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A Sane Way to Trade Crazy Markets

by Rick Ackerman on December 19, 2011 12:01 am GMT · 21 comments

Does the chart below of the Dow Industrial Average make you feel bullish? Bearish? Neutral?  We’re not sure ourselves. Although we’ve been using technical analysis for nearly 40 years, the chart doesn’t speak to us. At best, it leaves us with only a moderately bullish bias for the near term  – and a vague feeling that the meaningless price swings that have ruled the markets in 2011 could continue for longer than we would care to imagine, let alone explain  This is hard to believe, especially with so many dreadnoughts bearing down on the global economy and banking system. The U.S. is re-entering a recession that never ended for most households. China has hit the brakes in preparation for a slowdown in global trade, and the country’s real estate bubble appears to be deflating with a vengeance. Jihadists are planning naval “maneuvers” in the Strait of Hormuz. Bird flu and the bubbling Yellowstone caldera threaten us with extinction.

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TODAY'S ACTION for Monday

Sunday Night Softness

by Rick Ackerman on December 19, 2011 12:01 am GMT

Stocks and bullion were soft Sunday night in turgid action, so I’ve emphasized mildly bearish possibilities in my touts for index futures and bullion.


Rick's Picks for Monday
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ESH12 – March E-Mini S&P (Last:1206.75)

by Rick Ackerman on December 19, 2011 2:34 am GMT

March E-Mini S&P (ESH12) price chart with targetsWe are long a single contract with a cost basis of 1156.00. The 17-point drop from Friday’s high missed our 1207.75 stop-loss by two ticks, but be prepared to exit on that number Sunday night. That would give us a gain worth a little more than $2500 on paper.  ______ UPDATE (7:29 p.m. EST): The futures touched the stop moments ago, so we’ll move to the sidelines. It’s always hard to tell about these Sunday night shakedowns, but we’ll avoid this one since both ‘p’ (1206.00 ) and ‘D’ 1197.75 coincide with previous lows that are likely to entice the riff-raff into bottom-fishing.  However, if the futures get away from the dirtballs who are maneuvering them lower at this moment, they could plummet to 1179.00. That’s a Hidden Pivot you can bottom-fish either with camouflage or an 1179.25 bid, stop 1178.25.  Its ‘p’ sibling lies at 1202.00, but bidding there is suggested only for those able to employ camouflage. If an order fills there via a picture perfect ‘camo’ reversal, I’ll establish a tracking position of four contracts for your further guidance. _______ FURTHER GUIDANCE (11:12 a.m. EST): We initiated a long position at 1206.00 following a perfect ‘camo’ pattern off an overnight bottom at 1201.75. On the 10-minute chart, the abc coordinates — all single-bar! — lay, respectively, at 1201.75, 1207.75 and 1204.50.  Two contracts were to have been exited at the 1207.50 ‘p’ midpoint, and a third at d=1210.50. This gave us a profit-adjusted cost basis of 1198.50 for the contract that remained. It was exited minutes ago at 1210.75, based on the bearish impulse leg created via a dip beneath the 1211.00 ‘external’ low recorded on the way up at 4:10 a.m. Our theoretical paper profit for each four-lot entered was $600. It would seem that in a trendless market that has been serving up crap for…months, that nailing tradable intraday swings in this vehicle is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel.

SPY – S&P (Equity) (Last:121.58)

by Rick Ackerman on December 19, 2011 2:46 am GMT

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SIH12 – March Silver (Last:29.460)

by Rick Ackerman on December 19, 2011 3:16 am GMT

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$TLT – Lehman Bond ETF (Last:115.36)

by Rick Ackerman on July 23, 2014 5:36 am GMT

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$PCLN – Priceline (Last:1229.21)

by Rick Ackerman on July 22, 2014 5:10 am GMT

The stock’s stall two weeks ago near a 1268.66 midpoint resistance shown suggests it could get to 1354.32 on a breakout.  Although we cannot predict with confidence if or when this will happen because PCLN has been meandering sideways for the last five weeks, as a riskless play I’ll suggest buying the August 16 1340-1350-1360 call butterfly spread for ‘even’ 32 times. This means you would short two 1350 calls, buy one 1340 call and one 1360 call for no debit or credit.  In practice the easiest way to do this will be to buy the 1340/1350 call spread 1:1 at targeted swing lows, and to sell the 1350/1360 call spread 1:1 at targeted highs. If you do either and then get a move your way of as little as perhaps $2.50, legging into the ‘fly for free (or even a small credit) would be relatively easy. The maximum profit on this position would be 32 x $1000 = $32,000, although in practice we’d be doing well to come away with half that much if the stock were to rally to 1350 by August 16. ______ UPDATE (7:50 p.m.): Another way to leg into the spread would be to sell the 1240/1250 ratio 1:2 when PCLN is making a short-term top, then to buy a 1260 later, at a swing low.

