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 21, 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 auctioned sideways to lower with commodities and bonds.

There are no overnight fundamental catalysts to make note of. However, it bears mentioning that implied volatility metrics – via the Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) – are back to levels seen before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. One may conclude that concerns are easing.

Ahead is data on the Chicago Fed national activity index (8:30 AM ET) and Fed-speak by Chair Jerome Powell (12:00 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: In spite of uncertainties with respect to economic growth and the implications of tighter monetary policy to rein in inflation, as well as geopolitical conflicts abroad, the pricing of equity market risk – via the VIX – is back at levels before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

That leads us to question whether the de-rate (or pricing in of uncertainties) has played out? 

Potentially. With greater clarity on the Federal Reserve’s commitment to raising borrowing costs (as discussed March 17 in detail), strategists like JPMorgan Chase & Co’s (NYSE: JPM) Marko Kolanovic suggest it is time to add risk in beaten-down, high-beta positions

“While the commodity supercycle will persist,” Kolanovic said, “the correction in bubble sectors is now likely finished, and geopolitical risk will likely start abating in a few weeks’ time (while a comprehensive resolution may take a few months).”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “Officials on the Federal Open Market Committee voted 8-1 [] to lift the target range for their main policy rate to 0.25%-0.5% and forecast a sequence of increases that would raise it to 1.75%-2% by year-end. The projections, known as the dot plot, also showed that almost half of the 16 current policymakers wanted to move faster.”

Complicating Kolanovic’s outlook is uncertainty with respect to the Fed’s decision to hike and taper asset purchases faster, as some Fed members say they are “very open to.”

At a high level, higher rates make borrowing more costly (i.e., higher rates on mortgages and business loans, as well as credit cards, among other things, disincentivize borrowing, and this funnels into less growth and inflation).

These higher rates compound the challenges of limited supply, for instance, in housing.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “The slide in sales reflects a market still constrained by a lack of inventory, which in February was the second-lowest on record. Buyers are bidding up prices on the few homes available. Meantime, affordability is showing signs of worsening, especially among first-time buyers … [which] accounted for 29% of sales last month, down from 31% a year earlier. [A]t current rates, monthly mortgage payments are up 28% from February last year.”

There’s also the topic of using quantitative tightening (QT) to fight inflation, too. 

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

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

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

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

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

At present, according to commentary by Damped Spring’s Andy Constan, “Additional risk premium expansion pressures from these levels is not likely from news emanating from” Fed meetings.

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

Positioning: According to Morgan Stanley’s (NYSE: MS) trade desk, institutions (e.g., volatility targeting funds and trend following commodity-trading advisers) dumped nearly $200 billion in global equities over the first two months of 2022. 

Hedge funds’ net leverage, too, “fell 7.5 percentage points over the two weeks through March 11, the largest decrease over any comparable period since at least January 2016,” according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS). 

“Institutional traders, major money managers, asset managers, and hedge funds, their moves have to do with the current market conditions — a lot of volatility, a lot of uncertainty, inflation concerns, geopolitical concerns,” says Bloomberg’s Jackson Gutenplan. 

“As the market continues to downtrend, institutions selling out of positions are overwhelming any retail buying pressure.”

Given this, as mentioned in the prior fundamentals section, strategists like JPM’s Kolanovic suggest these are some of the reasons to boost risk. 

“Current risk positioning is very light. This is a result of high and persistent volatility, and risk aversion caused by global geopolitical developments,” Kolanovic says. “And for this reason, risks are skewed to the upside.”

And so, alongside the buying of futures and stock to offset the decay of counterparty positive delta (post-FOMC and through OPEX), retail investor buying remained undeterred last week.

But, as Zephyr’s Ryan Nauman says, “even though retail has gained a lot of momentum over the past two years, institutional money still outweighs the retail money, and it’s still going to move markets.”

Graphic: Via TD Ameritrade. Taken from Bloomberg. “There’s a little bit of what I think is a retrenchment going on, where they weren’t just buying everything across the board,” Shawn Cruz, senior market strategist at TD Ameritrade Inc said. “As much as there is some pulling back, and there’s a lot of volatility going on, you’re seeing some selling in the more highly valued areas and the buying is very targeted.”

That is in the face of lackluster options activity. According to SpotGamma, call-buying, a feature of sustained bull markets “was at lows going back to 2020,” last week. 

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. “Here’s options data from the OCC. These 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 ’20 (top right).”

Maybe you get to an extreme bearishness, and that’s usually where you bottom out,” adds Liz Young of SoFi Technologies Inc (NASDAQ: SOFI) in a statement on mom-and-pop investors eventually following institutional selling trends.

As this commentary has said before, a way to participate in the upside (while lowering debit risk) is through complex options structures, such as the ratio spread. Note, ratio spreads may carry margin risk, depending on the structure, resulting in undefined losses, potentially.

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.

Technical: As of 6:30 AM ET, Monday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, will likely open in the middle part of a 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 $4,438.25 high volume area (HVNode) puts in play the $4,466.00 regular trade high (RTH High). Initiative trade beyond the RTH High could reach as high as the $4,499.00 untested point of control (VPOC) and $4,526.25 HVNode, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,438.25 HVNode puts in play the $4,409.00 VPOC. Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as low as the $4,395.25 HVNode 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

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 18, 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

Ahead of Friday’s triple witching derivatives expiry, the equity index and most commodity futures auctioned sideways to lower.

Ahead is data on existing home sales and leading economic indicators (10:00 AM ET), as well as Fed-speak by Tom Barkin (1:20 PM ET).

Graphic updated 6:45 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: Today’s focus is on market positioning. Therefore, the fundamental section is (more) lighthearted.

Equity markets rose in the context of a sharp multi-month drawdown. This is, in part, masking the concern over Russia’s economic situation, a slowing in the flow of U.S. credit, supply and demand imbalances, the impact of COVID-19, and other things.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

Further, in spite of the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) comments on the strength of the economy and its likely resilience in the face of tighter policies, Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS) said the odds of a recession were “broadly in line with the 20-35% odds currently implied by models based on the slope of the yield curve.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “Whenever the yield curve inverts, it tends to function as an early warning for a recession, suggesting that in the medium-term rates will have to fall.”

