I can’t believe how fast the year has gone by. It seems like only yesterday that I was riding the transcontinental railroad from Chicago to San Francisco, writing my 2013 All Asset Class Review. Now 2014 is at our doorstep.
As usual, the market has got it all wrong. There is not going to be a taper by the Federal Reserve next week. If there is, it will be only $5-$10 billion, which means that $70-$75 billion a month in Fed bond buying continues. Either way it is a win-win.
However, managers are eternally loath to trade against an unknown, hence the weakness we are seeing this week. I think that we have entered another one of those sideways corrections that has been a hallmark of the market all year, and that there is a reasonable chance that we saw the low of the entire move down this morning at 1,780 in the S&P 500.
That sets up a dead, range trading market into the Fed decision next Wednesday afternoon. Once their Solomon like choice is out, it will be off to the races for the markets once again, probably all the way until 2014.
However, we are heading in the Christmas holidays, when volume and volatility shrivel to a shadow of its former selves, with daily ranges often falling within 50 Dow points. So it is important to have a large short volatility element to your portfolio.
That way, you will make money on every flat day, of which there should be many. That’s why I have 70% of my current model-trading portfolio invested in call spreads.
My current holding in the (SPY) has me profitable at all points above $175.68. If we move below that, any losses should be more than offset by profits thrown off by the rest of the portfolio. The same is true for my call spread in the financial ETF (XLF).
The Japanese yen is clearly in free fall, probing new lows almost every day. That should take the (FXY) to $95, and explains my triple weight 30% holding in the area. Bonds (TLT) just can’t get a break, failing to rally over $105 for the third time. Lower levels beckon, making my bear put spread look pretty good, my second one this month.
With a dramatically weakening yen, you have to add to Japanese equities, which will benefit hugely. That’s why I doubled up on my position in Masayoshi Son’s Softbank (SFTBY) this morning. The day they announce the Ailibaba IPO, probably early next year, these shares should be up 10%-20%.
To summarize, this portfolio is perfectly set up for the following: A sideways move for four more trading days, then an upside breakout after the Fed decision, then going to sleep inside a slow grind up over Christmas and New Years.
The grand finale should come on January 2, the first trading day of 2014, when I expect the value of the portfolio to pop a full 5% or more. This will be delivered by a massive new wave of capital into the markets, which for calendar and legal reasons couldn’t be invested until this day.
What will they buy? Everything that worked last year. After all, that’s why these managers were hired. Why not start the New Year with a bang, and then spend the rest of the year trading against that profit.
It certainly worked this year.