Options Expiration Distortions: Dave's Daily

NEW YORK ( ETF Digest) -- Beating much lower expectations can lead to a short squeeze and this was evident the past few days with some financials and Friday with Microsoft (MSFT) which beat earnings estimates by 3 cents. Remember, MSFT is one of the largest hedge fund holdings so pumping it higher seems easily job one. MSFT was up nearly 5% after the report which may strike some as an outsized gain. But the spin was the company reported good gains from the corporate sector meaning CFOs are loosening their purse strings. How long can you run XP anyway? The boys in the options pits must be chasing down options in MSFT and those silly bets made on Apple (AAPL) calls.

The other big news on the day was that the IMF (mostly controlled by U.S. taxpayers) will pony-up another $400 billion in freshly minted dollars to rescue the euro zone once again. Even the Bank of Japan admitted this gesture (thank you America!) will only buy some time if austerity and reforms aren't implemented. And, right on cue, we have French elections on deck this weekend with polls indicating Sarkozy is toast. This makes his deals with Merkel & Co toast as well. So with the socialists back in control of Europe's second largest economy don't expect much in the way of austerity and reform. That's not on any socialist's agenda.

Also the IMF has secured some "pledges" from BRIC countries for some contributions. Brazil wants a larger role without necessarily a larger commitment. Perhaps Argentina's Fernandez de Kirchner will pledge the minority balance of Spain's YPF she hasn't seized yet.

Anyway, the bottom line for bulls is that the eurozone is fixed again if only for the trading day and week.

The dollar (UUP) fell sharply (more IMF dollars make them cheaper?) gold (GLD) did little but other commodities (DBC, USO & JJC) with the weakening dollar were higher.

All this brings us to options expiration which is day most investors should just take off. Most of what takes place reminds me of packs of wolves chasing down strike prices to exercise them to the disadvantage of the poor victims. Funny how this isn't the feature of those trashing leveraged ETFs wishing to rename them. What could we rename the options game I wonder? I was an options principal and I always thought of them as death traps.

If volume is any measure, bears are clearly in control and markets are still under distribution judging from heavier sell day volume and vice versa. This is quite clear also when viewing the McClellan Summation Index posted at the end of this column.

On the other hand volume on options expiration days is usually higher just given the mechanics of everything taking place. Volume Friday wasn't very high for an options expiration and breadth per the WSJ was mildly positive.

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IWM - The iShares Russell 2000 Index Fund seeks investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of the small capitalization sector of the U.S. equity market as represented by the Russell 2000 Index. The index represents the approximately 2,000 smallest companies in the Russell 3000 Index.
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QQQ - PowerShares Capital Management LLC is passionate about our goal of delivering the highest quality investment management available through one of the more benefit-rich investment vehicles ever created, the exchange-traded fund. PowerShares QQQ¿, formerly known as "QQQ" or the "NASDAQ- 100 Index Tracking Stock®", is an exchange-traded fund based on the Nasdaq-100 Index®. The Fund will, under most circumstances, consists of all of stocks in the Index. The Index includes 100 of the largest domestic and international nonfinancial companies listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market based on market capitalization. The portfolio is rebalanced quarterly and reconstituted annually.
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Continue to U.S. Sector, Stocks & Bond ETFs

XLK - The Technology Select Sector SPDR® Fund, before expenses, seeks to closely match the returns and characteristics of the Technology Select Sector Index (ticker: IXT). Our approach is designed to provide portfolios with low portfolio turnover, accurate tracking, and lower costs.
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IGV - The iShares S&P North American Technology-Software Index Fund seeks investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of U.S.-traded software-related stocks as represented by the S&P North American Technology-Software Index¿.
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ITB - The iShares Dow Jones U.S. Home Construction Index Fund seeks investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of the Dow Jones U.S. Select Home Construction Index.
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XLF - The Financial Select Sector SPDR® Fund, before expenses, seeks to closely match the returns and characteristics of the Financial Select Sector Index. Our approach is designed to provide portfolios with low portfolio turnover, accurate tracking, and lower costs.
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CVY - The Guggenheim/Zacks Multi-Asset Income Index ETF (NYSE:CVY), the "Fund", seeks investment results that correspond generally to the performance, before the Fund's fees and expenses, of an equity index called the Zacks Multi-Asset Income Index (the "Zacks Multi-Asset Income Index" or "Index").
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IEF - The iShares Barclays 7-10 Year Treasury Bond Fund seeks to approximate the total rate of return of the intermediate-term sector of the United States Treasury market as defined by the Barclays Capital U.S. 7-10 Year Treasury Bond Index.
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TLT - The iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond Fund seeks to approximate the total rate of return of the long-term sector of the United States Treasury market as defined by the Barclays Capital U.S. 20+ Year Treasury Bond Index.
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HYG - The iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond Fund seeks investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of the corporate bond market as defined by the iBoxx $ Liquid Investment Grade Index.
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Continue to Currency & Commodity Market ETFs

