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July 10, 2018 11:14 AM PDT
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Good afternoon, this is James Cordier of OptionSellers.com with a market update for July 2nd. Well, with the first half of 2018 now in the books we start looking forward to the 3rd and 4th quarter of what has been a very loud economic market. Talks of tariffs in China and interest rates, inflation finally beginning; however, many commodity prices basically in a sideways trading fashion. Who in the world would think that the gold market would make a very strong move earlier this year with North Korea and the United States trying to draw battle lines. Interest rates negative in Europe and, of course, what’s always going on in China and now tariffs. We took a speculative move thinking that commodities, especially precious metals, would probably start languishing and going into a sideways fashion.

So far this year, that’s exactly what has happened. Silver has traded in approximately a $1 trading range, gold has traded in approximately $80-$85 trading range for the first 6 months of the year. To watch some of the business shows, you would think that those had made large moves, but actually that’s just a lot of noise and a lot of headlines, which, of course, plays into our hands. A lot of discussion about China, interest rates, and inflation cause a lot of investors to buy options and, if we’re following along correctly, quite often the fundamentals don’t justify a big move, and then you sell calls much above the market and puts much below the market, and certainly that has worked out quite well so far in 2018. The new market that is now possibly heading into a consolidated type would be crude oil.

The crude oil market has had dramatic moves over the last 24 months. Right now, we feel that that could be turning into a sideways market, as well. Both Russia and Saudi Arabia recently have discussed and arranged to increase production somewhat going forward. Clearly oil, which has increased now some $10-$15 a barrel over the last 6 months, is probably going to start pinching some of the economies around the world. If you were to look at Germany, for instance, they have some of the most negative business ideas right now going forward. We still have negative rates in Europe and, of course, China this past week entered what’s called the bear market where their stock market is down over 20% from its high. High energy prices during times of weaker economies around the world is probably not going to sit very well.

Russia, Saudi Arabia, some of the largest oil producers, they know that and they don’t need to be greedy right now. They have produced oil for $35-$40 a barrel and trying to push it above $80 and turn some economies into recessions. That certainly is not their idea. We think that oil is probably going to start settling into a $10 trading range, Brent probably in the 70’s, and WTI in the 60’s. We think that putting a $50 strangle around crude oil right now is an excellent idea, similar to what we did in the precious metals earlier this year. We think both of those positions are going to continue to bear fruit in the last half of 2018. We will just have to wait and see.

Anyone wanting more information from OptionSellers.com can visit our website. If you’re not already a client of ours and wish to become one, you can contact Rosemary at our headquarters in Tampa, Florida about possibly becoming one. As always, it’s a pleasure chatting with you and looking forward to doing so again in 2 weeks. Thank you.

July 10, 2018 11:12 AM PDT

Good afternoon, this is James Cordier of OptionSellers.com with a market update for July 2nd. Well, with the first half of 2018 now in the books we start looking forward to the 3rd and 4th quarter of what has been a very loud economic market. Talks of tariffs in China and interest rates, inflation finally beginning; however, many commodity prices basically in a sideways trading fashion. Who in the world would think that the gold market would make a very strong move earlier this year with North Korea and the United States trying to draw battle lines. Interest rates negative in Europe and, of course, what’s always going on in China and now tariffs. We took a speculative move thinking that commodities, especially precious metals, would probably start languishing and going into a sideways fashion.

So far this year, that’s exactly what has happened. Silver has traded in approximately a $1 trading range, gold has traded in approximately $80-$85 trading range for the first 6 months of the year. To watch some of the business shows, you would think that those had made large moves, but actually that’s just a lot of noise and a lot of headlines, which, of course, plays into our hands. A lot of discussion about China, interest rates, and inflation cause a lot of investors to buy options and, if we’re following along correctly, quite often the fundamentals don’t justify a big move, and then you sell calls much above the market and puts much below the market, and certainly that has worked out quite well so far in 2018. The new market that is now possibly heading into a consolidated type would be crude oil.

The crude oil market has had dramatic moves over the last 24 months. Right now, we feel that that could be turning into a sideways market, as well. Both Russia and Saudi Arabia recently have discussed and arranged to increase production somewhat going forward. Clearly oil, which has increased now some $10-$15 a barrel over the last 6 months, is probably going to start pinching some of the economies around the world. If you were to look at Germany, for instance, they have some of the most negative business ideas right now going forward. We still have negative rates in Europe and, of course, China this past week entered what’s called the bear market where their stock market is down over 20% from its high. High energy prices during times of weaker economies around the world is probably not going to sit very well.

Russia, Saudi Arabia, some of the largest oil producers, they know that and they don’t need to be greedy right now. They have produced oil for $35-$40 a barrel and trying to push it above $80 and turn some economies into recessions. That certainly is not their idea. We think that oil is probably going to start settling into a $10 trading range, Brent probably in the 70’s, and WTI in the 60’s. We think that putting a $50 strangle around crude oil right now is an excellent idea, similar to what we did in the precious metals earlier this year. We think both of those positions are going to continue to bear fruit in the last half of 2018. We will just have to wait and see.

Anyone wanting more information from OptionSellers.com can visit our website. If you’re not already a client of ours and wish to become one, you can contact Rosemary at our headquarters in Tampa, Florida about possibly becoming one. As always, it’s a pleasure chatting with you and looking forward to doing so again in 2 weeks. Thank you.

July 09, 2018 01:29 PM PDT

TD Ameritrade: Cordier Gives New Oil Price Forecast
James Cordier

Ben: Welcome back to Futures with Ben Lichtenstein. Traders, with OPEC’s recent decision to increase production, crude has been the focus for many. To help us take a look at the recent price activity in the energy markets and the impact from the recent OPEC decision, traders, we’ve got James Cordier, the President and Founder of OptionSellers.com, joining us this morning. James, welcome to Futures with Ben Lichtenstein. Crude rallied on the news but no follow through. Does this point to the decision having already been priced into the market? For the most part, was this move expected?

James: Ben, it’s really interesting, the movement in crude oil after the announcement. I think what OPEC and, of course, plus Russia was trying to do was give a soft landing. I think they’re very familiar with the fact that oil prices can’t continue to escalate as many U.S. economies, as well as in China and Europe, are slowing. We have PMI in Russia and both China not doing so well. Of course, we have China down 25% from their recent high and a soft landing is very important. Needless to say, having the market just fall out of bed is now what they wanted either, so we had a very quick $8 decline in prices. We’ve now rallied back about half of that and it’s possible that we’ll fall into a nice equilibrium here with plenty of supply but not too much to cause prices to go higher.

Ben: Yeah, it looks like we have a bit of a range forming up above 64 and below 73. James, I’m wondering, how much of a boost in production is to slow the pace at which they’ve been reducing inventories, and how much is to combat the reductions in production that we’re seeing related to sanctions and issues in Venezuela, because the $1 million increase in production isn’t going to be enough to balance off both.

James: It’s really not. You can add Libya to that last, as well. The fact that we had over compliance coming into this meeting allows both Russia and Saudi Arabia to actually pump more than what the report came out here 3 days ago. The fact that we’re talking only 600,000 additional barrels, that is not going to be enough, you’re correct, to take care of what’s coming offline in both Iran, Venezuela, and in Libya; however, there is a lot of fudge room right now available. The fact that both Russia and Saudi Arabia now have the green light to pump more oil, I think we’re going to see in the 3rd and 4th quarter probably closer to an additional 1 million or 1.1 million barrels. The 600,000 that was announced is not enough to slow down this market.

Ben: Yeah, it seems to be the case. We’ve been hearing a little bit about distribution issues as far as the WTI production as it nears that 11 million barrels per day level. Is some of the narrowing that we’ve been seeing in the Brent/WTI spread related to the bottleneck that we’re seeing in distribution?

James: That’s exactly right. What’s going on right now in the United States is we do have a great deal of new supply coming on, but there is a bottleneck and it is allowing the Brent/WTI to narrow. I think we’ve seen that just recently and we’ll probably see it narrow another dollar or two in the next upcoming weeks.

Ben: James, talk to us a little bit about what’s going on here as far as what you’ve been seeing and hearing regarding Canadian oil sands and the outage. Is this impacting the spread or impacting price at all?

James: Not as of yet, but it’s very interesting, the price of oil coming up and then the Canadian dollar coming down recently is a really interesting conundrum there. What’s going on in the Canadian oil sands will come out to play in the next several weeks. There hasn’t really been a big market moving affect there yet, but that will be coming up if it doesn’t get straightened out soon, I think.

Ben: James, I’m curious because everyone’s joking about OPEC plus one right now, meaning that Russia seems to be more and more influential and I’m curious if you could talk to us about the role that Russia had in the recent OPEC decision. Is Russia’s involvement a good thing for the stability of energy markets?

James: You know, with Russia, Ben, being the 2nd largest producer now in the world, they have to be in just about every conversation. The compliance between OPEC and Russia right now has just been fantastic. I think it’s almost like the most incredible central bank right now in reference to oil. The Saudi and Russian compliance right now it looks excellent. We think that Vladimir Putin’s going to be in office for probably over the next 10 years, so he doesn’t have to be a short-term thinker. He can think long-term, find out the exact price that the global economy can withstand without throwing it into a recession, and that team right now has been excellent. I think Russia would be really happy with a $75 Brent price going forward and I think that’s the equilibrium we’re going to see. I could see a $10 trading range for oil the next 6-12 months and WTI in the mid 60’s and I think everybody would be happy with that.

Ben: Yeah, except for those traders that are looking for a high volatile market but, James, let’s talk a little bit about the dollar correlation to the crude because we’ve been watching the crude come off. The dollar, for the most part, has been hanging out around that 95 level. I’m curious, what are you seeing in terms of that inverse correlation breaking down a little bit recently but I’m wondering if, now that we have the OPEC news, if that correlation is going to start to come back into play a bit?

James: Ben, the interesting part is the U.S. dollar and the strength of it over the last several weeks. Clearly we’ve come off just a little bit recently but we have negative rates continuing throughout Europe, we have one or two more hikes coming in the United States over the next 3-6 months. The dollar is going to continue to be underpinned and that is going to probably help keep a cap on oil prices, as well. Of course, oil being priced in U.S. dollars, a firm dollar, I think, through the rest of 2018, will help also balance what I think is a balanced market right now.

Ben: All right, well that’s definitely giving us a little something to watch here today. James, I appreciate you coming on the show and joining us on Futures with Ben Lichtenstein. Traders, that’s James Cordier, the President and Founder of OptionSellers.com.

July 09, 2018 01:09 PM PDT

July 2018 Podcast
James Cordier and Michael Gross

Michael: Hello everybody. This is Michael Gross of OptionSellers.com. I am here for your July Podcast. This month’s podcast will be in audio format. I’m here with head trader James Cordier. James, welcome to the show.

James: Thank you very much, Michael. Always happy.

Michael: Great. The topic of this month’s podcast is Fast Cash from Selling Options in Over-Bought or Over-Sold Markets. James, as you and I know, we’re not really in the business of looking for fast cash, but we’re more in the business of long-term investments. Every once in a while, when you’re selling options, there comes certain opportunities where there might be a place to sell the option and you see that time decay in just the first 30-60 days. Often times that can be when markets get to an extreme, like some markets we’re seeing now. Wouldn’t you agree with that?

