Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For May 17, 2022

The daily brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 300+ that read this report daily, below!

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures were higher. The S&P 500, in particular, probed the high end of the low-volume (gap) area it broke into on May 9, 2022.

The key is to monitor whether the S&P 500 is able to sustain the prices it discovered overnight. If so, then the odds that participants are, indeed, hammering out a bottom are heightened.

Ahead is data on retail sales (8:30 AM ET), industrial production and capacity utilization (9:15 AM ET), the NAHB home builders’ index, and business inventories (10:00 AM ET).

Fed-speak is scattered. At 9:15 AM ET, the Philadelphia Fed’s Patrick Harker speaks on health care. At 2:00 PM ET, Fed Chair Jerome Powell is interviewed by the WSJ. At 2:30 PM ET, the Cleveland Fed’s Loretta Mester talks at an inflation conference. And, lastly, at 6:45 PM ET, the Chicago Fed’s Charles Evans speaks.

Graphic updated 6:50 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: Out of all the news, it was noteworthy when Elon Musk broke with the prevailing opinion to declare the U.S. was facing a tough recession that would last up to 18 months. 

This is on the heels of a large “misallocation of capital,” he says, caused by the government printing “a zillion amount of more money than it had.”

Musk cautioned companies to watch their costs and cash flows, the latter of which we talked on the importance of in cycles where monetary conditions are tighter and there is less money to be had for corporates who are taking “the long view” and “competing on eyeballs and growth,” per Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan who this letter’s writer spoke with last summer.

As Karsan puts it, over the last four decades, monetary policy was a go-to for supporting the economy. Money was sent to capital and that promoted deflation, ultimately creating “a disinterest and unimportance to cash flows.”

“Monetary policy has a velocity of almost zero, it goes directly to ‘Planet Palo Alto,’ and Palo Alto creates new technologies,” Moontower’s Kris Abdelmesih puts well in a summary of Karsan’s macro thesis.

“They’re sophisticated, futuristic people. They provide new self-driving cars and things getting delivered to your doorstep. They create supply … [and] does not increase demand. And so it is deflationary.”

Over the last years, in light of talk to address increasing inequality, money was sent to labor, so to speak, and that promoted inflation.

Moreover, today’s contractionary monetary policy is a blunt tool and is not equipped to “address the main problem which is a lack of supply to absorb the demand.”

Please read Moontower’s full write-up, here.

That’s sort of in accordance with comments we quoted Credit Suisse Group AG’s (NYSE: CS) Zoltan Pozsar making, yesterday. Essentially, “the Fed is pursuing demand destruction through negative wealth effects,” as the “central banks can only deal with nominal” chokepoints.

By that token, we must “[c]onsider at least the possibility that the extreme volatility and lack of liquidity [we] see in markets is by design, and the Fed will not be deterred by it, but rather that it will be emboldened by it in its singular pursuit of price stability.”

With even President Biden endorsing the closure of the “wealth window,” Karsan believes corporations will have to worry about making money again.

“These cycles are a lot shorter than the monetary supply-side cycles but they tend to be very bad for multiples and great for economic growth.”

With that in mind, there is no escape. Even the traditional bond-stock relationship – the 60/40 framework – is at risk of being upended.

Graphic: Via Andy Constan of Damped Spring Advisors. “Zero rate hikes in 2023. Clearly, a recession is being priced in.” Per Bloomberg, a Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC) survey puts the Fed put (a pivot) at $3,529.00 in the S&P 500.

Positioning: Measures of implied volatility came in. That’s significant since participants have a lot of exposure to put options.

Further, we see liquidity providers being short those puts. As volatility continues to come in, the exposure of those options to direction (delta) compresses. 

As a result, liquidity providers will taper some of their negative delta short stock and futures hedges to that positive delta put position.

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

Those delta hedging flows with respect to changes in volatility (vanna) are on top of what has historically been a front-running of the bullish flow associated with the delta decay of options, particularly with respect to time (charm), into options expirations (OPEX). 

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

Notwithstanding, though proxies for buying and this hedging of existing options positioning, at the surface, appear to point to positively (skewed) forward returns, we have concern over the level at which from implied volatility is dropping from, and the general divergence between the volatility realized and implied, talked about yesterday.

Basically, as SpotGamma says, there’s not as much “stored energy to catalyze a rally.” 

SqueezeMetrics adds

The Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) compressing, while dealer gamma exposure is “more negative than it’s been in years is not how you get sustained rallies–it’s how you get energy for bigger downside moves.”

Therefore, we continue to focus on participating in upside with as little debit risk as possible, via the use of complex strategies, further validated by quoted research.

Graphic: Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The VIX’s “high starting point leaves vol high overall, and we like strategies with a short volatility bias, including put selling and 1×2 call spread overlays.”

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,083.75 overnight high (ONH) puts in play the $4,119.00 untested point of control (VPOC). Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as high as the $4,148.25 and $4,184.25 high volume nodes (HVNodes), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,083.75 ONH puts in play the $4,055.75 low volume area (LVNode). Initiative trade beyond the LVNode could reach as low as the $4,013.25 micro composite point of control (MCPOC) and $3,978.50 LVNode, or lower.

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

Considerations: A push-and-pull between the largest of S&P 500 weights.

For instance, Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL) is clinging to its prior trend.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

All the while products like Amazon Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN), are trading into key supports.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

We continue to monitor our market internals and (large) changes in positioning (e.g., open interest builds at higher prices further out in time) that will provide further validation to this most recent S&P 500 reversal.

Graphic: Market Internals as pioneered by (a mentor of mine) Peter Reznicek. Current reads of breadth (top charts), in particular, are uninspiring. An advance you do not short has an advance-decline line that’s pegged at +2,000, coupled with a Tick (bottom left) that has trouble closing below 0 for nearly the entirety of a session. Caution.

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.

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

About

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

Capelj also develops insights around impactful options market dynamics at SpotGamma and is a Benzinga reporter.

Some of his works include conversations with ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, investors Kevin O’Leary and John Chambers, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial, among many others.

Disclaimer

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

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For May 16, 2022

The daily brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 300+ that read this report daily, below!

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures auctioned lower after a failed attempt to solicit strong buying on a break of Friday’s regular trade high. 

