Categories
Commentary

Market Commentary For The Week Ahead: ‘To The Moon’

Key Takeaways:

  • Positive earnings revisions nearing records
  • Equity mutual funds attract strong inflows.
  • Multi-asset funds raising equity allocations.

What Happened: U.S. stock indexes resolved a week-long trading range, Friday.

What Does It Mean: As the new administration looked to advance the status of coronavirus relief, U.S. stock index futures established record highs.

This comes as stock indexes, particularly the S&P 500, traded sideways after a rapid de-risking event associated with the GameStop Corporation (NYSE: GME) crisis, and subsequent v-pattern recovery.

More On The V-Pattern: A pattern that forms after a market establishes a high, retests some support, and then breaks above said high. In most cases, this pattern portends continuation.

As stated on Friday, the tight trading range is most likely attributable to the large February monthly options expiration (OPEX), after which, the interest at the $3,900.00 S&P 500 option strike will roll-off. 

Graphic 1: 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 February 12, 2021. Activity in the option market was primarily concentrated in short-dated tenors near $390, a strike that corresponds with $3,900.00 in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX).

Why’s this? 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, option 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, followed by rapid de-risking events as the market transitions into “short-gamma.”

If the interest near $3,900.00 S&P 500 is not rolled up in price and out in time, then option hedging requirements will change.

However, it is important to note that, in recent days, some exposure has been rolled up in price and out in time. This suggests an inclination by participants to maintain long exposure through OPEX, a day that would mark an end to pinning (which we’ve seen over the past weeks).

One such example can be seen below.

Graphic 4: Purchase of call positions higher in price and farther out in time in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index

What To Do: In coming sessions, participants will want to pay attention to the $3,919.75 spike base and $3,928.25 balance-area high.

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).

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).

Given the spike out of balance, the following frameworks ought to be applied. 

In the best case, the S&P 500 opens and remains above the $3,919.75 spike base, confirming last week’s higher prices. In the worst case, the S&P 500 auctions below the $3,919.75 spike base.

Trade below the spike base would be the most negative outcome and may trigger a new wave of downside discovery, repairing some of the poor structures left in the wake of the aforementioned advance.

Graphic 5: Profile overlays on a 30-minute candlestick chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

Conclusions: The go/no-go level for next week’s shortened holiday trade is $3,919.75. Trade below this level suggests markets are not yet ready to rally.

Levels Of Interest: $3,919.75 spike base.

Cover photo by Pixabay, from Pexels.

Categories
Commentary

Market Commentary For 2/12/2021

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

What Happened: As the new administration pushes approval of a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan, alongside the approval of another $14 billion for pandemic-hit airlines and signs of improve in the labor market, U.S. stock index futures traded sideways, in prior-balance and -range.

What Does It Mean: Market’s were range-bound after a rapid de-risking event associated with the GameStop Corporation (NYSE: GME) crisis, and subsequent v-pattern recovery.

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

The tight trading range is most attributable to the large February monthly options expiration (OPEX), after which, the interest at the $3,900.00 S&P 500 option strike will roll-off. Why’s this? 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, option dealers are long upside and short downside protection.

The exposure must be hedged: dealers 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, followed by rapid de-risking events as the market transitions into “short-gamma.”

If the interest near $3,900.00 S&P 500 is not rolled up in price and out in time, then option hedging requirements will change.

The absence of strong fundamentally-driven buying (as we’ve seen with such things as DIX), can have serious implications on price action.

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.
Pictured: DIX by Squeeze Metrics

However, it is important to note that, in recent days, some exposure has been rolled up in price and out in time.

One such example can be seen below.

Pictured: Purchase of call positions higher in price and farther out in time in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index

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

Given dynamics discussed in the prior section, the odds of substantial change are low, so long as broad market indices, like the S&P 500, remain in balance (i.e., range-bound).

Also, trading in a prominent area of high-volume ($3,900.00) will likely make for a volatile session as such areas denote the market’s most recent perception of value and offer favorable entry and exit, hence the two-sided trade.

