Categories
Commentary

Weekly Brief For May 2, 2021

Happy Sunday! Markets were choppy, ending the week flat-to-down. This came after President Joe Biden’s joint session of Congress, Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s assessment of the economy, and blowout earnings by heavily weighted index constituents.

The following commentary on U.S. broad market equity indices will discuss what happened, why it matters, what to expect, and how participants can position themselves for the coming week.

Market Commentary

What Happened: U.S. broad market indices closed the week out flat-to-down after a failed attempt to break higher on Thursday, April 29. Last week’s action suggests participants are looking for information to initiate a directional move.

  • Policy leaders, creators: Inflation pockets transitory.
  • Ahead: Data on labor, manufacturing, and earnings.
  • Markets balancing, positions for directional resolve.
Updated: 10:00 AM EST Sunday.

Why It Matters: The sideways action during last week’s trade came after a lengthy run, higher. 

The S&P 500, in particular, from its March 2020 low, is up over 90%.

That said, as investors enter into a new month, popular news outlets are beating the drum of an old adage: “Sell in May and go away.”

Is there any truth to this statement? It depends on perspective.

Historically speaking, the period spanning May to October is generally weak. On average, the S&P 500 is up as high as +2% during this six-month period.

“Stocks are up more than 87% from the March lows, suggesting a well-deserved pullback during these troublesome months is quite possible,” LPL Financial Chief Market Strategist Ryan Detrick said in a recent blog post. “But with an accommodative Fed, fiscal and monetary policy, along with an economy that is opening faster than nearly anyone expected, we’d use any weakness as an opportunity to add to positions.”

Adding, trends are changing, though; stocks have been higher during these so-called weak months 8 out of the past 10 years, according to LPL Research. 

Graphic by LPL Research. Data from FactSet. 

So, with that, in maintaining objectivity, we zoom out and ask a few questions.

  1. Where are we in relation to the prior week’s range? Overlapping.
  2. Is the market’s attempt to go in a certain direction supported? No. After a failed balance-area breakout, participants rotated and accepted prices back in the prior range, as evidenced by unchanged value-area placement, the area where 70% of prior trade (i.e., 1 standard deviation) is conducted.
  3. Is the technical and fundamental narrative supportive of current prices? Technically, the market is in an extended uptrend. However, despite value-area placement suggesting a validation of higher prices, market liquidity metrics point to distribution, the opposite of accumulation.

Now, we analyze other factors in play.

  • Real Yields: Alongside April’s FOMC — at which the Federal Reserve left rates unchanged and asset purchases steady — 10-year real yields are on track for their biggest drop since last summer. Low real rates may catalyze risk assets as the present value of their future earnings become more attractive
  • Capital Gains Tax (CGT): The White House expressed its desire to raise the federal CGT rate to 43.4% for wealthy individuals. However, as Goldman Sachs Group (NYSE: GS) sees it, Congress is likely to settle on a more modest increase. Adding, weak S&P 500 returns, historically, going into CGT hikes are short-lived.
  • Low Rates, Debt Expansion: Such dynamics incent market participants to take risks, causing destabilizing factors to brew. As Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial says, “The growth of structured products, passive investing, the regulatory standpoint that’s been implemented with Dodd-Frank and dealers needing to hedge off their risk more frequently than not” are all part of a regime change that’s affected the stability of markets.
  • Positioning: According to Nomura data presented by The Market Ear, CTAs have taken their positions too far on the long side, reaching levels last seen prior to the 2018 Volmageddon. Additionally, the (1) SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY) and the (2) Invesco QQQ Trust Series 1 (NASDAQ: QQQ) funds saw some of their biggest outflows. At the same time, certain breadth metrics are diverging from current prices while the SPDR S&P 500 ETF, cash-settled S&P 500 Index, and Invesco QQQ saw sizable call-side bets trade, Friday. 
  • Earnings Reaction: Last week, heavily weighted index constituents reported blowout earnings. The reaction was muted, leaving broad market indices flat-to-down. One explanation is that the expectations, going into the events, were too high. Another is that the equity market is priced to perfection, at this stage of the recovery, and further advances will be supported by the rotation into cyclical parts of the market — financials, energy, and value. 
  • Option Expiration (OPEX): Option expiries mark an end to pinning (i.e, the theory that market makers and institutions short options move stocks to the point where the greatest dollar value of contracts will expire worthless) and the reduction dealer gamma exposure. According to SpotGamma, a provider of actionable options insights, on Friday, up to 30% of the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100’s gamma rolled off which may allow the indices an opportunity to directionally resolve.

So, in summarizing this section, technically, the market is bullish, supported by the prospects of a healthy rotation. In the coming week, given increased clarity on policy and a sizable derivatives expiry, participants may see directional resolve.

What To Expect: An increased potential to resolve directionally.

In addition, metrics, like price movement, market liquidity, and speculative derivatives activity, confirm participants’ bullishness and opportunistic hedging in light of an acceleration in the global restart and a turn in flows, the result of an apparent shift in consumer preferences, from saving and investing to spending.

