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Bank Scare a Ruse to Shake the Tree

by Rick Ackerman on September 2, 2009 12:22 am GMT · 6 comments

A run on a major U.S. bank?  Who could have been spreading such scurrilous rumors? They surfaced yesterday in the Rick’s Picks chat room, and elsewhere, not long after we’d done some personal banking ourselves in an online account at the very same bank. We experienced no delays or problems with the transaction, notwithstanding reports of a “default situation” and “elevated” buying of put options on the shares of the bank.  We were able to confirm that there had indeed been a flurry of put-buying, but the action was not so frenetic as to suggest that the bank was in any serious trouble. 

bankers

To the contrary, banks are operating under such loosey-goosey rules right now that they shouldn’t have a care in the world. Imagine having a notarized letter from your local police chief authorizing you to loot and plunder any store in the neighborhood without fear of arrest. That’s how the banks are doing business these days – which is to say, however they want.  And if a deal should turn sour it’s no problem, since the U.S. government has assured banks that it will pay 100 cents on the dollar for any securities that ultimately fail to clear the market.

Smoldering Ruins

Tuesday’s rumors of a big bank on the ropes evidently were prompted by general weakness in banking shares. The selling had been attributed to nervousness over the prospect of more losses to come in the banking sector. A few analysts added to the stresses of the day by speaking cautiously about bank shares.  Has the spectacular rally begun last November finally run out of steam, they asked? We seriously doubt it. More likely is that those who have been accumulating bank shares hand-over-fist simply backed off their bids for a day, allowing the stocks to fall to more appealing levels.

Bloomberg, CNBC, the Wall Street Journal and all the rest bought into this ruse with a deluge of commentary concerning how financial stocks supposedly have gotten too far ahead of “fundamentals”. Fundamentals!?  If the day ever comes when fundamental analysis is applied rigorously to securities markets, the financial system will be reduced to a smoldering ruin in mere days. For the time being, though, the bankers are enjoying a holiday from scrutiny that makes all things possible. Under the circumstances, with Tammany Hall sensibilities determining the course of the financial system, we should not be looking for a top in banking shares, only an occasional pause in their upward spiral.

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TODAY'S ACTION for Wednesday

Against the Grain…

by Rick Ackerman on September 2, 2009 1:18 am GMT

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Rick's Picks for Wednesday
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All Picks By Issue:

GCZ09 – Comex December Gold (Last:955.00)

by Rick Ackerman on September 2, 2009 12:44 am GMT

The futures spent the day struggling to go lower, failing in the end to overpower a midpoint support at 947.60 whose breach would have greased the skids down to 938.70. The bearish pattern is shown in the accompanying chart, and as you can see, the pre-dawn bounce came from a low that lay within a single tick of the pattern’s calculated midpoint. The reactive rally was no world-beater, to be sure, but on balance the picture is at least mildly bullish for the near term.  A 978.00 rally target given here earlier remains viable, but like you I am growing a bit impatient about it.

GS – Goldman Sachs (Last:162.03)

by Rick Ackerman on September 2, 2009 12:53 am GMT

Yesterday’s savaging did no damage whatsoever to the bullishness of the daily chart, although there is still room to fall on the lesser intraday charts. Specifically, a Hidden Pivot target at 158.90 looks like a good place to try bottom-fishing. Officially we’ll bid 158.93 for 200 shares, stop 158.79.  We continue to hold the Jan 130 – Oct 130 put spread four times for 3.40 and a September 170 call for 2.00. _______ UPDATE: The bottom-fishing gambit worked out nicely, since the stock rallied $1.08 after making a low at 158.90 around midway into the session. You would have needed to apply a trailing stop, though, since Goldman subsequently relapsed to 158.14 before the closing bell.

SIU09 – Comex December Silver (Last:14.970)

by Rick Ackerman on September 2, 2009 1:01 am GMT

Silver effected a promising spike yesterday afternoon, but the futures were struggling to hold onto the gain early in the evening.  If they go no lower than 14.940 overnight, however, any rally exceeding the relevant midpoint resistance at 15.155 would suggest additional upside potential over the near term to as high as 15.365.

DXY – NYBOT Dollar Index (Last:78.80)

by Rick Ackerman on September 2, 2009 1:12 am GMT

The rally looked altogether unimpressive until late in the session, when a fleeting spike surpassed a look-to-the-left peak at 78.91 that I’d flagged in the chat room. That gives the rally nominal appeal on the lesser charts, although we should require 79.79 today to validate it. The location of the obscure but important peak-let this would surpass is shown in the accompanying chart.

$GCZ14 – December Gold (Last:1289.20)

by Rick Ackerman on August 29, 2014 3:57 am GMT

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$ESU14 – Sep E-Mini S&P (Last:1990.00)

by Rick Ackerman on August 29, 2014 3:35 am GMT

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$CLV14 – October Crude (Last:93.76)

by Rick Ackerman on August 28, 2014 1:13 am GMT

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$PCLN – Priceline (Last:1260.77)

by Rick Ackerman on August 28, 2014 1:00 am GMT

If the lunatic stocks are about to lead the broad averages higher, we should see Priceline bounce sharply from the 1259.21 midpoint support shown. Yesterday’s low came within 38 cents of this Hidden Pivot — close enough for the target to be considered fulfilled. Any further slippage, however, and its ‘D’ sibling at 1224.45 will be in play. This would imply that the stock market itself is likely to go nowhere, or possibly down, in the days ahead.  The stock would become shortable on a decisive breach of the red line (i.e., a breach of perhaps 0.30-0.60 cents0, but if you plan on getting short for the potential $35 ride south, you should initiate the trade on the 5-minute chart or less, using a corrective pattern that would subject you to no more risk theoretically than perhaps 0.15 per share. If the trade works and you are still short when 1224.45 is reached or closely approached, reverse the position and buy at the target aggressively using a tight stop.

