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F$#%&@& ININ, spread orders, Technical Analysis

December 29, 2006
tags: , , ,

Double Sigh. (See earlier ININ post “Whipsawed” for the first one)

With two confirmed candle patterns testing the new support, the bull flag was broken yesterday for a very good entry signal. Apparently the rest of the world saw that too. But I didn’t trade it.
Another case for the lesson about watching a stock deliberately and taking the signals that are there, even if you got stopped out for a loss already. In fairness, I have been hesitant to take on aggressive positions in this holiday time when the volume in the market is so low, but there sure was nice volume here on this one. Granted, the stock has almost doubled in under 3 months. But with all that volume backing it up, who are we to say that it’s tired?
(Click on the picture to make it grow.)


In hindsight, I realize that my mistake was setting a stop loss order too tight for a volatile stock like this. I assumed the old resistance would provide new support when I should have sized for a stop under the old support and kept a mental stop below the new expected support to allow for intraday noise like we saw on the big hammer day. 3% below support is different on a stock like this than on a steadier big cap stock. To see the other posts with the story of this ININ play, click on the ININ link at the bottom of this post.

After my post yesterday, I watched BHI for the Harami pattern to be confirmed with an up day. It was looking stronger earlier in the day, but even with some selling toward the end of day, it was still an up day. Because of my distrust for the market at the moment, I decided to play it a bit more conservative and do a bull put spread. This way, it doesn’t have to make the big potential move I see. All it has to do is close above 75 at Jan expiration. Jan 70/75 bull put spread. I actually placed it in two accounts.

Let’s talk limit orders and negotiating. With options and especially spread trades, we very rarely want to place an order at the natural bid or ask. There is usually room to negotiate.
The spread was 1.25 at the bid, 1.45 at the ask. I placed the orders for each account for a limit of $1.35 at 3:07 PM. They sat there. I decided to negotiate a bit. I moved one of them to a limit of 1.33. It sat. Seconds before 3:15 I moved the limit to 1.30 and it filled in exactly one second while the stock was at 75.57. I let the other order for 1.35 sit. At 3:29, 22 minutes after it was placed, the order filled for $1.35 when the stock was at 75.48.
To my knowledge, the bid/ask on the spread did not change in that whole time as the stock moved in a relatively tight range. Whether it was the difference of .09 in the stock price or just antsy market makers, I got the fill I wanted by waiting and still did better than the natural bid on the order that I did bring down my ask.
The moral of the story is that we must not forget that this is a market place and therefore a place for negotiating our price. Sometimes we have very little room to negotiate, but other times we have more. With the bid ask spread in options chains and the resulting spread in a combination of two options in one order, there is often room to negotiate, even on more heavily traded options chains. In a very heavily traded stock and options chain, the market will be tight, yet there will be a spread. Depending on the stock price the theoretical price of an option or spread position will always be right about at the mid of the bid/ask spread. We will rarely fill right at the mid since the market makers need something of an edge to want to play. But we can most often negotiate somewhere between the natural(bid in this case since we’re selling a spread) and the mid. Notice on this options chain (after hours) that because the stock is very heavily traded, the options have quite high open interest. High liquidity makes a tight market. A tight market shows the bid and ask straddling the theoretical price. That’s what we want to be aiming for.
Options markets are super efficient and any talk of market maker manipulating your position is nonsense, particularly if it is a liquid market.

Note that the shorter term in-the-money option has a slightly wider spread. It’s hard to count on after hours prices as exactly accurate, but I’d read this as bullish. The ITM option has more intrinsic value and less time value to burn. Therefore, the seller of this Jan 70 option is taking on quite a bit of risk, more so than the ATM and OTM options with all time value, and widens the spread (the their cut of the action) to compensate for upside risk.

Now look at the chain for the Vertical spreads. The bid/ask spread is wider than for a single option on almost every spread. Yet the theoretical price is just about exactly in the middle. Because there are two individual sides to the trade the market can fill them individually or together. Whatever the case, we don’t care, as long as we get the combination filled for our price somewhere near the theoretical.

Notice the odd fill I got for each individual side of the bull put spread. Someone out there in the market is willing to negotiate in odd prices. It’s also possible that each side was filled in different places. Regardless, I got my fill for 1.30, better than the natural of 1.25.

I hope that was helpful. However, I want to make sure to distinguish between this kind of negotiating that with a normal stock purchase. Most stocks trade with a far smaller spread and this will not be nearly as much a consideration as it is with options. If you want to get filled on a stock order and don’t want to wait around hoping for a dip and miss the boat(which I’ve done too many times…and then chased it like an idiot – don’t chase it like an idiot), buy with a limit order on the ask price.

In other news, KBH looks read for a break of this flag and some upward movement. Ideal entry on the break of this line. Good reports from homes sales today and yesterday could mean a touch of enthusiasm for home builders.

Finally, if this chart of ISE doesn’t convince you that technical analysis can be very useful in observing what’s going on and being in sync with the market, I don’t know what will. Do you think other people are drawing lines on this same chart too?

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