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FED Rate Hikes Could Cause Unintended Volatility Shock

Last week the Federal Open Market Committee surprised no one when they raised rates 0.25 basis points to increase rates to between 1% and 1.25%.  What did surprise the market, was the revelation that the FED is committed to normalize rates, even if inflation does not meet their target.  This was reiterated this week in a speech by William Dudley, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, who stated he feels the FED needs to raise rates, despite low inflation, to be ready to act if the economy does slow down.
The market has been quick to respond, and nothing was hit harder by a reduction in inflation expectations than commodities.  Gold, since the announcement, is lower by 2.39%, and oil is down -3.18%.  Crude futures have broken their upward trend line and appear poised to test the previous low of $39.56.
While, oil has been under pressure all year, the S&P 500 does not seem to care, as it continues to make all-time highs.  Oil is down 23% year to date, while the S&P…
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Fed Sleight of Hand

“What the eyes see and the ears hear, the mind believes.”  Harry Houdini
Today is the day volatility traders have been eagerly waiting for, that is of course Fed Day!  And it is not just any Fed Day, it is the most important Fed meeting since the last Fed meeting.  That is of course hyperbole, and if there is one thing financial news loves, it’s exactly that.   The Fed is overwhelmingly expected to raise rates, but every time we have the most important Fed meeting since the last Fed meeting, we need to remember the Fed mission.  The Federal Reserve Mission is to promote maximum employment while at the same time keeping prices stable.   In laymen’s terms, high jobs and low inflation.   Those two goals are of course at odds with each other-- as the economy heats up, so will inflation.  So how does the Fed achieve its mission on a day where rates are expected to rise?  They act like a parent who went to Phish concerts in college and tells their children not to do drugs.  Yes, the Fed wil…

Gold and Treasuries Say “RISK OFF”, But VIX Says "RISK ON"

Today we are seeing a modest rebound in the market after yesterday’s small selloff.  Volatility remains extremely low, with the VIX hovering around 10.  It’s important for traders to recognize how low the VIX has been lately.  Since 2010, the VIX has only closed below 10 five times, and each of those five times has come in the last month.                   However, the market is not without risks right now.  Gold has rallied 6.5% since May 9th.  Treasuries have rallied, pushing rates to below 2.15.  So, the market is currently in a risk off mode while equities are in a period of historically low risk.  The VVIX (the VIX of the VIX), for its part, is not sounding the all clear signal, 87 is in the medium range for VIX volatility.  Tomorrow we have a potential market moving event with James Comey’s testimony to Congress.  The last time Comey’s name was in the news, we saw the VIX move from 10.5 to over 15 in one trading day (a 50% increase) on a day where the market was down over 2%.  …

Markets Soft without Stimulus

Markets around the world pulled back the reigns as central banks look to taper quantitative easing. Japan’s central bank decided to leave their current pace of monetary policy unchecked, which has effectively cut the Nikkei down 1.5% on the day, affecting nearly every market in-between, scaring the DJIA 165 points off the start this morning. US Treasuries have now notched the highest yield in 14 months on the 10 year note.

This morning 55,257 EEM July 35 puts were purchased by a trader for $0.29 each, costing him a large $1,602,453. This is a bearish move on the Emerging Markets ETF, with expectations that by the July expiration, the price of EEM will dip below $34.71. EEM opened today at $39.32 and if this trader was to pass the breakeven point, the ETF would have to drop by more than 11.7% within a little over a month.

EEM opened today 1.9% lower than its closing price yesterday and since the 52-week high the ETF experienced in early January, it has lowered by over 13%. While this …

Monsanto’s stock makes way while sun shines

Monsanto surges nearly 5% after announcing that the seed making conglomerate will effectively extend and increase its stock buyback after its current repurchase campaign finalizes on July 1. This new program will increase to purchase $2 billion worth of company stock over the next three years. This news from the agriculture behemoth comes as Standard & Poor’s raised its credit rating to “stable” from “negative.”

MON earns its keep from three main sources of generating revenue: agricultural chemical sales, designing and selling biotechnology traits, and collecting royalties on the aforementioned traits. When estimating expected returns, Monsanto management analyzes historical returns, economic trends, market conditions and changes in consumer demand.

Corn seeds make up for three quarters of Monsanto’s seed sales; the USDA projected 2013 production to top 2012 by 32%. This is good news for MON; the more seeds, the merrier-- corn seed has been on a 16% tear. Herbicides to cater the s…

Stocks Stumble Only to Stand Back Up

Week in review June 3-7 2013
S&P 0.7%
Dow 0.83%
Russel 2000 0.34%
GLD -0.65%
TLT(Barclays 20 year us treasury index) -0.94%
VIX -7.31%


“Far more money has been lost by investors preparing for corrections or trying to anticipate corrections than has been lost in the corrections themselves” (Peter Lynch) 
June started off ominous as we saw a continuation of the largest selloff the market has seen in 2013.    On Thursday’s low (1598 in the S&P 500) the marked had slumped a total of 5.27% from the year-to-date high (1687), and the CBOE volatility Index VIX had climbed to 18.51. Technical analysts look for the S&P500 to be at a relative low while the VIX is at a high.  This coupled with an increase in volume signals that there is a culmination in the selling.  When the S&P fell below the 50 day moving average of 1606 the selling pressure peaked and when the dust settled, the SPX closed at 1643 for the week.  This rally got wind in its sail from the lukewarm American job report thi…

Yahoo Bears Search for a Correction

There has been recent activity with Yahoo put options today, where a large quantity of June 25 puts were bought for thirty and thirty-five cents. These were done in quantities of 300-500 contracts, giving the traders the right to sell tens of thousands of YHOO shares. This is a bearish bet that Yahoo stock price will drop below $24.65, which these traders expect to happen by expiration on June 13. For this to occur YHOO would need to drop 4.8% over the next 15 days.

Yahoo offers personalized technology services for their clients, connecting users with the exact content they need. In turn, Yahoo sells that information to advertisers and marketers. Yahoo’s CFO Ken Goldman’s opinion expressed confidence in the Sunnyvale, California company. At a recent conference he remarked, “We’re not afraid to make any decisions” when prompted on Yahoo’s taste for acquisitions. Goldman has an eye on the mobile market, and cites the acquisitions “to help basically accelerate our progress … and continue…