Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For May 2, 2022

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 off of Friday’s regular trade lows. Yields, the dollar, and implied volatility metrics were bid.

There were no changes in the newsflow’s tone this weekend; investors remain concerned over the implications of monetary policy shifts and inflation, as well as war, COVID, and the supply pressures associated.

Ahead is data on S&P Global Inc’s (NYSE: SPGI) U.S. manufacturing PMI (9:45 AM ET), as well as the ISM manufacturing index and construction spending (10:00 AM 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: The indexes continue to hold well in the context of severe weaknesses under the hood, so to speak, especially in the high-flying technology and growth of 2020-2021.

Stocks like Zoom Video Communications (NASDAQ: ZM) and Netflix Inc (NASDAQ: NFLX), the beneficiaries of the work-from-home trends, have de-rated substantially since the start of 2022.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

In spite of earnings growth (~10% for S&P 500 companies that have reported, per Bloomberg), “the reaction to earnings surprises in April was asymmetric,” and a display of “the outsized role played by outliers.” 

For context, “Mega-cap growth (MCG) & Tech earnings are missing by -6.0% at the aggregate level [while] the median company [is] beating by 5.7%.”

This is as inflation, among other factors, continues to bite into the “over-optimistic multiples driven by the assumption that pandemic-era performance could continue in perpetuity.”

Per Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC), the S&P’s current P/E is way too high, given the current CPI.

Graphic: Via Bank of America Corporation. Taken from Bloomberg. “It’s straightforward common sense that higher inflation would lead to paying a lower multiple of earnings because you expect future earnings to be eaten into by inflation. And common sense is borne out empirically; all else equal, higher inflation does indeed tend to mean lower earnings multiples.”

Notwithstanding, trimming outliers, inflation may have peaked and that is a positive for those equity investors who think “inflation is high, but they’re confident that it’s transitory,” therefore current valuations are just.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

Per @ConvexityMaven, recession chatter is unwarranted. The economy is expanding and the only worry investors should have is “if the Fed cannot chill nominal GDP.”

That means “rates are going north” and, according to Bank of America Corporation’s Michael Hartnett, “asset prices must reset lower.”

Some investors, like the Japanese, have heeded this message and are offloading billions in Treasuries in anticipation of more attractive levels and “stabilization in long-dated yields.”

Perspectives: Some, including Credit Suisse Group AG’s (NYSE: CS) Zoltan Pozsar, believe market participants are in for a world of [much more] hurt as “central banks can only deal with nominal, not real chokepoints.”

“Banks’ stock buybacks are lowering SLRs as we speak, and the Fed is about to embark on QT, and these nominal balance sheet and liquidity trends, will at some point clash with the realities of a garden variety of supply chain issues,” as a result of geopolitical chokepoints.

Graphic: Per Bloomberg, “[E]very $1 trillion of QT will equate to a decline of roughly 10% in stocks over the next 12 months or so.”

Given Pozsar’s findings, “The Fed will do QE again by summer 2023.”

Positioning: Recall that the indexes are trading relatively strong, in comparison to constituents, especially those that are smaller technology and growth companies.

Essentially, “we’re two-thirds of the way through a dot-com type collapse,” explains Simplify Asset Management’s Mike Green.

“It’s just happened underneath the surface of the indices which is [that] … dynamic of passive flows supporting the largest stocks within the index, whereas the smaller stocks can be influenced to a greater extent by the behavior of discretionary managers.”

This liquidity supply, apart from passive flows, stems from index-level hedging pressures, also.

Here’s why, as borrowed from our April 27, 2022 commentary.

Participants are well-hedged and use weakness as an opportunity to buy into a less highly valued broader 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).

Graphic: Via SqueezeMetrics. Equity move lower solicits increased hedging activity of put options. Counterparties have negative gamma exposure to these puts. Therefore, to hedge, they buy strength and sell weakness, adding to realized volatility. This trend is ongoing.

So, what now?

Participants are most concerned (and hedging against) unforeseen monetary policy action and economic chokepoints like a potential Russian default. 

Investors will get clarity on some of these issues in the coming sessions.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma, the estimated gamma for calls by strike as a positive number and puts as a negative number on the S&P 500 ETF, the SPY. Notice the weight on the put side.

Barring a worst-case scenario, if markets do not perform to the downside (i.e., do not trade lower), those highly-priced (often very short-dated) bets on direction will quickly decay, and hedging flows with respect to time and volatility may bolster sharp rallies.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. “SPX prices X-axis. Option delta Y-axis. When the factors of implied volatility and time change, hedging ratios change. For instance, if SPX is at $4,700.00 and IV jumps 15% (all else equal), the dealer may sell an additional 0.2 deltas to hedge their exposure to the addition of a positive 0.2 delta. The graphic is for illustrational purposes, only.”

Whether those price rises kick off a sustained reversal depends on what the fundamental situation is, then.

Presently, the largest index constituents are starting to succumb to worsening fundamentals and that will, ultimately, feed into the indexes which are pinned due to passive and hedging flows.

In other words, fundamentals will trump this talk of positioning (i.e., it is only in the short-term does this positioning we’ve talked about have greater implications).

Consideration: The returns distribution, based on implied volatility metrics alone, is skewed positive (though there are some large negative outliers pursuant to The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial recent explanation that despite negative sentiment, “nobody is truly scared” and “Fixed strike vols continue to underperform, along with the lack of concern in the VX term structure”).

Caution.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma, “Put vs Call gamma suggests stretched positioning.”

Technical: As of 6:30 AM ET, Monday’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 $4,118.75 regular trade low (RTH Low) puts in play the $4,158.25 overnight high (ONH). Initiative trade beyond the ONH could reach as high as the $4,247.00 untested point of control (VPOC) and $4,279.75 ONH, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,118.75 RTH Low puts in play the $4,101.25 overnight low (ONL). Initiative trade beyond the ONL could reach as low as the $4,055.75 low volume area (LVNode) and $3,978.50 low volume area (LVNode), 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.

Considerations: Terribly weak price action, last week, with the S&P 500, Nasdaq 100, and Russell 2000 all flirting with early 2022 lows.

The weaker of the bunch – the Invesco QQQ Trust Series 1 (NASDAQ: QQQ) – just broke a major VWAP anchored from the lows of March 2020. 

That indicator denotes the level at which the average buyer/seller is in.

In other words, it is the fairest price to pay for Nasdaq 100 exposure (since March 2020) and, instead of being construed as a so-called demand zone, the level ought to be looked at as overhead supply on tests, higher. Caution.

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

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.

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.

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.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For April 25, 2022

Editor’s Note: Wow, what a month! Looks like there was a ton of volatility we weren’t able to navigate together.

I’m back now and will be making changes to both the quantity and quality of notes sent. In total transparency, I took on way too much work, and quality suffered a tad. I look forward to making things a bit more sustainable and am grateful for your interest in remaining a subscriber.

Interested in getting this free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 200+ that read this report daily, below, today!

What Happened

Overnight, the equity index and most commodity futures explored lower. Bonds and implied volatility metrics were bid.

This is alongside news that China’s reaction to a local COVID-19 outbreak may feed into global slowdowns just as supply pressures, among other things, are pushing the Federal Reserve (Fed) to adopt a more hawkish policy stance.

