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Random Thoughts: Is Iran the Run in Crude?


Energy trading significantly higher.


Editor's Note: The following content is a compilation of thoughts from today's Buzz & Banter. It is being reproduced here for the benefit of the Minyanville community.

Gate Sniffage! - 10:05 am

  • Whataya know, USO? After the lucky Hump Day cover, I've let out some crude via some July USO puts with a stop above USO $110. Hey, I've got risk of a buck and the humility to know that nobody is smarter than the market. Discipline over conviction, especially in these wild oil markets.

  • Speaking of discipline, I've consumed that entire bagel with shmear. Oh wait, that's gluttony. Discipline...discipline... oh! I peeled out of some CME (CME) and JPMorgan (JPM) puts in the early slippage (just trading) and didn't add to my Halliburton (HAL) position as it looks like it's breaking out. Sometimes the ability not to trade is as important as trading ability.

  • What was it that Professor Goepfert said about extreme reactions being reversed into economic news? Noice call cookie.

  • Pepe Depew is gonna be handing out his Belmont Analysis in this morning's Buzz TV segment. Trollop!

  • Me? I gotta jump out of my turret for a bit and will use that time wisely.

  • Does hot chocolate count as tea with honey?

  • Apple (AAPL) trades dry. So does Texan (TXN), Altria (MO) and Sandisk (SNDK).

So Ya Wanted to Be a Trader, Eh? - 10:11 am

Sooooooo, systemic risk is this ever-present, lurking, massive, cumulative demon. This, we know. The poster child for that sentiment has been Lehman (LEH), which is all of a sudden trading quite dry.

I just said to Pep, "Do you buy Lehman calls (not common) as an upside hedge here?" I didn't, opting instead to reduce risk via selling more JP Morgan (JPM) puts. With the weekend looming, I wanna rotate and/or reduce risk rather than add more positions.

I know, Todd-lot. But a solvent Todd-lot, at least for the time being.

Rotation Station! - 10:50 am

I've gotta tell ya, between eating, coughing, trading and writing, I've been one busy beaver this morning. In the interest of keeping ye faithful up in real-time--there's a lot going on--I share the fare without the usual snark of levity.

  • OK, maybe a little levity. A coupla years ago, while at a dinner, I quietly told my friend that the restaurant we were eating at had fantastic penisfish. You shoulda seen her face when she turned to the waiter and asked him about it.

  • There are alotta ways to trade--trailing stops, themes, momo--and there's no set rule other than we must adapt--but never conform--to the tape. For me, I'm a potpourri of stylistic approaches (it is Friday) but, for the most part, I'm in hit it to quit it mode.

  • In that vein, please know that I "took" (read: closed out my shorts in) CME (CME) and JPMorgan (JPM) and nibbled on a snivlet more Halliburton (HAL) puts (I couldn't help myself). If the latter matter looks like it's gonna close above $50, I'll pare it into the weekend.

  • Again, you can do anything as long as your disciplined.

  • To tell you the truth, I'm torn on the crude short. Given the defined risk/reward, however, I'm more than happy to slap it on (and I have). If this pig ticks on the other side of USO $110 (with some wiggle), I'm outie like Cher Horowitz.

  • Did I mention that I wanted to reduce--rather than add--risk into the weekend? I would imagine that other risk managers feel the same way. Gut feel, but for what it's worth...

Answers I Really Wanna Know... - 12:29 pm

  • Between crude (+10% in 2 days), Boots & Coots (WEL) (+72% in last two weeks), the Air Force "resignations", the action in gold and the chatta out of Israel, it certainly feels like something is gonna go down in Iran, eh?

  • If that happens, how useful will my USO $110 stop be?

  • Along those lines, who in their right mind would wanna be short crude over the weekend?

  • Don't all arrows point towards risk reduction?

  • Aren't risk appetites and social mood the determinants of recession?

  • Y'all see how important a level S&P 1370 is?

  • Woah, you see Schlumberger (SLB) flip the downside switch?

  • While I've already ducked and covered, shouldn't the CME (CME) be down more and, given that it's not, what is that a sign of underlying demand?

  • Are we there yet?

Heads Up, Yo! - 1:00 pm

I've covered half my USO short (flat vs. where I slapped it on) with three things in mind.

1. If it hasn't faded yet, the odds of a reversal (today) diminish as a function of time.

2. Given my long-standing sense that something is gonna go down in Iran before the election, I'm not sure I wanna tempt fate and think about it all weekend while I'm playing SuperUncle in Baltimore.

3. I'm in risk reduction mode. While I'm still there (with a tight stop and some Boots & Coots (WEL) against it), there's no shame in player smaller until the smoke clears and the ranks thin.

Engine Room, More Buzz! - 1:27 pm

  • My secretary went to renew her military ID card today the base was on 'Alpha' Alert, checking cars, under cars, etc. so obviously something different about today." Minyan Ron.

  • Discipline over conviction--as a function of price rather than the above bullet--my stop was triggered on the other half of my USO short (and yes, I'm happy that I pared the position before that last pop). Win, lose or draw, there's no looking back as profits lie ahead.

  • Television's JeffMacke® makes a good point in that a little perspective goes a long way. Yes, we're back to Wednesday's levels. Fair warning though, if we break S&P 1370, you're gonna see a water fall that would make Niagra Falls blush.

  • The drillers, for their part, are trading like Boofy, the confused cross-dressing bull-bear. I'm right there with 'em, which is why, as I just told Doug Kass, I'm in risk reduction mode into the weekend. Long dry powder, short clam chowda.

  • I like Lance Lewis' Buzz, a lot.

Positions in HAL, CME, JPM, USO, WEL

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

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