. Earnings guidance indicates a single-digit growth rate for next quarter and the Fed is not going to ease. A few weeks ago, the path of least resistance was up and that was all the market needed to move higher.

There are three events that will drive the market this week: quadruple witching, earnings from Goldman Sachs, and the CPI/PPI. SPY 141 is a critical level because a number of technical indicators are converging on that point. Some traders will view it as a pivot point to switch from short to long. Last week’s bounce represented a Fibonacci retracement. The rally brought the SPY right to its 100-day moving average and to a horizontal support/resistance level. A close above SPY 141will put me into the “neutral camp” and a pullback will confirm my short-term bearish bias. At this juncture, we have to take our lead from the price action. In very short order, the market will tell us how to position ourselves.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Equity Index Update

Equity Index UpdateSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Brad Sullivan

The index markets gapped open strongly for the second session this week on the heels of a large scale reversal in the Yen vs. all its major counterparts. The reason behind the latest Yen move seems to be the rate hike in New Zealand to 7.25% will allow some of the favored carry countries to continue participating in the infamous lever trade. In response to this move in the Yen, the index markets rallied sharply overnight and continued their gains throughout much of a rather quiet session ahead of today’s February Employment Report released by BLS.

The report this morning came in right around consensus expectations on all levels…and that produced a sharp pre-opening bid in the marketplace. Currently the SPM7 contract is trading at 1424.50, which would equate to roughly 1410 in SP500 Cash index. Using the cash market, 1410 to 1415 should provide significant resistance in today’s session.

The real key behind today’s action will be whether or not the indices can hold their opening rounds of buying. Typically on Employment sessions, the move is fast and violent in the first hour, followed by a counter chop oriented trade. I suspect that will play out today, with one exception and that will be the final hour of trading. I expect to see selling across the index complex during that time frame…remember – since last Tuesday’s debacle, the final hour produced only 1 higher close. And that was a total of 0.30 points in the SPX market.

However we settle out today’s session, next week should provide fireworks as we enter the week of “witching.” There are lots of nervous positions on the books of hedge funds right now…and the fact that these bounces have occurred during overnight hours shows how much “supporting of positions” there continues to be in the marketplace. Next week should provide all the answers needed…if there is a forced liquidation trade during expiration week it will be very ugly. Keep in mind that last year we witnessed consecutive massive legs lower in May and June during their expiration weeks.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

The Mysteries of Up & Down Volume

The Mysteries of Up & Down VolumeSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Jason Goepfert

Over the past week, we’ve seen a laundry list of extremes across a variety of shorter-term sentiment- and breadth-related indicators.

One of the more remarkable is that of the relationship between “up” volume and “down” volume on the NYSE. Up volume is simply the number of shares traded in stocks that closed higher than the previous close, and vice-versa for down volume.

Last Tuesday, that ratio was skewed 100-to-1 in favor of the downside, the worst since the crash of 1987. A week later, however, buyers returned in force and the skew was 15-to-1 in favor of upside volume. Historically, it’s rare to see two such opposite extremes within a week of each other, and it might be instructive to take a look at them.

Each of the four instances in the past 50 years was consistent in their pattern:

1. At least a 15-to-1 skew of down volume to up volume.
2. At least a 15-to-1 skew of up volume to down volume less than one week later.
3. A retest of the recent low within 30 days.
4. A rally off a successful test of that low.

The four charts below highlight each of the occurrences, and it provides a general outline of what we may see this time around if the pattern holds somewhat true. This time we’re seeing the volume reversal soon after a market high, whereas the others occurred after a major downtrend, so that’s one caveat here. And if the recent low breaks, it will invalidate this pattern and I would not be looking for higher prices based on this extreme volume reversal any longer.

October 23, 1957:

June 30, 1965:

May 27, 1970:

October 21, 1987:


NYSE, NASDAQ and GoldSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Tim Ord

NYSE Market:
Below is the McClellan Oscillator for the NYSE.

