Trending days in the “Fool’s Game”…

The market Friday broke to the upside at the open and never looked back.

As a result it was what I’ve now come to call in my mind a “perfect trending day” in what I ironically call the “Fool’s Game”. That is to say since I started trading and tracking weekly SPY calls and puts solely on as longs and solely as day trades to avoid as much time decay as possible, it is a day when the in-the-money option gains more than 100% on the trend for day.

Friday’s expiring weekly SPY 275 calls vaulted on my day-trading signal into the close for 252% profit on the day trade. That is $25,200 for each $10K traded, in this instance 93 contracts (see the white flag on the lower right of the 10-minute chart below).

Going into Friday, last week’s trading was truly looking like a fool’s game.

From Monday to Thursday, the daily trades were down a cumulative 150% for the week, $15k for each $10k traded, the first weekly loss of the year.

But there had been no trending day during the week, by Thursday no 100% plus day, another first for the year.

And it was also a Friday, when the weekly option expires and there are the most volatile movements. There have been twelve trending days (up and down) in the first ten weeks on this year and five of those days have come on a Friday, making Friday this week once again the best possibility for another trending day.

And so it was to be, as it turned out. Rather spectacularly. For 252%, the second biggest day-trading gain of the year (on February 2nd, the Fool’s Game racked up a 265% gain on a put trade), and turning the loss on the trades for the week into an overall 100% profit.

(click on the chart for a larger view)

#MarketTiming – What a “long” glorious week!

This is an update of this post in this link, made last weekend:

#MarketTiming – Time for a bounce…

Wow! The predicted “bounce” has turned out to have been an understatement to what happened in the market this week.

Remember the 1961 movie “The Absent-Minded Professor” with Fred MacMurray, which introduced the world to flubber? Well, this week was a FLUBBER OF A BOUNCE, and since today it turned long-term breadth positive it is a bounce that has likely turned into a rally.

If I had to guess, instead of just following along, I suspect the pause begins tomorrow. If it gaps up, the rest of the day will likely be flat as the monthly options expiration plays out. If it gaps down or opens flat, there’s a good chance it rises again to the close and starts the pause there.

Just guessing this stuff…

Regardless, it has been a truly glorious week for swing traders – among the leveraged index ETFs TQQQ is up 15.8%, TNA up 12.1%, UPRO up 10.7%, even SVXY in the blistered VIX complex is up 15.3%. The at-the-money monthly SPY 263 call from Monday’s open, expiring tomorrow, is up 179%. Among the bellwether stocks AAPL is up 9.2% (that is a heavy market-cap lift in an awfully short time), BIDU up 13%, NFLX up 11.2%. I’m going to update my bellwether stocks later but suffice it to say here all twelve as of the close today are in the black for the week.

Now for a few cautionary notes.

If there is any trouble with this, it is that it has been a straight up move since last Friday. All the major indexes and most of the sector ETFs are up five days in a row. Much of the market is wildly overbought on short-term basis. This up move has been crazy. It is easily three standard deviations of an average advance and done in five consecutive days! (See the histogram on the Nasdaq Composite chart below.) I can’t even remember the last time anything like that happened, and obviously not in the last six months of this huge bull market. Forty-seven of the stocks on my nifty-50 stock list are on buys with 31 overbought (see the swing trading signals below), and yet we are not at new highs. This is going to have to have a pause, some backing and filling, then a resumption of the upswing before one can be sure it is yet another bullish rally in the on-going bull market.

The trouble with rallies out of hard drops, like the one the market took before this bounce, is that by the time they are obvious, they are sometimes over.

In addition, if the fierce sell-off that has preceded this bounce was a shot across the bow of the bull market, it is possible the buying this week is the last leap into the market by those long-ago left behind — if so, and if this rally fizzles before new highs (or even at marginal new highs) then this could be an advance before a mighty, mighty big flop.

Whenever this ends, we are going to have one of the biggest bear markets in history. If you don’t think so, you must not know history or you think “it’s different this time.” History says it is never different this time.

