Alcoa The Best Gainer In The Dow On Tuesday

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The Dollar is getting wacked but clawed back into the end of the day as Gold continued its strength, hitting new highs. The current market is in rally mode on the eve of earnings, but last week’s round of economic data did add some apprehension that the recovery may be in jeopardy. What was the turning point today? Our friends, the Aussies, decided to be the first to raise their interest rates, a possible sign that at least their recovery is on track. Whether or not you want to take much stock in that is up to you, but the market has established firm support, 1046 on the S&P (^GSPC), and now is eyeing potentially breaking resistance at 1071. Watch the Crude inventories number that is out Wednesday at 10:30 ET for the week of 10/2.
Stocks finished broadly higher, with Alcoa (NYSE:AA) leading the Dow to 131-point gain Tuesday. Alcoa moved 3.5 percent higher, as investor attention appears to be shifting from last week’s disappointing economic data and to the earnings-reporting season, which unofficially kicks off with a report from Alcoa Wednesday  after the closing bell. AA was the best gainer in the Dow. However, all thirty components of the industrial average finished higher Tuesday. Meanwhile, some of the energy, metals and mining names bounced back from recent losses after crude oil gained 51 cents to $70.92 a barrel and gold surged more than $20 an ounce. With no economic data on the docket, there was not much other news to guide the market action. At the end of the day, the Dow had added to Monday’s 112-point gain and the NASDAQ (^IXIC) was up 35.4.

Bullish
A massive call writer surfaced in Citi (NYSE:C) options Tuesday. Several lots of January 2011 calls at the 5 line traded. In the end, more than 230,000 contracts had been sold against a sizeable position in Citi shares, according to an exchange floor contact. The investor sold the calls against shares at $4.80, which were up 13 cents on the day, to create a covered call strategy on the bank. They collected $1.28 per contract, which lowers the cost basis of owning Citi to $3.52 and leaves upside to $5 (strike price of the call) through the January 2011 expiration – commissions excluded.

Bullish trading also picked up in Children’s Place (NASDAQ:PLCE), Yamana Gold (NYSE:AUY), and Alcoa.

Bearish
Schering Plough (NYSE:SGP) gained 49 cents to $28.67 and options volume hit 3X the average daily Tuesday. 17,000 puts traded, almost 10X the number of call options. The top two trades included 10,000 October 27 puts on the bid for 20 cents and 5,000 November 25 puts at the offer for 40 cents. The spread looks like a bearish position, where the strategist financed the purchase of November 25 puts by selling twice as many October 27 puts. The best profits happen if shares of the pharmaceutical company hold above $27 through the October expiration and then fall below $25 by the November expiration.

Bearish trading also surfaced in Ciena (NASDAQ:CIEN), Xenoport (NASDAQ:XNPT), and Hasbro (NYSE:HAS).

Index Trading
The PHLX Gold and Silver Mining Index (^XAU) saw increasing volume, as gold raced higher and shares of mining companies rode along for the ride. Gold finished up $21.90 to $1031.90 an ounce. XAU, which is a cash-settled index that tracks the price action of about a dozen mining companies, gained 9.93 to 172.26 and volume rose to 2X the average daily, with 9,845 contracts traded on the session. The top trades were part of a bullish combo where an investor bought 3,800 December 155 calls to sell 3,800 December 155 puts.

ETF Trading
Some traders were betting against the market with the ProShares Short S&P 500 Index Fund (SH). The exchange-traded fund is designed to move opposite of the S&P 500 and lost 85 cents to $56.28 Tuesday. In the options market, players placed bearish bets on the market by buying bullish calls on the SH. Total volume rose to 26X the normal, with most of the activity concentrated in SH November 59 call options. 22,170 contracts traded on the day.

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