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

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

Going forward, participants will look to the overnight rally-high at $3,928.25, and low-volume structure beneath the $3,880.00 HVNode, which offered responsive buyers favorable entry during Wednesday’s intraday liquidation break.

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

More On Liquidation Breaks: The profile shape in the S&P 500 suggests participants were “too” long and had poor location.

That said, the following frameworks apply.

In the best case, the S&P 500 remains rotational, at or above the $3,900.00 HVNode. In the worst case, any break that finds increased involvement (i.e., supportive flows and delta) below the $3,880.00 HVNode, would favor continuation as low as the $3,830.75 HVNode.

As stated yesterday, major change will be identified with trade above the $3,928.25 overnight rally-high, and below the $3,878.50 regular-trade low.

Levels Of Interest: $3,928.25 overnight rally-high, $3,900.00 HVNode, $3,878.50 regular-trade low.

Categories
Commentary

Market Commentary For 2/11/2021

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

What Happened: After a volatile Wednesday, U.S. stock index futures rose alongside fiscal stimulus and vaccine optimism, ahead of releases that would shine light on the labor market recovery.

What Does It Mean: After a gap open, participants sold stock indexes into prior value, yesterday.

This comes ahead of the large February monthly options expiration (OPEX), after which, the interest at the $3,900.00 S&P 500 option strike will roll-off. As a result, stickiness near the $3,900.00 high-volume area (HVNode) will likely cease in the absence of option hedging requirements.

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

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

Further, we have numerous pieces of context to unpack prior to getting into today’s outlook on trade.

First, the v-pattern recovery after the recent de-risking event suggests room for higher. Second, the market is stuck in a long-gamma environment that favors less volatility (as witnessed during Wednesday’s muted intra-day sell-off and recovery). Third, the S&P 500 is trading just shy of $3,940.00, a primary upside target based on a multi-month balance-area projection.

More On The V-Pattern: A pattern that forms after a market establishes a high, retests some support, and then breaks above said high. In most cases, this pattern portends continuation. 

More On Gamma: Gamma is the sensitivity of an option to changes in underlying price. Dealers that take the other side of option 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.
Graphic 1: SpotGamma data suggests S&P 500 at or above “Long-Gamma” juncture.

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

Adding, given dynamics discussed in the prior section, the odds of substantial change are low, so long as broad market indices, like the S&P 500, remain range bound. Also, trading in a prominent area of high-volume ($3,900.00) will likely make for a volatile session as such areas denote the market’s most recent perception of value and offer favorable entry and exit, hence the two-sided trade.

Going forward, participants will look to the overnight rally-high at $3,928.25, and low-volume structure beneath the $3,880.00 HVNode, which offered responsive buyers favorable entry during Wednesday’s intraday liquidation break.

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

More On Liquidation Breaks: The profile shape in the S&P 500 suggests participants were “too” long and had poor location.

Knowing participants are doing a good job of defending their ~7% advance, a non-typical weekly trading range, after taking out the 127.20% price extension, a typical recovery target, and leaving minimal excess (i.e., a proper end to price discovery) at the high, odds point to the increased potential for higher trade or balance in the coming session(s).

That said, the following frameworks apply.

In the best case, the S&P 500 remains rotational, at or above the $3,900.00 HVNode. In the worst case, any break that finds increased involvement (i.e., supportive flows and delta) below the $3,880.00 HVNode, would favor continuation as low as the $3,830.75 HVNode.

Major change will be identified with trade above the $3,928.25 overnight rally-high, and below the $3,878.50 regular-trade low.

Levels Of Interest: $3,928.25 overnight rally-high, $3,900.00 HVNode, $3,878.50 regular-trade low.

