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Which Way Will Oil Go?

Stocks in this article: SCO USO UCO

Editor's note: This piece originally ran earlier today on our newest Premium service, ETF Profits . Click here for a 14-day trial to this exciting product!

Generally, when I post about an InterETF trade setup, it is in the small-cap arena or, sometimes, the financial sector. The chaos in the Middle East has oil prices moving and the volatility around this black gold is heating up, which translates into opportunities within the ETF and leveraged ETF space. The direction of oil could go either way from the $100 barrel level. So rather than bet on a direction or even the inherent movement of a direction with a cushion built in, I would prefer to approach a trade setup that offers some cushion in price, but isn't wagering on a specific direction. The setup I am looking at is somewhat akin to an iron condor, but I want the potential for upside if volatility increases and oil prices rock back and forth.

My first trade setup is inherently bearish, meaning it will make money if the price of crude stays flat or moves lower. Since this is a March setup, I am going to build in a small 2.5% cushion to the upside, so that there is the potential for this pair leg to make a profit -- even if oil rises higher into March expiration. I have gone long the March 45 puts on the ProShares UltraShort Crude Oil ETF (SCO) while shorting the March 41 calls on the U.S. Oil ETF (USO). This pair carries with it one long SCO put by 2.5 short USO call, or 2 by 5 for those not wanting to do the math. The trade brought a net credit of $0.27. Based on current prices, SCO should reach $45 before USO reaches $41; however, since we are dealing with leverage and contango on the underlying ETFs, I will keep track of this each day to be aware of my risk.

Using the same setup but with options that will expire in April, I have implemented a second trade, which is also inherently bearish, but to a smaller degree. This same trade brought a net credit of $0.47, but I am only doing half as many of this pair as compared to the March pair because the tilt for oil is still bullish.

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