Disclaimer: I am not an investment advisor. When I describe my own trading activities, it is not intended as advice or solicitation of any kind.

16 November 2010

Big News for Boring Trades

It's been a busy few days.  The CiG trade finally fired a signal on Friday, but I was in Colorado all weekend so I didn't have time to write it up.  Then I came home with a head-cold just in time to support a major roll-out at the office that went pretty wrong.  By the time I got home last night all I wanted to do was sleep.  So now here we are.  Excuses excuses.
Saving Money While Asleep
First the CiG trade on Friday.  You may recall I decided to run it on S&P futures as well as treasury note futures, because I feared that treasury notes would bore me to death.  On Friday, it signaled a buy-on-close on the S&P, so I did.  Things were looking good Monday morning, but not good enough to reach the target exit signal.  By this morning, the whole world was fleeing from risk again and the stock market opened significantly lower.  Since there are no clearly-defined stop rules, I decided to sell the position for a loss shortly after the stock market opened.  I felt that what we were seeing was not a momentary blip but in fact a setup for a selling day.  I was right: I sold the position at 1188 at 9:00.  At the 3:00 close, ES was down to 1176.

Because CiG tries to buy on dips, though, it had another buy signal come out on ES today.  Pleased at my ability to dodge at least some of the sell-off today, I decided to get back in with a new long position at the close.  So I'm still long from Friday, but I took a 12-point ($550/contract) hiatus.  That's almost a winning trade all by itself.  Not a bad money-saving siesta.

No joy in treasury note futures yet.  Yawn.

Insert Spy Pun Here
CS|MACO, another boring trade, is finally starting to see some life.  It has been locked flat while SPY has rallied over the last 3 months, due to the bearish signal coming out of the contrarian investor sentiment component and the bullish signal coming out of the moving-average-crossover component.  One of those two opposing forces was removed today when SPY closed below its 25-day moving average, breaking the SPY>25MA>200MA relationship that has been in place since October 4.  That's not a sell signal yet, though, because the terms of the trade state that I won't enter a position on the removal of a signal.  I need the CS component to affirm its bearishness tomorrow after the close before I can short this puppy.

A Boring Iron Condor is a Good Iron Condor
Unfortunately, this one is starting to get a little exciting.  When I opened the position I groused about my poor judgment a little bit regarding the low price I was paid to initiate.  Sure enough, the VIX almost immediately rallied while RUT flagged, causing my delta to increase as I rode the curve down toward my put spread.  Delta of +16 this morning, so time to adjust already.

It seems ridiculously early to be thinking about exit orders, but I could buy back my call spreads for only 60c already; so I put in some limit orders to buy back at 20c.  That doesn't help my delta, but it does lock in a profit on half the trade - and with some careful adjustment the other half might not cost too much.

As for the put spreads, I looked at the mouse-ear like I used last month and decided it was overkill: RUT was 710 or so when I was adjusting, and my put spreads are 660/650s.  A mouse-ear would throw my delta so horribly negative that I would have to buy back most if not all of my call spreads to contain it.  Plus it was crazy-expensive, at $21.

The next thing I looked at was simply reducing the call spread position.  That would certainly help the delta and the feel of the position, but I felt the cost was a little high.  A variant of this is to roll the call spread down a few strikes, also increasing the position a bit to finance the roll.  This increases risk, and I wasn't happy with the outcome or my perception of the risk-reward trade-off.

I also looked at Wolfinger's Kite Spread, which involves a naked long OTM put and a credit put spread even farther OTM with 3-4x the size on it for financing.  That had some real potential, but it really hurt the theta.  Ultimately I decided I could achieve my delta goals and flatten the value graph best by putting on some 630/640 debit put spreads.  I bought just enough (at 1.90) to get the delta under +5.  By the close, the delta was back up to +5 again, but that's within my parameters.

Boring News for Big Trades
I'm still not holding GLD calls, and I'm glad.  I'm looking for bargains in some of the mining companies right now, but I haven't had time to look very hard yet.  Earnings season is upon us, and if I can capture a couple of positive earnings surprises before the event-driven IV goes through the roof, I'll be a happy camper.

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