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Bulls Pushing Upper Trend Lines, Yearend Targets

Jul. 22, 2013 12:50 PM ET
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Seeking Alpha Analyst Since 2011

Assistant Editor Nextoptions.com

Bulls Pushing Upper Trend Lines, Yearend Targets

9:00am (EST)

"The 2Q earnings season got off to a decent start with Alcoa (AA, $8.10, flat) beating expectations. The "more important" earnings announcements were later in the week as JPMorgan Chase (JPM, $54.97, down $0.17) and Wells Fargo (WFC, $42.63, up $0.74) posted their numbers on Friday. Wall Street seems to hate Wells and has favored JPMorgan over the years but Wells Fargo was the bigger bull on Friday.

We like both stocks and we had a good feeling JPMorgan would clear double-nickels ($55) last week but it didn't hold into the close. This was a surprise as the company beat the suit-and-ties forecast by 16 cents. The stock peaked at $55.87 on Thursday and $55.85 on Friday and a close above $56 could get $60 in play but the zombies are making it harder for the banks to make money.

Wells Fargo also posted an impressive quarter after coming in a nickel ahead of estimates. We mentioned earlier this year a close above $36 would be very bullish for a run to the $40's. After listening to the company's earnings call, make that the $50's over the next 6-12 months.

With the Financial stocks showing leadership, the bulls were able to push past resistance to new highs. This week it will be up to Goldman Sachs (GS, $160.11, up $2.40) and Tech to carry the torch. Google (GOOG, $923, up $2.76) will be the biggest name to announce as shares push their way toward quadruple-digits and the $1,000 mark. There are a fistful of analysts that have come out with a $1,000 price target this year and this could be the quarter shares are justified or denied. Google reports after the close on Thursday.

International Business Machines (IBM, $192.07, down $0.73) will be an interesting blue-chip to watch after the Dow component was downgraded by none other than Goldman last week. The company will report their numbers on Wednesday and the 52-week low is $183.20. Perhaps last week's downgrade will soften any blow in case of an IBM miss, but we never like buying put options, or betting against strong companies and we wouldn't be surprised to see IBM match or beat expectations. We cover all of the major companies reporting in our Earnings section below but the important part of all of these reports will be guidance for the current quarter and yearend not if they match, beat, or miss expectations.

As far as the metals, Gold, Silver, and Copper rebounded after a terrible first week of the month.

Gold was especially strong last week as the yellow metal rallied 5% for its best week in 2 years. Gold closed at $1,283 an ounce on Friday, down 10 cents. After testing the $1,200 level to start the month, we said there could be a retest to $1,250-$1,300. We still believe a drop to $1,050 is coming but a close above $1,350 and the 50-day MA would be bullish.

Silver was down 22 cents and finished the week at $19.87. After testing $18 earlier this month and our near-term target of $17.50, silver is struggling to clear $20. There is a chance a run to $22 could come if cleared but we are still looking for a possible drop to the mid-teens and where we will start adding to our coin collection.

Copper continues to hold the $3 level after pushing $3.15 late in the week. A close above $3.25 and the 50-day MA would be healthy but any close below $3 would spell trouble for the stock market. Copper is a global indicator on the health of the world economies and as long as $3 holds, demand and a continued recovery can be expected.

We have talked about the recent Friday/Monday closes and for those of you just joining us, we like to see up M/F's in bull markets. This indicates money is still flowing into the market while lower M/F's could suggest money is moving out. Mixed Monday/ Friday's suggest a trading range. With Friday's positive close, the bulls now have 2-straight up Monday's and 2-straight higher Friday's. China's GDP (Gross Domestic Product) numbers on Sunday night will have an impact on Monday's open and anything above 7.5% would be bullish. A print below 7.5% growth could put the bulls in the hole on Monday's open. July options expire this Friday and will also play a major role in the close.

