Negative Tuesday for stocks as world awaits some actual news

Stocks averages not much changed from the beginning of 2015, as traders fear to make big bets whether long or short. Yemen, Greece, Ukraine, interest rates and earnings sow chaos.

LNG carrier.
Liquid natural gas carrier, a key part of new company Gaslog LTD's business. (See Trading Tips below. Photo via Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON, April 21, 2015 – Short column today, mainly because trading is completely boring and likely to remain so Wednesday. All markets are clearly range-bound, jumping back and forth like a perpetual motion machine but still not much changed from where they were sitting in January 2015.

If you have big bucks to play with like the high-frequency traders (HFTs) and the hedgies, you can have fun with and even manipulate this market by buying and selling stocks rapidly for one- or two-cent gains.

Trading a few hundred thousand shares this way, while paying virtually zero commissions (common on Wall Street for Big Kahuna traders) is simply the way to go in this market. But little guys like you and the Maven need more in a trade in order to overcome the commissions.

As we’ve increasingly observed, over the past eight years, this government has completed its transition to what it is today: a government of the oligarchs, by the oligarchs and for the oligarchs.

The irony is that the oligarchy is part and parcel of the political and so-called cultural elite that manages to rule over the rest of us no matter what political party is in power. It’s a disgusting endgame to what started out as a noble experiment in democracy, but it’s what we’re forced to work with.

In the meantime, we always have mixed corporate earnings, U.S. and Iranian warships steaming toward each other off the coast of what was once Yemen, Vlad the Impaler preparing his next magical Ukrainian trick, and Greece exploring the possibility that there really is an edge on this planet where you could fall off.

Today’s trading tips

We have more of an anecdotal report today than solid thoughts on what to buy or sell.

As opposed to the battering our portfolio has been taking due to 2015’s treacherous and at times vicious trading environment, a few stock market daffodils and crocuses manage to pop through to nudge our portfolios back to flat line.

First off, although we didn’t get any shares of the Etsy (Symbol: ETSY) or Virtu (VIRT) IPOs last week—the former simply because there were no shares to be had—we did manage to pull down 100 shares of Party City Holdings (PRTY), which we hoped would be a festive holding in a crushingly dull-to-negative market environment.

Fortunately for us, it has been, at least thus far. Although it’s retraced its initial surge a bit since yesterday from its opening price last week of $17 per share, PRTY is still sitting at around $21 per share today, a handsome potential profit of 23.5+ percent for us as of the noon hour today. As our regular readers know, our brokerage requires us to hold these IPO puppies for at least 30 days after purchase. That means we can’t flip the successful ones like the big boys do with the bucketloads of shares they get. We have to sit and watch. And oftentimes, alas, they sell off, leaving us with little or nothing or even a loss.

On the other hand, we’ve been net successful on most of these over the years, so we keep doing IPOs selectively to try to keep some spice in the portfolios.

We did make an impulse decision yesterday to pick up a small position in a newish company known as Gaslog Ltd. (GLOG), whose symbol reads like the name of an ancient Scandinavian beverage. In reality, however, with offices in Monaco of all places, GLOG is a pure play on the ocean-transport of liquid or liquefied natural gas (LNG), something we expect to become quite common in the energy arena in the coming years.

GLOG is well positioned to pick up a nice chunk of this growing business transporting this volatile but relatively inexpensive energy product in its own seagoing vessels. The kicker is that its dividend, while currently somewhat on the lean side at about 2.35 percent, promises to grow considerably, which should kick the stock steadily upward even if stock markets continue to meander or even deteriorate.

We’d been watching GLOG for a long time, since its IPO of last year (which we couldn’t obtain). It’s been hovering about 10 points off its peak “pop” days lately, so we grabbed shares on Monday. Today we got a pleasant surprise as the company announced nine new LNG charters (ships) ready to go, kicking the stock up about $1.70 per share today to $27.24 mid-day.

Other than this kind of action, we are not doing too much else, raising cash whenever we can by selling positions, hopefully ones with a profit but not always. One misstep by the Greeks or Russians or an equal or opposite blunder by another of the incompetent boobs who currently run the U.S. Department of State (or the White House) could still cause a whole lot of havoc in this market, as could any hint that the Federal Reserve will raise those interest rates sooner rather than later.

Stay cautious, and pick your targets of opportunity carefully.

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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