Market Commentary For The Week Ahead: ‘Fast Moves’

Key Takeaways:

  • U.S. Senate passes a $1.9T relief package.
  • COVID vaccination timeline is sped up.
  • Equities are recipients of $12B in inflows.
  • Treasury yields aren’t at worrisome levels.
  • VIX term structure suggests no real panic.
  • Real GDP growth to be over 6% this year.

What Happened: U.S. stock index futures ended the week mixed.

This came after U.S. non-farm payrolls grew by 379,000, versus a consensus of ~180,000, improvement in sales and manufacturing data, as well as news that COVID-19 coronavirus vaccinations were accelerating.

Dynamics Unpacked: On a relative basis, the Nasdaq-100 is weaker, while the S&P 500, Russell 2000, and Dow Jones Industrial Average are stronger. This push-pull dynamic, in prior sessions, made it hard for participants to resolve directionally, evidenced by volatility.

On Friday, after an attempt by market participants to resolve lower, via a break of consolidation, stock indexes made a vicious rebound.

Why did stock indexes make a sudden reversal? Well, despite indexes being best positioned for sideways or lower trade, technically, near-term downside discovery reached its limit, based on market liquidity metrics and the inventory positioning of participants.

As stated in Friday’s morning commentary, according to SqueezeMetrics, the steepness of the GammaVol (GXV) curve suggested there was more risk to the upside than downside.

More On 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.
Graphic 1: SqueezeMetrics data suggested a near-term turnaround after Thursday’s violent liquidation.

Adding, also, coming into Friday’s session, market liquidity suggested (1) buying pressure was increasing and/or (2) sellers were absorbing resting liquidity (opportunistic buying or short covering into weakness), while speculative options activity was concentrated on the call-side.

In simple terms, one could argue, based on the aforementioned dynamics (e.g., speculative derivatives activity), that participants bought last week’s dip.

Graphic 2: Physik Invest maps out the purchase of call and put options in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY), for the week ending February 26, 2021. Noting activity in short- and long-dated tenors, near the $380, a strike that corresponds with $3,800.00 in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX).

Important to note, though, is the S&P 500’s long-term trend break, prior to Friday’s dramatic reversal and higher close, as well as Friday’s divergent volume delta in ETFs that track the S&P 500, Nasdaq-100, and Russell 2000.

Graphic 3: Long-term uptrend in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX) was broken.
More On Volume Delta: Buying and selling power as calculated by the difference in volume traded at the bid and offer.

What To Expect: Directional resolve and volatility, given news that the U.S. Senate, on Saturday, passed President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 coronavirus relief plan, as well as the (2) short-gamma (Graphic 4) environment (i.e, volatility is exacerbated due to dealer hedging requirements), as mentioned in the prior section.

Graphic 4: SpotGamma data suggests Nasdaq-100, the weakest index discussed in this commentary, is below the “Short-Gamma” juncture.

What To Do: In the coming sessions, participants will want to pay attention to the VWAP anchored from the $3,959.25 peak, the $3,720.50 minimal excess low, as well as the $3,837.75 high-volume area (HVNode).

Volume-Weighted Average Prices (VWAPs): Metrics 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.

More On Excess: A proper end to price discovery; the market travels too far while advertising prices. Responsive, other-timeframe (OTF) participants aggressively enter the market, leaving tails or gaps which denote unfair prices.

More On Volume Areas: A structurally sound market will build on past areas of high-volume (HVNode). Should the market trend for long periods of time, it will lack sound structure (identified as a low-volume area (LVNode) 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.

In the best case, the S&P 500 opens and remains above the $3,837.75 volume area. Auctioning above the VWAP anchored from the $3,959.25 peak would suggest buyers, on average, are in control and winning since the February 15 rally high.

In such a case, participants can look to the $3,892.75 HVNode for favorable entry and exit, the $3,934.25 profile ledge, and $3,959.25 overnight rally-high.

More On Ledges: Flattened area on the profile which suggests responsive participants are in control, or initiative participants lack confidence to continue the discovery process. The ledge will either hold and force participants to liquidate (cover) their positions, or crack and offer support (resistance).

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

Any activity below the VWAP anchored from the $3,959.25 peak may leave the $3,837.75 HVNode as an area of supply — offering initiative sellers favorable entry and responsive buyers favorable exit.