When the McClellan Oscillator gets below -200 a bounce is likely to materialize for the short term. The Summation index touched the -300 level on the current decline. We have labeled in the past where readings below -300 have produced rallies. Resistance lies near the 9300 which equates to the 1442 range on the SPX and may be the area where the next top forms. Next week is option expiration week which usually has a bullish bias and the SPX could rally into late next week. The bigger trend is down and we are expecting an intermediate term decline to take the SPX down to near the 1140 range. Also notice on the chart above as the NYSE made higher highs the Summation Index made lower highs and this negative divergence help pick out the top of March 2005 top, September 2005 top, May 2006 top and the February 2007 top. We are short the SPX at 1381.95.

Nasdaq 100 Market:
Below is the daily Nasdaq 100, ($NDX) chart.

The NDX McClellan Oscillator has hit into an area where short term lows have occurred in the past (check the NDX chart above). Therefore there is a good possibility the NDX may bounce during option expiration week which is next week. Resistance lies at the gap level that formed near the 1810 range last week. Gaps are like magnets, drawing the market to them. Therefore a possible bounce to the gap level during option expiration week is possible. If the gap at the 1810 range on the NDX is tested on lighter volume then that will create a bearish signal. If a bearish signal is triggered at the 1810 level on the NDX then that would be a good place to add to short positions. We hold an average short position on the Nasdaq at 2378.59. Our downside target on the Nasdaq is near the 1900 level.

Gold Market:
On the recent decline that started from the late February high the energy has increased over 30% compared to the previous up leg going into the late February high and shows there is more force to the downside and implies the trend has turned down. For short term a bounce may materialize. On Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX), Resistance now lies at the gap level near the 41.30 range and our downside target is the 32 range. The anniversary of last years high comes in May. A lot of the time previous important highs and lows in the past mark important turn in the future. Therefore there is a possibility the market may hold down until the May time frame. The next major impulse wave up may start near the 32 on GDX and 115 range on the XAU. We are neutral on the XAU for now.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Japanese Yen

Japanese YenSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Sally Limantour

After a break in the overnight market the yen is now holding firm above 86.00 level in the futures market. There was a piece about the yen in Market News. Apparently State Street developed an indicator called the, “Japanese Yen Foreign Exchange Flow Indicator, or FXFI that makes a point that over the last six months the average short yen position established was 119.70. They assess the majority of yen shorts were probably put on above 118.00 (86.00 level in the yen futures) and,

“Thus institutional investors are significantly underwater, even when one takes into account positive carry. We believe that these accounts will use any rallies in dollar-yen to reduce their short yen exposure and limit further losses.”

It is interesting that State Street only goes back six months. The carry trade has been something that has been going on for years and most likely the level is closer to levels from Jan 2005 at the 105 level (98.00 level in futures) as Barbara Rockefeller discusses in the March issue of Currency Trader Magazine, The Yen: Canary in the Currency Coalmine ( I also suggest an article published yesterday in the Economist magazine called, The Yen also Rises (

Assuming this is true, we are not close to breakeven levels and we would most likely see massive liquidation prior to that. Keep that on your radar.

Long yen positions are held with the next target level coming in at 88.43 (Upper Bollinger Band on JY H7 Weekly Chart).

HOTS Mid-Week Options Commentary

HOTS Mid-Week Options CommentarySocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Peter Stolcers

The market bounced from an oversold condition yesterday and the retail public was reassured that all is well. SPY 140.50 represents horizontal resistance and SPY 141 is the 100-day MA, both should provide a temporary "lid". If the bulls can't add to yesterday's gains and make a new intraday high after noon CDT, I feel the bears will try to push the market lower into the close. Higher oil prices and the Beige Book (11:00 am PST release) could provide headwinds.

Editor's note:
This note was emailed to our HOTS Subscribers at 8:00 pst.

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