Even flubber bounces had to come back to earth.



PRICE: Buy. (Day 5).
VOLATILITY: Buy, (Day 5).


SPY CLOSE – 273.03
QQQ CLOSE – 165.70
CNN MONEY’S FEAR AND GREED INDEX: 11, falling, extreme fear level).
NIFTY-50 STOCK LIST: 47 Buys; 31 Overbought, 0 Oversold, 1 new buys today, 1 new sells.

(click on the chart for a larger view)

#IPOs – $FIT shows the first day’s range is sacrosanct

As has been stated in a previous post here, buying into an IPO is actually one of the easiest decisions in stock investing but never let a broker con you into doing it the day of the offering.

Instead, note the high price and the low price on the first IPO is traded. Those are the lines in the sand or the Darvas box around the first day of trading (see the charts below). The time to buy, invest, is on a close above the high of the first day with a stop loss below the high of the first day. That is usually a low-risk trade since the real good news comes when the stock proves it can move up from all the hype surrounding the offering itself and if it falls back the stop to exit is close by.

So, with history on our side, let’s take a look back at one of the most famous IPOs of past couple of years – FIT.

FIT came public in 2105 at 30.40 and had a high on its first day of 31.90, a low of 29.50 and a close of 29.68. That would make the “sacrosanct” range from the 31.90 high to the 29.50 low (see the blue rectangle on the chart below).

The next day, FIT closed at 32.50. That was the buy signal as it finished outside the first day’s range. It then rallied as high at 51.90, a pretty nice rise in a couple of months.

I’m not one for fundamentals but how far did anyone think the company was going to go on a gadget product keyed to New Year’s resolutions and open to competition from virtually everybody?

Needless to say, like New Year’s resolutions themselves, the stock began to fade and by the end of the year 2015 it was violating its “sacrosanct” first day’s range. It started 2016 with a serious break to the downside on substantial volume making it a clear short in IPO trading and, as they say, the rest is history.

It has now dropped into the $5 range from its IPO low of $29.50 in the face of one of the greatest bull market’s in history.

This price action, long or short, is the same with every IPO.

By the way, history, me thinks, is the best market indicator of all.

(click on the chart for a larger view)

$SPY $QQQ – day trading weekly options, again up 100%

After the Nasdaq’s big up day to start the new year, all of my swing signal clicked again to buys.

See signals table below.

But the question for discussion today is what those swing signals mean for the day trades in what I’ve been calling the “Fool’s Game”, the practice of going long – LONG – calls and puts each day.

Today, with all swing signals in place, and intraday 10-minute signals on SPY and QQQ also on buys at the end of Tuesday, the buys for the day trade today were on the open.

From that point, a day-trading options player in this game wants nothing more than to not be stopped out any time during the day and to close the trade at the end of the day making money. If it turns out it is a strong trending day, like yesterday to the upside with the QQQ calls, then the day trade becomes a big, sometimes very big winner.

The initial stop loss would have been 10 minutes of risk. If the first bar of the day closed below the day’s open, the position would be sold, no doubt for a loss, and possibly reversed depending on its relation to the moving average. If the option finished above the open, it would be in profit and a stop-loss just below the open could be placed to make it virtually a free trade.

So how is this game going today?

The buy on the open in the weekly SPY and QQQ in the money calls have gone straight up so far for the day with the SPY 268 weekly call up approximately 80% at the moment, and QQQ weekly calls up about 118% (see the chart for an illustration of all of the above).

A 100% day trade…can’t ask for much more than that, but as always in trading it is take what you can get.



PRICE: Buy. (Day 1).
VOLATILITY: Buy, (Day 1).


SPY CLOSE – 268.77
QQQ CLOSE – 158.49
CNN MONEY’S FEAR AND GREED INDEX: (62, rising, greed level).
NIFTY-50 STOCK LIST: 30 Buys; 18 Overbought, 0 Oversold, 17 new buys today, 5 new sells.

