I believe that it is important to point out to all my readers, especially those who are not already members of S.O.M.E. (as members are already well-aware of my trading strategy!), that the more volatile the market becomes, whether it trades up or down, is more beneficial to us, as the returns on our options increase dramatically, as observed throughout May and again last week.
I must say I am a great supporter of the bulls, but will play-along with the bears to extract as much value from our options plays, as possible. I am a great believer in things moving forward and improving as time progresses but I also know that we have to play-the-game to extend our profits. The only catch in this type of market is “knowing” or realizing in which direction it will take, and it seems that we have been able to fulfill this decision in most cases, to gain our profitability.
Key Events This Week
Note:-All earnings dates listed below are tentative and subject to change.
This Week’s Economic Reports There are still quite a few major economic indicators available this week, which are:-
• There are no major economic reports scheduled for Monday.
• May's trade balance, and
• June's Treasury budget
• U.S. petroleum supplies,
• June's retail sales,
• June's import/export prices,
• May's business inventories, and
• The minutes from the most recent Federal Open Market Committee meeting.
• Inflationary data
• June's producer price index (PPI) and
• The core PPI reading.
• Weekly initial jobless claims,
• July's Empire State manufacturing index,
• June's industrial production/capacity utilization report, and
• The July Philadelphia Fed's manufacturing index
• June's consumer price index (CPI),
• The core CPI, and
• The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index for July.
This Week’s Major Earnings Reports
• Alcoa Inc. (AA),
• CSX Corp. (CSX), and
• Novellus Systems Inc. (NVLS)
• Fastenal Co. (FAST),
• Infosys Technologies Limited (INFY),
• Intel Corp. (INTC), and
• Yum! Brands Inc. (YUM)
• The Progressive Corp. (PGR),
• Texas Industries Inc (TXI), and
• Marriott International Inc. (MAR)
• JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM),
• Novartis AG (NVS),
• PPG Industries Inc. (PPG),
• Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD), and
• Google Inc. (GOOG)
• Bank of America Corp. (BAC),
• Citigroup Inc. (C),
• Gannett Co. Inc. (GCI),
• General Electric Co. (GE) and
• Mattel Inc. (MAT).
Outlook for This Week
Investors will be looking to see if this week’s stock market rally can be sustained via strong company earnings reports as the second quarter reporting season kicks off. Stocks this past week advanced more than 5 percent, the best performance in a year, in part in anticipation that those earnings will be strong. Dow Jones Industrial staple Alcoa Inc. (AA) opens the earnings season on Monday.
Second-quarter results are likely to show companies continue to mend their bottom lines while struggling with cautious consumers, tougher comparisons and unfavorable currency fluctuations.
But it's the market correction that started in late April that has made the focus on this quarter's earnings reports even more intense, as traders look to find signs from corporate America that the economy is not as weak as investors fear.
In addition to earnings, there is a string of fresh economic reports, including retail sales and inflation data. The Treasury also plans to auction $69 billion in 3-year and 10-year notes and 30-year bonds next week.
Little to no signs of inflation is expected when the U.S. government issues its June producer price and consumer price indexes Thursday and next Friday, respectively.
Meanwhile, the financial reform bill could go to the whole Senate for a vote next week as Congress returns from its recess.
The U.S. stock market landed at a technical crossroads following its best week in a year, yet the potential for positive earnings surprises beginning next week could give an edge to the bulls.
Analysts turned increasingly bearish before the start of earnings season. Sentiment stands at its lowest since May 2009, according to a Bespoke Investment Group note that said analysts have lowered estimates for 572 companies in the S&P 1500 in the last four weeks, while they raised expectations for 396.
At the same time, bullish investor sentiment as measured by the American Association of Individual Investors fell to just 21 percent last week, the lowest since early March 2009 -- right at the market's bottom.
Equity funds worldwide saw more than $11 billion in net outflows in the first week of July, while money market funds attracted the biggest inflows in 18 months, fund tracker EPFR Global said.