Notable is the pace at which China’s yuan is falling. 

Per TD Securities, it suggests “the PBOC is utilizing the yuan as another tool to provide stimulus to the economy at a time when they are showing restraint on the monetary policy front.” 

Ahead, there are no important economic events scheduled. See who is reporting earnings, here.

Graphic updated 7:30 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: A push-and-pull, continues.

At a high level, it was surmised that many of the responses to geopolitical tension and inflation were priced in. The economy, since early pandemic disruptions, has strengthened and the need for ultra-accommodative policies is no more.

Graphic: Via S&P Global Inc (NYSE: SPGI).

That means low rates and quantitative easing (QE) – easy money so to speak – are on the way out, at least for the time being.

Recall that QE is a policy to expand the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet “to provide monetary accommodation, typically when interest rates are at a zero-lower bound (when nominal interest rates are at, or near, zero),” as JH Investment Management explains.

With QT, central banks remove assets (e.g., government bonds they bought from the private sector) from their balance sheet “either through the sale of assets they had purchased or deciding against reinvesting the principal sum of maturing securities.”

With that, we note that when bonds rise in value, their yields decline; “when the Fed embarks on bond-buying program[s] to support the U.S. economy, … [it nudges] the prices of these assets higher while pushing yields lower, which also has the effect of driving yield-hungry investors into relatively riskier asset categories that promise high returns.”

Graphic: Via ICI. Taken from The Market Ear.

As a result, participants’ demand for risk assets prompts their divergence from fundamentals. As liquidity is removed and funding costs increase, this may prompt risk assets to converge with fundamentals.

This is because, for investors to take on additional risk for return, they must receive in excess of the risk-free rate (as provided by the Treasury). This excess is the risk premium.

Previously, as the Damped Spring’s Andy Constan had previously commented, “[a]dditional risk premium expansion pressures from these levels is not likely.”

“However, if, in the unlikely event, details of QT do emerge suggesting a start of QT before June and at a greater size than expected, we would no longer be willing to hold [risk] assets as that would cause an end to any risk premium contraction possibilities.”

Well, that’s what happened in early April when Fed members said their debt holdings would be reduced “at a rapid pace” as soon as May, as well as hike rates, faster. 

“Given that the recovery has been considerably stronger and faster than in the previous cycle, I expect the balance sheet to shrink considerably more rapidly than in the previous recovery,” the Fed’s Lael Brainard said

The Fed may even raise “caps” on the pace of QT.

Graphic: Via The Market Ear. Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS) sees the balance sheet shrinking “to an equilibrium size of just over $6tn by early- or mid-2025, though there is substantial uncertainty about its terminal size.”

Per CME Group Inc’s (NASDAQ: CME) FedWatch Tool, market participants are pricing a near-100% probability that the Fed will move the target rate to 75-100 bps (+50 or +75 bps).

Graphic: Via CME Group Inc. FedWatch Tool suggests a near-100% chance of a Fed hike that moves the target rate between 75 and 100 bps.

At a high-level, rates hikes take time to flow through to the economy while “QT is a direct flow of capital to capital markets or flow out of,” according to statements by Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan. 

“An increase in the pace of tightening of QT should mean lower stocks, wider credit spreads and a slight reduction in the need for front-end hikes,” explains Kevin Muir of the MacroTourist.

“Using the balance sheet as a tightening tool represents a large change in the Fed’s attitude, and IS NOT priced into the market.”

Graphic: Bloomberg. “Everyone bearish, but redemptions just starting,” said BofA strategists led by Michael Hartnett, adding that the environment of “extreme inflation” and rates shock is just setting in, as the Federal Reserve tightens monetary policy. “75 basis points is the new 25 basis points,” Hartnett said, referring to the scope of future interest-rate hikes.

As an aside, adding to earlier comments on the yuan’s fall, Bob Parker, a senior adviser at Credit Suisse Group AG (NYSE: CS) explains that “When Chinese investors lose confidence in their own economy/markets, capital outflows from China accelerate, … [and] this, then, leads to a central bank which has to prop up the currency by selling some of the country’s huge reserve piles.” 

“Part of their reserves will have been/are in U.S. equities so as the reserves fall, they are natural sellers of the S&P.”

Graphic: Via Refinitiv. Taken from The Market Ear. CNH versus SPX.

Positioning: In a comparison of options positioning and passive buying support, the returns distribution is skewed positive and points to building support for a potential short-term bounce.

Graphic: Via Physik Invest. Data via SqueezeMetrics.

The most recent liquidation resulted in participants reaching for protection and this exacerbated movement to the downside amidst the reflexive hedging.

As this short-dated exposure decays, the counterparts’ hedges are to be tapered and this may assist in the market hammering out a bottom or rallying. 

On the contrary, however, as SpotGamma explained in a recent note, “[t]op of mind as we head into new trade on Monday is the likelihood traders will not aggressively sell volatility (i.e., if they sell volatility -> that drives volatility lower -> resulting in hedging flows that support the market) until the FOMC (5/4) and/or some resolution on the geopolitical front.”

“Therefore, [] expect larger trading ranges this upcoming week.”

Technical: As of 6:30 AM ET, Monday’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.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,247.75 regular trade low (RTH Low) puts in play the $4,274.50 spike base. Initiative trade beyond the spike base could reach as high as the $4,314.75 high volume area (HVNode) and $4,337.00 untested point of control (VPOC), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,247.75 RTH Low puts in play the $4,227.75 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the $4,227.75 HVNode could reach as low as the $4,177.25 HVNode and $4,129.50 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).

In a spike up (down) situation, trade below (above) the spike base, negates the buying (selling).

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

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.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For April 4, 2022

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!

Editor’s Note: Hey team, thanks again for your reading of this daily newsletter. Due to travel commitments, I will not be writing reports consistently for the rest of this month.

Don’t expect any updates until Monday, April 11, 2022. Thereafter, coverage may be sporadic for the rest of the month.

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures were higher after exploring lower, briefly. Commodities were mixed while bonds were lower and implied volatility measures were bid.

In terms of news, the European Union said it was interested in penalizing Russia, further, for its actions in Ukraine. This is as China battles new COVID-19 sub-strains. 

Ahead is data on factory and core capital equipment orders (10:00 AM ET). 

Graphic updated 5:45 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: In the face of geopolitical tension, supply pressures, and inflation, consumer sentiment is at or below pandemic levels, prompting the Federal Reserve (Fed) to destimulate.

Graphic: Via S&P Global Inc (NYSE: SPGI) research. “Confluence Of Risks Halts Positive Credit Momentum.

“It has entered 2008-09 territory and is not far from all-time lows in the ‘80s when inflation and interest rates hit double digits,” ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood explained in a Twitter discussion on yield-curve inversions and aggressive action by the Federal Reserve, as well as inflation.

“The economy succumbed to recession in each of those periods. Europe and China are also in difficult straits. The Fed seems to be playing with fire.”

In accordance, the Macro Compass’ Alfonso Peccatiello explains that his credit impulse metrics, which lead economic activity and risk asset performance, imply a slowdown in earnings.