Coincidentally, after a test of an anchored volume-weighted average price level, some measures from China had traders concerned about global growth, and that fed into a risk-off sentiment and probe further into Friday’s range.

Moreover, ahead is data on Empire State Manufacturing (8:30 AM ET).

Today, we add light context to our narratives with an aim to elaborate further in letters later this week. Take care!

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: Data from China shows contraction in light of COVID-19 troubles.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg

Bloomberg’s John Authers explains that a contracting China “would be a deflationary force for the rest of the world.”

Graphic: Via Stenos Signals. “China imports vs. Commodities – the most important macro chart in the world right now.”

Andreas Steno Larsen, of the Stenos Signals letter, recently talked about this “lack of economic activity in China,” as well as “slowing demand in the West,” both of which are to “lead inflation expectations lower.”

Graphic: Via CrossBorder Capital. “Latest weekly Fed liquidity injections and the S&P 500. Bigger the bull, the harder they fall? Fed trying to crash [the] economy to kill inflation [and] Wall Street is the victim.”

Notwithstanding, the Federal Reserve (Fed) remains on track “to deliver substantial QT and rate hiking,” all the while investors “hold a relatively risk-friendly position in equities and credits.”

Graphic: Via Societe Generale SA (OTC: SCGLY). Taken from The Market Ear.

Steno Larsen explains: “That disconnect [between sentiment and exposure to risk] will have to wane before I truly dare to re-add risk asset exposure to my list of recommendations.”

Graphic: Via @TheBondFreak. University of Michigan Sentiment.

Pursuant to that remark, Authers notes that the latest Chinese data emboldens the risks of a recession which Credit Suisse Group AG’s (NYSE: CS) Zoltan Pozsar explains is not enough.

“[T]he risk of recession, whether it is real or merely implied by an inversion of the yield curve, won’t deter the Fed from hiking rates higher faster or from injecting more volatility to build up negative wealth effects, and signs of a recession might not mean immediate rate cuts to ramp demand back up.”

“Rallies could beget more forceful pushback from the Fed – the new game.”

Graphic: Via @TheBondFreak. “2/10s spread has delivered its message. The long end is beginning to trend lower. NOW…it’s time to start watching the 3m/10yr spread, which will likely invert as the Fed continues with its rate hikes to kill demand, cause a recession, but “us” from inflation.”

Per Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS), baseline forecasts assume “no recession” and imply the S&P 500’s P/E ends unchanged at 17x. 

“A recession would see the index fall by 11% to $3,600.00 as the P/E drops to 15x.”

Graphic: Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Taken from The Market Ear. A recession brings S&P 500 to $3,600.00.

Positioning: Early on Friday morning, we approached trade too optimistically but, to our credit, we focused on participating with as little risk as possible, via the use of complex strategies, as validated by quoted research.

Graphic: Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The VIX’s “high starting point leaves vol high overall, and we like strategies with a short volatility bias, including put selling and 1×2 call spread overlays.”

Heading into Monday’s regular trade, little has changed and indexes are holding well, relative to some constituents.

This is as participants are hedged and volatility markets remain well-supplied, due in part to suppressive volatility selling, as well as passive flows supporting the largest index constituents.

Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan hypothesizes: “If a meaningful [volatility] event has happened within the last year, participants are more likely to be prepared for the move. So the ‘2nd event’ dramatically underperforms [implied volatility] skew expectations.”

“Take Jan/Feb 2016, Oct-Dec 2018, &…Sep 2020? All these ‘2nd Events’ ended up being as meaningful as their 1st events, if not more, for markets, but were much more orderly [and] accompanied by poor [volatility] performance.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “For all the recent declines — the S&P 500 is down more than 13% from its high on March 29 — stress indicators also aren’t at levels seen during comparable slumps. Fewer than 30% of the benchmark’s members have hit a one-year low, compared with nearly 50% during the growth scare in 2018 and 82% during the global financial crisis in 2008.”

Given the aforementioned supply and demand dynamic, we continue to observe “divergence in the volatility (movement of underlying equity market up and down) realized, versus that which is implied by options activity,” SpotGamma says. 

Graphic: Via @HalfersPower. “1 day return distribution when QQQ ROC[1] > 3.7%. Historically you can expect the weakest relative mean forward returns, and second-highest mean realized volatility amongst deciles.”

For “divergences in volatility realized and implied to resolve, it would likely take forced selling. Liquidity providers’ response to demand for protection would, then, likely exacerbate the move and aid in the repricing of volatility to levels where there would be more stored energy to catalyze a rally.”

All else equal, SpotGamma adds, there is no catalyst to rally until the May 20, 2022 options expiration (OPEX). Till then, rallies are subject to failure.

Graphic: Via SqueezeMetrics. Updated May 13, 2022. “VIX compressing to 30 on a modest pre-market rally with dealer gamma exposure more negative than it’s been in years is not how you get sustained rallies—it’s how you get energy for bigger downside moves.”

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 $4,013.25 micro composite point of control (MCPOC) puts in play the $4,036.00 regular trade high (RTH High). Initiative trade beyond the $4,069.25 high volume area (HVNode) could reach as high as the HVNode and $4,119.00 untested point of control (VPOC), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,013.25 MCPOC puts in play the $4,3978.50 low volume area (LVNode). Initiative trade beyond the LVNode could reach as low as the $3,943.25 HVNode and $3,899.00 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.

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

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

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

About

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

Capelj also develops insights around impactful options market dynamics at SpotGamma and is a Benzinga reporter.

Some of his works include conversations with ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, investors Kevin O’Leary and John Chambers, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial, among many others.

Disclaimer

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

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For May 13, 2022

The daily brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 300+ that read this report daily, below!

What Happened

Overnight, equity indices probed higher, above Thursday’s trade, which established a new swing low. The Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) fell while yields were bid and commodities mixed.

Today, we’ll get into some key narratives including crypto turmoil and financial conditions, as well as a validation of some of our trade theses.

Ahead is data on import prices (8:30 AM ET), University of Michigan consumer sentiment and inflation expectations (10:00 AM ET), as well as Fed-speak by Neel Kashkari (11:00 AM ET).

Take care and watch your risk.

Graphic updated 6:40 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: In the news, panic in the cryptocurrency markets eased and Tether (CRYPTO: USDT-USD), the world’s largest stablecoin, backed by commercial paper and U.S. Treasuries, climbed back to par.