"Expectations are low going into the results, so we could have some positive surprises there and the big test will be if we can get back above 1,100 (on the S&P 500)," said Paul Hickey, a co-founder of Bespoke, based in Harrison, New York.
Even with signs of dwindling sentiment, analysts still expect 27 percent growth in earnings on the S&P 500 for the second quarter according to Thomson Reuters data. That is up from previous readings in the past three quarters, which hovered around 22 percent.
To be sure, beating top and bottom line expectations could still prove a Pyrrhic victory. chief executives must also provide outlooks that convince investors the U.S. economy does not face a double-dip recession or the European credit crisis will not damage future earnings.
"Everybody's concerned about the economy and the market has reflected these concerns," said Cleveland Rueckert, equity strategist at Birinyi Associates in Stamford, Connecticut.
"Right now the market has priced in a slowdown in earnings, so we're going to see a lot of focus not only on the reports but also the guidance," he said. TECHNICALS: HALF FULL, OR HALF EMPTY?
After regaining the key 1,040 level earlier this week, the S&P 500 also generated a 'buy' signal in its moving average convergence-divergence, or MACD chart. But its 50-day simple moving average is still below the 200-day moving average. This so-called death cross is seen as a signal of further downward pressure.
The index also stands at its 20-day moving average, which leaves it right in the middle line of its Bollinger bands, meaning it technically has space to move in any direction, and leaves it susceptible to volatility.
"We're seeing a tug of war between technical indicators," said Brian Jacobsen, chief portfolio strategist at Wells Fargo Funds Management in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.
"You're going to see people migrating toward one end of the camp or the other depending on how the earnings season plays out."
Expectations for the SPX this Week
Many technicians interpreted the (SPX's) breakdown below 1,050 the week before as a 'head & shoulders' pattern sell signal, with the breakdown creating an 880 target on the SPX. Certainly, one has to take note of the bearish development and be open to such a possibility. The publicity surrounding this break of support may have generated a crowded short trade.
Whether the driver was the "head and shoulders" sell signal, the "death cross" sell signal, the break below the 12-month moving average sell signal, or all of the above, suffice it to say that there was (and could still be) a crowded short trade among many chart technicians.
Definition of a “crowded short trade” - A trade will be crowded if those owning the asset have a short time horizon that they are looking to make money over however, everyone else is and there are no more buyers or sellers.
Last Wednesday's price action and follow-through into Friday afternoon is a great illustration of what can go wrong in a crowded trade, whether the trade is technical or fundamental-based. Profits can disappear quickly, as those looking to exit create panic buying, unleashing a quick, powerful move in the opposite direction of the bet. From Wednesday's close to Friday's close, the SPX rallied 4.8%, moving back above the 1,050 area that many chart watchers were following.
It appears the rally began just as pessimism among some retail investors hit an extreme. For example, EPFR Global reported that equity funds worldwide saw outflows of more than $11 billion in the first week of July, as money market inflows were the highest in 18 months. The fund flow data confirmed the latest readings in the weekly American Association of Individual Investors (AAII) survey, where only 21% of those surveyed were bullish, compared to the 57% percent that claimed to be in the bear camp.
The chart below graphs the weekly "bearish percentage minus bullish percentage readings" in the AAII survey from January 2009 to present. As you can see, the reading hit an extreme not seen since the market was bottoming in early 2009, and such extremes have been excellent buying opportunities, suggesting there may be life left in this rally.
Also encouraging for bulls is the fact that the Russell 2000 Index (RUT – 629.43) rallied back above the 600 level, a former resistance area in 2000 and early 2004. In addition, the 600 area represents a 38.2% retracement of the rally from the March 2009 to the April 2010 peak. After experiencing two consecutive closes below the 600 area on July 2 and July 6, the index quickly popped back above this century mark. That being said, its 200-day moving average lingers just overhead at 637.87.
