Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Notes - Closing the Door on February


Dear Diary,

Yes, I'm posting early today as I want to avoid my personal landmines of potentially losing focus (a) late in the day, (b) on a Friday, and (c) at the end of the month ... for those timeframes close what I consider various "trades" (daily, weekly, and monthly). Of course they still mean little except in aggregation as the only relevant figure is that on 12/31.

With respect to today's trade, I did well both during the Globex and normal sessions, with most of the entries reflecting wholesale fades into some extreme panic buying and selling (some of my favorite sequences), with extreme TICKs being helpful during the regular session to help time entries when they coincided with price spikes. And of course I shorted several morning approaches toward 750 which became resistance after ES fell through its trap door in the Globex session. The result was a highly efficient +$12K chip gain on only 958 contracts to close the week out just shy of +$40K. My last trade was closing out a short at 12:38pm ET.

And so this second of twelve legs of the 2009 race comes to a close. Frankly, the only memory I have of it is that damn single day where I caused myself to lose a week or so of earnings which I thought about a lot last night while I was tossing and turning after that stupid poker beat. And perhaps that beat got me invigorated for today's trade, as most know I usually trade more focused when ticked off.

And while I recognize many don't understand why I beat myself up over what others might consider a decent performance, perhaps it's a small glimpse into what makes me tick and why 2008 was ... well, 2008. Being satisfied = complacency = stagnant personal and income growth. And as I said throughout last year's journey, it's not greed ... and if you think it is, you've missed the entire point of eight months of open diary blogging -- rather it's instead an intense inner drive to simply get better day after day and strive for sustained peak performance ... even knowing I'll often fall far short. Have I mentioned I don't like to lose??

btw, given the continued growth and eyeballs (Alexa reported another jump this week), I recognize some new to the journey may already be tired of hearing me babble, and/or consider this some kind of self-indulged ego trip. All I can say is that I've found this diary an excellent way to stay motivated and fully immersed in the market after hours, as well as a way to force myself to be accountable to both myself and the public. As the FAQ indicates, you're always welcome to change the channel.

Having said that, I've recently implemented a comment spam filter where I no longer receive junk comment spam. They're rare, yet that's one risk of being in the public eye that I fully expected and accept. Plus market makers for some reason are disliked in some circles anyway! If you're above board, no worry and keep the comments coming. For after having met with several folks in NY and having had a deeply personal conversation with a trader via phone the other day, I have no plans to drop the diary nor close it from public viewing, even while stepping up security. As long as this diary remains a win/win, the experiment will continue in spades. But I digress.

As for 2009, I remain off my 2008 pace due in part to that lone loss of the year on February 10th, which never should have happened and remains etched in my brain like a late-game NY Giants Hail Mary Super Bowl helmet catch (for it too was a lone blemish for the Pats). And there's a reason I vividly remember the details of all nine horror shows since joining the Merc in '04 ... for it usually causes me to ramp up focus several notches. And frankly, my most vivid memories of last year are those rare, but painful days from hell.

So with 17% of the year now in the books, we'll take one last look at February as I still search for this year's game face (which I still feel isn't there):

February 2009
Daily Gains: $131,561
Daily Losses: -$33,470 - Stupid ... it's amazing what a single distraction can set off
Commissions: -$19,149
Overheads: -$4,945 - Higher than normal as it includes my trip to NY
Net Profit: $73,997 +$83K off the monthly equity low
Daily Win/Loss %: 95% (18/19) - Obviously, the 3.9 Dollar Win/Loss ratio is more relevant
Contracts Traded: 37,534
- Last twelve months actual: $ 1,605,825
- Projected 2009 YTD (Jan & Feb) annualized: $1,037,184
- Last three months annualized: $897,844 - A possible warning flag, except that it reflects pretty much shutting down for half of December; Normalizing for that, 3 Mos / 2.5 x 12 = just over $1M, so I'm not too worried ... yet.

And so as I begin to enter the "meat" of the trading year, I'm still wondering why I feel my foot remains on the brake at times. I know I purposely slammed on the brakes in mid-December, yet for some reason they still feel a bit locked even two months later (which is why I hated to let up, although it was still the right decision in hindsight). Perhaps that's why sports have off-seasons Don ... duh. Yet this week wasn't that bad, so perhaps it's a hint of things to come and that I'm starting to lace up the spikes ... finally.

Like baseball, spring training will be over before you know it, and so it's time to get the game face on.

Game on.

Look for a video and "The Weekend Trader" posts over the weekend as always.


NQJ said...

Hi Don,

Nice stats Don. Inspiring for beginning/struggling traders like me. Oh if i can achieve a small fraction of your consistency & p&l. Something to aim for.


A said...

Hi, I was wondering if the contracts traded stat of 37,534 is total "Round trips" or total including each buy and sell.


Don Miller said...

Hi A -

Round trips ... both buys and sells.


Being said...

Congratulations ! Great month !

Don Miller said...

EK -

Thanks, but it's still subpar and I've got some work to do.


estrader said...


Great Blog! Typically How many points do you look on average to get out of each trade? Do you bother with 1/4 & 1/2 point chips?

Don Miller said...

Hi estrader -

My trading varies throughout the day, and if you scan the blog, you should get a pretty good feel.

But in general, I both provide liquidity and pursue slightly longer-term speculative trades, and the liquidity trades tend to include small clips as you suggest.

I don't target specific points though, as it depends on how far the market has to go to transition from retail to wholesale pricing, which could be a few ticks or a few points depending on what the market is doing.

Hope that helps and welcome to the blog.



Don Miller said...

Hi Jeff -

[I'm posting my response on both the Monday and Friday posts since you typed the ? on Friday but posted it on Monday's.]

Essentially, I look for wholesale entry price opportunities, which could reflect anything from trend and range break pullbacks to situations where the market is extended sufficiently enough such that there's a high probability of a snapback toward the mean.

In the latter cases, one of the tools I use is TICK extremes -- if the background trading environment is condusive to its use -- to help time the entries.

I'd of course prefer to trade with the current market flow, yet much of my keep is made taking the other side of extreme emotion under the right circumstances, and such was often the case during last fall's panic attacks where emotion was clear in the charts.

No problem with the ?s It's not an education forum ... I just simply babble about what works for me. Every trader is different though.

Hope that helps and welcome to the blog.


Sam said...


What exactly do you mean by "retail" and "wholesale"?

Unknown said...


I just love how u can keep pounding away after that 1 day:)

Did i calculate right: your paying about.50 roundturn?

Im happy that feb is over...

Don Miller said...

Hi Sam -

Micro example: Almost always buying on the bid and selling on the ask.

Slightly more macro example: Entering when there's decent probability the the market is overextended to the up or down side and will correct toward the mean.


Don Miller said...

pk -

Yea, although you'd have to factor in the equivalent per-trade cost of the monthly $3K-$3K CME lease fee.

The first 200 per day are actually around .70 based on the CME lessee pricing that caps one of the rate components, and is then discounted after that ... and obviously I trade much more than 200/day :-).

Clearly, the high volume results in lower per-trade commissions, which encourages members to provide liquidity.