The forecast “implies below potential growth in 2022 Q1 and 2022 Q2 and potential growth for 2022 overall.”

With the Fed now eyeing about six more rate hikes in 2022 – putting the policy rate at ~2.8% before 2024 – commentators were quick to point out the “central bank’s patchy record on not tipping the economy into recession.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

Alhambra Investments’ Jeffrey Snider, however, made an interesting point.

“To believe the Fed is behind all this or can do something useful about it, like the rate hikes you would have to be” born yesterday, he said.

“On the contrary, bond curve recession probabilities are more attuned to why production levels have struggled despite prices, having more to do with global conditions and the lack of actual volume expansion. Consumer, producer, and commodity prices have obscured, to some substantial extent, the true underlying economic situation.”

Moreover, Goldman forecasts the S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) to end 2022 near $4,700.00 (down from $4,000.00), ~6% higher than today’s prices.

“The S&P 500 has dropped about 24% from peak-to-trough around past recessions (based on the median),” Goldman said in one newsletter. 

“But when the U.S. economy avoids a sustained contraction after a 10% market correction, the index has returned 15% over the next 12 months.”

Positioning: Friday marks the quarterly triple witching options expiry and index rebalancing.

Through this event, ~$3.5 trillion in options are set to expire, according to Goldman, with “more near-the-money options are maturing than at any time since 2019.”

Graphic: Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

In terms of the index rebalance, according to Howard Silverblatt of S&P Global Inc’s (NYSE: SPGI) Dow Jones Indices, “the rebalance in the index alone could spur $33 billion of stock trades.”

This newsletter has talked about the implications of derivatives and their expirations, too, ad nauseam.

Mainly, stock moves and options activity is more correlated and this is the result of participants’ increased exposure to derivatives products (particularly those with less time to expiration).

The demand for this derivatives exposure is transmitted to underlying stocks, via the risk management of counterparties; with option volumes heightened, related hedging flows may represent an increased share of volume in underlying stocks.

As I talked about this in conversations with the Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial and Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, among others, the counterparties’ response to this options trading is impactful (and often predictable).

“Moreover, heading into Wednesday’s FOMC, we saw the market well-hedged,” SpotGamma, an options modeling and analysis service explained. “Participants’ demand for protection is concentrated in options with little time to expiry (given the monthly options expiration and roll-off a significant size of S&P delta).”

“Adding, the compression of volatility [post-FOMC and into OPEX], coupled with trade higher, solicits less counterparty hedging of put protection … [and] less positive delta = less selling to hedge = less pressure.”

Graphic: Implied volatility term structure shifts inward. This solicits positive hedging (vanna) flows as counterparty exposure to positive delta declines. In other words, short stock and futures hedges (against options) are bought back.

So, at a high level, this week’s events (a ”rally [that’s] been fueled by dealers covering short positions to balance exposures while demand for stock hedges is elevated”) have bolstered positive price action. 

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

What’s interesting, also, is the S&P 500’s response to the $4,400.00, level. At this level is a concentration of call exposure.

Graphic: Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc. SPX resistance at $4,400.00.

As noted before, the dominant customer positioning, at least at the index level, is short call and long put (i.e., finance downside insurance by selling upside to hedge equity exposure).

The counterparty, in such a case, is short downside and long upside protection; when volatility contracts and underlying prices move higher, the put side, as noted above, solicits less active hedging whilst the call side solicits more active hedging.

In other words, the counterparty has less exposure to negative gamma (from puts) and more exposure to positive gamma (from calls), meaning gains are multiplied to the upside).

Graphic: Via SqueezeMetrics. Market gamma turns positive.

Knowing that “the range of spot prices across which option deltas shift from near-zero to near-100% becomes very narrow as options approach maturity (and at maturity, options on one side of the settlement value have zero delta and the other side have 100% delta),” trading into that concentration of calls (which have increased sensitivity to direction or gamma) quickly adds to counterparty positive delta exposure.

This must be offset with counterparty negative delta in the underlying (selling futures and stock to hedge). If there are enough “contracts sitting close to the spot price this time around,” that leads to more frenetic hedging as participants “actively trade around those positions,” and pressure upside, even.

Graphic: Via Nomura Holdings Inc (NYSE: NMR). Taken from ZeroHedge. “SPX / SPY currently “pinning” btwn 4400 strike ($4.1B $Gamma), 4350 ($2.5B), 4300 ($2.4B); currently see ~43% of the $Gamma dropping-off for Friday’s expiration; currently at “Zero Gamma” level, “Max Short Gamma” at 4125 and -$17B per 1% move.”

Ultimately, this post-FOMC price rise may put the market in an underhedged position. In such a case, as talked about yesterday, new demand for protection would add fuel to weakness (later). 

“I’ve never seen an environment where you’ve had so many potential overhangs in the market that can not be controlled,” said David Wagner, a portfolio manager at Aptus Capital Advisors. “We’ll see if people can see to redeploy their puts.”

SpotGamma’s Delta Tilt indicator. Current readings rival that of Dec ’18 and Mar ’20. These expirations can be correlated to sharp rallies in the S&P (red line).

Technical: As of 6:45 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 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 $4,395.25 high volume area (HVNode) puts in play the $4,418.75 overnight high (ONH). Initiative trade beyond the ONH could reach as high as the $4,438.25 HVNode and $4,464.75 low volume area (LVNode), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,395.25 HVNode puts in play the $4,355.00 untested point of control (VPOC). Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as low as the $4,314.75 and $4,285.25 HVNodes, 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

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 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 March 17, 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 took back part of Wednesday’s advance after the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) made the decision to tighten, albeit at a more aggressive pace than previously expected.

Moreover, according to some reports, last night’s decline comes as the Kremlin rejected claims that Ukraine peace talks were making progress. Subsequently, most commodity products rose.

Ahead is data on jobless claims, building permits, housing starts, and the Philadelphia Fed manufacturing survey (8:30 AM ET). Later, participants receive data on industrial production and capacity utilization (9:15 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: In the face of a strong economy (at home) plagued by supply and demand imbalances, as well as geopolitical tensions and economic turmoil (abroad), the Federal Reserve (Fed) raised borrowing costs by a quarter percentage point and signaled six more in 2022 putting the policy rate at ~2.8% before 2024.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. The Fed’s updated dot plot.

