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Commentary

Daily Brief For September 22, 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 950+ that read this report daily, below!

Graphic updated 8:00 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. 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.

Administrative

An easy read, today. For more complex, see the September 20 and 19 letters. Also, there will not be a letter published for Friday, September 23, 2022. See you next week, team!

Fundamental

Equity markets traded down, yesterday, on the heels of the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) decision to raise interest rates by 0.75% and “keep at it” for longer, eyeing a 1.25% jump, in sum, by 2023.

This puts the current target rate at 3.00-3.25%.

Separately, if the “keep at it” quote sounds familiar, that’s because it is. The Fed Paul Volcker’s memoir is titled “Keeping at It.”

Graphic: CME Group Inc’s (NASDAQ: CME) FedWatch Tool shows higher odds of a 75 to 100 basis point rate hike in November, along the lines of what the futures market was pricing heading into the event.

The Fed Chair Jerome Powell admitted there may be below-trend growth and the potential for unemployment to reach 4.4% next year, up from the current rate of 3.7%. Projected increases, as of yesterday, show interest rates at 4.4% by 2023, and 4.6% in 2023, before moderation in 2024 to 3.9%, as well summarized by Bloomberg.

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg.

Moreover, economists suggest that raising rates to 4.5% would cost the economy nearly 1.7 million jobs while rates at 5% would bring that number to 2 million. A higher savings rate and increased funds at the state level would likely cushion the blow, however.

In response, the likes of Ark Invest’s Cathie Wood, who we quoted recently regarding her thoughts on why the Fed needs to lower the pace of tightening and/or cut, said:

“Most disappointing about the Fed’s decision today was its unanimity. None of those voting on the Federal Reserve is focused on the significant price deflation in the pipeline. The Fed seems to be making decisions based on lagging indicators and analogies.”

She adds that the Fed is setting the stage for deflation:

“The Fed is solving supply chain issues by crushing demand and, in my view, unleashing deflation, setting it up for a major pivot.”

Graphic: Initially retrieved from Bloomberg. Taken from Ophir Gottlieb who concludes costs are dropping, as observed via shipping, gasoline, manufacturing, cars, and rent measures.

Moreover, it’s the case that “[a]s rates rise and debt servicing costs increase, ‘many zombie institutions, zombie households, corporates, banks, shadow banks, and zombie countries are going to die,’” said economist Nouriel Roubini, who predicted the 2008 financial crisis. 

Prior to the Fed event, Roubini forecasted a 75 basis point hike in September, followed by a 50 basis point hike in November. The market is pricing more than what Roubini thought the Fed would probably do after Wednesday’s Fed meeting.

In his opinion, stay “light on equities and have more cash, … [as] equities and other assets can fall by 10%, 20%, 30%.”

Positioning

In short, unexpected was the post-event response. In recent times, post-Fed moves have been positive, driven by the “rebalancing of dealer inventory,” per Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan.

That didn’t happen and let’s unpack why.

Basically, into the event, traders demanded protection and bid implied volatility (IVOL). The assumption is that counterparties, who are likely on the other end, have exposure to positive Delta and negative Gamma, which they hedge through negative Delta trades in the underlying.

Should fears have been assuaged, the supply of that protection once demanded, would have decreased IVOL (and options Delta), providing the markets a boost.

Graphic: Retrieved from SqueezeMetrics.

That didn’t happen. Instead, traders added protection, as shown by this SpotGamma graphic tracking changes in put open interest on the S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX).

Graphic: Retrieved from SpotGamma. Updated September 22, 2022.

This bid some basic measures of IVOL into the close.

Graphic: Retrieved from VIX Central. Updated September 21, 2022.

That’s as these particular options, which were added at much lower prices, as I explained in a SpotGamma note, recently, “are far more sensitive to changes in direction and IVOL.”

These options can go “from having very little Delta (exposure to direction) to a lot more Delta on the move lower,” quickly. “If we maintain that liquidity providers are short those puts, a positive Delta trade, then those liquidity providers [will sell] futures and stock, a negative Delta trade to stay hedged.”

Graphic: Retrieved from SqueezeMetrics.

Notwithstanding, it’s still the case that a “reload on fresh short-dated downside” flows heighten the risk of a “negative Delta squeeze … into month end,” said Nomura Holdings Inc’s (NYSE: NMR) Charlie McElligott. 

Therefore, “you have to consider a move up [to] $4,000.00 as part of your distribution of outcomes to the upside,” as that is near where “market makers are ‘long,’” as part of an impactful collar trade many are aware sits.

As an aside, some online conversation was sparked around placing cash into riskless trades for some small, but guaranteed, rates of return. In that conversation, Box Spreads were put forth as a solution to lend cash and earn a competitive interest rate.

For context, “Boxes allow market participants to create a loan structure similar to a Treasury bill. T-bills are ‘discount’ instruments that are purchased at a value less than the stated face value. Upon maturity, bills call for the return of the stated face value.”

“For example, one might buy a $1 million 90-day T-bill for $998,000. Ninety days later, the $1 million face or principal value is returned and the $2,000 discount is earned as interest. One may represent the rate on this transaction as a 0.80% or 80 basis point discount yield [= (360/90) x ($2,000/$1,000,000)]. The effective rate on a box represents a ‘discount yield’ similar to a quoted T-bill rate.”

Graphic: Retrieved from boxtrades.com.

IPS Strategic Capital’s Pat Hennessy explains that SPX boxes “typically yield[] 20-40 bps above [the] corresponding maturity risk-free rate.” Additionally, there are tax advantages to using the S&P 500’s 1256 contracts. 

For easier fills, use the “3K/4K line in an AM settled expiry,” Hennessy noted. “Helps if you know where the broker market is.”

Technical

As of 8:00 AM ET, Thursday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, is likely to 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.

Any activity above the $3,826.25 HVNode puts into play the $3,857.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the latter could reach as high as the $3,893.00 VPOC and $3,936.25 ONH, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower.

Any activity below the $3,826.25 HVNode puts into play the $3,770.75 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as low as the $3,722.50 LVNode and $3,688.75 HVNode, or lower.

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.

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, ex-Bridgewater Associate Andy Constan, 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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