The S&P was able to close above its previous all-time high of 1,669.16 that was hit on May 21 but will need to clear the May 22 intraday high of 1,687.18 this week to get to 1,700. The Dow surpassed its closing high of 15,409.39 on May 28 and will need to clear 15,542.40 that triggered on May 22, or 15,600, before a run to 15,800 can happen.

We expect these two indexes to join the party as the Nasdaq is pushing 13-year highs and the Russell 2000 continues to set all-time peaks. We will warn that July expiration day for July has been bearish in recent years and August could be a pullback month once the earnings season starts to wind down.

We forecast our year-end targets in late January/ early February every year for the major indexes and some thought we were crazy when we predicted Dow 16,000. The blue-chips closed at 14,009 on the first trading day of February. The 2,000 point prediction at the beginning of February represented another 14% gain for the Dow after a 6% pop in January.

The S&P 500 was at 1,513 and we forecasted a possible run to 1,700 by yearend. The nearly 200-point gain called for another 12% advance following January's 5% jump.

We predicted 3,800 for the Nasdaq when it was at 3,179 and the 600+ surge would mean another 20% gain for the year after the 5.3% advance in January.

The small-caps were at 911 and we said a run to 1,025 could be in the works by the end of December. The 114 surge represented a 13% advance following the 6.5% run in January.

The huge returns in January were missed by a ton of traders and Wall Street pros due to the Fiscal Cliff worries and Christmas vacations. Last week, they were celebrating the long July 4 holiday. The rally has been called the most hated in the history of Wall Street because those who say it have been on the sidelines or have been buying put options and shorting the market all year long. They have missed the pullbacks and they don't do their homework.

Billy Joel may have said it best - we may be wrong but we may be right as far as our yearend targets but like we said in May, we have no plans of changing them. If the indexes exceed our targets, great, but there is still another 5+ months of trading for the year to go.

We mentioned in our Daily last week that we expected a continued push higher through this Friday but we could turn cautious in August. There will be another pullback, maybe not like the one we got in June to the 100-day MA's, but at some point the market will face the affects of higher gas prices, continued sequestration cuts, and another battle over the debt ceiling in October.

This is why it makes no sense to us to raise (or lower) yearend prices and the analysts who do are the ones who got it wrong and are jumping on the bull bandwagon. The bulls have been smooth sailing all year long but choppy waters will arrive at some point. The bears have shown the ability to strike hard and fast and we doubt we have heard the last of them. (from 7/14/2013 Weekly Wrap…)

The market got off to a choppy start for the week but finished the session slightly higher for its third-straight Monday. Although the gains were minor and volume at its lowest level of the year for a full session, it gave the S&P 500 an 8-straight winning streak heading into Tuesday's action. With Ben Bernanke speaking on Wednesday, we expected another tight trading range with until he spoke and with IBM (IBM, $193.54, down $4.45) reporting earnings after the close, it was the perfect storm for a test to new highs on Thursday or a possible double top on the Dow and S&P.

Needless to say, Big Blue came through and Bernanke said all the right things to push the indexes to fresh all-time peaks ahead of Friday options expiration day. Google (GOOG, $896.60, down $14.087) and Microsoft (MSFT, $31.40, down $4.04) surprised the market after the close with big earnings misses setting up a possible pullback on Friday but futures were up ahead of the European market and

We mentioned last week that July options expiration has been bearish in recent years and the open on Friday was weak. However, we mentioned in our midday report the market could end mixed as the bulls were regaining their momentum and by the close the S&P 500 and Russell 2000 were in the green. The Dow ended slightly lower and the Nasdaq held our downside target setting up what could be a continued bull run higher through the end of the month. (read more…)