JPMorgan Chase & Co’s (NYSE: JPM) Teresa Ho said there would be little impact on traditional funding markets while, according to Barclays PLC’s (NYSE: BCS) Joseph Abate, redemptions in Tether, which has a market value just shy of $90-100 billion, would only “cause meaningful strains in money markets should they exceed half of the stablecoin’s total holdings.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

Also in the news are rising interest rates (e.g., mortgage rates up to ~5.30%) and a weak equity market (e.g., S&P 500 lower ~20%), among other things, feeding into a tightening of financial conditions (which is how monetary policy impacts the economy).

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

“Financial conditions for households and businesses wanting to borrow or raise capital tightened again last week and are the most restrictive since the first wave of the pandemic in 2020 and before that 2012,” Reuters’ John Kemp said.

Graphic: Via John Kemp.

This is as inflation has become “deeply embedded,” spreading from the energy and raw materials-intensive merchandise sector to services.

Graphic: Via John Kemp.

“Rapid service sector price increases usually signal the imminent arrival of a recession,” Kemp said, pointing to decisions by some public companies like Uber Inc (NYSE: UBER), Twitter Inc (NYSE: TWTR), and Amazon Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN) to slow growth and cut labor forces as a validation of slowing momentum.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “I think we’re primed for a big distressed supply surge,” said Phil Brendel, a distressed debt analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence. “Everyone gets comfortable and complacent on credit and then when it turns, you tend to see these massive spikes.”

The accelerated selling of equities (~$6.2 billion), bonds (~11.4 billion), cash (~$19.7 billion), and some commodities (~$1.8 billion in gold), over the last week, per Bank of America Corporation’s (NYSE: BAC) Michael Hartnett is capitulation. 

“The definition of true capitulation is investors selling what they love,” Hartnett said, gauging the prospects that stocks have hit a near-term bottom. “Fear and loathing suggest stocks are prone to an imminent bear market rally, but we do not think ultimate lows have been reached.”

Positioning: In past commentaries, we talked about ways to play a returns distribution that is skewed to the upside (albeit, with large negative outliers).

Graphic: Via Physik Invest. Data retrieved from SqueezeMetrics. A higher DIX/GEX ratio has historically been associated with S&P 500 outperformance in the subsequent month. A very low DIX/GEX ratio has historically been associated with positive S&P 500 performance in the subsequent month, though there are many more negative outliers.

The following Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS) remark is a validation of what we’ve discussed:

“Even though the VIX’s reaction to recent spot downside has been mild, its high starting point leaves vol high overall, and we like strategies with a short volatility bias, including put selling and 1×2 call spread overlays.”

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

Mainly, zero- and low-cost bets ($0.00-$1.00 debit to open) that deliver asymmetric payouts (sometimes in excess of $10.00 credit to close) in case of violent and short-lived reversals. 

Personally, this letter’s author is structured positive delta and gamma in the Nasdaq 100 (INDEX: NDX) via ratios spread (1×2) and butterfly (1x2x1) structures.

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.

As stated before, width and timing are everything. 

Too much time or too narrow may result in asymmetric losses when the demand for upside bets further out in price and time bids the skew that you’re short, relative to the at-the-money volatility you own.

Ten to fifteen days to expiration and 500-1000 points wide, in the Nasdaq 100 (INDEX: NDX), one of the hardest hit of the indexes, work well. 

An easy check is whether the spread prices for a debit or credit to close if the underlying moves to the long strike of the spread, all else equal.

Debits (which may run as low as $0.00, depending on trade location) can be offset with credits from put sales.

Graphic: Chart of the Nasdaq 100 (INDEX: NDX).

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 upper part of a positively skewed overnight inventory, outside of prior-range and -value, suggesting a higher potential for immediate directional opportunity.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $3,978.50 low volume node (LVNode) puts into play the $4,011.00 untested point of control (VPOC). Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as high as the $4,069.25 high volume area (HVNode) and $4,119.00 VPOC, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $3,978.50 LVNode puts into play the $3,943.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as low as the $3,899.00 VPOC and $3,862.75 LVNode, or lower.

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

Considerations: Gap scenarios are 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.

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.

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

About

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

Capelj also develops insights around impactful options market dynamics at SpotGamma and is a Benzinga reporter.

Some of his works include conversations with ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, investors Kevin O’Leary and John Chambers, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial, among many others.

Disclaimer

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

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For May 9, 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, commodity, and bond futures were all lower while yields, and implied volatility metrics we monitor were bid.

This is as new fundamental data did little to disrupt the Federal Reserve’s (Fed’s) course to hike rates and reduce the size of its balance sheet, as well as the odds of further slowing as a result of actions to curb the spread of COVID-19 abroad, and geopolitical conflict.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS), among others, cut their equity market forecasts. Presently, they see an economic contraction playing into the S&P 500’s test of $3,600.00.

Notable is the market’s retest of a very key technical area ($4,055.75 in the E-mini S&P 500). This area, last week, likely solicited responsive buying by technically-driven market participants who often lack the wherewithal to defend retests, just days before the Fed’s decision on policy.

Now, the market is set to open below those key technical areas and that is the worst outcome.

Ahead is data on wholesale inventories (10:00 AM ET), as well as inflation (11:00 AM ET).

Graphic updated 6:35 AM ET. Sentiment Risk-Off if expected /ES open is below the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. SHIFT data used for S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options activity. Note that options flow is sorted by the call premium spent; if more positive, then more was spent on call options. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. VIX reflects a current reading of the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) from 0-100.

What To Expect

Positioning: Last week’s letters went in-depth on the implications of volatility divergences, the post-Fed rally, responses to key technical levels, and beyond.

On Friday, May 6, 2022, this letter essentially remarked the following:

Based on stretched positioning, equity markets are positioned for upside. Notwithstanding, the potential for large negative outliers, remains. In the case of an outlier, the consequent repricing of volatility may increase the reward, relative to the risk, for selling options.

Graphic: Via MarketWatch. “[B]ack-to-back swings in the internals on the scale seen this week are rare, with the last one occurring close to the COVID lows in stocks of March 2020. Indeed, investors had never seen a swing in internals as severe as Thursday’s before the financial crisis of 2008-09.”

How do you know whether the risk is worth the reward? 

