#Options – Buying calls and puts

There are so many options strategies in the stock market the head spins – a straddle, a strangle, a naked and/or a covered put and/or call, a calendar, a condor, an iron condor, an iron butterfly (isn’t that a rock band?) and any combination of any of these for hedging purposes, for capital appreciation or preservation, for gambling. Mind boggling.

But buying options… Buying options, just plain buying a call or a put, everyone will say is a “fool’s game.”

Regardless of whether a trader buys calls or puts on index ETFs like SPY or QQQ or IWM, or buys options on stocks, there are only three things that can happen – the option goes the trader’s way (good), or the option goes against the trader (bad), the option goes sideways with price decay over time (also bad).

Two out of the three possibilities for the option buyer are losers. What fool would want to play that game?

But is it really a fool’s game?

Doesn’t have to be. Not for day traders.

Let’s take SPY options as the prime example — 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 a trend for the day, can be substantial, even rather astounding.

Also great for scalping on any time frame intraday.

The key, as always, is persistence, discipline, experience, and an entry signal the trader is comfortable with taking.

$SPY – dead cat or not, the open always matters…

MARKET TIMING SIGNALS FOR 7/18/2019.

Long-Term Breadth (the NYSI): Sell DAY 2
Short-Term Breadth (the NYMO): Buy DAY 1
Price: Buy DAY 1
Nifty-50-Stock-List: 17 BUYS, 9 NEW BUYS, 8 OVERBOUGHT; 32 SELLS, 2 NEW SELLS, 8 OVERSOLD.
CNN MONEY’S “Fear and Greed” Index: 47, rising, NEUTRAL LEVEL.
Bellwether Stocks: 7 UP, 8 DOWN.

WHAT?

In yesterday’s post it was noted that:

“The market will go down until it doesn’t, and granted, that could be even as early as tomorrow. The VIX remains below 15, which is a bullish level indicating this is likely a pullback and not a serious correction.”

The is pretty much what happened with a gap down before recovering.

While all three of my end-of-the-day signals were on or went to sells on today’s open in options trading and day trading the open always matters.

See the charts below. Color-coding on the these TradeStation charts has been getting simpler and simpler.

Those trades were triggered by the open for each option. They are set for $10K in each trade (what I call the “10KDayTrade” on Twitter) only to make calculating the percentage gains and losses easier. So $10K in 296 call for Friday’s expiration made about $5,900 into the close on the black chart on the left and the brief trade in Friday’s 298 put on the blue chart to the right lost about $900 so the net today across both trades was about 50%.

WHAT NEXT?

Today’s recovery was enough to turn up the NYMO which is a cautious buy signal. I say “cautious” because long-term breadth is declining. Consequently, today’s turn could be a dead-cat bounce with the downward slide resuming in short order. It’s a trade worth taking with a tight, impatient stop — in other words for me it better go my way right away or I’m going away.

At same time, tomorrow’s open, like today’s, is going to matter in both options and day trading. As far as I’m concerned SPY options are always a day trade. Stocks are a different game. Based on today’s close, stocks on my bellwether list to watch for longs tomorrow are AAPL, FSLR, SHOP, TWLO, and NVDA while BABA, WYNN and QCOM may be shorts.

The open for each will tell the story.

(click on the charts below for a larger view)

$SPY #Options – walking the put path in the day trade

The end-of-the-day results: a 116% gain on the two entries, first a cumulative 50% gain on today’s 301 put and finally a 66% gain on today’s 300 put into the close.

$SPY – trudging higher but watching for a reversal day

MARKET TIMING SIGNALS FOR 7/16/2019.

Long-Term Breadth (NYSI): BUY DAY 12
Short-Term Breadth (NYMO): Sell DAY 1
Price: BUY DAY 2
Nifty-50-Stock-List: 20 BUYS, 4 NEW BUYS, 13 OVERBOUGHT; 30 SELLS, 4 NEW SELLS, 11 OVERSOLD.
CNN MONEY’S “Fear and Greed” Index: 57, falling, GREED LEVEL.
Bellwether Stocks: 11 UP, 4 DOWN.

WHAT?

The market moved sluggishly higher today.

In the case of SPY it was five days in a row, and except for a minor blip in the middle of the advance, TQQQ would be the same. SPY, by my measure, has been overbought for three trading days, which is often all she wrote, but not always.

During this entire move up, my nifty-50 stock list has never had more than 25 stocks on buys. The last time I saw above thirty was two weeks ago (37 on 7/1). Those stocks are trudging through a muddle. That might or might now mean something. Notably TNA, the 3xLeveraged ETF for the Russell small caps has gone nowhere.

Still SPY has managed to make new all-time highs, which is either ragingly bullish, or it’s about to die on the first down day.

WHAT NEXT?

Let’s consider that first day down for a moment, especially since short-term breadth, which has been putting in highs below high (see chart below), turned down today with SPY overbought and up five days in a row (see this many times before a dip).

Trader Vic Sperandeo noted one time that any time a major index goes four or more days in one direction at the end of an intermediate advance or decline the first reversal day is the change of trend. Trouble is I don’t think he ever quite defined what constitutes an intermediate advance or decline. One can look at charts and see he has been right again and again and again but then there is that one time…and that one time can kill anyone who doesn’t play defense. This advance is essentially five weeks old with a minor drop in the middle, projected here in this post below :#MarketTiming – a black candles Thursday leading to….

In addition SPY ended the day in a black candle. The black candle makes today’s high (301.13) and today low (300.19) key numbers, above the former there more rally to come, below the latter a dip to the downside, a easy read of price action. Those highs below highs on the NYMO (again see the chart below) are a warning. There is a divergence in CNN Money’s Fear and Greed Index not confirming the new highs. There’s the Russell stall so far… These things are beginning to pile up.

