March 28, 2011

Current Watch List $$






$APC Break Out couldn't hold today

I started a small position in APC today at 83.17. Stops are at 81ish.

$EL clear skies as it heads to new highs

$LULU Making new highs today.

Kristin Cavallari sportin' that Lululemon Athletica

Sometimes, You Just Have To Jump...

Of course the same things happen in all speculative markets. The message of the tape is the same. That will be perfectly plain to anyone who will take the trouble to think. But people never take the trouble to ask questions, leave alone seeking answers. The one game of all games that really requires study before making a play is the one he goes into without his usual highly intelligent preliminary and precautionary doubts. He will risk half his fortune in the stock market with less reflection than he devotes to the selection of a 
medium-priced automobile.
I believe that having the discipline to follow your rules is essential. Without specific, clear, and tested rules, speculators do not have any real chance of success. Why? Because speculators without a plan are like a general without a strategy, and therefore without an actionable battle plan. Speculators without a single clear plan can only act and react, act and react, to the slings and arrows of stock market misfortune, until they are defeated.
First, do not be invested in the market all the time. There are many times when I have been completely in cash, especially when I was unsure of the direction of the market and waiting for a confirmation of the next move....Second, it is the change in the major trend that hurts most speculators.
I believe that the public wants to be led, to be instructed, to be told what to do. They want reassurance. They will always move en masse, a mob, a herd, a group, because people want the safety of human company. They are afraid to stand alone because they want to be safely included within the herd, not to be the lone calf standing on the desolate, dangerous, wolf-patrolled prairie of contrary opinion.

Trading and Poker: Reaching the Next Level of Success


Well, that's another way poker might be like trading: It's easy to participate, difficult to sustain success. Many just play for the thrills of winning and losing; relatively few systematically learn from experience and build skills over time. 

One reason online poker is particularly promising is that players can play so many hands at one time. This allows for the possibility of accelerated learning; the online poker participant can gain years of live tournament experience in a matter of weeks. But this is only possible if the experience is structured in such a way as to generate frequent, timely feedback and goal-focused efforts at improvement.

Imagine a training program for traders in which there is daily observation of leading traders making decisions, frequent interaction with those traders to understand what they are doing and why, and supervision of students' trading decisions by those traders. It would be like having world-class poker champions sitting behind your shoulder as you play, offering immediate observations and coaching. Expertise development that normally might require many years of effort could now occur in a fraction of that time.

That is the vision.

The key is recognizing that it is the structure--and not just the content--of a learning experience that accounts for its success. Most learning efforts fail because there are too few cycles of performance-feedback-goal setting-corrective effort per unit of time and no clear curricular progression guiding the content of those cycles.

Interested in reading more about enhanced learning and developing elite trading skills? Here are a few sources worth checking out:

Enhancing Trader Performance - This is the book that I wrote to capture the progression of successful traders from novice status to competence to expertise. 

The Talent Code - Dan Coyle's book nicely draws upon research to show that elite levels of performance are as much a function of training as inborn ability.

Talent is Overrated - Excellent book by Geoff Colvin that documents how the structure of practice is a major contributor to successful performance.

The core concept is that, whether you are a poker player, trader, or something else, you can become much better at what you do by creating more and better learning cycles. For the real champions, nothing less will suffice.

