This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 5, No. 4 on February 22, 1996.
An understanding of equivalent positions is mandatory knowledge for option traders. Two positions or strategies are equivalent if their profit graphs have the same shape. For example, we have repeatedly stressed that covered call writing and naked put writing are equivalent. This can be quickly verified by looking at the profit graph on the right. Both strategies have limited profit potential, large downside risk, and can make money if the underlying remains relatively unchanged in price until expiration.
$SPX has finally broken down below support. A serious bout of selling occurred yesterday (February 25th), demonstrating for the first time since last September that the bears might actually have some gumption.
Below current levels, there is support at 3700 (the late January lows) and then the major support at 3630 (the Decembers lows). If $SPX falls below 3630, that would be a major bearish development and would probably indicate that we are in a bear market.
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.