James: Michael, it’s interesting, we are very long-term investors. When we’re looking at seasonal positions or headlines that create a slightly shorter-term opportunity, then we do look at things like timing and certainly all the headlines going on right now with trade are probably offering some really good opportunities of the slightly shorter variety and we’re looking forward to taking advantage of those over the next 10 days or so.

Michael: Great. I know, as you and I have been discussing, as are most investors right now, the big topic is trade tensions with China. I don’t know if we call it a trade war yet, but certainly having got some investors attention and pushing the stock market around. Maybe talk a little bit about how that’s affecting commodities right now.

James: Michael, if this doesn’t turn into a trade war, this is the most well played game that I’ve ever seen between the U.S. and China. I mean, we are right to the brink of what could be quite a significant trade policy coming down the pike. It is definitely worrying some investors that are looking at certain parts of the global economy. Uncertainty is always not welcome. Anyone who is looking at investing for their company or inventories or what have you, when they see uncertainty they usually hold back and that is probably going to be swelling some economic growth globally if this doesn’t come to a head here in the next week or two.

Michael: Okay. As most of you listeners know, as far as being an option seller, it doesn’t really matter to you which way the market or prices are moving, especially when you’re trading different uncorrelated commodities. Often times, situations like this can create opportunities and that’s what we’re going to talk a little bit about today. James, would you like to go ahead and move into our feature markets?

James: Michael, certainly. Natural gas is one of the markets that are very near and dear to our hearts. In the very heart of winter and the very heart of summer, which is coming up relatively soon, we did take positions in natural gas much earlier this year, trying to sell put premium. We were fairly successful doing that. Generally, the market bottoms in winter and rallies into spring and the natural gas market did that. Right now, we are looking at a seasonality for natural gas. It has had a very nice rally over the last 3 months or so and basically a lot of headlines talk about the need for natural gas in summer for cooling homes and cooling businesses, of course. We think that’s quite overplayed. Generally speaking, when it’s extremely cold in the U.S. or throughout Europe, demand for natural gas does spike and that is real. As far as buying natural gas for summer cooling, I don’t think the numbers dive exactly. It takes approximately 25% of the natural gas to cool a home in the summer as it does to heat a home in the winter so, generally speaking, when natural gas rallies because the warmer temperatures are ahead, that’s usually something you want to fade. Of course, at that time, inventories are usually being built in a very big way. So, we’re looking at selling natural gas calls over the next 2-4 weeks to take advantage of that seasonal position.

Michael: Yeah, you make a good point there, James. The seasonal tendency for natural gas used to get a little bit of a spike in summer and, yeah, you can but it seems like the tendency over the last 5-10 years seems to be more of, as they build that inventory into spring and summer as those supplies rise, it tends to just kind of overlook the summer demand for just the reason you mentioned. Now we’re seeing a seasonal where the seasonal prices tend to start declining in June and keep going right through fall so it appears they’re following that pattern right now. Now, we’re not at a particularly high level of natural gas supplies right now. From what I’m seeing we’re a little bit under where we typically are this time of year. Is that what you’re seeing as well?

James: We are. Natural gas supplies in the U.S. are under the 5-year average and they’re below levels from last year, not a great amount, but what a lot of market participants are looking at is all the drilling all around the U.S. Of course, the bi-product of that is natural gas. A lot of investors and a lot of the analysts in natural gas feel that $3 natural gas is probably a fairly decent price considering that drillers are getting it for free as a bi-product. So, it used to be that natural gas was produced in the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana, and when you had demand shocks it really moved the market a great deal. The beauty of option selling is that some of that volatility is still in the market even though we’re now producing natural gas all over the country. We have just massive fines in Oklahoma, Arizona, and Kansas, the Dakotas, Pennsylvania, Ohio. The supply is always going to be there for natural gas right now and taking advantage of small swings, up and down, during the year should be fruitful for selling options and that’s why we think selling calls over the next few weeks is probably going to be a very good idea.

Michael: You know, James, you made several good points there. In talking about the seasonal tendency, when we go back to where you were talking about selling puts in the spring when we recommended that in the newsletter, prices have rallied almost 10% since that point. Now, with supplies building, as you said, it can start putting a little bit more pressure on the price of natural gas, at least that is what you’re expecting. We’re going back to Fast Cash from Selling Options in Over-Bought Markets… I think two points, and maybe you can hit on both of them, one is natural gas, as of at least a couple days ago, hit a pretty good level where it was and looked pretty over-bought, especially for this time of year when you have a seasonal. Technically, the market is over-bought, that tends to push those option premiums up higher to where they get to an over-valued level at some point, especially with a little jolt like that. Also, natural gas is probably one of the markets that would be least affected by any type of Chinese trade tariff. Would you agree with that?

James: Michael, the natural gas market that we trade here in the United States is purely a domestic market right now. It’s not coffee, it’s not steel, it’s not sugar. Those are all world traded markets and the natural gas market is probably 99% influenced by the supply and demand that happens within the 50 states. Of all the markets that we follow, several won’t be affected by the tariffs and natural gas is definitely the bull’s-eye of the one that will probably deem what goes on with tariffs probably be the least of all of them that we follow.

Michael: Okay. So, we’re here at the beginning of a potential seasonal downturn here, at least that’s what we might be looking for. When you talk about this, and for those of you listening, natural gas is the feature market in our upcoming July newsletter, which you can keep an eye out for. It should be out on or before the 1st of July in your mailbox or e-mail box. James, in that, you’re recommending taking a look at selling call strikes at the $4 or above level. Right now natural gas is under $3, so we’re looking at strikes at least 25% above the current market. So, you’re not really calling a top right here, what you’re saying is, “Hey, it’s a 3, it’s not going to go to 4, especially at a time of year where supplies are building.”

James: Michael, it certainly does look like an opportunity. The natural gas market has risen off the lows that we spoke of earlier this year and the ones you just mentioned recently. Natural gas was down to $2.50 and $2.55 earlier this year. Right now it’s approximately $3 so it has had a decent rally. We’re looking at strikes at $4, $4.50, and $5 and we think that the time to probably jump into those positions is really soon. We have had a nice rally in natural gas. A lot of it is based off of the hot temperatures that we’ve had in the Midwest and the Northeast recently. I’m looking at the 14-28 day forecast and it cools off quite a bit. While I don’t make that big of a deal over the temperatures exactly, a lot of traders do. That’s why I think we got this rally and we really like selling it here right about this level that we’re at right now.

Michael: We go back to what we’re talking about here… The Fast Cash in Over-Bought Markets. Even if you’re going out deeper out-of-the-money contracts, which you recommend going out to December and maybe even March contracts, if we do get a typical seasonal move, which there’s no guarantee that happens, but if the price does and we get a pretty decent price drop over the next 30-45 days, I’m guessing what the market is still looking a little bit over-bought, you could see some pretty significant decay in those options. Is that what you’re looking at as well?

James: It is. The decay on these options that we’re considering would probably, if in fact natural gas does have a slight decline going into the 3rd and 4th quarter, we would expect these options to lose a great deal of their value well before the winter timeframe. So, we are probably anticipating decent decay where these options might start out at $600, might have a value of maybe $100-$200 before we even reach the winter season. As far as our looking at the market, that’s a relatively short position for us and we think the decay in selling these options over the next 60-90 days could be very good.

Michael: Okay, good. And again, those of you interested in taking a look at this market and what James is describing here, you will want to take a look at the July Newsletter. It is in the premium sniper column there. James, let’s move into our second market, which is the soybean market. If you want to talk about a market affected by or potentially affected by a Chinese trading tariff, this would certainly be it. You have soybeans just off the rumors since President Trump announced he wanted to have another potential tariff on some Chinese products up to the tune of, I believe, it’s 200 billion… is that correct?

James: That’s the latest that I’ve heard on the wire today, yes.

Michael: Okay. If that has stoked fears that China is going to retaliate and put tariffs on U.S. products. Soybeans, one of the main markets that a lot of investors fear may be in the cross hairs because we export a lot of soybeans to China. Soybeans have declined sharply on these fears just in the last few weeks. That and the fact that planting has gone nearly perfectly in the Midwest. Right now, the weather is ideal so we’re looking at fundamentals but we’re also going to be looking at this China pressure, but you’re thinking they might have pressed, over-pressed, on the downside right now.

James: Michael, it’s so interesting the gamesmanship taking place out of China right now is just being played to perfection. We certainly have the ability to see China import soybeans from other locations, of course, Argentina and Brazil. I think we spoke of that earlier this year. What’s so interesting is the amount of livestock that has to be fed both corn and soybeans. That will not change, but the brinkmanship coming out of China right now is excellent. I can’t believe I’m going to mention this, but here I go. There are elections coming up in the United States and with China playing the tariff card on soybeans and watching those markets just absolutely fall out of bed, that is going to certainly be a bit of an irritant to the Midwest and the great plains in the United States right before elections. Don’t think that these farming states don’t know that. We just saw soybeans fall practically 20% in value with corn and soybeans over the last 30 days on these tariff scares. The fact that soybeans are a global market and there’s only so many to go around, while we were bearish soybeans earlier this year, it really looks like that might be overdone on the downside. If this is simply brinksmanship and this is simply bargaining going on, this fall in soybeans, the fall in price is probably just about run its course. We were just pushing $11 on soybeans. Now they’re in the high $8’s. We think that this might be a good place to look at selling puts in the next week or two.

Michael: You know, James, just to point out in your feature article in the Spring, you suggested investors selling calls in soybeans based on, one, the seasonality and, two, what you mention and you hit it right on the head, there was no guarantee China was going to put tariffs on U.S. soybeans but if they did or if people believe they were going to that would just be an added bonus for the trade and really sink soybean prices. It looks like you hit it right on the head. That is exactly what happened right in the middle of seasonality where soybean prices tend to decline anyways because when they wrap up harvest, that anxiety goes out of the market, prices tend to decline. They don’t tend to decline as much as they did this year and that looks like it’s right off that China fear, just like you said. You’re talking about the elections, there’s a possible factor that could mitigate that, but we’re also looking at the core fundamentals where we have ending stocks this year 385 million bushels projected for 18-19, next year. It’s not high but it’s substantially lower than we’ve been for the last couple of years. So, when you look at the longer-term fundamentals, we’re not that bearish. I think you’re right. It looks like the market probably overreacted here. If they would slap tariffs on do you think that would bring another leg down or do you think we may have already priced that, at least for the most part?

James: Michael, this is truly speculation on my part, but I think all the leaders around the world agree that major tariffs that are being discussed right now are going to simply be detrimental to a lot of the economies. When you look at the locations like Japan and Europe, which are starting to slow already, so many of these nations and their economies are certainly in need of a strong U.S. economy and a strong Chinese economy. Without those they slow down. I’m starting to think that this is simply negotiating to hopefully get a better deal, I think, is what the administration is thinking. We really like the idea that soybeans are going to be in very good demand later this year. As livestock feeding continues, that has certainly not changed at all. As far as I can tell, we’re going to have record demand for soybeans this year and the beginning of next and this very steep fall-off is probably going to be a good selling opportunity for puts. In other words, taking a bullish position from these very low levels coming up quite soon.

Michael: Yeah, that’s a great point, as well. Record global demand for soybeans this year and the market tends to be discounting that because it’s been all wrapped up in this China story. When you have record demand you have very little room for any type of weather error or weather problem developing. Right now, this market is pricing in a perfect harvest, it’s pricing in perfect weather, and they are just sinking the price. In addition to what you’re saying as far as maybe this whole China thing is a little bit overblown, I think the core fundamentals here are enough to prop it up at least from the levels it has been to the last couple of days. Just looks like a market that, when we’re talking about over-sold markets, this looks like an extreme example of that.