Bloomberg’s John Authers explains well what transpired. Essentially, not one FOMC member thought rates would exceed 2.25% by the end of 2023. Now, most members think rates may need to go as high as 3.75% to help rein in inflation and promote price stability.

“In addition to giving up on ‘lower for longer’ rates, the Fed also seems to be capitulating on its forecasts for inflation to come under control relatively swiftly,” Authers explains. 

“There is no consensus. That is alarming, and prompted some to fear that the Fed was admitting it didn’t know what was going on.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “This chart shows how expectations for inflation at the end of this year and next have moved between the two [FOMC] meetings.”

Ultimately, the FOMC thinks inflation will return to their 2% long-term target, and the fed funds rate may top out at 2.4%, “the lowest projection for long-term rates on record.”

In terms of asset purchases, the FOMC will have an updated quantitative tightening (QT) schedule as soon as May.

After the announcement, the U.S. equity market closed higher while 5-year yields topped 10-year yields for the first time in 15 years.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. Stocks rise after the Fed’s Powell started speaking. “Jobs are stronger than ever. The unemployment rate is lower than pre-Covid, basically. Consumer spending is quite healthy. Consumer savings remains at all-time highs at $2.7 trillion,” said Sylvia Jablonski, CEO and CIO of Defiance ETFs. “It’s really hard to think about how we would go into a recession.”

“It was the first time this relationship had inverted since early 2007, shortly before the beginning of the credit crisis,” Authers explained in statements as to the factors that may lead to the Fed abandoning its tightening schedule. 

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “Whenever the yield curve inverts, it tends to function as an early warning for a recession, suggesting that in the medium-term rates will have to fall.”

“Any inversion is a worrying sign, although one between five and 10 years, in the so-called ‘belly’ of the curve, is not as alarming as an inversion between three-month or two-year yields and the 10-year yield.”

Moreover, according to stats compiled by LPL Research, stocks tend to do well after the Fed starts hiking rates.

Graphic: Via LPL Research

“Fed rate hikes usually happen near the middle of the economic cycle, with potentially years left of gains in stocks and the economy,” explained LPL Financial’s Ryan Detrick. 

“In fact, a year after the first hike in a cycle has been fairly strong, higher a year later the past six times.”

Graphic: Via LPL Research. “Lastly, here’s how stocks have done in years with a lot of rate hikes. The mid-2000s cycle is what has our attention, as there were 17 total rate hikes in 2004, 2005, and 2006, yet the S&P 500 managed to gain in every year.”

Positioning: Implied volatility metrics compressed markedly, yesterday, and this bolstered a near-vertical price rise in the equity market, as suggested would happen in past letters.

Graphic: Implied volatility term structure shifts inward. This solicits positive hedging (vanna) flows as counterparty exposure to positive delta declines. In other words, short stock and futures hedges (against options) are bought back.

Checking out SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options (HIRO) indicator, we see little commitment by S&P 500 participants in this rally. Instead, the response was quite neutral.

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

Taking a look at some of the cash-settled indexes, like the growth- and tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 (INDEX: NDX), there was some notable buying of call spreads (i.e., positions that make money if the underlying moves higher, all else equal), though.

Graphic: Via SHIFT. Notice the duration of the spread. Though this may have been a new trade, one must not discount the potential for it to have been a closing trade. In either case, there is potential that the de-rate in the tech and growth areas of the market has played its course.

“Moreover, heading into Wednesday’s FOMC, we saw the market well-hedged,” SpotGamma explained. “Participants’ demand for protection is concentrated in options with little time to expiry (given the monthly options expiration and roll-off a significant size of S&P delta).”

“Adding, the compression of volatility today, coupled with trade higher, solicits less counterparty hedging of put protection … [and] less positive delta = less selling to hedge = less pressure.”

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. “For education only. As implied volatility falls, options delta falls. This solicits positive delta hedging flows (with respect to volatility) or vanna.”

Ultimately, this post-FOMC price rise may put the market in an underhedged position. In such a case, as talked about yesterday, new demand for protection would add fuel to weakness (later).

Regardless, comparing buying and options positioning metrics, the returns distribution remains skewed positive (albeit much less so than before).

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).

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

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,339.50 spike base puts in play the $4,375.00 untested point of control (VPOC). Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as high as the $4,395.25 high volume area (HVNode) and $4,418.75 overnight high (ONH), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,339.50 spike base puts in play the $4,314.75 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the $4,314.75 could reach as low as the $4,285.25 HVNode and $4,249.25 low volume area (LVNode), 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

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 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 March 16, 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

Stock index futures were higher after positive developments, abroad.

According to some reports, the talks between Russia and Ukraine are making progress. This is while China vows to stabilize markets with a promise “to ease a regulatory crackdown, support property, and technology companies and stimulate the economy.”

On the China news, the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index (INDEX: HSCEI) rose ~13% (in the context of a ~30% 1-month drawdown).

At home, in the U.S., the Federal Reserve is expected to increase rates by a quarter-point, the first since 2018. Markets are pricing up to seven hikes this year.

Ahead is data on retail sales and import prices (8:30 AM ET). The NAHB home builders index and business inventories (10:00 AM ET). As well as the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) announcement (2:00 PM ET) and press conference (2:30 PM ET).

Graphic updated 6:30 AM ET. Sentiment Risk-On if expected /ES open is above 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 60/40 portfolio is headed for its worst performance since the financial crisis of 2008 as assets are hurt by a mix of slowing economic growth and inflation.

Graphic: Via Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS). Stocks and bond relationship upended. Adding, per a Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC) survey, participants believe the markets would have to fall 24% (from peak to trough) – $3,636.00 SPX – to solicit a Fed pivot.

Further, this letter has talked about the “bonds down, equities down” phenomenon before. To borrow from letters published over the past two months, in short, over the past 40 or so years, monetary policy was used as a crutch to support the economy. 

Graphic: Via tastytrade. Asset correlations matrix.

This promoted deflation, innovation, and the subsequent rise in valuations.

With rates lifting, that’s a headwind; coupled with participants’ increased exposure to rate and equity market risk, which can play into cross-market hedging and de-leveraging cascades, 60/40 turns into somewhat of a poor hedge.

Why? Let’s back up for a moment.

