Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For June 22, 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 and commodity futures were sideways to lower all the while bonds and volatility were bid. 

This is after participants, based on metrics included later in the letter, took the advance as an opportunity to sell at higher prices. Demanded was protection, and this bid implied volatility.

Big headlines include China sending warplanes near Taiwan after the U.S. rejected its strait claims. The Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu wrote that the threat was “more serious than ever.” This is, also, ahead of Taiwan and U.S. officials talking about arms sales.

In other news, Congress was called on to pass a $0.184 per gallon gasoline tax holiday. Growth in job postings slowed as Q2 GDP forecasts have been revised lower, Chinese manufacturing orders declined by 20-30%, U.K. inflation hit a 40-year record, and sellers of homes are cutting prices in some of the hottest markets while the demand for adjustable-rate mortgages surges.

Ahead, the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) Patrick Harker speaks at 9:00 AM ET. Then, Jerome Powell testifies to the Senate Banking Committee at 9:30 AM ET. Later, Charles Evans speaks at 12:50 PM ET, followed by Harker and Barkin, again, at 1:30 PM ET.

Graphic updated 6:30 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: For what it is worth when it comes to talking of theory and the economy, ARK Invest’s Cathie Wood has been spot on, in many ways.

Somewhat pursuant to our detailed analysis on May 18, 2022, which talked about the impact of reduced liquidity and credit on the real economy and asset prices, Wood explained that the U.S. fell into a recession during the first quarter.

Read: Daily brief for May 18, 2022.

“If massive inventor[ies] bloat real GDP in the second quarter, they will unwind and hurt growth for the rest of the year,” she said. Last year, though badly timed, Wood said that inflation would be on its way out due in part to excess inventory which would be reflected in commodity prices.

Read: Walmart Inc’s (NYSE: WMT) inventory glut to reduce in a “couple of quarters” and how Target Corporation’s (NYSE: TGT) oversupply problem should scare all retailers.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “The hot commodities rally is cooling off fast as recession fears again ground and cloud the outlook for demand.”

“If inventories and stock prices are leading indicators for employment and wages, … then fears of cost-push inflation a la 1970’s should disappear during the next six months.”

To put it briefly, as we’ve talked about in the past, the recent market rout is a recession and the direct reflection of the unwind of carry. It is the manifestation of a deflationary shock, and today’s sentiment and reducing demand for goods, among other things, reflect this.

And, with that, after a period during which capital was misallocated, the Fed is not in a position to control price stability “without bringing down the markets,” per Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan.

Read: Kris Abdelmessih’s Moontower #148 on prevailing macroeconomic perspectives.

In light of these efforts to control price stability, to remain is a continued reach for cash (or bank deposits) and the sale of non-cash assets.

Graphic: Via Redfin Corporation (NASDAQ: RDFN).

“Bonds are not acting as a hedge and appear to be becoming less ‘money’ like due persistent declines in price and elevated rate vol,” as Joseph Wang, who was a trader at the Fed, puts it.

Bank deposits are to drain about $1 trillion or so by year-end, prompting investors to “continue to lower their selling prices to compete for the cash they want.”

Graphic: Per Bloomberg, “[E]very $1 trillion of QT will equate to a decline of roughly 10% in stocks over the next 12 months or so.”

If it provides any solace, per comments by Credit Suisse Group AG’s (NYSE: CS) Zoltan Pozsar, the Fed, which “can only deal with nominal [and] not real chokepoints,” is likely to change course.

This is as “nominal balance sheet and liquidity trends will, at some point, clash with the realities of a garden variety of supply chain issues.”

Likewise, Andreas Steno Larsen explains that bond yields remain governed by demographics, and this is good news for stocks, in general.

“Just look at the growth rate of the working-age population (10 years forward) versus the term premium of US Treasury bonds. The current bond bear market is not standing on structural pillars.”

Graphic: Via Andreas Steno Larsen. “Bond yields remain governed by demographics over the medium-term. Low(er) for longer.”

Positioning: To preface, I encourage everyone to check out the Daily Brief for June 17, 2022.

Moving on. So, last week, we had a large monthly options expiration (OPEX). After this, liquidity providers’ re-hedging flows supported the market.

Over the weekend, into Tuesday’s U.S. close, equities, then, traded higher. The rally, however, was not confidence-inspiring and was indicative of short-covering.

Per SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options (HIRO) indicator, participants took the relief rally “as an opportunity to hedge/sell,” as I wrote for SpotGamma, yesterday.

Graphic: SpotGamma’s combined HIRO reading for the S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) and SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY). Trade was responsive (i.e., buy dip, sell rip) up until 2:00 PM ET when demand for negative delta (i.e., put buying, call selling) outweighed that for positive delta.

This ultimately showed up in broad measures of implied volatility. As The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial said: “[I]n the final hour, spot [and] vol up.”

This plays into decreased odds for a far-reaching rally. Participants are positioned out in strikes that are lower and the activity in those strikes plays into a change in tone with respect to the non-linearity and strength of volatility and skew with respect to linear changes in asset prices.

As Karsan spoke to, last week, the spikes in short-dated -sticky skew – the “first we’ve seen since [the] secular decline began” – hints at a “critical change in dealer positioning.”

“We’re transitioning to a fat left tail, right-based distribution,” Karsan adds

So why does any of this matter?

There still appears to be a heavy supply of options, particularly those with less time to maturity, and skew remains poor-performing (hence comments in prior letters on the benefit of buying into implied skew convexity should volatility reprice).

Graphic: Via Charles Schwab Corporation-owned (NYSE: SCHW) TD Ameritrade’s Thinkorswim. Note historical or realized volatility (RVOL) versus that which is implied (IVOL).

Basically, participants are hedged and volatility remains well-supplied. 

If there was to be forced selling or demand for protection by a greater share of the market in ways not recently seen, then the repricing of the aforementioned structures would be a boon for those who own them.

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

Options have a “non-zero second-order price sensitivity (or convexity) to a change in volatility,” as Mohamed Bouzoubaa et al explain well in the book Exotic Options and Hybrids.

“ATM vanillas are [not] convex in the underlying’s price, … but OTM vanillas do have vega convexity … [so], when the holder of an option is long vega convexity, we say she is long vol-of-vol.”

In other words, by owning that protection – e.g., butterfly and back spreads – you are positioned to monetize on a continued non-linear repricing of volatility. The difficult part is cutting the decay of those spreads when nothing happens.

Read: Trading Volatility, Correlation, Term Structure and Skew by Colin Bennett et al. Originally sourced via Academia.edu.

As an aside, despite the bearish tilt in positioning, there has been a notable uptick in index call buying per UBS Group AG (NYSE: UBS), presumably so that participants don’t miss out on a vicious reversal, should one transpire.

Graphic: Via UBS Group AG.

Adding, the “high starting point” in IVOL makes it possible to put on zero- and low-cost bets that deliver asymmetric payouts in case of violent and short-lived reversals. 

Read: Daily Brief for May 13, 2022.

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 (the inverse of a back spread).

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 lower 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 $3,696.00 low volume area (LVNode) puts in play the $3,722.50 LVNode. Initiative trade beyond the LVNodes could reach as high as the $3,735.75 and $3,770.75 high volume areas (HVNodes), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $3,696.00 LVNode puts in play the $3,675.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as low as the $3,639.00 RTH Low and $3,610.75 HVNode, or lower.