(click on the chart for a larger view)

#Stocks – Bellwethers kick off new year with a bang

All but one of my bellwether stocks have started the year so far with solid percentage gains.

Only GS lags, up at the moment only 25% on the day. The leaders include BABA up 5%, NFLX up 4.6% and FSLR up 3.5%.

For the rest see the charts below:

(click on charts for a larger view)

$SPY – the fool’s game’s not foolin’ for 79% on the day trade


After SPY’S opening gap, it was very trying trading in the early action as the ETF whipsawed back and forth across its open.

The market’s first ninety minutes chopped out two short signals and two long signals before settling into an downward trend for the rest of the day.

That slide into the close saved the trade for the day. After an initial draw down of $1500 (on a $10K buy-in on each trade), the overall net at the close was $7,900 for the day (or 79%) trading the weekly calls and puts (see the chart below for an illustration). Instead of saying the drop from 8 a.m. (PST) into the close “saved” the day, I guess it would be more apt to say it made the day-trade with this system once again great for the day.

I have upped the ante on what I talk about here from buying $5K worth per trade to $10K worth for each trade simply because it’s easier to talk about percentage gains and losses using that level. The SPY is best for this kind of options day trading because of the liquidity in both the weekly and the monthly strikes. The action today was in this week’s 266 calls with a volume today of more than 63,000 contracts and this week’s 267 puts with a volume today of more than 9,000 contracts, both were in the money contracts (that volume may be skewed by the fact this week’s expiration Friday is also a monthly expiration). Size ranged from 72 to 90 contracts per trade.

With $10 in the trade, it’s also fun to say on good days like today — Made $7900 today with my 10 grand in the market and now I’m flat with no overnight risk! What a fool am I?!

(click on the chart for a larger view)

REMINDER: The commentary presented here is for entertainment purposes only and should not be construed in any way as direct investing or trading advice.

$TQQQ – a Nasdaq bloodbath too far too fast?

TQQQ, the 3x-leverage ETF based on the Nasdaq 100 stocks (NDX), was down 5.4% today, a bloodbath that affected many of the bellwether Nasdaq stocks in the index.

See the table below:

(click on the image for a larger view)

NVDA down 14 points, NFLX down 11, and so on. Pretty ugly in the momentum bellwethers.

There was a fake-out nudge to the upside Tuesday, but can’t say today’s slam down was unexpected. Posted this two days ago:

This could be tricky since long-term breadth continues to climb (up for the fourth day). Given that, if short-term breadth turns up here in the next day or two (or bless a bottom dollar, three days), the market would get another bullish boost. If long-term breadth turns down, this could very easily become the hook that catches every bull off guard. Although the bull market has so far defied the signs over and over again, it is inevitable that one of these times, like today, when the signals signal a turn, the turn will come. Probably when the bears are worn out and the bulls don’t expect anything of on their blindside.

If today’s sell off continues, that will be relevant, but there are signs this is done already.

Nearly every time TQQQ falls through the standard deviation lines (the blocks on the green lines on the chart below), the Nasdaq bounces the next day or two days out (the red vertical lines on the chart). It is as if any fall this far is too far too fast. And oftentimes in this bull market, the bounce becomes another rally (see the diamonds on the chart are TQQQ). In fact, a look-black on the chart shows this last great upswing in the Nasdaq, which began in late September, started with a touch down on the green lines just like today.

So I’m looking for the bounce, and looking to ride a rally if it develops here (Santa time?), and if it doesn’t then the suggestion in the quote above might indeed be a sea change in the market.



PRICE: Sell. (Day 1).
VOLATILITY: Sell, (Day 1).


SPY CLOSE – 262.31
QQQ CLOSE – 153.89
CNN MONEY’S FEAR AND GREED INDEX: (67, rising, greed level).
NIFTY-50 STOCK LIST: 14 Buys; 11 Overbought, 8 Oversold, 6 new buys today, 3 new sells.

