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Commentary

Market Commentary For 3/5/2021

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

What Happened: U.S. stock index futures rebounded overnight, ahead of releases that would shed light on the economic recovery.

What Does It Mean: Broad market indices sold heavy, Thursday, with volatility picking up after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell failed to soothe investor concerns.

CNBC: Fed chair Jerome Powell – inflation is set to increase, but likely temporary.

As stated yesterday, on a relative basis, the Nasdaq-100 is weaker, while the S&P 500 and Russell 2000 are stronger. This push-pull dynamic, in prior sessions, made it hard for participants to resolve directionally, evidenced by volatility.

On Thursday, the Russell 2000 and S&P 500 broke their consolidations, resolving lower.

Adding, despite indexes being best positioned for sideways or lower trade, in the longer-term, near-term downside discovery may have reached as a limit, based on market liquidity metrics and the inventory positioning of participants.

According to SqueezeMetrics, the steepness of the GammaVol (GXV) curve suggests that there’s more risk to the upside, than downside, at the S&P 500’s present juncture.

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: SqueezeMetrics data suggests near-term turnaround after Thursday’s violent liquidation.

Given the market’s transition into short-gamma (Graphic 2), however, volatility is a given. That’s due to dealer hedging requirements, as discussed above.

Graphic 2: SpotGamma data suggests Nasdaq-100 at or below “Short-Gamma” juncture.

Similar to yesterday, market liquidity, suggests (1) buying pressure is increasing or (2) sellers are absorbing resting liquidity (which could be opportunistic buying or short covering into weakness).

Graphic 3: Market liquidity for the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY), one of the largest ETFs that track the S&P 500 index.

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

During Thursday’s trade, the worst case outcome occurred: the S&P 500 broke from balance, and auctioned past the $3,777.75 regular trade low (RTH Low). Thereafter, lower prices solicited responsive buying near the $3,727.75 HVNode.

Participants did not establish definitive excess at the lows.

More On 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).
Important to mention is overnight discovery, which established clear excess on the composite profile.

More On 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.

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

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

Given the aforementioned dynamics, participants can trade from the following frameworks.

In the best case, the S&P 500 either (1) remains rotational, trading responsively between the $3,785.00 low-volume area (LVNode) and $3,720.50 minimal excess low.

Thereafter, if higher, attention shifts to whether the S&P 500 can get past the $3,785.00 (LVNode). Doing so suggests the most recent downside probe was an auction failure (i.e, participants rejected lower prices, sparking a rapid recovery).

In the worst case, participants auction past the $3,720.50 minimal excess low. In such a case participants may target the $3,689.50 HVNode.

Graphics 4 and 5: Profile overlays on the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

Levels Of Interest: $3,785.00 LVNode.

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Commentary

Market Commentary For 3/4/2021

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

What Happened: After Tuesday’s end-of-day spike liquidation, U.S. stock index futures were further sold, during Wednesday’s sessions.

What Does It Mean: Broad market indices are mixed.

On a relative basis, the Nasdaq-100 is weaker, while the S&P 500 and Russell 2000 are stronger. This push-pull dynamic is making it hard for participants to resolve directionally, evidenced by recent volatility.

Based on Wednesday’s action, the S&P 500 and Russell 2000 are in balance, while the Nasdaq-100 is in price-discovery mode, evidenced by a successful break from balance. In other words, the outlook is mixed; one may argue that lower prices in the S&P 500 are likely, given the relative weakness of the Nasdaq.

Adding, there’s one guarantee over the next few sessions: volatility.

Given that the S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 are in short-gamma territory (Graphic 1), option dealers are required to hedge their exposure in a manner that exacerbates volatility. This hedging activity will worsen with the purchase of put options by market participants looking to hedge their downside, which is happening, as evidenced by Graphic 2.

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 Nasdaq-100 at or below “Short-Gamma” juncture.
Graphic 2: Option activity for the largest ETFs that track the S&P 500, Nasdaq-100, and Russell 2000.

Important to note is market liquidity, which suggests (1) buying pressure is increasing or (2) sellers are absorbing resting liquidity (which could be opportunistic buying or short covering into weakness).

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

During Wednesday’s trade, the worst case outcome occurred: participants auctioned past Tuesday’s regular trade low, emboldening sellers and starting a new auction, to the downside. The session ended on a spike lower, away from value, with the Nasdaq-100 breaking its week-long balance area, to the downside.

