Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For January 13, 2022

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What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures diverged from commodity and bond products. Measures of implied volatility showed signs of bottoming. The dollar continued a plunge. 

Overall, the stance is neutral as the “hottest U.S. inflation in 39 years sets up March rate liftoff.”

Ahead is data on jobless claims and producer prices (8:30 AM ET). The Federal Reserve’s Lael Brainard will have a confirmation hearing (10:00 AM ET), Tom Barkin will speak later (12:00 PM ET), with Charles Evans speaking last (1:00 PM ET).

Graphic updated 5:55 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 consumer price index printed 7%, rising 0.5% from November. 

Much of the increases were attributed to shelter, used vehicles, and food.

With unemployment falling and inflation proving stubborn, monetary policymakers have been emboldened to tighten, raising rates in March and (later) shrinking the balance sheet. 

“In terms of where the Fed is on their dual mandate — inflation and the labor market — they’re basically there,” Michael Gapen, chief U.S. economist at Barclays Plc (NYSE: BCS), said on Bloomberg Television. “I don’t really think anything stops them going in March except one of these kind of outlier events. I think they’re ready.”

Market reaction was muted, mostly, with commodities bearing the brunt of the bullishness.

The calm reaction in equities, ahead of the earnings season, and bonds “showed that there was nothing particularly surprising in the [CPI] report, and that traders were confident that prices already covered the risks,” Bloomberg’s John Authers explained

“Fed funds futures barely budged, leaving a first rate hike in March almost fully priced. As they did before these numbers came out, dealers feel certain that the Fed will hike at least three times this year, while a fourth in December is seen as a 50-50 call.”

Graphic: Via Callum Thomas of Topdown Charts, “With the composite measure of inflation expectations at 40-year highs it’s fair to suggest that the Fed may have some catching up to do as it kicks off the transition away from easing.”

As an aside, there was a big drop in the dollar. In raising rates, currencies ought to attract money. Right? 

“[T]he combination of another really bad inflation number and an insouciant bond market response has been enough to knock the dollar off course. Many factors drive currencies, but this is consistent with a view that the rate hikes already priced in, and supporting the dollar until now, won’t be enough to head off inflation.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg, “a weaker dollar makes imports more expensive and increases inflation.”

Positioning: On January 7, this commentary suggested metrics of options positioning, versus buying pressure (measured via short sales or liquidity provision on the market-making side) were positively skewed, even more so than before.

What followed was upside resolve, exacerbated in part by the compression in volatility and unwind of hedges to destabilizing customer options activity (i.e., put buying and call selling).

What now?

Scott Rubner of Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS) had the following to say.

“I am in the process of writing flow-of-funds note for February. My gut tells me to be bearish in February for when the ‘January Inflows’ run out. However, I just re-ran the CURRENT SET-UP for January and the conditions are not in place for a larger correction (>5%). Said another way, I want to be bearish, but this is the consensus. Investors are short, hedges are too big, everyone has on the puts, sentiment is negative (lowest in 86 weeks), I think everyone is already looking for the correction, and this may shift into buying dip alpha.”

So, what does all that mean? 

Demand for downside protection, as already touched on, coincided with customers indirectly taking liquidity and destabilizing the market as the participant short the put sold underlying to neutralize risk.

Graphic: SqueezeMetrics details the implications of customer activity in the options market, on the underlying’s order book. For instance, in selling a put, customers add liquidity and stabilize the market. How? The market maker long the put will buy (sell) the underlying to neutralize directional risk as price falls (rises).

Expansion in implied volatility increases the directional exposure of that protection. 

This is good for put buyers and bad for put sellers, simply put. As a result, in weakness, hedging of these contracts pressures markets further, making for violent up and down trade.

Graphic: The “Biggest tail risk to SPX isn’t any macro data/virus/war but its own options market.”

As volatility contracts, however, and underlying prices rise, the directional exposure of protection declines. This is bad for put buyers and good for put sellers. In offsetting this decline in directional risk, counterparties will unwind earlier hedges to bearish customer options activity. 

The unwind of these hedges, as SpotGamma explains, “likely invokes supportive dealer hedging flows with respect to time (‘charm’) and volatility (‘vanna’).”

Couple this flow with strong passive buying support, as evidenced by metrics quoted elsewhere in this newsletter (e.g., DIX), the odds that markets continue to rally (or trade sideways, at least, short-term), in the face of “above-trend growth” and a record year of buybacks, as well as other things, seem good.

Graphic: Taken from The Market Ear. Goldman Sachs’ Scott Rubner: “The GS corporate buyback desk expects a record year for executions of $975B or >$4B per day.”

Technical: As of 5:55 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 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 $4,717.25 low volume area (LVNode) puts in play the $4,732.50 high volume area (HVNode). Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as high as the $4,756.00 LVNode and $4,779.00 untested point of control (VPOC), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,717.25 LVNode puts in play the $4,691.25 micro composite point of control (MCPOC). Initiative trade beyond the MCPOC could reach as low as the $4,674.25 HVNode and $4,643.00 VPOC, or lower.

Considerations: As evidenced by the volume-weighted average price anchored from the release of FOMC minutes (blue color, below), the average buyer, since that, is winning.

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

What People Are Saying

Definitions

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

Options Expiration (OPEX): Traditionally, option expiries mark an end to pinning (i.e, the theory that market makers and institutions short options move stocks to the point where the greatest dollar value of contracts will expire) and the reduction dealer gamma exposure.

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

Rates: Low rates have to potential to increase the present value of future earnings making stocks, especially those that are high growth, more attractive. To note, inflation and rates move inversely to each other. Low rates stimulate demand for loans (i.e., borrowing money is more attractive).

About

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

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

Disclaimer

Physik Invest does not carry the right to provide advice.