Graphic: Physik Invest maps out the purchase of call and put options in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY), for the week ending April 30. Activity in the options market was primarily concentrated in short-dated tenors, in strikes as low as $400.000, which corresponds with $4,000.00 in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX).

What To Do: In the coming sessions, participants will want to pay attention to where the S&P 500 trades in relation to its $4,186.75-$4,110.50 balance area. 

Balance (Two-Timeframe Or Bracket): Rotational trade that denotes current prices offer favorable entry and exit. Balance-areas make it easy to spot change in the market (i.e., the transition from two-time frame trade, or balance, to one-time frame trade, or trend).

Any activity above (below) the balance-area high suggests participants are interested in discovering higher (lower) prices. Any activity within the balance area suggests participants are looking for more information to base their next move; in such case, responsive buying and selling is the course of action. 

Responsive Buying (Selling): Buying (selling) in response to prices below (above) area of recent price acceptance.

Initiative trade below the balance-area low suggests an inclination by participants to revert to the mean and repair some of the poor structure left behind prior discovery. Initiative trade above the balance area puts in play the $4,210.75 minimal excess rally-high, and the cluster of price extensions at and above $4,200.00, typical price targets based on Fibonacci principles.

Initiative Buying (Selling): Buying (selling) within or above (below) previous price acceptance.

Excess: A proper end to price discovery; the market travels too far while advertising prices. Responsive, other-timeframe (OTF) participants aggressively enter the market, leaving tails or gaps which denote unfair prices.

So, in the best case, the S&P 500 makes an attempt to balance or discover prices as high as $4,300.00. In the worst case, participants look to auction the S&P 500 into prior poor structures and low-volume areas (LVNodes) that ought to offer little-to-no support.

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

If participants were to auction and find acceptance into areas of prior low-volume, then future discovery ought to be volatile and quick as participants look to areas of high volume for favorable entry or exit.
Graphic: 65-minute profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

News And Analysis

Markets | U.S. builders produced record share of homes with hot market. (BBG)

Economy | Consumer spending, labor cost data suggests inflation warming up. (REU

Trade | Baltic Dry Index breaks 3,000 points in more than a decade on prices. (TW)

Wealth | Rich Americans fleeing tax hikes may turbocharge the shift to ETFs. (BBG)

Markets | Fed’s Robert Kaplan warns on ‘imbalances,’ wants to talk taper. (REU)

Markets | A volatility quant nets $540 million as momentum trades boom. (BBG)

Lending | States are investigating predatory subprime auto lenders. (Jalopnik)

Markets | Record metals prices catapulted mining profits beyond big oil. (BBG)

Medicine | Biden’s ARPA-H agency to ‘end cancer’ modeled after Darpa. (TC)

Markets | Bond market’s inflation bulls get Powell’s go-ahead to double down. (BBG)

Markets | Bridgewater Co-CIO sees ‘fair amount’ of stock market in bubble. (BBG)

Markets | Retail investors could counter the much-anticipated correction. (SA)

Economy | Warren Buffett denounces SPACs and Robinhood at meeting. (Axios)

Markets | Crypto’s shadow currency surges past deposits of most U.S. banks. (BBG)

Technology | Roku says it may lose YouTube app after Google’s demands. (Axios)

Economy | Ex-Treasury Secretary Summers on scarcity of workers, inflation. (BBG)

Markets | Parametric fund earns ‘Gamma Hammer’ moniker with its bets. (FT)

What People Are Saying

Innovation And Emerging Trends

FinTech | Apex Fintech has blow-out earnings ahead of NYSE listing. (BZ)

FinTech | How to attract large investors to your direct investing platform? (TC)

FinTech | New fintech groups form as industry scrutiny is ramping up. (S&P)

FinTech | Cryptocurrency bank wins OCC approval to form de novo. (S&P)

Markets | CME eyes wider customer base with micro bitcoin futures. (TB)

FinTech | Coinbase plans to acquire data and analytics platform Skew. (TB)

FinTech | How U.K.-based Lendable is powering fintechs across EMs. (TC)

FinTech | Amid the IPO gold rush, how should we value fintech startups? (TC)

FinTech | 10 fintech headhunters you need to know for recruiting to talent. (BI)

FinTech | U.K. banks speed up plans to ax branches, switch to digital focus. (S&P)

Medicine | Kevin O’Leary-backed MindMed has uplisted on the Nasdaq. (BZ)

Media | Creators are making lots of money selling Google spreadsheets. (Mashable)

Media | As newsletter advertising grows, advertisers opting for quality. (ADWK)

About

Renato founded Physik Invest after going through years of self-education, strategy development, and trial-and-error. His work reporting in the finance and technology space, interviewing leaders such as John Chambers, founder, and CEO, JC2 Ventures, Kevin O’Leary, Canadian businessman and Shark Tank host, Catherine Wood, CEO and CIO, ARK Invest, among others, afforded him the perspective and know-how very few come by.