Categories
Commentary

Market Commentary For The Week Ahead: ‘Ping-Pong’

Quote Of The Week: Excessive determinism is almost always the biggest enemy of stability. This seeming contradiction is behind the concept of metastability which captures the mode of market functioning in the last years. Metastability is what seems stable, but is not — a stable waiting for something to happen. [An] avalanche is a good example of metastability to keep in mind — a totally innocuous event can trigger a cataclysmic event (e.g., a skier’s scream, or simply continued snowfall until the snow cover is so massive that its own weight triggers an avalanche).

Quote by Aleksandar Kocic, Managing Director at Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE: DB), from Heisenberg Report.

Key Takeaways:

  • V-pattern recovery suggests higher prices.
  • Risks offset and funds looking to re-gross.
  • Dip presented a favorable buy opportunity.

What Happened: In light of a v-pattern recovery, after a quick de-risking event, U.S. stock indexes are positioned for further upside, as high as the 100% price projection, which happens to be above $4,000.00, a primary target in the S&P 500.

More On The V-Pattern: A pattern that forms after a market establishes a high, retests some support, and then breaks above said high. In most cases, this pattern portends continuation. 

What Does It Mean: This positive price action is happening in the context of bearish undercurrents, as evidenced by non-participatory speculative flows and delta, as well as a divergence in the DIX.

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

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.

More On Speculative Flows: Participants looking to capitalize on either upside or downside through the purchase and sale of options, the right to buy or sell an asset at a later date and agreed upon price.

Adding, according to The Market Ear, similar risk rallies have happened after hedge fund de-grossing events; now, “Equities are rising along higher yields, dollar and [volatility], and the magic word here is discounting inflation.”

Further, since price pays, participants ought to discount the bearish undercurrents, and position themselves for upside. Hedge funds are doing so, as evidenced by an increase in gross exposures (Graphic 1), alongside other speculative participants that look to capitalize on their opinions through the options market (Graphic 2). 

Graphic 1: JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) data suggests normalization as “HFs add back to gross exposures.”
Graphic 2: Physik Invest maps out the purchase of call and put options in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust, for the week ending February 6, 2021.

Last week, per Graphic 2, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust, the largest ETF that tracks the S&P 500, saw a rise in purchases of short-dated call and put options. Given the tenor (i.e., the length of time remaining before contract expiration), there’s a lack of long-term commitment to direction.

Adding, early and late in the week, the purchase of put options dominated. This suggests participants were either looking to protect against or capitalize on downside. In the middle of the week, participants were looking to protect against or capitalize on upside. 

More On Options: If an option buyer was short (long) stock, he or she would buy a call (put) to hedge upside (downside) exposure. Option buyers can also use options as an efficient way to gain directional exposure.

The above, alongside the market’s re-entry into long-gamma (Graphic 3) and a normalization of the VIX futures term structure (see Graphic 4) in which longer-dated VIX expiries are more expensive, suggests the potential for less risk and volatility in equity markets.

More On Gamma: Gamma is the sensitivity of an option to changes in underlying price. Dealers that take the other side of option 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.

Graphic 3: SpotGamma suggests S&P 500 at or above “Long-Gamma” juncture.
Graphic 4: VIX Futures Term Structure per vixcentral.com.

What To Expect: U.S. stock indexes are best positioned for further balance or upside discovery.

Graphic 5: 4-hour profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

In Graphic 5, the highlighted zones denote high-volume areas (HVNodes), or valuable areas to transact.

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

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

Last Monday, participants found acceptance in prior low-volume. Thereafter, discovery was volatile and quick as participants looked to areas of high-volume for favorable entry and exit (e.g., where the market spent the majority of its time Tuesday through Thursday).

On Friday, the S&P 500 left the HVNode near $3,840.00. As stated, HVNodes can be thought of as building blocks — they also denote areas of supply and demand. In this case, $3,840.00 can now be thought of as an area of demand. The primary strategy is to respond to probes into these supply (i.e., selling responsively) and demand (i.e., buying responsively) areas as they offer favorable entry and exit.