The Traders Mindset

By Bennett McDowell
Developing “The Trader’s Mindset” is a must for trading success and this can take some time. This is not an area where you can take a short cut or learn a formula. You usually develop it by actually trading and the experiences you gain from trading. We will help guide you towards developing “The Trader’s Mindset” and help you handle account draw-downs, losses, and profits. Yes, profits can actually cause you stress!
You can see how powerful psychology in trading is, if you show the same successful trading approach to one hundred different traders. No two of them will trade it exactly the same way. Why? Because each trader has a unique belief system and their beliefs will determine their trading style. That is why even with a profitable and proven trading approach, many traders will fail. They do not have the proper belief system to enable them to trade well. In other words, they lack “The Trader’s Mindset.”
When you encounter psychological issues it is best to recognize the issue, just be aware of it, don’t deny it. In order to “fix” psychological issues we as human beings must first become aware of the problem and issues causing the problem in order to heal and “fix” the problem. This is much of what psychoanalysis is all about. The psychologist or psycho- therapist tries to let the patient first see the problem and then the patient must believe that these issues are causing the problem in order for the patient to heal. The reason this process can take so long, perhaps even years is because the patient needs to not only recognize their problems, but must accept that there truly is a problem. They must take responsibility for their problems to heal.
Success in trading is a direct result of a sound trading system, sound money management, proper capitalization, and sound psychology. All of these must be in sync to be successful in your trading. The “ART” system is designed to focus on all of these areas. The only area where you may need additional help once you have mastered your trading skills, is your psychology.
Psychology is the one area that you may need additional help and can take up to a year or so to resolve personal issues attaining trading success. Our consultation services focus on this aspect and if you find yourself struggling with psychological issues, you owe it to yourself to get help in this area.
Here is a list of common psychological trading issues and their causes:
Fear Of Being Stopped Out Or Fear Of Taking A Loss: The usual reason for this is that the trader fears failure and feels like he or she cannot take another loss. The trader’s ego is at stake.
Getting Out Of Trades Too Early: Relieving anxiety by closing a position. Fear of position reversing and then feeling let down. Need for instant gratification.
Adding On To A Losing Position (Doubling Down): Not wanting to admit your trade is wrong. Hoping it will come back. Again, ego is at stake.
Wishing And Hoping: Not wanting to take control or take responsibility for the trade. Inability to accept the present reality of the market place.
Compulsive Trading: Drawn to the excitement of the markets. Addiction and Gambling issues are present. Needing to feel you are in the game.
Anger After A Losing Trade: The feeling of being a victim of the markets. Unrealistic expectations. Caring too much about a specific trade. Tying your self-worth to your success in the markets. Needing approval from the markets.
Excessive Joy After A Winning Trade: Tying your self-worth to the markets. Feeling unrealistically “in control” of the markets.
Limiting Profits: You don’t deserve to be successful. You don’t deserve money or profits. Usually psychological issues such as poor self-esteem.
Not Following Your Proven Trading System: You don’t believe it really works. You did not test it well. It does not match your personality. You want more excitement in your trading. You don’t trust your own ability to chose a successful system.
Over Thinking The Trade, Second Guessing Your Trading Signals: Fear of loss or being wrong. Wanting a sure thing where sure things don’t exist. Not understanding that loss is a part of trading and the outcome of each trade is unknown. Not accepting there is risk in trading. Not accepting the unknown.
Not Trading The Correct Position Size: Dreaming the trade will be only profitable. Not fully recognizing the risk and not
understanding the importance of money management. Refusing to take responsibility for managing your risk.
Trading Too Much: Need to conquer the market. Greed. Trying to get even with the market for a previous loss. The
excitement of trading (similar to Compulsive Trading).
Afraid To Trade: No trading system in place. Not comfortable with risk and the unknown. Fear of total loss. Fear of ridicule.
Need for control.
Irritable after the Trading Day: Emotional roller coaster due to anger, fear, and greed. Putting too much attention on trading
results and not enough on the process and learning the skill of trading. Focusing on the money too much. Unrealistic trading expectations.
Trading With Money You Cannot Afford To Lose Or Trading
With Borrowed Money: Last hope at success. Trying to be successful at something. Fear of losing your chance at
opportunity. No discipline. Greed. Desperation.
These are by no means all the psychological issues but these are the most common. They usually center around the fact that for one reason or another, the trader is not following their chosen trading approach or system. And instead prefers to wing it or trade their emotions which in trading will always get you in trouble. So, I think you can see how psychology is all important in trading.
Our goal as traders in regards to psychology is to maintain an even keel so to speak when trading. Our winning trades and losing trades should not affect us. Obviously we are trading better when we are winning, but emotionally we should strive to maintain an even balance emotionally in regards to our wins and our losses.
It will happen when it happens and when you achieve this level of mental ability; it will come after working long and hard on your problems, but will come without you knowing it. It usually happens when you least expect it.
Below is a list of what one feels after acquiring “The Trader’s Mindset.”
-Sense of calmness
-Ability to focus on the present reality
-Not caring which way the market breaks or moves
-Always aligning trades in the direction of the market, flowing
with the market
-Not caring about the money
-Always looking to improve your skills
-Profits now accumulating and flowing in as your skills improve
-Keeping an open mind, keeping opinions to a minimum
-Accepting the risk in trading
-No Anger
-Learning from every trade
-Winning and losing trades accepted equally from an emotional
-Enjoying the process
-Trading your chosen approach or system and not being
influenced by the market or others
-Not feeling a need to conquer or control the “market”
-Feeling confident and feeling in control of “yourself”
-A sense of not forcing the markets or yourself
-Trading with money you can afford to risk
-No feeling of ever being victimized by the markets
-Taking full responsibility for your trading
When you can read the list above and genuinely say that’s me, you have arrived!
2006©, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