$GCQ14 – August Gold (Last:1311.60)

by Rick Ackerman on July 22, 2014 1:29 am GMT

The futures looked like they could go either way as Monday’s session drew to a close. However, the stall within 0.70 of the 1318.30 midpoint resistance I’d flagged implies that a decisive move past it would reach its D-target sibling at 1331.60. Alternatively, my worst-case target for the near term would be the 1278.20 Hidden Pivot support in the lower-right quadrant of the chart — or possibly even 1271.70 if any lower.  The accuracy of this target would be affirmed by a bounce, possibly tradable, from within two or three ticks of the 1302.00 midpoint support. ________ UPDATE (9:57 a.m. EDT):  Gold has bounced $14 this morning from a low just two ticks (0.20) from the 1302.00 midpoint pivot flagged above. Now, if the futures breach the support, we’ll know EXACTLY where they are headed. _______ UPDATE (July 23, 12:01 a.m.): Someone in the chat room said that because everyone seems to be bearish on gold right now, perhaps we should take the other side of the bet.  I’m a bit bearish myself, and thus this response: “Rather than take chances and let gold disappoint us for the zillionth time, we should simply stipulate that the August contract close above 1318.90 before we get excited. That’s the midpoint resistance, on the 180-minute chart, of a=1292.60 on 7/15; b= 1325.90 on 7/27; and c=13-02.20 on 7/22. At that point, I’d lay even odds of a move to at least 1335.50; above 1337.00, the futures would be a good bet to hit 1381.40.  Whatever happens, bulls will have to prove their case.

$+CLQ14 – August Crude (Last:104.78)

by Rick Ackerman on July 21, 2014 12:03 am GMT

Crude futures have been pretty whacky lately, but not so whacky as to fool us if we are monitoring the lesser charts. Notice that the recent high fell within 23 cents of the 103.71 target. Although we usually allow 21 cents of leeway, this is still close enough to affirm that price action in this vehicle is both predictable and tradable. Accordingly, traders can use the downtrending abc shown to bottom-fish at either the p=102.71, or at D=102.09.  If the bull trend begun from last Tuesday’s low is going to continue, we should see the upward reversal occur from p or very near it. Please note that despite crude’s recent plunge, I still have significantly higher targets outstanding, the first of which is 109.21, basis the August futures. _______ UPDATE (4:12 p.m. EDT): Wowie! The futures trampolined $2.22 from within 6 cents of the 102.71 correction target flagged above.  If you caught a ride from near the low and still hold contacts, please let me know in the chat room so that I can establish a tracking position for your further guidance.

$ESU14 – Sep E-Mini S&P (Last:1974.50)

by Rick Ackerman on July 21, 2014 12:01 am GMT

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$SLW – Silver Wheaton (Last:26.72)

by Rick Ackerman on July 17, 2014 12:05 am GMT

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$NFLX – Netflix (Last:452.00)

by Rick Ackerman on July 9, 2014 3:25 am GMT

Netflix’s so-far $37 selloff has followed a peak last week at 475.87 that slightly overshot a Hidden Pivot at 474.50 I’d characterized as ‘a big-picture target where an important top is even more likely.’ A chat-roomer who evidently took this prediction to heart reported buying puts last Thursday for 1.24 that he cashed out for 8.90 yesterday. This could be just the start of NFLX’s comeuppance for all those who inflated this gas-bag to undeserved heights. If you took a position and are still holding it, please let me know in the chat room and I will update guidance. For now, though, let me suggest that you take profits on half of any short position entered near the recent top. _______ UPDATE (July 10, 10:23 p.m.): Bears failed to achieve a Hidden Pivot target yesterday, presumably because DaBoyz shook the stock down so hard on the opening bar that it exhausted sellers prematurely. The missed target suggests that traders will enjoy decent odds bottom-fishing the midpoint pivot shown at 433.62 (see inset, a new chart) with a stop-loss as tight as 8 cents. If it’s hit, expect the selling to continue down to at least 423.05, a Hidden Pivot that can be bottom-fished with as tight a stop-loss as you can abide. _______ UPDATE (July 14, 11:07 p.m. EDT): A turn from 428.20, precisely between the two pivots flagged above, left our bid high and  dry.  The bull leg that has followed could be the start of a rally cycle with the potential to reach 486.86. First, though, let’s see whether buyers can tackle a midpoint pivot at 457.53 that is associated with the target. _______ UPDATE (July 16 at 6:47 p.m.): Let’s not overlook the downside — specifically, the 433.69 midpoint pivot and its D sibling at 411.67.  Bears can short the break for a move to either, and both can be bottom-fished with the tight stop-loss you can abide. ______ UPDATE (July 22, 12:15 a.m.): The stock turned higher from $2 above the midpoint support, implying that bulls are about to dominate once again.  Call prices are on the moon, however — way too expensive for a straight directional bet. Instead, I’ll suggest buying the August 2 – July 25 calendar spread eight times for 1.50, day order, contingent on the stock trading 451.00 or higher. Please report any fills in the chat room. _______ UPDATE (July 22, 12:05 p.m.):  With today’s huge air pocket, the stock obviously remains in the grip of DaBoyz. My assumption will always be that steep declines in NFLX are brazen shakeouts, engineered by strong hands to steal stock at fire-sale prices from weak hands. In this instance, the downdraft appears likely to hit 413.00 before DaBoyz run it up again. If and when that number is hit, you can bottom-fish there with the tightest stop-loss imaginable. (Note: I’ve revised the target downward by 0.96 since the original update. Also 435.25 is the midpoint pivot and therefore worth a tightly stopped short on a rally to it.)


This Just In... for Monday

Our good friends at Auerbach & Grayson are out with a storm warning for stocks and other risky assets in the first quarter.  The dollar, on the other hand, is in a strong primary bull trend that should see significantly higher valuations in the months ahead, according to Richard Ross, A&G’s global technical strategist.  Click here for the full 27-page report.


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