Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For May 24, 2022

The daily brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 300+ that read this report daily, below!

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures softened after what appeared to be continued covering of shorts into Monday’s close. Commodities were mixed, bonds higher, and implied volatility higher.

In the news the amount of money parked at major Federal Reserve facilities climbed to another all-time high, passing $2 trillion. JPMorgan Chase & Co’s (NYSE: JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon said recently that the Fed must do quantitative tightening since there’s too much liquidity in the pipes.

Adding, the Fed’s Raphael Bostic said policymakers may hike rates by 0.50 basis points after their next two meetings before pausing in September to allow for observation. This is as banks UBS Group AG (NYSE: UBS) and JPMorgan Chase & Co cut their expectations for growth here and abroad.

Ahead is data on S&P Global Inc (NYSE: SPGI) manufacturing and services (9:45 AM ET). Later, participants get updates on new home sales (10:00 AM ET) and Fed-speak by Chair Jerome Powell. Later this week, on Wednesday, participants will receive minutes of the Fed’s most recent meeting which may provide further insight into the central bank’s intent to tighten.

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: So long as market participants are using JPEG images of rocks as collateral for debt, it is likely we have not reached a more permanent bottom in the broad market. 

Kidding – just trying to lighten the mood, haha! Sorry to my crypto friends! 

For real, though, maybe the destruction of that market is what we’re to watch for.
Graphic: Via Corey Hoffstein. “You call it ‘tulip mania,’ but I’m gonna need to see evidence that the Dutch set up lending markets where they used paintings of rocks as collateral.”

Support of market excesses was liquidity in the financial system, a lot of which is now piling into the Fed’s overnight reverse repurchase agreement facility (RRPs).

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. Per the Federal Reserve Bank of New York: “A reverse repurchase agreement conducted by the Desk, also called a “reverse repo” or “RRP,” is a transaction in which the Desk sells a security to an eligible counterparty with an agreement to repurchase that same security at a specified price at a specific time in the future. The difference between the sale price and the repurchase price, together with the length of time between the sale and purchase, implies a rate of interest paid by the Federal Reserve on the transaction.”

Since the start of the year, however, the anticipation and pricing in of the removal of some of this liquidity have fed into market weaknesses.

Per the Damped Spring Advisors’ Andy Constan, the “Fed will reduce their balance sheet by choosing not to reinvest the proceeds of maturity payments of existing holdings back into the market. The U.S. Treasury will need to find new buyers for the bonds it issues.”

Please read our Daily Brief For May 5, 2022, here, for more on the Federal Reserve’s updates.

On June 1, the Fed will start the process of balance sheet reduction at $47.5 billion ($30B UST and $17.5B MBS) a month for the first three months. This will increase to $95 billion ($60B UST and $35B MBS), after, about double the maximum pace of $50 billion a month in 2017-2019.

Constan adds: “In June, that supply those markets will need to absorb will be $50 billion USD and will grow to $95 billion (of which some will be outright sales of mortgages by the Fed).”

Accordingly, “[j]ust as USD strength occurred as global investors chased U.S. assets, as the U.S. economy led the global economy out of the Covid chasm, the next leg of asset returns is more likely in countries that remain relatively easy and where the economy is still lagging.”

Goldman Sachs Group Inc’s (NYSE: GS) Vickie Chang notes: “Using history as a guide, in order for equities to come off their recent lows (and stop declining), this kind of monetary-tightening induced contraction is most likely to end when the Fed itself shifts.” 

“It may be that the market needs to see signs of the inflation deceleration that our US economists expect in the second half of the year in order to see sustained relief.”

Positioning: Pursuant to comments established last week, Dennis Davitt of Millbank Dartmoor Portsmouth explains that the “realized volatility of the underlying S&P 500 is above 27% … with implied volatility of options trading between 24%-27%,” which translates to a VIX at 30%.

“It is profitable to own options with such an active and volatile cash market. This is the opposite of 2017 where the VIX was at 10% and the realized was 7%,” a trade that leverage poured into and resulted in the spectacular short-volatility ‘Volmageddon’ blow-up in February of 2018.

Graphic: Via Banco Santander SA (NYSE: SAN) research.

What does this mean?