James: You know, what we started out saying is headlines can often create slightly shorter-term opportunities. The headline right now with the potential tariff is certainly one of those. Record demand, that’s not about to change. The demand for production of livestock throughout Asia, that’s not changing, that’s only growing. Many metals and other soft commodities, these can be transfixed into using something else. Coffee supplies, we can use coffee supplies from 20 years ago. It winds up at Starbucks and McDonald’s and such. Cocoa supplies can be used from 15 years ago. Sugar can be stored for a decade. That’s not the case with soybeans and feeding livestock and, thus, there really is no alternative for corn and soybeans. That’s why we think these headlines are probably going to be an opportunity to be selling puts here pretty soon.

Michael: Okay. One final point I wanted to hit on the soybean market, and you made this in your article this week on the soybean market, which is on the blog. If you’re listening and you’d like to read the article and James’ suggested trade, you can see that at www.OptionSellers.com/Blog. It is our soybean feature market this week. The point you made, James, is even if China slaps a tariff on U.S. soybeans, they still need the beans so they’re just going to have to go to Brazil or somewhere else, Argentina, to buy their soybeans. So, they’re still getting the soybeans there, the U.S. beans get cheaper and they become more attractive to other importers and it’s really just a shift of who’s buying from who, but on the overall global stage it doesn’t really have that big of an impact on soybean supply and demand. I think that’s a great point you made.

James: Michael, that’s exactly right. Whether the soybeans from Argentina and Brazil and soybeans from the United States go to Europe, it really doesn’t matter. We’re still talking about the same global supply and the same global demand. At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter which soybeans are going to what part of the world. It’s a supply factor and it’s a global market. I think that’s an excellent point that you made, as well.

Michael: So, as far as the trade goes now, we’re talking about again Fast Cash from Option in an Over-Sold Market. As we said, this market definitely fits the definition of over-sold and I’m not necessarily calling a low there but you’re willing to go $1-$1.50 below the current price and sell puts. As far as a trading strategy goes, what are you looking at there?

James: Michael, as long as the market is still considering record demand and they certainly are, that part hasn’t changed, as long as the U.S. is now going to be the main grocery supporter for soybeans as Argentina and Brazil runs out, we’re looking at selling puts and soybeans at levels that the market hasn’t traded in years. We’re looking at selling soybean puts around $7.80-$8 a bushel. We think that the market’s going to probably be in the low $9 to mid $9 level later on this year. That would be putting these puts out-of-the-money by 20-25% and I think that’s a really safe basket, if you will, for us to be outside of the money. As far as soybeans falling down to $8 or $7.80, that would be a real eye opener. That would really set up a long-term position to sell puts then even lower. We don’t think that’s going to happen and we really like the opportunity that we think it coming up at selling puts around the $8 level.

Michael: As far as fast time decay, maybe and maybe not, but I’m of the opinion, and you tell me if you agree, that this market has gone so far in ignoring the weather, which has been ideal, but if you get one little weather blip this summer in Indiana or Illinois, I think the market is so oversold that you could easily see a $0.50-$1 rally in soybeans over a period of just a couple weeks. You know what it can get like in the summer. If that’s the case, you could get a pretty fast decay on these, as well.

James: Michael, you mentioned just a short time ago that we have near ideal conditions in the Midwest, the growing regions of the United States. We will have a week or two of hot weather coming to Indiana or Ohio or Iowa this July and August and that’s all it takes. They show this ring of fire on weather maps later this summer and up go soybeans, probably $0.50 a bushel. Shortly after that, if in fact that happens, I think you’d see really rapid decay on the puts that we’re looking at selling at this $8 level.

Michael: Of course, if you’re an option seller and you are selling puts down at the $7.80-$8 level that James is talking about, all these things we’re talking about don’t need to happen. The only thing you need to happen is for the price to stay above your strike. So, any of these scenarios could play out and, as an option seller, you still take the premium. So, that’s really why we sell options in the first place. There’s many ways to make money with it, there’s only one thing that can happen for you to lose and I know that’s why we started selling options in the first place, James.

James: Michael, we’ve often said the market can go up, down, or sideways, just as long as it doesn’t exceed your strike price and, of course, there are a lot of books talking about how often they do expire worthless. You do keep the premium, you’re the house, and from time to time someone leaves the casino with a smile on their face, but often it’s upside down from that price.

Michael: Of course, those of you listening, if you’d like to read more about our strategies, the strategy we recommend for selling options in commodities as an overall investment approach, you’ll want to pick up a copy of our book, The Complete Guide to Option Selling. It’s now in its third edition through McGraw-Hill. You can get it on our website at www.OptionSellers.com/Book. You’ll get it at a discount there, a lower price than you’ll get it on Amazon or at the bookstore. James, I think that’s it for this month. I think we’ve covered quite a lot of ground. If you’re and investor and you’re looking at these markets, certainly follow up on our blog where you’ll see the written parts of these or the newsletter. Take them on your own merit. We will be incorporating these into our trading plan for our managed portfolios this month. Speaking of managed portfolios, our waiting list is now out to September; however, we are still booking consultations through July and August for those September openings. So, if you are interested or thinking about opening an account, now is the time you’ll want to book your consultation. We’ll have those interviews and we’ll see if you match the profile for a client. James, as far as one final parting comment here, as far as this volatility goes that’s coming from the Chinese trade tariff worries, does that make it a better or a worse time to be selling options?

James: Michael, once or twice a year inevitably there are headlines that create volatility. A couple years ago it was the talk of the Brexit, there was Switzerland leaving the Euro currency, it was 2 years ago the surprise election results. These headlines seem to come around once or twice a year and a lot of investors feel that while that type of uncertainty is something I don’t want to invest in, but that plays into our hands perfectly. The fundamentals of the markets that we follow change very in small fashion, you know, 1%-2% moves in commodities, but to listen to headlines it’s like the markets are moving a great deal. That plays right into our hands. We sell options so far out in time and so far out in price. We love headlines like this and tariff talks with China is just the second one for this year and we really enjoy having headlines like this. It causes uncertainty, it causes high premiums, and that is something that has been feeding us for the last several years. One or two headlines like this every year or two is just fine with me.

Michael: All right. I hope everybody got something out of this month’s podcast that you can use or help you decide if option selling is a good strategy for you and your overall portfolio. Again, if you would like to book one of our remaining consultations in July or August, you can call the office at the main number… 800-346-1949 and speak with Rosemary. If you are calling from overseas, that number is 813-472-5760. You can also e-mail an inquiry at office@optionsellers.com. You’ll be able to hear this podcast on our blog but you can also subscribe to our YouTube channel and/or iTunes and hear it there. James, thank you for all your insights this month.

James: Michael, it’s my pleasure.

Michael: For everybody listening, have a great month of option selling. We will talk to you in 30 days. Thank you.

June 12, 2018 01:48 PM PDT

Good afternoon. This is James Cordier of OptionSellers.com with a market update for June 1st. Well, lo and behold, CNBC, Bloomberg TV, and Fox Business are, once again, talking about Greek bonds, Italian bonds, and Spanish debt. Once again, Europe is smack dab in the middle of the radar screen. It’s so interesting that after practically 10 years of quantitative easing through the Euro zone, their economies still are struggling to get their heads above water. Some nations still have negative interest rates. Here we are, looking at some of the German economic numbers, consumer confidence is falling dramatically, PMIs throughout all the nations in Europe are doing basically a swan dive at a time where you would think of 8 or 9 years of quantitative easing they would really be forging ahead. It doesn’t seem to be the case.

That could be the reason we’ve had $80 crude oil and, of course, all of Europe needs to import energy from other nations. $80 oil, of course, is quite a tax on the consumer and, of course, industries as well. What is this doing? This is probably slowing the global economy both here in the United States as well as in Asia. It’s just the first glimpses of it. It doesn’t appear to be a slowdown here yet, though we do seem to be in a bit of a stall speed in the U.S. and some of the foreign nations. Of course, interest rates in the United States are ticking up, approximately every 3 months. Whether they raise rates this year 3 or 4 times doesn’t really matter that much. It is underpinning the U.S. dollar and what that’s doing for us is providing a very stable commodities market. As clients, you all know we have many positions on. Where we’re actually predicting stable market prices.

Identifying fairly value markets in gold, silver, crude oil, coffee, soybeans can be a great mainstay for option selling. Of course, as you know, we have $800-$900 strangles around gold. Gold over the last 6 months has barely budged. The silver market so far this year has been lopped into a $1 an ounce trading range. We have approximately an $18 strangle around that market. We really do like the idea of a strong U.S. dollar throughout the rest of the year, and that’s creating very stable commodity prices which, I think, is going to be very fruitful going into the 3rd and 4th quarter of this year.

One market that’s finally coming around is the coffee market. We do have a trucker strike in Brazil and that is keeping some of the coffee off of the market. Of course, investors and speculators are racing in to buy coffee. We love the idea of selling coffee calls above $2 for later this year and early 2019 expiration. We think that’s going to be a great idea and we expect coffee prices to be half of the strikes that we’re selling right now. Our old friend coffee is becoming what I think is going to be a very good opportunity going forward. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Anyone wanting more information from OptionSellers.com can visit our website. If you’re not already a client of ours and wish to become one, you can contact our headquarters in Tampa, Florida about possibly becoming one. As always, it’s a pleasure chatting with you and looking forward to doing so again in 2 weeks. Thank you.

May 31, 2018 12:09 PM PDT

Ben Lichtenstein: We’ve got a real treat here for you this morning, traders. We’ve got the founder and head trader of OptionSellers.com. Traders, we’ve got James Cordier with us this morning. James, welcome to Futures with Lichtenstein & Hincks. It’s a pleasure to have you on the show. I want to dive right into it. When we’re talking futures versus options I kind of think of it as futures for me are kind of easy versus options. It’s sort of like driving a VW versus flying a Cessna. Talk to us about some of the benefits of trading options and why they’re appealing to you, considering what we’re seeing here in the energy markets as of recent.

James: You know, I think that’s a great question. So often, people talk about options and they kind of go like this. I understand they are puts and calls, but I think the gentleman you had on just a moment ago is just a great example as to why selling options can be a good idea for mainstream investors. The gentleman prior to me was talking about trading in currencies and he talked about close stops and you’ve got to watch your lows and watch your highs, and you need to have a close stop on all of your positions. Shorting options and selling premium is just the opposite of this. If you want to take a long-term fundamental view on gold, as you’d just been describing, or crude oil, this is the way to do it because perfect timing, I’ve been in this business for almost 30 years, I don’t know anyone who knows how to do that… not on a consistent basis; however, we’re looking at energy prices right now. The crude oil market is extremely frothy, especially with slowing global growth. Europe right now is probably what brings us to mind right now, as far as the oil price, might be at a reflection point. With PMIs going south, with consumer confidence in Germany, I was just in both Italy and Germany this past week and, while pizza sales were really good, and I can attest to that, the rest of the economies are not doing so well. $80 and $82 oil Brent is going to probably be very detrimental to European economies. We’re looking at a possible reflection point right now in crude oil. Instead of trying to pick the exact copy, because of course no one else is of course able to do that, we’re going to start looking at selling a call premium on crude oil. We’re going to go out 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, sell the $90 calls and the $95 calls and that way we don’t need perfect timing, but we simply need to be right the market eventually. A lot of the fundamentals we’re seeing in oil going forward into the 3rd and 4th quarter lead us to believe that we’re going to be right on this.