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).

More On 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).

Important to mention is overnight discovery, which established clear excess on the composite profile.

More On 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.

Given the aforementioned dynamics, participants can trade from the following frameworks.

In the best case, the S&P 500 either (1) remains rotational, trading responsively between the $3,785.00 gap boundary and $3,837.75 high-volume area (HVNode), or (2) auctions past the $3,837.75 HVNode.

Thereafter, if higher, attention shifts to whether the S&P 500 can get past the $3,861.25 low-volume area (LVNode). Doing so suggests the most recent downside probe was an auction failure (i.e, participants rejected lower prices, sparking a rapid recovery).

In the worst case, participants auction past the $3,777.75 regular trade low (RTH Low). In such a case participants may target the $3,727.75 and $3,689.50 HVNodes.

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: Profile overlays on a 4-hour chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

Levels Of Interest: $3,837.75 HVNode, $3,777.75 RTH Low, and $3,727.75 HVNode.

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Commentary

Market Commentary For 3/3/2021

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

What Happened: After an end-of-day spike liquidation, overnight, U.S. stock index futures rebounded.

What Does It Mean: Broad market indices are no longer in price-discovery mode. Instead, indices are in balance, two-sided trade as participants look for more information to base their next move on.

While leading economic indicators point to expansion, stock market liquidity has weakened and volatility has expanded, exacerbated by the market’s transition into short-gamma.

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.
Pictured: SpotGamma data suggests S&P 500 at or below “Short-Gamma” juncture.

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

During Tuesday’s trade, the best case outcome occurred: the S&P 500 was able to maintain higher prices, rotating within Monday’s trading range, above the $3,860.75 LVNode. However, near the end of regular trade, the S&P 500 experienced a rapid spike liquidation, away from value, or the price level that participants transacted most at.

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 aforementioned dynamics, and an overnight failure to reclaim the high-volume area (HVNode) at $3,894.25, which offered initiative buyers (responsive sellers) favorable exit (entry), participants can trade from the following framework.

In the best case, market’s remain rotational, with the S&P 500, in particular, remaining within Tuesday’s trading range, above the $3,860.75 low-volume area, or LVNode.

In the worst case, participants auction past Tuesday’s regular trade low, emboldening sellers and starting a new auction, to the downside.

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

Levels Of Interest: $3,860.75 LVNode.

Categories
Commentary

Market Commentary For 3/2/2021

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

What Happened: After a strong trend day, overnight, U.S. stock index futures fell.

What Does It Mean: As leading economic indicators point to expansion, investors are looking for continued upside.

This comes alongside (1) a material divergence in bond and equity market volatility, as well as (2) a recent convergence in the 10-year Treasury rate and S&P 500 dividend yield. The resolve of these aforementioned dynamics, and positioning, set the market up for a volatile, near-term turn-around.

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

During Monday’s trade, the best case outcome occurred: the S&P 500 was able to auction and maintain prices above the $3,860.75 low-volume area, or LVNode. Thereafter, participants, as expected, responsively sold the probe into $3,907.75, a high-volume area (HVNode) which offers initiative buyers (responsive sellers) favorable exit (entry).

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.

For Tuesday, in the best case, the S&P 500 is able to maintain higher prices, either rotating within yesterday’s trading range, above the $3,860.75 LVNode, or auctioning past the $3,907.75 HVNode. In case of continued upside, a test of the $3,934.25 ledge is likely.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 is not able to maintain higher prices, evidenced by an auction that takes out Monday’s regular-trade low (RTH Low), or $3,858.00. In such a case, participants would look for a response near the $3,837.75 HVNode. Auctioning beneath the HVNode, puts in play the $3,785.00-$3,777.00 gap.

Levels Of Interest: $3,858.00 RTH Low.

Categories
Commentary

Market Commentary For 3/1/2021

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

What Happened: Overnight, U.S. stock index futures auctioned higher on news of COVID-19 vaccine approvals and stimulus progress.

What Does It Mean: Alongside (1) a material divergence in bond and equity market volatility, as well as (2) a convergence in the 10-year Treasury rate and S&P 500 dividend yield, U.S. stock indexes auctioned lower during regular trade, last week.

Aside from the volatility, the S&P 500’s long-term uptrend, and a skewness toward put options suggests the potential for a near-term turn-around.

