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3 Key Solar Stock Trading Triggers

Solar stock, green energy story updated for Credit Suisse market analysis)

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- There is a stark divide between short-term and long-term solar stocks trading triggers right now, as stark as it has been in recent memory. The long-term, sentiment-driven trade is leading solar stocks higher, while uncertainty regarding Italian solar policy changes and first quarter weakness could serve as negative catalysts in the near-term for the solar sector.

On Wednesday, solar stocks were rising again, with China's Trina Solar (TSL - Get Report) rising 4%, to within reach of a share price it hasn't attained since January.

A Reuters report citing anonymous sources in China indicated that China may double its solar installation goal in its new five-year plan to 10 gigawatts, as a result of the Japanese nuclear crisis and a reining in of China's nuclear ambitions. The report was just the latest after effect from the Japanese nuclear crisis driving a bullish long-term trade on solar stocks. On Monday, the results from the German elections served as another rally maker for solar stocks related to anti-nuclear sentiment the largest solar market in the world.

With the Wednesday trading action, investors can add to the sentiment-driven trade, with President Obama once again making a major energy policy speech voicing support for renewables and the goal of one-third less reliance on foreign oil within a decade. A foundation underneath all of the exogenous events related to global energy policy are two long-time bullish trading triggers for solar: oil prices above $100 and the euro, even amid continuing debt woes in the EU, holding above $1.40.

Most of the solar stocks were higher, too, with SunPower's (SPWRA) 2% gain the most prominent among U.S. solar stocks. SunPower would also gain on any expectations that Italy will grandfather existing projects from new lower feed-in tariff rates, as it has a slew of projects in Italy slated for September 2011. The recently unofficial commentary from Italy has focused in part on assuring the solar market that current projects will be insulated from 2011 FIT changes.

The exception to the solar rally rule was First Solar (FSLR - Get Report), which received a negative headline late on Tuesday when Securities and Exchange Commission filings revealed that former CEO Michael Ahearn has again significantly reduced his stake in the solar company, a filing highlighted in a Wall Street Journal report insinuating that the former First Solar executive's outlook on solar energy may have "dimmed." Ahearn cut his stake in First Solar almost in half over the past month. Ahearn, who still serves as non-executive chairman of the First Solar board of directors, sold 800,000 shares valued at $118.9 million in the past month through March 25.
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In any event, let's take a look at some of the current trading triggers in solar...
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