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Traders expect a rocky week for markets—here’s why

Lightened volumes around the Thanksgiving are likely to make this a rocky week for the markets, traders warn. Given the high potential for volatility, many plan to adopt special strategies in order to protect gains and avoid losses around the holiday.

"I'm looking for a sloppy, choppy week," said Rich Ilczyszyn of iiTrader. "As a professional trader, I lightened up my positions on Friday, and went into primarily cash with a few small outliers."

Ilczysyzn is especially wary about the back half of the week.

"On Wednesday, I'm going to be out of the market and flat by 10 a.m.," said the Chicago-based Ilczyszyn. "A rule here on the floor is, you get out early, capitalize on volatility, and the rest of the day, the market just wanes off. And really, Friday could be a wildcard. You'll see some wild swings on Friday, so be careful."

While Joseph Greco doesn't go so far as to predict volatility, he'll certainly be prepared for it.

"It's not necessarily going to be volatile—that's a great crystal ball question," the managing director of trading at Meridian Equity Partners told CNBC.com. "But as always is the case when faced with lighter trading volumes due to holidays, it's best to have stops in place, and hedge yourself out by using an options strategy against your portfolio."

Traders in the S&P 500 stock index options pit at the Chicago Board Options Exchange
Getty Images
Traders in the S&P 500 stock index options pit at the Chicago Board Options Exchange

The issue is that light trading volumes can make it harder to find a counterparty for any given trade.

"If there's something that does hit the tape and has some meaning to it, it could set off headline algos or speculators or day traders, and that could add some volatility in the sector or the broader market, depending on what the headline is," Greco said. "And when you have a lighter desk, you can't find a bid when you need to get out of a position, or you can't find an offer when you need to cover."

Ilczysyzn's advice for the week is simple: "Be very careful. Defense wins games here, guys."

Meanwhile, Jeff Kilburg of KKM Financial might be more focused on another kind of game.

"Here in Chicago, it's probably going to be the turkey bowl game that I'm playing with my two kids," Kilburg said, when asked what he'll watching most closely this week.

—By CNBC's Alex Rosenberg. Follow him on Twitter: @C NBCAlex.

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