Last week, we listed four reasons as to why the 1,000 area on the SPX could mark a support level. They were:
1. 38.2% retracement of the March 2009 low and the April peak
2. 50% above the 666 intraday March 2009 low
3. A millennium mark – a hesitation point in the summer months of 2003 when the market began to claw back from the bear-market lows
4. Site of the SPX's 80-week moving average, which has had major significance in the past
The low this month is just above the 1,000 area, which is encouraging for both short-term and longer-term bulls. But before the bulls grow too bold, there is work to be done in order for the technical backdrop to improve. With the SPX at 1,077.96 coming into the week, there is significant resistance just overhead. For example, it would take a move above 1,100 to break a pattern of lower highs since the April peak. Moreover, the 160-day moving average, which has been an important support and resistance level in 2010, continues to "flat line" around the 1,120 area.
Beyond the technical resistance levels that reside just overhead, a risk to the bulls is the sharp pullback in index implied volatilities, as measured by the CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX). If portfolio managers view the VIX's pullback to its 200-day moving average as an opportune time to buy cheap portfolio insurance to replace insurance that expires this coming Friday, the market could face headwinds in the absence of a coincidental accumulation of shares. The last time the VIX pulled back to its 200-day moving average in June, stocks experienced a short-term peak as volatility surged.
Expiration week is upon us, and as we have said on many occasions, such weeks favor the bulls. In fact, per the table below, the last 12 expiration months have clearly favored the bulls, with seven of the 12 positive for an average gain of 1.2%. Looking back, July 2009 expiration week produced a near 7% SPX gain.
But keep in mind that when declines do occur, they can be sharp and quite noticeable. Put another way, short covering related to expiring index put open interest can create a tailwind during expiration week. But delta-hedging declines, which occur when strikes with heavy put open interest are penetrated to the downside, can create sharp, volatile downside moves. Add in the beginning of earnings season and a second-quarter GDP growth report from China coming out later in the week, and you have the makings for a strong directional move this week.
If you are a short-term trader, our advice is to have exposure to both sides of the market during this potentially volatile upcoming week.
Economists expect no change in consumer prices while wholesale prices may have inched up 0.1% in June, according to forecasts for the Consumer Price Index, due next Friday, and Producer Price Index, out a day earlier.
The trade deficit for May, to be released Tuesday, also is seen flat with April's. It has been at about $40 billion since February.
**Among appearances by Federal Reserve officials: Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker will speak Monday in Richmond and Thursday in Norfolk, Va. On Thursday, the Senate Banking Committee holds a hearing on the nominations of Janet Yellen to be vice chair of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and Peter Diamond and Sarah Bloom Raskin to be board members.
**The Federal Reserve will hold a conference Monday on financing for small businesses. Chairman Ben Bernanke is scheduled to make opening remarks. The Fed is sponsoring the event to discuss strategies to improve access to credit for small businesses.
**The Senate Banking Committee holds a hearing Thursday on the nomination of San Francisco Fed President Janet Yellen as replacement for Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn, who is retiring in September.
**The Federal Reserve Board will hold the first of four public hearings in Atlanta on Thursday on potential revisions to its Regulation C, which implements the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. The Fed has asked for input on possible changes in the law, which requires mortgage lenders to provide detailed annual reports of their lending activity to regulators and the public.
**The financial-overhaul bill could come to the Senate floor as soon as this week, when the Senate returns from a one-week recess. Democrats and White House officials likely need the support of at least two Republicans to secure the 60 votes necessary to block a potential filibuster. The House has passed the bill, and Senate approval is necessary for it to become law.
**The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to confirm the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court in a vote next week, moving the matter to the full Senate. Kagan, who is U.S. solicitor general and a former dean of Harvard's law school, is President Barack Obama's second pick for a top court and would replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.
**The Securities and Exchange Commission is slated to vote next week on a "concept release" that will study the mechanics of shareholder voting, sometimes called "proxy plumbing." The idea is to open a dialogue about how the proxy voting system can be made more accurate and transparent. Chairman Mary Schapiro said the commission will take a particular look at proxy advisers.
**A Food and Drug Administration panel will consider the health impacts of mint flavoring in cigarettesThursday and next Friday in a move that could lead to limiting or banning menthol cigarettes. The issue is of central importance to the tobacco industry because menthol cigarettes account for roughly one-third of the $70 billion U.S. cigarette market. The panel is expected to hold one or two more full committee meetings before it issues a final recommendation to FDA commissioners next March.