Davitt concludes that “18 months” out there are “elevated option prices which may foretell an increase in the volatility of the equity market through this time next year.”

Though the Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) may print higher, it is likely that it does not spike and point to an immediate market bottom, all else equal, like it has in the very near past.

Graphic: Via Millbank Dartmoor Portsmouth.

How to play?

It makes more sense to have exposure to underlying markets, synthetically (i.e., own options). This is based on the current relationship between realized and implied volatility.

Graphic: Via Robson Chow, founder at Tradewell. “The spread between IV and RV remains quite low relative to the past 50 trading days and 1st decile in the historical data.  It is printing where, historically, the most forward realized volatility and the weakest relative mean returns over the next 60 days can be expected.”

This is in contrast to the thesis that “long volatility is a poor equity hedge” because, on average, it’s overpriced and has less than a 100% negative correlation with the equity market.

Graphic: Via Banco Santander SA (NYSE: SAN) research.

Given fundamental contexts, many foresee continued weaknesses. Notwithstanding, markets are stretched to the downside and the path of least resistance, based on prior comments, is up.

This is with the caveat that traders should look at the current window of time as a period during which markets have less pressure to rally against. Per SpotGamma, this is due to the put-heavy options expiration (OPEX), Friday. 

Still, the rally into Monday “pulled forward some of the energy from [those] options that were to roll off,” and now, participants are “much less hedged than they were.” Should demand return, that will bid options prices and likely solicit liquidity provider pressures which, all else equal, start to cool into the $3,700.00 S&P 500 area.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma.

Technical: As of 6:15 AM ET, Tuesday’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 $3,943.25 HVNode puts in play the $3,969.00 VPOC. Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as high as the $4,061.00 VPOC and $4,095.00 ONH, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $3,943.25 HVNode puts in play the $3,908.75 MCPOC. Initiative trade beyond the MCPOC could reach as low as the $3,862.75 LVNode and $3,831.00 VPOC, or lower.

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

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

Such traders often lack the wherewithal to defend retests.

Large participants (who often move by committee) seldom respond to key technical inflections. It is their activity that often results in poor reliability of our technical levels.

Sometimes, the better trade is to wait for the larger participants’ entry and use the expansion of the range as a confirmation of a new trend.

Catalysts to consider include the release of Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) minutes, Wednesday.

Definitions

Overnight Highs And Lows (ONH and ONL): 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.

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, 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 23, 2022

The daily brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 300+ that read this report daily, below!

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures probed outside of the prior day’s large trading range but quickly rotated back inside. Overall, the major indexes and commodities were higher. Volatility was bid.

In the news was President Biden’s remark that the U.S. would intervene with the military to defend Taiwan from a China invasion.

This is just as the administration unveiled a 13-nation economic pact to assert Asia leadership. In response, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the pact was “doomed to fail.”

In other news, the U.S. got its first 70,000 pounds of baby formula to ease shortages. Beijing saw the most cases of a new COVID-19 outbreak, and Russia may ease key FX limits.

Ahead, there is no data scheduled to be released. Today’s commentary will be lighter.

Graphic updated 6:35 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: A shortened commentary to start our Monday.

JPMorgan Chase & Co’s (NYSE: JPM) Chief U.S. economist Michael Feroli notes that as the Federal Reserve gains traction in cutting financial conditions, the U.S. is, indeed, likely to grow slower in 2H22 and 2H23. 

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

“A stronger dollar, lower equity prices, and higher mortgage rates will weigh on demand,” The Market Ear said in their summary of Feroli’s remarks.

“Over time weaker output demand should lead to weaker labor demand.”

Positioning: Wrote an explainer on market weaknesses, from a positioning perspective, via Benzinga. Check out, if interested. Alternatively, read Friday’s in-depth letter, also.

Mainly, we’re in an environment characterized by volatility suppressing activities and an “observed divergence in the volatility realized, versus that which is implied by options activity.”

Graphic: Via Tier1Alpha. May 18’s “-4% close ended up being the first three-sigma event since 2020, and the most significant daily drawdown while the VIX is still under 35, since 2011. This is only the 6th time ever SPX has had this large of a drop with the VIX at this level, with the past dates highlighted in the chart below.”