Graphic: Via The Macro Compass.

Still, in spite of these metrics, on average, recessions happen 12 to 24 months after the first yield curve inversions, according to Jefferies Financial Group Inc (NYSE: JEF).

Post-inversion S&P 500 performance, actually, is often positive.

Graphic: Via Jefferies Financial Group. Taken from The Market Ear.

Bolstering the call for positive equity market performance are strong seasonality trends during Fed-rate-hike episodes, a contraction in equity risk premia, and “still accommodative” monetary policy, per explanations by rates strategist Rishi Mishra. 

Graphic: Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS). Taken from The Market Ear. “Equities are a real asset as they make a claim on nominal GDP. In the post-financial crisis era, weak economic activity and lower inflation pushed down nominal GDP, raising the equity risk premium and reducing the bond term premium. So as long as economies grow, revenues and dividends should also grow. The dividend yield can be thought of as a real yield. Equity risk premia have started to decline in the post COVID cycle but remain higher than in the pre-financial crisis era.”

“[T]he 3ms2s vs 2s10s spread (or the 3m2s10s fly) is the widest it has been since the end of 1994. The widening of this fly is indicative of the fact that while the Fed shifted its guidance from dovish to extremely hawkish, the policy is still accommodative.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. Taken from Rishi Mishra.

Positioning: The equity market’s ferocious end-of-March rally, which placed the S&P 500 back above a key go/no-go level – the 200-period simple moving average – may have been in part the result of institutional investors purchasing equities ahead of quarterly reporting.

“Remember that stocks settle T+2, meaning that shares are actually owned by buyers two business days after they are purchased in the market,” says Interactive Brokers’ Group Inc (NASDAQ: IBKR) Steve Sosnick. 

“That means that institutions who wanted to show stock positions on their quarterly reports would have needed to purchase those shares no later than Tuesday the 29th. The sharp end-of-day runups that we saw on Monday and Tuesday had the hallmarks of aggressive institutional buying.”

According to Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE: DB) analyses, “[a]ggregate equity positioning has now risen off the lows but only to the 22nd percentile and is still well below neutral.”

That said, quarter-end rebalances and options expirations (OPEX) likely do little to upset the balance of trade. Based on a lot of the insights shared in this letter, barring some exogenous event, the market is in a position to drift or balance.

This, as a result, may solicit a “stronger impulse to chase the rally,” at which point JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM) strategists say they would “generally be more concerned.”

A collapse (or convergence) in volatility metrics for different asset classes (like the Merrill Lynch Options Volatility Estimate [INDEX: MOVE] and Cboe Volatility Index [INDEX: VIX]) would bolster the “drift or balance” thesis.

Graphic: Via Physik Invest.

Technical: As of 5:45 AM ET, Monday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, will likely open in the upper part of a positively skewed 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 $4,527.00 untested point of control (VPOC) puts in play the $4,562.50 spike base. Initiative trade beyond the spike base could reach as high as the $4,583.00 VPOC and $4,611.75 low volume area (LVNode), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,527.00 VPOC puts in play the $4,501.25 regular trade low (RTH Low). Initiative trade beyond the RTH Low could reach as low as the $4,469.00 VPOC and $4,438.25 HVNode, or lower.

Considerations: Spikes often 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). 

In a spike up (down) situation, trade below (above) the spike base, negates the buying (selling).

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.

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.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For April 1, 2022

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 sideways to higher after their late-day liquidation and break from a multi-day consolidation area on technical factors (e.g., options expirations) among other things, potentially, like the increase in personal consumption expenditures.

Broadly speaking, the narrative that investors are showing some concern over the economic outlook, with respect to geopolitical tension and monetary policy, continues to emanate. 

U.S. high-grade bonds shed over 5%, booking the worst quarterly performance since the ‘80s. This is as recession risks have risen more than two-fold. 

Notwithstanding, the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) favorite yield curve metric remains steep; per a Bloomberg commentary, “the gap between the three-month bill rates and 10-year yields is the ‘most useful term spread for forecasting recessions,’ … [and] it currently stands at 186 basis points, versus negative 2 basis points on 2s10s.”

In terms of news, the U.K. will join the U.S. in releasing oil from its reserves to lower prices and reduce its reliance on external partners. This helped ease futures calendar spreads on oil, Reuters’ John Kemp said in a newsletter to followers; the “six-month spread [narrowing] to a backwardation of $9 per barrel, the lowest since before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

Ahead is data on nonfarm payrolls, the unemployment rate and average hourly earnings, as well as labor-force participation (8:30 AM ET). Thereafter, the Chicago Fed’s Charles Evans is scheduled to speak (9:05 AM ET). 

Later is Markit manufacturing PMI (9:45 AM ET), as well as ISM manufacturing index and consumer spending data (10:00 AM 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: The S&P 500 bagged its first quarterly loss in two years as recession probabilities, implied by some yield curves, have risen.

Graphic: Via Barclays. Taken from The Market Ear. “[T]he 1y ahead recession probability implied by the 3m10y curve rises to about 40% a year from now (so for an early 2024 recession), slightly higher than implied by other curves.”

This is as the stock performance, relative to bonds against the lagged spread of 10- and 2-year bond yields, is expected to be weak, according to insights by Pictet Asset Management.

Graphic; Via Pictet Asset Management Ltd. Taken from Bloomberg. “On this basis, stocks’ great outperformance this quarter may end up looking like a head-fake.”

Pictet’s narrative further validates some of the theses shared by institutions like Brevan Howard Asset Management, which is having one of its best years, Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS), Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS), and Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC).

Adding to the prospects for weaker earnings amid higher costs, among other things, some of these institutions see the potential for the Fed’s terminal rate to reach between 3% and 3.25%.

Graphic: Via Andreas Steno Larsen. “The Fed is now priced to hike to levels above 3% by Dec-2023, … which is the main reason why we have seen a sell-off in all assets with an intensive duration profile over the past 12-15 months … [and has] duration intensive assets … starting to look attractive again from a risk/reward perspective.”

This would hit valuations as higher yields both reduce the present value of future earnings and “hurt those carrying the highest leverage,” potentially playing into a slowdown or recession. 

Graphic: Via S&P Global Inc (NYSE: SPGI) “expects the economic damage [of geopolitics and pricing pressures] to lower U.S. GDP growth to 3.2% this year, matching its preliminary forecast in early March but a full 70 bps lower than its November forecast of 3.9%.”

“Now rates volatility can drive growth volatility and that actually becomes a vicious cycle between the two,” said Christian Mueller-Glissmann of Goldman Sachs. 

“That’s a big difference to the last cycle where growth volatility drove rates volatility.”

Graphic: Via Vanda. Taken from The Market Ear. “The bond market is pricing the 2022 cycle to be remarkably fast. Macro Alf: ‘Remember: sharp changes in borrowing conditions often cause non-linear reactions in a highly leveraged system.’”

However, this is as the dominance of rate-sensitive tech stocks is set to shrink next year amid sector reclassifications, as well as still-stimulative policy and beats of economic expectations that may feed into earnings surprises, later.

JPMorgan’s Marko Kolanoivc explains that (1) “both equity and credit markets have historically fared well at the start of monetary tightening cycles,” (2) “the real policy rate is extremely negative and thus stimulative,” and (3) “not all central banks are tightening.”

