Daily Market Update – November 3, 2014 (Close)
After all of the tumult in October when the dust finally settled the month was 2% higher and we begin November at all time highs again.
What is interesting, to me, at least, is that we are in the same position as last year at this time.
Back in November 2013, by and large, hedge funds were severely underperforming a market that would end the year about 30% higher. There was lots of speculation that those hedge funds would either be faced with closing shop or letting it ride for the remaining two months and fueling the market through substantial bets that followed the year long momentum.
Those final 2 months saw a 5% increase, but that was just barely higher than the rate for the previous 10 months. However, before the role of hedge funds attempting to rescue their performances is discounted, the market trend turned almost immediately once the new year started.
With 2 months left to go in 2014 we may again see desperate hedge funds taking off their hedges in hopes of playing catch-up and either continuing the market in its current momentum or propelling it forward.
Or they could just close up shop.
Last week saw the bubble burst for those who pinned their hopes on Quantitative Easing being delayed, yet the market ignored the disowning of the fuel that pushed it forward and pushed it forward even more.
That wasn’t expected by many and the initial response by the market seemed to be confusion rather than full speed ahead. But even more surprising was the news from the Bank of Japan. While all eyes were on the ECB and Mario Draghi, little was expected from Japan.
This morning there didn’t appear to be any follow through, but there rarely is to big events from the previous week, even if just a single trading day earlier. That sort of ambivalence was the name of the game today as trading was listless and within a pretty tight range.
Instead, this week focuses on the elections and the Employment Situation Report and with an ECB interlude on Thursday, which could act as another stimulus.
Most already expect control of the Senate to shift to Republicans, so you wouldn’t expect too much impact on Wednesday’s markets, but lately even the expected seems to come as a surprise and instead of being discounted as those sort of things usually have been, they are celebrated the following day.
Unless there is some surprise or unless the final verdict is delayed due to the need for run-off elections, the expectation is that mid-week should see some advances, but there are still the hurdles of Monday and Tuesday that have to be dealt with first.
While I’m not adverse to opening some new positions this week, the two opened today may be the full extent of buying. I still would much prefer taking advantage of any potential market strength to sell calls on existing positions. However, today’s lack of buying & with no real standouts, other than Herbalife, which went inexplicably much higher in advance of earnings, there was no opportunity to find those option sales.
That has been the aim for a while, but has been difficult to do, especially as the motive isn’t being reinforced with low volatility, It’s hard to think about putting positions at risk of assignment when the reward is so low, or that assignment would leave that position having significantly under-performed the market for the duration of its holding period.
However, I am increasingly looking at using lower than cost strike prices and accepting assignment in cases where the sum total of premiums and dividends leaves an assigned position in profit territory, solely for the purpose of raising cash reserves, as opposed to using them as “DOH Trades” to help accumulate dividends with the intention of seeing those sold option positions expire.
Like those hedge funds that may be ready to go all in, I’d love to do the same, but not so much with new cash, only with existing idle assets.
Where the opportunities may arise, I may be more willing to put them at risk of assignment or put them more in need of maintenance to prevent assignment, but I do want to see those premiums and dividends pile up.
Maybe tomorrow or maybe through the good graces of Mario Draghi.