Options Trader: Friday Morning Ideas

by: Philip Davis

It hardly seems worth writing anything ahead of the GDP report but, seeing as I have nothing else to do for 3 hours, I guess I'll take a stab at it!

Despite a warning from Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT), general expectations for the GDP remain around 2.2%, and it is possible that Caterpillar's heavy exposure to U.S. housing has made them overly bearish.

All of Asia was on retreat today ahead of the GDP report, but the Hang Seng got a boost from ICBC first day of trading as the mega bank rose 14%, making Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE:GS) incredible amounts of money. ICBC is now the 5th most valuable bank in the world.

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. (NYSE:MC) (Panasonic) doubled their profits on huge sales of flat screen TVs but Sony Corp. (NYSE:SNE) warns of a price war brewing so I have no taste for this industry.

Europe is flat ahead of our open with a mixed bag of earnings.

Mr. Jones will let us know if the economy matters today but I'm going to enjoy the morning while I can. John Farmer says that the economy is like the Titanic and we just don't see that the iceberg is much bigger than the pretty white tip that sticks out of the water! We will put our hands over our ears and ignore all that "thinking" -- we're trying to have a party over here John!

Analysts are still uber-bullish on the markets and this may well be the last hurrah for the shorts if we get yet another positive move today. You don't often get a parabolic weekly chart but the Dow has clearly fought off gravity and "looks" ready to achieve escape velocity. As we all well know, there is a critical juncture, right before you leave the earth behind, when a loss of fuel can lead to a critical failure -- so let's make sure we have the right stuff today!

The same goes for the S&P, NYSE and the Nasdaq -- if the GDP doesn't matter then nothing will and we are off to the races but we may get a severe case of gravity of it looks like the soft landing scenario is off the table.

8:25 Futures: Dow down 19, S&P down 1.7, Nasdaq down 3. Gold down $3 Oil up .08, 10-year note at 4.71% Dollar flat. FTSE down 21 DAX up 10.

8:30 1.6%! Oops! 10-year drops right below 4.7%, but Mr. Jones holds, as do the other indices on the initial reaction. Thinking here is most likely that this is what we expect from a "Bumpy Landing" © , which I predicted back on August 30th.

Housing is down 17%, which means a lot of other things must be pretty darn good! Business pending was up 8.6%, and durable goods order rose 8.6% (consolation prizes). Still the housing drop was the worst since Q1 1991. How did Q2 of 1991 go? June was a 4,000 point drop!

I don't think these numbers will matter that much but I do expect just a little oomph to come out of the market, at least for a day or two.


So let's be careful today, I'm moving to mostly cash by lightening up on positions into the weekend -- until we see if this number really matters. I can't imagine this is reason to rally so we'll just have to wait and see which way the financial winds blow over the weekend.

Congrats to all the GM shorters as fundamentals finally win out! At midnight AutoNation Inc. (NYSE:AN) announced it was cutting orders by 30% due to a "vehicle glut."

It turns out Airbus had to open a plant in China in order to get that contract, and congrats to Boeing Co. (NYSE:BA) for staying out of it! Meanwhile Virgin has "deferred" its A380 orders until 2013 and Emirates, who ordered 40 of them, says they "will stick with the plane for now." We called $78 the bottom for BA, and I hope so because my Jan '08 $90s are hurting!

Hedging was very, very good to Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE:CHK) as they blew out their numbers and increased their output by 22%. Since October 1st, 4% of their production has been shut down in order to "maintain price stability."

Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) knocked the cover off the ball with 6M XBox shipments and another 4M projected by the end of the year! Thanks to Sony's total incompetence, they have the market all to themselves for a second consecutive holiday season, although I find it funny that this is now the most important aspect of this $280B company's earnings!

Howard Stern has already caused an international incident in his very first global broadcast by pissing off the legendary Pete Townshend. Google shows 173 articles on the subject as of early this morning, ranking him ahead of Bill Gates in global mentions on the day of Microsoft's earnings! One can only wonder if it was staged with a long-time guest or a lucky break as I see headlines in England, Canada, Austria, India, Australia, France, Netherlands, Poland, and, of course, all 50 states!

Read all of Phil Davis's articles on Seeking Alpha.