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The markets moved higher again today. I'm not sure why - I suppose traders are interpreting all news as optimistic. The RUT closed at $517.46, right in the neighborhood of resistance set in January ($519) and then in early May ($512). The market shrugged off a pessimistic report from payroll-processing giant ADP and the consulting firm, Macroeconomic Advisers, reporting that private sector jobs fell 473,000 in June. Tomorrow's non-farm payroll report is not likely to be rosy, but it is unclear how this market will respond.

Our July iron butterfly is getting close to requiring an adjustment with a position delta of -$90 and theta = +$182; our theta/delta ratio is still strong, but if the market continues up in the morning, I will have to decide whether to adjust tomorrow or take some risk and defer to Monday. Since this position has a good chunk of profit and we have a three day weekend of time decay, it will be very tempting to postpone the adjustment decision.

Our August iron condors are fine with position delta = -$56 and theta = +$92; the $570 call's delta is 15. I think it is unlikely we will have to adjust this trade, but if the short call delta reaches 18-20, I will adjust even though I won't understand why this market is so strong. But we have to remember to follow our rules rather than attempting to predict the market's moves. It is prudent to watch the market closely and do your best to anticipate its moves, but it is imperative that we never get into the position of thinking something like, "the market can't continue to move up, so I am not going to adjust my position because I am sure it will pull back". In general, we want to respond to the market's moves, rather than predicting its moves. Trade what you see, not what you think is coming.

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The markets traded lower today due to some weak consumer confidence readings (no surprise there), but trading volume picked up a bit later in the day. The Russell 2000 index (RUT) closed at $508.28 so our trades remain on solid ground with only minor changes in the numbers.

Our July iron butterfly continues on solid ground with a position delta = -$34 and theta = +$174; note how the time decay accelerates as we near expiration. Review the previous blogs from June 22 to today and note the trend in theta.

Our Aug iron condor stands at a minimal gain of +$40 (This is really irrelevant at this point since we are only a few days into this trade), delta = -$35, and theta = +$78. The delta of our short options are unchanged at -11 for the $430 puts and +12 for the $570 calls, so no adjustments are called for as yet.

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I established my August iron condors today with 20 put spreads at $420/$430 for $0.95 and 20 call spreads at $570/$580 for $1.05, for a maximum potential gain of $4,000 on $16,000 at risk or 25%. Breakevens are at $428 and $572. I will adjust either side if the delta of my short strike reaches 18. I have "leaned" this condor bearish with a position delta of -$46. A more delta neutral position would have used the 580/590 strikes. In my opinion, this market will not rally sufficiently to reach $570, so I chose to receive the larger credit for the 570/580 spreads. The trade-off is that if I am wrong and the RUT continues to move up strongly, I will be adjusting this position early and perhaps closing the call spreads altogether.

Our July iron butterfly at 450/480 and 530/560 was positioned at the market close today with a gain of $1,795, position delta of -$52 and position theta of $152. So this position is still in good shape and we will continue to hold.

Here is a summary of the trades we have completed since this blog began:

June iron condor: $4,600 gain or 29%

June iron butterfly: $1,470 gain or 6.3%

July iron condor: $1,300 gain or 9.8%

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Today, the markets largely traded sideways on lower volume. This is typical of shortened holiday weeks on Wall Street; the exchanges are closed Friday for Independence Day, and many traders take off a few days early for the holiday. Of course, this environment is perfect for our nondirectional trading strategies that benefit from time decay.

The RUT closed at $510.61. Our July iron butterfly stands at a $2500 gain, delta = -$45 and theta = +$161, so this trade is in good shape and no action was necessary.

Our Aug iron condor stands at a minimal gain of +$220 (This is really irrelevant at this point since we are only a few days into this trade), delta = -$42, and theta = +$85. The delta of our short options are at -11 for the $430 puts and +12 for the $570 calls, so no adjustments are called for as yet.

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The markets all continued to rally upward today, with the Russell 2000 index, RUT, closing at $509.18. I will be watching to see if this rally is strong enough to break recent levels of resistance: the first is around $515 (RUT hit $512 on May 8 and $519 on January 6), and $536 was the recent high set on June 5. Breaking previous levels of resistance is one of the signs of a strong rally.

I have closed all of my positions at this point except the July iron butterfly on RUT at 450/480 and 530/560. It currently stands at about $1,400 of profit, delta = - $40 and theta = $151. Our theta/delta ratio remains above 3:1, a good spot. So we will continue to hold this position.

I will be looking to establish my August iron condors tomorrow morning.