Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Timer Digest Commentary

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Fari Hamzei

As you can see from the S&P-500 Cash Index (SPX) chart below, we are about to puncture thru Monthly Support Level One (MS1). On a relative basis, this level became Support in March and early June with much of run-up spent above Monthly Pivot (yellow line). And since mid-July, SPX and other major indices (not shown in this chart) are on left translation mode which is very BEARISH. Once we have a close below 13,000, we expect the redemptions to speed up and market upheaval as measured by vol indices will take over.

Bryon Wein, the legendary Market Strategist, formerly with Morgan Stanley & Co., was interviewed on CNBC yesterday and reiterated his downside target for SPX at 1380 which translates to our 12,000 on Dow (see March Lows).

Keep in mind, about half of what was lost in global market cap during the last four weeks has been pumped in last week by major central banks (Fed, ECB and BoJ). It is obvious now, with XLF in a rout, this is no more than a band-aid and this market will continue to bleed until it can find a tradable bottom -- where is it ?? -- we will find it after we have had our much dreaded vol retest !!

Stay SHORT and Sell the Rallies...............there are no bargains here !!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Water (H2O)

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Sally Limantour

There is a wacky Broadway play called UrineTown that deals with the concept of water – or the lack of. The premise is as original as it is unpleasant – in a city suffering from unending drought, private bathrooms are outlawed. Everyone must pay crippling fees to use public latrines run by a monopolistic corporation. Those who cannot pay get dragged off to "Urinetown," a mysterious place from which they never return. Finally, one latrine manager leads the people in rebellion. The catch is that the ingĂ©nue he loves is the daughter of the corporation's greedy president.
Watching this play a few years ago had me think how crazy the world will get as water becomes a scarce commodity. In many parts of the world this is already a problem and as populations grow and industrialized economies develop water becomes more precious everyday.

Water Stress and Water Scarcity

In the water industry the terms, “water stress” and “water scarcity” are often used. These terms have to do with a country’s annual supply of renewable fresh water. A severe form is when a country’s annual supply of renewable fresh water falls to less than 1,000 cubic metres per person. Such countries can expect to experience chronic and widespread shortages of water that hinder their development. Many countries fall in this category and do not have the technology to access clean water.

Water Shortages

One of the best books written on the topic of water is called, When The Rivers Run Dry, by Fred Pearce. He drives home the point that we do not realize how much water we actually use on a daily basis. Between drinking, washing and flushing we use approximately 40 gallons a day. In some areas where sprinklers and swimming pools and others uses are higher it can be double. When we add in water usage that is needed for what we drink and eat the numbers are astounding. It now takes 11,000 litres to grow the feed for enough cows for a quarter-pound hamburger, and 25 bathtubs of water to produce a single T-shirt. As a result, at the World Water Week in Stockholm, the International Water Management Institute claimed that a quarter of the world’s population now lives in areas of ‘physical water shortage’.

In a report from the Global Water Partnership of Stockholm, Sweden, it was stated that $4.5 trillion is needed to be invested between 2000 and 2025 to improve the global infrastructure.
The reality is that more than one third of the world’s population lives in countries where consumption of drinking water exceeds available supplies. In China alone it is estimated that their water supplies can support 650 million people which is only half of its 1.2 billion population. China has 617 cities of which 300 have serious water shortages.

The Middle East imports 91% of its fresh water needs from other countries as Jordan, Israel and Saudi Arabia all suffer from water shortages and in Africa it is estimated that 2/3 of the population who live in rural areas lack an adequate water supply.

Here in the U.S. the 1,400 mile long Colorado River is at record low levels and a decade long drought is threatening drinking water supplies for major cities and irrigation for food production in the western part of the U.S.


In addition to shortages pollution is a major problem in much of the developing world. In China you have a double whammy – both water scarcity and pollution. Not only are they threatening human health and development, but water problems also jeopardize China's economic plans. The impact of water pollution on human health and water shortages together has been valued at approximately U.S. $15.1 billion by Chinese sources.

