Market Commentary For 2/12/2021

Daily commentary for U.S. broad market indices.

Notice: To view this week’s big picture outlook, click here.

What Happened: As the new administration pushes approval of a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan, alongside the approval of another $14 billion for pandemic-hit airlines and signs of improve in the labor market, U.S. stock index futures traded sideways, in prior-balance and -range.

What Does It Mean: Market’s were range-bound after a rapid de-risking event associated with the GameStop Corporation (NYSE: GME) crisis, and subsequent v-pattern recovery.

Pictured: 4-hour profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures

The tight trading range is most attributable to the large February monthly options expiration (OPEX), after which, the interest at the $3,900.00 S&P 500 option strike will roll-off. Why’s this? Most funds are committed to holding long positions. In the interest of lower volatility returns, these funds will collar off their positions, selling calls to finance the purchase of downside put protection.

As a result of this activity, option dealers are long upside and short downside protection.

The exposure must be hedged: dealers sell into strength as their call (put) positions gain (lose) value and buy into weakness as their call (put) positions lose (gain) value.

Now, unlike theory suggests, dealers will hedge call losses (gains) quicker (slower). This leads to “long-gamma,” a dynamic that crushes volatility and promotes momentum, observed by lengthy sprints, followed by rapid de-risking events as the market transitions into “short-gamma.”

If the interest near $3,900.00 S&P 500 is not rolled up in price and out in time, then option hedging requirements will change.

The absence of strong fundamentally-driven buying (as we’ve seen with such things as DIX), can have serious implications on price action.

More On DIX: For every buyer is a seller (usually a market maker). Using DIX — which is derived from short sales (i.e., liquidity provision on the market making side) — we can measure buying pressure.
Pictured: DIX by Squeeze Metrics

However, it is important to note that, in recent days, some exposure has been rolled up in price and out in time.

One such example can be seen below.

Pictured: Purchase of call positions higher in price and farther out in time in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index

What To Expect: Friday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET) will likely open inside of prior-balance and -range, suggesting limited potential for immediate directional opportunity.

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 in balance (i.e., 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.

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.

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.

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.

As stated yesterday, 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.

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