$SPY options – massive trending day

In what I have tongue-in-cheek called the “Fool’s Game” I define trending days as any day the system of buying puts or calls goes past a 100% gain.

“THE FOOL’S GAME”

Just now today went flying past 200% on a $10K buy in the 4/25 SPY 268 at-the-money put, expiring tomorrow. See chart below, the white flag on the lower right is the current gain per $10k invested, also the a percentage calculation.

I may have to change the name of this game to “Options Trading with Henry David Thoreau” — as in “simplify, simplify, simplify.”

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#HousingStocks – Remembering 2008…

At the advent of the 2008 bear market, the housing stocks died first, then the banks came apart, and then everything…

So witness $TOL $DHI $HOV $KBH $LEN $MDC $NVR $PHM and then ponder the banks and then ponder…

Not much more to say except to paraphrase Yogi Berra again: “It’s beginning to look like deja vu all over again.”

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#BellwetherStocks – End Of A Swing Trade

The swing trade for buying stocks signaled by the market’s breadth indicators on the open of April 4th, thirteen trading days ago, ended on the open of trading today.

START OF THE TRADE

Despite a choppy market in which neither SPY nor QQQ rose as much as one percent, all twelve of the bellwethers were in the black for the trade and several on the list had rather stellar gains for 13 trading days — TWTR up 20.5%, NFLX up 19.3%, TSLA up 14.2%, AMZN up 13.1% and FSLR up 11.4%.

The Bellwether stocks with single-digit gains were FB, 9.7%; BIDU, 8.4%; BID 7.5%; NVDA 6.3%; BABA 6.6%; GS 2.3%; and last and least (remarkably) AAPL 1.4%.

Once again, market timing has been validated by the stocks even when the market is going no where.

On the charts below, the white flags on the lower left quadrant of each chart is the dollar gains for $100k invested in each particular stock.

Thirteen days…

(click on the chart panel for a larger view)

#BellwetherStocks – ten bull flags still flying…

The general market took a hit today just when it appeared it could break out of its consolidation at recent lows.

All of this may be on news – Trump proposing a possible trade war with China, stewing over the Mueller investigation into everything from his campaign’s possible collusion with Russia, to the crimes arising from his hush-money payoffs to a porn star and Playboy playmate, to his sons’ threatening reprisals for any foreign government not doing their bidding, to allegations everywhere of corruption, self-dealing and maybe even money laundering; and now he’s rattling missiles at Syria (which is to say, at the Russian military).

Is there an Archduke Ferdinand anywhere in Syria?

There was a time when the one thing almost certain in the stock market was that the market did not like uncertainty.

Well, Trump has been the poster boy for uncertainty since the election and yet, remarkably, the market has ignored that, focusing instead on the Republican tax cut and the ripping away of every sane and insane regulation there is. But it’s beginning to look as if it is not quite ignoring his inconsistency and incompetence anymore. Last year it was hard to get the market to go down. Now it’s hard to get it to go up.

Okay, enough of that. What about right now?

This is an update of this POST ON APRIL 5TH.

The top in place in January may have ushered in a bear market (which is my overall bias) but right now the market is trying to bounce, and maybe even rally.

Today was a setback in that effort and every day seems precarious but I want to point to my twelve bellwether stocks. Despite last Friday’s bloodbath and today’s drop, they have all held firm. In fact, ten of the stocks have bull flags (see the chart panel below). My bellwether stocks are: TSLA, NFLX, AMZN, BID, TWTR, BIDU, AAPL, GS, FB, NVDA, FSLR, BABA. All twelve are in the black from the beginning of this bounce on open of April 4th.

TSLA is leading the bounce up 17.8% , followed by NFLX up 10.%, TWTR up 9.2% and now FB, with Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony to Congress, up 9.1%.

As bellwethers these stocks are, so far, saying this market is going to have another surge to the upside soon. Probably by Friday (unless the news gets in the way).

(click on the chart panel for a larger view)

#MarketTiming – $SPY ready to break up out of its box?

All through the market’s recent wild ups and downs, short-term breadth, measured by the McClellan Oscillator, has continued to work its way higher with each market plunge and recovery.

Now the all-important long-term breadth has also turned positive.

This is very bullish.

And yet, price has to yet to break of its nearly two weeks of consolidation – see the box on the chart below. With today’s general-market surge it is once again challenging the top of its range and appears poised to break through to higher highs. Tomorrow could be key. If SPY breaks out, it will no doubt take the rest of the market with it. The first objective would be that red trend line across the tops of the recent pullback.

Whether this is a resumption of the bull market or just a short-term swing in a bear being born is still a question. If SPY fails to climb out of its box, it could go all way down again and possible turn that box into the bull’s coffin. There are plenty of doubts this bull can keep going but for now the fight is on the upside.