Moreover, OPEX coincided with the removal of a lot of put delta (i.e., exposure to direction).

Those who are on the other side (e.g., liquidity providers or market makers), who were short these puts (a positive delta trade) protecting investors to the downside, are to buy back their short stock and futures hedges (a negative delta trade, initially) to re-hedge.

That means markets have less pressure (negative delta) to contend with in their attempts up. 

Ultimately, options analysis service SpotGamma thinks that “[a]ny ultimate rally off of OPEX [is] subject to swift reversals.”

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $3,943.25 high volume area (HVNode) puts in play the $4,061.00 untested point of control (VPOC). Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as high as the $4,095.00 overnight high (ONH) and $4,119.00 VPOC, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $3,943.25 HVNode puts in play the $3,908.75 micro composite point of control (MCPOC). Initiative trade beyond the MCPOC could reach as low as the $3,862.75 (low volume area) LVNode and $3,831.00 VPOC, or lower.

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

What People Are Saying

Definitions

Overnight Rally Highs (Lows): Typically, there is a low historical probability associated with overnight rally-highs (lows) ending the upside (downside) discovery process.

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

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

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

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, Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial, among many others.

Disclaimer

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

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For April 25, 2022

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

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

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

What Happened

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

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

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

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

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

Graphic updated 7:30 AM ET. Sentiment Risk-Off if expected /ES open is below the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. SHIFT data used for S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options activity. Note that options flow is sorted by the call premium spent; if more positive, then more was spent on call options. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. VIX reflects a current reading of the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) from 0-100.

What To Expect

Fundamental: A push-and-pull, continues.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Graphic: Via ICI. Taken from The Market Ear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Graphic: Via Physik Invest. Data via SqueezeMetrics.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Considerations: Spikes mark the beginning of a break from value. Spikes higher (lower) are validated by trade at or above (below) the spike base (i.e., the origin of the spike).

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

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

What People Are Saying

Definitions

Overnight Rally Highs (Lows): Typically, there is a low historical probability associated with overnight rally-highs (lows) ending the upside (downside) discovery process.

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

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

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

About

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

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

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

Disclaimer

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

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For March 31, 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

A mixed bag, overnight, with U.S. equity indexes pinned at their most recent swing highs ahead of large options expirations (OPEX). 

News, too, was mixed. Notable was the United States’ potential release of oil reserves amounting to nearly a million extra barrels of oil a day. Oil sold alongside this update. 

Geopolitical tensions remain. Mainly, Russia and Ukraine tensions are ongoing and there’s a lack of clarity on what’s going on with the negotiations between the two parties.

Additionally, China is weighing the raise of billions to stabilize its economy and cut off the spread of the crisis. The money would stem risks from small, weakened banks and developers.

Ahead is data on jobless claims, personal income and consumer spending, PCE price index, as well as real disposable income and consumer spending (8:30 AM ET). Later, Chicago PMI is posted (9:45 AM ET).

Graphic updated 6:40 AM ET. Sentiment Neutral if expected /ES open is inside of the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. SHIFT data used for S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options activity. Note that options flow is sorted by the call premium spent; if more positive, then more was spent on call options. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. VIX reflects a current reading of the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) from 0-100.

What To Expect

Fundamental: Carry trades (i.e., the act of borrowing at low rates and investing where there are higher rates to make money so long as nothing [bad] happens) are receiving attention, again.

In recent days, it’s been the sale of the Japanese yen and the purchase of the Aussie dollar.

Example: Via Bloomberg.

Prior to 2008, this carry trade, according to a commentary by Bloomberg’s John Authers, which “became very correlated with speculative equity investing, … suffered an almighty crash as the yen appreciated dramatically against the Aussie dollar in 2008.”

Basically, Bank of Japan (BoJ) interventions are dovish and consistent, as Authers explains, buying bonds at a massive scale and “making the country an irresistible source of [cheap] funds.”

The risk of the trade is that the yen appreciates. In such a case, the opposite of what is going on now (similar to what happened during the Global Financial Crisis or GFC) occurs.

A great book on this – “The Rise of Carry: The Dangerous Consequences of Volatility Suppression and the New Financial Order of Decay Growth and Recurring Crisis – discusses many of the different forms of carry, their attractiveness, and the implications of their failure.