The lack of resources and advanced technology are partially responsible for the slow progress in solving these problems.

Half of China's population (nearly 700 million people) consumes drinking water contaminated with animal and human waste that exceeds the applicable maximum permissible levels. Liver and stomach cancers in China are caused in part by water pollution. China has the highest liver and stomach cancer death rates in the world. Liver and stomach cancers are 3-7 times higher in polluted rural areas of China.

Increased Funding for Water Infrastructure

As water becomes more of a problem world wide you will see governments and the private sector increasing funds to fix the aging infrastructure as well as to develop technologies to clean and reuse water. As it stands now the global water market is estimated to be $365 billion while the U.S. market is $87 billion.

The investment demand for companies involved in water management and conservation will grow as the industry matures. The Environmental Protection Agency estimated that $140 billion will be needed in the next ten years just to meet the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Many in the industry feel this number is grossly underestimated.

The hot spots for growth in the water sector is in the replacement of aging water infrastructure in developed markets and the installation of basic water infrastructure in emerging markets. While the number of pure water plays has been reduced we are seeing large companies, like GE gobble up some of the water companies. GE has purchased Betz Dearborn a water treatment business and Zenon which makes advanced membranes for water purification, wastewater treatment and water reuse. The company pioneered the use of technology for water and wastewater treatment that is spreading rapidly throughout the world. GE is also building one of the largest desalinization plants in Algeria. The Danaher Corporation recently agreed to buy Centrist, a water treatment products and services provider and I foresee some of the large sovereign wealth funds (SWF) buying up water related companies in their need to provide their countries with clean water. As water becomes more scarce, tensions are likely to arise among different users within countries and also across borders. Companies operating in water-stressed regions will have to be aware that they are competing for an essential resource and will have to manage any potential flare ups.

So how can private investors tap into these markets? There are a number of ways and one play is to purchase the US Power Shares Water Resources or individual concentrated water funds, such as Aqua Terra Asset Fund, a relatively new water fund run by an environmental engineer. One can also go to the International Securities Exchange (ISE) where a water index is the basis for cash-settled index options (symbol, HHO), ETFs (symbol: FIW), and ETF options. Cash-settled futures on the index are coming soon.

There are also individual companies such as Aqua America or Calgon Carbon. Hyflux traded in Singapore is an interesting water company and recently bought into a business in Saudi Arabia which in addition to producing oil for export is also one of the world’s largest consumers of less expensive “used” oil. This is oil that has been collected from shipyards, power plants and other related industries. Hyflux owns a method that recycles the oil and they expect this aspect of their business to grow and equal their water technologies in terms of income.

The following are stocks and funds in the water sector that look attractive: American States Water (AWR), Aqua Terra Asset Fund (KWIAX), Aqua Water (WTR), Badger Meter (BMI), Calgon Carbon (CC), Clarcor Corporation (CLC), Hyflux (HYFXF), Insituform (INSU), Nalco (NLC), Pentair (PNR), Sinomem (SMMKF), Tetratech (TTEK), US PowerShares Water Resources (PHO) and Watts Water (WTS).

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Timer Digest Commentary

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Fari Hamzei

As we have mentioned in the past, each time that the market has faced a major financial debacle, we have witnessed a ramp-up in major indices' volatilities followed by a Volatility Re-Test, as measured by intensity (sigma levels). This is a must prerequisite for markets before they can resume their normal operations.

This Fed, led by the very able Dr. Ben Bernanke, has pumped in near $85 Bils in 3-day repos this week, buying MBS and Treasuries, in an effort to provide short term liquidity. We are still holding our Short SPX position from June 7th (1490.72). We do not think all the bad news is out yet. This week market actions reminds us of August '98 before the LTCM debacle with same pattern of massive volume on alternating large range days (positive and negative bars).

We have included two charts here. Timer Chart shows a short-term oversold condition with no immediate stabilization in sight as we enter August Options X week. The McClellan Oscillators for Advance/Decline and Up/Down Volume closed in negative territory on Friday even though indices closed mix.

