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.

05 August 2011

Another Flurry of Trades

Remember a couple of days ago I said I thought the stock market was overpriced and due for a correction?  Well I certainly didn't expect it so suddenly.  Since my blog post on 2-August, the S&P has shaved off 6% of its value, dipping as low as 1163.25 (futures) on an intraday basis.  This intraday low represents a -13% peak-to-trough return in the past month. Meanwhile gold rallied hard (at first), making me very glad I hadn't taken my entire call position off.  I had another flurry of trades the last couple of days, most of them defensive.

S&P 500 (proxied by SPY) since 1-Jan-2011

Yesterday, my GLD calls were close to triple the price I paid a few days prior.  I was working a 400% profit order on 25% of them to secure a profit and let me continue to ride the train as long as I could.  As they hit their high, rumors emerged that big London-based hedge funds were getting margin calls on their gold positions.  Our company's market analyst mumbled the announcement about the rumors (a frequent problem lately), and NeighborTrader and I thought he said that the CME was raising its margin requirements on gold futures.  Either way, gold immediately went into a hard sell-off, and I was reminded of what happened to silver when the CME raised its margin requirement a few months ago.  Now gold today is a very different market than silver then, but that wouldn't stop a mini-panic from pushing gold down and keeping it there until my calls expired worthless.  To control the cost of this possible outcome, I sold enough calls to guarantee a profit, getting a trade price only 4c below the high.  Immediately afterward, the calls sold off and are now trading 33% lower.  Whew!  I still hold a little less than half my initial position at about double my purchase price, and if I let it expire worthless I will still make 6% profit - enough to cover commissions.

Gold (proxied by GLD) since 1-Jan-2011

The day after SPY opened below its 200-day moving average, causing CS|MACO to close its long SPY position, the AAII released its weekly investor sentiment survey.  Over 10% of investors stopped being bullish this week, which was enough to get a Buy signal out of the CS component.  Buy + Flat = Buy, so yesterday I bought SPY back at 124.30, which seemed great at the time (it was 3.50/share lower than where I sold it), but isn't looking so wonderful now that SPY is trading at 120.

I was working target exit orders on both of my SPY put positions, which I mentioned in the previous post; I never dreamed both of them would fill yesterday, but then yesterday was an unusual day.  Despite making a combined 56% on those puts, by the end of the day I was kicking myself for not holding the second batch until the market stabilized.  I left a significant amount of money on the table: the position I sold for $7/share is now worth $10.50/share, and the one I sold for $6/share is now worth $8.25/share.  Sigh.  NeighborTrader pointed out that I can't always sell the high, and I suppose he's right.

Yesterday crude oil dropped by $5.50/barrel, or -6% *on the day*.  If you need any confirmation that the global economy is slowing into a new recession, this is it.  Demand for crude waxes and wanes based on industrial activity, and the capital markets are exceptionally good at predicting and magnifying changes in demand.  When crude sells off hard over several days, it's a very bearish economic signal.  On 26-July, crude oil futures hit a high of 100.62/barrel.  Today's low in crude was 82.87: -18% in less than 2 weeks, a very bearish signal indeed.  I had an order working to buy USO at $35, which was filled yesterday during the craziness.  I'll buy more when I think we're near the nadir of the recession.

Oil (proxied by USO) since 1-Jan-2011

After the massive sell-off yesterday, I came in this morning expecting:
  1. a better than expected monthly payrolls number
  2. a big number-driven rally in the stock market
  3. a post-number sell-off to yesterday's close price or lower by the end of the day.

In fact I was so sure about this that I bought Nasdaq futures at about 7:15, 15 minutes before the number.

What happened was:
  1. a better than expected payrolls number (+117k/9.1% vs expected +85k/9.2%)
  2. a big number-driven rally (S&P rallied about 19 points, Dow rallied about 280)
  3. the craziest roller coaster of a day I've seen since the Flash Crash; S&P has had a 60-point range, Dow has had a range of about 460 points.  It closed 3 points below yesterday's close.

I sold back my futures immediately after the number for a $430/contract profit.  It's nice to be right every once in a while, and it's even nicer to be able to make a little money doing it.

The final trade of the day today was that Xilinx (XLNX) sold off enough to hit my target exit on the put position I've had there for a while.  At last glance, I sold the high price of the day in that option market.  That doesn't really make up for the SPY puts, but it's a start.

No comments:

Post a Comment