Categories
Results

Case Study: How A Bearish S&P 500 Trade Turned Into A Multibagger

Heading into the 2022 equity market decline, institutions repositioned and hedged their downside, even allocating to commodities, which worked well for the first couple of quarters.

Due in part to this, the 2022 equity market decline was like no other experienced during 2021.

Instead, the monetization and counterparty hedging of existing customer options hedges, as well as the sale of short-dated options, particularly in some of the single names where implied volatility (IVOL) was rich, lent to lackluster performance in IVOL.

Eventually, entities were squeezed out of trades not working.

That means participants rotated out of options and commodities, all the while a macro-type re-leveraging ensued on improvements in inflation data, an earnings season that was better than expected, and “crazy tax receipts,” among other things.

The most recent advance climaxed the week of the August monthly options expiration (OPEX).

Graphic: Retrieved from Cboe Global Markets Inc (BATS: CBOE).

Why? Well, heading into that particular week, markets were rising at a fast rate, and call options (i.e., bets on the market upside) were highly demanded.

Graphic: Updated 8/15/2022. Retrieved from SqueezeMetrics.

Those, on the other side of those call option trades (i.e., counterparties), hedged in a manner that was supportive (i.e., counterparties sell calls to customers and buy underlying to hedge exposure).

Eventually, traders’ activity in soon-to-expire options became concentrated at certain strikes – particularly $4,300.00 in the S&P 500 – while IVOL trended lower. The counterparty’s response, then, did more to support prices and reduce movement.

This is because, with the passage of time and declining volatility, options Gamma (i.e., the sensitivity of an option to direction) became more positive and the range of spot prices, across which Delta (i.e., options exposure to direction) shifts rapidly, became a lot smaller.

When options Gamma exposure is more positive, market movements may have a positive impact on the counterparty’s position (i.e., movement is beneficial). If movement is beneficial, and the counterparty is not interested in realizing that benefit, they may hedge in a manner that can stifle market movement.

This is, in part, what happened, in the late stages of the rally. That said, however, soon after the S&P 500 hit $4,300.00, the near-vertical price rise began to sputter and follow-on support, both from a fundamental (e.g., liquidity) and volatility perspective was soon set to worsen.

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.

Why? There was an OPEX that would trigger “a big shift in market positioning,” Nomura Holdings Inc’s (NYSE: NMR) Charlie McElligott explained.

In short, participants’ failure to roll forward their expiring bets on market upside coincided with a message that the Fed would stay tough on inflation. So, it’s the case that after the OPEX, those same bets that were prompting counterparties to stem volatility and bolster equity upside were not rolled forward.

Instead, these bets expired and this is visualized by the drop in Gamma exposures, post-OPEX.

Graphic: Created by Physik Invest. Data by SqueezeMetrics.

Accordingly, this expiration, combined with technical and fundamental contexts that were prompting funds to “reload[] on short sales,” shocked the market into a higher volatility, negative Gamma environment. In this environment, put options, through which the vast majority of participants speculate on lower prices and protect their downside, solicited far more pressure from counterparties.

Adding, if markets were to continue trading lower, traders were likely to continue rotating into those put options that would bolster this pressure from counterparties.

This happened as shown, below.

Graphic: Retrieved from SpotGamma. “There was a huge surge in large trader put buying in the equities space last week as per the OCC data.”

This demand for put options protection was reflected by a bid in IVOL. To hedge against this demand for protection and rising IVOL, counterparties sold underlying, compounding bearish fundamental flows.

Graphic: Retrieved from SqueezeMetrics. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness.

In late August, data suggested September would have “a very large options position as it is a quarterly OPEX,” SpotGamma said. With that position being “put heavy,” a slide lower, and an increase in IVOL, was likely to drive continued counterparty “shorting” with little “relief until Jackson Hole.”

In expecting markets to trade lower and more volatile, Physik Invest sought to initiate new trades.

At the time, in mid-August, call option premiums were attractive, in part due to interest rates, all the while IVOL metrics seemingly hit a lower bound.

This was observable via a quick check of skew, a plot of the IVOL levels for options across different strike prices. Usually, skew, on the S&P 500, shows a smirk, not a smile.

Graphic: Retrieved from Cboe Global Markets Inc (BATS: CBOE). Updated August 17, 2022. Skew steepened into $3,700.00 and below $3,500.00 in the S&P 500.

This meant it was likely that short-dated, wide Put Ratio Spreads had little to lose in a sideways-to-higher market environment. Additionally, call Vertical Spreads above the market were relatively more expensive.