The next chart shows the popular Vol Indices overlaid with sigma channels. This is the set-up part of the vol retest and we suspect the next 3 to 4 weeks will be very challenging trading environment till we go thru the vol retest. Our down-side target on the Dow is 12,500 and then 12,000.

We suspect the next shoe to drop won't be another sub-prime woe, rather it will be an exogenous news and if we had to pick it, it could be Perviz Musharraf getting booted out of Pakistan. That would give this market the badly needed wash out via a massive volatility retest and create for us a tradable low.

Do not buy dips -- rather SELL THE RALLIES..........

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Rydex S&P

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Tim Ord

The following chart is the Cash flow ratio for the Rydex S&P. Since early 2003 bottoms have formed on the SPX when this ratio reached 1.10. Yesterday’s close came in at 1.11 and in bullish territory.

The next chart is the Trin 5 dating back for three years. The Trin or sometimes called ARMS index is the ratio of advancing issues divided by advancing volume then this ratio is divided by declining issues divided by declining volume. The Trin 5 is the closing Trin added up for five days. When the Trin 5 reaches past 7.5 the market is near an intermediate term low. We have marked on the chart with red arrows going back for three years when the Trin 5 reached 7.5 or higher. You can see the Trin 5 has a good history of picking out intermediate term lows. The Trin 5 closed yesterday at 8.18 and implies the NYSE is near or at a bottom now.

The next chart is the NYSE going back for three years with its McClellan Oscillator and Summation index. When McClellan Summation index reaches below -500 it implies the NYSE is very oversold and near an intermediate term low. We have marked on the Summation index with a red arrow when the Summation index reached the bullish -500 range. Once the Summation index turns up from below -500, it implies the NYSE has seen its low. The Summation index has not turned up yet but is in an area where bottom form.

The market is at an important junction and is about ready to start an intermediate term advance. We are long the SPX on 8/2/07 at 1472.20.

Editor's Note: watch for Tim Ord's upcoming book, "The Secret Science of Price and Volume", to be published by John Wiley & Sons, in February 2008.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Sovereign Wealth Funds, Volatility and Markets

Sovereign Wealth Funds, Volatility and MarketsSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Sally Limantour

The recent correction in the stock market has many worried that liquidity will dry up as private equity deals diminish from their torrid pace. While this may be true the new darlings of investment – the “sovereign wealth funds” may pick up the slack. Sovereign wealth funds (SWF) are basically pools of money derived from a country's reserves and set aside for investment purposes that will benefit the country's economy and citizens. The funding for SWF comes from central bank reserves that accumulate as a result of budget and trade surpluses, and even from revenue generated from the exports of natural resources.

Government investment funds have been rising and China’s recent investment of $3 billion into Blackstone and the purchase of Barclay’s by the CDB (which also came with a board seat) shows how they want to develop their economies and will give China access to operations in emerging markets.

The numbers are staggering. For perspective it was only five years ago governments were sitting on $1.9 trillion in foreign currency reserves. This has grown to $5.4 trillion which is more than triple the amount in the world’s hedge funds. This excess cash is being moved into sovereign wealth funds and will change the landscape going forward.

A number of ramifications will emerge from SWF and currently concerns from protectionist measures to financial stability are being discussed. The US government has stated that the spread of sovereign wealth funds could create new risks for the international financial system.

One theme running through the SWF story is the idea that countries are diversifying from US dollars and placing their funds in other more tangible higher yielding investments. They want to diversify their holdings and this is not bullish for the US dollar. This adds to the move by other countries that are beginning to accept other currencies for purchases of oil and other products.

I have long held the view that we will see increased volatility in many asset classes going forward. The growth of SWF could be a factor in this as Mr. Lowery of the US Treasury has warned that SWF could fuel financial protectionism and has said “little is known about their investment policies, so that minor comment or rumors will increasingly cause volatility in markets.”