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

Considerations: Gap scenarios are in play, today.

Gaps ought to fill quickly. Should they not, that’s a signal of strength; do not fade. Leaving value behind on a gap-fill or failing to fill a gap (i.e., remaining outside of the prior session’s range) is a go-with indicator.

Auctioning and spending at least 1-hour of trade back in the prior range suggests a lack of conviction; in such a case, do not follow the direction of the most recent initiative activity.

Definitions

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.

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 June 14, 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 auctioned sideways-to-higher, along with bonds, snapping the pricing in of tighter monetary policies and economic slowing.

Creeping up are expectations regarding the amount of tightening policymakers are to add. Treasury yields had their biggest jump in decades. U.S. 3-year Treasury yields, in particular, were up 25 basis points, to 3.49%, the highest since 2007, per Bloomberg.

Now, traders see nearly 200 basis points of tightening by the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) by September, as well as the possibility of a one-off 75 basis point hike. The overnight rate is expected to peak near 4% by mid-2023.

Accordingly, the U.S. and European real estate values have taken a hit amid rising rates and inflated prices, falling 5-10%. Rental demand has thinned, also. 

In other news, the U.S. sought to boost supplies of Russian fertilizer as “sanctions fears have led to a sharp drop in supplies, fueling spiraling global food costs.”

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: In what seems to be “a coordinated attempt to guide the market through trusted journalists,” recent updates on the path of inflation may push policymakers to surprise markets.

Graphic: Via Tier1Alpha. “A disappointing CPI suggested that calls for inflation peaks were premature and now markets are trying to interpret Powell’s (and Lagarde’s) true intentions.”

Markets reacted, accordingly, pricing in a near-certainty of a 75 basis point hike, later this week.

Graphic: Graphic: Via CME Group Inc’s (NASDAQ: CME) FedWatch Tool. In one session, participants priced in a near-certainty of a 75 basis point hike.

Looking into the future, Fed Funds target rates, based on the Fed Fund futures contract prices, are projected to peak into the mid-next year (Spring/Summer 2023).

Graphic: Via CME Group Inc’s FedWatch Tool

Accordingly, Treasury market turmoil continued with liquidity “worse than it was leading up to Lehman,” says Christian Hoffman, a portfolio manager for Thornburg Investment Management.

“That creates even more risk because if the market doesn’t have liquidity, it can gap down very quickly.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. Taken from @DonutShorts. This could “be a sign of another shortage of collateral and that another systemic risk event might come up in the future,” as Fabian Wintersberger well explained in his newsletter.

As talked about in past newsletters, pressures in the financial system, all the while the economy is slowing, are rising. This is amidst a dash for cash as fixed income and equity markets are not perceived to be as safe.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “Two-year US Treasury yields surged 29 basis points as bond prices tanked, … the biggest two-day increase since 2008, a sign of just how rapidly traders are adjusting where they think the Federal Reserve will take interest rates.”

“People are trying to process what’s behind these large moves,” Subadra Rajappa, head of U.S. rates strategy at Societe Generale SA (OTC: SCGLY), said. She attributes some of the volatility to poor liquidity, panic selling, and margin calls.

Ultimately, according to Bloomberg’s John Authers, this is a tantrum the Fed is likely to let “rip for a while” before, potentially, suffocating “with more easy money.”

“The relationship between central banks and bond markets is, as I’ve said before, a lot like that between a parent and an angry toddler. Indulging the bond market early last year might prove a critical mistake in losing parental authority for the Fed.”

Graphic: Via Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS). Taken from The Market Ear. MS’s Mike Wilson says: “From our vantage point, both rates and ERP appeared to be mis-priced [and] we think the S&P 500 is headed toward 3,400 before a more tradable low is in.”

Positioning: Last night, as I wrote a report for SpotGamma’s subscribers, noteworthy is how “subdued” volatility was with, recently, “realized outpacing that which is implied by participants’ options activity.”

That dynamic resolved, Monday, as implied (IVOL) finally retook that which is realized (RVOL).

Read, also, the Daily Brief for Monday, June 13, 2022.

Graphic: Via Robson Chow.

Moreover, for much of the session, the equity markets were range-bound as most of the movement in both equity and volatility markets happened overnight. 

Graphic: SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options (HIRO) indicator for ES (SPX + SPY). Via SpotGamma, “Into weakness, participants mainly sold puts (a bullish trade). Into strength, they bought puts (a bearish trade). Throughout the session, too, there was light call buying (a bullish trade). This helps with understanding why the VIX moved much less during the day session.”

Noteworthy, was the absence of demand for protection that performs non-linearly with respect to changes in direction (delta) and volatility (vega).

“Fixed strike vols actually caught a bid, VIX futures are in backwardation,” The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial explains.

“However, that spot-vol relationship in the S&P still underperformed and skew was also lackluster.”

Graphic: Via TradingView. Taken by Physik Invest. The Cboe VVIX Index (INDEX: VVIX), the expected volatility of the 30-day forward price of the VIX, or the volatility of volatility (a naive but useful measure of skew), remains depressed, too, in comparison to the VIX, itself.

As said before, it is supply and demand dynamics that played into divergences between the volatility that the market realizes (RVOL) and that which is implied (IVOL). Participants are hedged and volatility remains well-supplied.

Was there to be forced selling and demand for protection en masse, we’d likely see that repricing in volatility we have been looking for.

To quote Benn Eifert of QVR Advisors: “Skew goes up if vol outperforms the skew curve a lot on a selloff.”

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

And so, to position for that, (although it is not as opportune as it was a week ago), it continues to make sense to own volatility structures (that, one, either sold very short-dated pre-FOMC and OPEX volatility to fund that which is farther-dated or, two, buy into implied skew convexity, non-linear with respect to delta [gamma] and vega [volga] changes).

Notwithstanding, per SpotGamma, a lower bound in the market is near $3,700.00. It is at this level options flows may shift from “inducing” to “reducing” volatility as, “beneath this level, all else equal, liquidity providers would have less and less pressure to add on further weakness.”

Ultimately, it is at higher levels of volatility that the marginal impact of further volatility compression is likely to do more to bolster equity market upside as liquidity providers buy back their negative delta hedges to positive delta (short put) exposures. 

SpotGamma’s founder, Brent Kochuba, adds: “Ultimately this expiration is clearing out a lot of equity put protection, which clears the way for lower lows in the weeks and months ahead.”

Technical: As of 6:30 AM ET, Tuesday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, will likely open in the lower 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 $3,768.25 HVNode puts in play the $3,808.50 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the $3,808.50 HVNode could reach as high as the $3,836.25 LVNode and $3,863.25 LVNode, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $3,768.25 HVnode puts in play the $3,727.75 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the $3,727.75 HVNode could reach as low as the $3,688.75 and $3,664.25 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.

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.

Point Of Control: 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.

Micro Composite Point Of Control: 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.

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 June 8, 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 took back some of Tuesday’s sharp advance which happened against the trend of prevailing options activity (discussed further below).

This is as narratives remain unchanged. Investors are pricing the implications of the actions to address heightened inflation, as well as how that may play into (further) economic slowing.

Ahead is data on wholesale inventories (10:00 AM ET). Below is a light commentary to rebuild our narrative after the week-long pause.