Given the above context, the following analysis unpacks how Physik Invest traded options tied to the S&P 500 leading up to and through the August 19 OPEX, into the Jackson Hole Economic Symposium.

Note: Click here to view all transactions for all accounts involved.

Sequence 1: After a skew smile was observed, through August 12, 2022, the following positions were initiated, while the S&P 500 was still trending higher, for a net $7,616.68 credit.

Positions were structured in a way that would potentially net higher credits had the index moved lower.

  • SOLD 10 1/2 BACKRATIO SPX 100 (Weeklys) 26 AUG 22 3700/3500 PUT @ ~$0.13 Credit
  • SOLD 3 VERTICAL SPX 100 21 OCT 22 [AM] 4300/4350 CALL @ ~$25.10 Credit

Sequence 2: While the S&P 500 was trading near $4,300.00 resistance, by 8/19/2022, all aforementioned Ratio Put Spread positions were rolled forward for a $452.26 credit.

The resulting position was as follows:

  • -17 1/2 BACKRATIO SPX 100 (Weeklys) 16 SEP 22 3700/3500 PUT
  • -3 VERTICAL SPX 100 21 OCT 22 [AM] 4300/4350 CALL

From thereon the market declined and, by 9/1/2022, all positions were exited for a $6,963.84 credit.

  • BOT 17 1/2 BACKRATIO SPX 100 (Weeklys) 16 SEP 22 3700/3500 PUT @ ~$4.94 Credit
  • BOT 3 VERTICAL SPX 100 21 OCT 22 [AM] 4300/4350 CALL @ ~$4.57 Debit

Summary: In total, the sequence of trades net a $15,032.78 profit after commissions and fees.

The max loss (minus unforeseen events) sat at ~$6,790.00 if the S&P 500 closed above $4,350.00 in OCT. Because the Ratio Put Spreads were initiated at no cost, any loss, if the market went higher, would have been the result of the trade’s Vertical Spread component. Overall, this trade netted in excess of a 200% return; the trade’s profit was more than two times the initial debit risk, a multi-bagger.

Reflection: Heading into the trade, it was the case that IVOL performed poorly during much of the 2022 decline. This was likely to remain the case on a subsequent drop, hence the wide and short-dated Ratio Put Spread.

Still, in spite of the Ratio Put Spread exposing the position to negative Delta and positive Gamma (i.e., the trade makes money if the market moves lower, all else equal), if implied skew became more convex (i.e., implied volatilities grow more rapidly as strike prices decrease), the position could have been a large loss.

So, if the flatter part of the skew curve (where the position was structured) became more convex, which is not something that was anticipated would happen, then the only recourse would have been to (1) close the position or (2) sell (i.e., add static negative Delta in) futures and correlated ETFs.

In the second case, then, the trade would have been allowed time to work and turn into a potential winner, particularly amidst the passage of time.

Additionally, in accordance with Physik Invest’s risk protocol, more units of the Short Put Ratio Spread could have been initiated on the transition into Sequence 2. These units could have been held through Labor Day, then, and monetized for up to an additional ~$4.00 credit per unit.

Though additional units of the Vertical Spreads could not have been added, due to the strict limits to debit risks, there were still months left to that particular component of the trade. With lower prices expected, there was little reason the Verticals should have been removed fast.

Going forward, should the context from a fundamental and volatility perspective remain the same, only on a rally could Physik Invest potentially re-enter a similar position.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For September 1, 2022

The daily brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 850+ that read this report daily, below!

Graphic updated 8:15 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. 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

In the past weeks and days, China and Taiwan tensions have seemingly worsened. Headlines this morning include China “simulating attacks on U.S. Navy ships,” and “Taiwan shoots down drone showing risk of escalation with China.”

This is all the while the conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues to rage, bolstering the structural issues contributing to the longer-lasting inflation we discussed on August 3 (HERE).

In that August 3 letter, we cited Credit Suisse Group AG’s (NYSE: CS) Zoltan Pozsar on his perspectives regarding the weakening of “the pillars of the globalized, low inflation world.”

Since then, Pozsar wrote another note titled “War and Industrial Policy,” published on August 24 (HERE), alleging a “messy divorce” ongoing between large powers like the US and China.

For instance, the note said: “Pentagon chief’s calls to China go unanswered amid Taiwan crisis.” 

Yikes! Let’s unpack what’s going on a bit, further.