We all know markets do not like uncertainty and we are entering a period where “deep opaque pockets” will be making bigger and more ambitious purchases through state owned companies such as Gazprom and the China Development Bank (CDB).

My focus with regards to SWF is the natural resource sector. It is well known that China is basically resource poor and needs to import many of commodities to feed, house and mobilize their 1.2 billion people. With China set to move up the food chain it is only natural that they would use the SWF to secure their commodity needs by directly buying into companies that produce natural resources.

In a recent interview Marc Faber was stating that China will have to import most of their commodities and he looks at the price of coffee as an example and says, “If the Chinese just go to the per capita consumption level of say the Taiwanese or South Korean, they will take up the entire coffee crop of the world.”

As both China and India grow the demand for commodities will increase. The voracious appetite for commodities should continue and I would expect the next 5-10 years will see continued advances in many of the natural resource prices and the related stocks.

Water stocks, food, timber, mining and oil should continue their bull market and look for these SWF to move in this direction as well to secure their commodity needs for the future. Remember, 1 billion people currently use 2/3 of the world’s natural resources.
5.6 billion people use the other third. Meanwhile 3 billion are discovering capitalism and want “stuff.”

During this time while the stock market is taking some heat I am gathering my list of names in each sector and will share these with you going forward each week.

Water, oil and energy, food and metals are still in bull markets and I expect another leg higher in many of these will occur sooner than later.

HOTS Weekly Options Commentary

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Peter Stolcers

Two weeks ago I was talking about how the market might stage and expiration related rally that would fuel it to new all-time highs. The basis for that prediction was strong earnings and a large open interest of in the money calls. When that rally failed to materialize, a warning shot was fired.

A warning shot was also fired last February when the S&P 500 dropped 50 points in one day. Liquidity and credit risk were perceived problems and traders headed for the exits at the first sign of trouble. The difference between then and now is reality. This week hard numbers were attached to the losses stemming from loose lending practices. Technically, this decline has caused serious damage. The SPY penetrated the 146 support level. That represents the breakout from last April and it also represents the 200-day moving average. This juncture is a pivot point. If the market continues to trade below this level, lower prices lie ahead. If the market can recover and rally above this level a bounce and recovery could materialize.

There is new information that needs to be digested by the market and that process will take a couple of months. In the meantime, there will be bullish and bearish opportunities. It will be critical to find relative strength and weakness within the market.
I still believe that a year-end rally is in the cards. The earnings growth rate is in the high single digits at this stage of the earnings season. That is considerably ahead of expectations. Interest rates have declined and that is also bullish for the market. Oil prices backed off from their highs when forecasters lowered their expectations for hurricane season. Foreign markets are holding up relatively well and global expansion should carry us through this soft patch.
Next week the economic releases are very light and I don't feel they will drive the market. These are some of next week’s earnings announcements: NILE,HET, DRQ, TXU, TYC, ATW, CSCO, FLR, MDR, WYNN, AUY, AGU, BIG, FWLT, FLS, GES, LVS, CRM, ZUMZ, GME, SHLD, BRCD, DELL, FMD, ANN

I am expecting another volatile week. As the market tries to determine its next direction, it makes sense to lay low. Many traders are taking time off and thin trading is adding to the intraday volatility. I will follow their lead and I will be taking the week off as well. I will not be producing a new report next week, but I will update the current positions.
I’ll be clearing my head and preparing for the opportunities that lie ahead the rest of the year. If you decided to trade next week, keep your size small, stay balanced and take advantage of the high implied volatilities by selling out of the money credit spreads.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

HOTS Weekly Options Commentary

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Peter Stolcers

Last week I did not like the way things were shaping up. I expected to see continued strength from cyclical stocks as they posted good earnings and I expected to see strength in the financials once they demonstrated their lack of exposure to tightening credit markets. I believed those two events were going to rally the market to new all-time highs during option expiration week. The negative reaction from both groups told me that the market was in trouble. When I looked ahead at this week’s economic numbers I did not feel that there were any that might influence the market. In hindsight, that was fairly accurate. Housing numbers were the fly in the ointment. The market has become numb to the bad news from the sector and it had braced itself for more of the same.

