Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For April 1, 2022

The Daily Brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 200+ that read this report daily, below!

What Happened

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

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

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

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

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

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

Later is Markit manufacturing PMI (9:45 AM ET), as well as ISM manufacturing index and consumer spending data (10:00 AM ET).

Graphic updated 6:30 AM ET. Sentiment Neutral if expected /ES open is inside of the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. SHIFT data used for S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options activity. Note that options flow is sorted by the call premium spent; if more positive, then more was spent on call options. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. VIX reflects a current reading of the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) from 0-100.

What To Expect

Fundamental: The S&P 500 bagged its first quarterly loss in two years as recession probabilities, implied by some yield curves, have risen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,546.00 spike base puts in play the $4,573.25 high volume area (HVNode). Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as high as the $4,583.00 untested point of control (VPOC) and $4,611.75 low volume area (LVNode), or higher.

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

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

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

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

What People Are Saying

Definitions

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

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

Gamma: Gamma is the sensitivity of an option to changes in the underlying price. Dealers that take the other side of options trades hedge their exposure to risk by buying and selling the underlying. When dealers are short-gamma, they hedge by buying into strength and selling into weakness. When dealers are long-gamma, they hedge by selling into strength and buying into weakness. The former exacerbates volatility. The latter calms volatility.

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

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

Volume-Weighted Average Prices (VWAPs): A metric highly regarded by chief investment officers, among other participants, for quality of trade. Additionally, liquidity algorithms are benchmarked and programmed to buy and sell around VWAPs.

About

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

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

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

Disclaimer

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

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For February 23, 2022

Editor’s Note: The Daily Brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 200+ that read this report daily, below!

What Happened

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

Graphic updated 6:15 AM ET. Sentiment Neutral if expected /ES open is inside of the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. SHIFT data used for S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options activity. Note that options flow is sorted by the call premium spent; if more positive, then more was spent on call options. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. VIX reflects a current reading of the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) from 0-100.

What To Expect

Fundamental: At what point are monetary tightening and geopolitical tensions priced in? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,332.75 high volume area (HVNode) puts in play the $4,415.00 untested point of control (VPOC). Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as high as the $4,438.00 key response area and $4,464.00 low volume area (LVNode), or higher.

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

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

What People Are Saying

Definitions

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

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

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

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

Charm: The rate at which the delta of an option changes with respect to time.

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

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

About

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

Capelj is also a Benzinga finance and technology reporter interviewing the likes of Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary, JC2 Ventures’ John Chambers, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, and ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, as well as a SpotGamma contributor developing insights around impactful options market dynamics.

Disclaimer

Physik Invest does not carry the right to provide advice.

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

Categories
Commentary

Market Commentary For 2/8/2021

Notice: To view this week’s big picture outlook, click here.

What Happened: U.S. stock index futures established record all-time highs overnight, alongside hopes of a speedy economic recovery, as a result of pandemic relief efforts.

What Does It Mean: After a quick de-risking event and v-pattern recovery, U.S. stock indexes are positioned for further upside, as high as the 100% price projection, which happens to be above $4,000.00, a primary target in the S&P 500. According to The Market Ear, similar risk rallies have happened after hedge fund de-grossing events; now, “Equities are rising along higher yields, dollar and [volatility], and the magic word here is discounting inflation.”

Important to note also is the persistent presence of bearish undercurrents, as evidenced by non-participatory speculative flows and delta, as well as a divergence in the DIX.

More On The V-Pattern: A pattern that forms after a market establishes a high, retests some support, and then breaks above said high. In most cases, this pattern portends continuation. 

More On Volume Delta: Buying and selling power as calculated by the difference in volume traded at the bid and offer.

More On DIX: For every buyer is a seller (usually a market maker). Using DIX — which is derived from short sales (i.e., liquidity provision on the market making side) — we can measure buying pressure.

More On Speculative Flows: Participants looking to capitalize on either upside or downside through the purchase and sale of options, the right to buy or sell an asset at a later date and agreed upon price.

What To Expect: Monday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET) will likely open on a gap, outside of prior-balance and -range, which — in normal circumstances — suggests the potential for immediate directional opportunity. However, market participants must not discount how far the discovery process has come.

Over 11 sessions (overnight and regular-trade), participants traversed nearly 7%, a non-typical weekly trading range. Adding, the S&P 500 took out its $3,900.00 price extension (i.e., a typical recovery price target) overnight, before leaving minimal excess at the high (i.e., a proper end to price discovery).

Now, in light of the low historical probability associated with overnight rally-highs ending the upside discovery process, the odds favor (1) backfilling or (2) balance before a participants restart the upside discovery process.

So, in the best case, the S&P 500 does some backfilling to repair poor structures left in the wake of strong initiative buying. In such a case, participants would look for responsive buying to surface at or above the $3,840.00 high-volume area (HVNode). In the worst case, any break that finds increased involvement (i.e., supportive flows and delta) below the $3,840.00 HVNode, would favor continuation as low as the $3,794.75 and $3,727.75 HVNodes.

More On 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.

Today’s go/no-go level is the $3,880.00 HVNode. Below, would portend downside discovery and structural repair. At or above denotes balance, a sign that the market is awaiting new information to make its next move.

Levels Of Interest: $3,880.00 HVNode.

Bonus: It’s very tough to read the market at this juncture.

Buying has run out (as evidenced by the aforementioned bearish undercurrents) and it’s as if market risks are not being priced in correctly, an opinion shared by Nomura’s Charlie McElligott.

According to McElligott, crash and tail risk is holding back dealers from supplying volatility amid “a near-endless need for skew/forward vol/convexity from hedgers.” In an environment in which true fundamental buying is absent, flows as a result of activity in the derivatives market become increasingly impactful.

Adding, as the Heisenberg Report states, “markets are increasingly susceptible to the self-referential, flows-volatility-liquidity feedback loop (colloquially: the ‘doom loop’) and other manifestations of VaR shocks. Long periods of apparent calm hide an underlying fragility in true ‘stability breeds instability’ fashion.”

As a result of this new regime, as stated in the “What To Expect” section above, dealers have a difficult time taking the other side. Due to this, market participants see a persistent bid in volatility, a factor preventing many systematic and hedge fund strategies from going “all-in” on the long-side.