In such a case, participants can look to other areas of high-volume (i.e., $3,795.75 and $3,727.75) for favorable entry and exit, as well as the repair of the $3,720.50 minimal excess low.

Graphic 5: Profile overlays on a 65-minute candlestick chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.
Graphic 6: 4-hour chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

Conclusions: The go/no-go level for next week’s trade is $3,837.75.

Any activity at this level suggests market participants are looking for more information to base their next move. Anything above (below) this level increases the potential for higher (lower). 

Levels Of Interest: $3,837.75 HVNode.

Cover photo by Chris Peeters from Pexels.


Market Commentary For The Week Ahead: ‘Rally On Pause’

Key Takeaways:

What Happened:

Alongside mixed economic releases, plans for added fiscal stimulus, as well as a start to the Q4 earnings season, U.S. index futures broke balance and auctioned lower.

Given that Friday’s worst case scenario was realized, U.S. stock indexes are positioned for further downside discovery.

Graphic 1: Profile overlays on a 30-minute candlestick chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures

What To Expect: Friday’s session in the S&P 500 found responsive buying surface after a test of the $3,741.25 Virgin Point of Control, or VPOC (i.e., the fairest price to do business in a prior session).

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

In the simplest way, high-volume areas can be thought of as building blocks. 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. 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 value for favorable entry or exit.

Thereafter, buying pressure quickly disappeared, and the S&P 500 confirmed the balance-break. Now, in light of the market’s search for an area to establish balanced, two-sided trade, participants will come into Tuesday’s session knowing the following:

  1. Prior to a multi-session consolidation, profile structures denoted the presence of short-covering. This was the result of old, weak-handed business emotionally buying to cover short positions, causing swift movement, followed by a stalled advance, or two-sided trade.
  2. Unsupportive speculative flows and delta (e.g., non-presence of committed buying or selling) in some instances, as can be viewed by the order flow graphics 2 and 3 below.
  3. The multi-month upside breakout targeting S&P 500 prices as high as $4,000.00 remains intact, per graphic 4.
  4. After a v-pattern recovery, the S&P 500 consolidated near the $3,800 high-open interest strike, forming a balance-area. This structure was resolved with Friday’s balance-break. A break-out from balance is usually the start of a short-term auction. Therefore, placing trades in the direction of the break is the normal course of action. Trading back into the consolidation (above $3,763.75), thereby invalidating the break-out, may portend a move to the other end of balance ($3,824.25).
Graphic 2: Divergent delta in the iShares Russell 2000 ETF (NYSE: IWM), one of the largest ETFs that track the Russell 2000
Graphic 3: Order flow in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY), the largest ETF that tracks the S&P 500
Graphic 4: Daily candlestick chart of the cash S&P 500 Index

Given the above dynamics, the following frameworks apply for next week’s shortened holiday trade.

In the best case, the S&P 500 remains above its $3,763.75 balance-area low (BAL). Expectations thereafter include continued balance or initiative buying to take out the $3,824.25 balance-area high (BAH).

In the worst case, the S&P 500 remains below its $3,763.75 BAL. Expectations thereafter include a test of the low-volume node (LVNode) near $3,732.75. A break of the LVNode would portend a response near the $3,703.25 balance-break projection.

Conclusions: For now, despite a negative balance-break jeopardizing the bullish thesis, broad-market indices are in a longer-term uptrend. Participants ought to look for favorable areas to transact, such as those big-picture high-volume areas featured in graphic 5.

Graphic 5: 4-hour profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures

Levels Of Interest: $3,763.75 BAL, $3,824.25 BAH, $3,732.75 LVNode, $3,703.25 balance-break projection.

Cover photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels.


Market Commentary For 12/21/2020

What Happened: In spite of positive stimulus developments, U.S. index futures liquidated alongside news of emergency actions in Europe against a new strain of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

What Does It Mean: Friday’s session found responsive buyers at the low-volume node (LVNode) near $3,680.00. Low-volume areas denote directional conviction and ought to resist future auction rotations.

Overnight, the S&P 500 index future auctioned through the aforementioned LVNode — the worst outcome — before responsive buying surfaced near the balance-area low.

What To Expect: In light of the large overnight gap, the following frameworks apply for today’s trade.