$SRCL - Medical Waste Disposal Leader

Ten Lessons I Have Learned in Working With Traders

By Brett N. Steenbarger, Ph.D.
When I sat down to write this article, I thought it would be challenging—but useful—to distill over 20 years of trading experience—and 25 years of specializing in brief therapy—into ten lessons that I have learned while working with traders (including myself!). In that time, I’ve written two books on trading and worked with dozens of professional traders at a proprietary trading firm. What has this taught me? Let’s break it down:
1. Trading affects psychology as much as psychology affects trading – This was really the motivating factor behind my writing the new book. Many traders experience stress and frustration because they are trading poorly and lack a true edge in the marketplace. Working on your emotions will be of limited help if you are putting your money at risk and don’t truly have an edge.
2. Emotional disruption is present even among the most successful traders – A trading method that produces 60% winners will experience four consecutive losses 2-3% of the time and as much time in flat performance as in an uptrending P/L curve. Strings of events (including losers) occur more often by chance than traders are prepared for.
3. Winning disrupts the trader’s emotions as much as losing – We are disrupted when we experience events outside our expectation. The method that is 60% accurate will experience four consecutive winners about 13% of the time. Traders are just as susceptible to overconfidence during profitable runs as underconfidence during strings of losers.
4. Size kills – The surest path toward emotional damage is to trade size that is too large for one’s portfolio. We experience P/L in relation to our portfolio value. When we trade too large, we create exaggerated swings of winning and losing, which in turn create exaggerated emotional swings.
5. Training is the path to expertise – Think of every performance field out there—sports, music, chess, acting—and you will find that practice builds skills. Trading, in some ways, is harder than other performance fields because there are no college teams or minor leagues for development. From day one, we’re up against the pros. Without training and practice, we will lack the skills to survive such competition.
6. Successful traders possess rich mental maps – All successful trading boils down to pattern recognition and the development of mental maps that help us translate our perceptions of patterns into concrete trading behaviors. Without such mental maps, traders become lost in complexity.
7. Markets change – Patterns of volatility and trending are always shifting, and they change across multiple time frames. Because of this, no single trading method will be successful across the board for a given market. The successful trader not only masters markets, but masters the changes in those markets.
8. Even the best traders have periods of drawdown – As markets change, the best traders go through a process of relearning. The ones who succeed are the ones who save their money during the good times so that they can financially survive the lean periods.
9. The market you’re in counts as much toward performance as your trading method – Some markets are more volatile and trendy than others; some have more distinct patterns than others. Finding the right fit between trader, trading method, and market is key.
10. Execution and trade management count – A surprising degree of long-term trading success comes from getting good prices on entry and exit. The single best predictor of trading failure is when the average P/L of losing trades exceeds the average P/L of winners.
Well, I’ve already hit ten and I have at least ten more I could jot down. Number 11 would be that successful performance mentors have content expertise in their particular domain. What I mean by that is that teachers of concert musicians themselves have experience as musicians; basketball coaches invariably have played the sport themselves. You learn trading by seeing your mentor trade and by having your mentor observe your trading. The right mentorship goes a long way toward shortening learning curves.
Figure it out: what proportion of baseball players, golfers, actresses, chess players, singers, or bicyclists can make a consistent living from their performance activities? Is trading really so much easier than those activities? The stark reality is that expertise in any performance field is the exception, not the rule, requiring dedicated practice and training. If you are emotionally prepared for the learning curve—and excited by the challenge—you are well ahead of the game. Start with finding the Three M’s: right methods, markets, and mentors. Those are the foundation of success, upon which you build skills and experience. Enjoy the journey!