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: On Friday, participants will receive an update on inflation when consumer price data is released.

Graphic: Taken from Morningstar Inc (NASDAQ: MORN). Forecasts for this week’s remaining U.S. data from a survey compiled by The Wall Street Journal.

It is one of the Federal Reserve’s commitments to promote stable prices; the institution is aiming for a soft landing just as supply chains, higher prices, and borrowing costs, among other things, are cutting into growth. 

Graphic: Via the New York Federal Reserve. Taken from Bloomberg. “The gauge brings together 27 variables that take the temperature of everything from cross-border transportation costs to country-level manufacturing data in the euro area, China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the UK and the US.”

“The Fed is in a major jam,” said Oren Klachkin of Oxford Economics. “They don’t want to let inflation spiral but they also don’t want to kill the expansion. Finding the middle ground between those is hard, and their tools are blunt, so the task before them is monumental.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg analysis of the World Bank Group’s Flagship Report – Global Economic Prospects – for 2022. “Against the challenging backdrop of higher inflation, weaker growth, tighter financial conditions, and limited fiscal policy space, governments will need to reprioritize spending toward targeted relief for vulnerable populations.”

Last Wednesday marked the start of quantitative tightening (QT), a practice used to shrink the Fed’s balance sheet and amplify the effect of rate hikes, further cutting into financial conditions, “the mechanism through which the Fed [impacts] the real economy,” explains Dennis DeBusschere of 22V Research.

“If the data doesn’t slow, financial conditions will need to tighten more,” and this will play into less demand for goods and services, many of which (are continuing to) remain in short supply.

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

Accordingly, Joseph Wang, who was a trader at the Fed, explains well that cash, which has been spared from the market rout, is set to become scarcer.

“Bonds are not acting as a hedge and appear to be becoming less ‘money’ like due persistent declines in price and elevated rate vol,” he said. “Investors in both bonds and stocks are reaching for cash by selling their assets, driving further asset price declines. For non-bank investors, ‘cash’ means bank deposits.”

Graphic: Via the Investment Company Institute. Taken from Joseph Wang. “Investors are selling everything for cash.”

Ultimately, an increase in the RRP (reverse repo) and QT (which is a direct flow of capital to capital markets) “would drain the pool of bank deposits by ~$1t by year-end,” and this may prompt investors to “continue to lower their selling prices to compete for the cash they want.”

Graphic: Via the St. Louis Fed’s (FRED) Federal Reserve Economic Data. Taken from Joseph Wang. “The overall level of bank deposits is declining even as demand for bank deposits from investors is increasing.”

Positioning: Responsive trade is the status quo, as validated by SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options (HIRO) indicator.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. “Delta hedging flows with respect to changes in volatility (vanna) likely helped dampen some of the negativity of options buys and sells.”

Accordingly, measures of implied volatility, based on supply and demand dynamics talked about in the past, are falling from already low levels, and thus, the marginal impact of further volatility compression does less to bolster equity market upside.

To note the Cboe VVIX Index (INDEX: VVIX), the expected volatility of the 30-day forward price of the VIX or the volatility of volatility (a naive but useful measure of skew), dropped off largely, too, in comparison to the VIX, itself.

Graphic: Updated June 3, 2022. Via Tier1Alpha. “Several commentators have noticed that the price of volatility on the VIX, VVIX, has retreated sharply versus the past two years. If we look over a longer time horizon, this seems less so with a structural bid VIX tails driving higher implied hedging costs at each level of the VIX.  The current sub-100 VVIX level, while certainly lower than the past two years, is far from cheap historically.”

Given this all, SpotGamma suggests ultra-short-dated volatility, before the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, is likely to be sold, further depressing the front-end of the term structure while the “proceeds of that trade are funneled into farther-dated post-FOMC volatility.”

In other words, participants could sell short-dated volatility for exposure to that which is farther dated and, even, non-linear with respect to changes in delta (gamma) and vega (volga). 

Ultimately, such a structure would assist participants in lowering the cost of directional exposure.

Graphic: Text taken from Exotic Options and Hybrids: A Guide to Structuring, Pricing and Trading. In a long calendar spread, the trader sells shorter-dated implied volatility and uses the proceeds of that sale to fund, in part, longer-dated implied volatility exposure at the same strike.

More to come in future commentaries.

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 lower 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 $4,133.00 VPOC puts in play the $4,164.25 RTH High. Initiative trade beyond the RTH High could reach as high as the $4,189.25 LVNode and $4,227.75 HVNode, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,133.00 VPOC puts in play the $4,101.25 LVNode. Initiative trade beyond the LVNode could reach as low as the $4,073.25 Weak H/L and $4,055.75 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

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 May 5, 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 took back a small chunk of Wednesday’s post-Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) advance. Both bonds and equity indexes were lower while most commodities and the dollar were bid.

The Federal Reserve hiked interest rates by 50 basis points while knocking the odds of a larger hike (~0.75 or above) later this year, all else equal. The Fed’s holdings of U.S. Treasuries (UST) and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) are set to fall starting June 1.

As expected, the Fed will cut $95 billion a month from its holdings, split between $60 billion of USTs and $35 billion of MBS, per Reuters, in the span of three months.

Heading into the FOMC event, markets were sold and protection, particularly that which is shorter-dated, was demanded. This was evidenced via metrics like the VIX’s term structure which had short- and mid-term VIX futures prices higher than those that are longer-term.

The compression of implied volatility after the event affecting existing concentrations of options positioning, particularly at the short-end, coupled with lackluster options buying and selling at the index level, has us questioning the rally’s sustainability.

Ahead is data on jobless claims, productivity, and unit labor costs (8:30 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: The Fed is raising rates and reducing the size of its balance sheet in light of the economy’s “strong underlying momentum,” as Nordea Bank (OTC: NRDBY) research puts it, a hot labor market and elevated inflation.

During a press conference after the release of meeting statements, the Fed’s Jerome Powell assuaged participants of their fears regarding a 75 basis point hike in later meetings.

Instead, it’s likely the fed tightens twice more by 50 basis points before scaling back to 25 basis point hikes, helping bring inflation down to the 2% target.

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, “roughly double the maximum pace of $50 billion a month targeted in the 2017-2019 cycle.”

With QT, central banks remove assets from their balance sheet “either through the sale of assets they had purchased or deciding against reinvesting the principal sum of maturing securities,” as JH Investment Management explains

Since March, the Fed’s balance sheet was at $9 trillion, steadied by the reinvestment of proceeds from maturing securities. After a small run-up, starting in September, the Fed will allow for a maximum of $95 billion to roll off without reinvestment.

Per MarketWatch, “In this cycle, one key to markets is when the Fed might actually sell some of its holdings of mortgages $2.7 trillion. This will ripple out through U.S. debt markets.”

This, however, “would be announced well in advance,” enabling “suitable progress toward a longer-run … portfolio composed primarily of Treasury securities.”

When bonds fall in value, their yields rise. This may have the effect of driving yield-hungry investors into relatively less risky asset categories.

Graphic: Via Reuters.

Positioning: There was a large squeeze, post-FOMC. 

The prevailing narrative is that participants’ fears, with respect to how aggressive the Fed would tighten, were assuaged.

