Market Commentary For 2/18/2021

Notice: To view this week’s big picture outlook, click here.

What Happened: U.S. stock index futures balanced within prior range, ahead of releases on weekly jobless claims.

What Does It Mean: After a v-pattern recovery and sideways trade in the weeks prior, stock index futures auctioned out of prior-balance and -range, via Friday’s end-of-day spike.

More On Spikes: Spike’s 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).

Since then, the S&P 500 had difficulty in maintaining higher prices.

At the end of regular trade Wednesday, the aforementioned spike and shift from balance (i.e., the transition from two- to one-time frame trade) was accepted. Overnight, however, the market rotated back into the meat of Wednesday’s range, putting in jeopardy the near-term bullish bias. This is likely the resolve of uninspired buying interest during regular trade (as measured by volume delta).

More On Volume Delta: Buying and selling power as calculated by the difference in volume traded at the bid and offer.

Noting, as the bid in volatility drops, demand is seen rising.

That’s according to one statement by Goldman Sachs Group Inc‘s (NYSE: GS) trading desk which said: “CTAs [are] purchasing ~$5B of S&P this week, regardless of what the tape does.”

That statement echoes what JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM) Marko Kolanovic’s said last year. Kolanovic suggested equities would rally short-term with the S&P 500 auctioning as high as $4,000 on the basis of low rates, improved fundamentals, buybacks, as well as systematic and hedge fund strategies. Kolanovic has since downgraded growth and suggested the limited potential for further upside despite odds of a sustained economic recovery.

Important to add also is the large February monthly options expiration (OPEX), after which, the interest at the $3,900.00 S&P 500 option strike will roll-off. 

Why is this important? Option expiries mark an end to pinning (i.e, the theory that market makers and institutions short options move stocks to the point where the greatest dollar value of contracts will expire worthless) and the reduction dealer gamma exposure.

What To Expect: Thursday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET) will likely open inside of prior-balance and -range, suggesting the limited potential for immediate directional opportunity.

This comes alongside a resumption of balance, acceptance of higher prices (above a prominent high-volume area), and an overnight rally-high at $3,959.25.

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

More On Volume Areas: A structurally sound market will build on past areas of high-volume. Should the market trend for long periods of time, it will lack sound structure (identified as a low-volume area which denotes directional conviction and ought to offer support on any test). 

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

Given the above dynamics, and the S&P 500’s move back below the $3,919.75 spike base (i.e., Wednesday’s worst case outcome), the following frameworks ought to be applied.

In the best case, the S&P 500 opens and remains above the $3,900.00 confluence zone. Auctioning beneath $3,900.00 turns the high-volume area (HVNode) nearby into supply, offering initiative sellers favorable entry and responsive buyers favorable exit.

So, above $3,900.00, expect balance-to-higher. Below $3,900.00, expect the potential for downside discovery.

Levels Of Interest: $3,900.00 HVNode.


‘Tug Of War’: Market Commentary For The Week Ahead

Key Takeaways:

  • Sentiment still stretched despite cooling after the vaccine value rotation on news of further lockdowns, which could have a material consequence on the economic recovery.
  • The pandemic-induced liquidation of businesses not equipped to survive disruption and the accelerated adoption of new technology suggests growth stocks have staying power.
  • Broad-market equity indices ended in a larger balance area suggesting further acceptance of the positive response to upside earnings surprises, a divided government, and vaccine results. 
  • Friday’s monthly options expiry may mark a decisive move depending on how existing derivatives exposure is rolled forward and the presence of impactful news.
  • Institutions differ in opinion over the market’s strength into year-end.

What Happened: Following the post-election rally, U.S. index futures remained range-bound as sentiment cooled in the face of new lockdowns and fading stimulus hopes.

What Does It Mean: After Monday’s initiative upside drive on news that another COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine developed by Moderna Inc (NASDAQ: MRNA) was 94.5% effective at preventing cases of the virus, U.S. index futures pared their advance, as participants struggled to maintain higher prices, evidenced by a divergent delta (i.e., the non-presence of committed buying) and mechanical trade (i.e., low-excess at the edges of balance).

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

What To Expect: On Friday’s end-of-day sell-off away from value, the S&P 500 closed within a prior balance area marked by the $3,580 spike base and $3,506.25 excess low. 

Given that Friday’s session failed to retake Wednesday’s spike liquidation, auctioning back into the micro-composite high-volume node at $3,557, the fairest price to do business during the prior week’s balancing activity, initiative sellers remain in control.

As a result, participants come into Monday’s session knowing the following:

  1. Prior end-of-day spikes were the result of weak-handed, short-term buyers liquidating in panic.
  2. The selling did not attract increased participation (i.e., price diverged from value).
  3. Friday’s monthly options expiry may mark a decisive move depending on how existing contracts are rolled forward. Given that $3,600 is the highest gamma strike, the probability of sustained directional resolve, absent material news, is much lower.
Graphic by

Therefore, in light of a weak response to the $3,557 high-volume node and Friday’s options expiry, participants can carry forward the following frameworks for next week’s trade. 

If participants manage to spend time and build value in or below the prior selling activity, then initiative sellers remain in control and the liquidation could be the beginning of a new trend to the downside, confirmed by range expansion beyond the $3,506.25 excess low. Otherwise, there is the potential for a failed break-down in which participants manage to rotate back over the $3,580, a balance area boundary. 

Conclusion: Friday’s monthly options expiry may mark the beginning of a decisive move. The only thing that’s needed? A catalyst. 

In case of sustained upside, Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS) gives the S&P a $3,700 target on an expectation the v-shape recovery will continue into next year. Contributing factors including a divided government, vaccine administration, rebound in profits, low rates, and a small rise in the yield curve. 

Graphic by Goldman Sachs, retrieved from The Market

In case of further balance or selling, JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM) sees vulnerabilities as mutual funds look to sell $160 billion in global equities to revert to their target 60:40 allocation.

Levels Of Interest: Micro-composite HVN at $3,557, the $3,506.25 excess low, as well as the $3,580 balance-area low.