The shock came when CFC, considered to be one of the sharpest lenders, hosted its earnings conference call. They described how loan defaults are spreading to other areas and the market panicked. CFC has been proactive in managing their risk and the market was shocked. As the week unfolded, the selling pressure increased. Once the market gained selling momentum the buyers pulled their bids. After a few air pockets, the bottom fell out Thursday. At its worst level, the market was down 50 S&P 500 points. It had small afternoon rally and that pared some of the losses. On Friday the market looked like it might fight off a number of attempts to push it lower. The bears got their wish in the last 30 minutes and once again, the bids disappeared going into the weekend. The drop felt like there were no buyers, as opposed to too many sellers. I won’t discount the move since it easily made its way down to a major support level at SPY 146. I did not expect that.

The magnitude of the decline this week was bigger than what we saw in February. In fact, this was the worst 5-day period since the year 2000. The market has new information that it needs to digest and it’s likely that this round of selling will take more than a few weeks to work off. The market will bounce and test support levels during the next two months before it settles down. Increased volatility will remain through September. Any attempt at a year-end rally will have to include the financials and tech.

Next week’s economic releases will include personal income, the PCE price index, Chicago PMI, consumer confidence, ISM and the Unemployment Report. The unemployment report is the most important release and it has been bullish for the market every month this year. A 4.5% unemployment rate and hourly earnings that are outpacing inflation are positive for the economy. I believe this report and end of month buying will support the market and rally stocks from an oversold condition. I’m not looking for the market to resume the rally; I just feel it will repair some of the damage.

These companies are slated to release earnings this week: APC, GEHL, HUM, MTW, MNST, RSH, VZ, TSN, VMC, AVP, BWLD, CAM, RIO, XRAY, MRO, MET, NVT, VLO, ANDE, CBI, CI, ERTS, GRMN, PH, SOHU, SBUX, TWC, TRW, ATK, AMT, RATE, CKP, EK, JSDA, RDC, WLT, PG, TM, WY.

If the SPY closes below 146, my bias will switch from bullish to a neutral. Earnings have been decent and interest rates are coming down. I feel U.S. stock valuations are reasonable and as a nation, we have full employment. These are all positives for the market.

That said, I do have some concerns. When money is loose, people get sloppy. That’s true for home buyers, bankers, builders, asset managers… Tightening credit markets remove inefficiency. American consumers are tapped out. We are entering our 27th consecutive month of a negative personal savings rate. This can’t go on much longer. Global equity risk exposure is also a real danger. No one really knows the magnitude of the yen carry trade. We can only hope that traders and brokerage firms reacted to the warning shot that was fired last February. As credit tightens, brokerage firms raise their margin requirements. If hedge funds have to reduce their holdings, that selling could spillover into our market. I also suspect that many emerging market equities are overvalued.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

HOTS Weekly Options Commentary

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Peter Stolcers

Two weeks ago the market staged a convincing rally to new all-time highs. The buying continued right in the close Friday and it looked like the table was set for an awesome option expiration week. Throughout the course of this last week the market had some large intraday swings but it was unable to add to the breakout. Going into the week I expected solid earnings from financial stocks to spark that sector and fuel the market.

Merrill Lynch and State Street Bank both posted big numbers that handily beat expectations. To my surprise, both stocks sold off even though their exposure to subprime lending is limited. Clearly, higher interest rates are the larger concern. They have the potential to impact consumer spending, corporate financing, and private equity deals. Without the help of the financial sector, a sustained rally is unlikely. These stocks comprise 20% of the S&P 500. Tuesday, Bear Stearns dropped the second shoe on subprime lending woes when it announced its hedge funds in that area were going belly up. The magnitude of this problem has yet to be identified. In the second day of his testimony before Congress, the Fed Chairman said that subprime lending issues will get worse before they get better. Years ago, home buyers opted for 3-year and 5-year ARMS and those adjustable rate mortgages are just starting to kick in. As long as the unemployment level stays below 5%, I believe homeowners will be able to adjust their spending patterns and avoid catastrophe.

