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Sean McLaughlin

Sean McLaughlin

I was born and raised in Buffalo, NY and graduated from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Today, I live in a small mountain town near Boulder, Colorado with my wife of 20 years and 7 year old son, always in search of a great trail to hike. The 15 years between Buffalo and Boulder is where my trading career launched and my experience was forged.

After graduating college and suffering through a brief six month stint as a Mutual Fund Salesman for MetLife (LOL), I moved to Florida to live near my father and began my trading career in 1998 at a Proprietary trading firm in Tampa, Florida. In my first four years I was engaged in intraday scalping — primarily NASDAQ stocks — during the final blowoff top of the “dot com bubble” and subsequent tech & internet stocks crash. It was a trial by fire as the stock markets experienced a level of consistent volatility that had previously been unseen, and hasn’t been matched since. I’ve spent the remainder of my now 20 year trading career unlearning all of the bad habits I acquired during those first four formative years.

In 2002, I began exploring the futures markets after learning about and researching the famous “Turtle Trader” story. This fascination and total immersion prompted me to launch a small hedge fund with a handful of investors to execute a trend-following strategy in commodities and financial futures. And this led me to relocate to Chicago to become a Member of the Chicago Board of Trade. Sadly, the largest of my fund’s investors decided to walk away with his 58% returns (net of fees) after only 18 months in business, thusly necessitating the close of my promising fund.

After the fund closed, I took advantage of my location (my office was on the 28th floor of the CBOT building) and exchange membership to try my hand at trading electronic mini-dow futures from a booth on the upper rim of the big Dow Futures pit on the floor of the CBOT. While it was an exciting daily endeavor to step on the floor and be part of the heart of the action, it was a short-lived dalliance. I couldn’t find an edge.

Undeterred, this led to my focus on learning about and building options strategies which began around 2007. I was greatly attracted to the ability to express my opinions of markets and stocks direction in defined-risk “bets” with advantageous leverage opportunities. Though I’ve dabbled with options since the beginning, I have been primarily engaged in equity and index options trading ever since.

In late 2010 while continuing to trade my own account, I joined StockTwits—the world’s largest social platform for finance—and became Director of Community where I was a key player in 10x-ing the growth of the audience. Here I also hosted and produced a popular Trader podcast that interviewed 40 of the biggest names and successes in the trader/social media space, and I created and oversaw a network of 35 trader meetup groups in cities around the U.S. & Canada. During this time, my love of community and trader network building for the purposes of mutual support and mentorship took shape.

In 2017, I left StockTwits and joined my friends at Trade Ideas, LLC where I continue today in a Sales, Training, and Market Strategy capacity. Trade Ideas is an absolutely indispensable tool for active traders and active investors. They are the first and only provider of AI-powered machine-learning tools in a SAAS model for Retail and Institutional subscribers, and the proof of value can be seen in hockey-stick subscriber growth and user retention. It is exciting to witness what they are building.

In many ways, much of what I’ve been involved with over the past 10 years has been me trying to build the support system around me and for others that I wish I had when I started out in Tampa way back in 1998. Launching All Star Options is another manifestation of this burning desire.

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            [post_content] => Happy New Year, dear readers!

Here's wishing you a year full of learning and accomplishments.

So how was 2021? Was it anything at all like 2020? I hardly doubt that a year like 2020 will make its way to us that quickly!  I feel like the year you had would be dependent on your trading style. If you're a trend follower, then opportunities came in instalments. If you're a range-bound trader, then the past year must've been a delight! But regardless of the type of trader you are, the year 2021 definitely imparted a lot of lessons!

As we enter a new market year, we look forward to the teachings of the year 2022 as well. Sure enough, the pandemic is still around, but for how long? Nobody knows. It's like asking a technical analyst how long the trend will last. Nobody has the answer. You just do what you do with the information you have today.

So, what is it that the market is saying today? Well, interest rates are certainly holding up. What that means is that financials are probably doing well in that environment. Rising interest rates translate to rising equities and commodities. Stocks and commodities are probably doing well there too. What else? Precious metals haven't been up to anything really, so at this point who knows what will happen there. We're seeing breakouts coming through in several sectors from regional banks to materials to chemicals. The Indian market has seen complete domination on behalf of the Information Technology Sector that has been the most consistently bullish sector all of last year. And what's more? It doesn't seem like it's in the mood to grind to a halt.

Markets are doing well in pockets, and that may as well be the theme going forward. We're way past that point where the market has to recover from a shock event like the 2020 crash. We may not see front-line indices putting up their best performances but we may see stock-specific moves dominate the year ahead.

So, what is one to do in such a market? As a kid, I used to play a game called Wiggly Worms. There was a big flat red apple with tiny holes in it that housed tiny worms with coloured tails. As you'd start the game, the tiny worms would come out of their homes one by one, at random, and you'd have to pull them out. The person who pulled out the greatest number of (same coloured tail) worms in under a minute won.