Kevin Hincks: Good morning, James. Thanks for coming on the show. It’s always a pleasure for me to talk about options when I’m on this show. I spent most of my career doing that. So, you are talking about the 90 calls above the market, right? Selling something very safely above the market here, about $18-$19. You also talk about selling the 45 put so you’re creating a short option strangle, right? Where you basically want a range-bound trade in between your strikes. Now, the question that option traders have is, “Do you think, based on the risk that you’re assuming, now you’ve given yourself a nice wide in between the navigational beacons, I call it, of your short strikes. Are you getting paid enough for the risk that you’re putting on?”

James: That is such a great question. So many of your investors, I’m sure, are familiar with selling options on stocks. I hear about this all the time. When we have a new investor they’ll say, “James, I was introduced to short options through my stock broker. We started writing covered calls and then I got a little creative and started selling options on stocks. I hear that you’re selling options 2%, 3%, 5% out-of-the-money.” In commodities, crude oil, gold, coffee, we’re selling options 50-60% out-of-the-money in some cases. When we’re identifying a strangle, the window is just absolutely enormous. The crude oil market, based on fundamentals right now, is not going to fall into the 40’s. We have, of course, Brent around 80 right now, WTI right around 70-71, but it’s not going to go above 90 and that is just a fantastic window for the market to stay in. Identifying fairly priced commodities is probably the most wonderful thing that we do for our clients. Often, an expert comes on and he talks about, “Well, the coal market’s about to go to the moon” or “Soybeans are going to go to zero.” As we all know, quite often that’s not the case. Finding a window that a market is going to stay inside is just a fabulous way to create a strong performance at the end of the year. We’re collecting $600-$700 for the $90 calls. We’re collecting $600-$700 for the 45 puts. Basically, selling a strangle, as you know, is one position babysits the other while you wait. So many investors want to get paid right now and when they’re talking about selling options on commodities they need to get in “right now”. We don’t do that. We want to sell options much further out in price and much further out in time than most people, but we get paid to do it.

Ben Lichtenstein: Yeah, James, I know that you think that 85 is a bit of a tipping point, and possibly that tipping point that would bring Europe back into a recession. Talk to us and tell us a little bit more about why you think that.

James: What’s interesting is all you have to do is look at the Euro, and you look at banking stocks in Italy and Germany right now. That tells us that the European Union cannot withstand $80 oil. OPEC right now has to have another discussion. 2 years ago, they discussed cutting production. That has worked tremendously. They need to not be too greedy right now. $80 oil, everyone is making a ton of money producing oil here in the United States and everywhere else. Pushing Europe into a possible recession could absolutely kill the golden goose, if you will. Other producing nations produce oil for $35-$40 a barrel. It’s trading at $80. The last thing they need is a recession in Europe because you know what’s going to happen after we start talking about Greek bonds and Italian bonds? Then the stock market starts to dive and $80 oil prices will be history if that happens.

Kevin Hincks: Hey James, as you know, when it comes to the oil markets that there’s a mid-June OPEC meeting coming up where they’re going to re-look at or re-investigate the production cuts. Here’s my question for you: Is the most important person coming to the June OPEC meeting a non-OPEC member, being Russia? I think that they’re chomping at the bit to up their production and get back in this game, back to their old levels. Are they the most important player in this mid-June OPEC meeting?

James: Yes, they are. Saudi Arabia and Russia have been just great partners recently. Saudi Arabia’s probably the smartest OPEC nation in the room and they are going to be siding along with Russia. We’re looking at the spigots opening up. They have to. They are very extremely great traders and they understand that throwing a slow-down in global economy is the last thing that they need right now. I think they would be very happy with a $72-$74 Brent price. I think producing more oil, especially in Russia, is going to help that happen. We do see, at least by the 3rd quarter, production cuts going away and oil prices probably settling down $5-$7 from where it is right now, at least.

Ben Lichtenstein: All right. Lastly, James, I’m curious your thoughts on Shale production because everybody’s dialed in on the increased production up about 10 million barrels per day as we’re nearing 11 million barrels per day, but, you know, not everybody’s focused on the fact that without this added production levels that we probably see crude oil at a lot higher prices. A lot of people are saying, “Why hasn’t this increased production, keep the price of crude down?” Is it your thought or opinion that without all of this added supply that we’d be up and through this at $75 level right now in the WTI. Is that production what’s actually holding us down a bit?

James: What’s holding us down right now is the production. If 11 million barrels a day were being produced in a country that is a third world nation and doesn’t have a huge population of drivers and such, that would make a big difference, but, you know, we are using basically all the oil we need. What really changed the market recently is the fact that the U.S. is now exporting oil and that has really made it more of a global market. The fact that we see such a discount to WTI versus Brent tells us that oil production in the United States is around 11, adding up to 12, and, at that point, $80 oil for Brent and $70 for WTI is not going to last very long. We really see Brent down, like I was saying, $5-$10 this year. What’s going on in the United States right now will keep oil prices from doing the super-spike and I think we’re at a reflection point pretty soon.

Ben Lichtenstein: Yeah, we’re watching that spread closely, too, right around 7 ½ right now. Traders, that’s James Cordier joining us this morning and he’s the President and Founder of OptionSellers.com. He’s also the author of The Complete Guide to Option Selling. James, it’s always a pleasure to have you on the show. Really good insightful thoughts there in terms of options and the energy markets.

May 30, 2018 01:31 PM PDT

Michael: Hello everyone and welcome to your June edition of the Option Seller Podcast. This is Michael Gross of OptionSellers.com. I’m here with head trader James Cordier. James, a lot of talk this month about bull market in commodities. It’s been getting a lot of media attention, obviously crude oil has been leading the charge, but what are your thoughts on that? Are we in a bull market right now or is it just speculation?

James: You know, most often, Michael, at the 3rd and 4th and 5th year of an expansion economically is usually when prices of commodities start going up. There’s usually a glut of commodities during a recession. As years go by, a lot of the excess commodities are then purchased and consumed, and usually that is when you start normally getting higher prices. I do believe we’re in a bull market in commodities. It is lead by energies, which of course was pretty much facilitated through OPEC cuts in production, but let’s face it, practically everything comes from a barrel of oil. Whether it’s cotton or soybeans or coffee or what have you, everything derives off of a barrel of oil or a gallon of gasoline. Of course, energy prices have really risen quite a bit over the last 18 months. That leads us to believe we are in a bull market in many commodities. There are 1 or 2 that have certainly oversupply in them, but the commodity market has been in a nice uptrend. Usually, this does happen 3 or 4 years after the beginning of an expansion and its kind of textbook so far.

Michael: So, we have oil markets possibly leading the charge here. Some of the grains have been aided by some weather issues. Do you see this spreading to all commodities or is it primarily limited to a few sectors?

James: I think it’s limited to a few sectors. If you look at the price of sugar or coffee, we’ve got just massive production expected in South America this year. The coffee market recently hit a 12 month low, the sugar market recently hit a 12 month low, so it is really a market that needs to be picked, if you will, to be in a bull market. A lot of commodities do have up trends, but some of the major commodities that we follow are over supplied. I think that’s why we really enjoy doing what we do best, and that is analyzing fundamentals on the different markets, simply buying a basket of commodities or selling a basket of commodities. I think you can be more sophisticated than that, and that’s what we try and do here, of course.

Michael: Yeah, in the media they like to get a story line, “Bull Market in Commodities” and that’s what they tag and they really maybe only focusing, as you said, on a few markets, some of the other markets. That’s why you get that play within the commodities where they’re not really as correlated to each other as maybe stocks.

James: Certainly not. That’s where diversification comes in. If you’re long or short the stock market, basically you’re living or dying by if it goes up or down. Of course, in commodities, we follow 4 different sectors about 10 different specific commodities and they really do have their own individual fundamentals, and that’s what makes following the same commodities for so long very prosperous, because you do get to know them. They all do have personalities. You don’t simply buy a basket of commodities like you do stocks. It’s different than that.

Michael: So, the person watching at home now and they’re saying “boy, it’s a bull market in commodities. This must be a good time to sell options”… that’s really kind of irrelevant if you’re an option seller, isn’t it?

James: You know, the interesting commodities, I think, is what bodes well for us. Whether you’re selling options on your own or you’re doing it with ourselves, it does increase premiums of options on both puts and calls. Certainly, the interest by the speculator, whether it’s a bank in London or whether it’s a hedge fund somewhere in San Francisco, it does increase the value of the options. If you are picking up bull or bear market, it allows you to get in at very good levels, sometimes 40-50% out-of-the-money depending on which market it is.

Michael: So now matter which side of the market it’s on, the media coverage of prices going up brings in a lot of public speculators and that drives premium.

James: Whether you’re selling options on your own or you’re doing it with us, it really plays into your hands… it really does.

Michael: Great. We’re going to take a look at a couple of these markets that’ve moving pretty good to the upside or we feel we have some pretty good opportunities to look at this month. Why don’t we go to the trading room and get started?

Michael: Welcome back to the market segment of this month’s podcast. We’re here in the trading room with head trader James Cordier. The title of this month’s podcast is taking advantage of the bull market in commodities, and we’re going to feature a couple of markets this month that are leaders, what’s driving the bull market in commodities, but how to take advantage of it might not be exactly how you think it would be. A lot of people might think, “Oh, well I’ll just go out and buy a commodities index fund or maybe I’ll buy some individual commodities stocks or what have you”, and the problem with that is, one, as James mentioned earlier, sometimes these commodities aren’t all going to move together. So, you may buy one commodity and it’s not going to participate in that bull market like other stocks wood. Also, we don’t know when this bull market might end, so we want to position ourselves so, yes, we can keep taking advantage of this if the bull market continues, but also if it stops tomorrow we still want to be able to make money. So, we’re not going to position how just a common traditional investor might try and position. We’re going to talk about selling options here. Let’s go to the first market for this month… the cotton market has been one of the leaders of the commodities bull here. Obviously we’ve had a pretty sharp rally here since last October, James. We’re up almost 25% in prices through this week. What’s going on here as far as prices go?

James: Cotton’s another example of one of the bull markets of 2018. We do have some more demand out of Asia than we thought. They were speculators that thought that supplies in China were slightly less than what early was previously expected. Cotton production in China is supposed to be down slightly because of some weather. Of course, the big news is we had just an incredible drought to start out the planting season here in west Texas. Basically, commodities like soybeans and cotton, everyone’s so concerned about the weather and when they talk about dry conditions or there’s drought going on, speculators come and bid up the market. A lot of the end users then need to get insurance and they’ll buy futures contracts for cotton, as well, and that really boosts up the price usually right as growing season is beginning. That’s what we’re here looking at again today for the cotton market in 2018.