Morgan Stanley’s Michael Wilson vehemently disagrees suggesting the recent equity market turnaround “was nothing more than a vicious bear market rally,” and offers participants a clear opportunity to sell at better prices.

Taking all of the above comments and perspectives together, one thing is for certain: this period in history is like no other. It makes sense to pick a timeframe and stick with it. 

Positioning: In the past weeks, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co’s Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, the supportive “rebalancing flows away from bonds into equities” are no more and, therefore, equities are subject to increased vulnerabilities “if bond yields continue to rise.”

This is after measures of equity implied volatility were crushed heading through the mid-March FOMC and monthly options expiry (OPEX) events, and the options hedging impact of this, at least, was very supportive, as we’ve talked about many times in this newsletter.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “The CBOE-VIX index, measuring stock volatility from the options market, unsurprisingly spiked immediately after Russia’s attack. It reached another high three weeks ago. Then the VIX started to fall, and in the two weeks since the Fed unveiled its first rate hike in years, the decline has been almost linear. The ‘fear gauge,’ as it is often known, is now significantly lower than it was a week before the invasion, when markets were priced on the assumption that there would be no war.”

On the contrary, measures of volatility for other assets, like the Merrill Lynch Options Volatility Estimate (INDEX: MOVE), a useful measure of bond market sentiment, are doing the opposite. 

We discussed early last month, what we saw was an increased supply of equity market volatility, as a potential reason for some of these divergences. 

As Bloomberg’s John Authers explained well, it, too, could have been “an aggressive central bank” that prompted a move out of bonds and into equities, and subdued target-date fund rebalancing flows which usually sell stocks and buy bonds.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

“[I]t looks as though the contradictions that had built up in the market over the last two years, and in the decade before that, are being put under extreme stress by the double whammy of a newly aggressive Federal Reserve, and the worst geopolitical shock in decades,” Authers adds.

Still, realized volatility continues to trend down which ought to force those (e.g., computer-driven traders) who position (and size equity exposure) based on underlying volatility to load up, again.

Nomura Holdings Inc’s (NYSE: NMR) Charlie McElligott explains that “volatility-targeting funds and trend-following commodity trading advisers, purchased” billions of equity futures which bolstered the price rise of the last weeks.

From a positioning versus buying support perspective, the forward returns distribution is skewed positive but not by a lot; a lot of the supportive options exposure is rolling-off and this could free up (i.e., unpin) indexes for the next leg up or down.

Graphic: SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options Indicator shows negative delta trade in the S&P 500 SPY ETF, and this pressured the underlying index.

Technical: As of 6:30 AM ET, Friday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, will likely open in the upper part of a positively skewed 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 $4,546.00 spike base puts in play the $4,573.25 high volume area (HVNode). Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as high as the $4,583.00 untested point of control (VPOC) and $4,611.75 low volume area (LVNode), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,546.00 spike base puts in play the $4,526.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as low as the $4,515.25 and $4,489.75 LVNodes, or lower.

Considerations: A change in the market (i.e., the transition from two-time frame trade, or balance, to one-time frame trade, or trend) occurred.

Continue to monitor for acceptance outside of the balance area. Rejection (i.e., return inside of balance) portends a move to the opposite end of the balance. See the below graphic for more.

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.

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.

Options Expiration (OPEX): Marks change in dealer gamma exposure. 

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.

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.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For March 10, 2022

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, equity index futures auctioned lower practically negating the prior day’s advance. Per the news, Ukraine and Russia failed in their efforts to end the war.

Adding, similar to days prior, areas where there are key technical nuances served as supports and resistances. One may construe this as short-term traders’ dominance in the smaller time horizons while the other time frames are positioning for expansive moves (yet to happen).

To note, key metrics under the hood (SpotGamma’s HIRO, among other things) yesterday, further validated the status quo and short-covering.

Moreover, ahead is data on jobless claims and the consumer price index (8:30 AM ET). Later, participants get data on real domestic nonfinancial debt and wealth (1:00 PM ET), as well as the budget deficit (2:00 PM ET).

Graphic updated 6:40 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: The consumer price index (CPI) is to likely accelerate to 7.8% from a year ago.

This forecast varies widely, however, based on economic analysis with respect to the implications of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the sanction that resulted after.  

“There’s going to be a lot of noise in the next six months that’s going to be extremely difficult to disentangle,” said Omair Sharif of Inflation Insights LLC. 

“If you thought it was difficult to figure out what used car prices were doing and whether that was transitory, multiply that by a thousand.”

In a mention on energy market volatility, while today’s economy is less dependent on oil (i.e., less likely to kill the expansion), the action in that market (and the responses it may solicit from policymakers, later) is noteworthy.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “When families have to spend more money on necessities, they have less to spend on discretionary items and services. Economists at Barclays Plc expect the spike in energy prices to subtract an annualized 0.3 percentage point from consumption growth on average per quarter through the end of 2023.”

Despite a deterioration in the relationship between prices of crude and inflation, oil is “a major input in the economy – it is used in critical activities such as fueling transportation and heating homes – and if input costs rise, so should the cost of end products,” Investopedia says well.

Further, according to Reuters’ John Kemp, fuel oil inventories fell last week to the lowest seasonal level in more than 15 years.

Graphic: Via John Kemp’s “Best in Energy” note. “Distillate stocks were already looking tight and are now on track to become exceptionally tight before mid-year. Distillate inventories are on course for an expected first-half low of 103 million barrels (with a range of 92-114 million).”

“Stocks are on track to hit an even lower seasonal level than 2008 when the distillate shortages helped propel crude oil prices to a record high at the middle of the year,” Kemp says.

Graphic: Via Physik Invest. The CBOE Crude Oil Volatility Index (INDEX: OVX) reveals signs of peaking.

The highest oil prices ~$150/bbl had printed in 2008. As Alfonso Peccatiello of The Macro Compass hypothesizes, “Oil is denominated in fiat currency, and there has been A LOT of spendable money printing over the last 15 years. If you think the market gets as extreme as 2008, the equivalent oil price in today’s USD would be above $250/bbl.”

Given wage growth and the like, consumers likely start “to feel the heat way below $250.”

Graphic: Via Alfonso Peccatiello. “The red line shows the inflation-adjusted crude price: if you expect a proper tight oil environment, >$150-160 is your number. Also, anything above $120 in today’s prices and sustained for a few quarters would likely hit the demand side. 2013-2014 a good example, with the private sector turning defensive in 2015-2016 and China forced to ease big times to shore up the global economy.”

Why mention any of this? Fast moves higher in some of these commodity markets may impact end-consumer prices and behavior, quickly. In a bid to rein inflation – ”very high CPI in 2022, [and] still high in 2023 – central bankers will tighten. 

“The path of least resistance is for the Fed to hike rates from 0% to at least 2% relatively quickly,” Peccatiello explains in a recent post. 

However, the “Last time companies were revising their forward earnings estimates down on a net basis while Central Banks were attempting to tighten monetary policy was mid-2018,” when the markets sold nearly 20%.