Those rising green circles, marking the lows above the lows on the upper graph below, are a telling prelude to a strong up swing (see their history on the chart) and right now the bulls have the benefit of the doubt.

It is time to be long to be long and to buy stocks on dips until it isn’t anymore.

(click on the chart for larger view)

#MarketTiming – Swing trading the bellwether stocks…

My swing signals, based on breadth, price and volatility, turned up in unison on April 3rd for a buy on the open of April 4th.

More importantly, short-term market breadth put in a divergent low in the midst of recent market thrusts to the downside. When that happens, the next step that usually confirms an upside swing is the upturn in long-term breadth. That confirmation came yesterday.

There was a previous discussion and chart of this yesterday HERE).

From stock trader’s or investor’s point of view, the purpose of market timing is tell when to buy. And once again, the bellwether stocks list proves that point.

My “bellwethers” are TSLA, NFLX, AMZN, BID, TWTR, BIDU, AAPL, GS, FB, NVDA, FSLR, BABA.

On the chart panel below, the white flag on the right axis is the current gain per $100k invested (also calculated for the percentage gain). At the moment, this upswing is lead by TSLA at 17%, followed by NFLX and AMZN, both up 6% plus. Remember when (three days ago) there was some dope speculating TSLA would go bankrupt and President Dumb-Ass was attacking AMZN like it actually owned the Washington Post? What a difference a day or two makes in swing trading.

(click on the chart panel for a larger view)

#MarketTiming – From follow through to follow through

The general market, after Tuesday’s bounce, followed through today for big gains across the board, made all the more bullish by coming back from a deep gap down.

The Dow, or instance, was down 500 points at the open and finished up 230.

The question now, of course, can there be more tomorrow.

All indications are this correction is over with many of the indexes touching their 200 daily moving averages, with my nifty-50 list of momentum stocks triggering 30 buy signals in the past two days (Monday all but two of those stocks were down, today all but six were up), with CNN Money’s Fear and Greed Index finally lumbering up off a very low readings at 12 today (it got as low as six and can’t go below zero). That later index is still registering “extreme fear” which is the time a time for investors to be looking to buy stocks.

But most importantly (see the chart below), short-term breath put in a low above a low in negative territory, a divergence with the SPY Tuesday which needed a follow through into positive territory to turn the all-important long-term breadth up. The follow through came today.

All three of my swing-trading signals, based on price, breadth and volatility, are on buys now.

So this market bounce has more to come and could morph into a full-fledged multi-week rally.

Some notes. AAPL is probably the safest bet during a market bounce (emphasis on “safest”) but NFLX, NVDA and TSLA will probably out-perform among the big boys. Look at TSLA today, up 7.5% on the day and 13.7% from the open — there was some dope just last week predicting Elon Musk’s baby would go bankrupt.

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$SPY OPTIONS – buying calls and puts in a fool’s game of “dailies”

I was going to do a wrap-up of the returns for the first quarter in what I tongue-in-cheek called “the fool’s game” but decided not to because I doubt anyone would believe it.

Even after trading it (off and on) and tracking it (completely) I have trouble believing how astounding it is myself. See note below.

THE FOOL’S GAME – BUYING CALLS AND PUTS

I had tried trading options 30 years ago when I first started trading and it was obvious I didn’t know what I was doing. After being inundated by deltas and thetas and gammas and IVs, as well as strategies like verticals and calendars and strangles and straddles and busted wing whatevers, iron condors, I got killed ever time I tried to put all that stuff to use. It was just too big a jungle to juggle for the average guy.

It was an iron condor that finally told me I had to quit. How anyone executes a four-legged trade in options, going in and coming out, was way beyond me. It still is.

So what to do? What to do?

Do what I do in every other aspect of my trading for the past 30 years – simplify, simplify, simplify. The market either goes up or it goes down. Why wouldn’t it be the same for options?

But in options one is told BY EVERYONE that in buying puts and calls only three things can happen and two of them are bad. It either goes your way right away (the one good thing) or it goes against you (obviously a bad thing), or it goes no where and dies in time decay (the other really bad thing). What to do? Can’t do anything about the “for you” or the “against you” but time decay can be reduced if not eliminated by day trading. Not much decay with a buy on the open and a sell no later than the close.

Last fall I tracked this on the SPY monthly options, but by the beginning of the year, I tracked and started trading the at-the-money weekly options (for a bigger bang to the buck). Much of the tracking had be done manually and by trial and error because the strikes change often daily with the SPY movements, but the trading could be automated in TradeStation. In looking back at the end of the quarter I discovered that most of the really big winners, which I define as more than a 100% gain on the day, came on Fridays, the day of the weekly expiration (8 out of 14 of the big winners).

The day of the expiration? The thing of it is SPY now has options expiration days on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It seems possible the Friday expiration phenomenon could be present Monday and Wednesday too.