Michael: Okay. So, that drought has been pushing up prices, but here in the last couple of weeks, that started to lessen a little bit. We’re looking at a map here of Texas, west Texas, big cotton growing region. If you would’ve looked at this map, the darker colors indicate a severe drought portion, so we still have some going up in northern part of Texas, but if you would’ve looked at this chart 3-4 weeks ago, almost half of Texas was in that red. So, this has mitigated quite a bit to where we are right now and that has allowed a lot of these planters to really make some progress in planting over the last couple of weeks. As a matter of fact, stats we just pulled today, James, at the end of the week of May 13th they were 28% planted. At the end of the week of May 20th, Texas farmers were 43% planted, so that’s a lot of progress to make up in a week and that’s due to that they finally got some moisture. They were able to get the crop in the ground. 5-year average is only 33%, so they’re actually ahead, quite a bit ahead, of where they normally are in a 5-year average, so that moisture they did get has really done a lot of good for the Texas crop. USDA just came out with their most recent/first estimate for the ’18-’19 crop. You’ll see here, James, ending stocks actually above last year is what they’re targeting.

James: Really a weather market right now. Anyone who lives in the United States, especially in the eastern half of the United States, I know we have clients and viewers from all over the world, but here in the U.S. it’s raining all the time. Precipitation is just dominating the weather market right now and, in the chart you just mentioned, for the Texas state, that was truly an extremely dry condition and that has mitigated quite a bit. We’re now 5-6% above the 5-year average for plantings. We now have precipitation coming in. We’re going to wind up having a larger crop than a lot of people thought about and then we’re going to have carry-over in the United States, the highest level in 10 years. I know a lot of people are going to look at this, “well, the carry-over was much higher 8-9 years ago”, but cotton was also around $0.40-$0.50 a pound then, too. That’s a big difference.

Michael: One other thing we should probably bring up that’s really carrying a lot of weight here is that cotton also has a very strong seasonal tendency. Actually, it doesn’t even really start to break until about mid-June. What’s usually behind this? What causes this?

James: Just as we were describing, Michael, if there’s any type of weather fears in Alabama, Mississippi, this year it was Texas, generally speaking, until the crop is planting and until the weather conditions look favorable for production that year, generally speaking that’s going to be the high point of the year as planting’s taking place in the southern states of the United States. As the planting is completed, it’s 85-95% completed, which will be probably in the next 2-3 weeks, weather comes in, the dramatic dry conditions no longer are pushing up prices. Sure enough, as you start harvesting the crop in October, November, December, big crop once again, U.S. farmers are the best in the world, and once again we had a lot bigger crop than most people anticipated. That’s what’s winding up in timing right now looks perfect for the seasonal average and it’s setting up the same way into this year.

Michael: Yeah, it does seem to be lining up pretty well. If the rains continue, we don’t have a big drought surprise, this seasonal looks like it’s set up to be pretty close. So, we’re looking at a trade here. I’ll let you talk about the trade, James, but you’re looking at a December call right now.

James: Exactly. We have cotton trading in the low-mid 80’s recently. There was a recent spike up with a lot of discussion about the problems in Texas. Generally speaking, we do have the market rally May, June, and then July it usually rolls over. We are now looking at really decent call buying by speculators and hedgers alike at the $1 and the 105. There are no guaranteed investments in this world, but selling cotton at 105 looks like a pretty darn good one and if it does follow along with the seasonal, if it does follow along with the idea that supplies are going to be at 10-year highs at the end of this year, cotton will go from 80’s to a 105 looks very slim chances to us. We think this is going to be one of the better positions going into the 4th quarter of this year.

Michael: So, when you’re talking about taking advantage of a bull market rather than buy into cotton, what James is talking about is the bull market creates interest in these deep out-of-the-money calls. So, how you take advantage of it and sell these deep out-of-the-money calls, we don’t know if the drought’s over. It sure looks like it’s taking a lot of big steps towards mitigating, but if we’re wrong and they don’t get rains and somehow the second half of the planting doesn’t go as well, cotton can still go higher from here. So, we don’t want to bet on that it’s going to turn around right now, right on seasonal. It could keep going. We’re just going to sell calls up here and it can do whatever it wants. It can keep going, it can mitigate, or it can roll over with the seasonal. Either way, there’s a pretty good chance these calls are still going to expire worthless.

James: We really like that as an opportunity selling those calls.

Michael: Okay. If you’d like to learn more about trading these types of markets, taking advantage of upward markets by selling calls, you’ll want to pick up a copy of our book The Complete Guide to Option Selling: Third Edition. You can get it now on our website at a discount than where you’ll get it in the bookstore or on Amazon. That’s www.OptionSellers.com/book. James, let’s move into our next market we’d like to talk about this month.

James: Okay.

Michael: We’re back with out second market we’re going to talk about here in our June Podcast- How to take advantage of the bull market in commodities. That second market is one we talked about here last month… that’s the crude oil market. We’re going to update this trade a little bit to give you some insights into how these type of strategies work. James, last month you talked about selling a strangle on the crude market, the February 45/90 strangle. Why don’t you update us on how the market has done and how that trade is doing?

James: Let’s talk about both sides of this investment. Just 6-12 months ago, there was considered a 300 million barrel oil surplus globally. That has evaporated to approximately 30 million barrels. The market is practically absolutely flat right now. Every barrel of oil that’s being produced right now has an owner before it even comes out of the ground. That fundamental will not be changing in the next 3-6 months. They’re not just going to find oil, it’s not going to go from a 30 million barrel surplus to a 300 million barrel surplus overnight. That’s not going to happen. That’s going to keep oil well above the $40 level. The $45 put that we sold, I think, is excellent sales-ship, not ownership… you don’t want to own those. Crude oil over the next 6 months is likely not going to this level. The call side, what’s developing over the last 60-90 days really is what’s going on in Europe. Basically, the European Union has been dealing with quantitative easing for as long as the United States have. Of course, now we’re no longer doing QEs. The U.S. economy is doing extremely well. Europe? Not so much. We have quantitative easing still in Europe and PMIs in Germany, England, Italy are going straight south. Consumer confidence in Germany is at one of its lowest levels in years. The European economy is starting to roll over while it has quantitative easing. Europe produces practically no oil whatsoever and they are very susceptible to oil shocks. Oil at Brent commodity is up to $80 a barrel. In the United States it’s around $71-$72. That level is practically double of where it was 12 months ago and Europe is really feeling a brunt about that. What OPEC is very keen to know is to not kill economic growth. Oil just went from basically $45-$50, recently now up to $80 on Brent, and economies in Europe, especially, can’t sustain that. We’re looking again about discussion about Greek bonds and if that market rolls over again, and if Europe goes into slight recession going on in the next say 4th quarter of this year 1st quarter of next year, stock markets start to slide, U.S. economy starts to slide. Then, OPEC can basically claim a big part in slowing economic growth. They don’t want that. OPEC is producing oil for $35-$40 a barrel. Rent is up to 80. They’re likely going to start rolling back some of the production cuts and that’s what makes the $90-$95 calls a great sale, as well. Oil is likely not going to be hitting $90 going into the 4th quarter of this year. That’s the shoulder season, that’s when demand worldwide is at its lowest. That should make the $95 a very good sale. We like being short in 90 and 95. We love being long at 40 and 45. This is probably one of the best strangles available right now in all of commodities and the reason why those premiums are so high, as you mentioned Michael, is because the bull market in commodities. It gets people out buying options that they normally wouldn’t, reaching out for higher levels than normally they would, and that’s what makes cherry-picking in puts and calls, selling commodities in options right now, I think, the timing is just about perfect.

Michael: Yeah, the trade we recommended last month, you were talking about this trade… 45/90 February. You’ll notice last month we were about here, so the market has bumped up about $3 a barrel, but it’s still right in the middle of the strangle and this strangle is actually profitable now from where we recommended it. So, just what we talked about last month, we’re not trying to pick highs or lows or guess what the market’s going to do. We don’t care as long as it stays between these levels. This strangle is performing just about optimally as how you’d want it.

James: This form of investing is much more simplistic than trying to pick exactly where all these markets are going. This could look like Apple stock and trying to figure out what Apple is going to do next week or next month. Basically, selling options, especially on a strangle, you’re throwing the football to where you think the market is going to be. So, if you’re in the lower 3rd of the trading range and you still think the market has got a little bit higher to go, look where we’re winding up right now with the $2 or $3 rally. We’re right in the middle of the strangle… right where we like to see it.

Michael: Okay. Now you did mention you think oil prices could be starting to slow here over the next several months. Again, we’re not calling a talk, but you think as it goes along there’s going to be a second conversation here with OPEC as far as their quotas.

James: I really think so. 2 years ago, Saudi Arabia and Russia got together and said, “We’ve got to try something. We just saw oil for under $40 a barrel, we’re basically making little money.” They basically said, “Let’s try and reduce production by 3%, 4%, 5% and see what happens. The U.S. is now the largest producer. We have to do something or the market’s going to stay low.” That conversation worked extremely well… oil at Brent to $80. The second conversation now is let’s not get greedy. If the oil goes up another $2, $3, or $4 a barrel what difference does it make to you as a producer? If you’re making $40 a barrel or $42, it doesn’t make that much of a difference, but to consuming areas like the Euro area, another $3, $4, or $5 can tip that economy over and that is a big deal. I think that’s the conversation they’re going to have in June when OPEC meets.

Michael: James, you just gave this talk you had on the oil markets to TDAmeritrade and they’re, what, 11 million trading customers?

James: Yeah, we had a lot of investor eyeballs on us today. It’s quite interesting how many people actually do invest in commodities. There is an advertisement on TV recently… people aren’t investing in this and they aren’t investing in that and they aren’t investing in commodities. They really are investing in commodities and we certainly saw that this morning with the viewership that we had talking strictly about options on commodities. We really blew it off the charts today.

Michael: Great. You can see that interview on our website probably later this week or early next week. It’ll be on the blog. The full interview will be posted there and you can take a look at that. If you’d like to learn more about some of the things we’ve been talking about here, you’ll want to take a look at the June OptionSeller Newsletter. That should be out on or before June 1st. If you’re already a subscriber, it’ll be in your e-mail box and your physical mailbox around that time. Let’s go ahead and move into our Q & A section and see what our readers have to ask this month.

Michael: Welcome back to the Q & A portion of this month’s podcast. James, we’re going to take some questions from some of our viewers and readers here and see if you can answer what they have to ask. Our first question this month comes from Omar Fallon of Galveston, Texas. Omar asks, “Dear James, I am currently selling options with the assistance of your excellent book, The Complete Guide to Option Selling. I’m also following your 200% rule that you recommend. My question is, do you still follow the 200% rule when you’re writing a strangle or is there a different risk strategy for a strangle?”

James: Okay. Omar, thanks for the question. We often consider that every time we do write a strangle. From time to time, of course, one side or the other goes against us slightly while we’re waiting… patiently waiting in most cases. I do like using the 200% rule on the total value of the strangle itself. If you take into consideration the fact that both sides of the put and the call combined premium has to first double before you exit the trade, that is truly putting a lot of room between you and the market and giving you a lot of time, hopefully, to hold onto that position. I do recommend using a 200% rule on the total value of both the put and the call sale.

Michael: And that’s primarily because if the market starts moving against one of your strikes, that option on the other side of the market is balancing that out. So, you can afford to let it go a little further because you’re making some of that up on the other side of the market.

James: Exactly right. Omar, if you sold your option fairly well, you’re going to have a really good opportunity for the market to stay inside that strangle and, as you approach option expiration, if you choose to hold on to it the very last day, we don’t always do that; however, that window should be extremely large and I do like giving the whole 200% risk tolerance on both the put and the call. If you sold the option fairly well, the market should wind up inside that window when it is time to close them out.

