Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Kirk Report

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Learn How To Breathe

Posted: 10 Jun 2009 08:23 AM PDT

Learn How To Breathe
Recently one of my mentees asked me a simple question - "How do you remain so calm during the trading day especially when there is so much money on the line?"

My first instinct to reply was to tell her that I never trade beyond my limits (mental or financial), but there is much more to it than that. For me, trading requires a sense of both calm and confidence that takes time and serious effort to acquire and maintain.

I discovered some time ago that one of the most simplest ways to remain calm and in control is to practice basic breathing exercises throughout the trading day. Years ago when I was back in law school and extremely stressed out over the final exams, a dear friend taught me several techniques that I still use every day. Others, like Dr. Weil, have said they've seen simple breathing exercises significantly improve people's lives and I have seen the same for everyone I've recommended this to as well.

To help get you started, Dr. Weil has provided instructions on three breathing exercises that I highly recommend you try out for a period of time. In fact, at least three times every day I engage in the following exercise which Dr. Weil provides these instructions:

The 4-7-8 Exercise

This exercise is utterly simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere. Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.

  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.

  • Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.

  • Hold your breath for a count of seven.

  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.

  • This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

Note that you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important. If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep to the ratio of 4:7:8 for the three phases. With practice you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.

This exercise is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. Unlike tranquilizing drugs, which are often effective when you first take them but then lose their power over time, this exercise is subtle when you first try it but gains in power with repetition and practice. Do it at least twice a day. You cannot do it too frequently. Do not do more than four breaths at one time for the first month of practice. Later, if you wish, you can extend it to eight breaths. If you feel a little lightheaded when you first breathe this way, do not be concerned; it will pass.

Once you develop this technique by practicing it every day, it will be a very useful tool that you will always have with you. Use it whenever anything upsetting happens - before you react. Use it whenever you are aware of internal tension. Use it to help you fall asleep. This exercise cannot be recommended too highly. Everyone can benefit from it. - Dr. Weil

Do yourself a favor and do this three times every day for the next three months. (I do it 5 minutes before the opening bell, again around lunchtime, and after the closing bell). To achieve the most benefit, it takes several months of practice and, if you do this, you'll see big improvements in your overall levels of stress, your blood pressure will go down, and ultimately your trading and investing decisions will see significant improvement. In fact, this very well may be the most important piece of advice I share with you this year!

Remember, all things must be in harmony for you to achieve the level of success you desire. Taking care of your body is a component of this that few traders fully understand and appreciate and these simple breathing exercises will be of tremendous help.

Rally Mode

Posted: 10 Jun 2009 05:53 AM PDT

Good morning. Premarket futures are in rally mode following strength in overseas markets and especially in commodity-related oil stocks.

Top headlines this morning include expectations of stronger than expected economic data in China, a bearish sentiment survey at Bloomberg, Home Depot raised its 2009 profit forecast, mortgage applications fell as rates rose as industry pushes to extend the home-buyer tax credit, Ford is apparently seeking millions of dollars in direct loans and guarantees, the Supreme Court has let Chrysler's asset sale to Fiat proceed, and Obama has dropped its tough plan on bank compensation.

Premarket gainers: CDIC, JAZZ, SHFL, MLNK, CPST, ANX, CFX, GRH, GFG, ISLE, SAY, ROYL, ESLR, CENX, XTEX, JASO, HERO, QTWW, THQI, CPN, URRE, ETFC, CDII, RBS, OXM, RTP, ATPG, FEED, STLD, ACGY, EBAY, EGLE, UBS, XTXI, OPWV, & SEPR.

Premarket losers: MRNA, SINA, EFUT, CNB, NCS, BKD, HS, ODSY, HXL, B, LHO, SGY, SINA, AMP, NATI, ACH, EDZ, FXP, VSTN, INAP, & AMP.

While the focus today will be on the 2:PM release of the Fed's Beige Book, the Fed's Evans is scheduled to speak this morning and we have the weekly EIA Petro report at 10:30AM.

Much like yesterday, traders will be fixated on the trading range and whether we're able to break free from it entirely. Last Friday morning's gap open remains the level of overhead resistance for the major market averages and taking that hold and holding above it will be important.

Go make it a great day!

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