A naive measure like the Cboe VVIX Index (INDEX: VVIX), which measures the volatility of volatility, has a mean below 100 and a high correlation with the Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) during times of stress.

When realized volatility is as high as it is, today, the VVIX typically trades closer to 150.

Graphic: Updated May 6, 2022. The VVIX via Physik Invest.

We’re not there yet and the market remains well-hedged, as SpotGamma explains well:

“From an options perspective, participants would have to demand en masse protection (buy puts, sell calls) for liquidity providers to further take from market liquidity (sell into weakness) and that volatility skew to, essentially, blowout (e.g., Corona crisis, Meme mania, and the like).”

Pursuant to those remarks, SpotGamma sees markets reaching a lower limit near the $4,000.00 SPX area. At that juncture, the rate at which liquidity providers add pressure in their hedging activities flattens as they, too, have hedges.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. Updated April 27, 2022.

“In turn, dealers may be able to advantageously reduce delta hedging (sell less), and supply markets with more liquidity (buy more stock). This could serve to reduce volatility.”

Noting, later this month is a large options expiration (OPEX), and expected is the roll-off of a large amount of put-heavy negative gamma.

Per Pat Hennessy of IPS Strategic Capital, returns one to two weeks prior are skewed bullish.

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

This is amid what is a front-running of the bullish flow associated with the delta decay of options with respect to changes in volatility (vanna) and time (charm), among other factors.

In other words, it is participants’ increased awareness of the implications of options and OPEX that has resulted in a front running. According to SqueezeMetrics, “People didn’t know about the OpEx week effect (in this case, largely charm). Now everyone and their mother knows about it.’”

So what?

Charm is a measure of an options delta’s change with respect to the passage of time. As time passes, delta “bleeds” as options decay. 

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

As most participants, at least at the index level, own protection, the counterparties to this trade are short protection. These counterparties, therefore, have positive exposure to delta (i.e., as index falls [rises], position loses [makes] money) and negative exposure to gamma, or delta (directional) sensitivity to underlying price changes (i.e., as the index moves against short option exposure, losses are multiplied). 

Moreover, given the growth of options volumes, participants’ heavy demand for protection matters more, to put simply. Counterparties, in light of this recent drop, pressured markets with their hedging. The decay (and eventual expiry) of this protection marks options deltas down.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. Rising put volumes coincide with early 2022 market sell-off.

To re-hedge, counterparties buy back short stock and futures hedges. This supportive action is what has been front-run. The bullishness of the event can happen in the days and weeks prior.

Technical: As of 6:35 AM ET, Monday’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, outside of prior-range and -value, suggesting a potential for immediate directional opportunity.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,055.75 low volume area (LVNode/gap boundary) puts in play the $4,119.00 untested point of control (VPOC). Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as high as the $4,153.25 regular trade high (RTH High) and $4,212.25 micro composite point of control (MCPOC), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,055.75 LVNode/gap boundary puts in play the $3,978.50 LVNode/gap boundary. Initiative trade beyond the LVNode/gap boundary could reach as low as the $3,943.25 and $3,907.75 high volume areas (HVNodes), or lower.

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

Considerations: Last Tuesday, we discussed the response to a key technical level ($4,055.75).

Specifically, the E-mini S&P 500 probed $4,056.00 before staging a sharp reversal and closing higher. This was noteworthy as it told us a lot about who was gaining the upper hand.

Push-and-pull, as well as responsiveness near key-technical areas (discernable visually on a chart), suggests technically-driven traders with shorter time horizons are (becoming) active.

Such traders often lack the wherewithal to defend retests.

Moreover, heading into last week’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) event, large participants (who often move by committee) de-grossed and hedged resulting in poor reliability of our technical levels.

In the days leading up to the event, these larger had little to do with respect to repositioning. 

The market’s tests of key technical areas solicited responsive buying by these short-term traders, and this played into a rally that continued through FOMC. Post-FOMC, the market quickly succumbed to the initiative selling by longer time frame participants.

All else equal, Monday’s regular trade is expected to start somewhere below a key technical area that solicited strong responsive buying by shorter timeframes. 

Given capital constraints and tolerances, shorter timeframes may fuel an acceleration of the prevailing downtrend.

What People Are Saying

Definitions

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

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

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

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

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

About

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

Capelj also develops insights around impactful options market dynamics at SpotGamma and is a Benzinga reporter.

Some of his works include conversations with ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, investors Kevin O’Leary and John Chambers, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial, among many others.

 Disclaimer

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

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For May 3, 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 were sideways, inside of the prior range, after exploring much lower, Monday. Measures of implied volatility, bonds, and most commodities were bid.

This is alongside news that Russia is dodging default, the necessity for the Fed to drop inflation down to 4% by year-end per Citadel’s Ken Griffin, the U.S. Treasury’s intent to scale back sales of longer-term debt, falling earnings estimates, Taiwan preparing to fend-off a potential invasion as Beijing ordered officials to find ways to fight against western sanctions, similar to those used against Russia, among other things including Fitch trimming China’s 2022 growth forecast.

Also, near risk-free, inflation-protected I bonds will pay 9.62% through October, the Treasury said, and here’s more on the Citigroup Inc (NYSE: C) trader that’s behind a European crash.

Ahead is data on job openings and quits, as well as factory and core capital goods orders (10:00 AM ET).

Read on for coverage on the fundamental and technical position of the market, as well as ways to position for future trade.

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 Federal Reserve (Fed) is expected to raise its target overnight rate by about 50 basis points and provide updates on quantitative tightening (QT).

Graphic: Via CME Group Inc’s (NASDAQ: CME) FedWatch Tool. Market participants expect a near-100% chance the fed moves its target rate to 75 or 100 basis points.

The expectations of the aforementioned have played into a tightening of financial conditions which, as Columbia Threadneedle’s Gene Tannuzzo explains, “reduces demand and ultimately slows inflation.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “Tighter financial conditions are the mechanism that reduces demand and ultimately slows inflation,” said Tannuzzo, the firm’s global head of fixed income. “If financial conditions don’t tighten and inflation remains high, in their eyes, they need to hike more.”

The key is the update on QT. As Bloomberg’s John Authers puts it well, “what the Fed does with its balance sheet at the margin [] matters for asset prices, and there is little or no lag.”

Graphic: Via Crossborder Capital Ltd. Taken from Bloomberg.