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

Further, because the S&P 500 auctioned above the $3,840.00 high-volume area, or HVNode, attention shifts to the $3,860.75 low-volume area, or LVNode.

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.

In the best case, the S&P 500 is able to auction and maintain prices above the $3,860.75 LVNode, formed by earlier selling forces.

Auctioning beyond that reference suggests near-term conviction has changed; participants would look for responses at the $3,907.75 HVNode, an area that would offer initiative buyers (responsive sellers) favorable exit (entry).

In the worst case, the S&P 500 auctions below the $3,840.00 HVNode.

In such case, initiative sellers would be emboldened; participants may look to repair the gap below $3,785.00.

Levels Of Interest: $3,860.75 LVNode.

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Commentary

Market Commentary For The Week Ahead: ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go’

Notice: Physik Invest’s daily market commentaries will be suspended for the next five regular trading sessions or February 22-26.

Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience and thank you for the support!

Key Takeaways:

  • Debt, inflation threatening low-rate regime.
  • Markets most complacent in two decades.
  • Sentiment turns hot from hotter amid slide.
  • Global equity fund net inflows decelerated.
  • Markets fret about economic performance.
  • Retail sales and industrial production gain.

What Happened: U.S. stock index futures auctioned lower last week.

What Does It Mean: Market participants witnessed a rapid de-risking event, as a result of individual stock volatility, and a subsequent v-pattern recovery, that was later taken back as Friday’s large February monthly options expiration (OPEX) neared.

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.

At the same time, bond and equity market volatility diverged, materially. 

In other words, a rapid move up in rates — as investors become increasingly concerned over the value of their bonds due to rising debt levels and inflation — has yet to be priced in as an equity market risk.

Graphic 1: The Market Ear unpacks divergence in volatility across different markets.

Adding, the risk of inflation comes alongside a potential for slowing in economic growth, which may have knock-on effects, such as savers protecting their capital by investing in non-productive assets, thus helping form speculative asset bubbles.

Risk Of Monetary Support: The increased moneyness of financial markets; investors look to exchange-traded products (e.g., S&P 500) as savings vehicles, thereby forcing participants, like the Federal Reserve, to backstop market liquidity, and promote market and economic stability in times of turmoil.
A great paper on the impact of central bank intervention, passive index investing, and asymmetric liquidity provisioning.

Still, as Bloomberg suggests, reasons to not panic include an overreaction by market participants, premature Fed tightening, and a risk asset rout (i.e., rising rates may eventually increase demand for safety assets).

“Typically it’s a good environment for risk assets. Neither the pace nor the extent of the move so far has been unusual relative to other historical moves coming out of a recession,” said Pimco’s Erin Browne. “It would take a significant move in real yields in order to disrupt risk markets broadly.”

Graphic 2: Benchmark 10-year real rate in solidly negative territory.

Moving on, given OPEX, participants have a clue as to why the market failed to resolve directionally over the past week: 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.

Aside from OPEX, we must talk more about the v-pattern recovery and a prior week’s spike exit from balance, as well as low broad market volatility.

In light of the v-pattern, balance, and spike, the S&P 500’s long-term uptrend remains intact. In support of this uptrend, systematic and hedge fund participants are increasing their long-exposure, given the economic recovery, and a drop in volatility.

Beyond that, speculative activity in the options market and measures of market liquidity fail in offering much information.

Graphic 3: 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 19, 2021. Activity in the options market was primarily concentrated in short- and long-dated tenors, near the $390, a strike that corresponds with $3,900.00 in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX).

What To Expect: U.S. stock indexes are positioned for directional resolve.

This comes alongside the acceptance of higher prices (inside a prominent high-volume area, or HVNode) and an overnight rally-high at $3,959.25.

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

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

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

What To Do: In the coming sessions, participants will want to pay attention to the VWAP anchored from the $3,959.25 peak and $3,909.25 HVNode.

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 opens and remains above the $3,909.25 volume area.

Additionally, auctioning above the $3,915.00 VWAP would suggest buyers, on average, are in control and winning, since the February 15 rally high.

Auctioning beneath $3,909.25 turns the HVNode, nearby, into an area of supply, offering initiative sellers favorable entry and responsive buyers favorable exit. 

The situation would drastically deteriorate with trade beneath the $3,880.00 HVNode, the last reference before participants find acceptance in an area of low-volume.