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

As Investopedia details well, therefore, “the total return on a stock is the sum of two parts: the risk-free rate and the risk premium.”

Moreover, higher rates and risk premiums increase the required rate of return.

Higher interest rates, basically, decrease the present value of future cash flows, making stocks, especially those that are high growth, less attractive.

So, at higher rates, shares should fall. At lower rates, shares should rise. Some strategists estimate that annual returns for 60/40 will be less than 5% over the next decade, as a result.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. The FOMC is likely to signal more hikes.

This conversation has me bringing up a conversation I had with Karan Sood, the CEO and Managing Director, Head of Product Development at Cboe Vest Financial LLC.

“Bonds have been giving you really good returns because interest rates have been going down since the 1970s when they peaked at about 11%,” Sood explained to me. 

“That’s changing now; we’re at the zero bound, and it’s unlikely that will be as a strong of a tailwind. Worse, it could be a headwind if interest rates start to rise.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. Federal Reserve to raise rates for the first time in years.

In regards to the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet, Bloomberg explains that participants ought to receive updates on the pace of buying, as well as the sale of assets.

“That may include setting out caps on how many billions of dollars worth of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities will be allowed to mature every month without reinvestment, something that Powell told Congress earlier this month would be discussed at this meeting.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. S&P 500 participants proactively price in the Federal Reserve’s intent to cut support. It is monetary frameworks and max liquidity that enabled markets to diverge from fundamentals.

Positioning: Based on a comparison of present options positioning and buying metrics, the returns distribution remains skewed positive.

Graphic: Via Physik Invest. Data via SqueezeMetrics.

Pursuant to the buying support remark, JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM) strategists say pension and sovereign wealth funds, in rebuilding risk-on positions, may boost markets by as much as 10%. 

“It’s the biggest rebalancing since 2020 in terms of buying equities,” JPMorgan strategist Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou said. An inflow of at least $100 billion and as much as $230 billion could trigger gains of between 5% and 10% to global stocks, he said.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “[D]eclines have driven down the value of targeted allocations for the world’s biggest funds, many of which hew to a traditional mix of 60% stocks and 40% bonds. To address the shortfall, they have to buy equities.”

At the same time, expected is further compression of volatility (via the passage of FOMC), as well as the removal of customer puts (and associated hedging pressures) via OPEX (options expiration).

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

To note, there is the potential, according to SpotGamma, for some “path dependency,” as “the expiration and/or covering of a large swath of these put hedges may place the market back into an ‘underhedged’ position.” 

In such a case, new demand would add fuel to weakness.

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

Gap Scenarios: 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.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,285.25 high volume area (HVNode) puts in play the $4,326.25 overnight high (ONH). Initiative trade beyond the ONH could reach as high as the $4,346.75 HVNode and $4,375.00 untested point of control (VPOC), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,285.25 HVNode puts in play the $4,249.25 low volume area (LVNode). Initiative trade beyond the LVNode could reach as low as the $4,219.00 VPOC and $4,177.25 HVNode, 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

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.

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 March 15, 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 explored lower prices alongside most commodities. Bonds and implied volatility metrics were bid, also.

The narrative is that this is follow-on selling as participants look to price in the implications of COVID-19 lockdowns in China, as well as the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Arguably, there is some pre-Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) positioning going on, too.

Ahead is data on the Producer Price Index and Empire State Manufacturing (8:30 AM ET).

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

What To Expect

Fundamental: Keeping it short, today. Please check out Monday’s commentary, if you haven’t!

Weak start to 2022 as participants look to price slower growth and inflation, tighter monetary policy, geopolitical tensions, a resurgence in COVID-19, potential Russian defaults, and beyond.

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

Bolstering inflation pressures are supply-demand challenges. For instance, geopolitical tensions are stifling vehicle production here in the U.S.

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

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, gas in the U.S. climbed about $0.80/gallon, also, prompting talk of gas tax holidays.

Graphic: Via Reuters.

Pursuant to these remarks, Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS) economists suggest the probability of recession in the next year is between 20-35% while Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) strategists see equity valuations overshooting to the downside with out of control inflation.

Graphic: Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

In opposition, JPMorgan Chase & Co’s (NYSE: JPM) Marko Kolanovic suggests there is too much negativity priced in and that investors should add equity risk

“We believe that the past month’s correction has induced too much negativity in markets, e.g., reflected by our market-implied recession probabilities, on the fear that growth will be severely affected by the war. We stay with a pro-risk stance as we do not believe that we will see a recession or that we have entered a sustained bear market.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “A Moody’s Analytics computer model suggests that the U.S. as a whole would be able to avoid a recession, even if military hostilities are prolonged.”

Positioning: Per Goldman Sachs Group Inc’s derivatives team, “puts are more overvalued than any time over the past five years.”

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. “Netting call & put delta, you can see we’re near extremes in terms of put:call positions. Often large put positions are removed by expirations, which seems to coincide with market lows. Many of these are quarterly expirations which coincide w/FOMC meetings – such as next week.”

Further, it is expected that the compression of volatility (via passage of FOMC), as well as the removal of customer puts and (accordingly) counterparty negative gamma exposure (OPEX) may serve to alleviate some of this pressure.

Graphic: Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS). Taken from The Market Ear. “18-Mar has more expiring near-the-money SPX open interest than any expiration since 2019.”

In taking the other side of this demand for protection, counterparties carry exposure to positive delta and negative gamma (losses amplified to the downside). In hedging their own exposure, counterparties will sell underlying(s), and this is where the aforementioned pressure arises.

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).

Given present supply and demand conditions (customer hedging in months prior), the incremental pressure counterparties add with each leg lower is less, if you will. 

Here’s a good explanation:

“When implied volatility is high, that same 1% move lower is much more ‘expected’ so there generally won’t be the same upward pressure on volatility and in fact it might decline,” said Christopher Jacobson, a strategist at Susquehanna Financial Group LLP.

“Along the same lines, investors at that point have had more opportunity and time to hedge, so those same market moves may not lead to as much hedging activity.”

Pictured: SqueezeMetrics highlights implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness.

Adding to that last remark, as Amy Wu Silverman of Royal Bank of Canada’s (NYSE: RY) capital markets group puts it well: “You’re also seeing people selling that volatility and doing some overwriting. That can probably dampen volatility.”