Per Standard Chartered’s (OTC: SCBFY) Steve Englander, at its core, “it is fair to say that positioning and excess pessimism reflect a big part of the market reaction.” ​​

“Overall, the tone was much more balanced than at the January and March FOMC meetings.”

As discussed in the past few letters, markets were stretched and participants were demanding protection in size. To quote the May 2 letter:

“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.” 

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. “SPX prices X-axis. Option delta Y-axis. When the factors of implied volatility and time change, hedging ratios change. For instance, if SPX is at $4,700.00 and IV jumps 15% (all else equal), the dealer may sell an additional 0.2 deltas to hedge their exposure to the addition of a positive 0.2 delta. The graphic is for illustrational purposes, only.”

That’s precisely what happened. The question now is whether there’s a sustained reversal. 

Based on SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options Indicator (HIRO), participants’ reaction to the FOMC was lackluster and capital was not committed to bets further out in price and time at higher or lower prices. 

Graphic: SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options (HIRO) indicator for SPY. Capital was not committed to bets further out in price and time at higher or lower prices. 

If participants start to concentrate their bets at higher prices, further out in time, that confirms the odds of sustained follow-through. If not, it’s likely that indexes, after a short-term relief, will succumb to fundamental weaknesses.

According to Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, the rally was purely a function of “structural buyback” and the baseline is that the bear trend holds.

This is because Fed is expected to continue withdrawing liquidity, and this will prompt risk assets to converge with fundamentals as “QT is a direct flow of capital to capital markets.”

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 lower 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 $4,260.25 overnight low (ONL) puts in play the $4,303.00 regular trade high (RTH High). Initiative trade beyond the RTH High could reach as high as the $4,337.00 untested point of control (VPOC) and $4,393.75 high volume area (HVNode), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,260.25 ONL puts in play the $4,177.00 VPOC. Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as low as the $4,142.75 RTH Low and $4,123.00 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. Please note that some levels have been adjusted since this graphic was made.

Considerations: Strong advance, yesterday, characterized by very supportive breadth.

Graphic: Market Internals as pioneered by (a mentor of mine) Peter Reznicek. Notice the indicator in the top right, weighted S&P sectors (histogram) versus unweighted (blue line). During late last week, participants sold the entire market, heavily (as supported by the difference between the volume flowing into stocks that are up versus those that are down).

The weaker of the indexes we monitor – the Invesco QQQ Trust Series 1 (NASDAQ: QQQ) – just retook a major VWAP anchored from the lows of March 2020. 

That indicator denotes the level at which the average buyer/seller is in. In other words, that’s the fairest price to pay for Nasdaq 100 exposure (since March 2020) and, instead of being construed as a so-called supply zone, the level ought to, again, be looked at as a demand area. 

What’s next? Looks like there are some key areas where supply is likely to show. Mainly the $340.00 and $360.00 areas in the QQQ are of significance. In the SPY, those areas include $435.00 and $445.00.

Graphic: Invesco QQQ Trust Series 1 (NASDAQ: QQQ) with anchored VWAPs.

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.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For April 29, 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-lower after a mid-day price bump Thursday, on the heels of dismal earnings, among other things including a contraction in economic growth, last quarter.

Amazon Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN) shares fell after the company projected sluggish sales as well as higher costs.

Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL) saw strong sales and profit help top estimates. The company announced a $90 billion share buyback and fears over supply constraints.

Tesla Inc’s (NASDAQ: TSLA) Elon Musk offloaded $4 billion worth of shares just after his deal to buy Twitter Inc (NYSE: TWTR) was reached days before.

Also in the news: Russia’s urgency to avoid a default. Food Inflation hits an all-time high. China’s currency plunge raises the risk of 2015-style panic. No-money-down crypto mortgages and why housing may be topping. Barclays PLC (NYSE: BCS) halts ETN sales.

Ahead is data on the employment cost index, PCE, personal income and consumer spending (8:30 AM ET), as well as Chicago PMI (9:45 AM ET), and University of Michigan consumer sentiment and inflation expectations (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: In hindsight, a very volatile week characterized by large, two-sided action and little constructive movement (i.e., a week that ended sideways rather than up or down).

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. Indexes sideways, mainly, as large constituents report their earnings.

This is ahead of what many think is likely to be front-loaded 50 basis point tightening next week and in June with rates, ultimately, trading in the range of 2.25-2.50% end-of-year.

Graphic: Via CME Group Inc’s (NASDAQ: CME) FedWatch Tool.

In light of tightening expectations, Columbia Threadneedle’s Gene Tannuzzo says “Tighter financial conditions are the mechanism that reduces demand and ultimately slows inflation.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. Financial conditions have started to tighten.

“If financial conditions don’t tighten [i.e., stocks regain their swagger] and inflation remains high, in their eyes, they need to hike more.”

Graphic: Via S&P Global Inc (NYSE: SPGI). Food Inflation Hits All-Time High, Fuels Security Risks.

In regards to balance sheet reduction, “QT will consist of run-off caps of USD 60bn for US Treasuries (UST) and USD 35bn for mortgage-backed securities (MBS), which will make up for a cap of USD 95bn per month going forward,” Nordea Bank (OTC: NRDBY) research says.

“The balance sheet reduction will revolve around coupon securities, with the Fed’s c. USD 326bn Treasury bills only allowed roll-off in months when maturing caps do not reach the cap. We expect the Fed to use a 3-month roll-on period in its reduction, which will make up for a relatively smooth and predictable treasury run-off.”

Positioning: Our April 27 discussion on positioning went into great detail on the likelihood of continued volatility and lower prices. 

On April 28 we noted the implications of heightened implied volatility and no follow-through to the downside. 

The returns distribution, based on implied volatility metrics alone, was skewed positive, albeit with a potential for large negative outliers.

Graphic: Via @HalfersPower. “In backwardation via $VIX: $VIX3M next month [realized volatility] is highest amongst the deciles (d10 >1) ~43% subsequent realized volatility.”

During Thursday’s trade, markets endured a near-vertical price rise alongside repositioning and what SpotGamma says is a “put-heavy expiration [Friday] (20% of gamma roll-off expected).”

Graphic: SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options indicator for the QQQ.

The idea is as follows: customers are well-hedged (customers own puts and/or are short calls) and this offers them positive, yet asymmetric (gamma), exposure to direction (delta). In other words, negative delta and positive gamma

The counterparty has exposure to positive delta and negative gamma. If the underlyings trade lower and volatility rises, all else equal, the position will lose. To hedge against these losses, the counterparties will sell underlying into weakness.

If this exposure is to roll off or underlying prices reverse and move higher, these counterparties will re-hedge and buy underlying. That’s what SpotGamma is hinting at.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma, the estimated gamma for calls by strike as a positive number and puts as a negative number on the S&P 500 ETF, the SPY. Notice the weight on the put side.

SpotGamma also notes: “VIX call open interest (blue) is near March ’20 highs. With VIX near 1-yr highs put interest (red) is near lows. Equity rally/vol decline seems like it would catch most everyone offsides.”

Graphic: Via SpotGamma.