In the best case, buyers respond and auction the index above the $3,667.75 high-volume node (HVNode). Holding said reference and trading into Friday’s range would negate much of the selling activity, the most positive outcome.

In the worst case, if the S&P 500 remains below the $3,667.75 HVNode, participants can expect further rotation and balance.

Auctioning below the $3,596.00 excess low would put the rally in question.

Levels Of Interest:  The $3,667.75 high-volume node, as well as the excess low at $3,596.00.


‘Rising Tide Lifts All Boats’: Market Commentary For The Week Ahead

Key Takeaways:

What Happened: U.S. index futures auctioned to new all-time highs before weakening into Friday’s derivative expiry.

What Does It Mean: After participants established a rally-high in the December 9 overnight session, the S&P 500 liquidated down to the balance-area boundary near $3,625.00.

After the December 14 gap open on COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine and stimulus progress, for the remainder of the week, indices negated prior selling, establishing a new all-time high. Friday’s trade managed to repair some structural deficiencies left in the aforementioned advance.

Pictured: Profile overlays on a 65-minute candlestick chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures

What To Expect: Friday’s session found responsive buyers surface at the low-volume node (LVNode) near $3,680.00. Low-volume areas denote directional conviction and ought to resist future auction rotations. Auctioning through the LVNode would foreshadow further rotation and trade as low as the balance-area low.

Given that the higher-time frame breakout remains intact and selling appears non-committal, participants will come into Monday’s session knowing the following:

  1. Both sentiment and positioning are historically stretched, while the recovery remains uneven
  2. Inflation remains cool due to the profound influence of disruptive innovation.
  3. U.S. Congress reaches deal on COVID-19 aid package, plans votes for Monday. 
  4. The decline in realized correlation due to factor and sector rotation, as well as the return of systematic option selling strategies will push the long-gamma narrative in which volatility is suppressed and the market pins or slowly rises in a range-bound fashion.
  5. The S&P 500’s higher-time frame breakout remains intact (see chart below); JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) confirms equities will rally short-term with the S&P 500 auctioning as high as $4,000.
  6. Despite high CAPE ratios, stock-market valuations aren’t that absurd.

Therefore, the following frameworks for next week’s trade apply.

In the best case, buyers maintain conviction and hold the index above the $3,680.00 LVNode. Auctioning below said reference denotes a change in conviction. Participants would then look for a response near the $3,667.75 HVNode. Failure to remain above the HVNode would portend rotation, further balancing. 

In the worst case, participants initiate below the $3,625.00 balance-area low, jeopardizing the higher-time frame breakout.

Conclusion: As BlackRock Inc (NYSE: BLK) said, “a rising tide lifts all boats”; though financial markets have largely priced in positive news surrounding vaccines and stimulus, the rally remains intact, bolstered by a drive for yield — technical factors as a result of systemic and hedge fund strategies, among other things.

Pictured: Retest of the upside breakpoint on a daily candlestick chart of the cash S&P 500 Index

Levels Of Interest: $3,740.75 and $3773.75 price extensions, $3,724.25 all-time rally high, the micro-composite HVNode at $3,707.75, $3,691.00, and $3,667.75, as well as the $3,680 LVNode and poor structure near the $3,625.00 balance-area low.

Bonus: Here is a look at some of the opportunities unfolding.

Photo by Fede Roveda from Pexels.


‘We Have A Vaccine’: Market Commentary For 11/9/2020

Following a week-long, post-election rally, U.S. index futures extended their gains on news that a vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc (NYSE: PFE) and BioNTech SE (NASDAQ: BNTX) was more than 90% effective in preventing cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The response resulted in the upside break of a multi-month balance area.

As of now, on relatively poor structure, the S&P 500 index future is trading above the September and October rally high. Given the size of the advance, index products are extended and the odds of digestion, either through time or price, have increased substantially.

Furthermore, the aforementioned multi-month balance-break is a strongly bullish signal to be confirmed by acceptance above the September peak. That means, if prices spend time trading outside of the balance area, then the odds of a continuation to new highs increase substantially. If responsive participants were to auction prices back into the balance area, then odds favor rotational trade as low as the $3,200 boundary.

Levels of interest below current trade include the high-volume areas at $3,540, $3,500, $3445, and $3,400. Major upside references include the extension at $3,700 and projection at $3,800.