In such scenario, future discovery ought to be volatile and quick as participants repair some of the poor structures left in the wake of a prior advance, and look to the next area of high-volume (i.e., $3,830.75) for favorable entry and exit.

Graphic 4: Profile overlays on a 65-minute and 4-hour chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures. See all decision levels of /ES and /NQ here, also.

Conclusions: The go/no-go level for next week’s trade is $3,909.25. 

Any activity at this level suggests market participants are looking for more information to base their next move. Anything above (below) this level increases the potential for higher (lower).

Levels Of Interest: $3,909.25 HVNode.

Photo by Charles Parker 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 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 The Week Ahead: ‘Follow The Flow’

Key Takeaways:

What Happened: After prices were advertised below balance in the week prior, responsive buyers in the S&P 500 began a rally that found acceptance back inside a larger balance-area, near the $3,800 high-open interest strike.

Thereafter, initiative buyers extended the S&P 500’s rally, breaking the index above its $3,824.25 balance-area high (BAH), before establishing acceptance near the $3,850.00 price extension, an upside target, and auctioning back into range, repairing poor structures left in the wake of discovery.

What Does It Mean: In light of a failed breakdown in the week prior, U.S. stock indexes were best positioned for further downside discovery. However, after what appears to be aggressive buying in response to prices below value, it was clear that was not the case.

This leads to the following question: why did selling stop on January 15? One answer, aside from a positive start to the earnings season and prospects for further stimulus, may be OPEX, the January 15 option expiry. On expiration days, delta and gamma exposures change — depending on how derivatives exposure is removed or rolled — which causes dealers to adjust hedges.

According to SpotGamma, the January 15 expiry “resulted in a ~50% reduction in single stock gamma … [which] creates volatility because, as large options positions expire[], are closed and/or rolled, dealers have large hedges they need to adjust. There is a trove of data to suggest that the bulk of single stock call activity is long calls, and based on that we believe dealers (who are short calls vs long stock) therefore have long stock positions to sell.”

Put more simply, the price action may have been attributable to the sale of long stock that hedged expiring short derivatives exposure above the market (i.e., call side).

Per the SpotGamma S&P 500 dealer hedging graphic for the January 15 expiry below, “The black line was the mark on Thursday evening, with the red line being the forecasted position on Tuesday. This red line being substantially lower than the black suggests that dealers had to reduce delta exposure as a result of expiration. Note there is a larger shift at overhead prices suggesting this was a ‘call heavy’ expiration.”

Graphic 1: SpotGamma S&P 500 dealer hedging graphic for the January 15 options expiry

After the VIX (i.e., CBOE’s Volatility Index) expiry on January 20, alongside the inauguration of President Joe Biden, the prospects for a rally improved as “event premium in IV dries up … [and] put values drop, which allows dealers (who are short puts) to buy back short hedges … [fueling] a quick rally up to the 3850SPX/385SPY level (green arrow).”

Graphic 2: SpotGamma S&P 500 Gamma Levels

Adding, the number of put options sold to open exceeded the number bought to open, per SpotGamma, suggesting increased confidence in higher prices as market participants look to options for income, and not insurance.

Historically, the returns after such developments are mixed — more often the appearance of strong initiative buying surfaces (e.g., August and January 2020) before a liquidation helps correct excess inventory, and bring sense back into the market.

Graphic 3: SpotGamma plots opening option positions.

What To Expect: During Friday’s session in the S&P 500, responsive buying surfaced after a test of the $3,818.25 High-Volume Node (HVNode), above the $3,813.50 ledge (below which is a pocket of low-volume).

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 (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 value for favorable entry or exit.

After the S&P 500 found acceptance above the $3,813.50 ledge and $3,824.25 BAH, it encountered responsive selling near the $3,840.75 HVNode, the site of a downtrend line. Since the selling transpired at a visual level, market participants know that technically-driven, short-term traders in control. In other words, institutions (e.g, funds) tend not to transact at exact technical levels.

