Awaiting the Triangle Breakout

By Lawrence G. McMillan

Stock prices were lower all day yesterday, but closed near their highs – thereby once again indicating that there is likely no follow-through momentum yet. $SPX has been making a series of lower highs and higher lows over the past month.  A triangle is visible on the chart.  The triangle is narrowing down to a point, and that feels about the same way the market has been performing – no real progress and a dampening down of movements to a very small magnitude.  According to classic chart theory, when $SPX breaks out of this triangle, it should be significant.  The last time a similar condition existed on the $SPX chart was last May.

Weekly Stock Market Commentary 9/30/2016

By Lawrence G. McMillan

Stocks have tried to find a catalyst to spur them in one direction or the other, but they have been unable to do so. $SPX is locked into the 2120 - 2195 trading range. A clear breakout in either direction should be respected.

The equity-only put-call ratios continue to be mixed in their outlook, although the charts are not all that different. The standard ratio (Figure 2) has been on a buy signal for over a week, while the weighted ratio (Figure 3) remains on a sell signal -- at least according to the computer.

Market breadth has been swinging back and forth quite strongly. This has resulted in multiple signals. The latest is a sell signal.

Stock Option Implied Volatility Distributions (12:12)

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 12, No. 12 on June 25, 2003.

In literally every issue of this publication, we discuss the levels of implied volatilities of various groups of options – stock options, index options, or futures options, for example. Of particular interest, in general, is how stock options are behaving, for they are the backbone of our volatility trading strategies. For example, if stock options are generally cheap, then we want to buy volatility. If they’re expensive, then we look for other strategies that take advantage of their expensiveness. Over all the years, we have not created a measurable index to treat the general level of stock option implied volatility, and that is an oversight that we intend to correct with this issue.

$VIX Seasonality in Election Years (21:20)

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 21, No. 20 on October 26, 2012.

We occasionally publish charts showing the seasonal pattern of $VIX. Figure 2 below shows the composite price of $VIX for a 23-year history (1989 through 2011). This chart is constructed simply by following this method: gather the 23 $VIX prices for the first trading day of the year, sum them, divide by 23, and that is the first point to plot on the left of the graph. Continue that way throughout the year.

Weekly Stock Market Commentary 9/23/16

By Lawrence G. McMillan

The Standard & Poors 500 Index ($SPX) had been mired in the 2120-2160 area since it broke down on September 9th.  In the last two days, after the Fed predictably kept interest rates unchanged, $SPX rallied strongly and closed just under 2180. $SPX needs to close above resistance, at a new all-time high in order to confirm the budding bullishness that we are seeing.  Other indicators have turned bullish, but we have seen occasions before where $SPX did not confirm, and $SPX was eventually the correct indicator (how can it not be?).

The Annual Intermarket Spread (19:19)

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 19, No. 19 on October 14, 2010.

Each year about this time, we review and recommend a futures spread that has been quite profitable over the years: buying Feb Gasoline futures and selling Feb Heating Oil futures. We call this an intermarket spread since it involves a long position in one market and a short position in a different, but related, market.

This spread has generally been quite reliable in the past, but it can only be implemented in one form – with the actual futures contracts themselves (more about that1 later). We have traded this spread almost every year since 1994, although the entry and exit parameters have been altered a few times.

Options On $VIX (14:06)

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 14, No. 6 on March 25, 2005.

In a press release issued on March 18th, the CBOE has announced that option trading on $VIX will begin on Friday, April 22 (2005). We consider this to be a major new derivatives product. It is the first time that there will be the opportunity to trade options on volatility in a listed marketplace (they have traded over-the-counter, institutionally, for some time). In today’s article, we’ll not only look at the mechanics of these options, but at some of the theory as well.

This product will be useful for a wide range of applications for stock and option traders. Wherever $VIX futures were applicable, these options will be as well. Furthermore, option strategies on $VIX can now be constructed – with their own unique sets of risk and reward parameters. As we will discuss in this article, however, $VIX does not behave like a stock, so there will have to be some adjustments for that fact in the modeling of $VIX option prices.

The Week After September Expiration (Preview)

By Lawrence G. McMillan

In the last few years, we have been trading the seasonal systems following June and September expiration.  By "expiration," we mean the third Friday of the month (the "old" definition of "expiration").  The market usually declines in the week after June and September expiration.  This doesn't hold true for March and December, for reasons that are not immediately clear, but that is somewhat irrelevant.  This year, this seasonal trade could fit in well with the recent bearish tone of this market. 

Capitalizing On Pessimism (05:08)

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 5, No. 8 on April 25, 1996.

When traders get overly pessimistic, they sometimes create trading opportunities for those who have the patience to wait for the pessimism to reach a peak. In fact, extreme pessimism often leads to panic. Panic doesn't occur too often in the marketplace, but when it does, if you can view things in a level-headed manner, you can find some great trades.

Weekly Stock Market Commentary 9/16/2016

By Lawrence G. McMillan

Last Friday, the market broke down through support – and did so in a big way.  This current breakdown has changed the status of the $SPX chart from “bullish” to “neutral” at best.  One could make a case for $SPX now being volatile within a trading range of 2120 to 2160.  But if that 2120 support area is taken out, the chart will definitely be in a “bearish” status.

Trading or investing whether on margin or otherwise carries a high level of risk, and may not be suitable for all persons. Leverage can work against you as well as for you. Before deciding to trade or invest you should carefully consider your investment objectives, level of experience, and ability to tolerate risk. The possibility exists that you could sustain a loss of some or all of your initial investment or even more than your initial investment and therefore you should not invest money that you cannot afford to lose. You should be aware of all the risks associated with trading and investing, and seek advice from an independent financial advisor if you have any doubts. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.
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