Having worked in engineering and majored in economics, Renato is very detailed and analytical. His approach to the markets isn’t built on hope or guessing. Instead, he leverages the unique dynamics of time and volatility to efficiently act on opportunity.

Disclaimer

At this time, Physik Invest does not manage outside capital and is not licensed. In no way should the materials herein be construed as advice. Derivatives carry a substantial risk of loss. All content is for informational purposes only.

Categories
Commentary

Weekly Brief For April 25, 2021

Happy Sunday! Markets were choppy, ending the week unchanged. This came alongside talk of central bank tapering and an evolution in fiscal policy.

The following commentary on U.S. broad market equity indices will discuss what happened, why it matters, what to expect, and how participants can position themselves for the coming week.

But first, here’s a quote from Adam Funds CEO, Mark E. Stoeckle:

“To try to guess that this is the right time to be out of the market, you may as well go to Las Vegas.”

Market Commentary

What Happened: The S&P 500, Nasdaq 100, Russell 2000, and Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the week out basing, pricing in new information for the next directional move.

  • All talk and no action from policy leaders, creators.
  • Ahead: Fed meeting, GDP and Sentiment, earnings.
  • Markets balancing, position for directional resolve.
Updated: 10:30 AM EST

Why It Matters: The sideways action during last week’s trade came after a lengthy run, higher.

The S&P 500, in particular, from its March 4 low, is up nearly 13%.

Moreover, just because something is high, doesn’t mean it must come crashing down. To put this into perspective, here’s a quote from Jeff deGraaf, co-founder at Renaissance Macro Research: “Overbought/oversold conditions are useless without first defining the underlying trend of the market.”

So, with that, in maintaining objectivity, we zoom out and ask a few questions: 

  1. Where are we in relation to the prior week’s range? Overlapping, but slightly higher. 
  2. Is the market’s attempt to go in a certain direction supported? Yes, value, defined by the area where 70% of prior trade (i.e., 1 standard deviation) is conducted, is following price.
  3. Is the technical and fundamental narrative supportive of current prices? Technically, the market is in an extended uptrend, but recent activity suggests a validation of higher prices. Fundamentally, the topics of monetary and fiscal tightening have investors worried.

Now, in determining whether to change equity market exposure, we zoom closer in and analyze the risks at hand. 

The Bank of Canada, ahead of other central banks, in light of increased growth and inflation forecasts, cut its bond-purchase target and suggested an increased potential to hike rates earlier than expected.

This is an interesting development. The Federal Reserve, too, last week announced the U.S. economy would see higher inflation, but Chair Jerome Powell expressed the institution’s commitment to limiting any overshoot.

Why the change in tone? Here’s Janus Henderson’s portfolio manager Jay Sivapalan’s take.

“We’ve got inflated asset prices in equities, house prices, and infrastructure, how do you normalize that? You need revenue growth and you need inflation … [b]ut at some point in the future, growth may need to be traded off for financial stability.”

In simpler terms, with prolonged periods of low interest rates and debt expansion, market participants are incentivized to take risks. This is how destabilizing factors begin to brew.

“The growth of structured products, passive investing, the regulatory standpoint that’s been implemented with Dodd-Frank and dealers needing to hedge off their risk more frequently than not” are all part of a regime change that’s affected the stability of markets, said Sidial Kris Sidial, a former institutional trader and the co-chief investment officer of The Ambrus Group, a volatility arbitrage fund that looks to exploit changing market structure dynamics.

Here’s an image to help visualize some of what Sidial is referring to.

Pictured: Newfound Research unpacks market drivers, implications of liquidity.

Also, this week, the White House expressed its desire to raise the federal capital gains tax (CGT) rate to 43.4% for wealthy individuals. Despite the market selling on the news, all losses were recouped prior to the end of the week. Why? As Goldman Sachs Group (NYSE: GS) sees it, Congress is likely to settle on a more modest increase, less than 30%.

Adding, as Bloomberg’s John Authers notes: “The way the market handled the last major CGT increase, at the end of 2012, is instructive. As it grew clear that higher capital gains taxes were coming, the S&P 500 languished and went sideways for the last few months of the year, closing roughly where it had been in March. Then 2013 turned out to be a great year; stocks started their rally at the beginning of January and never really stopped.”

So, if a CGT hike is already being discounted by the market, given Friday’s rapid recovery — which also has something to do with how participants are positioned, but that conversation is beyond the scope of this commentary — then why are some of the largest exchange-traded funds seeing outflows?

In particular, the Invesco QQQ Trust Series 1 (NASDAQ: QQQ) bled nearly $6 billion over the last week, the worst exodus since the dot-com era of 2000.

Graphic: The advance/decline line (A/D), an indicator of breadth, is diverging from Nasdaq-100 prices, via MarketInOut. This dynamic has not presented itself in other broad market indices this commentary covers. 

One explanation: “With earning season starting to heat up, especially for the tech sector next week, it is likely that the expectations for technology companies may be too high,” said James Pillow, managing director at Moors & Cabot Inc. “It’s early still, but just look where the earnings surprises are coming from: materials, energy, and financials, all about 80% or higher. Money will follow performance — and the performance is coming from those sectors.”