Technical: As of 6:15 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 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 $4,235.00 overnight low (ONL) puts in play the $4,279.75 overnight high (ONH). Initiative trade beyond the ONH could reach as high as the $4,303.50 regular trade high (RTH High) and $4,337.00 untested point of control (VPOC), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,235.00 ONL puts in play the $4,191.00 VPOC. Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as low as the $4,182.50 ONL and $4,156.75 regular trade low (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: Into this week, markets were extremely weak alongside hawkish remarks from the Fed and dismal responses to earnings results, among other things.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

Then, as a major index – the Invesco QQQ Trust Series 1 (NASDAQ: QQQ) – tested a major VWAP anchored from the lows of March 2020. After, a rounded bottom began to form while implied volatility metrics continued to trend higher.

Graphic: Invesco QQQ Trust Series 1 (NASDAQ: QQQ) with anchored VWAPs.

Thursday’s price rise and volatility compression, particularly at the short-end of the term structure coincided with some of the strongest breadth in days. 

Notwithstanding, the entire advance was taken back overnight and now the S&P 500 is trading back inside a multi-day consolidation. 

If a short-term trader, playing responsively (i.e., fading edges) is likely the best course of action until the indexes, at least, are able to break above this week’s ranges and remain there (i.e., not trade back down).

Graphic: Market Internals as pioneered by (a mentor of mine) Peter Reznicek. Notice the indicator in the top right, weighted S&P sectors (histogram) versus unweighted (blue line). During late last week, participants sold the entire market, heavily (as supported by the difference between the volume flowing into stocks that are up versus those that are down).

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.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For April 28, 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 alongside some upbeat earnings announcements.

Meta Platforms Inc (NASDAQ: FB) surged post-market, yesterday, after its main social network Facebook added more users than expected. 

PayPal Holdings Inc (NYSE: PYPL) vowed to rein in costs and boost profits while Qualcomm Inc (NASDAQ: QCOM) rose on an upbeat forecast.

There’s a strong push-and-pull between what’s good and bad. File Deutsche Bank’s (NYSE: DB) recent comments on a pending recession under what’s bad.

The bank sees the Fed Target Rate reaching up to 6% which “will push the economy into a significant recession by late next year.”

Graphic updated 7:00 AM ET. Sentiment Risk-On if expected /ES open is above the prior day’s range. 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: Divergences across different assets and markets continue.

For instance, the equity market’s pricing of risk which we can take as being reflected by the CBOE Volatility Index [INDEX: VIX]) is not moving lock-step with that of measures elsewhere.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

The fear in one market tends to spread to others. Regardless of the cause, it seems that equity and bond market participants are not on the same page.

Is that really true, though? Not necessarily. 

If we look at some single stocks, Netflix Inc (NASDAQ: NFLX), among others (all the while S&P 500 earnings have been revised up) has suffered through a substantial de-rate and volatility as participants priced the implications of policy evolution, slower economic growth, and beyond.

Graphic: Via JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM). Taken from The Market Ear.

That has us returning to pinning at the index level, relative to what the constituents are doing.

As well explained in Physik Invest’s March 3, 2022 commentary, this is more so a function of positioning and structural flows, or supply of liquidity.

Absent some exogenous event, participants are well-hedged for what is known (e.g., rate hikes and quantitative tightening (QT), COVID resurgences, Russia and Ukraine, among other things).

The caveat is that the Federal Reserve is far more aggressive than expected, ramping up QT, “a direct flow of capital to capital markets or flow out of,” per Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan. 

For context, it is the intention to take from the max liquidity (which pushed participants out of the risk curve and promoted a divergence from fundamentals) markets were supplied with, and this has the effect of removing market excesses, some of which have fed into volatility markets.

In part, some of the QT has been reflected in bond prices, JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM) explains. However, should there be far more aggressive monetary action, as Deutsche research suggests, coupled with a worsening of the geopolitical and/or economic situation abroad (e.g., Russian default), markets are likely to succumb.

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

“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.”

Graphic: Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS). Taken from The Market Ear. The “Nasdaq has underperformed the S&P 500 but by less than what the move in real yields would suggest.”

Positioning: Volatility to continue as markets have traded lower and participants have priced up the cost of insurance – particularly at the short-end – on underlying equity exposure.

Graphic: SPX volatility term structure via Refinitiv. Taken from The Market Ear.

This is due to options delta (exposure to direction) being far more sensitive (gamma) across shorter time horizons (i.e., the range across which options deltas shift from “near-zero to near-100% becomes very narrow.”)

Yesterday, markets were pinned after exploring lower in the days prior. The activity was concentrated in short-dated bets at those levels, and that’s in part a result of some of the hedging that went on.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options Indicator.

If markets do not perform to the downside (i.e., do not trade lower), those short-dated bets on direction will quickly decay, and hedging flows with respect to time (charm) and volatility (vanna) may bolster sharp rallies.

Whether those price rises have legs depends on what the fundamental situation is, then. Regardless, the returns distribution, based on implied volatility metrics alone, is skewed positive, albeit there are some large negative outliers.

Graphic: Via @HalfersPower. “In backwardation via $VIX: $VIX3M next month [realized volatility] is highest amongst the deciles (d10 >1) ~43% subsequent realized volatility.”

Technical: As of 7:00 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 positively skewed overnight inventory, just 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 $4,236.25 regular trade high (RTH High) puts in play the $4,267.75 RTH High. Initiative trade beyond the $4,267.75 RTH High could reach as high as the $4,303.75 overnight high (ONH) and $4,337.00 untested point of control (VPOC), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,236.25 RTH High puts in play the $4,191.00 VPOC. Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as low as the $4,136.00 regular trade low (RTH Low) and $4,101.25 overnight low (ONL), 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: Markets are higher after testing some key levels outlined in prior letters.

The Invesco QQQ Trust Series 1 (NASDAQ: QQQ), one of the weakest products this letter monitors, just tested a major VWAP, yesterday, anchored from the lows of March 2020. 

Graphic: Invesco QQQ Trust Series 1 (NASDAQ: QQQ) with anchored VWAPs.

The Nasdaq has led the market down. It may lead the market higher on reversals. We’ll continue to monitor market breadth, among other metrics, for signs of strength.

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.

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.

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.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For April 27, 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 probed higher, essentially negating Tuesday’s end-of-day, knee-jerk liquidation.

Tuesday’s selling came alongside Russia cutting gas to Poland and Bulgaria, Vice President Kamala Harris testing positive for COVID-19, and heavy selling in growth and tech stocks, amid doubts corporate profits can withstand the Federal Reserve’s bid to tame inflation.

As Jerome Schneider of Pacific Investment Management Co says, QT will “have a profound effect on the cost of liquidity and more importantly the cost of transacting business and reallocating assets from one avenue to another avenue.” 

“There might not necessarily be a rapid deceleration or decline in the stock market or other risk assets, but there’s going to be a changing cost of capital that this balance sheet is going to be part of.”

After the close, weakness continued. Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOGL) (NASDAQ: GOOG) missed on slowing sales growth and digital-ad spending. One of the biggest losers was Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) which shed 12% or so on news that Elon Musk would use his fortune, much of which is tied up in Tesla, to buy Twitter Inc (NYSE: TWTR).

Germany’s passage of a bigger borrowing budget, coupled with China’s pledge to boost infrastructure bolstered an overnight advance that fed into price action at home. The S&P 500, in particular, for a brief moment, took back a key level, negating much of yesterday’s liquidation.

Ahead is data on international trade in goods (8:30 AM ET), as well as pending home sales and the rental vacancy rate (10:00 AM ET).

