The Trader Daily

This article originally appeared on RealMoney.com on Sept. 2, 2014 at 7:30 a.m. To read more content like this AND see inside Jim Cramer's multi-million dollar portfolio for FREE... Click Here NOW.

I know everyone thinks of Labor Day as the traditional end of summer vacation, but please remember that it generally takes the trading community one or two weeks to get back into the swing of things. In other words, don't be too quick to assume volume and volatility are going to suddenly increase come Tuesday morning.

Before we discuss Tuesday's E-Mini S&P 500 futures (Es) trade plan, I want to take a look at the energy sector. For those who haven't been actively following WTI crude futures, it's worth noting that the October contract has declined from $105 to as low as $92.50 over the past two months. And over the course of this eight-week decline, last week's bounce from roughly $93.50 to $96 was the first time the contract managed to rally for more than two consecutive days.

 

XLE, OIH, FCG, Crude Futures -- Daily Chart
Source: eSignal

 

As you review the multi-sector chart above, please note that while the Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund  (XLE) , Market Vectors Oil Services ETF  (OIH)  and First Trust ISE-Revere Natural Gas ETF  (FCG)  are all trading above their 20-day simple moving averages, only the XLE has managed to recapture its 50-day simple moving average.

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The main takeaway from the sector view above is that, even if the various energy ETFs are on the mend and destined to trade back toward their early summer highs, the path is likely to be tedious and riddled with speed-bumps. Of particular importance will be seeing crude trade through the $97.50 -- $98.50 area, and stabilizing above its 50-day simple moving average (highlighted in yellow on the chart above).

Sector rotation is the lifeblood of a bull market. So while I'm not expecting energy stocks, especially the decimated offshore drillers and smaller independent oil and gas drillers, to soar to new 52-week highs in the next week, I do think this is an opportune time to dig a bit deeper into the sector.

 

ESV, RIG, NOV, APA -- Daily Chart
Source: eSignal

 

The four stocks above are all worth consideration, but for very different reasons. Ensco  (ESV)  and Transocean  (RIG)  are both offshore drillers, and while both have traded poorly for what seems like years, their potential upside and close proximity to logical stop-loss points makes them worth considering.

ESV is the better looking of the two, and assuming it continues to close above its 20-day simple moving average (roughly $49-$49.50) I think it has a fair chance at trading back toward its 200-day simple moving average and mid-July resistance (roughly $53).

RIG has been torturing shareholders for literally years. In fact, prior to last week's bounce, the stock was trading at levels not seen since late-2004. That said, the recent break of $38 and immediate recovery back above that level appears to be a fake breakdown. Keeping in mind that we need to see the stock recapture its 20-day simple moving average (roughly $39) before we can develop any real confidence, I think aggressive traders can look at it here with stops beneath recent swing lows ($37-$37.50).

National Oilwell Varco  (NOV)  and Apache  (APA)  are two very different stories from ESV and RIG. NOV is trading at all time highs, and looks fantastic. I'd prefer to consider NOV on a pullback or after some consolidation, but the bottom line is the stock looks great as long as it continues to hold above its 50-day simple moving average.

The daily chart of APA (above) doesn't illustrate the most important aspect of that stock's trading history: the fact that it took roughly two years to recapture the $95 level. As long as the stock remains above $95 on a weekly closing basis, I think it should remain a long idea with an upside target of $111.70 - $115.50. From a short-term trade initiation standpoint, one might consider getting long through the late-July high of $105. Or, depending on one's risk tolerance, a new five-day high (roughly $102.50) might suffice as a trade trigger.

Moving on to Tuesday's Es auction, I want to begin the week by recognizing Friday's lack of upside excess/symmetry, and respecting the likelihood that we still need to probe higher levels in search of a price point the cuts off demand. With that in mind, my baseline expectation is that all trading above 1998.25 will keep traders focused on pushing through 2001.75 and auctioning the Es to new life-of-contract highs.

 

E-Mini S&P 500 Futures -- 4-Hour Volume Profile
Source: eSignal

 

Failure to hold the line between 1996.75 and 1998.25 doesn't put an end to our bullish auction, but it does give sellers another shot at break beneath 1991.25. Only a sustained break (value shift/30-min bar close) beneath 1991.25 shifts our focus toward a more enduring correction. Such a break would refocus our sights on 1967.

 

E-Mini S&P 500 Futures -- 15-Min Volume Profile
Source: eSignal

 

Any trading or volume profile related questions can be posted in the comments section below, emailed to me at parkcityyeti@gmail.com or posted to my twitter feed @ByrneRWS

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At the time of publication, Bob Byrne was long ESV, RIG.

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