#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 – 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 – back to across-the-board buys…

MARKET TIMING SIGNALS FOR 6/14/2019.

Long-Term Breadth (NYSI): BUY DAY 6
Short-Term Breadth (NYMO): BUY DAY 1
Price: BUY DAY 1
Nifty-50-Stock-List: 18 BUYS, 5 NEW BUYS, 9 OVERBOUGHT; 32 SELLS, 1 NEW SELLS, 3 OVERSOLD.
CNN MONEY’S “Fear and Greed” Index: 39, RISING, FEAR LEVEL.
Bellwether Stocks: 10 UP, 10 DOWN.

WHAT?

The question in the last market-timing post here was the market due for a Stall or a Drop?.

With barely two days down in the indexes it appears it was merely a stall.

The nifty-50 stock list worked off its overbought condition during the week from 41 stocks on buys Monday (28 overbought) to 15 on buys yesterday. Buy signals in the list clicked up today to 18 on buys with only 9 stocks overbought.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Since long term breadth continues to climb, assume there will be more upside with an up day likely again Friday.

Of particular note: CNN’s “Fear and Greed” Index put in a low above a low today (see its chart below with the Nasdaq Composite) as it works its way higher. It is still at a “fear” level so there is more room to move up.

(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)

#MarketTiming – Oversold and very close to a bounce…

MARKET TIMING SIGNALS FOR 5/13/2019.

Long-Term Breadth (NYSI): SELL FROM 5/6.
Short-Term Breadth (NYMO): SELL FROM 5/13.
Price: SELL FROM 5/13.
Nifty-50-Stock-List: 9 BUYS, 0 NEW BUYS, 2 OVERBOUGHT; 41 SELLS, 14 NEW SELLS, 30 OVERSOLD.
CNN MONEY’S “Fear and Greed” Index: 32, FALLING, FEAR LEVEL.
Bellwether Stocks: 0 UP, 15 DOWN.

OF NOTE SPY OPTIONS:

In a very bearish trading environment, today was a put day (see post below) with the in-the-money at the open 284 put rocketing to a 144% gain at its peak and registering through a chop at the end of the day a 76% gain. That final gain is if one was not paying attention, but obviously there were profit taking points all during the day – as it gained 100%, coming off the top for 121%, selling on the first blue-bar sell signal for 90% (see the chart in the post below).

WHAT:

Today’s market action was again news driven as the US-China trade talks broke off Friday with Trump escalating the pressure with a jump in tariffs on many Chinese imports from 10% to 25%, then tweeting over the weekend several threats to make it worse.

Finally, China retaliated with $60B in tariffs on US products, most farm products in the heart of Trump’s voter support. Sixty billion is not that much on its face but in the scheme of things it was a sign China is not going to, as some Trump supporters were claiming, “bend a knee.”

With an all-out trade war getting closer and closer to a real possibility (don’t these guys ever read history?) it was inevitable the US market was going to take a big rip.

On a technical note, except for a one-day up blip on 5/3, the long-term breadth, as measured by the NYSI, has been been falling since 4/17 (see the red vertical line on the chart below). Since that time, the market managed to trudge higher but the indexes are all now below the level they were at when the NYSI turned down. In other words never bet against the NYSI. It sometimes takes a while but it most often wins in the end.

In a previous post on the this pullback, I said: “If the market focuses more and more on the Trump administration turmoil in Washington, it is likely to unstable for some time.” That still is the what’s what.

WHAT’S NEXT?

However, for now, it is time for a bounce. It may not come Tuesday (a “turnaround Tuesday”?) but it is very close by.

The market can go down as long as it wants but not forever.

At this point SPY is down seven of the past nine trading day, the nasdaq down eight of the last ten. Short-term breadth, the NYMO, is deeply oversold. VIX has moved from the “12s” to 20 in the same amount of time. It’s getting to be too far, too fast, which always leads to a quick bounce. Except for QCOM, all the bellwether stocks are sells and were flushed to oversold with big drops in the indexes today.

In addition, my nifty-50-stock-list has 41 stocks on sells and 30 individual stock on the list oversold. Forty or more on sells is oftentimes the beginning of the end, if not the end, of a downswing.

I’m not one for Fibonacci numbers because like all support and resistance indicators they are notable only as long as the market doesn’t slice right through them (which it often does), but they are sometimes fun to take a look at and right now it appears SPY is sitting on one on a retrace of the rally from December (see the chart below). Supposedly that’s as good a spot as any for a bounce to begin.

(click on the chart for a larger view)

$SPY – six days up into a black candle

Does the market pause here, pull back, or continue to rally?

My bias going into Friday is a pause, possibly going into a pull back.

But, thanks to SPY rising six days in a row, putting a black candle on the price chart and an inside day today (see the chart below), it’s going to be easy to see the next move, either up or down. Every black candle, which I simply define as a day in which the close is higher than the day before and lower than its open, is a clear sign of indecision in the market and an inside day is a further indication of indecision. The indecision obviously is resolved above the high or below the low of the black candle day. It’s that simple.

At the moment, the key numbers on SPY are 287.76 at the high and 285.75 at the low.

