Notice: To view this week’s big picture outlook, click here.
What Happened: After a volatile Wednesday, U.S. stock index futures rose alongside fiscal stimulus and vaccine optimism, ahead of releases that would shine light on the labor market recovery.
What Does It Mean: After a gap open, participants sold stock indexes into prior value, yesterday.
This comes ahead of the large February monthly options expiration (OPEX), after which, the interest at the $3,900.00 S&P 500 option strike will roll-off. As a result, stickiness near the $3,900.00 high-volume area (HVNode) will likely cease in the absence of option hedging requirements.
More On Volume Areas: A structurally sound market will build on past areas of high-volume. Should the market trend for long periods of time, it will lack sound structure (identified as a low-volume area which denotes directional conviction and ought to offer support on any test). If participants were to auction and find acceptance into areas of prior low-volume, then future discovery ought to be volatile and quick as participants look to areas of high-volume for favorable entry or exit.
Further, we have numerous pieces of context to unpack prior to getting into today’s outlook on trade.
First, the v-pattern recovery after the recent de-risking event suggests room for higher. Second, the market is stuck in a long-gamma environment that favors less volatility (as witnessed during Wednesday’s muted intra-day sell-off and recovery). Third, the S&P 500 is trading just shy of $3,940.00, a primary upside target based on a multi-month balance-area projection.
More On The V-Pattern: A pattern that forms after a market establishes a high, retests some support, and then breaks above said high. In most cases, this pattern portends continuation. More On Gamma: Gamma is the sensitivity of an option to changes in underlying price. Dealers that take the other side of option trades hedge their exposure to risk by buying and selling the underlying. When dealers are short-gamma, they hedge by buying into strength and selling into weakness. When dealers are long-gamma, they hedge by selling into strength and buying into weakness. The former exacerbates volatility. The latter calms volatility.
What To Expect: Thursday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET) will likely open inside of prior-range, suggesting limited potential for immediate directional opportunity.
Adding, given dynamics discussed in the prior section, the odds of substantial change are low, so long as broad market indices, like the S&P 500, remain range bound. Also, trading in a prominent area of high-volume ($3,900.00) will likely make for a volatile session as such areas denote the market’s most recent perception of value and offer favorable entry and exit, hence the two-sided trade.
Going forward, participants will look to the overnight rally-high at $3,928.25, and low-volume structure beneath the $3,880.00 HVNode, which offered responsive buyers favorable entry during Wednesday’s intraday liquidation break.
More On Overnight Rally Highs: Typically, there is a low historical probability associated with overnight rally-highs ending the upside discovery process. More On Liquidation Breaks: The profile shape in the S&P 500 suggests participants were “too” long and had poor location.
Knowing participants are doing a good job of defending their ~7% advance, a non-typical weekly trading range, after taking out the 127.20% price extension, a typical recovery target, and leaving minimal excess (i.e., a proper end to price discovery) at the high, odds point to the increased potential for higher trade or balance in the coming session(s).
That said, the following frameworks apply.
In the best case, the S&P 500 remains rotational, at or above the $3,900.00 HVNode. In the worst case, any break that finds increased involvement (i.e., supportive flows and delta) below the $3,880.00 HVNode, would favor continuation as low as the $3,830.75 HVNode.
Major change will be identified with trade above the $3,928.25 overnight rally-high, and below the $3,878.50 regular-trade low.
Levels Of Interest: $3,928.25 overnight rally-high, $3,900.00 HVNode, $3,878.50 regular-trade low.