The point is, that we might be in a Wiggly Worm market. Different trades (worms) will jump out at you at different points in time. If they suit you, you pull them out. If they don’t, you place them back in. When the market as a whole is going up, it's easy to make money because of the bullish mood. But we may be in a market whereby relative strength will play an even bigger role than it has in the past. My plan is to take each trade as it comes rather than waiting for the combo offer deal.

In this month’s edition, we bring to you comprehensive Options strategies, a book review, and reminiscence of the MTA among others.

We’ll meet again next month. Until then, Think Technical!

Rashmi Bhatnagar, CMT

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            [post_content] => Hello readers, and welcome to the December issue of Technically Speaking.

We’re now in the last month of the year and before you know it, 2022 will be upon us!

It’s been quite a year for the market, hasn’t it? Don’t get me wrong, a crazy bull market (like 2020) is absolutely great, but lessons are learned when the market is choppy. And choppy it has been! When we chart back in history, it becomes quite clear that Year 2 in a bull market is basically moody at best! That’s pretty much what the market did this year.

We did get to experience several new things, however. Who would’ve thought that a Reddit thread could drive the price of Gamestop shares higher 18-fold!? The power of volume (and latent frustration) is what it comes down to, I guess. Adding to that, we now live in a world where compensation can be issued entirely in Bitcoin and you can buy land on Decentraland! NFTs are now a thing, and with a little more effort, you can make one yourself! Clearly, we live in a market which is vibrant, dynamic and ever changing. In this new age market, the average market participant definitely has a lot of catching up to do with all the new developments. If that’s something that is overwhelming you, then take a deep breath and get down to basics. It does seem like these concepts are here to stay, and it’s never too late to learn something new. Just don’t ignore it - that might turn into regret soon!

The market as we’ve seen has been messy all year round. While one month ago, we saw some breakouts come through, we’re back in range-bound territory when it comes to the US SMIDS (Small and Mid-caps). The large cap indices are going through a correction regardless of the geography you pick up, and risk-on indicators continue to move sideways. What’s also not holding its ground is the US 30-year yield; that has broken below the summer lows of 1.75%. Crude Oil has corrected to levels close to $66, US Dollar Index is trading around $96 and precious metals are still the worst place to park your money.

So, what does all the above mean for the market? A little bit of this, and a little bit of that. We have to be selective and treat each chart by its own merit. The market is messy and doesn’t seem to want to clear the haze out just yet.

Keeping that in mind, this month we have views on the US and Indian Equity market as well as something from the Fixed Income space to help understand the current trends better. Those of you looking to build a system, we haven’t forgotten about you! Dig in and you’ll find something interesting. There’s always something for everyone, like a buffet!

Wishing everyone a delightful December, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I’ll see you on the other side of the year. Until then, Think Technical!

Rashmi Bhatnagar, CMT

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            [post_content] => The market is a living, breathing organism that goes through many different moods and seasons within a given cycle. Different markets have different temperaments (as do all of us). And the analyst who takes time to understand all the moods of the market, tends to benefit from it. With the beginning of November, we have now entered one of the most opportune times, seasonally, to be invested in the market.

If “Sell in May and Go Away” is a saying followed by many, then “Always Remember to Invest in November” is something to plan for as well. But regardless of these phrases, what will always work in favour of us in the market is a good Risk Management strategy. If we have that in place, then half the battle is won!

Across the globe we are seeing the resumption of the bull trends which were consolidations until now. For instance, the Dow Twins are finally confirming the trend; after 9 months of nothing, the Small Cap index (IWM) has finally registered a breakout on the weekly chart, while the microcaps (IWC) seem to be picking up pace. We also have CAC 40 and DAX trade at record highs! Bank Nifty is adding to the strength as well. Definitely the kind of setup one could expect during a historically profitable seasonal time.

As we drive through breakout city, it becomes important to make decisions on the basis of our parameters, risk profile, investment goals and our investment personality. With so much information at the tip of our fingers, it's easy to lose sight of our plan and make impulse decisions that we would otherwise frown upon later.

While technicians are taught to take every chart as it comes, there are times when we tend to force our view on the price. There are also times when we bargain with the market: risk management levels are sometimes altered over and over again, because failure is hard to acknowledge. A bad trade can quickly morph into an ugly trade, if not checked in time.

On the flip side, a small profit could turn into a major portfolio winner with the help of the appropriate technical tools. The goal is to cut the losses and let the profits run. Easier said than done, of course, but only practice can help us get better. When all is said and done, Technical Analysis, when followed correctly, will always keep you afloat - no matter the storm.

The market can be a battle, a city, a storm, anything. But as long as we follow our plan, we should be able to get to the other side with a good amount of profit and lessons to serve us a lifetime!

Here’s to a profitable beginning to a profitable season.

Rashmi Bhatnagar

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