In the chart you can see the QQQQ/SPY overlay. Tech stocks have been strong relative to the SPY. They broke out and they have continued to make advances while the SPY has stalled. Tech stocks are still 50% below their peak from 2000 and they have lagged the rest of the market. I have not bought in to the recent tech rally because guidance has not been raised. Only 13 stocks account for the recent NASDAQ 100 rally and the move lacks depth. Last week, two tech leaders (Intel and Google) failed to meet expectations. Cyclical stocks were even more disappointing. They released solid earnings and in many cases beat expectations, yet the stocks sold off after the news. Friday, Caterpillar announced earnings and missed expectations. This overall price action tells me that stocks in general are “fully priced”. Unless we get an extraordinary round of earnings next week, I fear that the market might be putting in a temporary top.

I don’t believe that the economic numbers next week will drive prices. On deck we have new home sales, durable goods, GDP and consumer sentiment. Interest rates will stay put for the rest of the year and that places greater importance on earnings.

I can’t possibly name all the companies that are announcing this week, but here is a list of some that I’m interested in: ACI, ALTR, AXP, CNI, RE, HAL, LNCR, MRK, NFLX, TXN, STLD, AKS, AMZN, T, BTU, BP, BNI, CDWC, DD, LLY, ENR, LM, LMT, NOC, PCAR, PNRA, PEP, PCP, SII, UPS, VRTX, AKAM, AAPL, CL, DADE, FFIV, FMC, FCX, GD, OSG, SLAB, TSCO, ZBRA, ZMH, WLP, MMM, AET, AMGN, BZH, BWA, BDK, BG, CLF, CRS, F, KLAC, NTGR, ODP, POT, SI, SPAR, DOW, WEN, WDC, BHI, CVX, IR, LZ, SEPR.

As I look at the list, I can’t visualize where the strength is going to come from. Energy, mining and heavy equipment are all priced for performance. The tech stocks on the list have performed well and they are trading at lofty P/E ratios. The chemical stocks have the potential to outperform and they are just showing signs of strength. Unfortunately, they won’t be able to carry the market. I’m expecting a choppy week of earnings and the market will do well just to hold its current level. If it falters and it falls below SPY150, it could retest the relative lows we made in June. I would be suspicious of any rally that does not include financials stocks.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Takeover Mania, Uncle Ben and Earnings Season

Takeover Mania, Uncle Ben and Earnings SeasonSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Sally Limantour

Another strong week on Wall Street and the focus continues to be on takeover activity and stock buyback news. Vodaphone is considering a $160 bn takeover bid for Verizon which would rival AOL’s takeover of Time Warner and Vodaphone’s earlier acquisition of Mannesmann.
The FT this morning is quoting Stephen Jen, Morgan Stanley’s currency strategist on major emerging market economies. He is saying that while cheap credit may be drying up the emerging market economies are flush with cash and their growing interest in establishing sovereign wealth funds could well drive equity and other capital markets around the world to new heights. ”Major emerging market economies currently have a collective $1,500bn worth of excess reserves, - defining “excess” as official foreign reserves exceeding the amount needed for liquidity purposes, based on their “conservative rule-of-thumb”.

Dr. Bernanke is to appear before the House and the Senate this week. Those appearances which occur Wednesday before the Senate and Thursday before the House will dominate the discussions for the week. The market will be listening for any mention of inflation concerns as well as thoughts on the economy and housing.

The news is of better-than-expected earnings reports thus far, and 2nd quarter reporting is in full swing. Expectations for further upbeat earnings will support the market, but at what point does high energy prices, weak consumer spending, subprime problems and higher interest rates come into the picture? I am still looking at mid August for this market to correct, but blow off phases can be much longer and stronger than we can imagine.

