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Balance Beams

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Today is setting up as an S's over N's session!

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Good morning and welcome back to quiet riot. Yesterday's fray had little to say as the Minx meandered and found her way. As the tape marked time, anxiety climbed and the only true winners were perfectly timed. Will Hoofy's crew keep turning the screw or can Boo's bandits bid them adieu? It's a new day in the frazzly fray so lets settle in and start our day!

It's been a banner year for the stock market as the averages leapt and bound to recover lost ground. While Boo's blues are understandable, some hardship was due after his three years of rule. I'm truly psyched for investors who've recaptured some profits--I have cabinets full of letters from former (and current) readers who told horror stories of lost livelihoods. Mainstream America has benefited tremendously from this year's jig and while we're more than likely to pay the price, the green screens must seem awfully nice.

I spent much of yesterday calling around the street and talking to my many relationships. I was surprised by the collective mood as I would have thought most people were kickin' some serious tail. What I found, however, was a lot of angst on both sides of the financial equation. The sell side (brokers) tell me that cost cutting has swallowed and, in some cases, eliminated their bonuses. The buy side (hedgies) are so consumed by performance anxiety that they're miserable--and yes, I talk to a lot of bulls too!

If such a wide swatch of players are unsatisfied during what is (by standard measures) a monster year, what can we look forward to if the pace abates? Trading is, for many of us, a way of life and a badge of honor. I see ticks in my sleep, think trades as I speak and dream of the next peak. That devotion (obsession?) doesn't come for free--during the 13 years I've stared at the screens, countless memories and precious time quickly passed by. It is, ironically, the biggest trade any of us will ever make.

Having seen all sides of success, I will simply offer that the ability to achieve balance is a critical aspect of longevity and happiness. That can take many forms--time with your family, days with your friends or nights spent alone--but finding that place will provide the perspective needed to make the right decisions. I sometimes don't practice what I preach but in many ways, sharing the process with you helps to focus my efforts.

With that said, there are a lot of crosscurrents in today's market--Dick Grasso (more on that later), Hurricane Isabel and, of course, the minxy path of future wrath. Yesterday's consolidation did little to offer directive and tomorrow's expiration adds a flavor of uncertainty (and potential volatility). As such, we must follow our guides and adhere to a disciplined approach.

Obvious guides include our levels (S&P 1020 (1010) vs. S&P 10390ish and NDX 1350ish vs. NDX 1390ish), the Semis (on Goldman's negative semicap call), the brokers (earnings galore), breadth and the ponies (big cap tech). Also, it's worth noting that we are officially in preannouncement season and while nobody is expecting big blows, it's exactly those times we should be on our toes.

Finally, only one day remains in the auction to star in the first ever Minyanville animated trailer. The winner will star with everyone's favorite critters and, along with a friend, join me to view the premiere at the Critters Choice Awards in New York City on November 12th. Minyan Sean Michael Plumber, er, Mueller is currently in the lead but there's still time left! The doors will close tomorrow at noon and the net proceeds will benefit the Ruby Peck Foundation for Children's Education and the broad base of programs they support. Wasabi!

Good luck today.

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No positions in stocks mentioned.

Todd Harrison is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Minyanville. Prior to his current role, Mr. Harrison was President and head trader at a $400 million dollar New York-based hedge fund. Todd welcomes your comments and/or feedback at todd@minyanville.com.

The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.

Copyright 2011 Minyanville Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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