Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For December 23, 2021

What Happened

Led by the Russell 2000, overnight, equity index futures continued higher while commodities were mixed and bonds were a touch lower. Friday, December 24, markets are closed.

Pursuant to comments made earlier this week, volatility was sold aggressively; the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) dropped ~9.00. This coincides with a compression in the VIX’s term structure, and that has so-called bullish/supportive implications.

Ahead is data on jobless claims, personal income, consumer spending, inflation, disposable income, goods orders (8:30 AM ET), as well as new home sales, University of Michigan sentiment, and five-year inflation expectations (10:00 AM ET).

Graphic updated 6:40 AM ET. Sentiment Risk-On if expected /ES open is above 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

On lackluster intraday breadth and divergent market liquidity metrics, the best case outcome occurred, via the S&P 500’s spike close higher, away from intraday value, the levels at which participants found it most favorable to transact.

This activity, which marks the continuation of an earlier trend change, is built on poor structure. 

That, ultimately, adds to technical instability.

Why? If you haven’t noticed, the levels quoted daily in this particular commentary seem to be holding to the tick. Given the persistence of mechanical responses to key technical levels, visually-driven, weaker-handed participants (which seldom bear the wherewithal to defend retests) carry a heavier hand in recent price discovery. 

Via volume profile analysis, we see a plethora of low-volume pockets – voids, if you will – that likely hold virgin tests. As stated, yesterday, successful penetration portends follow-through given the participants that were most active at those technical levels. Caution is warranted.

Graphic: Divergent delta (i.e., non-committed buying as measured by volume delta or buying and selling power as calculated by the difference in volume traded at the bid and offer) in SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY), one of the largest ETFs that track the S&P 500 index, via Bookmap. The readings are supportive of responsive trade (i.e., rotational trade that suggests current prices offer favorable entry and exit; the market is in balance).

Context: According to Ryan Detrick of LPL Financial, the “official Santa Claus Rally starts this Monday (last 5 days of the year and the first two of the following year).”

The 7 days (after this Monday) are up nearly 79% of the time. 

However, in the past 5 occurrences, “Jan was also in the red and Q1 been weak as well.”

Graphic: LPL Financial on the so-called Santa Claus rally.

This activity comes after last week’s weighty “quad-witching” and ahead of the December “Quarterlys” expiry.

The exposure that rolled (and is to roll) off was “put-heavy.”

Participants’ commitment to capital at strikes lower in price and out in time – in the face of weak breadth and bearish fundamental developments – in single stocks, fed into the indices, also. 

According to SpotGamma, the December 17 expiration cleared quite a bit of negative delta (e.g., the ARK Innovation ETF [NYSE: ARKK] had $1.5 billion in notional put delta expire).

This opened a window of strength and realized volatility, wherein positive fundamental forces and dealers’ covering of hedges could bolster any recovery.

So, it is this week’s collapse in implied volatility (and associated collapse in term structure), coupled with the pending management of large S&P positions, and relentless, seasonally-aligned “passive buying support,” which brought positive flows bolstering this “Santa Claus rally.”

Graphic: Shift Search data suggests participants are likely initiating box spreads and rolling their call exposure out in time (as much as 6 months).

Notwithstanding, as mentioned, yesterday, Goldman Sachs Group (NYSE: GS) saw “options selling strategies as attractive in the near term,” estimating “a 12% probability of a 1-month 5% down-move in the SPX in this economic environment based on [the] GS-EQMOVE model.”

“Options are pricing a 22% probability of that size move indicating that puts are overvalued.”

As noted Tuesday, the commitment of capital on lower volatility results in counterparties taking on more exposure to positive gamma. The growth in positive gamma (as the data is showing) will be offset through the dealers’ supply of liquidity, pressuring the price discovery process.

Note: As a position’s delta rises with stock or index price rises, gamma (or how an option’s delta is expected to change given a change in the underlying) is added to the delta.