Basically, it’s the case that powers like Russia became “rich selling cheap gas” to countries like Germany who became “rich selling expensive stuff produced with cheap gas,” the note says.

Per Andreas Steno Larsen, now, countries like Germany are in a precarious position

It’s possible that the country “will likely make it through winter unless Russia 1) halts the gas flow completely and 2) the winter is extremely severe.”

No matter what, the “Germany economy will take a hit, … [and], given current forward prices, we are looking at CPI numbers well above 10% y/y. In France and Spain, that picture is even worse with numbers above 15% y/y.”

To dampen the impact of this inflation, countries like Denmark have resorted to “handing checks out almost randomly,” which does less to take from “inflationary pressures down the road.”

Graphic: Via Andreas Steno Larsen. “German energy component of CPI is only getting worse.”

In short, via de-globalization and populism, “the pillars of the low inflation world are changing,” per Pozsar and, the recourse, now, is a fight via asset price deflation, put forth on August 3.

In other words, de-globalization and populism have prompted an “inward shift of supply curves across multiple fronts (labor, goods, and commodities).” Accordingly, the economy is on a path that is “L”-shaped (i.e., vertical drop in activity via recession, and flatline for a period of time as rates remain higher for longer to prevent a sharp rise in inflation, again).

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.

As Pozsar summarises: “we [have] to generate a big, “L”-shaped recession to slow inflation down; we [have] to generate a round of negative wealth effects to lower demand such that it becomes more in line with the new realities of supply.”

Separately, a Minsky Moment looms, Pozsar said.

“Minsky moments are triggered by excessive financial leverage, and in the context of supply chains, leverage means excessive operating leverage: in Germany, $2 trillion of value added depends on $20 billion of gas from Russia…that’s 100-times leverage – more than Lehman’s.”

Moreover, it is the case that, ultimately, after inflation is reduced, a “recovery [will be driven by] fiscally funded industrial policy” that: 

(1) Re-arms (to defend the world order); (2) re-shores (to get around blockades); (3) re-stocks and invests (commodities); (4) re-wires the grid (energy transition).

Graphic: Text retrieved from Kai Volatility’s Second Quarter (2022) Market Commentary And Outlook. Annotated by Physik Invest’s Renato Leonard Capelj.

With that in mind, Pozsar ends that there will likely be a commodity supercycle that is part of a new regime, Bretton Woods III. Read the full note, here, and/or listen to the below podcast.

Positioning

As of 6:35 AM ET, Thursday’s expected volatility, via the Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX), sits at ~1.42%. Gamma exposures falling, at an increasing pace, may add to ranges and pressure.

Graphic: Created by Physik Invest. Data by SqueezeMetrics.

As discussed thoroughly in our August 31 (HERE) and August 18 (HERE) letters, our analyses had us structuring spreads against the $3,700.00-$3,500.00 area in the S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX).

Graphic: Retrieved from Cboe Global Markets Inc (BATS: CBOE). Updated August 17, 2022.

To quote the August 18 letter, it was “beneficial to be a buyer of options structures to protect against (potential) downside (e.g., S&P 500 [INDEX: SPX] +1 x -2 Short Ratio Put Spread | 200+ Points Wide | 15-30 DTE | @ $0.00 or better).”

This trade is near-finished and it is time to monetize (i.e., closing and converting a position to cash) as there is a risk of losing the Deltas built up this decline on a fast move higher, should one probably occur here, soon, with the S&P 500 trading into a key support zone we outlined.

Graphic: Retrieved from VIX Central. Compression in implied volatility would solicit positive delta hedging flows (vanna), and this could provide markets with a boost.

In short, it is beneficial to be a seller of those options structures (e.g., S&P 500 [INDEX: SPX] -1 x +2 Ratio Put Spread | 200+ Points Wide | 15-30 DTE).

Note: Trades Renato has personally taken remain to be unpacked in subsequent commentaries. Both the mistakes and successes, as well as what to do better.

Technical

As of 8:10 AM ET, Thursday’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 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.

Any activity above the $3,943.25 HVNode puts into play the $3,987.00 VPOC. Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as high as the $4,064.00 RTH High and $4,107.00 VPOC, or higher.

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

Any activity below the $3,943.25 HVNode puts into play the $3,909.25 MCPOC. Initiative trade beyond the MCPOC could reach as low as the $3,867.25 LVNode and $3,829.75 MCPOC, 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

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.

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.

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 August 18, 2022

The daily brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 800+ that read this report daily, below!

