Market Commentary For The Week Ahead: ‘Fast Moves’

Weekly commentary for U.S. broad market indices.

Key Takeaways:

  • U.S. Senate passes a $1.9T relief package.
  • COVID vaccination timeline is sped up.
  • Equities are recipients of $12B in inflows.
  • Treasury yields aren’t at worrisome levels.
  • VIX term structure suggests no real panic.
  • Real GDP growth to be over 6% this year.

What Happened: U.S. stock index futures ended the week mixed.

This came after U.S. non-farm payrolls grew by 379,000, versus a consensus of ~180,000, improvement in sales and manufacturing data, as well as news that COVID-19 coronavirus vaccinations were accelerating.

Dynamics Unpacked: On a relative basis, the Nasdaq-100 is weaker, while the S&P 500, Russell 2000, and Dow Jones Industrial Average are stronger. This push-pull dynamic, in prior sessions, made it hard for participants to resolve directionally, evidenced by volatility.

On Friday, after an attempt by market participants to resolve lower, via a break of consolidation, stock indexes made a vicious rebound.

Why did stock indexes make a sudden reversal? Well, despite indexes being best positioned for sideways or lower trade, technically, near-term downside discovery reached its limit, based on market liquidity metrics and the inventory positioning of participants.

As stated in Friday’s morning commentary, according to SqueezeMetrics, the steepness of the GammaVol (GXV) curve suggested there was more risk to the upside than downside.

More On Gamma: Gamma is the sensitivity of an option to changes in the underlying price. Dealers that take the other side of options 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.
Graphic 1: SqueezeMetrics data suggested a near-term turnaround after Thursday’s violent liquidation.

Adding, also, coming into Friday’s session, market liquidity suggested (1) buying pressure was increasing and/or (2) sellers were absorbing resting liquidity (opportunistic buying or short covering into weakness), while speculative options activity was concentrated on the call-side.

In simple terms, one could argue, based on the aforementioned dynamics (e.g., speculative derivatives activity), that participants bought last week’s dip.

Graphic 2: 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 26, 2021. Noting activity in short- and long-dated tenors, near the $380, a strike that corresponds with $3,800.00 in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX).

Important to note, though, is the S&P 500’s long-term trend break, prior to Friday’s dramatic reversal and higher close, as well as Friday’s divergent volume delta in ETFs that track the S&P 500, Nasdaq-100, and Russell 2000.

Graphic 3: Long-term uptrend in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX) was broken.
More On Volume Delta: Buying and selling power as calculated by the difference in volume traded at the bid and offer.

What To Expect: Directional resolve and volatility, given news that the U.S. Senate, on Saturday, passed President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 coronavirus relief plan, as well as the (2) short-gamma (Graphic 4) environment (i.e, volatility is exacerbated due to dealer hedging requirements), as mentioned in the prior section.

Graphic 4: SpotGamma data suggests Nasdaq-100, the weakest index discussed in this commentary, is below the “Short-Gamma” juncture.

What To Do: In the coming sessions, participants will want to pay attention to the VWAP anchored from the $3,959.25 peak, the $3,720.50 minimal excess low, as well as the $3,837.75 high-volume area (HVNode).

Volume-Weighted Average Prices (VWAPs): Metrics highly regarded by chief investment officers, among other participants, for quality of trade. Additionally, liquidity algorithms are benchmarked and programmed to buy and sell around VWAPs.

More On Excess: A proper end to price discovery; the market travels too far while advertising prices. Responsive, other-timeframe (OTF) participants aggressively enter the market, leaving tails or gaps which denote unfair prices.

More On Volume Areas: A structurally sound market will build on past areas of high-volume (HVNode). Should the market trend for long periods of time, it will lack sound structure (identified as a low-volume area (LVNode) 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.

In the best case, the S&P 500 opens and remains above the $3,837.75 volume area. Auctioning above the VWAP anchored from the $3,959.25 peak would suggest buyers, on average, are in control and winning since the February 15 rally high.

In such a case, participants can look to the $3,892.75 HVNode for favorable entry and exit, the $3,934.25 profile ledge, and $3,959.25 overnight rally-high.

More On Ledges: Flattened area on the profile which suggests responsive participants are in control, or initiative participants lack confidence to continue the discovery process. The ledge will either hold and force participants to liquidate (cover) their positions, or crack and offer support (resistance).

More On Overnight Rally Highs (Lows): Typically, there is a low historical probability associated with overnight rally-highs (lows) ending the upside (downside) discovery process.

Any activity below the VWAP anchored from the $3,959.25 peak may leave the $3,837.75 HVNode as an area of supply — offering initiative sellers favorable entry and responsive buyers favorable exit.

In such a case, participants can look to other areas of high-volume (i.e., $3,795.75 and $3,727.75) for favorable entry and exit, as well as the repair of the $3,720.50 minimal excess low.

Graphic 5: Profile overlays on a 65-minute candlestick chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.
Graphic 6: 4-hour chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

Conclusions: The go/no-go level for next week’s trade is $3,837.75.

Any activity at this level suggests market participants are looking for more information to base their next move. Anything above (below) this level increases the potential for higher (lower). 

Levels Of Interest: $3,837.75 HVNode.

Cover photo by Chris Peeters from Pexels.

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