Graphic: SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options (HIRO) indicator for QQQ shows strong put selling 3/14/2022. Divergences often precede reversals in the underlying.

There is the potential, according to SpotGamma, for some “path dependency,” however, as “the expiration and/or covering of a large swath of these put hedges may place the market back into an ‘underhedged’ position.” In such a case, new demand would add fuel to weakness.

Technical: As of 6:15 AM ET, Tuesday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, will likely open in the middle part of a negatively skewed overnight inventory, inside of prior-range and -value, suggesting a limited potential for immediate directional opportunity.

Gap Scenarios: 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.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,129.50 overnight low (ONL) puts in play the $4,177.25 high volume area (HVNode). Initiative trade beyond the $4,177.25 HVNode could reach as high as the $4,227.75 HVNode and $4,249.25 LVNode, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,129.50 ONL puts in play the $4,101.25 ONL. Initiative trade beyond the ONL could reach as low as the $4,069.25 HVNode and $4,055.75 LVNode, 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

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.

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 March 14, 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

A lot to unpack, today. Part of the newsletter may be cut off, as a result, in your inbox. Just click to view in another window.

Overnight, equity index futures auctioned sideways-to-higher, masking turmoil in products listed abroad, as well as commodities and fixed income.

In regards to bonds, they slumped (globally) in light of participants’ pricing in monetary action given heightened inflation. The Federal Reserve, Bank of England, and Bank of Japan are to issue policy updates this week.

Commodity markets are still roiling after a price spike in some products “created a systemic risk” that prompted exchanges to cancel trades, while equity markets in Asia saw their worst-selling in years.

The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index (INDEX: HSCEI) closed down 7.2%, the biggest drop since 2008. This was after Russia asked for China’s assistance in Ukraine (which could result, later, in sanctions from the U.S.), thus compounding uncertainties with respect to an ongoing regulatory crackdown.

Ahead is data on 1- and 3-year inflation expectations (11:00 AM ET).

Graphic updated 6:11 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: We may attribute participants’ uncertainty to how far monetary policymakers want to tighten, slower economic growth, the implications of geopolitical tensions, imminent Russian defaults, a resurgence in COVID-19 abroad, and more.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. As Treasury yields rise, participants price in Fed tightening.

As revealed by metrics like CME Group Inc’s (NASDAQ: CME) FedWatch Tool, for instance, participants are pricing a high certainty of an increase in rates.

Graphic: Via CME Group Inc (NASDAQ: CME). Participants price in an increased probability of a shift in the target rate. Click here to access the FedWatch Tool.

“Yields are reflecting a surprise higher shift upward in inflation expectations,” said Morgan Stanley’s (NYSE: MS) Jim Caron. “Many thought inflation would peak in the first quarter and fall. Now, with oil prices, inflation may stay high.”

At the same time, there are some indications of market stresses.

Graphic: Via McClellan Financial Publications. “The Daily A-D Line for corporate high yield bonds continues to look quite ugly. That is a concern for the overall stock market because high yield bonds drink from the same liquidity pool as stocks do, and these bonds are arguably more sensitive than stocks are to liquidity problems.”

As explained in DC’s Chartbook discussion, however, “stress in money markets is for now mostly contained and not an imminent risk to financial sustainability.”

Graphic: Via DC’s Chartbook. Funding spreads “have stabilized over the past week, not making new highs after the gap-up open on March 7. These are encouraging signs that the stress in money markets is for now mostly contained and not an imminent risk to financial stability.”

In regards to credit default swap spreads, though they are wider than in recent history, “they are still far below where they were during times of material solvency risk such as March of 2020, and the term structure of CDS spreads suggests this is more due to mechanical de-risking.”

Graphic: Via DC’s Chartbook. Cost of credit insurance for Citigroup Inc (NYSE: C). Hedging with CDS results in mechanical steepening which raises the curve. “This is in sharp contrast to the curve in March 2020 (yellow, orange, and red), when the short end of the CDS curve rose quickly and flattened the curve.”

Okay. So, the “financial system is functioning smoothly.” How do you trade slowing growth in the face of heightened inflation?

As Andreas Steno Larsen of Heimstaden explains, the “best way to assess this question is via a historical study of empirical returns during times of actual stagflation dating back to the early 1970s.”

Graphic: Via Andreas Steno Larsen. “Heatmap on quarterly inflation-adjusted returns across asset classes during stagflation periods (1973 – today).”

“Assets that tend to keep the value intact or even increase in real terms through stagflation are typically negatively correlated to low or negative real rates, which is why gold and real estate (REITs) are some of the best places to hide during stagflation,” Steno Larsen says. 

“Equities overall struggle to perform in real terms and so do bonds, which might be even worse this time around due to the outset of bond yields into this potential stagflationary environment.”

To note, pursuant to the idea that participants have “priced in” the aforementioned, S&P Global Inc (NYSE: SPGI) data suggests “the initial stages of a monetary tightening cycle have not been disastrous for the U.S. stock market historically.”

Graphic: Via S&P Global.

Positioning: Based on a comparison of present options positioning and buying metrics, the returns distribution is skewed positive.

This is in the face of an S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) and Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) down environment.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) down, CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) down.

In part, this has to do with the supply and demand of protection; mainly, the market is “well hedged and well-positioned,” Amy Wu Silverman of Royal Bank of Canada’s (NYSE: RY) says

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. “Netting call & put delta, you can see we’re near extremes in terms of put:call positions. Often large put positions are removed by expirations, which seems to coincide with market lows. Many of these are quarterly expirations which coincide w/FOMC meetings – such as next week.”

Given this, as JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM) analysts explain, “we could be closer to the end” of discretionary de-risking, and the compression of volatility (via passage of FOMC), as well as the removal of counterparty negative exposure (via OPEX) may serve to alleviate pressure. 

Graphic: Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS). Taken from The Market Ear. “18-Mar has more expiring near-the-money SPX open interest than any expiration since 2019.”

As SpotGamma, explains, “As it stands, without further geopolitical events causing, even more, fear, the markets are due for a relief rally,” on improving seasonality, among other things. 

“Following the FOMC meeting, as well as the reduction in put-heavy exposures post-OPEX (options expiration), the need for put ownership (protection) and relative short positions is reduced (less positive delta = less selling to hedge = less pressure).”