Graphic updated 7:20 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.
Hey team – the Daily Brief will be paused until August 29, at least, due to Renato’s travel commitments. 

Apologies and thank you for the support!

Positioning

As of 7:20 AM ET, Thursday’s expected volatility, via the Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX), sits at ~1.05%. Net Gamma exposures (generally) rising may promote tighter trading ranges.

Graphic: Via Physik Invest. Data retrieved from SqueezeMetrics.

As an aside, real quick, in a rising market, characterized by demand for call options, those who are on the other side of options trades, hedge in a manner that may bolster the upside (i.e., the naive theory is that if customers buy calls, then counterparties sell calls + buy stock to hedge).

That said, if IVOL drops, liquidity providers’ out-of-the-money (in-the-money) Delta exposures drop (rise) and, thus, they will sell (buy) underlying hedges which may pressure (support) the advance or play into pinning action, as seen over the past week or so at the $4,300.00 options strike, at which there is a lot of open interest and volume, in the S&P 500.

Read: The Implied Order Book by SqueezeMetrics for a sort-of detailed primer on this.

Graphic: Updated 8/15/2022. Retrieved from SqueezeMetrics.

Given realized (RVOL) and implied (IVOL) volatility measures, as well as skew, it is beneficial to be a buyer of options structures to protect against (potential) downside (e.g., S&P 500 [INDEX: SPX] +1 x -2 Short Ratio Put Spread | 200+ Points Wide | 15-30 DTE | @ $0.00 or better).

This is not to say that call options, which we said could “outperform” their Delta (i.e., exposure to direction) weeks ago, are out of favor (note: this is the case for something such as an SPX, not a Bed Bath & Beyond Inc [NASDAQ: BBBY]).

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

No! On the contrary, Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS) strategists say “call premiums are attractive.” This is “evidenced by [their] GS-EQMOVE model which estimates 33% probability of a 1-month 5% up-move versus only 13% implied by the options market.”

A quick check of implied volatility skew, which is a plot of the implied volatility levels for options across different strike prices, shows a smile in the shortest of tenors, rather than a usual smirk.

Graphic: Retrieved from Cboe Global Markets Inc (BATS: CBOE).

Given this, the options with strike prices above current market prices are seemingly more pricey than those that have more time to expiration. One could think about structuring something like a Short Ratio Call Spread or, even, a Long Call Calendar Spread at or above current prices. 

In the latter, any sideways-to-higher movement would allow for that spread to expand for profit.

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.

Context: Participants’ proactive hedging of positive Delta equity exposure, via negative Delta put option exposures, as well as the monetization of those hedges into the decline, resulted in poor performance in IVOL metrics like the Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX).

Therefore, per the Cboe, it’s the case that “since the launch of the VIX Index, the past six-month period has been the weakest for volatility in 29 years, relative to similar [SPX] price moves.”

Accordingly, its structures we thought would work best, given the potential for measured selling, which others thought would carry a lot of risks, such as Short Ratio Put Spreads, that performed best, seen below.

Graphic: Via Pat Hennessy. “[T]he performance of short-dated 1×2 put ratios in SPX this year. Despite being short the tail, the grind lower has been well captured by this trade structure.”

Moreover, it’s the case that after a nearly 20% multi-month run, higher, markets are stretched. 

To continue this pace would require, per JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM) strategists, a continued interest in demand for positive Delta exposure via equity or options, lower prints of consumer price data, as well as a dovish Federal Reserve (Fed) inflection.

The former we see now via call option volumes. The latter, not so much as the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) minutes “left the door open to another ‘unusually large’ increase at the next meeting in September,” in spite of a commitment to dial back if the data supported.

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.

Presently, retail sales are steady, and supply pressures, though starting to ease, remain, bolstering inflation which the Fed is ultimately trying to stop from becoming entrenched.

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg.

Though there are fundamental contexts we are leaving out (e.g., negative earnings revisions, Chinese retail, industrial output, and investment data missing which prompted an easing, the use of tools like Treasury buybacks to ease disruptions via Fed-action, as well as increasing recession odds), in short, the focus should be on the technicals which actually make us money.

Graphic: Retrieved from The Market Ear. Via Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC).

And, presently, on the heels of macro- and volatility-type re-leveraging, per Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE: DB) the technical contexts are bullish. 