So, in summarizing this section, technically, the market is bullish, supported by a healthy rotation.

Fundamentally, though, clouds are forming. Participants are adding shifts in tone, by policymakers, into their narrative. Should fundamental conditions change markedly, odds of a technical breakdown in momentum increase substantially.

Till then, the market is flashing green lights. Any correction may offer participants favorable entry.

What To Expect: An increased potential to correct in time, rather than price.

In addition, metrics, like market liquidity and speculative derivatives activity, confirm participants’ bullishness and opportunistic hedging ahead of an acceleration in the global restart and a turn in flows, the result of an increasingly apparent shift in consumer preferences, from saving and investing to spending.

Graphic: SHIFT search suggests participants are still not as inclined to add call-side exposure, through the month of May, in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX).

What To Do: In the coming sessions, participants will want to pay attention to where the S&P 500 trades in relation to its $4,186.75-$4,110.50 balance area. 

Balance (Two-Timeframe Or Bracket): Rotational trade that denotes current prices offer favorable entry and exit. Balance-areas make it easy to spot change in the market (i.e., the transition from two-time frame trade, or balance, to one-time frame trade, or trend).

Any activity above (below) the balance-area high suggests participants are interested in discovering higher (lower) prices. Any activity within the balance area suggests participants are looking for more information to base their next move; in such case, responsive buying and selling is the course of action. 

Responsive Buying (Selling): Buying (selling) in response to prices below (above) area of recent price acceptance.

Initiative trade below the balance-area low suggests an inclination by participants to revert to the mean and repair some of the poor structure left behind prior discovery. Initiative trade above the balance area puts in play the cluster of price extensions at and above $4,200.00, typical price targets based on Fibonacci principles.

Initiative Buying (Selling): Buying (selling) within or above (below) previous price acceptance.

So, in the best case, the S&P 500 makes an attempt to balance or discover prices as high as $4,300.00. In the worst case, participants look to auction the S&P 500 into prior poor structures and low-volume areas (LVNodes) that ought to offer little-to-no support.

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

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

Graphic: 1-day candlestick chart of the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX). See Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures profile chart here.

News And Analysis

Politics | Joe Biden will deliver a ‘joint session of Congress’ this week. (ABC)

Market | The Rise of Carry returns; stock buybacks are kicking into gear. (Axios)

Recovery | The end of U.S. mass vaccination coming sooner than later. (BBG)

Commodities | OPEC says NOPEC bill could put U.S. overseas assets at risk. (REU)

Markets | SPAC deals are far below peaks but are still generously valued. (CB)

Economy | The MBA is forecasting record purchase volume this year. (MND)

Banking | Goldman, JPM talk with the U.K. over business travel corridor. (FN)

Climate | Leaking landfill contributes to world’s mystery methane hotspot. (BBG)

Trade | Beijing hopes U.S. companies will push to scrap China tariffs. (BBG)

Economy | Existing home sales suffer second straight monthly decline. (CNBC)

Markets | Taxes and inflation key themes for markets in the week ahead. (CNBC)

What People Are Saying

Innovation And Emerging Trends

FinTech | On blockchain- and smart contract-based financial markets. (FED)

FinTech | U.K. banks speed plans to ax branches, switch to digital focus. (S&P)

Health | What are all those constant video calls doing to your brain? (TC)

FinTech | Participants identify key operational areas for improvement. (TM)

FinTech | Alpaca intros Broker API that lets you build own Robinhood. (BZ)

FinTech | Public.com app connects users with public company leaders. (BZ)

About

Renato founded Physik Invest after going through years of self-education, strategy development, and trial-and-error. His work reporting in the finance and technology space, interviewing leaders such as John Chambers, founder, and CEO, JC2 Ventures, Kevin O’Leary, Canadian businessman and Shark Tank host, Catherine Wood, CEO and CIO, ARK Invest, among others, afforded him the perspective and know-how very few come by.

Having worked in engineering and majored in economics, Renato is very detailed and analytical. His approach to the markets isn’t built on hope or guessing. Instead, he leverages the unique dynamics of time and volatility to efficiently act on opportunity.

 Disclaimer

At this time, Physik Invest does not manage outside capital and is not licensed. In no way should the materials herein be construed as advice. Derivatives carry a substantial risk of loss. All content is for informational purposes only.

Cover photo by sklei from Pexels

Categories
Commentary

Weekly Brief For April 18, 2021

Happy Sunday! Though markets were relatively choppy, they ended higher last week. This came at a time of heightened public attention to the market.

The following commentary on U.S. broad market equity indices will discuss what happened, why it matters, what to expect, and how participants can position themselves for the coming week.

But first, here’s a quote from Sterling professor of economics at Yale, Robert J. Shiller:

“The current widespread fascination with the rising market accompanied by recent concern about a possible downward spiral and strained stock market valuations echo those of 100 years ago.”

Market Commentary

What Happened: The S&P 500, Nasdaq-100, and Dow Jones Industrial Average made new all-time highs before closing the week out with an attempt to balance and validate newly discovered prices.

