No two markets are ever exactly alike, but there are quite a few similarities between our indicators at the current time and where they stood a year ago – comparing the third Fridays of February in each case. As noted in the Market Comment section, that was the last day (February 21st, 2020) before stock crashed into a violent, short-term bear market. There are a lot of similarities. Of course, this article doesn’t compare other periods in history where there were also similarities, yet the market didn’t crash. Perhaps almost every top has some of these similarities.
Despite making new all-time intraday and/or closing highs on February 10th, 12th, and 16th, $SPX is in a fairly tight trading range between 3900 and 3950 -- and has been since the breakout to new highs on February 5th. One thing that has come from this action is that the support at 3870 (the January highs) to 3900 has been strengthened.
One of the cumulative breadth indicators that we follow is cumulative VOLUME breadth (CVB). It is the running daily total of “volume on advancing issues” minus “volume on declining issues.” While it can be calculated using NYSE, NASDAQ, and “stocks only” data, we prefer the “stocks only” (i.e., all stocks on which listed options are traded in the U.S.).
The major indices ($SPX, $NDX, $DJX, and $RUT) all made new all-time intraday and closing highs this week. $SPX should have support at the previous all-time highs (which were also the December highs) near 3870. Below that, there is obvious support at 3700 (the January lows and the bottom of that brief selloff at the end of January), and then the important support level at 3630 (the December lows). I am still classifying the 3630 level as the most important of these because a) the $SPX chart would take on a negative slant if that level were broken and b) there is an old adage (and adequate proof) that breaking the previous December's lows can be the onset of a bear market.
This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 16, No. 10 on June 1, 2007.
On April 2, 2007, the final phase of the Portfolio Margin requirements for listed stock and index options went into effect. Any account approved for naked option trading is eligible to be granted these reduced margin requirements. Assuming that one’s broker has a real-time margining system, the minimum account size to be eligible for these requirements is $100,000; otherwise, it’s $150,000, with certain exceptions. Your broker can elect not to grant you these requirements (much as the broker doesn’t have to grant one exchange minimum margin requirements). However, for competitive reasons, we suspect most brokers will grant the requirements to eligible accounts.
What a difference a week makes. Just one week ago, $SPX had sold off sharply, but then the bulls said "enough." Institutional cash, which is often deployed heavily at the end of January and the beginning of February, came rushing into the market. In just four trading days, $SPX had recovered all of the losses and had closed at a new all- time high. $SPX bottomed out almost right at 3700 on Friday, January 29th, so that is definitely support. There is also support below that, at 3630. That is the one that I consider more important, because a breach of that level would take the market below its December lows usually the sign of an emerging bear market.
Equity-only put-call ratios are exhibiting some unusual behavior: the two ratios are diver ging. The standard ratio (Figure 2) is plunging to new lows and is thus on a buy signal. The weighted ratio is slowly rising and is thus somewhat bearish.
This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 23, No. 22 on December 1, 2014.
With the stock market at all-time highs, and many stock holders sitting on large gains, thoughts often turn to options as a hedging technique. For stock owners, there are two ways to provide protection to a portfolio: 1) macro protection, which involves the use of index options to hedge an entire portfolio’s risk, or 2) micro protection, which involves the use of individual options on each stock in the portfolio. In either case, the use of a collar is often attractive to the owner of the portfolio, because it is often established for zero debit.