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A Low-cost Trade if the S&p 500 Breaks Out and Goes to 5,000 Next

January 19, 2024
minute read

As 2024 commenced with a tentative start, the S&P 500 has managed to shift into positive territory, positioning itself for a potential record close above the significant 4,800 level on Friday. This level had previously acted as resistance in January 2022. For investors who wish to engage in the ongoing bull market but harbor reservations about its sustainability throughout 2024, we will explore an options trade offering a cost-effective approach.

The primary theme dominating market discussions revolves around the Federal Reserve's eventual decision to initiate interest rate cuts. While my optimism about U.S. equities is rooted in the enduring strength of the U.S. consumer and the economy, I attribute the potential surge of the S&P 500 towards the 5,000 mark to the presence of underinvested bears. To express a bullish perspective on the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY), I am considering options trading, specifically employing a call spread. This strategy not only enables me to articulate a positive outlook but crucially allows me to define the risk in case the breakout fails to sustain its momentum.

The ongoing focus of investors remains on the Federal Reserve's communication regarding the timing of anticipated rate cuts, following the central bank's shift from a hawkish to a dovish stance in the fourth quarter. Additionally, technology stocks, particularly in the semiconductor sector, have emerged as a catalyst for market movements.

A pivotal player in the semiconductor market, Taiwan Semiconductor, has significantly influenced the tech sector's outlook. With a stellar earnings report surpassing expectations, the company has not only raised its tech earnings forecast but also provided robust guidance for full-year sales and earnings. This development bolsters the recovery in the semiconductor market and aligns with the ongoing theme of continued investment in artificial intelligence.

(Note: Until 2024, Taiwan Semiconductor had lagged behind the broader semiconductor market represented by SOXX.)

Now, let's delve into the proposed options trade to leverage a positive stance on the S&P 500:

Trade Structure: Vertical Bull Call Spread

  • Bought the February regular expiration 480 call for $5.75
  • Sold the February regular expiration 495 call for $0.85
  • Net debit to buy one call spread is $4.90

This vertical bull call spread involves buying the 480 call and simultaneously selling the 495 call to offset costs. While selling the higher-priced call limits potential upside profits, it significantly reduces the overall cost compared to a straightforward purchase of the underlying stock. The breakeven price for this spread is set at $484.90, calculated by adding the net cost of the spread ($4.90) to the lower strike price of the call spread, which is 480.

DISCLOSURES: (Long SPY and long this call spread)

It's crucial to note that the provided content is subject to terms and conditions and a privacy policy. It serves informational purposes only and does not constitute financial, investment, tax, or legal advice. It does not recommend buying any security or financial asset and is of a general nature that may not suit individual circumstances. Before making financial decisions, seeking advice from a personal financial or investment advisor is strongly recommended.

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Author
Adan Harris
Managing Editor
Eric Ng
Contributor
John Liu
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Editorial Board
Contributor
Bryan Curtis
Contributor
Adan Harris
Managing Editor
Cathy Hills
Associate Editor

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