Michael: Let’s go to our next question. This one comes from Jonathan Hartwig from Springdale, Arkansas. Jonathan asks, “Dear James, I’ve noticed from your videos that you seem to focus more on some commodities and less on others. I traded commodities about 11 years ago and did markets like hogs and orange juice, even pork bellies. Is there a reason you don’t feature these markets and how many markets do you actually trade at your firm?”

James: Jonathan, great question. It sounds like questions from my favorite movie, Trading Places… orange juice and pork bellies. Those are certainly near and dear to our hearts here. Basically, we ant to be in the most liquid commodity markets that there are. Pork bellies, lean hogs, orange juice is a very domestic trade here in the United States. Orange juice, of course, is produced 90% in the United States, pork bellies is certainly a U.S. domestic commodity in market. Lean hogs, of course, is a U.S. domestic market. What that does is it allows the fundamentals to change dramatically in a very short period of time. We like investing in crude oil produced in so many nations. Gold, silver, sugar is produced in over 2 dozen different nations and coffee is produced all over the world. Wheat is produced in almost every nation of the world. So, if the fundamentals or dry conditions in one zone of the United States or in part of Asia, 90% of the world is going to have a different weather pattern or a different structure that’s causing the market to move. That’s going to give the commodity a lot more stability. We always want to sell options based on fundamentals, and the fundamentals in every sector of the world rarely are going to change at the same time. Where if you’re trading a domestic market like orange juice or pork bellies, a small freeze, a terrible draught in a certain location, swine flu in Iowa can determine the entire investment. Here at OptionSellers, we want to be in markets that are extremely liquid and will not have changing fundamentals on a small whim. We sell options based on a 3, 6, 12 month time period. If you’re trading and investing in options that are based on commodities that are grown all around the world, produced all around the world, you’ll rarely have a really brief quick change in fundamentals. Right up our alley for the way we do things.

Michael: Yeah, a lot of people are surprised when they’re asking about what commodities you actually trade. There’s really only about 10 or 12 that we follow and those are those high volume markets you’re talking about. It’s not like we’re following 500 stocks here. There’s 10 or 12 markets, you just get to know them really well.

James: They all have personalities, Michael. I’ve been trading silver and gold, coffee and sugar, natural gas and crude oil for decades. That doesn’t mean we’re right all the time, but they do have a personality. You get to know the fundamentals and when there’s a little headline or blip here or there it really doesn’t rattle you, nor should it with your investment.

Michael: So, the point is, Jonathan, if you’re selling options you’ll probably want to stick to your highest volume markets that are going to have the highest volume, most liquidity in the options. That’s where you’re going to get the safest type of trades. If you’re watching this at home, thank you for watching this month’s podcast. I hope you enjoyed what you learned here today. James, thank you for your insights on the markets.

James: Of course. Always.

Michael: If you’d like to learn more about managed option selling portfolios here with OptionSellers.com, you’ll want to be sure to request your Option Sellers Discovery Pack. This is available on our website for free. It comes with a DVD. You can get that at www.OptionSellers.com/Discovery. As far as our account openings go, we still have a couple openings left in June for consultations. Those would be for our account openings in July and August. So, if you’re thinking about possibly, you want to make an allocation this summer, now is the time to give a call and get your consultation/interviews scheduled. You can call Rosemary at the office… that’s 800-346-1949. If you’re calling from outside the United States, that’s 813-472-5760. Have a great month of option selling and we’ll talk to you again in 30 days. Thank you.

May 10, 2018 06:52 AM PDT

Good afternoon. This is James Cordier of OptionSellers.com with a market update for May 5th. Well, we are starting to receive some very interesting economic data just recently. Not so much here in the United States, but definitely in the EU. Both German and Great Britain numbers recently are really showing some signs of slowing. It’s very interesting that with quantitative easing still in place throughout the European Union we have slowing already in some of the main economies, namely Germany.

Here in the United States we still do have a fairly robust recovery developing. While there are some economic numbers here showing that it’s not taking off to a great extent, it’s still on firm footing. This has created a much stronger U.S. Dollar just recently. Which has brought a lot of commodity prices back into check. Earlier this year, we were having fears of the U.S. Dollar falling in value and investors rushing into precious metals, gold, silver, platinum, and the like, and as the U.S. Dollar now becomes “King Dollar” once again gold prices and silver prices have backed off markedly. What’s so interesting is if quantitative easing is still in place throughout the European Union, how is that area slowing already? That certainly is a big point for us looking forward to help decide economic growth. Globally, in China of course we have tariff talk, not that tariffs are going to necessarily take place to a great extent but, what that often does is it creates anxiety amongst major players and I think that’s what’s going on in Europe right now.

We do see decent demand for commodities going forward. The energy patch continues to be relatively strong but we do see that plateauing as well later in the summer. June, July, and August is often the high for demand in energy across the United States and we see that possibly slowing this big rally that we’ve seen in crude oil recently. We love the idea of putting a very large strangle around crude oil prices. We have a nearly fifty dollar strangle around that market. We think that’s going to be an excellent opportunity going forward and we have sales in precious metals some fifty, sixty, and seventy percent above current prices. With a strong dollar, we think that’s going to be an excellent way to go into the last half of 2018. We will just have to wait and see. We really like the way portfolios are positioned right now. We did a lot of rebalancing over the first quarter and a half and we think that we’re going to be bearing fruit here going forward over the next six months.

Anyone wanting more information from OptionSellers.com can visit our website. If you’re not already a customer of ours and would like to become one, you can certainly visit our website or contact Rosemary about possibly becoming a client if you wish. As always, it’s a pleasure chatting with you and looking forward to doing so again in two weeks. Thank you.

April 30, 2018 08:42 AM PDT

Michael: Hello everybody. This is Michael Gross of OptionSellers.com. I’m here with head trader James Cordier. We are here for your monthly May video podcast from OptionSellers.com. James, welcome to the monthly show.

James: Thank you, Michael. Can you believe we’re going into May already?

Michael: It sure went fast. This last month here we saw some key developments in the markets. We have a lot of tensions between China and the U.S. over trade, and then we’re, lately, looking at 10-year treasuries going over 3%. A lot of people are wondering how this may affect commodities. What’s your take on that?

James: Well, the trade wars that are supposedly about to take place, I think, are simply negotiation. President Trump mentioned many times going into the election that he was going to do “the art of the deal” and get us some more fair playing field, especially with China. Certainly the deficit that many goes out to China and doesn’t come back is something that he’s going to work on and, I believe, it’s more negotiating than it’s actually going to be major changes, as far as trade tariffs and such. Will some be put in place and some enacted? Probably so, but I know Mr. Mnuchin is going to China I believe in the next week or two, and he’s going to have probably the checkbook ready so he can basically get an olive branch going out. Needless to say, everybody wants a strong economic global growth and a trade war is not going to help that; however, getting a more fair and balanced trade, especially with China, I think is a really good idea and I think that’s what we’re going to get over the next month or two. All the discussion about it, I think, is going to be more of just that: just discussion.

Michael: So, you don’t see any major changes in any commodities in the immediate term? Any immediate strategies people should be doing right now or as a result of that or, primarily, do you just see things leveling out here?

James: Michael, the discussion of a trade war, like in soybeans or something that’s going to affect the demand for oil, I think a person or an investor should use that to look at the idea that it’s going to be settled. It’s not going to be a large disruption to production or demand in any of these commodities. When the price of a commodity is affected by discussion of it, I think you should take advantage of that. 3-6 months later, the fundamentals that we see now are going to be in place then, and basically it was hype that was going on and I think it’s going to offer opportunities. For markets that you’re following, if there’s trade discussion that’s going to move up or down the market that you were hoping to sell either puts or calls on, I think that’s going to be great picking in order to do that.

Michael: Okay. Well, for those of you watching, we have an exciting show for you ahead this month. We’re going to be addressing a very common question we get. A lot of times, people sell an option, they get into the trade, the option moves a little bit against them, and then the question is “Well, what do I do now? Do I adjust the trade? Do I get out of it? If so, where do I get out of it?” What we’re going to do this month is we’re actually going to take you into some of our real trades we are doing in portfolios. Some of these, you’ve probably seen us talk about before. Pull back the curtain a little bit and show you a risk-parameter we might use and then recommend something you can use at home, as well, if you’re trading on your own or just get a little bit better insight into how we might do it professionally. A good analogy, and, James, I know you can comment on this, is we all saw the incident with Southwest Airlines this month where they had the problem with the engine. Certainly a tragedy for the people involved that it effected; however, one thing that really stuck out to me is the pilots that landed that plane and saved all those people. Have you heard the transcripts? They’re just cool as a cucumber. They knew exactly what to do, they had processes in place for every situation or condition, and you pilots out there that are clients, you know exactly what I’m talking about. When people are trading, and you know this more than anyone, James, you should have a contingency. Anything that happens, you should have a plan for that happening and have that type of control. That’s how you avoid that “what should I do” when you get into certain situations. When you’re trading, you deal with the same thing, James, am I right?

James: I certainly do, nothing like that pilot was facing this past week, but in a similar note, you do have a plan. We are generally positioned in anywhere from 8-10 commodities and when one is causing the plane or the bow to veer right or veer left you simply need to make the adjustment. It shouldn’t be a huge deal to your portfolio. You should really be able to make a minor adjustment. If you’re in 10 commodities and 1 is going really in a direction you weren’t thinking, you should have a plan for that. It shouldn’t be a panic. It shouldn’t be large turns like this. You should just be turning the wheel like this and we’ve got an adjustment that needs to be made, the cocoa market or the coffee market or the silver market, and you just steer the plane and get it flying level again. Your portfolio, whether you’re having a portfolio with us or you’re investing with one on your own, you should never have a position that makes that much variance to your account. If you have 1 position in your account, name the commodity- it doesn’t really matter, and if it moves 5-10% in a short period of time, if that makes your account move larger than it really should be, it shouldn’t have a large variance because the market moved 5% or 10%. If it is doing that, you’re simply not positioned correctly. Always have in your portfolio 8-10 commodities and if 1 is making the plane go like this then you just pull it back like that. You should never have a position on your account that you can’t, in order to make the plane fly smoothly again, if you would. It happens all the time. We’re not right all the time. We’ll have 8-10 commodities in a portfolio and by-goodness, 1 is going to be causing this to happen and you just straighten the plane. Just like that brave pilot did, he knew exactly what to do. My goodness, 1 engine went out and he was able to do that. We have 10 engines on our plane. We should never have one commodity or another commodity make the plane go like this. It really shouldn’t happen. For your investors at home, if that’s happening to your portfolio you don’t have a diversified portfolio, and that is something that we at OptionSellers.com always strive to have so that when something happens that was unexpected, there’s a big headline in a certain commodity, you just straighten the plane and that’s what we do.

Michael: That’s what we’re going to talk about today. If you’re trading at home or you’re checking out this strategy, one of the biggest advantages you have as an option seller is that flexibility James was talking about where if you’re trading, and say you are worried about a Chinese trade war or this or that, you have the ability to build out a strategy that can benefit from nearly any type of economic condition. It’s one you should use if you’re an option seller. We’re going to address and use a specific example this month from a market we talked about. We’ll show you how to adjust a trade if you do get into those type of situations where it’s not working exactly the way you hoped it would, and we’re going to give you a couple examples here of how to do just that. James, why don’t we move into the trading room and we’ll talk about our markets this month.

