It’s a quiet pre-holiday trading session. The market has been trading around breakeven all morning as everyone is far more focused on what they are going to do over the three-day weekend than what is happening in Europe.
The market continues finding support in the 1300 region, moderating the anxiety of a cascade sell-off as investors are getting more comfortable with these new levels. There might be a little more upside left in the bounce, but no doubt we’ll test the lower end of the range over the next couple weeks. The market will need to chew through both bulls and bears as we consolidate and search for the next move, either up or down. But for the time being, I think most of the traders who wanted to sell have already sold, so it will take new and unexpected bad news to trigger another big leg down. (For the purposes of this discussion, I’ll consider a move down to 1250 as part of the original sell-off and consolidation, not a new leg down. A new leg down would be a dramatic plunge to 1200 or lower.)
The thing we need to realize about Greece is by itself, a default or eviction from the Euro will have little direct effect on the banking system since all Greek debt is already viewed and booked as near worthless. No doubt it will hit some speculators and hedge funds making big bets on the outcome in the pocketbook, but we should not fear global contagion and banks falling like dominoes. Most major banks have either gotten rid of their Greek debt, hedged it, or written it down and already booked the loss. Greece losing the Euro will be a major disaster for the local region, but it will not be a material issue for the global financial sector.
The fear in the markets has never been about what happens if Greece fails, but about the bigger dominoes like Spain and Italy, situations not already priced in the market. No doubt Germany could make an example out of Greece to get Portugal, Ireland, Italy, and Spain to tote the line, but ultimately I expect the Euro to hold together through a combination of all the ideas being thrown out there, namely a hybrid of bailouts, Euro bonds, money printing, and austerity. There are major negative consequences to each of these, but doing all in moderation will lead to the least bad resolution.
Who wants to buy FB? Anyone? Anyone? Being a contrarian, seeing the humiliation suffered by early FB investors makes for an interesting counter-trend opportunity. No doubt the stock could decline a lot more from here and there is a very real risk of decelerated growth crushing its high-flying valuation, but all the highly bearish sentiment forming around this story makes me far more intrigued by this name. I continue to be skeptical of its long-term prospects because consumer tech companies have a limited shelf-life (just ask PALM, RIMM, AOL, MySpace, etc), but this highly skewed sentiment in FB could setup for some short-term trades. Regardless of which way FB eventually goes, no doubt there will be some tradable swings like we’ve seen in LNKD and GRPN. Obviously this is the deep-end of the pool, so only try something like this if you know what you are doing and understand the risks. The key to managing these kind of trades is capturing profits early and not allowing yourself to hold too long and get whipped around by the inevitable volatility.
Have a great weekend.
Jani Ziedins (pronounced Ya-nee) is a full-time investor and writer who has successfully traded stocks and options for more than a decade. He earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines and an MBA and M.S. Marketing from the University of Colorado Denver. His prior professional experience includes manufacturing engineering at Fortune 500 companies, structural engineering, small business consultant, collegiate instructor, and managing investment real estate. He is now fortunate enough to trade full-time from home, affording him the luxury of spending extra time with his wife and two young children.