What To Do: Participants will want to pay attention to last Thursday’s $3,855.00 Virgin Point Of Control, or VPOC (i.e., the fairest price to do business in a prior session), and end-of-day spike, as well as the $3,840.00 HVNode.

More On POCs: POCs (like HVNodes described above) are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit.

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).

Given the above references, the following frameworks ought to be applied.

In the best case, the S&P 500 does some backfilling to repair aforementioned poor structures. In such a case, participants would look for responsive buying to surface at or above the $3,840.00 HVNode

In the worst case, any break that finds increased involvement (i.e., supportive flows and delta) below the $3,840.00 HVNode, would favor continuation as low as the $3,794.75 and $3,727.75 HVNodes.

Note that the $3,727.75 HVNode corresponds with the $372 SPY put concentration, which may serve as a near-term target, or bottom, for a sell-off. 

Graphic 6: Profile overlays on a 15-minute candlestick chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

Conclusions: Simplicity is key here.

Participants ought to look for favorable areas to transact, such as those high-volume areas in the S&P 500 featured in Graphic 5.

Levels Of Interest: $3,840.00 HVNode.

Photo by Josh Sorenson from Pexels.

Categories
Commentary

Market Commentary For 2/4/2021

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

What Happened: U.S. stock index futures balanced in prior-range, as evidenced by a lack of directional resolve.

What Does It Mean: After a rapid de-grossing and v-pattern recovery, stock indexes are nearing an important hurdle.

In particular, the S&P 500 has to contend with a transition into long-gamma.

Gamma is the sensitivity of an option to changes in underlying price. Dealers that take the other side of option 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.

Adding: Here’s a good explanation I wrote regarding the derivative market’s impact on the equity market.

Graphic 1: SpotGamma suggests S&P 500 nearing “Long-Gamma” territory.

Further, given the aforementioned v-pattern recovery, a price sequence that ought to be followed by further price discovery, as high as the 100% price projection, which happens to be near $4,000.00 in the S&P 500, market participants ought to also pay attention to divergences popping up across different indices.

To be more specific, Wednesday’s regular trade in the Nasdaq-100 showed weakness relative to the S&P 500. In the end, participants established a neutral-center day on S&P 500 and neutral-extreme down day in the Nasdaq-100.

On a neutral-center day, participants test both extremes before closing an index in range, suggesting minimal confidence and balance. On a neutral-extreme day, participants test both extremes before closing at on extreme, suggesting increased confidence and imbalance.

The profile shape in the S&P 500 confirms balance while in the Nasdaq-100 it’s likely that participants were “too” long and had poor location.

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

Currently, the S&P 500 is rotating at the $3,842.00 high-volume area (HVNode).

As stated, HVNodes can be thought of as building blocks — they also denote areas of supply and demand. In this case, $3,842.00 can be thought of as an area of supply. The primary strategy is to respond to probes into these supply (i.e., selling responsively) and demand (i.e., buying responsively) areas as they offer favorable entry and exit.

In the coming session, participants will want to pay attention to Tuesday’s overnight high ($3,483.50) and Monday’s regular-trade low ($3,799.00). The reason being, between those two references is a developing balance area. 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).

Added Note: There is a low historical probability that overnight rally-highs end the upside discovery process.

From an order flow perspective, the absence of aggressive buying suggests more of the same — balance or downside to repair poor structures left in the wake of short-covering and initiative buying in the day’s prior.

In the simplest way, high-volume areas 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. 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 value for favorable entry or exit.

For today, the following frameworks ought to be applied.

In the best case, the market will initiate above, or find acceptance at (in the form of rotational trade) the $3,842.00 HVNode. In the worst case, responsive sellers appear and restart the downside discovery process. Any break that finds increased involvement below the $3,799.00 regular-trade low, would favor continuation as low as the $3,727.75 HVNode.

The go/no-go for upside is the $3,843.50 overnight-trade high (ONH). The go/no-go for downside is $3,799.00 regular-trade low (RTH Low). Anything in-between portends responsive, non-directional trade.