Graphic: Via Yardeni Research. Taken from The Macro Compass. “The chart above shows the 3-months average of the MSCI World net earnings revisions: essentially, this metric measures the difference between the number of companies revisiting their forward earnings estimate up versus down.”

With financial conditions tightening, Peccatiello posits the Fed will be receptive to that.

Graphic: Via The Macro Compass. “Credit-default swaps on 5-year US Investment Grade Corporate Bonds are trading at 76 bps at the time of writing: Fed puts (or pivots) became more visible in the past when this measure of credit spreads approached 100 bps.”

Basically, if selling were to continue, the Fed would reassess tightening. At such level of reassessment is the Fed Put, a dynamic we’ve discussed in the past.

Graphic: Via Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC). Retrieved from Callum Thomas.

Chamath Palihapitiya recently posted about this, too. He said: “In 2018, the Fed was concerned about inflation. They were wrong and within a quarter or so, the risk shifted to recession. This chart shows how the equity markets reacted… seems eerily similar.”

“Value then faded and Growth ripped.”

Graphic: Via Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS).

Positioning: Based on a comparison of present options positioning and buying metrics, the returns distribution is skewed positive, albeit less so than before. 

Graphic: Via JPMorgan, from Bloomberg.

Obviously, the fundamental picture and the market’s responsiveness to news events – given the negative gamma environment – has us discounting these metrics. It’s noteworthy, nonetheless.

For instance, in the face of some positive developments abroad, fundamentally, markets diverged from what participants in the options complex were doing.

Graphic: SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options (HIRO) indicator reveals strong put buying and call selling (a bearish negative delta trade) in the context of Wednesday’s rise.

This divergence resolved itself, some, overnight in the broader market (even in the face of a ~7% price rise of Amazon Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN) large index constituent).

I’d be remiss if I did not point out growing bets on drops in the equity market’s pricing of risk (via the CBOE Volatility Index [INDEX: VIXI]). That would occur if indexes likely rebounded.

Graphic: Via SHIFT. There was heavy buying of the 26 VIX put.

Taken together, it’s difficult to get a grasp of where the market wants to head, in the near term. 

What is for certain: the compression of volatility (via passage of FOMC) or removal of counterparty negative exposure (via OPEX) may serve to alleviate some of this pressure. 

Until then, participants can expect the options landscape to add to market volatility.

Graphic: @pat_hennessy breaks down returns for the S&P 500, categorized by the week relative to OPEX. 

In case of lower prices, according to SpotGamma, the rate at which options counterparties increasingly add pressure on underlying SPX, so to speak, tapers off in the $4,100.00 to $4,000.00 area. Caution.

Graphic: Gamma profile flattens out near the $4,100-4,000 range suggesting less pressure and more counterparty support.

A way to take advantage of this volatility, while lowering the cost of bets, is options spreads. For instance, the Call Ratio (buy 1 call, sell 2 or more further out) can lower the cost of bets on the upside while providing exposure to asymmetric payouts.

Time and volatility are two factors, however, to be mindful of when initiating such spreads. Risk is undefined and if the time to expiry is too long (e.g., in excess of 1-2 weeks), fast moves and increases in volatility may result in large losses. 

For that reason, also, one must be extremely careful with Put Ratio spreads. Consider adding protection far away from your short strikes to cap risk and turn the spreads into Butterflies.

Graphic: Via Banco Santander SA (NYSE: SAN) research, the return profile, at expiry, of a classic 1×2 (long 1, short 2 further away) ratio spread.

Technical: As of 6:30 AM ET, Thursday’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, inside of prior-range and -value, suggesting a limited potential for immediate directional opportunity.

Gap Scenarios Potentially In Play: 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 $4,231.00 regular trade low (RTH Low) puts in play the $4,249.25 low volume area (LVNode). Initiative trade beyond the LVNode could reach as high as the $4,285.75 high volume area (HVNode) and $4,319.00 untested point of control (VPOC), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,231.00 RTH Low puts in play the $4,177.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as low as the $4,138.75 and $4,101.25 overnight low (ONL), or lower.

Considerations: Push-and-pull, as well as responsiveness near key-technical areas (that are discernable visually on a chart), suggests technically-driven traders with short time horizons are very active. 

Such traders often lack the wherewithal to defend retests and, additionally, the type of trade may be indicative of the other time frame participants waiting for more information to initiate trades.

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 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.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For February 28, 2022

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, equity index futures auctioned lower in light of an escalation of geopolitical tensions between Russia, Ukraine, and the rest of the world.

Western powers imposed harsh sanctions including the exclusion of some Russian lenders from the SWIFT messaging system “that underpins trillions of dollars worth of transactions,” globally.

As the Russian ruble lost ⅓ of its value and costs of insuring Russian government debt rose, the Bank of Russia (BoR) doubled its key interest rate to 20% and imposed some capital controls to take from the risk of a potential run on banks. Policymakers also banned foreign security sales.

The odds of an aggressive lift-off in interest rates by the Federal Reserve declined, accordingly. The market is now pricing in under six hikes for 2022 as crisis opens room for policy mistakes.

Ahead is data on trade in goods (8:30 AM ET), Chicago PMI (9:45 AM ET), and Fed-speak by Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic (10:30 AM 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: As of February 27, 2022, there are reports that with its invasion of Ukraine, “Moscow was frustrated by the slow progress caused by an unexpectedly strong Ukrainian defense and failure to achieve complete air dominance.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg, locations of Russian controls and attacks.

At present, Russia has only committed 50% of its available firepower to the war and solicited the involvement of neighboring allies. Still, even at 50%, it’s rough.

Russian markets, to put it simply, are in turmoil as a result of this conflict. Its policymakers, to stem the bleed, have banned foreigners from selling assets.

Graphic: Via Topdown Charts, Russian assets are imploding.

Accordingly, sentiment is as bad as it was in 2020, 2016, the period spanning 2008-2009, as well as the period just after the topping of the tech-and-telecom bubble. 

Graphic: Via Topdown Charts, “sentiment basically as bad as the COVID crash.”

In light of the world’s response to this conflict, Russia, too, has heightened its nuclear readiness.

Moreover, over the weekend, Credit Suisse Group AG’s (NYSE: CS) Zoltan Pozsar, in gauging the implications of conflict and sanctions, explained that excluding Russia from SWIFT may lead to missed payments and overdrafts similar to that experienced during March of 2020.

“Banks’ inability to make payments due to their exclusion from SWIFT is the same as Lehman’s inability to make payments due to its clearing bank’s unwillingness to send payments on its behalf,” he noted.

“The consequence of excluding banks from SWIFT is real, and so is the need for central banks to re-activate daily U.S. dollar funds supplying operations.”

In light of this, some have advanced a narrative around a potential run on Russian banks.

However, former BoR official Sergey Aleksashenko, in an alarmed yet less pessimistic take on CNBC, suggested a “low likelihood” of a run on the ruble.

Further, in light of the deceleration at home in the U.S., Pozsar concludes that “the Fed’s balance sheet might expand again before it contracts via QT (quantitative tightening).”

Graphic: Alfonso Peccatiello of The Macro Compass. He says “YTD: 2022 hikes priced in up from 3 to 6-7. Curves big-time flatter. Inflation expectations 10 bps lower. Real yields higher 40-50 bps. Credit spreads wider. Cyclical growth impulse fading away. Not a risk-on environment.”