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

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For November 22, 2021

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures were sideways alongside the narrative that a strengthening dollar and the need to counteract inflation may endanger the rally in risk assets.

Ahead is data on the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (8:30 AM ET) and Existing Home Sales (10:00 AM ET).

Graphic updated 6:20 AM ET. Sentiment Neutral if expected /ES open is inside of the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. 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

To start, on weak intraday breadth and supportive market liquidity metrics, the best case outcome occurred, evidenced by the balance and overlap of value areas in the S&P 500.

Taken together, the activity of the past two weeks or so signals participants’ willingness to position for directional resolve (i.e., trend) in the face of new information, and the like. 

Graphic: Divergent delta (i.e., non-committed selling as measured by volume delta or buying and selling power as calculated by the difference in volume traded at the bid and offer) in SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY), one of the largest ETFs that track the S&P 500 index, via Bookmap. The readings are supportive of responsive trade (i.e., rotational trade that suggests current prices offer favorable entry and exit; the market is in balance).

Context: The aforementioned trade is happening in the context of concerns over peak liquidity and prevailing monetary frameworks. 

Specifically, as Bloomberg’s John Authers put it, the abundance of global liquidity, that stoked one of the best stock market recoveries in history, is in peril by the strengthening of the dollar and the need to counter inflationary pressures. 

“Obstinately low real yields help to explain why the threat to liquidity has as yet had minimal effect on the stock market. Higher real yields are the shoe that hasn’t dropped this year; investors need a clear plan of evasive action for such an eventuality. For now, liquidity, liquidity, liquidity is still keeping stocks going up, up, up.”

Some of this fear around monetary evolution, so to speak, though, has yet to feed into the pricing of equity market risk. Fear in one market tends to feed into the fear of another.

Graphic: “The ICE BofA MOVE Index, which measures implied volatility for Treasuries, is close to the steepest level since April 2020,” via Bloomberg. This measure, on a relative basis, has diverged from the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), which is a measure of implied volatility for equities, specifically the S&P 500. 

At the same time, we see a divergence in breadth.

Graphic: % of SPX stocks above their 200-Day Moving Average versus SPX, via indexindicators.com.

The takeaway here is that the SPX is sideways to higher while many of its constituents seem to not be participating in the most recent round of markup.

What factors are to blame for this? Two include an all-time high in buybacks, as well as extremes in speculation and upside volatility in heavily-weighted index constituents.

Adding, the S&P 500 closing last week pinned to the level at which dealers (i.e., those participants that take the other side of options trades and warehouse risk) exposure to positive options gamma was highest. 

Note that I talk about the implications options so much due to increased use and impact on underlying price, as a result of associated hedging. 

The aforementioned explains why the S&P can’t move; “If dealer hedging has suppressed index level volatility, but underlying components are still exhibiting idiosyncratic volatility, then the only reconciliation is a decline in correlation,” according to one paper by Newfound Research.

So trash breadth and a deceleration in equity inflows, coupled with exuberance (and upside volatility in heavily weighted index constituents) and clustered options positioning over the past weeks, is part of the reason why indices are sideways. Yes, to some extent.

Graphic: Per The Market Ear, “BofA points out the halt to inflows in market leaders such as tech, energy and financials. Basically, the “pillar of the pillar” of this market is fading. Do we still trust the seasonality pattern?”

The tone is to change, soon.

After OPEX, the absence of supportive vanna and charm flows (defined below), for which we can attribute some of the trends in extended day outperformance, alongside that sticky gamma hedging, so to speak, frees the market for directional resolve

According to SpotGamma, in light of recent exuberance, “participants are underexposed to downside put protection. Should these participants reach for long-gamma put exposures amidst volatility, there is a potential for a destabilizing, reflexive reaction on the part of dealers.”

The reason is, as volatility rises and customers demand out-of-the-money put protection, counterparties are to hedge by selling stock and futures into weakness. 

Cognizant of the risks, though, I end this section with the following. 

“[D]uring the 12-month period starting six months before and ending six months after a tightening cycle begins, the valuation of the S&P 500 has on average remained remarkably steady,” according to a post by The Market Ear.

At the same time, seasonality is great as, according to Callum Thomas, “Historically most of the time if the market closed up 20%+ for the year, the next year was also positive (84% of the time). As of writing, the market is up some 27% YTD (albeit, this year ain’t over yet!).”

Going forward, we shall monitor for the first signs of instability via spikes in the CBOE Volatility-Of-Volatility Index (INDEX: VVIX) and upward shifts in the VIX futures term structure.

Expectations: As of 6:20 AM ET, Monday’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, suggesting a limited potential for immediate directional opportunity.

Balance-Break Scenarios: A change in the market (i.e., the transition from two-time frame trade, or balance, to one-time frame trade, or trend) may occur.

We monitor for acceptance (i.e., more than 1-hour of trade) outside of the balance area. Rejection (i.e., return inside of balance) portends a move to the opposite end of the balance.

Given the passage of OPEX, we ought to give more weight to directional resolve (i.e., trend).

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades sideways or higher; activity above the $4,692.25 high volume area (HVNode) puts in play the $4,723.50 overnight high (ONH). Initiative trade beyond the ONH could reach as high as the $4,735.25 and $4,765.25 Fibonacci, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,692.25 HVNode puts in play the $4,674.25 micro composite point of control (MCPOC). Initiative trade beyond the MCPOC could reach as low as the $4,647.25 HVNode and $4,619.00 VPOC, or lower.

Click here to load today’s updated 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. Learn about the profile

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.

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

About

After years of self-education, strategy development, 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.

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

Disclaimer

At this time, Physik Invest does not manage outside capital and is not licensed. 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.