A break above the ONH, participants may see discovery as high as $3,880.00, a balance-area projection (i.e., typical balance-break target). A break below the RTH Low, participants may see prices as low as $3,750.00, another balance-area projection.

Levels Of Interest: $3,843.50 ONH, $3,799.00 RTH Low.

Categories
Commentary

Market Commentary For The Week Ahead: ‘Euphoria Is The Status Quo’

Key Takeaways:

  • Higher-time frame breakouts remain intact.
  • Volatility rises; markets are a tad euphoric
  • Equity funds went all in at the top, literally
  • Corporate credit outlook enhanced greatly. 
  • Earnings could rise faster than anticipated. 
  • Blue wave implies more stimulus, spending.
  • The bull market broadens as sectors rotate
  • M2 and yields break out; the Fed could act.

What Happened: As investors looked beyond a weak jobs report and political uncertainty, to added economic stimulus and the coming earnings season, U.S. index futures hit new highs.

Graphic 1: Profile overlays on a 15-minute candlestick chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures

What To Expect: Friday’s session in the S&P 500 found initiative buying surface after a test of $3,774.75, the lower boundary of the low-volume area left in the wake of Thursday’s opening drive.

The long-liquidation and subsequent recovery left the market with minimal excess (i.e., a proper end to discovery) at the highs, and a strong close, taking out the overnight stat at $3,817.75 (which had low odds of remaining, given that overnight all-time highs rarely end the upside discovery process).

Noting: Excess forms after an auction has traveled too far in a particular direction and portends a sustained reversal. The absence of excess, in the case of a high, suggests not enough conviction; in such case participants will liquidate (i.e., back off the high) and strengthen the market, before following through.

In light of the market’s search for an area to establish balanced, two-sided trade, participants will come into Monday’s session knowing the following: 

  1. The multi-month upside breakout targeting S&P 500 prices as high as $4,000.00 remains intact.
  2. Prices are above all major moving averages, including the year-to-date volume-weighted average price (VWAP). 
  3. After the resolution of last Monday’s long-liquidation, the market shifted into price discovery mode, evidenced by higher prices and value migration.
  4. For numerous sessions, profile structures denoted the presence of short-covering, the result of old, weak-handed business emotionally buying to cover short positions, causing swift movement followed by a stalled advance, or two-sided intraday trade.
  5. The week ending January 8 established a v-pattern recovery, a price sequence that ought to be followed by further price discovery, as high as the 100% price projection, which happens to be near the multi-month upside breakout target at $4,000.
  6. Unsupportive speculative flows and delta (e.g., commitment of buying or selling) in some instances, as can be viewed by order flow graphics 2 and 3 below. 
  7. Alongside the long gamma narrative, in which dealers buy dips and sell rips to hedge their exposure, record options activity, among other dynamics, the S&P 500 closed near $3,800, a high open interest strike. For sustained upside directional resolve, participants would look for this exposure to roll up. 
Pictured: Divergent delta in the iShares Russell 2000 ETF (NYSE: IWM), one of the largest ETFs that track the Russell 2000
Pictured: Order flow in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY), the largest ETF that tracks the S&P 500
Graphic 4: S&P 500 tests the $3,800 high open interest strike, per SpotGamma

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 remains above its $3,762.25 high-volume node (HVNode). Expectations thereafter include continued balance or a response followed by initiative buying to take out the price extension at $3,847.75. 

Noting: Any structure that denotes meaningful buying continuation, not short-covering, would feature elongated, upside range expansion on committed volumes, as well as the migration of value. 

In the worst case, the S&P 500 initiates below its $3,762.25 HVNode. Expectations thereafter include a test of the minimal excess low near $3,732.75 (a LVNode). A break of Monday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET) low would jeopardize the bullish thesis. 

Two go, no-go levels exist; trade that finds increased involvement above $3,824.25 and below $3,775.25 would suggest a change in conviction. Anything in-between favors responsive trade.