**A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel will meet Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss the safety of GlaxoSmithKline PLC's (GSK) diabetes drug Avandia and vote on whether Avandia should remain on the U.S. market. According to agency documents prepared for the meeting, FDA staff scientists continue to question Avandia's safety, which has been in question since a 2007 article in the New England Journal of Medicine by Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Steven Nissen showed the product raised the risk of heart attacks by more than 40%.
Greece on Tuesday will auction its first Treasury bills since accepting a bailout in May, marking a test of whether international investors are willing to buy its debt. But in a sign that the government isn't willing to pay any price for funds, it is auctioning only 26-week bills, rather than both 26-week and 52-week bills.
Europe and the euro will stay in the spotlight ahead of the stress testing of European banks, expected to be made public July 23. The euro gained against the dollar in the past week and was as high as $1.272 Friday.
"Technically, the euro has had a huge rebound. It feels like 1.27/1.28 has been very stiff resistance for it," said Boris Schlossberg of GFT Forex.
Schlossberg said one dynamic shifted for markets in the past week when both Australia and Canada reported better than expected jobs data. Those numbers helped remove some concern about a global double dip recession.
"You still have Asia Pacific being the driver of demand, and the commodities economies are really still benefiting from that, but the unanswered question is whether the U.S. is going to join the party and whether its recovery is going to add to global growth. That's why retail sales data is going to be important," he said.
Schlossberg said the foreign exchange market will not focus much energy on the U.S. earnings news. "It only matters if earnings weigh on risk appetite. We're going out of the week not as pessimistic as we came in," he said Friday.
China reports second-quarter GDP and June activity data in the coming week. J.P. Morgan economists, in a note, say they expect the data to show a loss of momentum and they expect to revise down the second half growth forecast for China, toward a growth rate of 8 percent.
"If people see a higher number they might think China is going to really rein in their economic growth, which could then put downward pressure on commodity (and U.S. equity) prices," said Brian Jacobsen, chief portfolio strategist at Wells Fargo Funds Management in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.
• Semiconductor makers Intel and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD), which report Tuesday and Thursday, respectively, likely benefited from a continued recovery in demand for computers and other electronic devices in the latest quarter. Analysts predict both companies will swing to second-quarter profits as they compete to increase their market share.
• Google's second-quarter results are seen improving from a year earlier after the previous quarter solidly confirmed the return of large advertisers.
Benoit Flamant, chief executive of IT Asset Management, which manages some 160 million euros ($202 million), said positive earnings season could spur a month-long rally in tech stocks.
"We see no indication that things are deteriorating," he said. "All indications are that consumer IT and corporate IT is strong. The economy is improving. Even in Europe."
One of his top stock picks ahead of earnings is Google, which reports on July 15. The Internet giant's shares have been beaten down amid concerns about competition with Apple and fallout from investigations into the company's collection of personal data via wireless networks. "I think there's an over-reaction there," he said.
• JPMorgan will be in focus as many investors expect financials to lead or take part in a stocks comeback. But the bank is expected to post earnings of 67.9 cents per share according to StarMine's SmartEstimate, which weights estimates according to analysts' accuracy, versus the mean of 72 cents a share.
Conferences of Importance
The significant conferences this week are:-
• the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference from Sunday through Thursday in Washington, D.C.;
• Global Hunter Securities China Conference from Sunday through Tuesday in San Francisco;
• Semicon West from Tuesday through Thursday in San Francisco; and
• The Bank of America Merrill Lynch Health Care Conference on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
INDICATORS AND MARKET CONDITIONS
S&P 500 Index - Third-Quarter and Second-Half Seasonality
The first half of the year is now behind us…thank goodness! It was a disappointing six months for the S&P 500 Index (SPX), which was down 7.6%. Hopefully, things will turn around in the second half. This week we will look at some past data to see what history has to tell us about the upcoming third quarter and the rest of the year.