James: Sounds good.

Michael: Welcome to the markets segment of the OptionSellers.com May Podcast. We are going to talk about a market this month that we featured in last month’s podcast and that we’ve got a lot of questions on over the past month so we’re going to talk a little bit about it. This does go into the topic of this month’s podcast, which is how to turn a losing trade into a winning trade. So, first let’s talk about the market… this is the cocoa market. You saw us feature this market in last month’s podcast. Cocoa we talked about selling the 32 December call options. The markets rallied a little bit since then, did not threaten a strike, but it’s up a little bit. James, do you want to tell us what’s going on with this trade and this market?

James: Michael, what’s going on with cocoa right now is the last several years we’ve had a production surplus worldwide. In 2018 and 2019, some of the largest cocoa analysis around the country is predicting the first deficit in quite some time for world production. Basically, high prices cure high prices and low prices cure low prices. The initial trade is that we’re going to have a production deficit this coming year and then the market must go much higher because we’re running out of cocoa, but in all actuality what happens when the price of something is rising that is dampening down demand. So, for example, when cocoa was trading around $2,000 and $2,100 a ton, chocolate manufacturers were purchasing cocoa. As it rallies, they purchase less and less and less, and the demand has already taken place. So, when we do get an announcement of a production deficit, that usually gets the last of the buyers, the headline traders, to get involved with the market. We saw a spike here recently in the last day or two where cocoa was threatening $2,900 a ton. Keep in mind that’s up almost 50% in price over the last few months. Basically what that does is commercial demand then starts to fall and then basically it’s a speculatively driven market. Usually a market that has moved 50%, we have just a couple percent difference in production, 2-3 years ago up until now, and yet we’ve had a 50% increase in price; thus, we think that’s a temporary move in the market. While we were suggesting selling the $3,200 calls last month, the market did not get anywhere near that level but, as some of the viewers and readers have mentioned, the price of those options are up slightly from, maybe, when we discussed selling them.

Michael: Sure. I think that goes back to a good point is, we always say this, we don’t know where the top or bottom of a market’s going to be. That’s why we are selling options in the first place. We’re not trying to pick that anymore. You don’t have to pick that either as an option seller. It’s an important point to make as an option seller… you’re not trying to call the market, you’re just picking a window where you think prices should remain and then selling options outside that range.

James: Exactly right. Fundamentally, the price of cocoa over the next 3-6 months should be at this level. The price of coffee or crude oil based on fundamentals will be at a certain level, as well. Basically, you’re selling option premium that puts you out-of-the-money sometimes 40-50-60%, and some 8 times out of 10, that leeway is all you’ll ever need. As a matter of fact, anyone listening to us right now and, of course, our clients are long-term investors. So, if you are, like we discussed just recently, you are flying a plane and you want it to have several engines, okay? Your portfolio should have several commodities; however, when one does exceed a level that you thought it would, you can roll up your position. For example, each day that cocoa gets more and more expensive, the likelihood of it staying above its fundamental value diminishes. So, if you did short cocoa prices at, for example, $3,200 a ton by selling the $3,200 call, you may choose to roll it up to the $3,400 or the $3,500 if in fact it’s something that if you want to stay with the market or you want to stay with your position, but speculatively the market is driven higher than we thought it would do. That is certainly one approach that we often take and someone who maybe has that position on right now might want to take that, as well.

Michael: So, what you’ve just explained is how to turn a losing trade into a winning trade, the title of our podcast here today. Let’s go back and just explore that briefly. When we talked about selling the call here, we talked about selling it and we were right about here, now the market has rallied a little bit. As you said earlier, it really hasn’t threatened the original strike. In fact, I don’t even think the original premium has doubled yet.

James: No, they hadn’t.

Michael: Yet, we got a handful of people writing, “Ah, I sold a cocoa call. What do I do now?” Well, there’s 2 points to that. One, we’re not really an advisory service, we are managed fund here, so we can’t really instruct you all the way through the trade. The bigger point here is when we went back to the beginning of the podcast that James just referred to, we talk about the pilot steering the plane. If you’re putting a trade like this on, you better have a plan for what you’re going to do for when you go into that trade if it doesn’t move the way you think. Now, the movement in cocoa right now, it hasn’t really been extreme, it is pressuring the strike price a little bit. James feels it’s still fundamentally justified trade, but if you’re getting uncomfortable or it keeps rallying or starts pressuring that, he’s talking about rolling the positions up. James, do you want to explain the mechanics of that if you were, or if somebody was holding a 32 call what they would do to recapture that premium?

James: Okay, so let’s say you sold 10 contracts of the 3,200 December call strike and the price is now exceeding your risk tolerance. Let’s say you sold them for $500 or $600. Let’s say you have the 100% rule for your portfolio, so the option has now doubled to approximately $1,000-$1,200. Now what I would do, if you were considering staying with a fundamental trade, which I think cocoa will probably be in the high 20’s at the end of the year and nowhere near 3,200; however, you buy back your $3,200 call and you can sell 20 now of the $3,400-$3,500 call. Eventually, the fundamental factors are going to slow this market down and we think that come November, when the December contracts expire, we’ll probably be in the high 20’s… like 2,800-2,900 at the most. So, if we do exceed 3,000 for a brief period, I would use that certainly as an option selling opportunity in cocoa calls. 3,400-3,500, I think, the market will not exceed that level in our opinion. We’ll have to wait and find out, but come November I think the market will be much below that.

Michael: So, you’re doubling up on those strikes. So, you sold 10 and then when you roll you’re selling 20. That allows you to, one, get back your original premium, but it also allows you to recover the loss.

James: That’s exactly right. Keep in mind as we discuss this, we always want to be in 8-10 commodities. We are selling options sometimes 40%, 50%, 60% out-of-the-money. You can’t, or you probably don’t want to, base your entire investment and the viability of this type of investment for you based on the idea that you sold 10 contracts of cocoa. Okay? We are selling commodity options in approximately 8-10 different sectors and, over the long-term, selling options 40%, 50%, 60% out-of-the-money is going to work out quite well, but, by all means, we stub our toe. We get kicked in the shin once in a while, but if you’re a long-term investor, and everyone should be, whether you’re long stocks or the real estate market or you’re selling options as an investment portfolio, you just know that 1 or 2 may not go your way and you definitely need to manage your portfolio. This is one way to do it. Another idea is, you know, taking a losing trade. If the investment idea wasn’t correct, we’ll take a look at it again. Let’s see if the market continues to rally, we’ll sell options on another day, or we’ll come and visit cocoa again next year. Have that ability to do that.

Michael: That’s an excellent point. If you’re watching some of the things we do and you’re trying to trade just at home online saying “Oh I like that trade. I’ll sell this and see how it goes”, that’s really not how these are meant to go. When we are putting trades on a portfolio, we are putting them on as part of an overall portfolio of, as you said, 6, 8, 10 different positions. Sometimes they’re hedged on the other side of the market, sometimes they’re balanced by a long or short position somewhere else. So, these are incorporated into a much bigger scheme. If you’re just taking them and you’re really selling them out of context, so if something like this does move against you it’s a big deal for your portfolio, where for us is just like the captain of the plane. It’s a flip of a switch, just something different you need to do to adjust the position.

James: Exactly, Michael. You should always be able to have both hands on the wheel and just make small adjustments. If you sold cocoa calls recently, your positioning should only be going like this and you shouldn’t be turning the wheel like this. If you’re doing that with your portfolio, you’re not doing it right.

Michael: And as we talked about earlier for managed clients, we are going to be taking a closer look at this market this month. It is starting to get interesting and maybe look to see what we can do there in the coming weeks here. Let’s talk about another market here for our second part of the podcast this month. That will be the crude oil market. If you want a market that has been in the news lately, one that has been in the headlines has been the crude oil market. We’ve been closing in on the $70 mark for the first time in 2014. It’s been one of the strongest commodities on the board since last fall. James, you want to tell us what’s going on here? What’s behind this rally? What’s been pushing prices higher?

James: Michael, Saudi Arabia has done just an incredible job leading the OPEC nations, as well as Russian production. Someone sat down with members of OPEC and said, “Listen. We cut production by 2-3%, we’re looking at the possibility of a 20%, 30%, or 40% gain in crude oil prices.” Lo and behold, that math sounded good to the OPEC producers, they did start cutting production, not a great deal, just a couple percent. Basically, we were looking at a 300-400 million barrel of surplus floating around the world, both in tankers and at storage facilities in some of the OPEC nations. After some 18 months of oil production cuts by OPEC and along with Russia, that 300-400 million barrel surplus is down to some 30 or 40 million barrels… just a huge gain for OPEC. Their ability to cut production has just paid off in spades. We have approximately 35-40% increase in oil prices. OPEC is very cohesive right now, something that a lot of analysts are quite surprised at and we are surprised at it, as well. The ability to keep that production offline when prices are going up, my hats off to OPEC, they’ve done a very nice job in order to do this. The market is now balanced. Basically, for every barrel that is being produced there is a consumer right now. We have a very balanced market and, as you can see, it’s up some $20-$25 from where we were just not that long ago.

Michael: Yeah, compliance has been surprising, too. I read somewhere that they’re at like 138% compliance. Before, they used to have trouble even getting half the members to hit their quotas, now they’re above 100%.

James: Someone did the math for the OPEC producers and said a small 2-3% cut can possibly increase the prices 20-30%. They nailed it. Here are the final results.

Michael: As you mentioned, that’s taking quite a bit of oil off the market. OPEC production down 11.4% since these started in January 2017. So, that’s a pretty good drawdown. That’s really, what James is saying, is behind this rally right now. That and we have a pretty good seasonal in effect that’s helping drive prices now, as well.

James: Basically, as we get into driving season in the U.S., the largest consumer of oil and gasoline in the world, you have a ramp-up of production where you’re cracking oil into gasoline and, generally, that happens between the months of March, April, and May getting ready for summer driving season. So, that cracking of oil takes oil production and supply off the market, turns it into gasoline, so you have, once again, a temporary shortage of oil as not only OPEC taking barrels off the market but also you have the largest refining season coming up going into driving times of June, July, and August here in the United States. This takes barrels of oil off the market, they are cracked into gasoline, and that’s why you usually have this seasonal rally going into May and June.

Michael: Which seems to be following it very closely this year, the seasonal tendency. Now, one thing we’re seeing this year, and you and I were talking about this earlier, is refineries are operating at a torrid pace right now. They’re really hitting it pretty hard as far as production goes. Right now, gasoline production running about 4.2% ahead of pace for where it normally is. So, you’re thinking that they may hit those levels earlier this year and we may see a topping action in crude a little bit earlier this year?

James: You know, consumption for gasoline in the United States peaks in June and July right around the 4th of July, or so it seems, but the price of crude oil will often top before then. Crude oil is clearly where gasoline comes from, and as those barrels come offline, in other words, they’re cracked into gasoline, the price of oil will often top before gasoline does. So, the demand is still there but it has already been produced. So, while the greatest demand in the United States is around the middle of the summer holidays, the demand for oil to produce that gasoline has already taken place and thus the seasonal comes down sooner than you would think.

Michael: Sure, and this chart’s showing you can see a top in crude any time between mid-May to early-July, as you said; however, if refineries are hitting those levels where they deem supply adequate, they’re going to cut back production sooner and that will hurt demand for crude.

James: And then the crude barrels start to accumulate more.