The Fed’s liquidity reductions, thus far, have played into the market’s troubles since the start of the year. This is as QT has an impact on the “ability to roll over or refinance investments.”

Graphic: Taken from The Market Ear. “46% of non-earnings driven market cap changes were explained by Fed balance sheet expansion since GFC.”

Perspective: JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM) strategists note that investors’ fears are unwarranted. The U.S.’s economic expansion has not been derailed. 

“Worries about China’s growth outlook, a negative take on the Q1 earnings reporting season, concerns about higher bond yields and further tightening of financial conditions from a strong dollar, all appear to have soured equity and credit investors’ sentiment,” the strategists said. 

“We find these fears overblown.”

Positioning: Comments from yesterday’s morning letter remain valid, today.

Participants’ bets on the direction are concentrated in negative delta (long puts, short calls). The exposure is short-dated and extremely sensitive to changes in implied volatility and direction.

Graphic: Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS). Taken from The Market Ear. “Retail Investors buyers of 0-1 DTE (days-to-expiry) puts are largest on record.”

Those options carry a lot of gamma and are exposed to the potential for asymmetric or convex payouts. This is not good for those who are on the other side.

In hedging a short put, for instance, a positive delta and negative gamma trade, counterparties sell underlying if there is weakness or jumps in implied volatility. If the underlying trades higher, or dips in volatility, the counterparty will buy the underlying, all else equal.

Taken together, in such an environment, the counterparty leans toward taking liquidity and this exacerbates underlying movement if there’s a thinning liquidity environment, SpotGamma says.

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

In other words, hedging matters more in such an environment. This was clear during Monday’s trade when a bout of put selling and light call buying appeared in both the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY) and Invesco QQQ Trust Series 1 (NASDAQ: QQQ).

This, ultimately, too, fed into the compression of volatility at the short-end of the term structure, yesterday. To re-hedge, counterparts likely bought into the market’s weakness and bolstered the near-vertical reversal, and close higher.

Graphic: SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options (HIRO) indicator for SPY. A rising blue and orange denote put selling and call buying, respectively.

The odds of follow-through, to the upside, come back to the fundamental situation and Fed announcements this week. Should fears with respect to monetary policy be assuaged, then volatility can compress and that, alone, will spur a buy-back of those underlying short hedges.

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

Technical: As of 6:45 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 balanced overnight inventory, inside of prior-range and -value, suggesting a limited potential for immediate directional opportunity.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,123.00 untested point of control (VPOC) puts in play the $4,176.00 overnight high (ONH). Initiative trade beyond the ONH could reach as high as the $4,247.00 VPOC and $4,279.75 ONH, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,123.00 VPOC puts in play the $4,055.75 low volume area (LVNode). Initiative trade beyond the LVNode could reach as low as the $3,978.50 LVNode and $3,943.25 high volume area (HVNode), or lower.

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

Considerations: Most interesting was Monday’s response at a key technical level ($4,055.75) outlined in the morning letter.

Specifically, the E-mini S&P 500 probed $4,056.00 before staging a sharp reversal and closing higher. This is noteworthy as it tells us a lot about who has (or is gaining) the upper hand.

Push-and-pull, as well as responsiveness near key-technical areas (discernable visually on a chart), suggests technically-driven traders with shorter time horizons are (becoming) active.

Such traders often lack the wherewithal to defend retests and, additionally, this type of trade may suggest other time frame participants are waiting for more information to initiate trades.

Adding, the Federal Reserve’s meeting this week concludes with statements to be shared on Wednesday. For weeks heading into this event, (larger) participants (that move by committee) have de-grossed and hedged. For that reason, the reliability of our technical levels took a hit.

Graphic: Via JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM). Taken from The Market Ear. Per Bloomberg, “Hedge funds tracked by Morgan Stanley have also cut their net leverage — a measure of risk appetite that takes into account long versus short positions — to a two-year low.”

In the very near term, until more fundamental information is revealed, these technical-driven traders may play a larger role in the volatility. These traders, given capital constraints and tolerances, often trigger sharp moves in their entry and exit on news. Caution on whipsaw.

How I’m Playing: Presently, the market is stretched to the downside and participants are leaning, heavily, one way.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma, “Put vs Call gamma suggests stretched positioning.”

Pursuant to that remark, as SpotGamma says, “traders are underpricing right-tail risk,” and that opens the window for unique ways to play a returns distribution that is skewed positive (albeit with large negative outliers).

Consider zero- or low-cost bets that deliver asymmetric payouts in case of reversals.

This letter’s writer presently is structured positive delta and gamma in the Nasdaq 100 (INDEX: NDX) via ratios spread (1×2) and butterfly (1x2x1) structures. 

The concern with these strategies is the width and time to expiry. Should either of those be wrong, then spreads initially positive gamma turn negative, meaning losses are amplified.

For instance, in the Nasdaq 100, to put in short, 500-1000 points wide ratio spreads (buy the closer leg, sell two of the farther legs) expiring in ten to fifteen days work well. 

For those spreads that are not zero cost, debits can be offset with credit sales (on the put side) in products that have shown relative strength like the S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX). This, inherently, carries more risk. Read more about these strategies, here.

Please note that the above is NOT a trade recommendation or advice.

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.

Definitions

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

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

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

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

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

About

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

Capelj also develops insights around impactful options market dynamics at SpotGamma and is a Benzinga reporter.

Some of his works include conversations with ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, investors Kevin O’Leary and John Chambers, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial, among many others.

Disclaimer

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

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For April 25, 2022

Editor’s Note: Wow, what a month! Looks like there was a ton of volatility we weren’t able to navigate together.

I’m back now and will be making changes to both the quantity and quality of notes sent. In total transparency, I took on way too much work, and quality suffered a tad. I look forward to making things a bit more sustainable and am grateful for your interest in remaining a subscriber.

Interested in getting this free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 200+ that read this report daily, below, today!

What Happened

Overnight, the equity index and most commodity futures explored lower. Bonds and implied volatility metrics were bid.

This is alongside news that China’s reaction to a local COVID-19 outbreak may feed into global slowdowns just as supply pressures, among other things, are pushing the Federal Reserve (Fed) to adopt a more hawkish policy stance.

Notable is the pace at which China’s yuan is falling. 

