Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For June 22, 2022

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

What Happened

Overnight, equity index and commodity futures were sideways to lower all the while bonds and volatility were bid. 

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

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

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

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

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

What To Expect

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

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

Read: Daily brief for May 18, 2022.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Graphic: Via Redfin Corporation (NASDAQ: RDFN).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So why does any of this matter?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Graphic: Via UBS Group AG.

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

Read: Daily Brief for May 13, 2022.

Graphic: Via Banco Santander SA (NYSE: SAN) research, the return profile, at expiry, of a classic 1×2 (long 1, short 2 further away) ratio spread (the inverse of a back spread).

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $3,696.00 low volume area (LVNode) puts in play the $3,722.50 LVNode. Initiative trade beyond the LVNodes could reach as high as the $3,735.75 and $3,770.75 high volume areas (HVNodes), or higher.

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

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

Considerations: Gap scenarios are in play, today.

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

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

Definitions

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

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

About

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

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

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

Disclaimer

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

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For 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.