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Commentary

Daily Brief For January 18, 2022

Daily commentary for U.S. broad market indices.

The Daily Brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 200+ that read this report daily, below!

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures auctioned lower alongside a surge in bond yields. Rate-sensitive sectors were weakest in pre-market trade, in comparison to the value and cyclical names. 

Earnings are now in focus. Participants shall use earnings updates to gauge how companies are performing in spite of omicron, among other challenges.

Ahead is data on the Empire Manufacturing Index (8:30 AM ET) and NAHB Home Builders Index (10:00 AM ET). 

Graphic updated 6:30 AM ET. Sentiment Risk-Off if expected /ES open is below the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. SHIFT data used for S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options activity. Note that options flow is sorted by the call premium spent; if more positive, then more was spent on call options. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. VIX reflects a current reading of the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) from 0-100.

What To Expect

Fundamental: Ahead of earnings releases from Goldman Sachs Group (NYSE: GS), Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS), Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), and Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX), as well as key rate decisions, indices sold heavy. 

The Nasdaq 100 led the decline after holiday-trade, Monday, as yields surged alongside concerns central banks would tighten monetary policy sooner than expected.

This is as higher rates have the potential to decrease the present value of future earnings, making stocks, especially those that are high growth, less attractive. 

“The rationale behind this is the trade-off,” Grit Capital put well in a recent newsletter

“Why would I park my money somewhere that is only yielding 1%, when I can invest in riskier assets that can raise my return?”

Graphic: Per Grit Capital, “A common proxy that a lot of people look at is the S&P500’s earnings yield (yellow) vs. the 10yr (white).”

At the same time, narratives around quantitative tightening (i.e., the reduction in the size of the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet) are growing louder.

Graphic: QT mechanics per The Macro Compass.

This is what Andy Constan of Damped Spring Advisors refers to as the QT drumbeat. 

This drumbeat is to intensify in spite of strong economic and earnings growth, as well as a moderation in inflation, Constan says

“The lack of additional liquidity provided by Fed purchase will also remove a damper for the market and the economy keeping asset volatility well bid, while also causing asset diversification benefit to fall, generating rising portfolio volatility and the risk demanded to hold assets.”

Note: Check out this Constan’s really interesting story, below!

Graphic: Via The Market Ear, “Temporary relief from Powell – slow reverse QE’ confirmed. Powell says Fed will stop replacing maturing bonds, but will not sell holdings: slow QT.”

“If current, priced in, inflation and growth expectations are exactly realized we predict that risk premiums on 30-year yields will increase by 15bp and equity risk premium by 30bp,” Constan adds. “These risk premium expansions will generate a 2% headwind on long bond prices and a 10% headwind for equity prices.”

Constan’s comments line up with that of Morgan Stanley’s which sees markets selling down 10-20% during H1 2022, as expectations call for five 25 bp hikes. History is in alignment, below.

Graphic: S&P 500 performance before and after rate hikes, via The Market Ear.

So, despite recent inflows and “light positioning,” taking all of the above comments together, the window for stocks to rally is closing.

Positioning: The coming January 19 expiration of options on the Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) and January 21 monthly equity options expiration (OPEX) has major implications.

According to Constan, the “[o]ptions expiration which includes lots of LEAP contracts will be a catalyst for a squeeze rally and a post-OpEx sell-off.”

This is as, according to Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, there is a constant structural positioning that naturally drives markets higher.

“I use this analogy of a jet,” he explained, referencing the three factors – the change in the underlying price (gamma), implied volatility (vanna), and time (charm) – that are well known to impact an options exposure to directional risk or delta. 

“[T]he hedging vanna and charm flows, and whatnot will push the markets higher.”

To note, though, with narratives around higher rates and QT strengthening, so to speak, divergences between the S&P 500 and metrics like the Bond Closed-End Fund (CEF) Advance-Decline line have already appeared.

As McClellan Financial Publications explains, “liquidity has suddenly become a problem, and it is affecting the more liquidity-sensitive issues first. That can be a prelude to that same illiquidity coming around and biting the big cap stocks that drive the major averages.”

Graphic: Bond CEF A-D showing liquidity problems, via McClellan Financial Publications.

As an aside, some believe that the Fed’s removal of liquidity has the potential to prick the bubble, prompting a cascading reaction that exacerbates underlying price movements.

“It’s not a coincidence that the mid-February to mid-March 2020 downturn literally started the day after February expiration and ended the day of March quarterly expiration,” Karsan adds. 

“These derivatives are incredibly embedded in how the tail reacts and there’s not enough liquidity, given the leverage, if the Fed were to taper.”

Technical: As of 6:30 AM ET, Tuesday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, will likely open in the lower part of a negatively skewed overnight inventory, outside of prior-range and -value, suggesting a potential for immediate directional opportunity.

Gap Scenarios: Gaps ought to fill quickly. Should they not, that’s a signal of strength; do not fade. Leaving value behind on a gap-fill or failing to fill a gap (i.e., remaining outside of the prior session’s range) is a go-with indicator.

Auctioning and spending at least 1-hour of trade back in the prior range suggests a lack of conviction; in such a case, do not follow the direction of the most recent initiative activity.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,593.00 point of control (POC) puts in play the $4,624.75 low volume area (LVNode). Initiative trade beyond the LVNode could reach as high as the $4,633.00 POC and $4,650.75 regular trade low (RTH Low), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,593.00 POC puts in play the $4,574.25 high volume area (HVNode). Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as low as the $4,549.00 VPOC and $4,520.00 RTH Low, or lower.

Considerations: The S&P 500 remains above its 200-day simple moving average. The long-term trend remains up.

Click here to load today’s key levels into the web-based TradingView charting platform. Note that all levels are derived using the 65-minute timeframe. New links are produced, daily.
Graphic: 65-minute profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

Definitions

Volume Areas: A structurally sound market will build on areas of high volume (HVNodes). Should the market trend for long periods of time, it will lack sound structure, identified as low volume areas (LVNodes). LVNodes denote directional conviction and ought to offer support on any test. 

If participants were to auction and find acceptance into areas of prior low volume (LVNodes), then future discovery ought to be volatile and quick as participants look to HVNodes for favorable entry or exit.

POCs: POCs are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent in a prior day session. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit.

MCPOCs: POCs are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent over numerous day sessions. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit.

Options Expiration (OPEX): Traditionally, option expiries mark an end to pinning (i.e, the theory that market makers and institutions short options move stocks to the point where the greatest dollar value of contracts will expire) and the reduction dealer gamma exposure.

About

After years of self-education, strategy development, mentorship, and trial-and-error, Renato Leonard Capelj began trading full-time and founded Physik Invest to detail his methods, research, and performance in the markets.

Capelj is also a Benzinga finance and technology reporter interviewing the likes of Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary, JC2 Ventures’ John Chambers, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, and ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, as well as a SpotGamma contributor developing insights around impactful options market dynamics.

Disclaimer

Physik Invest does not carry the right to provide advice.

In no way should the materials herein be construed as advice. Derivatives carry a substantial risk of loss. All content is for informational purposes only.

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