The Mental Aspect of Trading

By: Linda Bradford Raschke

Many traders quickly come to acknowledge that despite being familiar with winning strategies, systems, and money management techniques, trading success is dependent on your psychological state of mind. If you’re a trader just starting out, where do you find the initial confidence to pull the trigger? How do you deal with the down times without digging yourself deeper into the hole? If you are in a hole, how do you work your way back out? How do experienced traders push through the ceiling of profitability that caps their initial trading years and make a truly fabulous living?
Trading is a performance-oriented discipline. Stress and mental pressures can affect your ability to function and impact your bottom line. Much of what has been learned about achieving peak performance in both business and sports can be applied to trading. But before looking at some of these factors, let’s first examine the ways that trading differs from other businesses.
  1. Intellect has nothing to do with your ability as a trader. Success is not a function of how smart you are or how much you have applied yourself academically. This is hard to accept in a society that puts a premium on intellect.
  2. There is no customer or client good will built up each day in your business. Customer relationships, traditionally important in American businesses, have little to do with a trader’s profitability. Each day is a clean slate.
  3. The traditionally 8-5 work ethic doesn’t apply in this business! A trader could sit in front of a screen all day waiting for a recognizable pattern to occur and have nothing happen. There is a temptation to take marginal trades just so a trader can feel like he’s doing something. There’s also the dilemma of putting in constant hours of research, having nothing to show for it, and not getting paid for the work done. Yet if a trader works too hard, he risks burn- out. And what about those months where 19 out of 20 days are profitable, but the trader gives it all back in one or two bad days? How can a trader account for his productivity in these situations?
  4. If you were to invest time, energy, and emotion into developing a business venture and backed out at the last minute, it would be considered a failure. However, you should be able to invest time and energy into researching a trading idea, and yet still be able to change your mind at the last minute. Market conditions change, and we cannot be expected to predict all the variables with foresight. Getting out of a bad trade with only a small loss should be considered a big success!
    What IS the definition of a successful trader? He should feel good about himself and enjoy playing the game. You can make a few small trades a year as a hobby, generate some very modest profits, and be quite successful because you had fun. There are also aggressive traders who have had big years, but ultimately blow-out, ruin their health or lead miserable lives from all the stress they put themselves under.
Principles of Peak Performance
The first principle of peak performance is to put fun and passion first. Get the performance pressures out of your head. Forget about statistics, percentage returns, win/loss ratios, etc. Floor-traders scratch dozens of trades during the course of a day, but all that matters is whether they’re up at the end of the month.
Don’t think about TRYING to win the game – that goes for any sport or performance-oriented discipline. Stay involved in the process, the technique, the moment, the proverbial here and now.! A trader must concentrate on the present price action of the market. A good analogy is a professional tennis player who focuses only on the point at hand. He’ll probably lose half the points he plays, but he doesn’t allow himself to worry about whether or not he’s down a set. He must have confidence that by concentrating on the techniques he’s worked on in practice, the strengths in his game will prevail and he will be able to outlast his opponent.
The second principle of peak performance is confidence. in yourself, your methodology, and your ability to succeed. Some people are naturally born confident. Other people are able to translate success from another area in their life. Perhaps they were good in sports, music, or academics growing up. There’s also the old-fashioned “hard work” way of getting confidence. Begin by researching and developing different systems or methodologies. Put in the hours of backtesting. Tweak and modify the systems so as to make them your own. Study the charts until you’ve memorized every significant swing high or low. Self-confidence comes from developing a methodology that YOU believe in.
Concentrate on the technical conditions. Have a clear game plan. Don’t listen to CNBC, your broker, or a friend. You must do your own analysis and have confidence in your game plan to be a successful trader.
Analyze the markets when they are closed. Your job during the day is to monitor markets, execute trades and manage positions. Traders should be like fighter pilots – make quick decisions and have quick reflexes. Their plan of attack is already predetermined, yet they must be ready to abort their mission at any stage of the game.
Just as you should put winning out of your mind, so should you put losing out of your mind – quickly. A bad trade doesn’t mean you’ve blown your day. Get rid of the problem quickly and start making the money back. It’s like cheating on a diet. You can’t undo the damage that’s been done. However, it doesn’t mean you’ve blown your whole diet. Get back on track and you’ll do fine.
For that matter, the better you are able to eliminate emotions from your day, the better off you will be. A certain amount of detachment adds a healthy dose of objectivity.
Trading is a great business because the markets close at the end of the day (at least some of them). This gives you a zero point from which to begin the next day – a clean slate. Each day is a new day. Forget about how you did the week before. What counts is how you do today!
Sometimes what will happen during the day comes down to knowing yourself. Are you relaxed or distracted? Are you prepared or not? If you can’t trade that day, don’t! – and don’t overanalyze the reasons why or why not. Is psychoanalyzing your childhood going to help your trading? Nonsense!