The Dow dipped 5 points, or 0.03%, to close at 15,543 on Friday. Monday's high checked-in at 15,509 following the dip to 15,455 on the open but the 20-point pop by the close and trigger of 15,500 was a bullish sign for the rest of the week. We have been mentioning a close above this level would be good for a run to new all-time highs and that a close above 15,600 could lead to 15,800-16,000. Tuesday's push to 15,498 was frustrating but Wednesday's high of 15,502 kept our faith in the bulls. We were rewarded with our gut as the blue-chips zoomed to 15,589 and closed at 15,548 on Thursday. Like a field general, the index followed our game plan to perfection heading into Friday and July option expiration day. Friday's drop to 15,491 was just 57 points from the previous and the fact the bear couldn't push triple-digits was a bullish sign. Another hidden bullish sign was the fact the index finished a point above its previous its intraday high of 15,542 hit on May 22. Support is at 15,400-15,350 on a close below 15,500 followed by 15,200 and the 50-day MA. The Dow started the week at 15,464 and gained 79 points, or 0.5%, by Friday's close. For the year, the blue-chips have zoomed 2,439 points, or 18.6%, after starting at 13,104.

The S&P 500 added 3 points, or 0.2%, to settle at 1,692. The S&P came into the week with a shot at 1,700 but needed to hold 1,675. The index made a brief retest of 1,675 on Monday's open but support held and the bulls were able to finish at an all-time closing high of 1,682.50. Tuesday's trip to 1,671 made some traders nervous but 1,675 held into the close with the index finishing at 1,676. Wednesday's bounce back to 1,680 by the close gave the index a gain for the week heading into Bernanke's testimony on Thursday. We have been mentioning for a few weeks if the S&P cleared its May 22 intraday high of 1,687.18 that 1,700 would trigger with fluff up to 1,725. Thursday's high was 1,693 and the close at 1,689 deserved a cigar but we waited for Friday. The index fell to 1,684 on the open but was pushing green by Wall Street's lunch break. There was another pullback to 1,687 and the prior intraday high of 1,687 for the next few hours before the bulls kicked a field goal and the index went out at its high. A close below 1,675 gets 1,650 in play and the 50-day MA. The S&P 500 came into Monday's session at 1,680 and was up a 12-pack, or 0.7%, for the week. For 2013, the index is higher by 266 points, or 18.6%, after starting at 1,426.

The Nasdaq dropped 23 points, or 0.7%, to end at 3,587. Tech dropped to 3,591 to start Monday's action and needed to hold 3,575 on any pullbackafter landing on 3,600 on the previous Friday close. The index quickly recovered to push 3,609 late in the day while holding 3,600 into the close with a 3,607 ending. Tuesday's high was 3,611 before the low of 3,589 triggered later in the session and the close at 3,598 wasn't too worrisome. Wednesday's low was 3,600 on the dot before the index tested 3,615 and closed at 3,610. We mentioned a run to 3,650-3,700 could come on extended momentum and Thursday's peak was 3,624 before Tech finished with a 1-point pop. Friday's action was weak all session with the low coming in at 3,578. The bulls held 3,575 but face further risk down to 3,550-3,500 on a close below this level. A close above 3,625 this week should get our fluff target of 3,650-3,700 in play. The Nasdaq began the week at 3,600 but dropped a 12-pack, or 0.4%, by Friday's closing bell. Year-to-date, Tech has advanced 568 points, or 18.8%, after starting the year at 3,019.

The Russell 2000 grinded out a slight fifth of a point gain to close 1,050.48. The small-caps cleared our yearend target during the prior week and we said a run to 1,050 could be in the mix if support at 1,000 held. The index held green from open to close during Monday's run to 1,043.92 and came within a 6-pack of triggering our fluff target. Tuesday was a pullback day to 1,038 and Wednesday's close at 1,042 put the Russell within spitting distance of our 1,050 target. Thursday's high was 1,052 and the close was (drumroll, please) 1,050.27. We mentioned continued momentum could lead to 1,075 but Friday was a flat day with the low checking in at 1,046. There is further risk down to 1,040 if the bulls don't get off to a good start this week and a close below this level would get 1,025 back in play. The Russell 2000 was at 1,036.50 before Monday's open and was quietly added 2 touchdowns (14 points), or 1.4%, for the week. YTD, the small-caps are surging 201 points, or 23.7%, after starting the year at 849. Wow.