$+TSLA – Tesla Motors (Last:264.09)

by Rick Ackerman on August 26, 2014 7:35 am GMT

Tesla’s bullish rampage looks like it could hit 305.55 on the next big thrust.  Accordingly, I’ll recommend bidding 1.54 for the October 3/Sep 5  300 calendar spread 8 times, good till Friday. You should adjust your bid by 0.05 up or down for every 50 cents the stock moves above or below 262.50.  Please note as well that a pullback to the red line, a Hidden Pivot midpoint at 241.39, should be regarded as a buying opportunity, especially the calendar spread (albeit it at a much lower price). _______ UPDATE (August 26, 11:43 p.m. EDT):  Volatility has gotten crushed, and so you’re doing well if you buy the spread now for 1.34 (with TSLA at 262.00).  Since the spread price can fluctuate wildly from one day to the next, I’ll suggest that you recalibrate it hourly if you’re a buyer, using a spread price midway between bid and offer as “fair value.”  It has a delta value of around 9 at the moment, so you should adjust your bid for the spread by 0.01 for each 0.11 move in the underlying. _______ UPDATE (August 28, 9:45 p.m.):  With the Sep 5 calls melting away, the fair price for our spread must be recalculated several times daily by anyone seeking to buy it. It was a decent buy at Thursday’s close for around 1.20, but it could shed yet another 0.15-0.25 as the week ends.

$SLW – Silver Wheaton (Last:24.89)

by Rick Ackerman on August 25, 2014 12:05 am GMT

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$AAPL – Apple Computer (Last:100.89)

by Rick Ackerman on August 21, 2014 3:16 am GMT

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$+TLT – Lehman Bond ETF (Last:117.72)

by Rick Ackerman on August 20, 2014 4:59 am GMT

Subscribers are working two bullish calendar spreads (x16), but I would suggest increasing the size of the position if TLT corrects down to the 115.18 target  shown.   For now , we are long September 20 118 calls against short August 19 118 calls that we will roll into August 29 calls this Thursday and Friday.  We’ve already done the roll twice, reducing the cost basis of the spread to 0.04. This week’s roll will entail covering (buying back) the short calls and shorting a like number of August 29 calls, effectively selling the August 22 118/August 29 118 calendar spread.

It was marked on Tuesday at 0.17, off a 0.26 offer, but any price higher than 0.04 will effectively turn the position we’ll have  – long the Sept 20 118/August 29 118 calendar — into a credit spread.  This means we can’t lose – will make a profit no matter what TLT does.  Ideally, come September 20 , TLT will be sitting at 118, our spread will be trading for around 0.50, and we’ll be carrying it for a credit of perhaps 0.50.  The imputed profit would be  $1600 — not bad, considering our risk is already close to zero.

My long-term outlook for T-Bonds is very bullish, a view that goes sharply against a consensus which clings to the belief that interest rates – and the stock market — can only go up.  That is a bet we should be eager to fade. We may have a chance to do so at still better odds if T-Bonds continue to  sell off  on the manufactured idea that the Jackson Hole conference will open the floodgates for more stimulus and inflation. _______ UPDATE (10:38 a.m.):  The Sep 20/Aug xx calendar spread is recommended at this point only for those who did the original spread, since there’s not enough time left on it to roll its cost basis down to zero or less (i.e., a credit). If you are new to the spread, try buying the Nov 20/August 29 calendar for 0.90 with TLT trading around 115.80.  The spread has a delta value of 0.20, implying that being long one spread is equivalent to being long 20 shares of stock.  This means that, using a spread price of 0.90 as a benchmark, you should adjust the price you pay for it by one penny, up or down, for each 5 cents that TLT moves away from 115.80. ______ UPDATE (August 23): The strategies detailed above continue to rack up solid gains for subscribers that have come with minimal risk. If you have yet to take a stake, I would strongly urge you to do so, and to monitor reports in the chat room from those who are working the order. If there are any questions about how, and when, to initiate a trade, please don’t hesitate to ask me or others about it. _______ UPDATE (August 26, 12:01 a.m.): These spreads are working well, to put it mildly — especially for subscribers who increased their position size as suggested whenever TLT was weak.  Check my August 26 posts in the chatroom for further, detailed guidance.  In brief, I am suggesting covering half of the 118-strike spreads for 0.90 or better this week, and to roll the short side of the Nov 22 120/Aug 29 120 to Sep 5. _______ UPDATE (August 28, 12:43 p.m.): The August 29 118 calls look likely to finish in-the-money. To avoid being exercised, make sure you roll into the September 5 calls before noon EDT Friday.  Currently, with TLT trading 119.09, the September 5 118/August 29 118 calendar spread is a decent sale for around 0.28.  Keep in mind that the spread could widen, to our great advantage, if TLT pulls back, since the August 29 calls we are short will shed value more precipitously than the September calls that we continue to hold as the long side of our position. Even so, you could do worse than take the 0.28 now and run, since it would simply fatten the premium we have taken in on the weekly short, increasing our net credit.  With TLT rallying liking a moofoo, the weekly credits will be more significant to our final gain than the calendar spread itself at expiration.


SIDE BETS for Wednesday

ESU09 – September E-Mini S&P (Last: 996.00)

by Rick Ackerman on September 2, 2009 12:57 am GMT

Below 999.75, there were no more Hidden Pivot targets to project yesterday using the hourly chart. That is still the case, although we can use the breach of a look-to-the-left peak at 1009.50 to signal us when ES is turning around.


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