At the time of publication, Cramer was long Yahoo!
Rev Shark's Diary: Bulls Benefit From Surfeit of Skepticism Originally published 02/27/2006 4:34 PM The bulls carried the day with good breadth and some signs of rotation out of gold and oil and into biotech and technology. It was pretty darn good price action, but the hopeful bears are jumping up and down and anxiously pointing at the light volume. The Nasdaq traded 1.72 billion shares, which is up from the 1.57 billion we saw on Friday and qualifies as a technical accumulation day. But it wasn't at a level to really impress. Nonetheless, volume wasn't that bad, and given the continued skepticism out there it isn't all that surprising it was light. Volume isn't heavy because market participants are acting with caution. I continue to feel the market is in good shape here with solid technical conditions but mixed sentiment, which means there is cash on the sidelines to support us. Very few people seem to expect this market to continue plodding slowly and steadily higher. But I think that is exactly what we will see. We will likely have some choppy action, but I don't think the bears are going to be able to dig their claws into this market to a great degree right now. I believe the big driver the bulls have going for them right now is that there are a lot of folks who have not embraced this market even though we have the indices hitting new highs. If we continue to hold up, they will eventually capitulate and start putting more cash to work, which will push us higher and cause more bears and underinvested bulls to give up. We have some economic data in the morning, but I'm not expecting anything that will be a major market mover. The news flow is slowing now that earnings season is over, and that means we have to focus even more on technicals.
Steve Smith's Blog: Lessons Learned at an Options Seminar Originally published 02/27/2006 5:46 PM So I just got through the second day of a two-day (just couldn't bring myself to day one on a Sunday) seminar run by one of the well-known option-education firms. They went through plenty of information, and certainly provided a nice intro to the mechanics and concepts of trading options. But it was hard not to watch the presentation through the lens of knowing that each person in the room, some 100 people, had paid about $2000 to attend. Additionally, while the selling wasn't hard or high pitched, it seemed a bit of a hook job to structure a beginner's seminar -- for people who already paid two grand -- around software and Web-service platforms that will run another $7000. Don't get me wrong; they had very nice software and services, but it just seems a high ticket price -- the "money back guarantee" notwithstanding. And while they were pretty ethical in terms of not overpromising, always talking about risk, and steering people away from "dangerous situations," such as being naked options, there was some simplification that bordered on being misleading. For example, it was around noon, when they were screening for calendar spreads -- which had been described as good for "boring, range-bound" stocks and markets -- that the S&P 500 was up around 6 points at the time, which the lecturer pointed to as "another boring nothing day." Apparently, the desire to make calendar spreads seem pertinent and present them as a winning strategy now overrode the fact this was a new multiyear high. To his credit, the rest of the actual screen was stock specific and had criteria tight enough to produce only two names for what seemed like reasonable trades. My other complaint, or maybe it's just jealousy, is this class was the intro to what seems to be a plan to get people hooked on more classes. I'm a big believer in educating oneself, and at $10,000 for a package of a half-dozen classes, you'd better be, too, if you choose this road to profitablity. A couple of $75 books or a library card might be a more cost-effective way to check your commitment level. All that said, maybe it comes down to if you can afford it, and it can help you in the long run if it's worth it. When I was in my 20s, and even into my 30s, and sports and excercise were part of my everyday life, I just couldn't understand why someone would need or want to pay a trainer to help him work out. Isn't going for a run or playing tennis, etc., just something you wake up and want to do? Well, now that a "four" handle is in front of my age, I know the answer to that question. And after some recent surgery, I found myself forking over $120 an hour to some big dude to tell me to "come on" and remember to breathe. Surely those were two things I already knew how to do, but that was $120 I do not regret spending. The structure, the reminders of which machines work best for specific muscles or groups and how to avoid hurting myself all provided a jump-start to seeing results. And after 16 hours, no one in that room today seemed upset or daunted by the challenge of making money trading options. That will undoubtedly cost more than the $2000 and a box lunch, and that's when the real complaining begins.
Tony Crescenzi's Blog: New Data Support 5% GDP Call Originally published 03/01/2006 9:30 AM Today's data on personal income and consumption reflect an economy in a self-reinforcing mode. Incomes are growing solidly and this is supporting spending. In turn, this is boosting the production cycle and hence incomes, thus spurring a virtuous cycle of increases in production, income and spending. With January's gain of 0.9%, personal income is now up 5.8% versus a year ago, comfortably above the long-term average of about 5.0%. The extra 0.8% over and above the long-term average is equal to about $80 billion, which is helping consumers to pay for the increased costs of energy. Interestingly, rental income fell again. It was down $2.7 billion following a decline of $3.0 billion in December. Apparently, the slowdown in home buying and the recent decline in rental vacancy rates hasn't been enough to prompt a meaningful increase in rents. This is important because an increase in rents will boost the CPI, of which rents are about 30%. For the quarter, spending is running at a pace of about 5% above last quarter's average; this should help reinforce forecasts for a GDP gain of at least that much (GDP is calculated as the average of one quarter versus the average of the previous quarter). Any gains in February and March will boost the personal spending figure still more, raising the possibility of a gain of as much as 6%. Real spending on services fell 0.3% in January, which was the first decline since 1993, according to Market News. This is highly unlikely to continue, so it's likely that spending will continue to gain in the current quarter. The PCE deflator rose 0.2% for the fifth time in six months, which puts the rate above the Fed's target range. The Fed will eventually dismiss such gains, recognizing the lagged impact of changes in economic activity on the inflation rate, but in the context of continued strength, gains of 0.2% will pressure the Fed to raise interest rates. These data are good for the equity market to the extent that they show that the economy is continuing on a self-reinforcing path, but they will be a restraining influence on prices because they are strong enough to justify further interest rate hikes.