  • Data suggests economic outlook improving.
  • Earnings pick up, add to clarity on recovery.
  • Risk, reward poor for new entries. Be picky.

Why It Matters: The price rise in U.S. broad market equity indices comes as the economic recovery from the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic accelerated.

According to S&P Global, the recovery’s acceleration warranted a revision in the firm’s 2021 global GDP growth forecast to 5.5%, a 50 basis point change.

At the same time, it’s S&P’s belief that U.S. inflation fears are overblown. Traders began to price in that realization, last week. 

After a slew of economic releases, yields pulled back dramatically.

In a Bloomberg article, Barclays strategists, including Anshul Pradhan, noted a raising of the bar on reflation; the drop in yields “reflects the fact that expectations for growth, inflation and the hiking cycle have all been significantly revised higher.”

Further, participants saw the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX), a measure of the stock market’s expectation of volatility based on S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options, continue a multi-week drop attracting the participation of systemic strategies and opportunistic hedging, as noted last week.

It is important to note that this most recent rally in equity indices, which coincides with a historically bullish period, came soon after Archegos Capital’s default on margin calls which triggered a fire sale by several big Wall Street banks.

SpotGamma, a source for actionable insights based on activity in the options market, in a commentary, attempted to unpack the narrative which suggests the mechanical bid across the broad market is tied to a “tangled web of counterparty risk and hedging,” among other factors.

Moving beyond speculations, a couple of things are true and must be accounted for in our narrative.

First, equity market inflows, over the past 5 months, exceeded inflows of the prior 12 years, total. Second, as the April monthly options expiration (OPEX) passes and the positioning of participants changes, the risks of a near-term pullback have increased substantially. 

Despite the stock market trading in a historically bullish period, as well as declining volatility attracting the participation of systematic strategies, increased put selling, and the like, downside protection is trading cheap relative to its upside counterpart.

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

Should the market turn and customers demand downside protection in an increasing fashion, dealers’ risk exposure to direction and volatility will cause violent crash dynamics to transpire.

An example of this is last year’s sell-off.

In a discussion on rising delta and volatility forcing dealers to sell into weakness to hedge a rapid move in prices, Kris Sidial, a former institutional trader and the co-chief investment officer of The Ambrus Group, a volatility arbitrage fund that looks to exploit changing market structure dynamics, said: “You have this dynamic in the derivatives market where there is a gamma squeeze when people are buying way far out-of-the-money [options], and dealers reflexively have to hedge off their risk,” Sidial said.

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

Putting it all together, despite markets being in a position to move higher, should there be a turn and spike in volatility, participants must be ready to accept the possibility of a violent liquidation.

As Market Ear puts it, hedge when you can, not when you must.

What To Expect: An increased potential to correct in time and price.

In addition, metrics, like DIX, market liquidity, and speculative derivatives activity, confirm participants’ bullishness and opportunistic hedging ahead of an acceleration in the global restart and a turn in flows, the result of consumers shifting their preferences from saving and investing to spending.

Graphic: Physik Invest maps out the purchase of call and put options in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY), for the week ending April 16. Activity in the options market was primarily concentrated in short-dated tenors, in strikes as low as $364, which corresponds with $3,640 in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX).
Graphic: SHIFT search suggests participants are not as inclined to add call-side exposure, through the month of May, in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY).

What To Do: In the coming sessions, participants will want to pay attention to where the S&P 500 trades in relation to Friday’s open-high-low-close (OHLC). 

Any activity above Friday’s regular trade-low suggests participants are not yet done discovering higher prices. Trading below Friday’s low suggests an inclination by participants to (1) form a consolidation area that denotes acceptance of higher prices or (2) revert to the mean and repair some of the poor structure left behind prior discovery. 

It is important to take note of the minimal excess and cluster of price extensions at $4,200.00, a typical price target based on Fibonacci principles.

Excess: A proper end to price discovery; the market travels too far while advertising prices. Responsive, other-timeframe (OTF) participants aggressively enter the market, leaving tails or gaps which denote unfair prices.

So, in the best case, the S&P 500 makes an attempt to balance or discover prices as high as $4,200.00. In the worst case, participants look to auction the S&P 500 into prior poor structures and low-volume areas (LVNodes) that ought to offer little-to-no support.

