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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Survey Says: Bearishness Subsiding, Uncertainty Increasing

According to a press release issued today by TradeKing, a late April survey of 3,000 equities and options traders that they conducted indicates that bearish sentiment is receding. Just 23.9 percent of active traders described themselves as either “bearish” or “very bearish”, down significantly from 48.3 percent in January.  At the same time, 46 percent of surveyed investors (42.9 percent of options traders (OT), 50 percent of equities traders (ET)) indicated a “neutral/not sure” position in their market outlook for the next three months, the highest level of uncertainty reported in the past four quarters.

(The following is a blatant rip-off of the TradeKing press release.)

The survey also showed that oil prices, the U.S. dollar and interest rate changes persist as top market triggers investors are watching. However, nearly 38 percent of OT and 40.7 percent of ET listed oil as their number one “potential trade trigger” to be watched “intently”, ranking it the top concern among investors.

The in-house survey was conducted April 22-25, 2008, via email to 3,000 TradeKing clients, with an estimated 95% confidence level.  The survey results were segmented into two client groups: those who trade “options only” with TradeKing and those who trade “equities only.”

“The results from our April survey seem to indicate that, although investors remain cautious, they feel the worst developments in some areas of the economy may have passed,” said Don Montanaro, CEO of TradeKing. “TradeKing investors are starting to move on from the subprime mortgage woes and focus on how oil prices might impact industry and consumer spending over the next few months. With a surprising number of clients reporting ‘better than expected’ investment returns this past quarter, they see there are still opportunities to win in a volatile market.”

On the personal finance front, active investors indicated they are responding to the current volatility in the market by adjusting investment strategies, trimming energy costs and household budgets, and considering more foreign investments.

—Twenty-nine percent of OT, 34.7 percent of ET reported adjusting to the new economic conditions by “trimming ... energy consumption”;

—Thirty percent of OT, 21.3 percent of ET are “switching investment strategies to respond to recent market volatility more effectively”;

—Twenty-one percent of OT, 21.8 percent of ET are “considering foreign investments to balance out the falling dollar”;

—Twenty-one percent of OT, 21.3 percent of ET are “trimming ... household budget spending”;(2)

—Twenty-two percent of ET respondents also favored “‘buying on the dips’ to lower my cost basis on some long-term holdings.”

In addition, the majority of respondents who will be receiving the one- time economic stimulus tax rebate said they plan to use the funds to either pay down personal debt (credit card, mortgage, student loans, etc.), or invest in the market.

(1) The Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index, April 2008.

(2) See recent New York Times article reporting on how consumers are cutting household costs,
(Due to length of URL, please copy and paste into your browser)

Posted by twcarey on 04/30 at 12:13 PM
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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Electronic Investor Schedule Hiccups

An unfortunate side effect of the economic struggles of the last few years is that, on occasion, Barron’s ends up publishing fewer pages in an issue than the design calls for.  Even more unfortunately for fans of the Electronic Investor, columns written by freelancers (such as EI) are the first on the chopping block when the ad sales come up short. 

So next week, for the second time in the month of April, there will be no EI column.  This has happened a few times a year since about 2001, but seldom has it happened twice in the same month.  I think my work will run in the first May issue (the one that should have run in the 4/28/08 edition) but I don’t know for sure.

Freelancing is not for the faint of heart, especially these days.  What makes it especially tough for me right now is that quite a few of my recent columns had time value to them.  The one I was writing that got postponed 2 weeks ago is now past its expiration date in terms of news value, so it just won’t run in spite of the work I put into it. 

I sure hope the next one runs before it’s obsolete.  Wish me luck.  Or go buy some ad pages in Barron’s and insist that they run next to The Electronic Investor.  I’ve got a kid in college!! 

Posted by twcarey on 04/23 at 01:13 PM
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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Theresa Wraps Up First Year of College Volleyball Coaching

The Stanford Men’s Club Volleyball team returned from the NIRSA (National Intercollegiate Recreational Sports Association) National Championships, which took place in Dallas, Texas April 10-13 after finishing 19th in the Division I tournament. (Please see the NIRSA site for complete results.) The Cardinal crew, coached by Peter Yee and Theresa Carey, was seeded to finish in the bottom third, but prevailed to beat their initial seeding and wind up in the Top 20 nationally.

Since few universities have official intercollegiate men’s volleyball teams—there are only 22 men’s Division I NCAA-sanctioned teams compared to over 300 women’s teams—the NIRSA tournament is the largest venue for men’s college volleyball in the country. 48 teams compete in Division I with another 36 in I-AA, 48 in Division II, and 24 in Division III. The three days of the tournament feature fierce competition, and there is a waiting list for teams that want to attend, but are turned away due to capacity.

The highlight of the weekend was the Cardinal’s win over defending champion University of Wisconsin-Osh Kosh on Saturday afternoon. Stanford won the first set, 25-21, but Osh Kosh would not go away quietly. The second set turned into a 40-minute battle, featuring 6 Osh Kosh set points and 3 Stanford match points before Stanford put it away with a score of 35-33. This match attracted one of the larger crowds of the day, including the enthusiastic support of the Stanford women’s club volleyball team.

During their first match of the tournament, Stanford challenged the eventual Division I champions, Lakeland College (Wisconsin), in pool play. In addition to Osh Kosh and Lakeland, Stanford also competed with the University of Maryland, University of Missouri, Naval Academy, Cal Poly, University of Santa Clara, Northern Illinois and the University of Minnesota over the three days of tournament play.

Key players for the Cardinal were setter Matt Sahagun, libero Evan Huck, outside hitters Andy Price, Darren Moore, Guillermo Vargas and Danny Koelker, as well as middle hitters Greg Newman and Daniel Becker. Walter Foxworth stepped in to provide numerous defensive plays, as did Peter Kardassakis. Middle hitter Jayson Morgan and outside hitters Kevin Scott, Matt Hill and Kent Anderson generated points for the Cardinal as well. (club website: click here.)

The league in which Stanford plays, the Northern California Collegiate Volleyball League, was among the most successful at the tournament. Six teams finished in the Top 20 nationally (CSU Fresno, Cal Poly, Cal, University of Santa Clara and UC Davis). Chico State won the Division I-AA championship, and Sonoma State was the runner-up in Division II. The tough competition all season long gets every member of the NCCVL ready to play at nationals.

And so the men’s club team wraps up its third, and most successful year in club history. Stanford students with volleyball experience are encouraged to join the team when school resumes in the fall. In the meantime, there will be informal open gyms at Burnham Pavilion on Tuesday nights starting at 8:30PM. 

Posted by twcarey on 04/16 at 01:09 PM
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