Mainly, such strategies are characterized by a sawtooth wave returns pattern (i.e., steady positive returns followed by sharp drops).

Graphic: Via Risky Finance. “Cumulative log returns from shorting the VIX future, a common carry strategy. Notice the poor returns in 2008 and other market crises.”

One such trade is that which captures the VIX futures curve roll yield.

Basically, the VIX futures curve is (usually) in contango (i.e., sloping upward) as farther-dated contracts are priced up (since portfolio insurance [should] cost more over longer periods). 

As those contracts near expiration, they converge with spot.

If volatility is flat (all else equal), the sale of farter-dated contracts allows you to capture the difference between the future and spot (or shorter-dated contracts). 

It’s a bit more complex, but that’s a general idea. Such trades attract lots of capital (and leverage) as they work (most of the time); positioning turns one-sided and complacency builds.

Eventually, markets move and this hurts those with not much wherewithal such as during 2020 when yield-seeking participants (who were forced out the risk curve given the reduction in rates and market stabilization programs) deleveraged en masse.

Since 2020, hardcore volatility selling (especially that which is short-dated), if you will, hasn’t returned and, as stated in yesterday’s commentary, this “has us a little less concerned (about some sort of armageddon situation).”

According to Banco Santander SA’s (NYSE: SAN) cross-asset research, “[t]he supply of volatility remains very subdued in a trend that has continued since the pandemic. For example, there are still virtually zero sales in short-term index variance swaps.”

“We did observe some activity in 4Q21 and 1Q this year, but almost all of that was unwinding of existing positions from earlier, and these were not new trades.”

Graphic: Via SG Cross Asset Research. Taken from Corey Hoffstein.

Notwithstanding, Santander’s research says that the demand for volatility (to hedge) remains strong “amidst the elevated uncertainty from geopolitics and central banks.”

With there being less of a supply of something, demand is not as easily absorbed and may have greater implications for the pricing of that something (such as the volatility of volatility itself).

Graphic: Cboe VIX Volatility Index (INDEX: VVIX). Per the Milken Institute, “The VIX is a measure of the expected volatility in S&P 500 index options. It trades as a futures contract, and there are also options traded on this futures contract,” and the VVIX, which is the “expected volatility of the VIX futures contract,” is referred to as “the VIX of the VIX.”

Hence, we see sharper moves in measures of volatility itself as the counterparts to this demand seek to absorb and hedge their risks (in the underlying), in accordance with prevailing regulatory frameworks, among other things.

Though we’ll, once again, explore this phenomenon in later commentaries, as well as the potential implications of its return in size, below is an interesting conversation featuring Kevin Coldiron, co-author of the “Rise of Carry” book pointed to earlier. Check it out!

Positioning: Yesterday’s commentary explained well the implications of recent positioning. If you haven’t checked it out, click here.

Conditions, today, are similar. OPEX’s clearing of existing options exposure, in the coming days, likely opens the door to underlying breadth which has improved markedly since early March. 

Though today’s market is unprecedented, so to speak, improvements in breadth support a historical case for sideways-to-higher through tightening cycles.

Graphic: Via JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM).

Should there be some exogenous event or weakness on fundamentals, any new demand for protection (in size) likely adds velocity to a leg lower. Caution new buyers.

Graphic: Via Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS).

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,611.75 low volume area (LVNode) puts in play the $4,618.25 high volume area (HVNode). Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as high as the $4,631.00 regular trade high and $4,641.75 LVNode, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,611.75 LVNode puts in play the $4,573.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as low as the $4,546.00 spike base and $4,533.00 untested point of control (VPOC), or lower.

Considerations: The market is in balance. This is rotational trade that denotes current prices offer favorable entry and exit. Balance areas make it easy to spot a change in the market (i.e., the transition from two-time frame trade, or balance, to one-time frame trade, or trend). 

Modus operandi is responsive trade (i.e., fade the edges), rather than initiative trade (i.e., play the break).

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

Spikes: Spikes mark the beginning of a break from value. Spikes higher (lower) are validated by trade at or above (below) the spike base (i.e., the origin of the spike).

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

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

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

About

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

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

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

Disclaimer

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