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Home on the Range


Hey Toddo--can you see if Amtrak has a first class cattle car?


Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam
Where the deer and the antelope play
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day


Picture this: Yesterday at 3:30, in the middle of my daily juggling routine, my cell phone rings. My first reaction is confusion. Who, in their right mind, would call my cell in the middle of the trading day? My friends know family has my direct work number...who could it be? I dropped everything and picked it up. A female voice asked "Is Fokker there please?" I KID YOU NOT! Florence is getting calls on MY cell now! I've created a monster!

Yes, I know. I was stunned to. Still we've gotta shake it off and focus on the task at hand. Here's a quick rundown of the morning news:

Morgan Stanley downgraded Broadcom (BRCM:Nasdaq); the mighty Bear upped Sears (S:NYSE) and punted Barrick Gold (ABX:NYSE); Lehman upgraded Gilead Sciences (GILD:Nasdaq);, Dresdner dumped ExxonMobil (XOM:NYSE); UBS Warburg cut numbers on Internet Security Systems (ISSX:Nasdaq); Cowen was negative on the PC upgrade cycle, the economic numbers were in line, there's fresh chatter of a Saddam exile (reported in a British newspaper) and Neil Glassman is sporting a new walker. Hey Neil -- hurry up!

The pre-opening futes are lower on fears of a prolonged war effort and they're currently ticking the lower end of our "band within a band." S&P 860 has "held" since last Monday and Globex is trading there now. Wow! The S&Ps are right back where they were last Monday -- that's wild. If they breach that zone, S&P 850ish is an inflection point, and I hear that a few technicians are using that area as a "bullish above, bearish below" level. So you know.

The "Saddam to Syria" chatter is starting to get loud and I've gotta be honest -- this is no way to trade a market! Every single blurb, sneeze, sigh, cough, giggle, burp, wheeze and fart is being traded by the reactive crowd and it's making for a most whippy (and smelly) environment. Put limits on those orders, Minyans, and if you're an active trader, think about acting in smaller increments.

We know the tells by now: dollar, crude, financials, breadth, semis, retailers and levels. Now we just have to execute. Quarter end continues to loom and I'm torn between the self-fulfilling reality of portfolio managers chasing performance and the fact that the long side is crowded (and vulnerable). I continue to operate with a stingy leg in my bear costume (25% conviction on the short side) and a pile of hair follicles on my desk.

I am very much looking forward to taking a break and getting out of NYC for a few days. As such, I will be traveling to Baltimore tomorrow for a hugfest with my niece and nephew and some down time with my brother Adam. We're also going to do a March Madness Maryland Minyanfest at Padonia Station (in Timonium) on Saturday so any Maryland Minyans who would like to join us, please feel free. Time to be announced.

That's about it, my friends. Keep that head high, those thoughts lucid and your right hand up. These days have gotten progressively stranger over the last few weeks and it's gotten to the point where almost anything can happen.

Stay on your toes...and fare ye well.

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