Commodity prices are strong lead by the metals and crude oil. The gold ETF (GLD) rose 60% over the past two years while stocks such as Barrick has risen 30% and Newmont +14%. Perhaps it is time for the gold mining stocks to play catch-up. Attention will be paid to future earnings from gold mining operations.

Energy is on a tear as I pointed out the spreads weeks ago were starting to show the tightness. The market is showing demand is so strong that crude oil is not being moved into storage, but brought to market. That is bullish and should keep prices firm.

Good Trading to All

Sunday, July 15, 2007

HOTS Weekly Options Commentary

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Peter Stolcers

Monday, the market tried to resume the prior week’s holiday rally. It struggled to add to the gains and by Tuesday morning and it looked like the market had added a third lower high to the technical pattern. If you had connected the tops from each rally you would have seen a downward sloping resistance line. Sears and Home Depot provided a dismal glimpse of retail sales and Moody’s announced that they were about to downgrade sub-prime lenders. Tuesday morning’s decline was exacerbated by a prepared speech that was delivered by the Fed Chairman. By late afternoon, the market was in one of its typical “no-bid” slides. The S&P 500 closed 20 points lower. After sleeping on it, traders realized that the Moody’s news was already “baked in” and that Ben Bernanke did not shed any new light during his speech. Wednesday, the market started off on a nervous note and it rallied strong right into the close. Thursday, the market jumped higher after retail sales beat dismal expectations. Legitimate buying and short covering fueled the market to its largest one day gain in years. Friday, GE posted better-than-expected earnings and the market was able to make new all-time highs.

As I’ve been saying, no matter how ugly this market looks, it has the potential to annihilate short sellers at a moment’s notice. In this week’s chart you can see the strong trend and the temporary consolidation phase we went through the last two months. The big picture looks as bullish as ever. The trend lines are in place and there are multiple breakouts to suggest a continued move. If you simply viewed a daily chart, the market looked like it was ready to rollover. Over the last few weeks I have also pointed out that the volatility has increased. That is normally a precursor to a big breakout. That’s exactly what we got this week and I believe we will see continued strength next week.

From an economic standpoint there are a few big releases (PPI, Capacity Utilization, CPI, Housing Starts, LEI, Philly Fed.), but all eyes will be on the inflation numbers. The Government’s definition of inflation is different from mine. I feel that prices are moving higher in many areas (healthcare, college tuition, gasoline, travel), but those increases are not reflected in their calculations. As long as the market feels that inflation is contained, that’s all that really matters. The market has actually been able to rally off of the last couple of PPI and CPI numbers. I expect the same this week. In fact, I believe that all of the economic releases during the next two weeks will take a back seat to earnings. Earnings and interest rates drive the market and right now interest rates don’t look like they’re going anywhere.

Next week we will get a huge round of earnings releases. Here are some of the stocks that are on deck: ETN, GWW, REDF, AMD, FCX, MER, MOT, NFLX, PCAR, INTC, JNJ, MAN, WFC, YHOO, ABT, JPM, PJC, AOS, UTX, MO, EBAY, PFE, TER, TEX, ALL, JNPR, ME, DHR, HOG, HSY, HON, POOL, RS, TXT, VFC, BAC, BAX, CY, GOOG, IGT, ISRG, MSFT, NUE, BRCM, COF, SNDK, STX, SYK, BIDU, CAT, C, SLB. There are some great plays and some traps that lie ahead.

Strangely, the market is taking comfort in higher oil prices believing that it confirms robust global expansion. Liquidity is creating a supply/demand imbalance in equities. Flush with cash, corporations and private equity firms are aggressively buying shares and they are taking the shares out of circulation. Meanwhile, new funds continue to flow into the market. The macro conditions are in place for a continued rally and as good as things might seem in the U.S., we are the weakest link internationally.

I believe the market rally is legitimate and that earnings and option expiration will overpower any potential weakness in the economic releases. The market has rallied to a point where option related buy programs will be prevalent next week.

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