Conclusions: In a GMO article, Jeremy Grantham expressed his opinion on recent market activity.

I am long retired from the job of portfolio management but I am happy to give my opinion here: it is highly probable that we are in a major bubble event in the U.S. market, of the type we typically have every several decades and last had in the late 1990s. It will very probably end badly, although nothing is certain. I will also tell you my definition of success for a bear market call. It is simply that sooner or later there will come a time when an investor is pleased to have been out of the market. That is to say, he will have saved money by being out, and also have reduced risk or volatility on the round trip. This definition of success absolutely does not include precise timing. (Predicting when a bubble breaks is not about valuation. All prior bubble markets have been extremely overvalued, as is this one. Overvaluation is a necessary but not sufficient condition for their bursting.) Calling the week, month, or quarter of the top is all but impossible.

Continuing, in addition to market participants reckoning with the uneven recovery, stimulus, trade, inflation, among other risks, they must also worry about something that’s arguably more important: price and value.

As of now, all broad-market indices are in an uptrend, evidenced by higher prices and value. A break below $3,600.00 in the S&P 500 would denote a substantial change in tone.

Levels Of Interest: $3,762.25 HVNode, $3,732.75 LVNode, $3,824.25 rally high, as well as the $3,847.75 price extension.

Bonus: Some opportunities unfolding in the week ahead.

Photo by Valdemaras D. from Pexels.

Categories
Commentary

Market Commentary For The Week Ahead: ‘Hello, Goodbye’

Key Takeaways:

What Happened: Coming into the extended holiday weekend, on tapering volumes, U.S. index futures balanced for four regular trading sessions (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), before breaking out.

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

What To Expect: Thursday’s session found initiative buying surface above the $3,731.00 high-volume node (HVNode), the market’s most recent perception of value.

Given four-sessions worth of unchanged value, and the failure to fill the gap beneath a weak low (i.e., a visual level that attracts the business of short-term, technically-driven market participants) at $3,714.50, participants will come into Monday’s session knowing the following:

  1. Amid Thursday’s late-day buying, price diverged from value.
  2. The overnight rally high at $3,747.75 was recovered (i.e., based on historical trade, there were low odds that the overnight all-time high would end the upside discovery process).
  3. The multi-month upside breakout targeting S&P 500 prices as high as $4,000.00 remains intact.

In light of the above dynamics, the following frameworks apply for next week’s trade.

In the best case, the S&P 500 remains above its $3,731.00 HVNode. Expectations thereafter include continued balance, or a response followed by initiative buying to take out the price extension at $3,756.75.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 initiates below its $3,731.00 HVNode. Expectations thereafter include a test of the weak, minimal excess low at $3,714.50, and subsequent follow-through as low as the $3,691.00 break-point. 

Noting: Excess forms after an auction has traveled too far in a particular direction and portends a sustained reversal. Absence of excess, in the case of a low, suggests minimal conviction; participants will cover (i.e., back off the low) and weaken the market, before following through.

Two go, no-go levels exist; trade that finds increased involvement above $3,752.75 and below $3,714.50 would suggest a change in conviction. Anything in-between favors responsive trade.

Conclusion: From an uneven recovery, stimulus, elections, trade, and the like, it helps to boil it down to what actually matters: price and value. 

Though risks remain, markets are pricing in the odds of a continued rebound. All broad-market indices are in an uptrend. A break below $3,600.00 in the S&P 500 would denote a substantial change in tone.

Pictured: Retest of the upside breakpoint on a weekly candlestick chart of the cash S&P 500 Index

Levels Of Interest: $3,752.75 rally-high, $3,714.50 weak low, $3,731.00 HVNode, $3,756.75 price extension, $3,691.00 break-point.

Bonus: Here is a look at some of the opportunities unfolding.

Photo by Max Walter from Pexels.