The S&P 500 Volatility Index ($VIX, 12.54, down 1.23) came into the week at 13.84 and needed to hold 15 to keep the bears at bay. The index kissed 14.11 at the beginning of Monday's session before drifting to a low of 13.50 even and finishing at 13.79. We have nailed the VIX action all year long and we mentioned a close below 13.50 would be bullish for a drop to 12.50. Tuesday's run to 14.56 may have shook a few traders but Wednesday's close at 13.78 was bullish. Thursday's low checked in at 13.20 on the S&P's run to 1,700 and 12.50 should trigger if the S&P 500 index reaches 1,725. The VIX finished within spitting distance of our next bullish target and a close below 12.50 could get 11-10 in play. A close above 15, and more importantly 17.50, would be bearish down the road.

It was a busy week for the market as Bernanke and 2Q earnings created a lot of noise. The Financial stocks continue to shine a bright light on the sector and IBM was a major help in getting the Dow over its hump on Thursday but fell in sympathy on Friday following the Microsoft beating. Goldman Sachs (GS, $164.36, up $0.30) was a little early on their downgrade of the stock but could be right over the longer-term if revenues don't pick up. There were a number of deals the company didn't close in the second quarter that will get wrapped up this quarter and maybe a reason why they raised full-year guidance. However, there is still risk down to $190 for IBM and a close below this level would be bearish for the Dow and the market.

The nicest surprise of the week came from Bank of America (BAC, $14.75, down $0.01) which saw its shares zoom past $14 midweek after they came in with a better-than-expected quarter. We have been on the BAC bandwagon since its trip to the single-digits a few years ago and we said there would be a return to its glory days. The company reported a profit of $0.32 a share on revenues of $22.73 billion versus expectations for $0.25 a share on $22.79 in revs. Although revenues came in slightly below the bar, the company said tangible book value was $13.30 and its book value was north of $20. We have pounded the table for a few years now that shares would be back in the mid-teens with a shot at $20. (see chart below in our Weekly Wrap Portfolio)

Shares were at $5 and change when we first started recommended the stock and covered calls back in December 2011. We are currently on our seventh covered call trade and we will likely have it closed in early August as we sold calls against the position just before the breakout.

Some of the knuckleheads will say covered call trading limits your upside and to a degree it does, but if shares continue to get called away it doesn't mean you can't start ANOTHER position. We try to make 10%+ a month in a safe way and the fact that we are in a strong stock makes it even better. If you had invested $1,000 in BAC at Christmas in 2011 and purchased 200 shares for your stocking, you would have a 90% return if our current trade holds up. Not bad for 18 months of work.

On the flip side, Google and Microsoft were a major disappointment after both companies missed Wall Street's forecasts. Google fell to nearly $850 in after-hours trading on Thursday but the dip was bought as Friday's low checked-in at $875. The fact shares nearly held $900 was bullish but the company's cost-per-click continued to decline (-6%) for the fifth-straight quarter. Revenues were still up 20% compared to the previous quarter but margins are also slipping. We mentioned there were 4 or 5 $1,000 price targets for Google but shares will need to recover $930 before we would agree. Otherwise, we see risk down to $850-$825 on a close below $875. Google trades MINI options and we will look at mini puts for the Daily newsletter if support cracks.

This week will be the busiest week for earnings with many of the "mid-tier" companies reporting. The heavy-hitters have already swung but there are a number of marquee names coming to bat this week. Apple (AAPL, $424.95, down $6.81) on Tuesday, Facebook (FB, $25.88, down $0.30) Caterpillar (CAT, $85.65, down $0.07) on Wednesday, Amazon.com (AMZN, $305.23, up $1.12) on Thursday.

