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Mental Midgets and More

March 29, 2010


Good morning. Another quiet week in terms of volatility last week, but again the market did finish with a gain. The SPY was up fractionally again, gaining .61 to close at 116.58. At times, both Thursday and Friday, it looked like there was a chance of a real upside breakout, but late sell-offs dampened the mood. On Thursday, for instance, the SPY traded all the way up to 118.17 before closing near the day’s lows at 116.65. Normally that would be the sign of a tired market, but any attempt at a sell-off seems to be met by buyers below the market (at least so far).  The VIX was actually up on the week, although fractionally, closing up .82 to 17.77. If anything, the upward skew in the implied volatility going forward worsened, and it remains significantly more expensive, in terms of implied volatility, to buy far out protective puts than it does to buy anything near term. For example, in AT&T (trading $26.24), the January 25 puts of 2012 are trading for a 23 implied volatility vs. the near term April 26 options at a 15 implied volatility. I am not sure what sort of relative carnage or volatility spike the market is collectively expecting going forward, but it is sure priced in.

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Middle America

March 22, 2010


Good morning. Last week the market was up fractionally, with the SPY up .51 to close at 115.97. That is still a spectacular move up from the gloomy days of last March, when on last March 19 the SPY closed at 78.94 (47% increase). It also is an interesting contrast to the VIX, which was down on the week to close at a low number of 16.96. That is down dramatically from the number last March 19 of 43.68 (61% drop).

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Grind Out Some Returns

March 1, 2010


Good morning. The market ended last week down ever so slightly, with the SPY down a whole .40 (or .4%) on the week. However, that weekly summary masks a series of almost violent ups and downs on both an inter and intra day basis. For example, we had a virtually flat Monday, then a surprisingly negative Consumer Confidence number on Tuesday sent us down almost 1.5%. Wednesday brought a snap back rally of almost the same magnitude, followed by bad jobs numbers on Thursday that had us down almost 2% before recovering to almost unchanged.

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Different Administration, Same Problems

July 13, 2009


Good morning. Dull and down for the market last week, with the SPY down 1.95, or 2%, to close at 87,96. The onslaught of earnings season continues this week, but the initial earnings report of Alcoa (AA) showing sales down over 40% from last year tells the tale. It’s true that AA has shown some management aggressiveness in cutting costs (and some solid PR in telling everyone what a good job they are doing) so the earnings, although negative, were not as bad as expected.

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