Graphic updated 7:00 AM ET. Sentiment Neutral if expected /ES open is inside of the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. 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: Markets are positioned for continued volatility. 

Based on a reading of market gamma exposure (GEX) and buying support (DIX), the returns distribution is skewed positive. There’s buying in the context of an environment in which the hedging of options positioning implies selling into weakness and buying of strength.

Graphic: Via Barclays PLC (NYSE: BCS) research.

In the most simple way that I can explain: when positioning is stretched one way, that often tends to mark a turning point – the returns distribution is either skewed positive or negative.

Graphic: Via Physik Invest. Data via SqueezeMetrics. Updated March of 2022. A high DIX/GEX ratio often portends positive 1-month returns.

An updated read, after Tuesday’s weak close, tells us that we can (1) definitely expect larger ranges to continue and (2) potential for short-term bounces

Based on overnight activity, one of those is happening, now.

Graphic: Via Physik Invest. Data via SqueezeMetrics.

This is as participants are both well-hedged and using weakness as an opportunity to buy into a less highly valued market.

Well-hedged means that customers (i.e., you and I) own protection against long equity exposure. So, that could mean customers own puts and/or are short calls. One of the most dominant flows is the long put, short call.

Such trade offers customers positive, yet asymmetric (gamma), exposure to direction (delta). In other words, negative delta and positive gamma. 

The counterparty has exposure to positive delta and negative gamma. If the underlyings trade lower and volatility rises, all else equal, the position will lose. To hedge against these losses, the counterparties will sell underlying into weakness.

If prices reverse and move higher, these counterparties will re-hedge and buy underlying.

Normally, as seen over the bull run of 2020 and 2021, markets are in an uptrend and there’s a strong supply of volatility. Often, customers sell more calls than puts and, in an uptrend, those calls solicit more active hedging than the put options.

Recall that the customer is short the call. That means the counterparty is long the call (a positive delta and gamma trade) and will make money if prices rise, all else equal. 

The hedging of this particular exposure (i.e., sell strength, buy weakness), in an uptrend, occurs slower (i.e., counterparts will allow their profits to run), and that’s what can help the market sustain lower volatility trends for longer periods.

When prices reverse and underlyings trade lower, put options solicit increased hedging activity. Given the nature of counterparty exposure to those puts, that hedging happens quickly and can take from market liquidity as to volatility (i.e., buy strength, sell weakness).

See, below, E-mini S&P 500 book depth, a proxy for market liquidity, and how much it has declined since the end of last year when markets became more volatile and noise around the Federal Reserve’s intent to taper bond-buying and raise rates grew louder.

Graphic: Via CME Group Inc (NASDAQ: CME) Liquidity Tool. Note how in late March, book depth rose as markets rose and customer call activity solicited increased hedging of counterparty long-gamma exposure (i.e., buy weakness, sell strength), adding to market liquidity.

In the above environment, counterparty hedging matters; the market is more sensitive to the flow, so to speak. That sensitivity is expected to continue.

SpotGamma, an options data and analysis service, sees the early May period as pivotal. Then is the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting and the potential Russian default, per Moody’s Corporation (NYSE: MCO).

As quoted: “Russia ‘may be considered in default’ if it does not pay two bonds in US dollars by end of a grace period on May 4.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

Until those events are resolved, participants will likely continue to (remain) hedge(d). Upon resolve, customers likely monetize their protection to offset losses on underlying equity exposure. 

That means selling volatility which reduces counterparty exposure to short puts (negative gamma and positive delta). To re-hedge, underlying is bought back and that may support a price rise.

Graphic: VIX term structure via VIX Central. Expansion (higher) solicits counterparty selling which pressures the market lower. Compression (lower) solicits counterparty buying which bolsters attempts higher.

Whether that price rise has legs depends on what the fundamental situation is, then. See the below section titled Considerations for a full technical picture and the most likely turning points.

Technical: As of 7:00 AM ET, Wednesday’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 $4,217.25 overnight high (ONH) puts in play the $4,267.75 regular trade high (RTH High). Initiative trade beyond the RTH High could reach as high as the $4,303.75 ONH and $4,337.00 VPOC, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,217.25 ONH puts in play the $4,193.25 spike base. Initiative trade beyond the spike base could reach as low as the $4,136.50 regular trade low (RTH Low) and $4,101.25 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).

Additionally, the indexes continue to trade below their 20-, 50-, and 200-day simple moving averages, confirming the trend change and bearish tone (further validated by poor breadth).

Graphic: Market Internals as pioneered by (a mentor of mine) Peter Reznicek. Notice the indicator in the top right, weighted S&P sectors (histogram) versus unweighted (blue line). During late last week, participants sold the entire market, heavily (as supported by the difference between the volume flowing into stocks that are up versus those that are down).

All indexes remain, as stated, yesterday, below their volume-weighted average prices (VWAPs) anchored from the start of this year (or their respective peaks). 

VWAPs are a metric highly regarded by chief investment officers (CIOs), among other participants, for quality of trade. Liquidity algorithms, too, are benchmarked and programmed to buy and sell around VWAPs.

The Invesco QQQ Trust Series 1 (NASDAQ: QQQ) just tested a major VWAP, yesterday, anchored from the lows of March 2020. That’s a fair price to pay for Nasdaq 100 exposure.

Graphic: Invesco QQQ Trust Series 1 (NASDAQ: QQQ) with anchored VWAPs.

Notwithstanding, notice the flat-to-declining AVWAP that’s black in color. So long as prices remain below this level, the index is likely a sell. 

Should that level flatten (and begin to rise), and if the QQQ was able to trade above it for a sustained period, there is potential for sustained upside.

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.

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 30, 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 lower while most commodities and the ten-year yield were higher.

The bullishness of the past days, driven in part by breakthroughs in Russia and Ukraine peace talks is threatened by new updates. Now, the Kremlin said that its talks with Ukraine yielded no breakthroughs. Geopolitical matters and supply chain issues are major headwinds for markets.

Ahead is data on ADP employment (8:15 AM ET), GDP revision, gross domestic income, and corporate profits (8:30 AM ET), as well as Fed-speak. Tom Barkin speaks at 9:15 AM ET and Esther George speaks at 1:00 PM 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

Positioning: Buying the March 14 S&P 500 low would have yielded you nearly a 12% gain. Buying and holding the Nasdaq 100 low would have yielded you about 17%.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

The forward returns when the 10-day S&P 500 return crosses above 10% are mixed. 

From 2000 to 2009, forward returns are weak. From 2009 and beyond, returns are strong.

Graphic: Via @HalfersPower. “Every time the $SPY has a 10-day return crossing above 10%, and fwd returns from those dates.  2000-2009 weak forward returns, 2009 fwd, strong fwd returns.”

These powerful moves are due in part to the “reflexive dynamic coming from structural flows,” explains The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial who sees a lot of opportunity in the “front of the term structure.”

Sidial and I have spoken a couple of times regarding the implications of increased derivatives exposures and the transmission of those risks associated to underlyings. 

Mainly, counterparties, as a result of regulatory frameworks, among other things, lend to cascading reactions that exacerbate underlying price movements.

Graphic: Via VIX Central. Shorter-dated implied volatility is sold aggressively at the front end. The steepening of this curve bolstered a near-vertical price rise as options counterparts bought back stock and futures hedges to downside (put) protection they were short.