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

If participants were to auction and find acceptance into areas of prior low-volume, then future discovery ought to be volatile and quick as participants look to areas of high volume for favorable entry or exit.
Graphic: 4-hour profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

News And Analysis

Economy | Housing starts reach the highest level since 2006. (MND)

Recovery | U.S. is unlikely to ‘just cancel’ J&J COVID-19 shots. (BBG)

Markets | Citi to exit banking in 13 markets across Asia, Europe. (BBG)

Markets | Record-high systemic leverage is pressuring rates. (Moody’s)

Economy | S&P Global Ratings expects global rebound to roar. (S&P)

Economy | Projections on global population, aging, urbanization. (REU)

Trade | Amazon sellers slammed with COVID-induced constraints. (S&P)

Recovery | How well COVID-19 vaccines work against variants. (AB)

Markets | SPACs boost credit at targets but carry unique risks. (Moody’s)
Markets | ‘Roaring Kitty’ adds to GME bet after exercising calls. (BBG)

What People Are Saying

Innovation And Emerging Trends

Economy | Looking at the pop culture of the original Roaring Twenties. (NYT)

Markets | Want to take your company public? Here are your options. (CB)

FinTech | Societe Generale adds first structured product on blockchain. (SG)

Exodus | Hedge funds are ready to get out of NY and move to FL. (BBG)

Trading | The answer to how much capital you should be allocating. (TT)

Venture | European venture reaches all-time high in first quarter 2021. (CB)

About

Renato founded Physik Invest after going through years of self-education, strategy development, and trial-and-error. His work reporting in the finance and technology space, interviewing leaders such as John Chambers, founder, and CEO, JC2 Ventures, Kevin O’Leary, Canadian businessman and Shark Tank host, Catherine Wood, CEO and CIO, ARK Invest, among others, afforded him the perspective and know-how very few come by.

Having worked in engineering and majored in economics, Renato is very detailed and analytical. His approach to the markets isn’t built on hope or guessing. Instead, he leverages the unique dynamics of time and volatility to efficiently act on opportunity.

 Disclaimer

At this time, Physik Invest does not manage outside capital and is not licensed. In no way should the materials herein be construed as advice. Derivatives carry a substantial risk of loss. All content is for informational purposes only.

Cover photo by eberhard grossgasteiger from Pexels.

Categories
Commentary

Weekly Brief For April 11, 2021

Editor’s Note

Welcome to Market Intelligence, Physik Invest’s response to the many newsletters that seldom provide actionable market insights, free.

Through this newsletter you will get a glimpse into the following:

  • The implications of credit and positioning.
  • Impactful events in finance and technology.
  • Technical commentary for index products.
  • Media on emerging trends and hot topics.

Again, thanks for joining! Physik Invest looks forward to providing you an objective view into the who, what, when, where, why, and how in finance and technology.

Regards,

Renato Leonard Capelj


Market Commentary

Index futures are in price discovery mode.

  • Institutions bullish but risks add up.
  • Earnings season to start this week.
  • Balance-to-higher into April OPEX.

What Happened: U.S. stock index futures closed higher, last week.

What Does It Mean: The S&P 500 closed above $4,100 for the first time as investors looked to price in an economic “‘Goldilocks moment’—fast, sustained growth alongside inflation and interest rates that drift slowly upward.”

According to a letter by JPMorgan Chase & Co’s (NYSE: JPM) Jamie Dimon, strong consumer savings, an increased pace in COVID-19 coronavirus vaccinations, and unprecedented efforts to spur economic activity could mean that a boom lasts as long as 2023. 

This perspective differs from Dimon’s comments a year ago; he warned of a recession in which GDP could fall nearly 35%. Is Dimon one to fade? Likely not, given the fact that (1) he heads one of the biggest banks and (2) most forecasts by other institutions support Dimon’s perspectives.

Further, the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX), a measure of the stock market’s expectation of volatility based on S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options, traded to its lowest level since February 2020.

At the same time, participants saw blocks of VIX call spreads — bets that serenity won’t last — hit the tape; the unknown participant(s) bought nearly 200,000 contracts.

Graphic 1: Risk graph of the 25/40 VIX call spread in question via MarketEar

“With VIX being priced in the low 17 area, I would imagine we would see more of these larger-sized bets going forward,” Kris Sidial, co-chief investment officer at Ambrus Group, told Bloomberg. “I think smart money understands that, although volatility has contracted a lot in these last two months, we are still seeing signs of excess market fragility appear from many different angles.”

Graphic 2: Volatility declines to its lowest level since February 2020.

As stated last week, the market is in a historically bullish period, ahead of the upcoming corporate earnings season, with structural flows supporting the ongoing narrative into the coming April monthly options expiration (OPEX).

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

Adding, most funds are committed to holding long positions. In the interest of lower volatility returns, these funds will collar off their positions, selling calls to finance the purchase of downside put protection.

As a result of this activity, options dealers are long upside and short downside protection.

This exposure must be hedged; dealers will sell into strength as their call (put) positions gain (lose) value and buy into weakness as their call (put) positions lose (gain) value.

Now, unlike theory suggests, dealers will hedge call losses (gains) quicker (slower). This leads to “long-gamma,” a dynamic that crushes volatility and promotes momentum, observed by lengthy sprints — like the one the market is currently in — followed by rapid de-risking events as the market transitions into “short-gamma.”

What To Expect: Balance-to-higher.

Important to note is that equity market inflows, over the past 5 months, exceeded inflows of the prior 12 years, total. Think about the supply and demand dynamics of the market; in case of an equity market sell-off, a lot of late buyers will have poor location which may leave a thick area of supply above the market, putting a dampener on future rallies. 

