Market Volatility

What a blast we had in the high country skiing last week! But now, East Coast, we here in Denver would like our snow back, please.

Everybody’s got an opinion on why the market is yinning and yanging. We, I believe uniquely in IR, look at market structure first. That is, we see the trading data and behavior, and then from it we ask, “Why did that happen?” (more…)

Beware Reporting Earnings In a Vacuum

We’re late this week for a good reason: skiing. We hit the Vail slopes today (and as the comedian said, “We’re here all week!”) See a couple shots off my Blackberry here and here. No new snow in awhile, but the crowds were small, the snow groomed well, the sun shining. It hardly gets better.

Have you been keeping up on the intrigue in global markets? There’s the central banker in Argentina resigning after a battle with President Kirchner over use of reserve currencies. In Greece, even King Leonidas and his three hundred Spartans would find the country’s balance sheet a mighty foe. The Euro has plummeted (after our Italy trip, darn it). Australia leaves its interest rate alone after a series of raises, juicing the markets and dropping the Auzzie dollar. (more…)

What You Should Know About Program Trading

Jan 19-22: What You Should Know About Program Trading

A word on last week’s panels in KC (see Dick Johnson’s write-up at his superb blog) and NYC about modern trading: Had a great time in KC and felt we effectively explained how different time horizons and purposes, combined with lots of passive market-making, affect stock prices today. In NYC, it was a bit frustrating. We started in the middle and never got out of the maze. Sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn’t. (more…)

Risk and Naked Access

Hope you enjoyed MLK Weekend! We were on bikes for the first time in Twenty Ten as temperatures tickled the high 50s Saturday and Sunday on Colorado’s Front Range.

TRAVEL UPDATE: I’m in Kansas City today joining Joe Ratterman, CEO of BATS, and Jeff Albright, head of equity trading at Waddell & Reed, for a NIRI panel on how stocks trade. Thursday Jan 21, I’ll be at the NYC NIRI meeting with Professor Bob Schwartz of Baruch College, Jim Ross from NYSE Euronext, and Donald Bollerman of Nasdaq OMX to “demystify the markets.” See Events & Articles at modernir.com for more, and join us. (more…)

Trading 101

Thought for the day: “Chaotic action is preferable to orderly inaction.” – Will Rogers

Speaking of chaotic action, let’s review trading basics. We tend to think trading is buying and selling stock. To quote John Kerry, would that it were! Most trading today isn’t done for capital appreciation but to capture short-term divergence or to balance risk. (more…)

Sizing Up Twenty-Ten

Happy New Year!

I grew up in the Snake River Breaks northwest of Boise. In tiny Huntington, where I quarterbacked the eight-man high-school football team, a guy ahead of me several years achieved local fame at middle linebacker for the Boise State Broncos. BSU was I-AA back then, in the Big Sky league. Last night, it was great seeing the Broncos go 14-0, beating undefeated and 4th-ranked TCU in the Fiesta Bowl. The little big sky school has come a long way.

Speaking of a long way, here we are in Twenty Ten. What to expect this year? (more…)

Three Days of the Iron Condor

We’re back after a refreshing one-week break! Here in Denver we packed the house with visitors, the kitchen with delicacies, the slopes with our skis, and our bellies with generally excessive consumption. Good thing reality returns with a bite soon!

Remember that Redford flick from the 1970s, Three Days of the Condor? It’s a thriller about high-level conspiracy. In volatility trading, an Iron Condor is not conspiratorial, just an income trade. You sell two puts and buy two calls, with the spread between both always giving you an initial credit in your account (your highest possible return). If the underlying issue, say an individual stock or the S&P 500 Index, the SPX, trades between your puts and calls, your options expire and you keep one or both credit spreads. It’s a popular thing to do in sideways markets.

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On the NYSE and Knight Floors

Denver is an icebox, so we went east to New York to warm up. Lovely here, the tree glittering at Rockefeller Center and the snowflakes magically materializing to music on the Saks & Co. façade. Festive!

Carmen Barone and the Barclays team graciously hosted me yesterday on the NYSE trading floor, and in the afternoon Marge Wywras at Knight Capital Group turned me loose with the traders on the Knight floor in Jersey City. That’s darned near a perfect business day to me. (more…)

The heart of the IR job

I’m moderating the NIRI Virtual Chapter meeting on modern equity markets tomorrow 12/1 at noon ET. See nirivirtual.org for details.

As I move the midsection flab from a grand Thanksgiving holiday aside to get at the keyboard (a little humor there), the US equity markets are closing up again. IR folks and executives, what’s proving the most accurate indicator of market direction lately? And what’s it mean to your own market structure?

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