Weekly Stock Market Commentary 5/27/16

By Lawrence G. McMillan

The Standard & Poors Index ($SPX) broke out of the triangle that had formed on its chart (see Figure1), and that breakout was strongly on the upside. The bears had plenty of chances to violate the support at 2040 on a closing basis, but were unable to do so. So now we'll see if the bulls can do better with their chance.

Can the Bulls Seize Control?

By Lawrence G. McMillan

The bears are now paying for their failure to seize control last week. Yesterday’s rally was strong and was assuredly due to a number of bears “throwing in the towel.” Yes, I know there was a favorable housing report, but that certainly wasn’t enough to justify a rally of that magnitude. So, can the bulls seize control? They have not been able to engineer a follow-through to strong up days, either. Today is their chance. S&P futures are up 6 points in overnight trading.

The Big (Volatility) Short: The "Short Volatility" Trade For Retail

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 24, No. 8 on April, 23 2015.

One of the most successful investment strategies practiced by hedge funds (and other sophisticated investors) in the last ten years has been the “volatility short” trade.  It is rarely mentioned on TV or in the media, but that is not too surprising.  They would rather promote things such as the “Japan carry trade,” which wasn’t necessarily a profitable strategy at all unless a great deal of risk was taken.  Not to say that the “volatility short” didn’t have its own share of risk, but it’s a lot more certain to profit if a certain status quo is maintained.

In this article, we’ll look at the history of the “volatility short” trade and see where it stands today.  The long-term perspective on this trade may be a bit surprising, for it shows the tremendous toll that the $VIX futures premium takes on a long volatility position.

Weekly Stock Market Commentary 5/20/16

By Lawrence G. McMillan

The chart of $SPX (Figure 1) shows a couple of things. First, the Index is in a downtrend. It has declined more than 80 points from the mid-April highs, at 2110. But the other fact that we can see from the chart is that $SPX still hasn't been able to close below 2040.

As a result, the two red lines make a triangle on the chart. Usually, a breakout from a formation like this is strong, but it can come in either direction.

Volatility Trading: Trading The Futures Premium

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally featured in the 5/20/16 edition of The Option Strategist Newsletter.

One way to take advantage of these premiums is to establish the VXX/SPY put hedge. We have had a position on constantly for nearly two months now. These option-oriented positions aren’t making much money because $VIX is going nowhere, and so we are losing the time value. That is offset to a large degree by the “edge” that the position has in the futures premium.

Will The Psychological Barrier Hold?

By Lawrence G. McMillan

Yesterday, the market saw two distinct “halves.” In the first half, the market rallied fairly well – once again trying to prove that there is no follow-through to big moves. In the second half, the FOMC minutes spooked traders, and prices fell sharply. $SPX penetrated well below the 2040 level, reaching 2034.49 intraday. But then, to once again prove that there is no follow-through, $SPX rallied into the close. So $SPX has not closed below 2047 in weeks.

The Total Put-Call Ratio Trading System

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 19, No. 10-11 on June 3, 2010.

In some of our recent hotlines and daily commentaries, we have referred to the total put-call ratio as something that can be useful when extreme selling occurs.  It is not a sophisticated measure (as the equity-only is, for example), because it is merely the total of listed puts traded that day divided by the total of listed calls.   This includes all volume on the option exchanges regulated by the SEC – CBOE, AMEX, ISE, BOX, PHLX, NYSE – but not any futures options traded on futures exchanges. 

Rare Total Put-Call Ratio Signal Setting Up

By Lawrence G. McMillan

...Equity-only put-call ratios temporized yesterday, moving slightly sideways, but they remain on sell signals as they generally continue to be in an uptrend. An interesting piece of data has arisen on the Total put-call ratio, though: its 21-day moving average is now above 0.90. That is an oversold condition that is a predecessor to what is normally a very strong buy signal. The buy signal will occur if either a) the 21-day MA moves back below 0.90, or b) the 21-day MA makes a peak that lasts for 10 days.

McMillan MoneyLife Interview Recording Now Available

Lawrence G. McMillan was recently a guest on senior MarketWatch columnist Chuck Jaffe's MoneyLife podcast on May 12 at 12:30 PM. Larry's interview was a part of the "Technical Difficulties" segment where he discussed the current state of the market. Listen to the interview below.

Recording Details

MoneyLife Interview
Wednesday, May 12th
12:30 PM Eastern Time

Weekly Stock Market Commentary 5/13/16

By Lawrence G. McMillan

The Standard & Poors 500 Index ($SPX) bounced strongly off of support at 2040 last Friday. That level remains strong support, with resistance at 2110.

Equity-only put-call ratios rolled over to sell signals last week, and while there was some flirtation with a new buy signal by the standard ratio (Figure 2), both of these put-call ratios are back on sell signals once again.

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