Market Commentary For The Week Ahead: ‘To The Moon’

Weekly commentary for U.S. broad market indices.

Key Takeaways:

  • Positive earnings revisions nearing records
  • Equity mutual funds attract strong inflows.
  • Multi-asset funds raising equity allocations.

What Happened: U.S. stock indexes resolved a week-long trading range, Friday.

What Does It Mean: As the new administration looked to advance the status of coronavirus relief, U.S. stock index futures established record highs.

This comes as stock indexes, particularly the S&P 500, traded sideways after a rapid de-risking event associated with the GameStop Corporation (NYSE: GME) crisis, and subsequent v-pattern recovery.

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.

As stated on Friday, the tight trading range is most likely 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. 

Graphic 1: Physik Invest maps out the purchase of call and put options in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY), for the week ending February 12, 2021. Activity in the option market was primarily concentrated in short-dated tenors near $390, a strike that corresponds with $3,900.00 in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX).

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.

This exposure must be hedged; dealers will 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.

However, it is important to note that, in recent days, some exposure has been rolled up in price and out in time. This suggests an inclination by participants to maintain long exposure through OPEX, a day that would mark an end to pinning (which we’ve seen over the past weeks).

One such example can be seen below.

Graphic 4: Purchase of call positions higher in price and farther out in time in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index

What To Do: In coming sessions, participants will want to pay attention to the $3,919.75 spike base and $3,928.25 balance-area high.

More On Spikes: Spike’s mark the beginning of a break from value. Spikes higher (lower) are validated by trade at or above (below) the spike base (i.e., the origin of the spike).

Balance-areas make it easy to spot change in the market (i.e., the transition from two-time frame trade, or balance, to one-time frame trade, or trend).

Given the spike out of balance, the following frameworks ought to be applied. 

In the best case, the S&P 500 opens and remains above the $3,919.75 spike base, confirming last week’s higher prices. In the worst case, the S&P 500 auctions below the $3,919.75 spike base.

Trade below the spike base would be the most negative outcome and may trigger a new wave of downside discovery, repairing some of the poor structures left in the wake of the aforementioned advance.

Graphic 5: Profile overlays on a 30-minute candlestick chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

Conclusions: The go/no-go level for next week’s shortened holiday trade is $3,919.75. Trade below this level suggests markets are not yet ready to rally.

Levels Of Interest: $3,919.75 spike base.

Cover photo by Pixabay, from Pexels.

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