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Halftime: Has Nasdaq Lost Its General in Apple?

Once again Apple has landed center stage with more analysts raising estimates on this Wall Street favorite.

Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster as well as JPMorgan analyst Mark Moskowitz both raised price targets; Munster to $438 and Mostokwitz to $420.

Both agree that Apple is due for another growth spurt, in part due to growing speculation that Verizon will carry the iPhone. But they cite other catalysts as well including the popularity of the iPad.

AppleLosingLeadership.jpg

Fast Money trader Steve Cortes, however, can't get on board; he doesn't see another $100 of upside in Apple. In fact, he doesn't see any more upside. True to his contrary nature – he thinks the technicals are anything but bullish.

To make his case he presents the desk with the chart here and says, ”From the beginning of the year to October, Apple led the markets -- up over 50% to the S&P's 5% gain. But since then, Apple has lagged the markets.”

According to Cortes that's a problem

“Apple has been trading sideways for the past 2 months,” he explains. “I take that as a massive warning sign.”

And not just as a warning about Apple but as a warning that the entire Nasdaq may be challenged.

”Apple is 20% of the Nasdaq,” he reminds. “I don’t think the Nasdaq can continue to rally without Apple participation. As far as he's concerned his chart shows, "Nasdaq has lost its general. I’m looking to short the Nasdaq.”

Guy Adami can't be convinced; he thinks if the stock was going to sell-off it would have sold off already.

“It’s true that Apple has been stuck around $321 for quite some time,” he says, “but typically, the market doesn’t give investors a lot of time to buy lows or in this case to sell highs. I don’t think we’ve topped out here. I don’t think the market gives investors that much time.”

Patty Edwards of Trutina agrees that Apple probably has another growth spurt. “$100 upside could be in the cards,” she says, “but I’d wait for a pullback, I think one will come in January.”

Like the Street analysts, Cortes thinks Adami and Edwards are missing it. "But Apple is ‘really' a retail name," he shoots back. "And retail has significantly underperformed since Black Friday. I think Apple is emblematic of that retail performance."

What do you think? We want to know!

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MARKET BIAS INTO YEAR'S END?

Just like the song says, “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.”

With the holidays less than 10 days away and volume drying up, what should you expect from the market?

"Price is truth and truth is price," says Guy Adami. "The market seems to be saying it doesn’t want to go down. At these levels the market is about 70 S&P points from a serious sell-off. I see no reason to fade this market."

"I wouldn’t expect to see a sell-off between now and year’s end either," says Steve Grasso. "There’s a chase for performance underway. However I am hearing that the market could pullback middle to late January."

"I agree that a sell-off is probably coming in January," adds Patty Edwards.

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TAKE YOUR POSITION: RESEARCH IN MOTION

With RIM releasing its numbers after the bell, how should you position into and in the wake of earnings?

Patty Edwards expects the new Playbook tablet will generate a lot of interest but adds, "I wouldn’t buy ahead of earnings."

Guy Adami is cautious. If RIM disappoints he thinks "it could knock the stock 8-10%."

On a pullback, Steve Cortes says he's a buyer.


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Trader disclosure: On December 16, 2010, 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), (C), (GS), (INTC), (MSFT), (NUE), (BTU); Adami's wife works at (MRK): Cortes owns (TSN); Cortes owns (TM); Cortes is short (BAC) vs. S&P; Cortes is short (XRT) vs. S&P; Cortes is short (MOS); Cortes is short (LVS); Cortes is short Euro Stoxx Futures; Cortes is long Treasuries; Cortes is long USD vs. Mexican Peso; Cortes is short Corn; Cortes is short Nat Gas; Cortes is short Gold; Grasso owns (ASTM), (BA), (BAC), (BWC), (C), (CSCO), (JPM), (LIT), (LPX), (MOT), (MHY), (NDAQ), (PFE), (PRST), (S), (X)

For Patty Edwards
Edwards owns (AAPL) for clients
Edwards owns (GS) for clients
Edwards owns (C) for clients
Edwards owns (CME) for clients
Edwards owns (AMZN) for clients
Edwards owns (F) for clients
Edwards owns (MSFT) for clients
Edwards owns (XLK) for clients
Edwards owns (GLD) for clients
Edwards owns (SLV) for clients
Edwards owns (GE) for clients
Edwards owns (GIS) for clients

For Steve Grasso:
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners own (AAPL)
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners own (AMGN)
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners own (BP)
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners own (CUBA)
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners own (GE)
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners own (GERN)
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners own (HPQ)
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners own (HSPO)
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners own (NWS.A)
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners own (NYX)
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners own (OPEN)
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners own (PDE)
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners own (PFE)
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners own (PRST)
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners own (RDC)
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners own (TLM)
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners own (XRX)
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners own (SDS)
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners own (UNM)
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners are short (QQQQ)
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners are short (AAPL)

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