Graphic: Via EquityClock. Taken from The Market Ear.

Technical: As of 6:30 AM ET, Monday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, will likely open in the middle part of a 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 $4,227.75 high volume area (HVNode) puts in play the $4,249.25 low volume area (LVNode). Initiative trade beyond the LVNode could reach as high as the $4,285.25 and $4,314.75 HVNode, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,227.75 HVNode puts in play the $4,189.00 regular trade low (RTH Low). Initiative trade beyond the RTH Low could reach as low as the $4,138.75 and $4,101.25 overnight low (ONL), or lower.

Considerations: Participants resolve a pinch of two anchored volume-weighted average price indicators (VWAPs). A VWAP is 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.

We look to buy above a flat/rising VWAP pinch. We look to sell below a flat/declining VWAP pinch.

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 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 March 11, 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

On reports that there was progress in talks between Russia and Ukraine, stock index futures advanced putting the S&P 500 back inside a large consolidation area.

Thus far, trade has been volatile and responsive to key visual levels suggesting that the larger other time frame (non-technical) participants are waiting for more information to initiate trades.

Ahead is data on the University of Michigan Sentiment (10:00 AM ET) and inflation expectations (10:00 AM ET).

Graphic updated 6:45 AM ET. Sentiment Risk-On if expected /ES open is above 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: Yesterday’s letter covered a lot of ground. Check it out if you haven’t already.

Volatility is heightened and the narratives we may attribute that to are concerned with the intent to tighten monetary policy, slower economic growth, and geopolitics.

Graphic: Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS). Taken from The Market Ear. “We are downgrading our US GDP forecast to reflect higher oil prices and other drags on growth related to the war in Ukraine.”

In comparison, though, U.S. equity product volatility is less than that in Europe and this points to the “risk premium for investing in Europe’s markets that are teeming with cyclical stocks acutely vulnerable to growth and inflation risks,” among other things.

Adding to the turbulence was the European Central Bank’s pivot toward hawkishness; the institution will accelerate the wind-down of its monetary stimulus. Pursuant to this decision, Euro-area equity funds had their largest weekly outflows on record.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. 

U.S. policymakers are expected to ramp their tightening efforts, next week, also, as inflation expectations are surging.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “[T]he central bank is widely expected to announce a 25-basis point increase Wednesday, along with fresh projections for the economy and path of interest rates.”

Per CME Group Inc’s (NASDAQ: CME) FedWatch Tool, participants are pricing a near 100% chance of a hike in the target rate.

Graphic: Via CME Group Inc (NASDAQ: CME). Participants price in an increased probability of a shift in the target rate. Click here to access the FedWatch Tool.

In the face of all the bearish narratives, however, many products – at the single-stock level – have been de-rating now for nearly a year. 

Ahead of bullish seasonality and rebalancing flow (from fixed income into equities), JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM) strategists suggest that “we could be through [the] worst of it.” 

“When either All Strats or Equity L/S net leverage fell by at least 1.5z or more, the SPX generally rallied over the next 1wk and 4wks,” a bulletin published by The Market Ear read. 

Positioning: Based on a comparison of present options positioning and buying metrics, the returns distribution is skewed positive, albeit less so than before. 

Graphic: Via Physik Invest. Data via SqueezeMetrics.

Adding, over the past weeks, we talked about the SPX and VIX down dynamic. This in part has to do with the supply and demand of protection, at the index level. Hyperlinked are our past conversations.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) down, CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) down.

“We’re back to another point of people being well hedged and well-positioned,” Amy Wu Silverman of Royal Bank of Canada’s (NYSE: RY) capital markets group, said. 

“You’re also seeing people selling that volatility and doing some overwriting. That can probably dampen volatility.”

Graphic: SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options (HIRO) indicator for the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY). Into the S&P 500’s March 8, 2022 decline, participants sold volatility on both sides of the options chain.

“When implied volatility is high, that same 1% move lower is much more ‘expected’ so there generally won’t be the same upward pressure on volatility and in fact it might decline,” said Christopher Jacobson, a strategist at Susquehanna Financial Group LLP.

“Along the same lines, investors at that point have had more opportunity and time to hedge, so those same market moves may not lead to as much hedging activity.”

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. “Netting call & put delta, you can see we’re near extremes in terms of put:call positions. Often large put positions are removed by expirations, which seems to coincide with market lows. Many of these are quarterly expirations which coincide w/FOMC meetings – such as next week.”

Taking this together, in accordance with metrics referred to earlier, “we could be closer to the end than the beginning of the discretionary de-risking,” as JPMorgan analysts best explain.

Further, the compression of volatility (via passage of FOMC) or removal of counterparty negative exposure (via OPEX) may serve to alleviate some of this pressure

Until then, participants can expect the options landscape to add to market volatility.

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

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

Monitor for acceptance (i.e., more than 1-hour of trade) outside of the balance area. 

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. 

Rejection (i.e., return inside of balance) portends a move to the opposite end of the balance.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,314.75 high volume area (HVNode) puts in play the $4,346.75 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the $4,346.75 HVNode could reach as high as the $4,375.00 untested point of control (VPOC) and $4,395.25 HVNode, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,314.75 HVNode puts in play the $4,285.75 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the $4,285.75 HVNode could reach as low as the $4,249.25 low volume area (LVNode) and $4,227.75 HVNode, 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.

What People Are Saying

Definitions

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

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

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

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

About

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

Capelj 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 March 10, 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 auctioned lower practically negating the prior day’s advance. Per the news, Ukraine and Russia failed in their efforts to end the war.

Adding, similar to days prior, areas where there are key technical nuances served as supports and resistances. One may construe this as short-term traders’ dominance in the smaller time horizons while the other time frames are positioning for expansive moves (yet to happen).

To note, key metrics under the hood (SpotGamma’s HIRO, among other things) yesterday, further validated the status quo and short-covering.

Moreover, ahead is data on jobless claims and the consumer price index (8:30 AM ET). Later, participants get data on real domestic nonfinancial debt and wealth (1:00 PM ET), as well as the budget deficit (2:00 PM 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 consumer price index (CPI) is to likely accelerate to 7.8% from a year ago.