Of course it takes a down day to start a decline and SPY, at six days up, has not had one but the Nasdaq Comp, after five days up in a row, was down slightly today and there were eighteen sell signals today on my nifty-50 stock list, CNN’s Fear and Greed Index is overbought in the greed zone… All of which contribute to my bias.

On the other hand, long-term breadth (NYSI) continues to rise, short-term breadth (NYMO) also is positive so it’s likely, when and if it comes, the dip will be more of a pause than a deep pullback.

In the meantime, it might be time for swing traders to tighten stops to lock in profits. It’s been a good upside run this week with TQQQ up 3.8%, TNA, up 3.1% and UPRO up 2.5% at today’s close.

Among the bellwether stocks FB is up 4.9 %, FSLR up 3.9%; AAPL lagging but up 2.1% (watching for a short soon); remarkably WYNN is up 13.1% and AMD up 10.4% and GS up 4.2% and BAC up 4.5% at today’s close. All of these are four day trades from the market-timing buy signal on the open Monday.

(click on the chart for larger view)

#MarketTiming – from bearish to bullish to bearish again…

On Monday, this blog posted that this stock market at this juncture is —

TRICKY, TRICKY, TRICKY.

No kidding.

At that point, for Monday, the market, according to many technical indicators, was poised to sell off, ending the splendid rally from December. But then it didn’t sell off.

Instead, yesterday, it gave a tentative, but likely, indication it was going to continue to go up into a typical bull-market cycle advance, and today on the opening gap and with its pre-lunch follow-through from the open, it appeared the snorting gods were in their heaven and all was right with bull world.

Then, during the day a quick slide took everything negative. Not by much, hardly enough to notice on daily charts at the end of the day, but it was enough to turn long-term breadth negative again (see the dots on the chart below), which makes being long the market dangerous and while short-term breadth did peek above the zero line for a day a look back looks pretty bearish (the yellow line on the chart below) with highs below highs generally all the way back to the beginning of the rally.

Tricky.

I’ve long said this is the rally to make everyone believe a bear market did not begin in September of last year, that the bull market from as far back as Obama’s first term was resuming and continuing and it may still be (it sure looked like it yesterday), but it will not surprise me if a benign dip like today turns into a raging grizzly while the buy-and-holders sitting at The Palm or at Smith & Wollensky are wondering why the steaks are taking so long.

For today I’m posting my “Black Candle” chart. Black candles shows up when an index or ETF or stock or whatever one’s trading closes higher than the day before (usually on a gap) but lower than its open. There are candlestick names for these kind of chart patterns but just plain “black” is fine with me.

Today, notably, we had black candles on SPY (below) and TQQQ, and remarkably on FNGU (the leveraged ETF for the FANG stocks). They don’t always signal tops of swings, although I can’t think of anything else that comes as close (see examples on SPY below), but they are alerts. They do signal sudden indecision. And they are useful markers, pretty much as simple as it gets — go long above the high of the black candle, go short below the low of the black candle as the indecision gives way to a direction either up or down.

(click on the chart for a larger view)

#MarketTiming – Bulls doing what they needed to do

What they needed to do was to push the market up some more.

In the process, the all important long-term breadth (the NYSI) has turned positive to go along with the short-term breadth (the NYMO) and price indicators with SPY finally edging above its 280/282 resistance (see the charts below).

That would suggest more advance to come. The upturn in the NYSI is buy signal for tomorrow’s open

But maybe not without a dip first, a “turnaround Tuesday”?

There are shaky signs that remain in this tricky time in the market. It’s kind of scary to jump in now with the market already up essentially six days in a row, both the Russell and the Dow at at the moment lagging the Nasdaq and the SPX as if not all the generals are as yet on the battlefield. My nifty-50 stock list has 29 stocks on buys and has been declining since last week, even slipping again today from 31 on buys Friday. CNN’s Fear and Greed Index is at a “greed” level and still working on divergence trailing the market’s up move these last six days.

Still, at this point there is no choice other than to be long until further notice.

Given that the NYMO/NYSI is positive and also has a cycle that usually runs ten to fourteen weeks (the sell down ending six trading days ago was in the 10th week) breadth could launch the market into rally into say…May…and maybe making a new high along the way.

I’ve been asked to explain what’s on the the triptych of stock charts below. They are an illustration of what I talk about over and over again as I try over and over again to simplify, simplify, simplify.

The top part is whatever is being traded on the signals. In this case TQQQ. Could be AAPL, GE, NFLX, options, whatever. The middle part is NYMO and NYSI. The next lower part is obviously SPY. Also use the Nasdaq composite here on other charts. And finally the bottom part is the profit reading, set for $100,000 in order to easily see the percentage move. The white flag on the lower left is the booked profit percentage on the signal year to date. The white flag on the lower right is the current profits if the signal is in play.

The chart on the left is the short-term breadth signal for March, in the middle is a pure price signal for March, and on the right is the long-term breadth chart, YTD (it is set to go long again tomorrow).

Remember this is day trading and swing trading, no long-term buy and hold in my world (far too risky).

(click on the charts for a larger view)