“You should definitely be worried about valuations and all the more so when people start justifying extremely high valuations. We are risk-on, but we haven’t put our foot down on the accelerator because of valuations in some parts of the market,” said Fahad Kamal, chief investment officer at Kleinwort Hambros.

Adding to the narrative, metrics, like DIX, confirm increased buying pressure while divergences in options activity suggest opportunistic hedging, especially with puts trading at their cheapest level, relative to calls the same delta.

Graphic 3: 1-month 25 delta risk-reversal, via SpotGamma, suggests puts are trading cheap.
More On DIX: For every buyer is a seller (usually a market maker). Using DIX — which is derived from short sales (i.e., liquidity provision on the market-making side) — we can measure buying pressure.
Graphic 4: Physik Invest maps out the purchase of call and put options in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY), for the week ending April 9, 2021. Activity in the options market was primarily concentrated in short- and long-dated tenors, in put strikes as low as $340, which corresponds with $3,400 in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX).

What To Do: In the coming sessions, participants will want to pay attention to where the S&P 500 trades in relation to Friday’s end-of-day spike higher.

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 remains above the $4,104.00 spike base. Doing so means that the participants are validating the prices caused by the late-day knee-jerk rally. 

In the case of higher prices, given that the 161.80% and 127.20% Fibonacci price extensions were achieved, and after-market trade established an overnight high at $4,121.50, participants can target prices as high as the $4,197.25 price extension.

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

Any activity below the $4,104.00 spike base puts the rally on hold and calls for balance or an attempt to digest higher prices.

Balance (Two-Timeframe Or Bracket): Rotational trade that denotes current prices offer favorable entry and exit. Balance-areas make it easy to spot a change in the market (i.e., the transition from two-time frame trade, or balance, to one-time frame trade, or trend).

In the case of lower prices, participants can look to whether a test of the $4,069.00 high-volume area (HVNode) solicits a response. If not, initiative trade could take prices as low as $3,943.00, the next most valuable price area in the chain.

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

If participants were to auction and find acceptance into areas of prior low-volume, then future discovery ought to be volatile and quick as participants look to areas of high volume for favorable entry or exit.
Graphic 5: 4-hour profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

News And Analysis

Economy | No elevated default risk expected until 2023. (Moody’s)

Economy | China looks to curtail loan growth amid bubble fears. (BBG)

Markets | Pre-IPO, Coinbase releases blowout Q1 2021 results. (BW)

Markets | Growing signs that equity bull market overheating. (Axios)

Economy | CFPB warns lenders of a wave of distressed mortgages. (MP)

Markets | Cboe extends global trading for VIX and SPX options. (Cboe)

Markets | Unpacking the feedback loop that is distorting markets. (RV)

Trade | Global trade disruptions after the Suez Canal incident. (S&P)

Economy | U.S. COVID-19 vaccination rates to plateau in April. (Surgo)

Markets | Treasuries rally signaling bets on Fed hikes pared back. (BBG)

Markets | Bitcoin fills a demand for alternatives to fiat currencies. (BBG)

Economy | Powell says the economy poised for stronger growth. (BBG)

Markets | Earnings season starts with banks reporting this week. (WSJ)

Markets | Citadel Securities feels the heat of the political spotlight. (BBG)

Markets | Oil sideways. Gold, DXY higher. Copper, aluminum lower. (REU)

What People Are Saying

Innovation And Emerging Trends

Strategy | Strategies one VC believes made Stripe so successful. (BI)

FinTech | Fidelity, Square, and others, form crypto trade group. (WSJ)

FinTech | WealthCharts expands offer, tackles emerging trends. (BZ)

FinTech | SoftBank invests $500M in mortgage lender Better. (CNBC)

FinTech | Rarible co-founder says NFTs to stay, growth robust. (BZ)

FinTech | JPMorgan’s Dimon acknowledges fintech’s big threat. (BZ)

FinTech | Vesica launches a search engine for the options market. (BZ)

About

Renato founded Physik Invest after going through years of self-education, strategy development, and trial-and-error. His work reporting in the finance and technology space, interviewing leaders such as John Chambers, founder, and CEO, JC2 Ventures, Kevin O’Leary, Canadian businessman and Shark Tank host, Catherine Wood, CEO and CIO, ARK Invest, among others, afforded him the perspective and know-how very few come by.

Having worked in engineering and majored in economics, Renato is very detailed and analytical. His approach to the markets isn’t built on hope or guessing. Instead, he leverages the unique dynamics of time and volatility to efficiently act on opportunity.

Disclaimer

At this time, Physik Invest does not manage outside capital and is not licensed. In no way should the materials herein be construed as advice. Derivatives carry a substantial risk of loss. All content is for informational purposes only.

Cover photo by Kammeran Gonzalez-Keola from Pexels.

Categories
Commentary

Market Commentary For The Week Ahead: ‘The Flow Won’

Key Takeaways:

What Happened: Amid a volatile, news-heavy week, after a slew of earnings reports by heavily weighted index constituents, and an FOMC meeting that made no change to existing monetary policy, financial markets experienced a rapid de-risking, similar to what transpired prior to the sell-off in February 2020.