UUP - The PowerShares DB US Dollar Bullish Fund (Symbol: UUP) is based on the Deutsche Bank Long US Dollar Index (USDX®) Futures Index¿ (DB Long USD Futures Index). The Index, which is managed by DB Commodity Services LLC, is a rules-based index composed solely of long USDX® futures contracts.
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FXE - CurrencyShares Euro Trust is designed to track the price of the euro net of Trust expenses, which are expected to be paid from interest earned on the deposited euros.
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GLD - The objective of the SPDR® Gold Trust¿ is for the Shares to reflect the performance of the price of gold bullion, less the Trust's expenses.
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GDX - The Gold Miners ETF seeks to replicate as closely as possible, before fees and expenses, the price and yield performance of the NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index. The Index provides exposure to publicly traded companies worldwide involved primarily in the mining for gold, representing a diversified blend of small-, mid- and large- capitalization stocks. As such, the Fund is subject to the risks of investing in this sector.
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SLV - The objective of the iShares Silver Trust is for the value of the shares of the iShares Silver Trust to reflect, at any given time, the price of silver owned by the iShares Silver Trust at that time, less the iShares Silver Trust's expenses and liabilities.
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JJC - The Dow Jones-UBS Copper Subindex Total ReturnService Mark is a sub-index of the Dow Jones-UBS Commodity Index Total ReturnService Mark and reflects the returns that are potentially available through an unleveraged investment in the futures contracts on physical commodities comprising the index plus the rate of interest that could be earned on cash collateral invested in specified Treasury Bills.
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DBC - The PowerShares DB Commodity Index Tracking Fund (Fund) is based on the Deutsche Bank Liquid Commodity Index -- Optimum Yield Diversified Excess Return¿ (Index) and managed by DB Commodity Services LLC. The Index is a rules-based index composed of futures contracts on 14 of the most heavily-traded and important physical commodities in the world. You cannot invest directly in an index. Ordinary brokerage commissions apply.
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USO - The United States Oil Fund, LP ("USO") is a domestic exchange traded security designed to track the movements of light, sweet crude oil ("West Texas Intermediate").
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USO - The United States Oil Fund, LP ("USO") is a domestic exchange traded security designed to track the movements of light, sweet crude oil ("West Texas Intermediate").
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XLE - The Energy Select Sector SPDR® Fund, before expenses, seeks to closely match the returns and characteristics of the Energy Select Sector Index. Our approach is designed to provide portfolios with low portfolio turnover, accurate tracking, and lower costs.
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DBA - The PowerShares DB Agriculture Fund is based on the Deutsche Bank Liquid Commodity Index Diversified Agriculture Excess Return¿ and managed by DB Commodity Services LLC. The Index is a rules-based index composed of futures contracts on some of the most liquid and widely traded agricultural commodities. The Index is intended to reflect the performance of the agricultural sector. You cannot invest directly in the Index. Ordinary brokerage commissions apply.
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Continue to Overseas Sectors & ETFs

EFA - The iShares MSCI EAFE Index Fund seeks to provide investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of publicly traded securities in the European, Australasian and Far Eastern markets, as measured by the MSCI EAFE Index.
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EEM - The iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index Fund seeks to provide investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of publicly traded securities in emerging markets, as represented by the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.
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EWJ - The iShares MSCI Japan Index Fund seeks to provide investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of publicly traded securities in the Japanese market, as measured by the MSCI Japan Index.
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EWG - The iShares MSCI Germany Index Fund seeks to provide investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of publicly traded securities in the German market, as measured by the MSCI Germany Index.
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EWP - The iShares MSCI Spain Index Fund seeks to provide investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of publicly traded securities in the Spanish market, as measured by the MSCI Spain Index.
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EWY - The iShares MSCI South Korea Index Fund seeks to provide investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of publicly traded securities in the South Korean market, as measured by the MSCI Korea Index.
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EWZ - The iShares MSCI Brazil Index Fund seeks to provide investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of publicly traded securities in the Brazilian market, as measured by the MSCI Brazil Index.
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RSX - The Russia ETF seeks to replicate as closely as possible, before fees and expenses, the price and yield performance of the DAXglobal® Russia+ Index. The Index provides exposure to publicly traded companies that are domiciled in Russia, and traded in Russia and/or on leading global exchanges. As such, the Fund is subject to the risks of investing in this country.
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EPI - WisdomTree India Earnings Fund seeks investment results that correspond to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of the WisdomTree India Earnings Index.
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FXI - The iShares FTSE China 25 Index Fund seeks investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of the FTSE China 25 Index.
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The NYMO is a market breadth indicator that is based on the difference between the number of advancing and declining issues on the NYSE. When readings are +60/-60 markets are extended short-term.

The McClellan Summation Index is a long-term version of the McClellan Oscillator. It is a market breadth indicator, and interpretation is similar to that of the McClellan Oscillator, except that it is more suited to major trends. I believe readings of +1000/-1000 reveal markets as much extended.

The VIX is a widely used measure of market risk and is often referred to as the "investor fear gauge". Our own interpretation is highlighted in the chart above. The VIX measures the level of put option activity over a 30-day period. Greater buying of put options (protection) causes the index to rise.

Continue to Concluding Remarks

The most meaningful chart posted is the McClellan Summation Index just above. This clearly demonstrates ongoing "distribution" from equities, or, if you prefer an ongoing correction.

Next week features two significant events: Apple's earnings Tuesday after the close and the Fed meeting announcement on Wednesday.  It should make for another Big Wednesday clearly.

Let's see what happens.

Disclaimer: The ETF Digest maintains active ETF trading portfolio and a wide selection of ETFs away from portfolios in an independent listing. Current positions if any are embedded within charts: Lazy & Hedged Lazy Portfolios maintain the follow positions: VT, MGV, BND, BSV, VGT, VWO, VNO, IAU, DJCI, DJP, VMBS, VIG, ILF, EWA, IEV, EWC, EWJ, EWG, & EWU.

 

The charts and comments are only the author's view of market activity and aren't recommendations to buy or sell any security.  Market sectors and related ETFs are selected based on his opinion as to their importance in providing the viewer a comprehensive summary of market conditions for the featured period.  Chart annotations aren't predictive of any future market action rather they only demonstrate the author's opinion as to a range of possibilities going forward. More detailed information, including actionable alerts, are available to subscribers at www.etfdigest.com .

 

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