Monday’s markets await Election 2014, Alibaba results

Monday’s markets await Election 2014, Alibaba [BABA] results

Branco cartoon.
Cartoon by Branco. Reprinted by permission. (See citation following article below.)*

WASHINGTON, November 3, 2014 – We caught the press opening performance of the Folger Shakespeare Theatre’s new production of “Julius Caesar” last night, the first time we’ve seen this play in years. But nearly everyone who’s avoided a public high school knows that play’s famous warning: “Beware the Ides of March.”

Caesar ignored that warning with immediately disastrous consequences. As for us, we’re not anywhere near the Ides of March yet (that’s the 15th for you Chicago public school grads). But we’re on the cusp of November 4’s midterm elections, and we suspect the suspense is weighing on today’s mixed market.

Indeed, it’s likely that the dead, including illegal immigrants named Caesar, will arise briefly tomorrow in order to put the Dems on top in tight races. So stay tuned and we’ll see how markets react to the likely chicanery.

On top of this, we note that Alibaba [BABA] reports its first-ever public earnings on Tuesday, and that’s likely causing tech investors to hedge their bets as well. Once again, we’re in Yahoo! (YHOO) as an Alibaba proxy and, after a dismal sinking spell, we’re nicely up in that stock as of now. But what happens Tuesday if Alibaba reports crappy earnings?

It’s hard to tell. Really bad numbers will surely kill YHOO at least for a bit, not to mention shares of BABA. But perhaps, even really good numbers will cause a bout of “sell on the good news” selling. Just because.

Problem is, the algos and HFTs are already setting traps to fleece the cautious but unwary who’ve placed stops on either or both stocks to protect their positions. Ditto those who’ve used options to hedge their holdings.

The usual suspects will be hunting down those stops and perhaps even a batch of those options hoping, once again, to use their supercomputers to screw the average investor and profit handsomely for themselves.

Finally, oil prices have broken decisively below $80 bbl., although it remains to be seen how long they’ll stay here. Oil majors are suffering today as a result.

The only consumer certainty in this department is that your local gas station won’t be passing on anywhere near the price savings you should be seeing by now.

We estimate price per gallon should be circa $2.25 this week in reality. Bet none of you are even close. We’re at $3.09 in suburban DC, although we caught a break in Winchester, Virginia last week where we filled up for $2.89 per gallon. That’s a little more like it. But the price at the pump always goes down grudgingly vs. the 2-3 times per day they jack those prices up when the per barrel cost jumps a few pennies.

As a result of the elections, the Alibaba news, and the various government economic reports that will be surfacing later this week, it’s just a weird trading day today, and it’s likely to be another one tomorrow. So we’re holding fire once again and avoiding any trading tips.

That said, you could selectively short the Democrats in Vegas. Unless, of course, they’ve already lined up enough tombstones and illegal immigrants to swing close races in places like Colorado and Illinois. In which case, shorting them would be a bad bet indeed.

*Cartoon by Branco. Reprinted courtesy of an arrangement with

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Terry Ponick
Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17