How to trade this chop

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Sep 30

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It was an incredibly choppy 24-hours for the S&P 500.

It started with last night’s train-wreck of a debate. Stock futures swung wildly between 1% gains and 1% losses depending on who was saying what, but by the time the market opened this morning, prices returned to mostly unchanged.

So much for all the headline hype, but that’s not a surprise. Last night I told readers to ignore the noise coming from the debate because no matter what happened, it wouldn’t change anyone’s mind. And this morning, the market agreed with me.

That said, things got spicy after the open. Moments after it looked like it could be another ho-hum day, bulls took control and started squeezing the bears for the third time in a week. That one-way panic buying sent the index 50-points higher in just a few hours.

While bulls were congratulating busy themselves over their latest conquest, the thing we cannot forget is there is a huge difference between buying because people have to (shorts getting squeezed) and buying because people want to (compelling value).

Short-squeezes exhaust the supply of desperate bears very quickly. Combine that midday exhaustion with the Fed extending restrictions on big banks because of potential liquidy concerns and the stage was set for an afternoon retreat back to breakeven. Easy come easy go.

But this also isn’t a surprise. Last week I warned readers to expect extreme volatility in both directions for a while. Big moves in one direction are followed by big moves in the other direction.

If a person wants to trade this chop, make sure you get in early and take profits often. Missing entries and exits by a few hours is the difference between nice profits and humbling losses.

Every morning set tripwires in both directions that will trigger automatic purchases or sales. The thing about extreme volatility is it leads to strong intraday moves that are easy to profit from if we have the courage to jump aboard. Leave your bias at the door and be ready to ride this in whatever direction it wants to go.

And if that sounds like too much work or stress, don’t sweat it. There is nothing wrong with waiting for more sane trade to return. Often the best trade is waiting for the next trade.

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About the Author

Jani Ziedins (pronounced Ya-nee) is a full-time investor and financial analyst that has successfully traded stocks and options for nearly three decades. He has an undergraduate engineering degree from the Colorado School of Mines and two graduate business degrees from the University of Colorado Denver. His prior professional experience includes engineering at Fortune 500 companies, small business consulting, 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 children.