Per TD Securities, it suggests “the PBOC is utilizing the yuan as another tool to provide stimulus to the economy at a time when they are showing restraint on the monetary policy front.” 

Ahead, there are no important economic events scheduled. See who is reporting earnings, here.

Graphic updated 7:30 AM ET. Sentiment Risk-Off if expected /ES open is below the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. SHIFT data used for S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options activity. Note that options flow is sorted by the call premium spent; if more positive, then more was spent on call options. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. VIX reflects a current reading of the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) from 0-100.

What To Expect

Fundamental: A push-and-pull, continues.

At a high level, it was surmised that many of the responses to geopolitical tension and inflation were priced in. The economy, since early pandemic disruptions, has strengthened and the need for ultra-accommodative policies is no more.

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

That means low rates and quantitative easing (QE) – easy money so to speak – are on the way out, at least for the time being.

Recall that 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.”

Graphic: Via ICI. Taken from The Market Ear.

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 because, 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.

Previously, as the Damped Spring’s Andy Constan had previously commented, “[a]dditional risk premium expansion pressures from these levels is not likely.”

“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.”

Well, that’s what happened in early April when Fed members said their debt holdings would be reduced “at a rapid pace” as soon as May, as well as hike rates, faster. 

“Given that the recovery has been considerably stronger and faster than in the previous cycle, I expect the balance sheet to shrink considerably more rapidly than in the previous recovery,” the Fed’s Lael Brainard said

The Fed may even raise “caps” on the pace of QT.

Graphic: Via The Market Ear. Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS) sees the balance sheet shrinking “to an equilibrium size of just over $6tn by early- or mid-2025, though there is substantial uncertainty about its terminal size.”

Per CME Group Inc’s (NASDAQ: CME) FedWatch Tool, market participants are pricing a near-100% probability that the Fed will move the target rate to 75-100 bps (+50 or +75 bps).

Graphic: Via CME Group Inc. FedWatch Tool suggests a near-100% chance of a Fed hike that moves the target rate between 75 and 100 bps.

At a high-level, rates hikes take time to flow through to the economy while “QT is a direct flow of capital to capital markets or flow out of,” according to statements by Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan. 

“An increase in the pace of tightening of QT should mean lower stocks, wider credit spreads and a slight reduction in the need for front-end hikes,” explains Kevin Muir of the MacroTourist.

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

Graphic: Bloomberg. “Everyone bearish, but redemptions just starting,” said BofA strategists led by Michael Hartnett, adding that the environment of “extreme inflation” and rates shock is just setting in, as the Federal Reserve tightens monetary policy. “75 basis points is the new 25 basis points,” Hartnett said, referring to the scope of future interest-rate hikes.

As an aside, adding to earlier comments on the yuan’s fall, Bob Parker, a senior adviser at Credit Suisse Group AG (NYSE: CS) explains that “When Chinese investors lose confidence in their own economy/markets, capital outflows from China accelerate, … [and] this, then, leads to a central bank which has to prop up the currency by selling some of the country’s huge reserve piles.” 

“Part of their reserves will have been/are in U.S. equities so as the reserves fall, they are natural sellers of the S&P.”

Graphic: Via Refinitiv. Taken from The Market Ear. CNH versus SPX.

Positioning: In a comparison of options positioning and passive buying support, the returns distribution is skewed positive and points to building support for a potential short-term bounce.

Graphic: Via Physik Invest. Data via SqueezeMetrics.

The most recent liquidation resulted in participants reaching for protection and this exacerbated movement to the downside amidst the reflexive hedging.

As this short-dated exposure decays, the counterparts’ hedges are to be tapered and this may assist in the market hammering out a bottom or rallying. 

On the contrary, however, as SpotGamma explained in a recent note, “[t]op of mind as we head into new trade on Monday is the likelihood traders will not aggressively sell volatility (i.e., if they sell volatility -> that drives volatility lower -> resulting in hedging flows that support the market) until the FOMC (5/4) and/or some resolution on the geopolitical front.”

“Therefore, [] expect larger trading ranges this upcoming week.”

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 lower part of a negatively skewed overnight inventory, outside of prior-range and -value, suggesting a potential for immediate directional opportunity.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,247.75 regular trade low (RTH Low) puts in play the $4,274.50 spike base. Initiative trade beyond the spike base could reach as high as the $4,314.75 high volume area (HVNode) and $4,337.00 untested point of control (VPOC), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,247.75 RTH Low 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 $4,129.50 overnight low (ONL), or lower.

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

In a spike up (down) situation, trade below (above) the spike base, negates the buying (selling).

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 also develops insights around impactful options market dynamics at SpotGamma and is a Benzinga reporter.

Some of his works include conversations with ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, investors Kevin O’Leary and John Chambers, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial, among many others.

Disclaimer

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

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For April 4, 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!

Editor’s Note: Hey team, thanks again for your reading of this daily newsletter. Due to travel commitments, I will not be writing reports consistently for the rest of this month.

Don’t expect any updates until Monday, April 11, 2022. Thereafter, coverage may be sporadic for the rest of the month.

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures were higher after exploring lower, briefly. Commodities were mixed while bonds were lower and implied volatility measures were bid.

In terms of news, the European Union said it was interested in penalizing Russia, further, for its actions in Ukraine. This is as China battles new COVID-19 sub-strains. 

Ahead is data on factory and core capital equipment orders (10:00 AM ET). 

Graphic updated 5:45 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: In the face of geopolitical tension, supply pressures, and inflation, consumer sentiment is at or below pandemic levels, prompting the Federal Reserve (Fed) to destimulate.

Graphic: Via S&P Global Inc (NYSE: SPGI) research. “Confluence Of Risks Halts Positive Credit Momentum.

“It has entered 2008-09 territory and is not far from all-time lows in the ‘80s when inflation and interest rates hit double digits,” ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood explained in a Twitter discussion on yield-curve inversions and aggressive action by the Federal Reserve, as well as inflation.

“The economy succumbed to recession in each of those periods. Europe and China are also in difficult straits. The Fed seems to be playing with fire.”

In accordance, the Macro Compass’ Alfonso Peccatiello explains that his credit impulse metrics, which lead economic activity and risk asset performance, imply a slowdown in earnings.

Graphic: Via The Macro Compass.