Five weeks of solid gains may not be the end of the upswing but it is worth guarding against Trader Vic’s “first reversal day.”

All that aside. until long-term breadth turns down, the long side will remain the side to play. Dips are to be bought in the indexes, the ETFs, stocks. Eleven of my bellwether stocks were up today with decent gains, see AAPL, TSLA, SHOP, BABA as examples. So there is still strong buying in big names, which is probably the place to focus most trades.

It always sounds stupid with one says it but it is the one simple, absolute truth — the market will go up until is doesn’t.

(click on the chart for a larger view)

#MarketTiming – a black candles Thursday leading to…

MARKET TIMING SIGNALS FOR 6/21/2019.

Long-Term Breadth (NYSI): BUY DAY 11
Short-Term Breadth (NYMO): BUY DAY 4
Price: BUY DAY 3
Nifty-50-Stock-List: 36 BUYS, 9 NEW BUYS, 28 OVERBOUGHT; 14 SELLS, 6 NEW SELLS, 0 OVERSOLD.
CNN MONEY’S “Fear and Greed” Index: 473, rising, NEUTRAL LEVEL.
Bellwether Stocks: 13 UP, 2 DOWN.

WHAT?

The market gaped higher again Thursday and for the most part finished higher but…

But most indexes, ETFs, stocks closed below their opens creating black candles on their charts (see the charts below). Black candles are obvious times of indecision springing up oftentimes at the end of up swings.

The three major leveraged ETFs – TQQQ, UPRO, TNA – ended the day black. Seventeen of the stocks, more than a third, of the nifty-50 stock list ended in black candles. Thirteen of the 15 bellwether stocks — AAPL, FB, NFLX, GS, AMZN, SHOP, etc. – were up on the day but fourteen of them ended in black candles.

WHAT NEXT?

As noted before black candles create an easy read for traders as the obvious indecisiveness resolves itself- above the high of the candle, the rally resumes, below the low, it falls back. It’s that simple.

With this much indecision going around, and with the current swing up thirteen days old, and with 28 of the nifty-50 stocks overbought, and with all but three of the bellwether stocks overbought (and the other three already on sells), almost needless to say, it could be time for at least a dip, if not a solid drop.

(click on the chart panel for a larger view)

#GoldStocks – talking trees when there’s a forest out there…

To state the obvious, most stocks move with the general market, and more obviously almost all stocks move like all stocks in their sector.

And this may be no more obvious than with the gold stocks.

I’m always surprised at the endless discussions of which gold stock to buy. Gold bugs, particularly, love this stuff — this one, or that one, or maybe that one. One stock picker or another has very good arguments for each of their choices, fundamentals, technicals, some buddy’s opinion, whatever, but they all ignore the obvious — they’re talking about trees when there’s a forest out there.

Take a look at the charts below.

Five of those charts are stocks and three are ETFs, but hide the symbols and company names for each chart and who would be able to tell which NEM and which GOLD, which is AEM and which is NUGT? The patterns essentially all look the same (like fir trees in a fir forest).

But actually they are not the same. I have the same swing-trading system on each of those charts. Now look at the numbers in the white flags on the lower left of each chart. Those are the total returns year-to-date per $100K committed to each swing trade (calculated also to easily show percentage gains for the system).

Obviously, there is a difference between the stocks and the ETFs. The leading stock in the sector, KL, is up 17%, while RGLD, lagging, is up only 1.4%; a prominent name like Newmont Mining (NEM) is up 14%. On the other hand, the leveraged ETFs, NUGT and JNUG, are both up 82% and even GDX, not leveraged, is up 25% – same time frame, same trading system.

The trading system here is not the point. It is just here to illustrate that too often traders and investors can’t, as they say, see the forest for the trees.

(CLICK ON THE CHART PANEL FOR A LARGER VIEW)

$SPY – Friday’s calls at the end of the bounce…

Friday’s 285 calls immediately vaulted as high as a 42% gain but wound down for the rest of day, hitting a breakeven stop along the way, and finishing down 52%.

If one studies the day’s bounce from the opening gap down and final reversal at the close (see final chart below), it’s apparent there was not much to do to capture some of the profit on the day before it was all gone on the stop loss. The bearish gap at the open might have given a hint to fast and nimble traders three days was all this bounce would have. Of note, it’s evident how important a stop is to avoid letting a profit turn into an outright loss.

Suspect Friday’s price action is a sign this little three day bounce has reversed and there will be downside next week, but we’ll have to see Monday.

There were no puts to buy on the reversal day since after the early run up SPY never quite fell back through its open.

(click on the chart for the full twitter thread)

(Click on the chart for a larger view)

$SPY – Long Friday calls on bounce day three…

The bounce continued Thursday…

(Click on the chart for a view of the final tweet)

(Click on the chart for a view of the initial tweet)

$SPY – Calls on bounce day two

The market followed through strongly Wednesday after a “turnaround Tuesday” on the current bounce signal.

(Click on the chart for the full Twitter thread)

$SPY #Options – Calls on the bounce day…

The great trader and “market wizard” Linda Raschke, talking about trading setups, once said “when you see what you’re looking for, jump all over it.”

As outlined in the post yesterday, I was looking for a market bounce, possibly as early as a “turnaround Tuesday,” and voila! The bounce began in the futures overnight and followed through on the open into an upswing for most of the day before selling off into the close (see the tweet and charts below).

The SPY in-the-money 281 call (SPY opened at 281.99), Wednesday’s expiration, netted a final 52% for the day trade, $5200 for each $10K traded.

(click on the chart to see the complete Twitter thread)

The Final chart:

(click on the chart for a larger view)