BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- There are no two ways about it: Investors are getting some love from stocks this Valentine's Day.
Before this morning's open, the S&P 500 had managed to climb 6.6% in the first month and a half of 2013, picking up a pace that's best described as "breakneck." Even though the big index's gains don't feel insane, they are. A big reason for the lack of emotion surrounding stocks' climb has been volatility -- or the lack of it.
The VIX volatility index has been sitting below 13 at last count, scraping against the bottom of its historic range. At 13, options investors are pricing in a potential move of 3.7% in the S&P over the next 30 days -- or 45% annualized.It's worth noting, though, that the big index has been climbing higher at a 54% annualized pace so far in 2013. A near-term low in the VIX isn't necessarily a bad thing. While it indicates that we're overdue for a volatility spike in stocks, injecting volatility into a bull market is a recipe for bigger gains, not a crash. That's something to consider the next time someone points to a low VIX reading as a contrarian sell signal for stocks. Where the rubber meets the road, there are some big opportunities shaping up in large individual stocks right now. That's why, today, we'll take a technical look at the price setups forming in five of the biggest names. >>5 Stocks Hedge Funds Love -- and So Should You If you're new to technical analysis, here's the executive summary. Technicals are a study of the market itself. Since the market is ultimately the only mechanism that determines a stock's price, technical analysis is a valuable tool even in the roughest of trading conditions. Technical charts are used every day by proprietary trading floors, Wall Street's biggest financial firms, and individual investors to get an edge on the market. And research shows that skilled technical traders can bank gains as much as 90% of the time. Every week, I take an in-depth look at big names that are telling important technical stories. Here's this week's look at the charts of five high-volume stocks to trade for gains. >>4 Reasons to Buy Stocks in 2013