Still, in spite of these metrics, on average, recessions happen 12 to 24 months after the first yield curve inversions, according to Jefferies Financial Group Inc (NYSE: JEF).

Post-inversion S&P 500 performance, actually, is often positive.

Graphic: Via Jefferies Financial Group. Taken from The Market Ear.

Bolstering the call for positive equity market performance are strong seasonality trends during Fed-rate-hike episodes, a contraction in equity risk premia, and “still accommodative” monetary policy, per explanations by rates strategist Rishi Mishra. 

Graphic: Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS). Taken from The Market Ear. “Equities are a real asset as they make a claim on nominal GDP. In the post-financial crisis era, weak economic activity and lower inflation pushed down nominal GDP, raising the equity risk premium and reducing the bond term premium. So as long as economies grow, revenues and dividends should also grow. The dividend yield can be thought of as a real yield. Equity risk premia have started to decline in the post COVID cycle but remain higher than in the pre-financial crisis era.”

“[T]he 3ms2s vs 2s10s spread (or the 3m2s10s fly) is the widest it has been since the end of 1994. The widening of this fly is indicative of the fact that while the Fed shifted its guidance from dovish to extremely hawkish, the policy is still accommodative.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. Taken from Rishi Mishra.

Positioning: The equity market’s ferocious end-of-March rally, which placed the S&P 500 back above a key go/no-go level – the 200-period simple moving average – may have been in part the result of institutional investors purchasing equities ahead of quarterly reporting.

“Remember that stocks settle T+2, meaning that shares are actually owned by buyers two business days after they are purchased in the market,” says Interactive Brokers’ Group Inc (NASDAQ: IBKR) Steve Sosnick. 

“That means that institutions who wanted to show stock positions on their quarterly reports would have needed to purchase those shares no later than Tuesday the 29th. The sharp end-of-day runups that we saw on Monday and Tuesday had the hallmarks of aggressive institutional buying.”

According to Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE: DB) analyses, “[a]ggregate equity positioning has now risen off the lows but only to the 22nd percentile and is still well below neutral.”

That said, quarter-end rebalances and options expirations (OPEX) likely do little to upset the balance of trade. Based on a lot of the insights shared in this letter, barring some exogenous event, the market is in a position to drift or balance.

This, as a result, may solicit a “stronger impulse to chase the rally,” at which point JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM) strategists say they would “generally be more concerned.”

A collapse (or convergence) in volatility metrics for different asset classes (like the Merrill Lynch Options Volatility Estimate [INDEX: MOVE] and Cboe Volatility Index [INDEX: VIX]) would bolster the “drift or balance” thesis.

Graphic: Via Physik Invest.

Technical: As of 5:45 AM ET, Monday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, will likely open in the upper part of a positively skewed overnight inventory, inside of prior-range and -value, suggesting a limited potential for immediate directional opportunity.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,527.00 untested point of control (VPOC) puts in play the $4,562.50 spike base. Initiative trade beyond the spike base could reach as high as the $4,583.00 VPOC and $4,611.75 low volume area (LVNode), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,527.00 VPOC puts in play the $4,501.25 regular trade low (RTH Low). Initiative trade beyond the RTH Low could reach as low as the $4,469.00 VPOC and $4,438.25 HVNode, or lower.

Considerations: Spikes often 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 a spike up (down) situation, trade below (above) the spike base, negates the buying (selling).

Click here to load today’s key levels into the web-based TradingView charting platform. Note that all levels are derived using the 65-minute timeframe. New links are produced, daily.

Graphic: 65-minute profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

What People Are Saying

Definitions

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

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

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 April 1, 2022

The Daily Brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 200+ that read this report daily, below!

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures auctioned sideways to higher after their late-day liquidation and break from a multi-day consolidation area on technical factors (e.g., options expirations) among other things, potentially, like the increase in personal consumption expenditures.

Broadly speaking, the narrative that investors are showing some concern over the economic outlook, with respect to geopolitical tension and monetary policy, continues to emanate. 

U.S. high-grade bonds shed over 5%, booking the worst quarterly performance since the ‘80s. This is as recession risks have risen more than two-fold. 

Notwithstanding, the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) favorite yield curve metric remains steep; per a Bloomberg commentary, “the gap between the three-month bill rates and 10-year yields is the ‘most useful term spread for forecasting recessions,’ … [and] it currently stands at 186 basis points, versus negative 2 basis points on 2s10s.”

In terms of news, the U.K. will join the U.S. in releasing oil from its reserves to lower prices and reduce its reliance on external partners. This helped ease futures calendar spreads on oil, Reuters’ John Kemp said in a newsletter to followers; the “six-month spread [narrowing] to a backwardation of $9 per barrel, the lowest since before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

Ahead is data on nonfarm payrolls, the unemployment rate and average hourly earnings, as well as labor-force participation (8:30 AM ET). Thereafter, the Chicago Fed’s Charles Evans is scheduled to speak (9:05 AM ET). 

Later is Markit manufacturing PMI (9:45 AM ET), as well as ISM manufacturing index and consumer spending data (10:00 AM ET).

Graphic updated 6:30 AM ET. Sentiment Neutral if expected /ES open is inside of the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. SHIFT data used for S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options activity. Note that options flow is sorted by the call premium spent; if more positive, then more was spent on call options. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. VIX reflects a current reading of the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) from 0-100.

What To Expect

Fundamental: The S&P 500 bagged its first quarterly loss in two years as recession probabilities, implied by some yield curves, have risen.

Graphic: Via Barclays. Taken from The Market Ear. “[T]he 1y ahead recession probability implied by the 3m10y curve rises to about 40% a year from now (so for an early 2024 recession), slightly higher than implied by other curves.”

This is as the stock performance, relative to bonds against the lagged spread of 10- and 2-year bond yields, is expected to be weak, according to insights by Pictet Asset Management.

Graphic; Via Pictet Asset Management Ltd. Taken from Bloomberg. “On this basis, stocks’ great outperformance this quarter may end up looking like a head-fake.”

Pictet’s narrative further validates some of the theses shared by institutions like Brevan Howard Asset Management, which is having one of its best years, Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS), Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS), and Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC).

Adding to the prospects for weaker earnings amid higher costs, among other things, some of these institutions see the potential for the Fed’s terminal rate to reach between 3% and 3.25%.