This is while many products are in lower liquidity and short-gamma (wherein an options delta decreases with stock prices rises and increases when stock prices drop) in which moves are more erratic.

Therefore, coming into weighty options expirations, correlations may be off (as that is the only reconciliation in an environment where, at the index level, hedging pressures are sticky, whereas elsewhere they aren’t).

Thereafter, participants ought to monitor the sides and levels capital is committed for clues as to where we go next. Continued compression of volatility, as well as a commitment to options higher in prices and further out in time, supports upward price discovery.

Graphic: Via The Market Ear, “There have been five prior years since 1953 (when we went to the 5-day trading week) that have seen December as the most volatile month: 1973, 1978, 1985, 1995, and 2018. The January following these five prior years was BIG positive four out of five times, with January 2019 seeing the biggest gain.”

Weakness (alongside a commitment to strikes lower in price and out in time) likely sets the market up for another round of instability, as realized in late November and early December.

Graphic: A compression in the VIX term structure would provide markets with a boost.

Expectations: 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 upper part of a positively skewed overnight inventory, outside of prior-range and -value, suggesting a potential for immediate directional opportunity.

Spike Rules In Play: Spike’s 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). 

The spike base is $4,678.50. Below bearish (change in tone). Above bullish (status quo).

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades sideways or higher; activity above the $4,690.75 micro composite point of control (MCPOC) puts in play the $4,709.00 untested point of control (VPOC). Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as high as the $4,732.50 high volume area (HVNode) and $4,743.00 regular trade high (RTH High), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,690.25 MCPOC puts in play the $4,673.00 VPOC. Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as low as the $4,647.25 HVNode and $4,623.00 POC, 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. Learn about the profile.

Definitions

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

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

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

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

Significance Of Prior ATHs, ATLs: Prices often encounter resistance (support) at prior highs (lows) due to the supply (demand) of old business. These areas take time to resolve. Breaking and establishing value (i.e., trading more than 30-minutes beyond this level) portends continuation.

Price Discovery (One-Timeframe Or Trend): Elongation and range expansion denotes a market seeking new prices to establish value, or acceptance (i.e., more than 30-minutes of trade at a particular price level). 

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, 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.

Additionally, Capelj is a Benzinga finance and technology reporter interviewing the likes of Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary, JC2 Ventures’ John Chambers, and ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, as well as a SpotGamma contributor, helping develop insights around impactful options market dynamics.

Disclaimer

At this time, 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

Weekly Brief For July 25, 2021

Market Commentary

Key Takeaways: After a short sell-off, volatility ebbs as equity index futures trade higher.

  • Unpacking factors lending to the volatility.
  • Jitters ahead of Federal Reserve meeting.
  • Earnings outlook up. Priced to perfection? 
  • COVID-19 resurgence to not limit mobility.
  • Analyzing tightening and the shift to fiscal.

What Happened: Last week’s violent trade came as inflation measures rose the largest since the Global Financial Crisis.

At and around the same time was a monthly options expiration (OPEX) which opened the window to fundamental dynamics (e.g., a shift in preferences from saving and investing to spending, monetary tightening, seasonality, COVID-19 resurgence) given a “reduction in large options positions, and the hedging associated with them,” according to SpotGamma, an authority in the space.

The subsequent sell-off then moved the market into short-gamma, an environment in which the opposing side of options trades hedge by buying into strength and selling into weakness, thereby exacerbating volatility.

To note, we’re discussing the implications of derivatives since option volumes are comparable to stock volumes and, as a result, related hedging flows can represent an increased share of volume in underlying stocks.

Further, the reversal caught many by surprise. Why? Downside risks were thought to have been compounded by equity, bond, and derivatives market positioning, among other factors.

For instance, some metrics implied froth with respect to the number of put options being sold to open, a potentially destabilizing force given associated hedging forces.

To note, put sales, which can be part of sophisticated volatility-based trading strategies, can imply confidence as market participants look to options for income, and not insurance.

Amidst the selling, though, some indicators suggested participants more so became interested in puts as downside protection.