Interactive Brokers Group Inc’s (NASDAQ: IBKR) Chief Strategist Steve Sosnick adds: “The tide of money is still positive, and it should provide a cushion for nervous markets as long as that remains the case. But when we consider that monetary conditions are supposed to be changing, volatility should persist if the monetary tide actually ebbs as expected.”

Perspectives: “​​Geopolitical catastrophes tend to be worse than believed in the short term but less than believed in the long term,” Ophir Gottlieb of Capital Market Laboratories notes

Similarly, JPMorgan Chase & Co’s (NYSE: JPM) head of global equity strategy Mislav Matejka says that “If one is selling on the back of the latest geopolitical developments now, the risk is of getting whipsawed.”

“Historically, [the] vast majority of military conflicts, especially if localized, did not tend to hurt investor confidence for too long, and would end up as buying opportunities.”

Graphic: Via Tier1Alpha. Taken from The Market Ear

Positioning: Strong passive buying support persists in the face of a lower liquidity, negative-gamma, high-volatility regime.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. Taken from The Market Ear.

Adding, in light of the liquidation into last Thursday’s open (after which there was a large reversal), the VIX futures term structure, though in backwardation, was not as steep as in past moments of true panic.

IBKR’s Sosnick explains that “Even though VIX futures [were higher on Thursday morning] across the board and the curve has further steepened, neither the spot level nor the curve are yet demonstrating panic.” 

“I interpret the message of the market to be that we should continue to expect volatility – remember that volatility encompasses moves in both directions – but not to expect that a major bottom was put into place in recent sessions.”

With realized volatility is heightened and implied volatility not performing, so to speak, @darjohn25 explains, try to avoid “any short gamma on all short-dated tenors—you want to own the short term stuff for the foreseeable future.”

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

Gap Scenarios Potentially In Play: 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 $4,285.50 high volume area (HVNode) puts in play the $4,345.75 untested point of control (VPOC). Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as high as the $4,371.00 VPOC and $4,395.25 HVNode, 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 HVNode and overnight low (ONL) area. Initiative trade beyond the HVNode/ONL could reach as low as the $4,177.25 HVNode and $4,137.00 VPOC, 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.

What People Are Saying

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.

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.

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.

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.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For February 24, 2022

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, equity index futures added to losses after news that Russia invaded Ukraine

The MOEX Russia Index fell nearly 50% while, at home in the U.S., equity index futures were off about 3%. Bonds rose with commodities which were led by crude oil (up ~9%). 

The CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX), a measure of implied volatility or participants’ forecast of likely movement in prices, printed 37.79 a ~7.00 jump from Wednesday.

This high-level context suggests to us the need for patience. Ranges will be wide. Positioning will compound headline-driven moves. Technical analyses will fail. Caution.

Ahead is data on jobless claims, gross domestic product, gross domestic income (8:30 AM ET), as well as new home sales (10:00 AM ET).

Graphic updated 6:45 AM ET. 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: “The ‘bad news = good news’ narrative for markets doesn’t work if the Fed is tightening amidst a slowdown and a military escalation risk. In this case, bad news = bad news.”

Pursuant to this remark by Alfonso Peccatiello, Russian equities fell the most on record (nearly 50%) after President Vladimir Putin ordered the demilitarization of Ukraine. 

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

According to Bloomberg, this crisis comes “after the U.S. and its allies crossed Russia’s ‘red lines’ by expanding the NATO alliance.”

In terms of the economic implications of Russia sanctions, it is “Cyprus and eastern European countries [that] are the most reliant on Russian imports in the EU.” 

Ukraine’s crisis also throws a wrench at monetary tightening initiatives, abroad; “the European Central Bank will put even greater emphasis on its flexibility and options as it exits stimulus measures and shifts toward raising rates,” Governing Council member Francois Villeroy de Galhau said.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

Positioning: Implied volatility expands as heightened demand for protection is priced in.

Graphic: VIX term structure shifts higher, especially at the front-end. This denotes the heightened potential for instability.

This comes after, according to views expressed by The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial, “we saw larger inflow[s] into equity funds, outflow[s] out of money markets, larger buying in the ATSs, with no real put buying.”

Graphic: Via EPFR, Barclays, and Bloomberg. Taken from The Market Ear.

In other words, measures of implied volatility were not performing; participants opportunistically buying the dip witnessed an SPX down, VIX down environment in which hedges were not being marked up accordingly.

Graphic: Per Tier1Alpha, “In the past, when the $SPX/ $VIX correlation goes back to negative, there have been some pretty memorable volatility events. Worth keeping in mind.”

The implications of this action are staggering. 

As stated yesterday, as most participants, at least at the index level, own protection, the counterparties to this trade are short protection. 

These counterparties, therefore, have positive exposure to delta (i.e., as index falls [rises], position loses [makes] money) and negative exposure to gamma, or delta (directional) sensitivity to underlying price changes (i.e., as the index moves against short option exposure, losses are multiplied). 

With measures of implied volatility expanding, as is the case when there is heightened demand for downside put protection, protection is bid and the dealer’s exposure to positive delta rises, which solicits more selling in the underlying (addition of short-delta hedges).

Graphic: SqueezeMetrics details the implications of customer activity in the options market, on the underlying’s order book. For instance, in selling a put, customers add liquidity and stabilize the market. How? The market maker long the put will buy (sell) the underlying to neutralize directional risk as price falls (rises).

To monitor for capitulation, we may look for when the volatility expectations of implied volatility metrics rise to extremes. Learn more about VVIX, here.

Graphic: Charting the CBOE Volatility-Of-Volatility Index (INDEX: VVIX). In that reach for highly “convex” options, counterparties react in a manner that exacerbates underlying price movement.

We may also measure for one-sidedness in sentiment by looking to naive metrics like the put/call ratio. Learn more about PCALL, here.

Graphic: Using the put/call ratio to gauge sentiment.

Technical: As of 6:30 AM ET, Thursday’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 $4,122.25 high volume area (HVNode) puts in play the $4,177.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the HVNodes could reach as high as the $4,212.25 regular trade low (RTH Low) and $4,249.25 low volume area (LVNode), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,122.25 HVNode puts in play the $4,055.75 LVNode. Initiative trade beyond the latter could reach as low as the $3,978.50 LVNode and $3,943.25 HVNode, or lower.

Considerations: If you are not well-versed in navigating trade at heightened levels of volatility, it is best to sit on your hands (SOH) or trade with a smaller size. Often, on large gaps, indexes may move sideways (and not up or down). This can be frustrating. 

Also, in high volatility, negative-gamma environments, headlines matter, and technical analyses often fail. Do not think “this time is as others” and let this event lead to your demise. Caution.

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.

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.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For February 23, 2022

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, equity index futures traded sideways to higher after Monday’s post-options expiration (OPEX) probe lower. Ahead, there are no data releases scheduled.

Graphic updated 6:15 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: At what point are monetary tightening and geopolitical tensions priced in? 