The Dow will have nearly a third of its components reporting their numbers so we would expect support or continued new highs to be triggered this week. Apple will shape the direction Tech will take and we wouldn't be surprised if they missed Wall Street's expectations. The bar is already low as analysts have been slashing numbers all year so Apple could meet or beat expectations but its doubtful. What will be important is their product development cycle update. Other than that, a dividend hike would be nice and a 10-1 stock-split but the odds of these two share-friendly surprises happening are slim and none. We cover all of the companies reporting in our earnings section below and we could play a few of these names in the upcoming week for our Daily newsletter.

Gold flirted with the $1,300 level all week and reached a high of $1,299.70 midweek. Friday's high was $1,297 and a close above $1,300 should get $1,325 in play but we still believe $1,350 needs to clear before we see a rush back into gold. A close below $1.275 would be bearish for a retest of $1,250-$1,200.

Silver made a run past $20 on Wednesday but resistance was too much as it immediately fell back towards $19. We still believe a test to $17.50 is in the cards but a close above $20 would be slightly bullish. We have mentioned over the past few months and longer-term, there is a chance silver falls to $15 but we will start nibbling at $17.50.

As far as the MFer's, the Monday/ Friday closes continue to be bullish. The Dow started the week with its third-straight up Monday and Friday's recovery was a victory. The Hat Trick for recent Monday's was bullish for the blue-chips and even more impressive was the fact this past Friday was July expiration and has been bearish in recent years. Remember, one of the easiest ways to keep track of where the market could be heading is to watch the M/F closes as up days mean money is moving back or into the market and investors are staying long over the weekend. A reverse means stocks are getting sold and mixed M/F sessions signal a trading ranges.

We commented last week (again) on the most hated rally ever on Wall Street. It could remain that way if the current uptrend holds for the rest of the year like we believe it will. We mentioned in our video last week for our trading course, How to Trade Options on Momentum Stocks, that we expect 1,600 to hold on the S&P 500 for the rest of the year.

The suit-and-ties were caught flatfooted as they stood pat ahead of Bernanke's testimony but there were little clues the market dropped that we could hit new highs. The first was IBM. We knew if the company could beat earnings and raise guidance shares would rebound. We have talked about the stock being the biggest component on the Dow and the gains on Thursday helped push the index past resistance at 15,500.

Other clues: The VIX stayed below 15, we had an up Monday, support at 3,575 held for Tech and the Financial stocks showed leadership. We mentioned last week we should see continue to see higher highs but we have given you the clues to watch for in case we do get a pullback.

The Dow made its 22-nd record close for the week on Thursday while the S&P 500 made its 21st all-time closing high. For the month of July, the Dow is up 634 points, or 4% and the S&P 500 has gained 86 points, or 5%. The Nasdaq has surged 185 points, or 5% while the Russell 2000 has zoomed 73 points, or 7%.

All of the major indexes are rapidly approaching our yearend target of Dow 16,000; S&P 1,700; Nasdaq 3,800; the Russell 2000 has cleared our 1,025 target and has even triggered our 1,050 fluff target. The 2013 gains aren't unbelievable because we predicted them at the beginning of February. What is body-tingling is how fast the market has climbed in 6+ months and the incredible bounce off the 100-day MA's.

It feels like the current rally could last through July and our other yearend targets could come into play on continued strength. At that point, it could be time to look at short positions heading into August and September but betting against the bulls or waiting on then to fall out of bed has punished a lot of traders this year.

As we head to press, here is how things look: Dow futures are up 11 points to 15,517 while the S&P 500 futures are higher by 2 points to 1,692. The Nasdaq 100 futures are advancing 7 points to 3,048.

Seeking Alpha's Disclosure: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. Any views or opinions expressed above may not reflect those of Seeking Alpha as a whole. Seeking Alpha is not a licensed securities dealer, broker or US investment adviser or investment bank. Our analysts are third party authors that include both professional investors and individual investors who may not be licensed or certified by any institute or regulatory body.

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