Second Half of the Year: Below is a table showing S&P 500 data since 1975. It's a summary of how the market has performed for the second half of the year, depending on whether the first half was positive or negative. The average return from July through December is 3.24%, with positive returns 66% of the time.
However, in those cases when the market lost value in the first half, the data is pretty dispiriting. In such cases, the rest of the year averaged a substantial loss of 1.42% and saw positive returns less than half the time.
The Third Quarter: If the table above wasn't disheartening enough, check out the S&P 500 performance by quarter since 1975. The third quarter is the only quarter that has averaged a negative return, while the other quarters all give pretty pleasing results.
Finally, breaking down the third quarter depending on whether the first half of the year was positive or negative. Remember, the S&P 500 was down 7.6% in the first half of this year. A negative first half has typically been followed by continued losses in the third quarter. Since 1975, the third quarter has been down by an average of 2.74% when the first half of the year is negative.
Let us hope that the evidence presented here runs contrary to history, and the year continues as it has done so in the last four days.
***Further evidence of market conditions can be seen in representations of charts below.
Tracking of Stocks Under Pressure
Here are some oil-related stocks holding up through the recent market correction and within spitting distance of all-time highs. This sector has really been under pressure lately following the massive BP (NYSE:BP) oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. It hasn’t seemed to matter whether stocks are directly impacted by the spill either, as the selling in this group has been broad. However, the following stocks have held up through the recent weakness and remain a rally away from reaching all-time highs.
Ultrapar Participacoes S.A. (NYSE:UGP) is an oil stock trading near its all-time high, which stands near $51. In fact, UGP attempted to make a run at this level yesterday and is also in the process of clearing a very large base. UGP has been trading in a 10-point range for several months with sellers consistently stepping in near $50. UGP reversed quite sharply during yesterday's breakout attempt and thus should be watched closely to see if buyers step back in.
Core Laboratories (NYSE:CLB) is an example of an oil-related stock that is only a few days removed from tagging all-time highs. Much like UGP, CLB pulled back off those highs and is in the process of bouncing off its 20- and 50-day moving averages. CLB was one of the leaders in this space through the last bull market and could be resuming a leadership role now.
Carbo Ceramics (NYSE:CRR) is another stock in this sector making an assault on its all-time highs. It had a breakaway gap yesterday and finished about $1 off its all-time highs. One concern with this stock is that its recent base can be classified as a little loose, but on the weekly chart the stock looks very healthy.
Enbridge Energy (NYSE:EEP) is an oil stock that is a little farther away from its all-time highs than the others, but could challenge them with a breakout from its base. The all-time highs currently stand at $61.82 and the projected target of a successful breakout from its current base would be near $64 per share. Near term, the price level to watch would be the top of Enbridge's base near $54.
It’s interesting that these stocks have managed to hold near all-time highs, while others in this sector have been crushed. One reason to keep an eye on these stocks is that the general markets are quite oversold at this point and they are also in a sector that has been under pressure for weeks. If this group can find some relief at a time when the markets attempt to bounce from their lows then they could surge to all-time highs.
Second-quarter earnings season is likely to create a positive backdrop for stocks, at least temporarily.
"Even just having companies say they booked good earnings is going to be a positive," said Bill Stone, chief investment strategist at PNC Wealth Management.
"One thing that's kept us much more positive is the fact that corporate cash flows are huge," he said "Cash flow has been extremely strong. It certainly bolsters the case when you look at cash flow yields. Companies are very mindful of their cash flows and have themselves set up very nicely."
Deutsche Bank chief U.S. equities strategist Binky Chadha is also looking for a strong showing this quarter and says the market should benefit. "I think we'll trade basically with a positive bias," he said. "Our view is earnings will surprise. They will beat by 5 to 6 percent. We believe forward guidance, especially for next year is going to be very conservative, and I don't think it will resolve the macro uncertainty. Equities are already cheap. If earnings beat, the pressure is for a move on the upside."
Chadha, however, expects the earnings boost to be temporary and the market's bigger fear about the economy will overtake sentiment again for a bit longer. He said he remains constructive on stocks, but he expects the market to take on a more negative bias in another couple of weeks.