Then, on July 19, the S&P 500 rebounded as near-term discovery reached a potential limit, based on market liquidity metrics and the inventory positioning of participants.

SpotGamma’s metrics confirmed; participants bought calls and sold puts suggesting confidence in the low.

In explaining the violent reversal and follow-through, it’s useful to point to three factors – the change in the underlying price (gamma), implied volatility (vanna), and time (charm) – known to impact an options exposure to directional risk or delta.

Graphic: SqueezeMetrics details the implications of customer activity in the options market, on an underlying’s order book. 

In short, in selling a put, for instance, customers indirectly 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).

On the other hand, as the market reverses and continues rising, volatility compresses, and any puts that were bought quickly lose value, thereby lowering the opposing side’s directional risk.

As a result, short hedges are bought back, adding fuel to the price rise.

Considerations: The recession is over and the outlook for earnings is great.

That is reflected by heightened valuations, peak positioning, and S&P 500 price targets.

Also, in spite of extreme fear in the face of a COVID-19 resurgence, red states, where the risks of transmission are greater given lower vaccination rates, will likely not limit mobility while blue states are more so highly vaccinated and will remain mobile, according to Bloomberg

That brings us to the topic of monetary policy. 

The U.S. is in a different place from the rest of the world and is likely to eliminate its output gap this year which would call for a tightening in policy and dollar strengthening, helping douse inflation.

Graphic: Implications of high single-digit inflation on S&P 500 returns via Bloomberg.

On that note, Moody’s strategists comment: “The impressive growth in value across many asset classes is projected to taper off within the next couple of years as supportive policy is unwound. The 10-year Treasury yield will rise above 2% by 2022 and the fiscal tailwinds will also have faded by then.”

When liquidity is removed, as policymakers look to fiscal policy to address inequality, for instance, corporations may have to worry about making money, again. 

“That’s ultimately how we grow out of these valuations,” Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan explained to me in an article Benzinga will release next week. “These cycles are a lot shorter than the monetary supply-side cycles but they tend to be very bad for multiples and great for economic growth.”

What To Expect: Ahead of the upcoming Federal Reserve meeting, participants will want to temper their expectations on future volatility and focus their attention on where the S&P 500 trades in relation to the $4,384.50 low volume area (LVNode) pivot, a prior all-time high (ATH).

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades sideways or higher; activity above the $4,384.50 LVNode puts in play the $4,407.75 ATH. Initiative trade beyond the ATH could reach as high as the $4,428.25 and $4,470.75 Fibonacci-derived price extensions.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,384.50 LVNode puts in play the $4,357.75 LVNode. Initiative trade beyond the $4,357.75 LVNode could reach as low as the $4,341.75 micro-composite Point of Control (MCPOC) and $4,325.75 LVNode.

Note also that the last key level corresponds with two key Volume Weighted Average Price (VWAP) levels, 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.

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

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

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

Significance Of Prior ATHs, ATLs: Prices often encounter resistance (support) at prior highs (lows) due to the supply (demand) of old business. These areas take time to resolve. Breaking and establishing value (i.e., trading more than 30-minutes beyond this level) portends continuation.
Graphic: 65-minute profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.
Graphic: Weekly candlestick charts of the S&P 500 (top left), Nasdaq 100 (top right), Russell 2000 (bottom left), and Dow Jones Industrial Average (bottom right).
Graphic: SHIFT search suggests participants were committing the most capital to call strikes at and below current prices in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX) and Nasdaq 100 (INDEX: NDX), last week. Note, flow in the S&P 500 may denote the trade of box spreads.

About

After years of self-education, strategy development, 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. Additionally, Capelj is a finance and technology reporter. Some of his biggest works include interviews with leaders such as John Chambers, founder and CEO, JC2 Ventures, Kevin O’Leary, businessman and Shark Tank host, Catherine Wood, CEO and CIO, ARK Invest, among others.

Disclaimer

At this time, Physik Invest does not manage outside capital and is not licensed. 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.