This forecast varies widely, however, based on economic analysis with respect to the implications of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the sanction that resulted after.  

“There’s going to be a lot of noise in the next six months that’s going to be extremely difficult to disentangle,” said Omair Sharif of Inflation Insights LLC. 

“If you thought it was difficult to figure out what used car prices were doing and whether that was transitory, multiply that by a thousand.”

In a mention on energy market volatility, while today’s economy is less dependent on oil (i.e., less likely to kill the expansion), the action in that market (and the responses it may solicit from policymakers, later) is noteworthy.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “When families have to spend more money on necessities, they have less to spend on discretionary items and services. Economists at Barclays Plc expect the spike in energy prices to subtract an annualized 0.3 percentage point from consumption growth on average per quarter through the end of 2023.”

Despite a deterioration in the relationship between prices of crude and inflation, oil is “a major input in the economy – it is used in critical activities such as fueling transportation and heating homes – and if input costs rise, so should the cost of end products,” Investopedia says well.

Further, according to Reuters’ John Kemp, fuel oil inventories fell last week to the lowest seasonal level in more than 15 years.

Graphic: Via John Kemp’s “Best in Energy” note. “Distillate stocks were already looking tight and are now on track to become exceptionally tight before mid-year. Distillate inventories are on course for an expected first-half low of 103 million barrels (with a range of 92-114 million).”

“Stocks are on track to hit an even lower seasonal level than 2008 when the distillate shortages helped propel crude oil prices to a record high at the middle of the year,” Kemp says.

Graphic: Via Physik Invest. The CBOE Crude Oil Volatility Index (INDEX: OVX) reveals signs of peaking.

The highest oil prices ~$150/bbl had printed in 2008. As Alfonso Peccatiello of The Macro Compass hypothesizes, “Oil is denominated in fiat currency, and there has been A LOT of spendable money printing over the last 15 years. If you think the market gets as extreme as 2008, the equivalent oil price in today’s USD would be above $250/bbl.”

Given wage growth and the like, consumers likely start “to feel the heat way below $250.”

Graphic: Via Alfonso Peccatiello. “The red line shows the inflation-adjusted crude price: if you expect a proper tight oil environment, >$150-160 is your number. Also, anything above $120 in today’s prices and sustained for a few quarters would likely hit the demand side. 2013-2014 a good example, with the private sector turning defensive in 2015-2016 and China forced to ease big times to shore up the global economy.”

Why mention any of this? Fast moves higher in some of these commodity markets may impact end-consumer prices and behavior, quickly. In a bid to rein inflation – ”very high CPI in 2022, [and] still high in 2023 – central bankers will tighten. 

“The path of least resistance is for the Fed to hike rates from 0% to at least 2% relatively quickly,” Peccatiello explains in a recent post. 

However, the “Last time companies were revising their forward earnings estimates down on a net basis while Central Banks were attempting to tighten monetary policy was mid-2018,” when the markets sold nearly 20%.

Graphic: Via Yardeni Research. Taken from The Macro Compass. “The chart above shows the 3-months average of the MSCI World net earnings revisions: essentially, this metric measures the difference between the number of companies revisiting their forward earnings estimate up versus down.”

With financial conditions tightening, Peccatiello posits the Fed will be receptive to that.

Graphic: Via The Macro Compass. “Credit-default swaps on 5-year US Investment Grade Corporate Bonds are trading at 76 bps at the time of writing: Fed puts (or pivots) became more visible in the past when this measure of credit spreads approached 100 bps.”

Basically, if selling were to continue, the Fed would reassess tightening. At such level of reassessment is the Fed Put, a dynamic we’ve discussed in the past.

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

Chamath Palihapitiya recently posted about this, too. He said: “In 2018, the Fed was concerned about inflation. They were wrong and within a quarter or so, the risk shifted to recession. This chart shows how the equity markets reacted… seems eerily similar.”

“Value then faded and Growth ripped.”

Graphic: Via Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS).

Positioning: Based on a comparison of present options positioning and buying metrics, the returns distribution is skewed positive, albeit less so than before. 

Graphic: Via JPMorgan, from Bloomberg.

Obviously, the fundamental picture and the market’s responsiveness to news events – given the negative gamma environment – has us discounting these metrics. It’s noteworthy, nonetheless.

For instance, in the face of some positive developments abroad, fundamentally, markets diverged from what participants in the options complex were doing.

Graphic: SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options (HIRO) indicator reveals strong put buying and call selling (a bearish negative delta trade) in the context of Wednesday’s rise.

This divergence resolved itself, some, overnight in the broader market (even in the face of a ~7% price rise of Amazon Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN) large index constituent).

I’d be remiss if I did not point out growing bets on drops in the equity market’s pricing of risk (via the CBOE Volatility Index [INDEX: VIXI]). That would occur if indexes likely rebounded.

Graphic: Via SHIFT. There was heavy buying of the 26 VIX put.

Taken together, it’s difficult to get a grasp of where the market wants to head, in the near term. 

What is for certain: the compression of volatility (via passage of FOMC) or removal of counterparty negative exposure (via OPEX) may serve to alleviate some of this pressure. 

Until then, participants can expect the options landscape to add to market volatility.

Graphic: @pat_hennessy breaks down returns for the S&P 500, categorized by the week relative to OPEX. 

In case of lower prices, according to SpotGamma, the rate at which options counterparties increasingly add pressure on underlying SPX, so to speak, tapers off in the $4,100.00 to $4,000.00 area. Caution.

Graphic: Gamma profile flattens out near the $4,100-4,000 range suggesting less pressure and more counterparty support.

A way to take advantage of this volatility, while lowering the cost of bets, is options spreads. For instance, the Call Ratio (buy 1 call, sell 2 or more further out) can lower the cost of bets on the upside while providing exposure to asymmetric payouts.

Time and volatility are two factors, however, to be mindful of when initiating such spreads. Risk is undefined and if the time to expiry is too long (e.g., in excess of 1-2 weeks), fast moves and increases in volatility may result in large losses. 

For that reason, also, one must be extremely careful with Put Ratio spreads. Consider adding protection far away from your short strikes to cap risk and turn the spreads into Butterflies.

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.

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.