Graphic: Via Andreas Steno Larsen. “The Fed is now priced to hike to levels above 3% by Dec-2023, … which is the main reason why we have seen a sell-off in all assets with an intensive duration profile over the past 12-15 months … [and has] duration intensive assets … starting to look attractive again from a risk/reward perspective.”

This would hit valuations as higher yields both reduce the present value of future earnings and “hurt those carrying the highest leverage,” potentially playing into a slowdown or recession. 

Graphic: Via S&P Global Inc (NYSE: SPGI) “expects the economic damage [of geopolitics and pricing pressures] to lower U.S. GDP growth to 3.2% this year, matching its preliminary forecast in early March but a full 70 bps lower than its November forecast of 3.9%.”

“Now rates volatility can drive growth volatility and that actually becomes a vicious cycle between the two,” said Christian Mueller-Glissmann of Goldman Sachs. 

“That’s a big difference to the last cycle where growth volatility drove rates volatility.”

Graphic: Via Vanda. Taken from The Market Ear. “The bond market is pricing the 2022 cycle to be remarkably fast. Macro Alf: ‘Remember: sharp changes in borrowing conditions often cause non-linear reactions in a highly leveraged system.’”

However, this is as the dominance of rate-sensitive tech stocks is set to shrink next year amid sector reclassifications, as well as still-stimulative policy and beats of economic expectations that may feed into earnings surprises, later.

JPMorgan’s Marko Kolanoivc explains that (1) “both equity and credit markets have historically fared well at the start of monetary tightening cycles,” (2) “the real policy rate is extremely negative and thus stimulative,” and (3) “not all central banks are tightening.”

Morgan Stanley’s Michael Wilson vehemently disagrees suggesting the recent equity market turnaround “was nothing more than a vicious bear market rally,” and offers participants a clear opportunity to sell at better prices.

Taking all of the above comments and perspectives together, one thing is for certain: this period in history is like no other. It makes sense to pick a timeframe and stick with it. 

Positioning: In the past weeks, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co’s Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, the supportive “rebalancing flows away from bonds into equities” are no more and, therefore, equities are subject to increased vulnerabilities “if bond yields continue to rise.”

This is after measures of equity implied volatility were crushed heading through the mid-March FOMC and monthly options expiry (OPEX) events, and the options hedging impact of this, at least, was very supportive, as we’ve talked about many times in this newsletter.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “The CBOE-VIX index, measuring stock volatility from the options market, unsurprisingly spiked immediately after Russia’s attack. It reached another high three weeks ago. Then the VIX started to fall, and in the two weeks since the Fed unveiled its first rate hike in years, the decline has been almost linear. The ‘fear gauge,’ as it is often known, is now significantly lower than it was a week before the invasion, when markets were priced on the assumption that there would be no war.”

On the contrary, measures of volatility for other assets, like the Merrill Lynch Options Volatility Estimate (INDEX: MOVE), a useful measure of bond market sentiment, are doing the opposite. 

We discussed early last month, what we saw was an increased supply of equity market volatility, as a potential reason for some of these divergences. 

As Bloomberg’s John Authers explained well, it, too, could have been “an aggressive central bank” that prompted a move out of bonds and into equities, and subdued target-date fund rebalancing flows which usually sell stocks and buy bonds.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

“[I]t looks as though the contradictions that had built up in the market over the last two years, and in the decade before that, are being put under extreme stress by the double whammy of a newly aggressive Federal Reserve, and the worst geopolitical shock in decades,” Authers adds.

Still, realized volatility continues to trend down which ought to force those (e.g., computer-driven traders) who position (and size equity exposure) based on underlying volatility to load up, again.

Nomura Holdings Inc’s (NYSE: NMR) Charlie McElligott explains that “volatility-targeting funds and trend-following commodity trading advisers, purchased” billions of equity futures which bolstered the price rise of the last weeks.

From a positioning versus buying support perspective, the forward returns distribution is skewed positive but not by a lot; a lot of the supportive options exposure is rolling-off and this could free up (i.e., unpin) indexes for the next leg up or down.

Graphic: SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options Indicator shows negative delta trade in the S&P 500 SPY ETF, and this pressured the underlying index.

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, 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 $4,546.00 spike base puts in play the $4,573.25 high volume area (HVNode). Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as high as the $4,583.00 untested point of control (VPOC) and $4,611.75 low volume area (LVNode), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,546.00 spike base puts in play the $4,526.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as low as the $4,515.25 and $4,489.75 LVNodes, or lower.

Considerations: A change in the market (i.e., the transition from two-time frame trade, or balance, to one-time frame trade, or trend) occurred.

Continue to monitor for acceptance outside of the balance area. Rejection (i.e., return inside of balance) portends a move to the opposite end of the balance. See the below graphic for more.

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

What People Are Saying

Definitions

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

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

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.

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): Marks change in dealer gamma exposure. 

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

About

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

Capelj also develops insights around impactful options market dynamics at SpotGamma and is a Benzinga reporter.

Some of his works include conversations with ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, investors Kevin O’Leary and John Chambers, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial, among many others.

Disclaimer

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

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For March 23, 2022

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

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

Take care and trade safe,

Renato

What Happened

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

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

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

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

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

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

Graphic updated 6:30 AM ET. Sentiment Neutral if expected /ES open is inside of the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. SHIFT data used for S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options activity. Note that options flow is sorted by the call premium spent; if more positive, then more was spent on call options. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. VIX reflects a current reading of the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) from 0-100.

What To Expect

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Positioning: Dip buying serves investors well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Graphic: Via Vix Central.

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,489.75 low volume area (LVNode) puts in play the $4,515.25 LVNode. Initiative trade beyond the $4,515.25 LVNode could reach as high as the $4,548.75 LVNode and $4,565.00 untested point of control (VPOC), or higher.

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

Considerations: Push-and-pull, as well as responsiveness near key-technical areas (that are discernable visually on a chart), suggests technically-driven traders with short time horizons are very active. 

Such traders often lack the wherewithal to defend retests and, additionally, the type of trade may be indicative of the other time frame participants waiting for more information to initiate trades.

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

Definitions

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

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

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

About

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

Capelj also develops insights around impactful options market dynamics at SpotGamma and is a Benzinga reporter.

Some of his works include conversations with ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, investors Kevin O’Leary and John Chambers, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial, among many others.

Disclaimer

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

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For March 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.