According to some strategists, such as JPMorgan Chase & Co’s (NYSE: JPM) Marko Kolanovic, the sell-off is overdone and, if anything, Ukraine tensions “would likely prompt a dovish reassessment.” 

“Short-term rates markets have likely moved too far vs. what CBs will ultimately deliver in hikes this year,” he adds. “We expect risky asset markets to rebound as they digest these risks and sentiment improves, aided by inflows from systematic investors and corporate buybacks.” 

In the worst case, though, pursuant to notes by peers in the industry, Kolanovic nods to the fact that if selling were to continue, there would likely be a point the would Fed reassess tightening.

Basically, in the worst case, there is the potential that further selling invokes the so-called “Fed put,” which is about 15% below current prices. 

“[R]isk is being repriced to fit the world where real rates are a lot higher, and the Fed put (is) much lower thanks to the Fed’s need to fight inflation,” says rates strategist Rishi Mishra. 

Graphic: Via Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC). Retrieved from Callum Thomas.

Positioning: Markets stabilize after last week’s large monthly options expiration (OPEX). 

Graphic: Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS). Taken from Bloomberg.

Per Bloomberg, that event saw the roll-off of nearly $2.2 trillion in options. In the past, this event had bullish implications (i.e., markets rose into OPEX). That is not the case, really, any longer.

It is participants’ increased awareness of the implications of options and OPEX has resulted in a front running; according to SqueezeMetrics, “People didn’t know about the OpEx week effect (in this case, largely charm). Now everyone and their mother knows about it.”

For context, charm is a measure of an options delta’s change with respect to the passage of time. As time passes, delta “bleeds” as options decay. 

As most participants, at least at the index level, own protection, the counterparties to this trade are short protection. These counterparties, therefore, have positive exposure to delta (i.e., as index falls [rises], position loses [makes] money) and negative exposure to gamma, or delta (directional) sensitivity to underlying price changes (i.e., as the index moves against short option exposure, losses are multiplied). 

Moreover, given the growth of options volumes, participants’ heavy demand for protection matters more, to put simply. Counterparties, in light of this recent drop, pressured markets with their hedging. The decay (and eventual expiry) of this protection marks options deltas down.

Graphic: Rising put volumes coincide with early 2022 market sell-off.

To re-hedge, counterparties buy back short stock and futures hedges. This supportive action is what has been front-run; the bullishness of the event happens days and weeks prior. 

The unwind of these hedges now, as seen Friday-Tuesday, often culminates in a post-OPEX low. That “means chase-y accelerant flows from dealer hedging into moves and creating overshoots in both directions,” Nomura Holdings Inc’s (NYSE: NMR) Charlie McElligott wrote.

Taken together, according to SpotGamma, though “post-OPEX, the removal of linear short (-delta) hedges [to put-heavy exposures] may further bolster attempts higher, … [t]he removal of downside (put) protection may also open the door for weakness in a case where some outside (fundamental) event solicits real-money selling and a new demand for protection.”

Graphic: Via EPFR, Barclays, and Bloomberg. Taken from The Market Ear.

“The market looks fairly well hedged and it’s why up until today we’ve had little follow-through on the downside despite negative headlines,” Danny Kirsch, head of options at Piper Sandler Companies (NYSE: PIPR), said in an interview.

“We’ll see if things open up after the February expiry.”

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 its 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 $4,332.75 high volume area (HVNode) puts in play the $4,415.00 untested point of control (VPOC). Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as high as the $4,438.00 key response area and $4,464.00 low volume area (LVNode), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,332.75 HVNode puts in play the $4,249.00 LVNode. Initiative trade beyond the LVNode could reach as low as the $4,212.50 regular trade low (RTH Low) and $4,177.25 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.

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.

Liquidation Breaks: The profile shape suggests participants were “too” long and had poor 

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.

Options: If an option buyer was short (long) stock, he or she would buy a call (put) to hedge upside (downside) exposure. Option buyers can also use options as an efficient way to gain directional exposure.

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 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.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For February 22, 2022

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

During holiday and overnight trade, U.S. equity index futures probed below trading ranges established the week prior. Strong buying surfaced after a test of a key visual area.

Increased implied volatility (IV) to pressure markets as counterparties hedge directional risks. Present options positioning, combined with liquidity measures, suggest big moves up and down.

Ahead is data on the S&P Case-Shiller home price index and FHFA home price index (9:00 AM ET), Markit manufacturing and services PMI (9:45 AM ET), as well as the consumer confidence index (10:00 AM ET).

Graphic updated 6:40 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: Are markets in turmoil?

Depends. Abroad, yes. At home, yes (but not as much).

Russian stocks, alongside Russia-Ukraine angst, sank the most since the 2008 financial crisis, pressuring markets in other parts of the world, as well. Russia’s MOEX Index plunged ~14% Monday.

The geopolitical disputes come alongside the threat of contractionary monetary policy. 

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. “There’s been a big pop in put volumes for the higher yield bond ETFs: JNK, HYG, and LQD. This syncs with the idea this sell-off is based mainly on rates with a side of geopolitics.”

Some, however, say the risk premium expansion driven by inflation and tightening fears has run its course. 

Graphic: G5 credit impulse suggests inflation ought to trend lower. This particular metric, per Alfonso Peccatiello of The Macro Compass, leads GDP, CPI, and market returns by quarters.

According to a note published by Andy Constan of Damped Spring Advisors, “We believe that risk premium expansion has peaked. A new low … will require more than frontrunning but Fed action that is not currently priced into markets.”

That is as Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Group AG’s (NYSE: UBS) Global Wealth Management arm says that “Despite the recent volatility, it’s important to remember that we are still in an environment of robust economic and earnings growth.”

“Our base case we expect upside for equity markets over the balance of the year.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “If market dysfunction is reflected in tighter conditions, then this chart shows we’re nowhere near stressed levels — after all, central bank policy globally is historically loose.”

JPMorgan Chase & Co’s (NYSE: JPM) Mislav Matejka adds that stock pessimism is wrong and positioning for a recession would be too early given favorable financing conditions, strong labor, an underleveraged consumer, as well as strong cash flows and bank balance sheets. 

“We believe one should look through the widespread ‘slowdown’ calls that are currently in vogue, and stay bullish on banks, mining, energy, insurance, autos, travel and telecoms,” Matejka and his team wrote noting, too, that market internals are “bullish again.”

Does this mean that markets are positioned for a near-term bounce? Let’s see.

Positioning: As noted last week, passive buying flows continue to persist alongside a drop in bearish sentiment readings and bond market outflow readings which “have actually lined up closer to bottoms in the equity market.”

Graphic: Via EPFR, Barclays, and Bloomberg. Taken from The Market Ear.

This is as participants’ demand for protection (negative delta exposure) left dealers (on the other side and warehousing risk) adding negative delta exposure linearly (via stock and futures sales) to hedge.

To note, owning an option offers someone positive exposure to gamma or convexity (to have profits multiplied if the direction is correct, all else equal). On the other side, though, participants who are short gamma or convexity may have their losses multiplied if incorrect.

Making some naive assumptions on the build-in interest in options strikes at lower prices, we may surmise that dealers were exposed to increased negative gamma exposure. 

