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Commentary

Daily Brief For March 2, 2022

Daily commentary for U.S. broad market indices.

Editor’s Note: 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, futures were mixed. The equity indices auctioned sideways to higher, in line with most commodity products. Bonds were lower, as was the VIX, an implied volatility measure.

Pursuant to the VIX remark, volatility measures in the rates, foreign exchange, and commodity markets are surging amidst geopolitical uncertainties and monetary policy action.

Ahead is data on ADP employment (8:15 AM ET), Fed-speak by Charles Evans (9:00 AM ET), James Bullard (9:30 AM ET), and Jerome Powell (10:00 AM ET). Later, is a release of the Beige Book (2:00 PM ET).

Graphic updated 6:30 AM ET. Sentiment Neutral if expected /ES open is inside of 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: Cross-asset volatility is spiking as investors look to protect against Russia-Ukraine and monetary policy action, among other things.

Graphic: Via @EffMktHype. “Rate vol through the roof, FX picking up steam while equity vol arguably still cheap in comparison despite being at the high end of its 1-year end.” Please note the spike in rate and FX vol versus equity vol (which is sideways to higher, mostly).

Very interesting is action in the rates market where there was a “5-sigma upward shift in MOVE on 3/1/22. [This] has happened 13 times prior in the last 22 years,” said one commentator.

Graphic: Via @EffMktHype. Merrill Lynch Option Volatility Estimate (INDEX: MOVE).

Taken together, the bond market’s pricing of risk – reflected by the Merrill Lynch Option Volatility Estimate (INDEX: MOVE) – is not in line (or moving in-step) with equity market risk, via the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX).

The fear in one market tends to feed into the fear of another; regardless of the cause, it seems that equity and bond market participants are not (quite) on the same page.

Moreover, this is in part beyond a decline in liquidity (the variable that’s been connected with the creation of wealth through higher asset prices over time), and has much to do with participants “de-risking” amidst a wide distribution of potential outcomes, another commentator explained

These fears are in the face of emerging risks to growth (given Russia-Ukraine and beyond); the question is whether there is a dovish surprise and this lends to assuaging participants of fear.

Graphic: Via @EffMktHype. “Forward OIS have coalesced since end-Jan and started to aggressively price out rate hikes.”

Taking a look at the U.S. high yield OAS (option-adjusted spread), participants see a “risk-off” bottom; deteriorating credit conditions are a bearish leading indicator. 

Will there be further deterioration that feeds into an eventual repricing of equity market risk? Or, will there be a pullback on hawkishness like the market has started pricing?

Graphic: Via St. Louis Fed. ICE BoA High YIeld OAS.

Positioning: Pursuant to the remarks made on equity implied volatility, March 1, 2022, was “the first day since late January that the options market [was] pricing up volatility a noteworthy but not extreme amount (on a closing basis).”

This is, per SpotGamma, amidst participants’ heightened demand for downside (put) protection; in purchasing protection, traders indirectly take liquidity as counterparties hedge exposure in the underlying.

The effects of this hedging are more notable given reticence on the part of counterparties.

“Essentially, with markets swinging there is a hesitance amongst liquidity providers to step in. This creates an environment in which the absorption of orders deteriorates,” SpotGamma explains. “Given this, the hedging of options exposure further amplifies market moves.”

A heightened VIX, in the face of an equity market that is not trading much weaker, is a clear reflection of this so-called reticence.

Pictured: SqueezeMetrics highlights implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness.

Going forward, bearing in mind the continued passive buying support alluded to in past commentaries, if participants were to be assuaged of their fears, that would likely coincide with less(er) demand for downside protection and compression in volatility.

The implications of this? Reduced demand for protection coincides with less counterparty negative gamma exposure (as counterparty put buying [a negative delta, positive gamma trade] coincides with the addition of liquidity [purchase of underlying, a positive delta trade]). 

In counterparties being less exposed to losses on the downside (via reduced negative gamma exposure), their (re)hedging may bolster attempts higher (i.e., open the door to the upside).

The likelihood of this dynamic coming to fruition is low(er), up until the passage of the Federal Open Market Committee event March 15-16, 2022, and options expiration (that same week).

Graphic: Fear and demand for protection concentrated in shorter-dated contracts most sensitive to changes in implied volatility and direction results in pressure from hedging. The compression of volatility likely coincides with support of attempts higher (as this removes pressure).

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,285.50 high volume area (HVNode) puts in play the $4,346.75 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the $4,346.75 HVNode could reach as high as the $4,398.50 overnight high (ONH) and $4,415.00 VPOC, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,285.50 HVNode puts in play the $4,227.75 overnight low. Initiative trade beyond the ONL could reach as low as the $4,177.25 HVNode and $4,137.00 untested point of control (VPOC), or lower.

Considerations: The market is in balance or rotational trade that suggests current prices offer favorable entry and exit. Balance-areas make it easy to spot a change in the market (i.e., the transition from two-time frame trade, or balance, to one-time frame trade, or trend). 

Modus operandi is responsive trade (i.e., fade the edges), rather than initiative trade (i.e., play the break).

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.

What People Are Saying

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.

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.

Vanna: The rate at which the delta of an option changes with respect to volatility.

Charm: The rate at which the delta of an option changes with respect to time.

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.

Volume-Weighted Average Prices (VWAPs): A metric 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.

Rates: Low rates have to potential to increase the present value of future earnings making stocks, especially those that are high growth, more attractive. To note, inflation and rates move inversely to each other. Low rates stimulate demand for loans (i.e., borrowing money is more attractive).

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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