Gap Scenarios Potentially In Play: 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.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,231.00 regular trade low (RTH Low) puts in play the $4,249.25 low volume area (LVNode). Initiative trade beyond the LVNode could reach as high as the $4,285.75 high volume area (HVNode) and $4,319.00 untested point of control (VPOC), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,231.00 RTH Low puts in play the $4,177.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as low as the $4,138.75 and $4,101.25 overnight low (ONL), 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

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 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 March 9, 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, led by the tech- and growth-heavy Nasdaq 100 auctioned higher. This is immediately after a session characterized by rampant, two-way volatility. 

Much of the action in the equity indices and commodity markets is headline-driven. 

For instance, at one point, alongside news that Ukraine would no longer insist on NATO membership, the S&P 500 auctioned higher nearly 3%. Thereafter, responsive selling at a very key technical level preceded the index’s over 3% drop shortly after.

This 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.

Ahead is data on job openings and quits (10:00 AM ET).

Graphic updated 6:45 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 prevailing narrative is concerned with the slowdown in economic growth, the intent to withdraw monetary stimulus, and the response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Graphic: Bloomberg. U.S. equity indexes spared of recent bloodshed, abroad.

Pursuant to the response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been a disruption in supply chains; commodities, like oil and nickel, have risen and that has inflation and growth impacts.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg, Oxford Economics. “The war in Ukraine is making it harder and more costly for goods to move freely across the globe. Key shipping routes are blocked, and others are feeling ripple effects from the conflict.”

In the coming days and weeks, central banks will announce their monetary policy decisions. Per Bloomberg, commodity costs underline the inflation challenge to the Federal Reserve.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. The historical analogy is different but close (as today’s economy is less dependent on oil); the “Fed responded to the [1973] shock, and to the growing wave of inflation that preceded it, with a massive tightening.”

With breakevens on 30-year inflation-linked Treasuries – an indicator of the pace of price gains over three decades – climbing to their highest level, the Fed is expected to hike rates 25 bps.

Graphic: Via CME Group Inc (NASDAQ: CME). Participants price in an increased probability of a shift in the target rate. Click here to access the FedWatch Tool.

In the past days, there have been a variety of takes on what’s going on. A pessimistic, yet, interesting take is offered by Credit Suisse Group AG’s (NYSE: CS) Zoltan Pozsar.

Mainly, there is a commodity crisis. Commodities are collateral and collateral is money.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. The “FRA/OIS, a key gauge of interbank funding risk, as of the close on Monday.” Click here to listen to Zoltan Pozsar’s Bloomberg conversation on Russia, Gold, and the U.S. dollar.

“[E]very crisis occurs at the intersection of funding and collateral markets and that, in the presently unfolding crisis, commodities are collateral, and more precisely, Russian commodities are like subprime collateral and all other stuff is prime.”

Pozsar explains that instability in commodity prices feeds into financial instability as margin calls trigger the failure of commodity traders and (potentially) commodity exchanges.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. Commodity price rises solicit margin calls.

“Again, commodity correlations are at 1, which is never a good thing,” he says. “The Fed and other central banks will be able to provide liquidity backstops, … but those will be Band-Aid solutions.”

Liquidity is the manifestation of a larger problem – the Russian-non-Russian commodities basis – and its resolve portends a “regime shift” which Pozsar posits China will be at the front of.

“When this crisis (and war) is over, the U.S. dollar should be much weaker and, on the flip side, the renminbi much stronger, backed by a basket of commodities.”

MUFG Securities’ (NYSE: MUFG) George Goncalves makes a similar point, drawing parallels to the early days of 2008. 

“The situation in Europe is precarious enough on its own, but if conditions worsen in a highly connected financial system, balance sheets may get curtailed via haircuts,” Concalves wrote

“Meanwhile there is an eerily similar pattern to the current action in [short-term interest rates] and oil prices to the early summer of 2008. Recall, in response to inflation and central bank hawkishness, markets priced in nearly 150bps in hikes in 2008 before GFC cracked.”

Positioning: Based on metrics often quoted in this morning letter, buying support appears to be cooling. Overlaying options positioning metrics, the returns distribution is skewed positive, still.

This is in opposition to some of the reporting by large outlets. The narrative is along the lines of institutional investors offloading equities to retail.

Graphic: Via Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC).

According to statements by The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial, “This is partially a byproduct of the long equity firms that have programs that are designed to exit when Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) gets over a certain level and equities drop under a certain percentage.”

Graphic: Via Pat Hennessy. “ES goes +2%, -2%, +3%, -3% in 14 hours! Yes – the close/close move was weak, but the intraday moves were massive – IMO enough to support a 37 VIX. Strange to see vols so soft given intraday realized + close on lows.”

“There is no doubt about it that we have noticed heavier institutional flow throughout the day over the last two weeks. However, there are still large institutions that are putting cash to work in equities. Ironically a rotation out of some European equities into U.S., [and] there is also a good amount of buyback flow that is projected to hit some areas in U.S equities.

Pursuant to remarks in the fundamental section (and Sidial’s note on the heavier institutional flow), we saw some noteworthy put buying in products like the cash-settled Nasdaq 100 (INDEX: NDX) and iShares iBoxx $ Inv Grade Corporate Bond ETF (NYSE: LQD).

Graphic: Via SHIFT. Buying closer strikes. Selling farther strikes.

Whether these are hedges, the replacement of existing linear short positions, or speculation on the downside, it all plays into this negative gamma environment markets are in.

When customers demand downside (put) protection (a negative delta, positive gamma trade that has its gains multiplied to the downside), counterparties sell underlying futures and stock to hedge their positive delta, negative gamma trade which has the effect of pressuring markets.

The compression of volatility (via passage of FOMC) or removal of counterparty negative exposure (via OPEX) may serve to alleviate some of this pressure. Until then, participants can expect the options landscape to add to market volatility.

Technical: As of 6:45 AM ET, Wednesday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, will likely open in the upper part of 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 $4,248.25 overnight high (ONH) puts in play the $4,285.50 high volume area (HVNode). Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as high as the $4,319.00 untested point of control (VPOC) and $4,346.75 high volume area (HVNode), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,248.25 ONH puts in play the $4,227.75 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the $4,227.75 HVNode could reach as low as the $4,177.25 HVNode and $4,138.75 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.

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 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.