Call it day trading the dailies.

Which brings us to today. Granted it was a big one but in options lots of days are big ones. The SPY 263 in-the-money put expiring today netted 238% on my date-trade signal. And the same 263 puts for Wednesday and Friday trailed with 110% and 85% respectively. (The white flags on the right-hand axis in the charts below show the total gain for $10K traded, so chosen to also correspond to a percentage gain.)

Not a bad start to a quarter.

NOTE: Probably should say something about the first quarter in this “fool’s game” just for the record… There were 62 trading days in the quarter with 40 of them profitable for a win rate of 64%. Not going to say how much it made overall (everyone would say “oh, come on, that can’t be!”) but think about these numbers… As I said above there were 14 big winners of 100% or more. The biggest winner in the calls was 252% on 3/9. The biggest winner in the puts was 265% on 2/2. The biggest winning week was the week of 2/5 to 2/9 at 650% and the biggest losing week was 3/12 to 3/16 for a negative 208% (obviously one does not trade this strategy with one’s entire account).

All of this is simply buying calls or puts as day-trades.

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$DBX – An IPO easy to buy at the right price…

When a hot IPO is launched, as was the case with Dropbox (DBX) yesterday, the headlines are usually how much it leaped over it initial offer price. That is a worthless commentary. Unless one is on some broker’s favored clientele list, it is impossible to have the stock and to be able to sell it on that leap.

So what to do?

With IPOs this is actually one of the easiest decisions in stock trading. Simply note the high price and the low price on day one of the IPO. Those are the lines in the sand.

Buy on a close above the high of the first with a stop loss below the high of the first day. With DBX that buy is a close above 31.60. If the stock drops back below that number, take the loss (likely small) and forego the anxiety of being locked into a foolish IPO buy made on whatever day. If it rallies from there, it could trend up and become a longer-term investment.

#MarketTiming – Plunge to a climax low?

The general market seriously tanked today – Dow down 724 points, SPX down 68, the Nasdaq Composite down 178.

And it was an across-the-board slaughter as every one of the nine sector ETFs I follow slammed into sell signals, with eight of the nine now oversold on the close.

The all-important long-term breadth indicator – the McClellan Summation index — is on its fourth day down, making it obvious which side of the market to be on, but even more telling is that this is a wind down that began nearly two weeks ago on the first day down from the bounce top on March 12th (see the chart below).

There is a lot of stuff going on that could have led to this drop — Trump, Trump’s tariff plans, Trump’s saber rattling, Trump’s staff members bailing as fast as they can, the Trump chaos (we have a sitting President in litigation with a porn star and so far she and he lawyer are kicking his and his lawyer’s butt), uncertainties springing up everywhere; and the Fed is raising interest rates.

All that is taking a toll of course but this a market that has been moving up too far and too fast so the last two weeks were at some time inevitable.

Is this a bear market? Still hard to tell. The VIX, which measures volatility, is above 20, which is the territory for a correction in a bull market, but it is for the second time this year flirting with the 25-level (it closed at 23.34 today), and that is the door to a bear market. If the SPY (SPX) takes out February low either right now or after a bounce without a significant rally, a bear’s growl may, for sure, be heard.

The trouble with bear markets is by the time everyone feels enough pain to panic they are over. I suspect if this becomes a bear market that pain is going to last a lot longer than anyone believes.

But back to today. So was this drop enough downside to make a climax low. Probably not but it could lead to another quick bounce. Given that there are now pretty defined resistance trend lines in place (see the chart), this next bounce might be worth trading but it is not likely to do anything more than produce another selling for shorting opportunity.

Regardless, this is a market that after two weeks down is oversold everywhere. Four times in the last seven days, my nifty-50 stock list has had 40 or more stocks on sells, which usually indicates the bottom of a swing or the beginning of a bottom. CNN Finance’s “Fear and Greed” index is at an “extreme fear” level (at 9…it can’t go below zero), which longer-term is usually buy territory. As noted above all of the sector ETFs, as well as the index ETFs I follow like TQQQ, UPRO and TNA, are also oversold.

All in all, time for another bounce…

Except this time, maybe a crash into a climax bottom tomorrow and Monday instead (an echo of 1987)…

SWING TRADING SIGNALS:

LONG-TERM BREADTH: Sell (Day 4).

PRICE: Sell. (Day 2).
SHORT-TERM BREADTH: Sell. (Day 1).
VOLATILITY: Sell, (Day 1).

CONTEXT:

SPY CLOSE – 263.67
QQQ CLOSE – 162.8
CNN MONEY’S FEAR AND GREED INDEX: 9, falling, extreme fear level).
NIFTY-50 STOCK LIST: 8 Buys; 3 Overbought, 24 Oversold, 1 new buys today, 13 new sells.

(click on the chart for a larger view)