Michael: Okay. So, we have that and then also, on the other side of the coin, what we have coming up or what’s even surprised OPEC is the level at which the United States has been able to ramp up production. They’re taking advantage of these higher prices and you referred to high prices carrying high prices earlier. We’re seeing U.S. production just blowing up, going up about 10.5 million barrels a day. Is this having an affect right now on the supply?

James: Well, basically it’s balancing… the additional barrels coming from the United States is balancing what OPEC’s not producing. The fact that production in the United States is going to probably exceed 11 million barrels a day coming up in 2019 and 2020. We do see this plateauing and the excitement in oil right now is probably going to be rolling over. If the United States wasn’t the largest consumer, let’s say all these barrels were being produced on the opposite side of the globe, getting them to the United States would be difficult and then maybe the largest producer, now the United States, wouldn’t be such a big deal, but the fact that we’re producing it exactly where we need it, here in the United States, that will offset some of the global demand and price shock around the world. Everyone always talked about, “The United States is susceptible to what OPEC does”… well, we’re producing all the oil we need now, so the fact that oil is approaching $70 and here in the United States we can produce it for between $35-$45, how long is it going to stay above $70? It can only exceed it by a certain amount of dollars per barrel and for a certain period of time. If this level gets to 11 million barrels a day or 11.5 million barrels a day, oil will be coming back down into the low-mid 60’s at the very least, and probably setting up a sale here that’s looking like in May or June for option sellers.

Michael: Okay. So, your outlook for the intermediate turn, obviously we talked earlier and we’re not trying to predict what prices are going to do, only what they’re not going to do, but do you see a little more strength coming in and then weakening, or what’s just the general outlook for that window?

James: What’s so interesting right now is in some global economies, especially throughout Europe, they are going to feel this large gain in the price of oil. Japan is going to start feeling this large gain in the price of oil. Basically, they are 100% consumers and produce nothing, so oil going from $45 up to $70 will start slowing demand from these major consuming nations. At the same time, when the United States is now producing the most they ever have and now the largest producer in the world, we see oil kind of plateauing here this summer right around maybe June or July, but not falling a whole lot. The fact that we had a 400 million barrel world surplus and it’s not approximately 40 million barrels, the market’s extremely well balanced right now. So, we see some of the excitement that’s going on now in crude oil plateauing somewhat, maybe coming down some $3-$5, but not falling through the floor by any means. Oil production right now is down with OPEC. They have been rewarded for keeping barrels off the market, and I don’t think they’re going to forget that any time soon. I don’t see them going back and ramping up production. They’ve been rewarded so well, they’ve learned a great lesson by keeping, at first, some 3% oil barrels off the market, now it’s up to some 9%, 10%, or 11% of barrels off the market. They’ve learned a great lesson and they’re being rewarded for it, so we don’t see production swamping this market. We see oil possibly trading at about a $10 trading range from where it is now throughout the end of the year.

Michael: All that media coverage and, of course, the price rally has increased the volatility, which is what we like to see as option sellers. Taking a look at a trading strategy, how to trade that exact scenario you just described, you’re looking at one of your favorite strategies, a strangle.

James: It certainly is. You discussed, just now, headlines and OPEC and trade wars with China and the value of a dollar. All of this really has the volatility of petroleum, especially crude oil, at record levels that I haven’t seen almost since I’ve been investing in commodities, but right now you have put premium extremely high, even with a bullish fundamentals, and you have call premium through the roof right now. My favorite position in crude oil for the rest of the year is practically a $45-$50 strangle around the price of oil. So, in other words, we would be selling calls at the $90 level and selling puts at the $45 level. We think that the idea that strong fundamentals right now will keep the market from falling, but yet the fact that prices are high right now and that’s going to start curtailing demand. My prediction for the rest of the year is about a $10-$12 trade range for crude oil and here we have one of the best opportunities I’ve seen to position in crude oil in a long time. That’s putting a $45-$50 strangle around oil. We’re not right all the time and every once in a while we don’t get it right, but for oil to stay between 45 and 90 through the end of the year, I think, is an incredibly high probability position and that’s something that we’re taking advantage of, as you know, Michael, right now.

Michael: You couldn’t do that a year ago. You didn’t get that wide of window, and now we have it, it’s on the table, and you want to take it.

James: Michael, that volatility is your friend. I know when it first happens and you already have positions on, “Oh, it’s too volatile for us”… that’s what you like. A year ago, 2 years ago, 3 years ago, the widest strangle you would write on crude oil was approximately $15-$20 and now you’re writing a $45 strangle. We, as well, are going out slightly further in writing and $50 strangle around crude oil. We’re pretty confident it’s going to stay inside that window. We’ll have to wait and see.

Michael: And again, watching this at home, this is an example. We are not recommending this to you personally as the perfect trade. In our portfolios, we are diversified over December, January, February, and March. Different strategies and different risk management techniques, but in going out to a month like February, a lot of people think that’s a long time out. We’re about 9 months out, but your plan isn’t to necessarily hold these until February or March or whatever you’re writing out there. Often times, with the right decay, you can be getting out of these a few months early.

James: Michael, as we discuss with our clients when they first become clients, we will sell options 6 months, 9 months, 12 months out into the future, but not with the idea that we’re going to stay into that position until the very last day and try and collect the very last dollar. It’s really not important to do that. If we select options fairly well, for example, on the position that we’re looking at right here, after maybe let’s say you sell options 9 months out, if you selected them fairly well, 5-6 months later you should have collected about 85-90% of the potential premium. That is a great place to ring the register and lower your risk and be happy with the position and get out of the trade and buy it back early. Often, we look at February or March or April when we’re talking about selling options. Basically, you’re Tom Brady and you’re throwing it to where the market is not going to be. That is what we’re doing. So, when Michael discusses layering different months and different commodities that’s what we’re doing. To own a portfolio like that, it looks like a great deal of layering in the market and that is what it is and it allows you to have 10 engines on your plane so that when one goes a little bit awry you have other positions to make sure that 80% of your portfolio is going the right direction. This is a great example of doing that.

Michael: Great advice. If you would like to read more about the crude oil market, what we’re recommending there this month, or going into our managed portfolios, you will want to read this month’s newsletter… that’s the May edition of the OptionSellers Newsletter. That comes out May 1st. It should be in your e-mail box or showing up in your hard copy mailbox a couple days after that. Of course, if you want to learn more about the strategies we discussed here or the rolling or strangle or some of the other concepts James mentioned, if you don’t have it yet, The Complete Guide to Option Selling: Third Edition, you can get it on our website at a discount, on Amazon, or the bookstore. The link to that is www.OptionSellers.com/book. Let’s move into our closing section for this month.

Michael: Thank you for watching this month’s edition of OptionSellers TV. James, thank you for those insights on the cocoa and the oil markets. You have any predictions for the upcoming month?

James: The month of May 2018, Michael, I think is going to be the realization that the U.S. dollar is not the weakest currency in the world. The U.S. is looking at probably 2 or 3 rate hikes this year. The U.S. economy is still doing quite well and its counterparts, especially in Europe, the economies in Germany, Italy, France, and England have been doing pretty well over the last 12-18 months, but the expansion in countries like Germany especially, the major driver of the European economy, is showing signs that it may be peaking already. Consumer Confidence in Germany is down, a lot of the sales in Germany is down right now, and not that it’s going into recession, if it does that would be the shortest-lived recovery ever, now don’t see that happening, but the U.S. economy still is on this footing and the European economy is fluttering already. That is going to make the U.S. dollar more buoyant than a lot of investors thought it would be and that is going to stabilize a lot of the commodities. So, getting into short options right now, whether it be puts or calls on precious metals, energies especially, and some of the foods, I think it will be a great calming effect in the 3rd or 4th quarter of this year. So, any discussion about the U.S. dollar isn’t doing so good, any discussion about inflation, I would fade those ideas and sell options on those ideas and, I think, later on this year you’ll be well rewarded.

Michael: Sounds like a good outlook. We’ll have to keep an eye out for that. Also, May is a very active month in the grain markets. We have corn and soybean plantings going on here in the United States, so that can often create opportunities there, as well, for option sellers, sometimes on both sides of the market.

James: Practically every year we have large influx of volatility in corn, wheat, and soybeans and we are ready and waiting for that to happen.

Michael: Excellent. For those of you interested in finding out more about managed option selling portfolios with OptionSellers.com, you can call to request a consultation. At this point, we are booked out through July for our upcoming consultations; however, I believe we still have some spots left for consultations in June for those July account openings. I believe I misspoke there. The consultations are open in June, the account openings are for July. So, if you are interested in those upcoming openings, feel free to give our office a call here and speak with Rosemary. The number is 800-346-1949. If you’re calling from overseas, the number is 813-472-5760. James, again thank you for your insights this month.

James: My pleasure, Michael. It’s always great to give our wisdoms and our insight. We’re not right all the time, but I do like the landscape for selling options here in May and June.

Michael: Perfect. We’ll look forward to the month of May and we’ll talk to all of you again in 30 days. Thank you.

April 30, 2018 07:39 AM PDT

Good afternoon. This is James Cordier of OptionSellers.com with a market update for April 20th. Well, a lot in the news lately concerning tariffs and a possible trade war with the likes of China, of all countries, the second largest economy in the world. The Trump administration, I think, is basically playing a game of chicken and getting them to lower tariffs in their country and getting more of a fair trade platform. I think everyone is pretty much in favor of that.

We’ve had a lot of questions recently… What would a trade tariff mean to some of the positions that we hold in commodities? Wouldn’t that be bearish for commodity prices? Good question. Over the last several weeks, there has been a lot of discussion about it and, primarily, soybeans are one of the target commodities that a lot of people are discussing. A tariff against soybeans and putting a premium on them would probably be negative to prices here in the United States and probably neutral to bullish in countries like Argentina and Brazil.

Our commodities that we trade here, of course, are on U.S. exchanges. We are actually positioned for soybeans to fall later on this year, so a tariff against soybeans would actually probably help our position there, so we’re certainly not too overly concerned about that, but we do watch and wonder what implications might mean to the different commodities and we’re certainly abreast of that. Quite often, a lot of investors look around the country for different aspects of what can move the markets.

Interestingly, right now is the incredible snow and rain in the northern parts of the United States right now. Generally speaking, that will be bullish for large prospect for corn and soybean harvests later this year. So, as we are hoping for a very large crop in soybeans, some October-November of this year, and lower prices, which would actually profit our accounts, our hats are off to those of you in the northern United States bearing the cold and the wind and the rain and the snow. That is helping all of our accounts later on this year.

So, for those of us around the world and in the southern half of the United States, our hats are off to you. Thank you very much. We do anticipate that actually helping our accounts later on this year. That should be a nice addition to the strangles that we’ve applied recently in silver, some $13-$14 around the price of silver, practically 100% of the underlining price. In crude oil, we’re looking at strangles of $52 and $53 wide on barrels that are now worth $60. Basically, we’ve been reloading accounts after a really nice 2017. We’ve spent the last 90 days positioning in markets like that with what we think are going to be great opportunities that will certainly be bearing fruit later this year. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Anyone wanting more information from OptionSellers.com can visit our website. If you’re not already a client and wish to become one, you can certainly contact Rosemary at our headquarters in Tampa, Florida about possibly becoming one. As always, it’s a pleasure chatting with you and look forward to doing so again in 2 weeks. Thank you.

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