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Post Game: William Tell

The Summers Rally has come and gone. Given the events of today’s session, it’s difficult to know where we are headed. It was not difficult to fade this rally as the market’s reaction to the news that the hawkish Summers was out of the race for the Fed chairmanship was completely overdone, particularly given what we believe are misconstrued differences between Summers and the de facto front runner Janet Yellen. We made some money playing today’s bounce both ways, and it certainly feels like this market is teetering a little bit after we had virtually no conviction in this morning’s rally.

Before we continue with the post game, we’d like to extend our most heartfelt condolences to those affected by the tragedy at the Navy Yard in our nation’s capital today. There is a time and place to debate how and why tragedies such as these continue to plague both America and the entire world, but for now let us simply honor the fallen and give thanks for all we have been blessed with in this life.

Today’s aptly titled post game simply must lead off with a discussion of Apple, whose blunders in the last week have cost the one-time Wall Street darling roughly $60 per share in market value. Many were caught up in today’s onslaught trying to shoot the falling apple (William Tell puns), only to be washed out during the session’s prolonged selloff. Today we were able to capitalize on the mid-day lull in the stock that allowed us to scalp some gains in weekly call options. We were also able to capitalize on the late day sell off by utilizing weekly put options as $AAPL slid below $450. While there are those that felt the move to the $470 level was overdone, the downward momentum has shown no signs of abating, and the company continues to bewilder the Street with the seemingly misplaced iPhone 5C and no data regarding iPhone preorders. Our bull case for Apple was shot once we saw the pricing of the 5C, which essentially eliminated the possibility of a China Mobile deal anytime soon. We have no choice but to seriously question whether Apple’s growth days are over, as the smartphone market’s consolidation has been incredibly quick. For those of you that look to play Apple on an intraday or swing basis, you have to lean short here until the stock shows a serious change in its course of action. We engaged a few members on StockTwits tonight about whether we would lean long or short overnight. However, with the market in the position its in and the aggressive selloff in Apple, you simply cannot let a long or short bias get in the way of making money. While we think there is more downside in Apple to come, you need to let the trend dictate your behavior when your timeframe is short. Countertrend trading is virtually impossible to execute on a consistent, profitable basis, so if you’re playing Apple long in this downtrend, be nimble, use stops and TAKE PROFITS.

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$AAPL is in a world of hurt and is perched on its 100-day moving average. It barely held that level today and an open below that level tomorrow could trigger a major flush to the gap area around $434-$435. Again, this looks like an incredibly compelling short candidate in the short term, as investors will likely race to the exits as momentum picks up to the downside (much like we saw today). If Apple can somehow consolidate at this level and form a base, perhaps the story changes. With that said, it’s hard to have much conviction to the upside, if any.

As we stated before, US equities are in a precarious position, particularly given the slow grind down we saw today that literally spanned the entire session. $SPY posted what many call a black candle, as the market essentially opened on the highs and never advanced beyond that mark. If the bulls want to stay in control of this market, they need to see some consolidation at this level before taking out today’s highs. An open below today’s close could lead to increased selling pressure and a fill of today’s gap up, which could invigorate the bears who will undoubtedly be calling today’s market action an “island reversal.”

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We have just three positions on heading into tomorrow’s pivotal session and the next iteration of “The Most Important Fed Meeting Ever.” We think there are certainly going to be setups that look good in both directions for stocks, but we continue to preach selectivity and profit taking as the market definitely feels like it is in no man’s land. Keep an eye on the tech names for a possible correction, as they have lagged the market the last few days and several names showed weakness today including $TSLA, $NFLX, $LNKD, $GOOG and $FB. Most of these names are in no man’s land and don’t represent convincing buying or short selling opportunities based on where they closed today. Watch for names like these to either hold or break through key levels before initiating positions in either direction, particularly when we have a number of headlines coming our way in the next few days that could alter the market landscape.

Summer(s) Equinox

Happy Sunday y’all. Hopefully everyone’s rooting interest in the NFL is coming up aces today, and a special shout out to all the Chicago Bears fans out there today. Jay Cutler continues to be the most mercurial quarterback in the NFL, but Martellus Bennett managed to bail him out with two more touchdowns to lead the Bears to a 31-30 victory over the hapless Christian Ponder and the largely ineffective Adrian Peterson. In all honesty, the Bears should’ve won that game by double digits, but Bad Jay and poor special teams on the opening kickoff essentially spotted Minnesota 21 points. I digress…

It seems we can’t go one weekend this month without some sort of major economic or geopolitical news item that will impact the market. This was already shaping up to be a monumental week with the Fed meeting and the potential of a reduction in monthly asset purchases, but Larry Summers decided to throw us a curveball and withdrew from the race for the Fed Chairman appointment once Ben Bernanke takes his leave. Many have speculated that Summers’ confirmation would be an arduous process as many see him as an abrasive individual, with his detractors citing his tarnished tenure as president of Harvard University – specifically, his treatment of women. Janet Yellen, believed to be a far more dovish candidate than Summers, becomes the de facto leader in the clubhouse. Donald Kohn, a former Fed vice chairman, and former Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner remain popular candidates among others.

The impact of Summers decision was fairly easy to predict before futures even opened. Given his aversion to continued quantitative easing and a more hawkish stance overall, stocks would be poised to rise should Summers not receive the nomination. However, given the fact that Summers is pulling out this early, S&P futures surged on the open this evening to the all-time highs, and the bulls appear to be in full control once again. While it is  not a foregone conclusion that Yellen will be appointed (and some close to the Obama camp have stated the President would prefer to go elsewhere now that Summers, an Obama favorite, has withdrawn), we would expect even interest rate sensitive stocks to rise tomorrow as well, which does not bode well for our $HD and $T positions. Still, we should note that there is plenty of time for our theses on those names to play out. On the plus side, our long positions in $NFLX, $FCEL and $GOOG should get a nice lift. Obviously, we wish we were leaning a little longer, but we should see some nice gains Monday regardless.

Tomorrow should provide some opportunities for intraday trades at the bell. With so many events that could shake markets this week, it may be prudent to take some profits on long positions at tomorrow’s open should we sustain this rally overnight (and there is little reason to believe that we won’t). Still, it is easier to have conviction to the long side as the market has pulled off something of a stealth rally in the past week or two. We’ll be back in the morning to assess what is moving, but until then, enjoy the rest of your NFL Sundays!