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Daily Brief For April 27, 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 probed higher, essentially negating Tuesday’s end-of-day, knee-jerk liquidation.

Tuesday’s selling came alongside Russia cutting gas to Poland and Bulgaria, Vice President Kamala Harris testing positive for COVID-19, and heavy selling in growth and tech stocks, amid doubts corporate profits can withstand the Federal Reserve’s bid to tame inflation.

As Jerome Schneider of Pacific Investment Management Co says, QT will “have a profound effect on the cost of liquidity and more importantly the cost of transacting business and reallocating assets from one avenue to another avenue.” 

“There might not necessarily be a rapid deceleration or decline in the stock market or other risk assets, but there’s going to be a changing cost of capital that this balance sheet is going to be part of.”

After the close, weakness continued. Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOGL) (NASDAQ: GOOG) missed on slowing sales growth and digital-ad spending. One of the biggest losers was Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) which shed 12% or so on news that Elon Musk would use his fortune, much of which is tied up in Tesla, to buy Twitter Inc (NYSE: TWTR).

Germany’s passage of a bigger borrowing budget, coupled with China’s pledge to boost infrastructure bolstered an overnight advance that fed into price action at home. The S&P 500, in particular, for a brief moment, took back a key level, negating much of yesterday’s liquidation.

Ahead is data on international trade in goods (8:30 AM ET), as well as pending home sales and the rental vacancy rate (10:00 AM ET).

Graphic updated 7:00 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

Positioning: Markets are positioned for continued volatility. 

Based on a reading of market gamma exposure (GEX) and buying support (DIX), the returns distribution is skewed positive. There’s buying in the context of an environment in which the hedging of options positioning implies selling into weakness and buying of strength.

Graphic: Via Barclays PLC (NYSE: BCS) research.

In the most simple way that I can explain: when positioning is stretched one way, that often tends to mark a turning point – the returns distribution is either skewed positive or negative.

Graphic: Via Physik Invest. Data via SqueezeMetrics. Updated March of 2022. A high DIX/GEX ratio often portends positive 1-month returns.

An updated read, after Tuesday’s weak close, tells us that we can (1) definitely expect larger ranges to continue and (2) potential for short-term bounces

Based on overnight activity, one of those is happening, now.

Graphic: Via Physik Invest. Data via SqueezeMetrics.

This is as participants are both well-hedged and using weakness as an opportunity to buy into a less highly valued market.

Well-hedged means that customers (i.e., you and I) own protection against long equity exposure. So, that could mean customers own puts and/or are short calls. One of the most dominant flows is the long put, short call.

Such trade offers customers positive, yet asymmetric (gamma), exposure to direction (delta). In other words, negative delta and positive gamma. 

The counterparty has exposure to positive delta and negative gamma. If the underlyings trade lower and volatility rises, all else equal, the position will lose. To hedge against these losses, the counterparties will sell underlying into weakness.

If prices reverse and move higher, these counterparties will re-hedge and buy underlying.

Normally, as seen over the bull run of 2020 and 2021, markets are in an uptrend and there’s a strong supply of volatility. Often, customers sell more calls than puts and, in an uptrend, those calls solicit more active hedging than the put options.

Recall that the customer is short the call. That means the counterparty is long the call (a positive delta and gamma trade) and will make money if prices rise, all else equal. 

The hedging of this particular exposure (i.e., sell strength, buy weakness), in an uptrend, occurs slower (i.e., counterparts will allow their profits to run), and that’s what can help the market sustain lower volatility trends for longer periods.

When prices reverse and underlyings trade lower, put options solicit increased hedging activity. Given the nature of counterparty exposure to those puts, that hedging happens quickly and can take from market liquidity as to volatility (i.e., buy strength, sell weakness).

See, below, E-mini S&P 500 book depth, a proxy for market liquidity, and how much it has declined since the end of last year when markets became more volatile and noise around the Federal Reserve’s intent to taper bond-buying and raise rates grew louder.

Graphic: Via CME Group Inc (NASDAQ: CME) Liquidity Tool. Note how in late March, book depth rose as markets rose and customer call activity solicited increased hedging of counterparty long-gamma exposure (i.e., buy weakness, sell strength), adding to market liquidity.

In the above environment, counterparty hedging matters; the market is more sensitive to the flow, so to speak. That sensitivity is expected to continue.

SpotGamma, an options data and analysis service, sees the early May period as pivotal. Then is the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting and the potential Russian default, per Moody’s Corporation (NYSE: MCO).

As quoted: “Russia ‘may be considered in default’ if it does not pay two bonds in US dollars by end of a grace period on May 4.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

Until those events are resolved, participants will likely continue to (remain) hedge(d). Upon resolve, customers likely monetize their protection to offset losses on underlying equity exposure. 

That means selling volatility which reduces counterparty exposure to short puts (negative gamma and positive delta). To re-hedge, underlying is bought back and that may support a price rise.

Graphic: VIX term structure via VIX Central. Expansion (higher) solicits counterparty selling which pressures the market lower. Compression (lower) solicits counterparty buying which bolsters attempts higher.

Whether that price rise has legs depends on what the fundamental situation is, then. See the below section titled Considerations for a full technical picture and the most likely turning points.

Technical: As of 7:00 AM ET, Wednesday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, will likely open in the middle 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 $4,217.25 overnight high (ONH) puts in play the $4,267.75 regular trade high (RTH High). Initiative trade beyond the RTH High could reach as high as the $4,303.75 ONH and $4,337.00 VPOC, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,217.25 ONH puts in play the $4,193.25 spike base. Initiative trade beyond the spike base could reach as low as the $4,136.50 regular trade low (RTH Low) and $4,101.25 overnight low (ONL), or lower.

Considerations: Spikes 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).

Additionally, the indexes continue to trade below their 20-, 50-, and 200-day simple moving averages, confirming the trend change and bearish tone (further validated by poor breadth).

Graphic: Market Internals as pioneered by (a mentor of mine) Peter Reznicek. Notice the indicator in the top right, weighted S&P sectors (histogram) versus unweighted (blue line). During late last week, participants sold the entire market, heavily (as supported by the difference between the volume flowing into stocks that are up versus those that are down).

All indexes remain, as stated, yesterday, below their volume-weighted average prices (VWAPs) anchored from the start of this year (or their respective peaks). 

VWAPs are a metric highly regarded by chief investment officers (CIOs), among other participants, for quality of trade. Liquidity algorithms, too, are benchmarked and programmed to buy and sell around VWAPs.

The Invesco QQQ Trust Series 1 (NASDAQ: QQQ) just tested a major VWAP, yesterday, anchored from the lows of March 2020. That’s a fair price to pay for Nasdaq 100 exposure.

Graphic: Invesco QQQ Trust Series 1 (NASDAQ: QQQ) with anchored VWAPs.

Notwithstanding, notice the flat-to-declining AVWAP that’s black in color. So long as prices remain below this level, the index is likely a sell. 

Should that level flatten (and begin to rise), and if the QQQ was able to trade above it for a sustained period, there is potential for sustained upside.

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

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

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.

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 also develops insights around impactful options market dynamics at SpotGamma and is a Benzinga reporter.

Some of his works include conversations with ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, investors Kevin O’Leary and John Chambers, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial, among many others.

Disclaimer

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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