The third important ingredient for achieving peak performance is attitude. Attitude is how you deal with the inevitable adverse situations that occur in the markets. Attitude is also how you handle the daily grind, the constant 2 steps forward and 2 steps back. Every professional has gone through long flat times. Slumps are inevitable for it’s impossible to stay on top of your game 100% of the time. Once you’ve dug yourself out of a hole, no matter how long it takes, you know that you can do it again. If you’ve done something once, it is a repeatable act. That knowledge is a powerful weapon and can make you a much stronger trader.
Good trades don’t always work out. A good trade is one that has the probabilities in its favor, but that doesn’t mean that it will always work out. People who have a background in game theory understand this well. The statistics are only meaningful when looking at a string of numbers. For example, in professional football, not every play is going to gain yardage. What percentage of games do you need to win in order to make the playoffs? It’s a number much smaller than most of us are willing to accept in our own win/loss ratios!
Here is an interesting question: should you look at a trade logically or psychologically? In other words, should every trade stand on its own merits? Theoretically, yes, but in real life it doesn’t always work that way. A trader is likely to manage a position differently depending on whether the previous trade was a winner or a loser.
How does one know when to take profits on a good trade? You must ask yourself first how greedy do you want to be, or, how much money do you want to make? And also, does your pattern have a “perceived profit” or objective level? Why is it that we hear successful winning traders complain far more about getting out of good trades too soon than not getting out of bad trades soon enough? There’s an old expression: “Profits are like eels, they slip away.”
Successful traders are very defensive of their capital. They are far more likely to exit a trade that doesn’t work right away than to give it the benefit of the doubt. The best trades work right away!
OK. Realistically, every trader has made a stubborn, big losing trade. What do you do if you’re really caught in a pickle? The first thing is to offer a “prayer to the Gods”. This means, immediately get rid of half your position. Cut down the size. Right off the bat you are taking action instead of freezing up. You are reducing your risk, and you have shifted the psychological balance to a win-win situation. If the market turns around, you still have part of your position on. If it continues against you, your loss will be more manageable. Usually, you will find that you wished you exited the whole position on the first order, but not everyone is able to do this.
At an annual Market Technician’s conference, a famous trader was speaking and someone in the audience asked him what he did when he had terrible losing trades. He replied that when his stomach began to hurt, he’d “puke them at the lows along with everyone else.” The point is, everyone makes mistakes but sooner or later you’re going to have to exit that nasty losing position.
“Feel good” trades help get one back in the game. It’s nice to start the day with a winning scalp. It tends to give you more breathing room on the next trade. The day’s psychology is shifted in your favor right away. This is also why it’s so important to get rid of losing trades the day before. so you don’t have to deal with them first thing in the morning. This is usually when the choice opportunity is and you want to be ready to take advantage of it.
A small profitable scalp is the easiest trade to make. The whole secret is to get in and get out of the market as quickly as possible. Enter in the direction of the market’s last thrust or impulse. The shorter the period of time you are is the marketplace, the easier it is to make a winning trade. Of course, this strategy of making a small scalp is not substantial enough to make a living, but remember the object is to start the day out on the right foot.
If you are following a methodology consistently (key word), and making money, how do you make more money? You must build up the number of units traded without increasing the leverage. In other words, don’t try going for the bigger trade, instead, trade more contracts. It just takes awhile to build up your account or the amount of capital under management. Proper leverage can be the key to your success and longevity in this business. Most traders who run into trouble have too big a trade on. Size influences your objectivity. Your main object should be to stay in the game.
Most people react differently when they’re under pressure. They tend to be more emotional or reactive. They tense up and judgement is often impaired. Many talented athletes can’t cut it because they choke when the pressure’s on. You could be a brilliant analyst but a lousy trader. Consistency is far more important than brilliance. Just strive for consistency in what you do and let go of the performance expectations.
Master the Game
The last key to achieving mental mastery over the game is believing that you can actually do it. Everyone is capable of being a successful trader if they truly believe they can be. You must believe in the power of belief. If you’re a recluse skeptic or self-doubter, begin by pretending to believe you can make it. Keep telling yourself that you’ll make it even if it takes you five years. If a person’s will is strong enough, they will always find a way.
If you admit to yourself that you truly don’t have the will to win at this game, don’t try to trade. It is too easy to lose too much money. Many people think that they’ll enjoy trading when they really don’t. It’s boring at times, lonely during the day, mentally trying, with little structure or security. The markets are not a logical or fair playing ground. But there are numerous inefficiencies and patterns ready to be exploited, and there always will be.

$SPY MACD Bullish Cross-over

The MACD is starting to make a bullish cross over.


$FTO Bull Flag

Good call by @TheArmoTrader . Hit the buy point on Friday at 28.85, next place to add/buy would at 29.50