Categories
Commentary

‘Go Forth’: Market Commentary For The Week Ahead

Key Takeaways:

Last Week Unpacked: During much of the week, participants lacked the conviction to break through to new highs. This was evidenced by mechanical trade (i.e., low-excess at the edges of balance).

However, after Thursday’s liquidation on news that Pfizer Inc (NYSE: PFE) would slash its 2020 vaccine production target flushed out weak-handed participants, responsive buyers surfaced and recovered the balance-area high.

During Friday’s regular trading, initiative buyers extended range — through the $3,682.00 balance-area high — up to the $3,700.00 high gamma strike. The after-hours session introduced a 4-tick excess high, providing a clear end to the upside discovery process.

Pictured: Profile overlays on a 30-minute candlestick chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures

What To Expect: Friday’s auction saw the separation and acceptance of value beyond a week-long balance-area.

This came after Thursday’s afternoon pullback found responsive buyers surface at a key technical level (i.e., the low-volume node near $3,655.00). The fact that there was a response at that technical reference confirms that participation in the market has been overwhelmingly short-term; in other words, institutions (e.g, funds) tend not to transact at exact technical levels.

Moreover, given that initiative buyers are in control, participants will come into Monday’s session in light of the following: 

  1. Both sentiment and positioning are historically stretched while the market is stuck in a long-gamma environment; in such cases, dealers hedge their derivatives exposure by selling into strength and buying into weakness. As a result, volatility is suppressed and the market pins or slowly rises in a range-bound fashion, as we’re seeing.
  2. JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) strategist Marko Kolanovic suggests equities will rally short-term, with the S&P 500 auctioning as high as $4,000 in Q1 2021 on the basis of improved fundamentals.
  3. Though prior trade points to the non-presence of committed buying, Friday’s session saw the separation and acceptance of value above a week-long balance area, further confirming the higher-time frame breakout.

Therefore, knowing that higher S&P 500 prices have been accepted, the following frameworks for next week’s trade apply.

In the best case, if participants manage to further spend time and build value above the $3,682.00 balance boundary, then initiative buyers remain in control — the nearest upside level of interest is the projection near $3,710.00.

In the worst case, an initiative drive below $3,682.00 would portend a response at the $3,667.75 high-volume node. Auctioning even lower would denote a clear change in conviction. As a result participants would look to whether the $3,640.00 balance boundary holds. Breaking that reference puts the rally on hold.

Conclusion: Though sentiment and positioning imply limited potential for further upside, the market remains in a strong technical uptrend bolstered by improved fundamental factors.

Overall, the S&P 500 has confirmed a multi-month balance-break.

Pictured: Daily candlestick chart of the cash S&P 500 Index

Levels Of Interest: $3,710.00 projection, the micro-composite HVNode at $3,690.75 and $3,667.75, as well as the $3,682.00 and $3,640.00 balance boundary.

Photo by Abhishek Gaurav from Pexels.

Categories
Commentary

Market Commentary For 12/4/2020

What Happened: After news that Pfizer Inc (NYSE: PFE) would slash its 2020 vaccine production target caused U.S. stock index futures to liquidate Thursday afternoon, prices have since recovered, suggesting the news was immaterial.

The S&P 500, in particular, remains in balance and range, further accepting Monday’s upside break.

What Does It Mean: During Thursday’s regular trading in the S&P 500, short-term participants were not able to muster the conviction to break through to new highs, as evidenced by a lack of value separation and excess.

Moreover, the afternoon long-liquidation on Pfizer news brought the S&P 500 back into an area that’s reflective of its most recent perception of value (i.e., HVNode). Responsive buyers surfaced on the news event, returning the market back to its highs after the lower prices offered favorable entry.

It’s important to note that the pullback halted at key technical level (i.e., LVNode near $3,655). This activity confirms that participation in the market is overwhelmingly short-term. Institutions do not transact at exact technical levels.

