Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For September 27, 2022

The daily brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 950+ that read this report daily, below!

Graphic updated 6:45 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. 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.

Fundamental

Top of mind, yesterday, was the drop in Britain’s currency (GBP) and a surge in bond yields on the back of new fiscal plans and pledged tax cuts, alongside a more easy pace of interest rate hikes by the Bank of England (BoE). See the Daily Brief for September 26, 2022, for context.

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg.

Knowing that the fiscal stimulus and an easy-moving BoE would add to inflation that is already high and sticky, traders began pricing emergency rate hikes, all the while conversation around the impacts of the UK’s rising rates on mortgage lending and the “dollar doom loop” surfaced.

In response, the BoE’s Governor Andrew Bailey said they were “monitoring developments in financial markets,” and at the “next scheduled meeting of the impact on demand and inflation from the Government’s announcement, and the fall in sterling, … [t]he MPC [won’t] hesitate to change interest rates by as much as needed to return inflation to the 2% target.”

Per Citigroup Inc (NYSE: C), however, “[m]onetary policy will struggle to save FX when fiscal policy is the culprit.”

Lawrence Henry Summers, a former US Secretary of the Treasury, also commented that he “would not be amazed if British short rates more than triple in the next two years and reach levels above 7 percent.”

That’s “because US rates are now projected to approach 5 percent and Britain, [which] has much more serious inflation, is pursuing more aggressive fiscal expansion and has larger financing challenges.”

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg.

On the topic of rising yields and lenders’ disinterest to issue mortgages, among other things, it is the case that bond buying, via tools such as quantitative easing (QE), left room for confidence to eventually run out and the bond market to revolt.

Read our monetary policy explainers published on September 19 and 20.

Per statements authored by Bloomberg’s John Authers, the “UK appears to be the first case of a true disorderly bond selloff, where the moves are so swift that they affect the functioning of the financial system. It’s been triggered by a combination of inflation and rash fiscal policy.”

Accordingly, the actions by policymakers abroad serve to reinforce the earlier discussed “dollar doom loop”; the rising USD, though reducing the impact of inflation in the US, ultimately hurts most dollar-denominated debt servicing (see Latin America in the 1980s).

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg.

Positioning

Seasonally speaking, the week after September options expiry (OPEX) is one of the worst on record. The weakness often persists into October.

To quote Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan:

So, “less support from Vanna and Charm, less support through QT, and less buyback,” presents a “fragile moment” with the next week representing the most “dangerous period” on record.

Graphic: Retrieved from SpotGamma. “SPX prices X-axis. Option delta Y-axis. When the factors of implied volatility (Vanna) and time change (Charm), hedging ratios change. The graphic is for illustrational purposes, only.”

For context, it is the impacts of quantitative tightening (QT) which is manifesting itself as “$4.5 billion less in demand for assets per day,” as well as the blackout period for buybacks (which were consistently “supporting the market”) and options repositioning bolstering the weakness.

Graphic: Via Physik Invest. Data compiled by @jkonopas623. Fed Balance Sheet data, here. Treasury General Account Data, here. Reverse Repo data, here. NL = BS – TGA – RRP.

Separately, a hot topic concerns the money that is piling into money funds where “the vast bulk now earns upwards of 2%, with pockets paying 3%, 4% or more.”

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg. “Money funds, banks, and others are so flush with cash these days that they’re shoveling record amounts into the Fed’s overnight reverse repurchase agreement facility, a short-term instrument that, following the central bank’s 75 basis point hike last week, now pays a rate of 3.05%.”

The theory is as follows: if “cash is yielding 4%, why not just sit in cash while the macro environment clarifies a little bit?”

With traditional 60/40 upended, and the gap “between what banks are paying on deposits and what money-market funds are offering” widening, “money funds are likely to attract more inflows going forward as a result, pushing [the] usage of the RRP facility even higher.” 

Graphic: Retrieved from Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS).

This is all, however, money that is waiting to be deployed, “should market sentiment improve, or asset prices tumble to levels too attractive to pass up.”

Should you, too, desire to pursue guaranteed rates of return, last week Box Spreads were put forth as a solution. These trades “allow market participants to create a loan structure similar to a Treasury bill.” Upon maturity, the Box Spread earns a competitive interest rate.

Price some trades at boxtrades.com.

Graphic: Retrieved from boxtrades.com.

Technical

As of 6:30 AM ET, Tuesday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, is likely to open in the middle 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.

Any activity above the $3,688.75 HVNode puts into play the $3,722.50 LVNode. Initiative trade beyond the LVNode could reach as high as the $3,771.25 and $3,826.25 HVNode, or higher.

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

Any activity below the $3,688.75 HVNode puts into play the $3,638.25 LVNode. Initiative trade beyond the LVNode could reach as low as the $3,610.75 and $3,554.75 HVNode, or lower.

Click here to load today’s key levels into the web-based TradingView charting platform. Note that all levels are derived using the 65-minute timeframe. New links are produced, daily.
Graphic: 65-minute profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

Definitions

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

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

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.

About

After years of self-education, strategy development, mentorship, and trial-and-error, Renato Leonard Capelj began trading full-time and founded Physik Invest to detail his methods, research, and performance in the markets.

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

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

Disclaimer

In no way should the materials herein be construed as advice. Derivatives carry a substantial risk of loss. All content is for informational purposes only.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For September 22, 2022

The daily brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 950+ that read this report daily, below!

Graphic updated 8:00 AM ET. Sentiment Neutral if expected /ES open is inside of the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. VIX reflects a current reading of the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) from 0-100.

Administrative

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

Fundamental

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

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

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

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

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

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Positioning

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

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

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

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

Graphic: Retrieved from SqueezeMetrics.

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

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

This bid some basic measures of IVOL into the close.

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

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

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

Graphic: Retrieved from SqueezeMetrics.

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

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

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

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

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

Graphic: Retrieved from boxtrades.com.

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

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

Technical

As of 8:00 AM ET, Thursday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, is likely to open in the upper part of a balanced overnight inventory, inside of prior-range and -value, suggesting a limited potential for immediate directional opportunity.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher.

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

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

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

Click here to load today’s key levels into the web-based TradingView charting platform. Note that all levels are derived using the 65-minute timeframe. New links are produced, daily.
Graphic: 65-minute profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

Definitions

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

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

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

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

About

After years of self-education, strategy development, mentorship, and trial-and-error, Renato Leonard Capelj began trading full-time and founded Physik Invest to detail his methods, research, and performance in the markets.

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

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

Disclaimer

In no way should the materials herein be construed as advice. Derivatives carry a substantial risk of loss. All content is for informational purposes only.

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.