Further, this recovery is in the context of geopolitical tension and monetary uncertainties that have lent to volatility spikes across other asset classes. Though fear tends to spread across markets, it is not, today, as discussed in past commentaries.

Basically, the equity market’s pricing of risk, which we use the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) as a proxy for, is not moving in lockstep with that of measures in FX and rate markets. 

Notwithstanding, as SqueezeMetrics explains, there are no “hardcore vol[atility] sellers in the SPX right now,” and this may actually be a good thing.

As SqueezeMetrics explains in their Implied Order Book paper, “Selling options is a tough business, since you’re on the wrong end of a derivative with a convex payoff.”

“In terms of gamma [an option deltas sensitivity to direction] and vanna [delta hedging flow with respect to changing levels of implied volatility], crash risk is a function of how many investors have sold puts [which] … are, quite literally, a bunch of huge buy limit orders below the market, and then a bunch of liquidity-taking stop-losses further down.”

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

Heading into the early-to-mid March reversal period, this newsletter revealed the forecasted returns distribution of a comparison of proxies for buying (DIX) and gamma exposure (GEX). 

At the time, the returns distribution was skewed positive given a deeply negative GEX and strong DIX.

Graphic: Via Physik Invest. Data via SqueezeMetrics.

The bullishness of those metrics was taken with a bit of a discount, given the aforementioned cross-asset divergences, as a result of geopolitical conflict, among other things.

In hindsight, the right call would have been to buy hand over fist.

A bout of speculative demand (expressed through short-dated options highly sensitive to direction), as well as the compression of ultra short-dated volatility heading into and through the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting and large March monthly options expiration (OPEX) bolstered strong buying support and lent to the market’s resolve higher.

The price rise, now, has likely reached a climax. The S&P 500, in particular, is at an overbought level: the concentrations of call open interest at and around $4,600.00.

As SpotGamma explained well, recently, “customers are short calls up top (to finance put options, or bets on the downside, down below). As underlying SPX prices rise, the call (put) side solicits more (less) hedging.” 

Graphic: SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options (HIRO) indicator for the S&P 500 SPY ETF on 3/29/2022.

“Since counterparties’ call positions provide positive exposure to direction (positive delta) and profits are amplified to the upside (positive gamma), counterparties must sell into higher prices and buy into lower prices, thereby adding liquidity and supporting the market.”

Participants’ selling of volatility at these higher levels suggests increased odds of sideways, rather than up or down; as time and volatility trend to zero for these options, their gamma increases, and the reaction to this will result in the promotion of pinning.

Thereafter, the clearing of this options exposure 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).

In opposition to this narrative (i.e., higher prices through the tightening cycle) are some Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC) strategists.

“The worsening macro backdrop and market-unfriendly Fed make sustained U.S. equity gains unlikely,” Bank of America strategists said in a statement that recommended investors sell upside (call) protection to hedge downside. 

If Bank of America is correct, it’s possible that, given the recent clearing of puts, participants’ demand for protection, and the hedging of this exposure, would add velocity to the move lower.

SqueezeMetrics’ remark on hardcore volatility selling, however, has us a little less concerned (about some sort of armageddon situation).

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 lower 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 $4,597.00 untested point of control (VPOC) puts in play the $4,611.75 low volume area (LVNode). Initiative trade beyond the LVNode could reach as high as the $4,631.00 regular trade high (RTH High) and $4,641.75 LVNode, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,597.00 VPOC puts in play the $4,574.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as low as the $4,546.00 Spike Base and $4,533.00 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.

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.

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.

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.

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): Traditionally, option expiries mark a reduction in dealer gamma exposure.

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 23, 2022

Editor’s Note: Hey team! Thanks for all the support. I enjoy putting together these notes as it helps keep me aware of narratives that may impact my own trades.

I’ll be taking the rest of the week off (i.e., no notes till Monday most likely), focusing on other areas of the business like prep for the weeks and months to come.

Take care and trade safe,

Renato

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures auctioned sideways to lower while commodities, bonds, and implied volatility metrics were bid.

This is in the context of a global bond market rout. Central banks intend to tighten policy in light of surging inflation; investors are selling bonds and rotating into areas that have “better upside.”

Ahead is data on new home sales (10:00 AM ET). The Federal Reserve’s (Fed) Loretta Mester speaks at 10:00 AM ET. Mary Daly follows at 11:45 AM ET.

Moreover, yesterday’s commentary carried a pessimistic tone. In hindsight, too pessimistic. The reality is that this is a market environment like no other. Certain metrics that were very reliable carry little-to-no value (predictive ability) right now. This is true for those who base much of their decision-making on “fundamental” and “technical” analyses, too.

To combat this, we zoom out and look for trades that offer asymmetric payouts. We’re careful to provide liquidity when others demand it en masse. Similarly, we are to give ourselves room for error; stops are widened and lot sizes are smaller.

Read on for today’s lighter-hearted take on what’s happening and frameworks to trade on.

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: Bloomberg’s John Authers published a discussion on the performance of stocks, relative to bonds. Essentially, there have only been four previous two-week periods when stocks beat bonds by this much.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. The 10-trading-day return of the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSE: SPY) relative to the iShares 20 Plus Year Treasury Bond ETF (NASDAQ: TLT).

“All of the big positive moves were driven by classic stock market rebounds that proved to be durable. There was no particular move in bond yields. This is the first time a turn this dramatic has been pushed almost as much by falling bond prices as by rising stock prices.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “The upper bound of the fed funds rate is still only 0.5%, but the two-year bond yield implies confidence that there are seven more hikes to come in that time.”

Authers explains that “equities are enjoying a false dawn as they’re recipients of the money coming out of bonds, and that we are about to be reacquainted with the bear markets in both bonds and stocks which come when rates [i.e., cost of money] have to rise to control inflation,” which impacts longer duration stocks (i.e., a stock whose value lies further in the future) most.

Graphic: Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Taken from The Market Ear

Adding, the impact of rising Treasury rates is magnified further when credit spreads (i.e., the difference in yield between bonds of similar maturities but different credit quality) also rise.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “But the speed with which corporate yields are rising again gives the impression of a market process that is coming around from an anaesthetic injected to help it survive the trauma of the credit crisis back in 2008.”

“The performance of stocks relative to bonds suggests we’re at the beginning of a big upswing; the absolute performance of bond yields in their own right suggests we need to bail out now before another crisis engulfs us,” Authers says.

Graphic: Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS). Taken from The Market Ear. “GS has lowered GDP a number of times over the past few weeks. Remember that during the fantastic bull from Q220 and 1 year onwards it was the flipside with GS way above consensus…”

Positioning: Dip buying serves investors well.

Graphic: Via Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS). Taken from The Market Ear. “Buy the dip has worked well during periods of QE but has not historically worked during QT. Better to ‘buy the rally’ during QT (2018-2019), which was also the case during the 80s/90s.”

The near-vertical price rise in markets, over the last week, comes after a long period of weakness during which participants concentrated their activity in negative delta trades (which make money when markets trade lower, all else equal).

From a static delta perspective, now, there is both the covering of shorts and so-called macro buying (pointed to in the above section). 

From a dynamic delta perspective, there are the implications of volatility compression (e.g., Cboe Volatility Index [INDEX: VIX] and term structure dropping), the removal of put-heavy exposures via last week’s options expiration (OPEX), and the market’s trade higher.