Keith Lerner, the co-chief investment officer and chief market strategist at Truist Financial Corporation’s (NYSE: TFC) Advisory Services puts it all well:

“Even if the Fed does pivot, they are less likely to support the markets as quickly as they have in the past given the scar tissue left behind as a result of the inflation challenges of the past year… The market rally over the past four weeks has been nothing short of impressive. Such strong buying pressure following indiscriminate selling has historically been a very positive sign for the market, often following important market bottoms. This is a welcome sign. Still, other factors in our work are less supportive. Indeed, markets are not only fighting the Fed, but the most aggressive global monetary tightening cycle in decades.”

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg. Via Truist Financial Corporation (NYSE: TFC).

Beyond this, from a volatility perspective, we’d look for the VIX to sink below 15 to increase our optimism over a “sustained [and] better-than-typical” rally, per Jefferies Financial Group Inc (NYSE: JEF). Look at this last remark through the lens of participation on the part of traders who employ volatility-targeting strategies, for instance.

Graphic: Retrieved from The Market Ear. Via Jefferies Financial Group Inc (NYSE: JEF).

Technical

As of 7:20 AM ET, Thursday’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 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 $4,273.00 VPOC puts into play the $4,294.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as high as the $4,337.00 VPOC and $4,393.75 HVNode, or higher.

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

Any activity below the $4,273.00 VPOC puts into play the $4,253.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as low as the $4,231.00 VPOC and $4,202.75 RTH Low, 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: 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.

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.

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.

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 May 6, 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 weak, inside of the prior day’s large trading range.

Yesterday, the equity indexes, bonds, and crypto (which many saw as a hedge against equities) were sold, aggressively. The selling came one day after the Federal Reserve hiked 0.50 basis points and outlined its balance sheet reduction timeline.

Notable was ten-year Treasury yields breaking the 3.00% barrier.

Despite a more dovish tone (i.e., Fed assuaging participants of a 0.75 basis point hike in the coming meetings), the near-vertical price rise (which we discussed was a function of “structural buyback” in yesterday’s morning letter) was taken back in a fire sale across all sectors.

Today is data on nonfarm payrolls, unemployment rates, average hourly earnings, and labor force participation (8:30 AM ET). Later, consumer credit data is released (3:00 PM ET).

Speaking today is the Fed’s John Williams (9:15 AM ET), Raphael Bostic (3:20 PM ET), James Bullard and Chris Waller (7:15 PM ET), as well as Mary Daly (8:00 PM ET).

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. SHIFT data used for S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options activity. Note that options flow is sorted by the call premium spent; if more positive, then more was spent on call options. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. VIX reflects a current reading of the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) from 0-100.

What To Expect

Positioning: In yesterday’s detailed letter, we talked about the implications of participants’ hedging heading into and after the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) event.

Mainly, markets were stretched and participants were demanding protection in size. As said:

“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.” 

After that “structural buyback,” as Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan explained clearly, it was highly likely the bear trend would hold. Participants not shifting their bets on direction (via options) to higher prices, further out in time, further suggested very little change in sentiment.

Toggle, which is an AI and machine learning research firm tracking 35,000 securities globally, sent us, yesterday, their post-Fed analysis. According to them, “during the first week after the Fed’s 50 bps hike markets broadly headed lower.”

“In fact, 1 in 5 times the drop reached more than 5%.”

Graphic: Via Toggle.

The firm’s CEO and founder – Jan Szilagyi – said, in response to the market action that “market bulls should root for stocks to go down first.”

That’s actually a powerful statement. For markets to break (rally), they sometimes need to rally (break). Said another way, at times the market is stretched. Sellers (buyers) are either too short (or too long), if we will.

In order to trade lower, for instance, that short inventory (which in and of itself is a support mechanism as it is a bunch of buy orders sitting at lower prices) must be cleared (i.e., covered).

After that support is removed, the market can succumb to whatever fundamental weaknesses it was trying to price in. 

In this case, “the incremental effects on liquidity (QE/QT),” as Karsan says.

Moreover, what’s interesting, and this is something others have picked up on, is the difference between the level of volatility that is realized and implied by activity in the derivatives market.

Another time we saw such divergences was during the 2020 Coronacrisis sell-off.

Graphic: Via @HalfersPower. On March 2, 2020, “VIX-30 day realized vol go from 99 percentile yesterday to inverted and 9 percentile today lol. (left vs. right).

Let’s unpack. So, the Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX), as described by Cboe Global Markets Inc (BATS: CBOE), is a “constant, 30-day expected volatility of the U.S. stock market, derived from real-time, mid-quote prices of S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX) call and put options.”