What Does It Mean: After extending the S&P 500’s rally, as well as establishing acceptance near the $3,850.00 price extension, an upside target, and excess (i.e., a proper end to price discovery), participants auctioned back into range, repairing poor structures left in the wake of initiative buying.

The action found acceptance below the $3,824.00 – $3,763.75 balance-area, invalidating the prior week’s break-out to new highs.

Since then, market participants were witness to violent two-sided trade, a result of the market transitioning into a short-gamma environment (Graphic 1).

In such case dealers hedge derivatives exposure by buying into strength and selling into weakness. This, will exacerbate volatility.

Graphic 1: SpotGamma data suggests S&P 500 has entered short-gamma environment

In a conversation for a Benzinga article to be released this coming week, I spoke with Kris Sidial, co-chief investment officer at The Ambrus Group, a volatility arbitrage fund, regarding GameStop Corporation (NYSE: GME) share price volatility, market microstructure, and regulation.

According to Sidial, the dynamics that transpired in GameStop can be traced back to factors like Federal Reserve stabilization efforts, and low rates, which incentivize risk taking (see Graphic 2).

“The growth of structured products, passive investing, the regulatory standpoint that’s been implemented with Dodd-Frank and dealers needing to hedge off their risk more frequently, than not,” are all part of a regime change that’s affected the stability of markets, Sidial notes. 

“These dislocations happen quite frequently in small windows, and it offers the potential for large outlier events,” like the equity bust and boom during 2020. “Strength and fragility are two completely different components. The market could be strong, but fragile.”

The aforementioned regime change is one in which dealer exposure to direction and volatility promotes crash up and down dynamics. Last February, the market was heavily one-sided with participants, like target date funds (e.g., mutual funds), selling far out-of-the-money puts on the S&P 500 for passive yield, and investors buying-to-open put options in an increasing amount for downside exposure, thus exacerbating volatility. 

Graphic 2: Newfound Research unpacks market drivers, implications of liquidity.
Graphic 3: SqueezeMetrics highlights implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness.

Last week, per Graphic 4, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust, the largest ETF that tracks the S&P 500, saw a rise in purchases of downside protection with time, which will likely lead to an increase in implied volatility and sensitivity of options to changes in underlying price.

These risks will be hedged off by dealers selling into weakness (see Graphic 3), thereby exacerbating downside volatility.

Graphic 4: Physik Invest maps out the purchase of call and put options in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust, for the week ending January 30, 2021.

The activity was most concentrated in put options with a strike price of $361, corresponding with $3,610 in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX). This, alongside the market’s entry into short gamma, and an inversion of the VIX futures term structure (see Graphic 5), in which longer-dated VIX expiries are less expensive, is a warning of elevated near-term risks for equity market stability.

Graphic 5: VIX Futures Term Structure per vixcentral.com.

What’s more? Aside from breaking technical trend (Graphic 6) is DIX, a proxy for buying derived from short sales (i.e., liquidity provision on the market making side) declining, and the presence of divergent speculative flows and delta (e.g., non-committed buying as measured by volume delta).

Graphic 6: Cash-settled S&P 500 Index experiences technical breakdown.
Graphic 7: DIX by SqueezeMetrics suggests large divergence between price and buying on January 27.
Graphic 8: Divergent Delta in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSE: SPY), the largest ETF that tracks the S&P 500.

What To Expect: In light of the technical breakdown U.S. stock indexes are best positioned for downside discovery.

As a result, participants ought to zoom out, and look for valuable areas to transact.

Graphic 9: 4-hour profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

In Graphic 9, the highlighted zones denote high-volume areas (HVNodes), which can be thought of as building blocks.

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

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

Additionally, it’s important to remember what the market’s long-term trajectory is: up.

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

Note, Kolanovic has not called for an implosion in equity markets. Instead, the market is due for some downside discovery given a moderation in the recovery.

Given the above dynamics, the following frameworks apply for next week’s trade.

In the best case, the S&P 500 takes back Friday’s liquidation and auctions above the $3,727.75 HVNode. Expectations thereafter include continued balance.

In the worst case, any break that finds increased involvement (i.e., supportive flows and delta) below the $3,689.50 HVNode, would favor continuation as low as the $3,611.50 and $3,556.00 HVNodes. Note that the second to last HVNode corresponds with the $361 SPY put concentration, which may serve as a near-term target, or bottom, for this sell-off, given last week’s activity at that strike.

Graphic 10: Profile overlays on a 15-minute candlestick chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

Conclusions: Participants ought to look for favorable areas to transact, such as those highlighted areas in the S&P 500, featured in Graphic 9.

Big picture, the sell-off ought to be bought, just not yet. Per Graphic 11, euphoria is still too high.

Graphic 11: Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC) sentiment indicators.

Levels Of Interest: $3,727.75, $3,689.50, $3,611.50 and $3,556.00 HVNodes.

Cover photo by Pixabay from Pexels.