Further, the lack of excess at the high end of the 3-day balance area suggests the upside discovery process is likely not over. Adding to that, the market is stuck in a long-gamma environment; in such an environment, dealers hedge their exposure by selling into strength and buying into weakness. As a result, volatility is suppressed and the market pins or slowly rises in a range-bound fashion, as we’re seeing.

So, given that the market lacks breadth, technical forces (e.g., dealer hedging) will have a much greater impact on price action than most fundamental events, such as Thursday’s Pfizer news.

What To Expect: Going into today’s session, participants know that (1) the S&P 500 is trading within a three-day balance area above the $3,640 ledge, (2) technical forces take precedence over fundamentals, (3) and there is minimal excess at the highs. As a result, participants should default to trading responsively, unless either the all-time rally high ($3682.00) or low-volume ledge ($3,640) is broken.

Trading beyond either balance boundary may portend continued directional resolve. Breaking lower, participants should look for a response at the $3,630 high-volume area and $3,600 five-day balance boundary. Breaking higher, participants should look for continued upside as high as the $3,700 strike, the site of multiple price projections.

Levels Of Interest:  $3,682 and $3,640 balance area boundary.

Categories
Commentary

‘Dualism’: Market Commentary For The Week Ahead

Key Takeaways:

  • Decline in cash levels is a sign of stretched sentiment. 
  • Positioning: Odds of sustained directional resolve low.
  • Potential confirmation of multi-month balance-break.

What Happened: During last week’s shortened holiday trade, U.S. index futures broke out to new all-time highs.

What Does It Mean: After Tuesday’s initiative upside drive alongside news that provided clarity on the election transition, participants rotated back over the $3,580 balance-area boundary, invalidating the prior week’s initiative selling activity. Thereafter, conviction disappeared and the market remained range-bound, as evidenced by a non-participatory delta (i.e., the non-presence of committed buying) and mechanical trade (i.e., low-excess at the edges of developing balance).

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

What To Expect: During Friday’s shortened holiday session, the S&P 500 remained in balance, further auctioning and accepting value into Tuesday’s excess high, which marked an end to the upside discovery process. 

Given that initiative buyers remained in control after auctioning into the micro-composite high-volume node at $3,631, the fairest price to do business after Tuesday’s upside drive, participants come into Monday’s session knowing the following: 

  1. The amount of cash investors are holding in their portfolios fell to levels last seen prior to the February sell-off. 
  2. Market sentiment, as represented by Citigroup Inc’s (NYSE: C) Panic/Euphoria Model, is historically stretched.
  3. Tuesday’s upside impulse, through the low-volume node at $3,580, was reminiscent of short-term, momentum-driven buying. 
  4. Holiday trade was dominated by low-volume and responsive participation, implying the non-presence of conviction and institutions (e.g., funds that transact at non-technical levels).
  5. Positioning suggests dealers are long gamma, meaning they sell into strength and buy into weakness, suppressing volatility and the potential for directional resolve.
Graphic by Spotgamma, taken from The Market Ear

Therefore, given the acceptance of higher prices, the following frameworks for next week’s trade apply.

If participants manage to spend time and build value above the $3,631 micro-composite high-volume node, then initiative buyers remain in control — nearest targets include the $3,655 and $3,668.75 rally highs.

Otherwise, the auction ought to find responsive buyers near the high-volume node. An initiative drive below that figure would put the rally on hold, and would target first $3,620, and then the node near $3,610.

Conclusion: Though sentiment and positioning imply limited potential for further upside, the market remains in a strong technical uptrend bolstered by factors including a divided government, vaccine administration, rebound in profits, low rates, and a small rise in the yield curve.

As of now, the S&P 500 is on the verge of confirming a multi-month balance-break.

Pictured: Daily candlestick chart of the cash S&P 500 Index

Levels Of Interest: Micro-composite HVN at $3,631, the $3,655 and $3,668.75 rally highs, as well as the nodes near $3,620 and $3,610.

Cover photo courtesy by cottonbro from Pexels.