Essentially, to make it simple, VIX is the equity market’s pricing of risk or insurance and it has a strong inverse relationship with the SPX. If SPX is lower, the VIX higher, basically.

Then, just as we have metrics to measure the change in an option’s sensitivity to the underlying direction (delta) or gamma, we have the sensitivity of an option to changes in volatility (vega) or volga.

Volga has different names. Vomma. The convexity of vega (i.e., change in vega based on change in volatility implied by market participants’ activity). The volatility of volatility. And so on.

The volatility of volatility can naively be measured through the Cboe VVIX Index (INDEX: VVIX) which, according to Cboe, “represents a volatility of volatility in the sense that it measures the expected volatility of the 30-day forward price of VIX.”

Historically, the gauge has a mean somewhere beneath 100 and a high correlation with the VIX at times of heightened stress (e.g., Coronacrisis).

Graphic: The VVIX via Physik Invest.

What’s going on is there is really negative sentiment and emotion, both of which are playing into market weaknesses and realized volatility. However, that realized volatility is not priced in.

In other words, the volatility of volatility – VVIX – is low relative to the volatility realized (and implied) and that, as I take it, essentially means that the market is not pricing up protection.

Graphic: Via The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial. “Trotting out the good old VVIX/VIX (trader heuristic) to compare SPX skew to VIX Vol. Negative sentiment but lack of fear continues.”

Why does this matter? Well, when you think there is to be an outsized move, relative to what is priced, you buy options (positive exposure to gamma) so that you may have gains that are potentially amplified in case of directional movement.

You also buy can buy options for positive exposure to volga. This is so that you may have gains that are potentially amplified in case of movement (repricing) in implied volatility.

Graphic: Via @Alpha_Ex_LLC. “Here’s 10-day realized vs VVIX on a scatter. The ‘white star’ is 40 realized but only 117 VVIX. When realized this high, VVIX typically closer to 150.”

With back-to-back daily price changes sometimes in excess of 2%, this essentially suggests to us the potential for the pricing of equity market risk to “catch up.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. The realized volatility for the SPX versus the VIX.

Per SpotGamma, much of this has to do with market participants being “well-hedged.”

“From an options perspective, participants would have to demand en masse protection (buy puts, sell calls) for liquidity providers to further take from market liquidity (sell into weakness) and that volatility skew to, essentially, blowout (e.g., Corona crisis, Meme mania, and the like).”

The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial, who felt that the liquidation was likely large desks de-risking their book, explains, well, too: 

“Vol is mainly used as a source of hedging. We are coming off of a big FOMC meeting where vol was slightly elevated. Think about this for a second, although SPX had a nasty day today, we are still right where we were at Tuesday… what does that tell you?”

“That means there wasn’t really a NEED to rehedge that same exposure. Volatility didn’t compress much after FOMC and when the market gave it all back it brought us right back to where we started. Put yourself in the shoes of an institution.”

Graphic: SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options Indicator (HIRO) for SPY shows light put selling and call buying. Participants are (likely) hedged and are not demanding protection in size amid lower prices.

Pursuant to those remarks, SpotGamma sees markets reaching a lower limit near the $4,000.00 SPX area. At that juncture, the rate at which liquidity providers add pressure in their hedging activities flattens as they, too, have hedges.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. Updated April 27, 2022.

“In turn, dealers may be able to advantageously reduce delta hedging (sell less), and supply markets with more liquidity (buy more stock). This could serve to reduce volatility.”

So, what do you do with this information? The idea is that volatility implied may reprice to reflect what is realized. In such a case, you’d want positive exposure to volga (i.e., don’t sell volatility).

This is more of a view on volatility rather than direction, at this juncture.

Directionally speaking, the returns distribution is skewed positive. This is from an overlay of proxies for buying and naive gamma exposure.

Here’s one model using similar data we often look at in this letter.

Graphic: Via nextSignals. “When SPX and [gamma exposure] nosedive after an extended selloff while dark pools’ buying sharply diverges to the upside … buy the S&P 500.”

Technical: As of 6:45 AM ET, Friday’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.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,148.25 high volume area (HVNode) puts in play the $4,184.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the $4,184.25 HVNode could reach as high as the $4,212.25 micro composite point of control (MCPOC) and $4,303.00 weak high (obvious breakout level), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,148.25 HVNode puts in play the $4,099.25 regular trade low (RTH Low). Initiative trade beyond the RTH Low could reach as low as the $4,055.75 low volume area (LVNode) and $3,978.50 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.

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.