User Rating: 5 / 5

Star ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar Active
 

The major market indices continue to trade sideways, and volatility is quite low. SPX closed today at $2391, up less than three dollars. The volatility index for the S&P 500 index, VIX, closed at 10.5% today, near the lows for this year. SPX has been trading in the range of $2320 and $2400 since mid-February. Powerful market forces are arrayed on either side of this market. The bulls are citing a more business-friendly administration, a reduction in regulations and prospects of tax reform. The bears cite several months of stellar market advances, high price/earnings ratios, and an aging bull market. It doesn't seem as though any negative news affects the market. Every dip is quickly bought, but the market can't seem to quite make the break-out to new highs either.

For the last couple of months, I have been loading my portfolio with iron condor positions on the S&P 500 index (SPX), The Russell 2000 index (RUT) and the NASDAQ 100 index (NDX). Today, I sold the NDX May 5375/5400 and 5800/5825 iron condor for a credit of $195 per contract. Yesterday, I sold the NDX June 5200/5225 and 5825/5850 iron condor for $506 per contract. The disadvantage of selling iron condors in this environment is the low implied volatility, which lowers the option premiums. On the other hand, that low volatility is one more sign of the sideways, treading water nature of this market, and that favors these trades.

Don't neglect trade management. Entering this positions and then going on vacation is a prescription for disaster. Be sure you have a clear plan for risk management, e.g., if SPX breaks down through $2300, I will buy one $2300 put for every ten condors. Establish a series of these rules and trade what the market gives you each day. Don't try to predict its movement tomorrow.