The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.
NEW YORK (
) -- Back on Feb. 6, we offered up a trade to consider on
Freeport McMoran Copper and Gold
, a copper, gold and molybdenum mining company, which had gained more than 20% on the year up until that point. The trade was betting that FCX would lose steam, and, sure enough, it did, allowing us to keep .66 of credit from the Bull Call spread before closing the trade.
Now may be a good time to revisit FCX to see if we can add to our earlier profits.
FCX seems to be consolidating, and should find support at around the 200-day Moving Average, to be found at around 43. An additional layer of support would be the 50-day MA, at 41.85. Considering these factors, one possible trade is a Bull Put spread, which bets that FCX will remain above 42 until March expiration.
Sell 1 FCX MAR12 42 PUT
Buy 1 FCX MAR12 37 PUT
For a credit of .67
Breakeven for the trade is 41.34.
Firing Line: We would hold this trade in our
model portfolio until one day prior to expiration, or, if the trade starts to break down, eject at the 30% loss level.
Positive News on the Home Front Keeps Bulls on the Move
After starting Thursday morning with a sharp 50-point drop, the market jammed into reverse at the sound of more positive economic data on the domestic front. The about-face sent the
S&P 500 Index
(SPX) to 1,363, a lofty level that the benchmark index hasn't seen since April of 2011. Meanwhile, the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
(DJIA) ended up about as much as it was once down, landing at 12,948, which just happened to put the blue-chip index at its 52-week high.
The news that reversed the downward morning trend came from the Labor Department, who announced that initial unemployment claims for last week were essentially flat. The reason the data managed to move the market was due to the fact that economists had expected an increase in claims.
Top Gun Options we believe such is the extent of diminished expectations.
The fact remains that, at the current rate of hiring, it will take an estimated three to four years until employment hits the pre-recession numbers, which hovered at or below 6% once the dot.com bubble-burst had been absorbed. Currently, the rate stands at 8.3%, which is considered somewhat of an inaccurate read, as it doesn't factor in those who can't find full-time employment, or those who have simply ceased looking for work. Factoring in those numbers, many economists estimate the real number is closer to 15%.
A second bit of market-cheering news emerged from the beleaguered housing market, as home prices rose 0.7% in December, no surprises there, pretty much in line with expectations.
As regards the eurozone drama, no news was good news for investors, as the sovereign debt crisis across the Atlantic seemed to take a day off, with no inflammatory pronouncements coming from the EU.
A Look at the VIX
The VIX (Chicago Board Options Exchange Market Volatility Index) ended down a steep 7.6%, a number that might seem out of proportion to the Dow's relatively small rise of 46 points. However, the VIX reflects the general sentiment in the market, and as such can be seen to indicate that traders and investors are feeling pretty comfortable with the market direction at the moment, over and beyond the breadth of the Dow.
If you've been paying attention to the VIX, you might notice that it is currently within 10% of its lowest trading level of the last 12 months. As such, it provides a rare opportunity to stock up on some cheap portfolio insurance, which you surely should have, considering the possibility of increased volatility due to either the euro-zone situation or the Iranian issue.
You can use a VIX derivative, such as VXX (iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN) to hedge your portfolio, or, if you recognize the value, place a directional trade on the VIX using the VXX. Remember that the VIX generally goes up as the market goes down, and vice versa.
This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.