Graphic: Via Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE: DB). Taken from The Market Ear. Volatility control is the concept of managing assets “through continual rebalancing between a risky asset holding – often, but not always, equity – and cash holdings,” via The Actuary.

Taken together (short covering, macro buying, volatility compression, OPEX, and so on), the aforementioned dynamics bolster markets. It is the dynamics of positioning (demand or supply of liquidity) that magnify (add to) the velocity of moves up (or down).

Graphic: Via Refinitiv. Taken from The Market Ear. “Poor liquidity (and short gamma) magnified moves on the way down. It seems poor liquidity works both ways seeing px action during the latest squeeze.”

Earlier this week, this newsletter pointed to the potential non-sustainability of the market’s rise. This was based on metrics that have provided tremendous predictive power, in the past. 

Participants’ commitment to positive delta exposure (i.e., buying calls and selling puts), is a feature of sustained reversals. Data through Tuesday did not show this at the index level. 

As discussed by SpotGamma, yesterday, in the S&P, participants bought puts and sold calls (i.e., a negative delta trade).

This was in the context of aggressive call buying and put selling in heavily weighted index constituents like Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA).

Graphic: SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options (HIRO) indicator for TSLA.

As stated in yesterday’s commentary, markets remain vulnerable to sharp drops. In the case of further volatility suppression (e.g., customer call and put selling), counterparties will tend toward supporting markets and laying the foundation for later-dated rallies.

However, if markets trade down and volatility rises, accordingly, as participants seek protection, the potential exists for magnified moves on the way down.

Straight up could well precede straight down. A bottom (as some strategists are calling for) may take time to hammer out.

Graphic: Via Vix Central.

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 lower 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 $4,489.75 low volume area (LVNode) puts in play the $4,515.25 LVNode. Initiative trade beyond the $4,515.25 LVNode could reach as high as the $4,548.75 LVNode and $4,565.00 untested point of control (VPOC), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,489.75 LVNode puts in play the $4,464.75 LVNode. Initiative trade beyond the $4,464.75 LVNode could reach as low as the $4,438.25 high volume area (HVNode) and $4,409.00 VPOC, or lower.

Considerations: Push-and-pull, as well as 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.

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

Definitions

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

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

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

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 22, 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 were sideways to higher, and this validates higher prices, more. 

This is as implied volatility metrics – such as the Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) – continue to suggest less demand for protection and a potential easing of concern.

As discussed in detail, yesterday, participants are not committing themselves to increased call option (i.e., insurance for shorts or bets on the upside) exposures, a dynamic usually seen at the start of sustained reversals. 

Given this, as well as institutional selling in spite of underinvestment (watch a chat), and the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) commitment to reining in inflation via “aggressive” monetary policy (i.e., hike and taper asset purchases) action, there is concern over the sustainability of this rally.

Ahead is Fed-speak. The New York Fed’s John Williams speaks at 10:35 AM ET. San Francisco Fed’s Mary Daly talks at 2:00 PM ET. The Cleveland Fed’s Loretta Mester talks at 5:00 PM 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: Based on remarks by the Fed’s Jerome Powell, quantitative tightening (QT) will move at a pace of $1 trillion a year. This is a faster pace than that of the prior QT.

Read yesterday’s commentary for more on QE and QT.

According to Joseph Wang’s detailed discussion on the implications of QT, the “[a]nticipation of QT is already widening the spread between Agency MBS and Treasuries but does not yet appear to affect Treasury prices.”

“The supply and demand dynamics suggest that the market may simply be slow to react. In that case, Treasury prices will also have to adjust downward, maybe by a lot.”

Pursuant to that remark, Damped Spring’s Andy Constan explains that quantitative easing (QE), “which decreased risk premiums and increased wealth was inflationary to assets but ineffective in generating inflation of goods and services.”

Essentially, QT is not a good tool to fight inflation.

“Raising rates is the strong tool to fight inflation for the Fed and decreasing the budget deficit growth is the tool for Fiscal policymakers; … the [Fed] will do both QT to reduce the balance sheet and hike rates to fight inflation.”

Moreover, higher bond yields (lower bond prices) are usually not good for stocks. The question is whether participants want to take on the added risk of investing at high valuations?

Graphic: Via S&P Global Inc (NYSE: SPGI). Markets tend not, necessarily, to perform poorly during rising interest rate environments. 

The QT narrative amplifies the impact of rate hikes

Lisa Shalett, CIO at Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) Wealth Management, discussed recently QT at $80 billion per month (and $500 billion in balance sheet reduction through year-end), as well as how the added risks are to be compensated through lower price-to-earnings multiples in the stock market.

“In tightening terms, that’s the equivalent of another 25-basis-point hike,” Shalett explained. “In contrast, balance sheet run-off totaled $700 billion from 2017 through 2019 before the Fed stopped because markets seized and stocks sold off.”

Graphic: Via Index Indicators. Breadth, here, is measured by the % of SPX stocks above the 50-day average.

Positioning: As discussed before, a feature of falling markets is the demand for protection. 

When this protection is monetized (or decay ensues), options counterparties add to the market liquidity (i.e., buying back short futures hedges).

Graphic: Via CME Group Inc (NYSE: CME). Book depth thickens since early March swing low.

A feature of markets entering a sustainable recovery is the demand for call options.

Based on metrics published by SpotGamma, call-buying was near its lows.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. “Plots show the premium per trade aggregated each week, with calls in blue and puts in orange. This is only customer flow (i.e. retail, hedge funds). Starting with equities, call buying this past week was at LOWS going back to 2020 (top right).”

Looking at intraday measures, yesterday, we see that participants’ commitment to a change in direction remains low, still.

Graphic: SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options trade. The rising blue line denotes put selling (a positive delta impact). The falling orange line denotes call selling (a negative delta impact).

It’s possible that the bottoming process has yet to conclude. Instead, a build of positive options gamma (via the supply of protection – call selling – and more active hedging of call options near the money) may give the market some support.

To explain, in accordance with the HIRO graphic above, we surmise counterparties are long calls and therefore tend toward selling into strength (buying into weakness) amid increasing (decreasing) positive delta exposure.

As short-dated activity clusters in the area just north of the most recent price rise, and this protection decays, dealer exposure to positive delta (gamma) falls (rises).”

“Taken together, dealers add to the market liquidity. When there is rising liquidity, volatility (a measure of how ample liquidity is) falls,” SpotGamma adds. 

“Was the SPX to liquidate, again, demand for protection and increases in volatility likely have us targeting options-based support.”

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. Key levels of interest.

In other words, based on the information we have at the moment, the market is prone to sharp drops lower, and the rally is questionable. Caution.

Technical: As of 6:30 AM ET, Tuesday’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 $4,464.75 low volume area (LVNode) puts in play the $4,499.00 untested point of control (VPOC). Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as high as the $4,526.25 high volume area (HVNode) and $4,565.00 VPOC, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,464.75 LVNode puts in play the $4,438.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as low as the $4,409.00 and $4,355.00 VPOC, or lower.

Considerations: Push-and-pull, as well as 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.

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

Cave-Fill Process: Widened the area deemed favorable to transact at by an increased share of participants. This is a good development.

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 location.

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.

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.

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.