"What we've seen in the last five earnings seasons is the market prices in earnings either in the run up or in the earnings season, and then basically puts back its hedges and the market moves down," he said.
"When the earnings will get priced in remains an open question, but it doesn't basically wait for the end of earnings season to happen. It will take at least a week or two. The story will come out and be relatively clear. Once that becomes clear, we think the macro story will again be important and the market will have a downward bias," Chadha said.
"It's not really going to be about the numbers themselves. No one's expecting a lot of top-line growth, no one's expecting blowout earnings except in rare cases," says Michael Cohn, chief investment strategist at Global Arena Investment Management in New York. "It's all about the outlook."
Alcoa (AA) could disappoint and drag the market down with it. Revenue is expected to jump 19% to $5.05 billion, with earnings of 12 cents per share, way ahead of a year ago's loss of 26 cents a share.
The stock, down 32% this year, has been a big drag on the Dow because many investors don't like old smokestack stocks. And many see it as vulnerable to an expected slump in Europe and a slowdown in the domestic economy.
Treasury yields rose, and the 10-year note had its biggest one week price decline since April. Its yield moved back above the psychological 3 percent level to close out the week at 3.06 percent.
Stone said the move above 3 percent in the 10-year yield is a positive sign for stocks. "It's like the human pulse. You actually want it a little higher. We were close to catatonic. To me, it was more of a fear gauge," he said.
Stone said he doesn't believe the economy will double dip, but it may take awhile for the stock market to find enough evidence. "At the end of the day, we say we're positive. When it kicks in? That's hard," he said.
"If in fact, a double dip isn't coming, valuations I don't think are very challenging," said Stone.
"This isn't a double-dip, it's just a soft spot. We get one in every recovery," says Burt White, chief investment officer at LPL Financial in Boston. "We think the top line is going to definitely move forward and probably be at a post-recession post-crisis high and we're going to be moving in a very positive direction."
Chadha does expect the data to turn more positive and the job picture to improve. He said the softness is a normal set back in a recovery, which should be resolved by fall. For that reason, he maintains a year-end target of 1375 on the S&P, at the high end of the street range.
"There's improvement on a variety of fronts, but the market has moved from one pot hole to the next pot hole. There's concern about whether the U.S. slowing is going to be a double dip. Corporates are going to remain conservative in their guidance because they're always conservative in their guidance. I don't think they are in a position to resolve the macro uncertainty of 2011," Chadha said.
Chadha sees financials, industrials, tech and consumer discretionary as the sectors most likely to have the greatest earnings momentum and upside, as well as potential for margin beats. Energy and materials are the most vulnerable to missing estimates because of their exposure to the dollar and slowing emerging market growth. He expects the appreciation of the dollar to slice about 0.5 to 1.25 percent from second quarter earnings growth.
Cash-rich corporations, still cautious about hiring, are likely to continue their spending on share buyback programs. Chadha said consumer staples companies have purchased the most stock this year, spending an equivalent of 4.6 percent of their market cap. The second biggest buyback group is consumer discretionary companies, spending about 1.7 percent of market cap.
"People think that a slowdown is coming," said Mike Vitek, an analyst with Fiduciary Management Associates, which manages about $1.5 billion in assets. "People think that the sovereign debt crisis in Europe has got to have an effect and that China's economy is clearly slowing."
Kim Caughey, a senior analyst with the Fort Pitt Capital Group, which manages about $940 million, said that such pessimism creates buying opportunities. "People are going to get worried," she said.
Amid the lack of technical guidance, options traders seem to be hedging themselves for some volatility. On Friday, the most active trades on the SPDR S&P 500 fund (SPY.P) were the July $107 calls and the July $107 puts.
"The volume is nearly the same for calls and puts, so these just look like bets on volatility next week instead of a direction," said Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist at Schaeffer's Investment Research in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Success is simple. Do what's right, the right way, at the right time.
Take control of your future prosperity the Easy way. Become a member of Stock Options Made Easy today!