Graphic: Via Tier1Alpha. “Short Gamma Exposure -> Forces Option dealers to sell  -> Causes Higher realized volatility -> Triggering vol controlled funds to sell -> Forcing options dealers to de-risk/ and sell even more. rVol just keeps moving forcing vol control funds to sell even more.”

To hedge this, if volatility were to remain unchanged, dealers would sell (buy) into weakness (strength) to hedge increasing (decreasing) negative gamma exposure. 

If volatility rises (drops), then more stock and futures must be sold (bought/covered).

Graphic: Via Stretching Spreads. Customers indirectly taking liquidity through trading of options, in the face of a lower liquidity environment, results in more whipsaw, two-sided action. 

Moreover, Friday’s monthly options expiration (OPEX) coincided with the removal of lots of put-heavy exposures. This will decrease the dealers’ positive exposure to delta and make gamma exposures less negative.

Therefore, absent some exogenous event that increases demand for protection, again, there is the potential for strength, post-OPEX. Volatility compression would mark down dealer positive delta and therefore coincide with positive “vanna” flows that bolster attempts higher.

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

Gap Scenarios May Be In Play: 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 $4,332.75 high volume area (HVNode) puts in play the $4,415.00 untested point of control (VPOC). Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as high as the $4,438.00 key response area and $4,464.00 low volume area (LVNode), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,332.75 HVNode puts in play the $4,249.00 LVNode. Initiative trade beyond the LVNode could reach as low as the $4,212.50 regular trade low (RTH Low) and $4,177.25 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.

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.

Liquidation Breaks: The profile shape suggests participants were “too” long and had poor 

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.

Options: If an option buyer was short (long) stock, he or she would buy a call (put) to hedge upside (downside) exposure. Option buyers can also use options as an efficient way to gain directional exposure.

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 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.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For February 16, 2022

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

After auctioning up into a key supply area, overnight, equity indices were responsively sold.

Ahead is data on retail sales and import prices (8:30 AM ET), industrial production and capacity utilization (9:15 AM ET), business inventories, and the NAHB home builders’ index (10:00 AM ET), as well as the release of Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) minutes (2:00 PM ET).

Graphic updated 6:40 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: The market has de-rated substantially at the single-stock level.

“Stocks have been de-rating for almost a year now as investors began to anticipate the inevitable tightening from the Fed, given the robustness of the recovery and building imbalances,” Morgan Stanley’s (NYSE: MS) Michael Wilson says.

Graphic: Via Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC). Taken from Bloomberg. “Perhaps most strikingly, fund managers are now more thoroughly underweight in technology stocks than at any time since 2006.”

“We think this de-rating is about 80% done at the stock level with the S&P 500 P/E still about 10% too high (19.5x versus our 18x target). In other words, the de-rating is more complete at the stock level than at the index level, at least for the high-quality S&P 500.”

At the same time, the bond market’s pricing of risk – reflected by the Merrill Lynch Option Volatility Estimate (INDEX: MOVE) – is not in line with the pricing of equity market risk, via the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX).  

Graphic: MOVE Index. Taken from Lisa Abramowicz.

That said, fear in one market tends to feed into the fear of another; regardless of the cause, equity and bond market participants are not on the same page. 

Graphic: Via True Insight. Taken from The Market Ear.

Moreover, prevailing monetary frameworks and max liquidity promoted a large divergence in price from fundamentals. Growth in passive investing – the effect of increased moneyness among nonmonetary assets – and derivatives trading imply a lot of left-tail risks.

The “provision of liquidity and the creation of wealth through higher asset prices are intimately connected over time,” John Authers of Bloomberg explains.

Falling liquidity, while obviously necessary now that the emergency has passed and inflation is rising, could well signal problems ahead.”

Graphic: Via CrossBorder Capital. Taken from Bloomberg. 

To establish the point, these shifts in liquidity have large effects on bond markets, too, and that’s what participants are likely pricing in via MOVE.

A “flatter yield curve tends to be followed quite swiftly by rising credit spreads. While there is no great issue with solvency at present, this suggests that credit may already be causing problems by the end of this year.”

Graphic: Via Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC). Taken from Samantha LaDuc

“The U.S. high yield OAS (option-adjusted spread) is breaking out above resistance to suggest a year-long risk-off bottom for this credit spread,” Bank of America explains. 

Deteriorating credit conditions are a bearish leading indicator, increasing the risk that the S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) completes the head and shoulders top highlighted in the chart below.”

Taken together, it is the above-mentioned dynamics that will ultimately make it hard for the Fed to continue with rate hikes, Authers adds.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg, “there is a 50-year history that the Fed never hikes rates once the fed funds rate has risen above the five-year yield. That point could come before the end of 2022, and suggests that it will be very difficult to continue with tightening to the extent that the Fed currently believes necessary to bring down inflation to its target.”

To conclude this section, I quote Alfonso Peccatiello, the former head of a $20 billion investment portfolio and author of The Macro Compass: “If the Fed pushes the hawkish narrative further, we might see deeper cracks in the walls.”

Graphic: Via The Macro Compass, “Once real yields approach equilibrium levels, subsequent S&P500 returns tend to be poor.”

Positioning: In the past weeks this commentary expressed a more bullish tilt. 

This tilt is not entirely incorrect. Indeed, there are (as pointed to in past commentaries) few metrics that suggest that there have been strong(er) levels of accumulation.

Graphic: Via EPFR. Taken from The Market Ear. A “nice steady tune of >$50bn per month into global equities.”

However, other positioning metrics point to an increased potential for instability, and implied volatility, though heightened, may not provide much of a boost if further compressed. 

As options modeling and analysis provider SqueezeMetrics explains, “I don’t see the upside catalyst in the data right now. VIX back at 25 isn’t compelling from a vanna-rally perspective (back to 20 seems possible, but how much more?).”

“Have enough puts been bought to propel prices from vanna rally and subsequent vol rolldown? Mehhh.”

To put it in simpler terms, “it is a lot easier to knock [the market] down than it is to lift up.”

What’s known for sure is that this week’s put-heavy options expiration (OPEX) “may make gamma exposures less negative,” according to options analysis provider SpotGamma.

For context, delta is an options exposure to direction. Gamma is the rate of change in delta. ​​

“In an environment characterized by negative gamma (wherein an options delta falls with stock price rises and rises when stock prices fall), options expiries ought to make gamma less negative.”

Therefore, with a reduction in negative gamma, “there will be a removal of [counterparties’] linear short (-delta) hedges which may further bolster attempts higher.”

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 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 $4,438.00 key response area (balance boundary, high-volume area, and prior overnight low) puts in play the $4,483.00 overnight high (ONH). Initiative trade beyond the ONH could reach as high as the $4,499.00 untested point of control (VPOC) and $4,526.25 high volume area (HVNode), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,438.00 key response area puts in play the $4,393.75 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as low as the $4,365.00 POC and $4,332.25 HVNode, or lower.

Considerations: Tuesday’s trade built out areas of high volume via the cave-fill process in locations where prior discovery left weak structure – gaps and p-shaped emotional, multiple distribution profile structures (i.e., Friday’s knee-jerk liquidation of poorly positioned longs).

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

Cave-Fill Process: Widened the area deemed favorable to transact at by an increased share of participants. This is a good development.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.