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Halftime Report: Stocks Sideways Thru Quarter's End?

Stocks lost steam on Tuesday as investors chewed on some key economic data related to consumers and housing.

The bears came out of hibernation after the latest figures showed consumer confidence not only fell unexpectedly in September, but more Americans consider jobs “hard to get.”

The data suggests that despite improvements in the economy, it could be a long time before consumers contribute to growth. “With the holiday season quickly approaching, this is not very encouraging news," says Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center.

However on a bullish note, D.R Horton , Toll Brothers and other homebuilders showed gains after an improved S&P/Case-Shiller home price index reading, suggested the housing market was bottoming out.

What must you know to trade this market?

Instant Insights with the Fast Money traders

It seems like there’s a push and pull in the market. Consumer confidence was weak but housing looks okay so investors are trying to digest all that, says Fast Money trader Pete Najarian. To me it seems like investors are going to allow the market to close the quarter right about where it is.

I also expect the S&P to hover around 1062 heading into the end of the quarter, muses Steve Grasso of Stuart Frankel .

If you're looking for a trade I’ve got my eye on some of the boutique firms. Both Jefferies and Greenhill hit 52-week highs, adds OptionMonster Jon Najarian. I like both names. And I don’t think you’re late to the party.

Or check out RIM - it bounced on Tuesday, adds Patty Edwards of Storehouse Partners. The 200-day moving average looks like support. I think the bad news is now baked into share price and I’d start nibbling.

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CREDIT CARDS RULES

The U.S. Federal Reserve on Tuesday proposed tough new credit card rules to protect consumers from potentially costly practices by lenders and moved to implement legislation enacted in May.

Among the more controversial proposals is one that would prohibit creditors from issuing a card to anyone under the age of 21 unless the borrower has either the ability to make the required payment, or has the signature of a parent or other co-signer who has the means to do so.

What’s the trade?

In the space I’ve liked Visa , says Pete Najarian. But the new rules could drag down the shares.

Keep in mind these are proposals for new rules, adds Patty Edwards. In the space I like Visa as well as MasterCard. I bet if the rules pass we’ll see more debit cards and that’s good for Visa and Mastercard.

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OPTIONS ACTION: BIIB

Jon Najarian has spotted unusual options activity in the Biogen .

A high volume of call buying suggests to Najarian this stock could move a sharp move higher.


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OIL CHOPPY

U.S. crude oil futures slipped in very choppy trading on Tuesday as the dollar's early strength and concerns about demand overshadowed geo-political concerns about Iran's nuclear program.

For the moment, the tensions with Iran are not providing much support to prices," says Mike Fitzpatrick, vice president at MF Global in New York said in a research note.

What's the trade?

I think we’re at a key junction in the price of oil, adds Summit energy analyst Brad Samples. If we see oil break lower on big inventories we could see it go to $55. For a trade I think it’s okay to short crude.

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FAST & FURIOUS: THE KEY QUESTIONS INTO THE CLOSE

BUY SBUX?Starbucks announced a new national Tv campaign and new instant coffee, should you buy?

I love the run, but I don’t think this is a reason to buy, counsels Pete Najarian.

BUY JCP? Deutsche Bank reiterated its buy on JCPenney on Tuesday saying they are confident in company's operational plan. Do you buy?

I’m not a buyer, says Patty Edwards. I’d rather be in Kohl’s.

BUY CITI? Rochdale analyst Dick Bove upgraded his price target on Citigroup , should you buy?

That’s not a fast money trade, says Jon Najarian. That’s a slow money trade.

BUY GOLD? With the EU backing the argument fora stronger dollar how should you trade gold ?

I’m worried about inflation, explains Steve Grasso. I’m a buyer of gold on dips.

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CALL THE CLOSE

Pete Najarian: I’m a buyer.

Patricia Edwards: I’m short the market and long the dollar.

Jon Najarian: I’m long into the bell.

Steve Grasso: I’d err on the side of selling.


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Trader disclosure: On Sept. 29th, 2009, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s Fast Money were owned by the Fast Money traders; Terranova Owns (KCE), (F), (ABT), (XOM), (SUN); Terranova Is Short (CCL), (ESS); Grasso Owns (AAPL), (ABK), (BAC), (C), (COST), (CSCO), (PFE), (V), (MMT); Finerman's Firm Owns (BAC) Preferred Shares, Finerman Owns (BAC) Preferred Shares And Owns (BAC); Finerman's Firm Owns (WFC) Preferred Shares And Is Short (WFC); Finerman Owns (WFC) Preferred Shares; Finerman Owns (RIG); Finerman's Firm Owns (MSFT), (NOK), (PBR), (WMT), (RIG), (TGT), (PLCE); Finerman's Firm Is Short (IJR), (MDY), (SPY), (IWM), (USO), (UNG); Najarian Owns (ACI) Call Spread; Najarian Owns (C) Calls; Najarian Owns (DELL) Call Spread; Najarian Owns (ERTS) Call Spread; Najarian Owns (GE) Calls; Najarian Owns (JPM) And Is Short (JPM) Calls; Najarian Owns (MS) And Is Short (MS) Calls; Najarian Owns (MSFT) And Is Short (MSFT) Calls; Najarian Owns (RIMM) Call Spread; Najarian Owns (ORCL); Najarian Owns (TEVA); Najarian Owns (V) And (V) Calls; Najarian Owns (WFC) Put Spread; Najarian Owns (YHOO) Call Spread ; Najarian Owns (BIIB) Calls

For Steve Grasso
Stuart Frankel Owns (ACS)
Stuart Frankel Owns (GERN)
Stuart Frankel Owns (MSFT)
Stuart Frankel Owns (NWS.A)
Stuart Frankel Owns (NYX)
Stuart Frankel Owns (PDE)
Stuart Frankel Owns (PFE)
Stuart Frankel Owns (ROK)
Stuart Frankel Owns (XOM)
Stuart Frankel Owns (SDS)
Stuart Frankel Is Short (QQQQ)

For Greg Troccoli
Troccoli Is Short S&P 500
Troccoli Owns US Dollar

CNBC.com with wires

Symbol
Price
 
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S&P 500
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BIIB
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C
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DHI
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GHL
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JCP
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JEF
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MA
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BB
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SBUX
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TOL
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V
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MCD
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