(click on the chart for a larger view)

$SBGL (TRADE UPDATE) – up 9.4% in 4 days…

SBGL, long from 11/21 at 5.09, has had a nice four day run to the upside to close-by resistance.


At the same time the leveraged gold-stock ETF, NUGT, has move up to the top of its recent range (see the chart below). Would like to see a breakout in order to take SBGL above 5.65. It closed today at 5.57.

In the meantime, moving the stop on half the position to 5.42, and to breakeven on the other half.

(click on the chart for a larger view)

#MarketTiming – Swing signals swing again…

Yesterday my swing signals for Price, Breadth and Volatility were all on sells. The market went up. Today the signals (see below) have swung again to buys. Across the board.

I’m assuming the market is going up tomorrow.

But the indexes are overbought and the internals are falling apart. Something has to give, sometime…

Sometime, needless to say, is an awfully vague term.

If this sounds like I have no confidence in these signals I don’t intend it to. They are reliable for swing trading. XIV, for instance, is up 67% year-to-date on the Price signal, up 55% on the breadth signal and 80% on the volatility signal (appropriately). See the chart panel below – from left to right Price, Breadth, Volatility.

It’s the market, at this point, going up and up and up relentlessly that bothers me. We’ve seen this before and it’s great while it lasts but it is not, in the end, going to be different this time.



PRICE: Buy. (Day 1).
VOLATILITY: Buy, (Day 1).


SPY CLOSE – 259.11
QQQ CLOSE – 176.24
CNN MONEY’S FEAR AND GREED INDEX: (54, falling, neutral level).
NIFTY-50 STOCK LIST: 23 Buys; 11 Overbought, 6 Oversold, 5 new buys today, 7 new sells.

(click on the chart panel for a larger view)

$SPY – Three days in the “fool’s game” for 100%

I have been posting these BUYING SPY options trades for three days now, Friday, Monday and Today, buying against the common wisdom that buying options is essentially a fool’s game.



Friday and Monday were “call” days, today was a put day. These are the weekly in-the-money options expiring each Friday. Each buy signal is a $5000 buy-in with up to five trades a day for no more in on any day than $25,000 at once (there were only four signals today). These are all day trades, which is the point.

As I proposed in the link: SPY options are ideal for day trading — very liquid across multiple strikes, tight spreads, hardly any time decay on a trade for only a day, a stop-loss is close by and immediate, and the profits, if there is trend for the day, can be substantial, even rather astounding.

I suppose “astounding” is a relative term and every person defines it differently but…

This is how I’m defining it today — these trades in these three days are now up a shade more than 100%.

That’s largely thanks to the “astounding” 80% move on last Friday’s expiring call. And I suppose the last two days for 12% each are more typical.

But there’s more to this if one takes a look inside the trade (without going crazy — easy to do…). For instance, today first three signals were up $8000 at their peak and there was a possible and reasonable sell at up $6000 as opposed to the mechanical close at $2450. There were moments like that every one of the days. Options after all as volatile trading products. Could have been much more than 100% on any one of them…and of course there buying out-of-the-money instead of in-the-money for more bang for the buck but this is when option trading begins to go insane so I’ll just quit talking about the might-have-beens. The what-is remains north of 100% in three days.

As I’ve said in the links above the key is any entry signal with which a trader is comfortable (see the chart below or those in the links above).

By the way, I’ve had discussions on a couple of forums in which it has been suggested that ES futures would be a more efficient and much better way to take these day trades, give the futures’ liquidity, tight spreads and lack of time decay. While that seems logical and even appears to be obvious, as far as day trading goes that is, so far, simply not true. ES futures have under-performed the weekly SPY options on these day trades. For one example the SPY Puts today netted 12% while the ES futures, at an equal level of commitment using day-trading margin, were flat on the same signals.

(click on the chart for a larger view)

A REMINDER: These posts are solely for entertainment purposes. They are a journal of my thoughts on the market and should not be construed in any way as direct or indirect investment or trading advice.