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Halftime: Something's Gotta' Give

Thursday, 16 Sep 2010 | 1:31 PM ET

Like the expression says, 'something’s gotta’ give'. On Thursday traders were desperate for signs as they tried to determine whether stocks were about to break higher or tumble lower.

The S&P 500 is currently stuck in a trading rage with support at its 200-day moving average around 1,115 and resistance at 1,130.

Which way will we go?

The Bull Case

- GOP REVOLUTION

The biggest upside catalyst for this market are the mid-term elections, says Steve Grasso. If the GOP wins the House we’ll have gridlock and that should benefit the market. I think the S&P makes its way to 1200.

Credit Suisse has said gridlock will generate a headwind for equities, reminds Melissa Lee not a tailwind. Doug Cliggott says gridlock may prevent the government from trying to goose the economy with the kind of additional stimulus that may buoy stocks.

I disagree, counters Jon Najarian. If the GOP wins the House I think markets take it as a positive. (That's because the stock market tends to breathe easier when a gummed-up government lowers the prospect of new regulation or legislation that might crimp businesses, writes the WSJ. And one of the surest ways to jam the system is when party control is split between the White House and Congress.)

In fact I’m betting ahead of the election more money flows out of bonds and into equities with a long position in the TBT – the ETF that’s short the longer dated Treasurys, Najarian adds.

The Bear Case

- UNEMPLOYMENT

Steve Cortes is keeping a close eye on action in staffing firms and he doesn’t like what he sees.

Since the S&P bottomed in early July staffing firms such as Robert Half, Manpower and Monster have lagged.

If you compare the chart of Monster against the Retail SPDR you see that Manpower is nowhere near August highs while the XRT is well above its August highs. I think this is a foreboding sign, says Cortes.

I think it shows we have structural unemployment – not cyclical unemployment that we’ll quickly bounce out of. If my thesis is correct ongoing unemployment around 10% will weigh on banks and retailers. My trade is short both sectors.

Companies have no reason to hire and that can’t be a good thing for the market going forward, says Guy Adami.

- BAD ECONOMIC OMEN?

Other investors are wondering if the latest forecast from FedEx is a bad economic omen . CEO Fred Smith said he expects the pace of the world's economic recovery to slow in the months ahead. Also FedEx is cutting jobs -- as many as 17,000 jobs.

RIM to Report
RIM to report earnings after the bell today, with the Fast Money traders.

The company is seen as an economic bellwether because its planes and trucks ship a variety of merchandise around the world.

These developments may be telling us that things aren’t so rosy going forward, says Guy Adami.

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TAKE YOUR POSITION: BIG TECH EARNINGS AFTER BELL

The Street is bracing for RIM earnings after the bell. With shares down about 40% over the past 3 months, how should you position?

In the short-term, I think some of the shorts in RIM may be a little apprehensive, says Guy Adami. They may be behind the move higher ahead of earnings. However long term, RIM seems to be at risk of getting behind the curve, he adds. If Apple or Motorola really gain a foothold it could be a much longer term problem for this company.

I’m seeing out of the money call buying, reveals Jon Najarian, which could also be in anticipation of a short squeeze.

I’m a contrarian, reminds Steve Cortes. There are 4 reasons to buy: it’s the most hated stock on the board, it’s been deeply oversold, it’s still the dominant in EM, and it’s becoming more attractive as an M&A candidate. If the stock sells off after earnings I’m a buyer.

If M&A activity starts picking up in any meaningful way it wouldn’t surprise me to see RIM as well as Nokia in play, adds Jon Najarian.

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MUST-SEE EARNINGS!

Oracle’s profit report is always a big deal on Wall Street. But this quarter it could be the must-see earnings event of the season.

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Not only do analysts expect Oracle to put up strong numbers, the Street is also watching for some drama with CEO Larry Ellison expected to present his newest hire -- Mark Hurd, formerly the chief at HP.

What's the trade?

If you peel back the onion, I think Oracle is a great company and probably cheap right here, says Guy Adami.

> Read More: Must-See Earnings Event This Season


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Trader disclosure: On Sept. 16th, 2010, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s Fast Money were owned by the Fast Money traders; Adami owns (AGU), (BTU), (NUE), (C), (GS), (INTC), (MSFT); Adami’s wife works at Merck; Jon Najarian owns (RIMM) short calls; Jon Najarian owns (ORCL) short calls; Jon Najarian owns (TBT) short calls; Jon Najarian owns (F) short calls; Jon Najarian owns (AKAM) short calls; Jon Najarian owns (BCSI) short calls; Grasso owns (ASTM), (BA), (BAC), (C), (CSCO), (JPM), (LPX), (MO), (MOT), (NDAQ), (PFE), (PRST); Cortes is short (XLF); Cortes is short (XRT); Cortes is short Crude Oil; Cortes is short the British Pound; Cortes is long U.S. Treasuries; Cortes owns (RIMM)

For Steve Grasso:
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (BAX)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (COG)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (CUBA)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (DHR)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (GERN)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (HPQ)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (HSPO)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (MERC)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (NWS.A)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (NYX)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (PDE)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (PFE)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (PRST)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (RDC)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (TLM)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (TRV)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (XRX)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (SDS)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners are short (QQQQ)

For Whitney Tilson
Funds Managed By Tilson Own (BUD), (JNJ), (KFT), (MSFT)
Funds Managed By Tilson Are Short (IOC), (BKS), (CRM), (NFLX), (LULU)


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