Given the aforementioned dynamics, participants will come into Monday’s session knowing the following:

  1. The S&P 500’s higher-time frame breakout remains intact, per graphics 7, 8, and 9.
  2. Late last year, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) strategist Marko Kolanovic suggested equities would rally 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 downgraded growth and expressed the limited potential for further upside.
  3. The earnings of heavily weighted index constituents suggests participants discount improved speculative flows and delta (e.g., presence of committed buying or selling as measured by volume delta). Please see graphics 4, 5, and 6.
Graphic 4: Supportive order flow in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY), the largest ETF that tracks the S&P 500, on January 20 trend day.
Graphic 5: Supportive order flow in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY), the largest ETF that tracks the S&P 500, on January 22.
Graphic 6: Speculative derivatives activity for the week ending January 23, 2021.
Graphic 7: Daily candlestick chart of the cash S&P 500 Index

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 $3,840.75 HVNode. Expectations thereafter include continued balance or initiative buying to take out the $3,859.75 overnight all-time high (there is a low probability that overnight all-time highs end the upside discovery process). Thereafter buying continues as high as the $3,884.75 price projection, or double the width of the balance-area, the typical target on a balance-area breakout.

In the worst case, any break that finds increased involvement (i.e., supportive flows and delta) below $3,824.25 BAH, would favor continuation as low as the $3,763.75 BAL.

Graphic 8: Profile overlays on a 15-minute candlestick chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures

Conclusions: Despite broad-market indices being in a longer-term uptrend, the odds of substantial upside resolve are low. Participants ought to look for favorable areas to transact, such as those high-volume areas in the S&P 500 featured in graphic 8.

All in all, the risk and reward dynamics, at these price levels, are poor.

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

Levels Of Interest: $3,884.75, $3,859.75, $3,840.75 HVNode, $3,824.25 BAH, $3,763.75 BAL.

Cover photo by Jayant Kulkarni from Pexels.

Categories
Commentary

Market Commentary For The Week Ahead: ‘Rally On Pause’

Key Takeaways:

What Happened:

Alongside mixed economic releases, plans for added fiscal stimulus, as well as a start to the Q4 earnings season, U.S. index futures broke balance and auctioned lower.

Given that Friday’s worst case scenario was realized, U.S. stock indexes are positioned for further downside discovery.

Graphic 1: Profile overlays on a 30-minute candlestick chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures

What To Expect: Friday’s session in the S&P 500 found responsive buying surface after a test of the $3,741.25 Virgin Point of Control, or VPOC (i.e., the fairest price to do business in a prior session).

Noting: POCs 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.

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.

Thereafter, buying pressure quickly disappeared, and the S&P 500 confirmed the balance-break. Now, in light of the market’s search for an area to establish balanced, two-sided trade, participants will come into Tuesday’s session knowing the following:

  1. Prior to a multi-session consolidation, profile structures denoted the presence of short-covering. This was the result of old, weak-handed business emotionally buying to cover short positions, causing swift movement, followed by a stalled advance, or two-sided trade.
  2. Unsupportive speculative flows and delta (e.g., non-presence of committed buying or selling) in some instances, as can be viewed by the order flow graphics 2 and 3 below.
  3. The multi-month upside breakout targeting S&P 500 prices as high as $4,000.00 remains intact, per graphic 4.
  4. After a v-pattern recovery, the S&P 500 consolidated near the $3,800 high-open interest strike, forming a balance-area. This structure was resolved with Friday’s balance-break. A break-out from balance is usually the start of a short-term auction. Therefore, placing trades in the direction of the break is the normal course of action. Trading back into the consolidation (above $3,763.75), thereby invalidating the break-out, may portend a move to the other end of balance ($3,824.25).
Graphic 2: Divergent delta in the iShares Russell 2000 ETF (NYSE: IWM), one of the largest ETFs that track the Russell 2000
Graphic 3: Order flow in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY), the largest ETF that tracks the S&P 500
Graphic 4: Daily candlestick chart of the cash S&P 500 Index

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 remains above its $3,763.75 balance-area low (BAL). Expectations thereafter include continued balance or initiative buying to take out the $3,824.25 balance-area high (BAH).

In the worst case, the S&P 500 remains below its $3,763.75 BAL. Expectations thereafter include a test of the low-volume node (LVNode) near $3,732.75. A break of the LVNode would portend a response near the $3,703.25 balance-break projection.

Conclusions: For now, despite a negative balance-break jeopardizing the bullish thesis, broad-market indices are in a longer-term uptrend. Participants ought to look for favorable areas to transact, such as those big-picture high-volume areas featured in graphic 5.

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

Levels Of Interest: $3,763.75 BAL, $3,824.25 BAH, $3,732.75 LVNode, $3,703.25 balance-break projection.

Cover photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels.