We are well into earnings season. IBM was weighing heavily on the Dow Jones Industrial Average today after disappointing analysts during their earnings announcement yesterday. But the heavier weight on the markets is the diminishing euphoria that pushed the markets higher after the election last year. The realities of politics and the difficulty of delivering on campaign promises is throwing cold water on this market.
The Standard and Poors 500 Index (SPX) closed down four dollars today at $2338, but the Russell 2000 Index (RUT) closed five dollars higher at $1367. Volatility rose a bit with the VIX rising a half point to 14.9%.
Trading volume in the S&P 500 stocks ran at 1.9 billion shares today. Trading volume has run below the 50 day moving average (dma) since March 20th. Below average trading volume tells us that the large institutional players aren't panicking and selling, but it also tells you that those same players aren't going "all in" either.
Pull up the price chart for SPX. Draw trend lines at $2320 and $2400. SPX has traded sideways within this channel since mid-February. This sideways trading channel is even more obvious in RUT, and has been in place since early December.
So what should we be trading today?
In spite of the overall market averages trending sideways, there are a few high fliers that deserve a bullish trade. Consider BABA, CMG and ISRG for straight forward bullish trades: long stock, covered calls, diagonal call spreads, etc.
Non-directional options trading strategies are perfect for this type of sideways market. Consider "at the money" calendar spreads, butterfly spreads, and iron condor spreads on the major market indices (SPX, RUT, and NDX).