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Spring Break

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There's all kinds of trading chatter about "surprise" rate cuts here and abroad. Does that still matter?

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Good morning and welcome back to the saddle. The first quarter limped to a close yesterday and what a ride it was! Despite the relatively muted results for the major indices (Dow -4.2%, S&P -3.6%, Comp +.42%), anybody who rode this pony knows how wild and wooly it was: January's upside pimple and downside melt, February's indecisive grind lower, March's manic depressive madness. If this period was a prelude of what's to come, we better hold onto our hats!

The first quarter also witnessed an evolution of sorts in the trading arena. No longer was it enough to have a firm grasp of the fundamentals, a basic understanding of the technicals and an insightful read of psychology. More than ever, the stock market traded as a single vehicle versus the dollar, gold, crude and fixed income.

It was a tremendous environment if you flipped the switch and caught the cusps -- and a deadly tape if the cusps caught you. Indeed, Hoofy and Boo took turns at being the critter of choice but when they were on, they were ON! In the process, the beast reminded us that if we don't remain humble, she'll be more than happy to do it for us -- and many traders learned that lesson the hard way.

The good news is that we just traded one of the most difficult quarters ever and we got through it. Don't kid yourself, Minyans, you deserve a pat on the back. War, an outbreak, a crude crash, corporate invisibility, terror alerts (duct!), performance anxiety, sharp reversals -- she threw it all at us! While it promises to remain treacherous and difficult, we've seen her entire repertoire of Minxy pitches. Now we just have to settle in and play our game.

As we close the first chapter and look ahead, we'll need to draw on our lessons learned if we hope to find our way. Emotion remains the enemy, the landscape is fraught with two-sided risk and disciplined patience is required on a consistent basis. If we focus on our batting average (rather than home runs), identify high percentage trades and remember to breathe, we just may find our way through this muck. One step at a time.

Good luck today.

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