Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For May 17, 2021

Market Commentary

Index futures in balance.

  • Themes: Inflation, COVID outbreaks.
  • Ahead: Manufacturing, housing data.
  • Indices are lower but holding up well.

What Happened: U.S. stock index futures auctioned lower, overnight, alongside a so-called flight to safety. Bonds and metals were higher while risk assets, like equities and cryptocurrencies, were down.

At the same time, supply-side disruptions continue with coronavirus outbreaks in Asia; Taiwan’s benchmark index fell nearly 4% during overnight trade.

In terms of releases, participants are looking forward to Empire Manufacturing and the NAHB housing market index for May. Also, an Atlanta Fed conference begins, today.

Graphic updated at 7:00 AM EST.

What To Expect: Monday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM EST) in the S&P 500 will likely open inside of prior-range and -value, suggesting a limited potential for immediate directional opportunity.

Adding, during Friday’s regular trade, the best case outcome occurred, evidenced by initiative trade up to the $4,177.25 high volume area (HVNode). This is significant because that level marks a major pivot on the composite profile (i.e., above = bullish, below = bearish-to-neutral). To note, however, participants were unable to introduce meaningful excess at the recovery high.

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.

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.

It is important to touch on the push-pull dynamic in markets, over the past few weeks. 

Historically speaking, equities are in a seasonally weak period. At the same time, inflation and uninspiring economic data are major worries investors are attempting to price in. Despite these emerging themes, JPMorgan Chase & Co’s (NYSE: JPM) Marko Kolanovic, in a CNBC appearance, said that the market is a little oversold, and his S&P 500 target of $4,400.00 remains in play.

“I think market is now actually getting cheap, in some sense,” Kolanovic said. “I think we’re at the end of this upset. I think the market is going to go higher here. That said, we do still again prefer reflationary themes.”

Given the brief fundamental context, for today, participants can trade from the following frameworks. 

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades sideways or higher; activity above the $4,177.25 HVNode pivot may reach as high as the $4,227.00 POC. Initiative trade beyond the POC targets the $4,238.00 overnight high (ONH).

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.

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

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below $4,177.25 has the potential to reach down, through the $4,129.25 and $4,069.25 HVNodes, to the $4,050.75 low volume area (LVNode). 

Trading beyond the LVNode, caution longs. The S&P 500 may rapidly discover lower prices, repairing the poor, low-volume structure down to the $3,979.50 Fibonacci retracement. Closeby is the $3,953.25 HVNode and $3,908.25 composite HVNode (a key response area).

Graphic: 4-hour profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.
Graphic: Daily candlestick charts of the S&P 500 (top left), Nasdaq 100 (top right), Russell 2000 (bottom left), and Dow Jones Industrial Average (bottom right).
Graphic: SHIFT search suggests participants were most interested in put strikes at and below current prices in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX) and Nasdaq 100 Index (INDEX: NDX), last week. It appears that participants were positioning themselves in strikes across further-dated expiries (e.g., June 18, 2021) suggesting more commitment.

News And Analysis

Trade | Surging corporate demand is upending global supply chains. (BBG)

Credit | Fiscal stimulus, borrower discipline behind loan asset quality. (Moody’s)

Economy | Households and most U.S. children to get monthly stimulus. (REU)

Travel | United to add more than 400 daily flights in July amid demand. (REU)

Trade | EU agrees to a partial truce with the U.S. over old Trump tariffs. (REU)

Markets | Companies flush with cash, ready to pad shareholder pockets. (WSJ)

What People Are Saying

Innovation And Emerging Trends

Travel | Bankers flee Wall Street, head home to virus-free Australia. (BBG)

FinTech | Crypto, blockchain must accept problems, lead in sustainability. (TC)

Energy | The electrification of everything: what you need to know. (WSJ)

FinTech | How you can build a DIY robot-advisor using Passiv. (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, 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 May 16, 2021

Market Commentary

Key Takeaways: Index futures are back in balance.

  • Economic data failing to surprise.
  • JPM: “Market is a little oversold.”
  • Indices reject lower prices, rotate.

What Happened: Last week, U.S. stock index futures auctioned lower alongside the release of uninspiring economic data.

In particular, the S&P 500 advertised prices below a key consolidation area but failed to solicit aggressive selling. Thereafter, participants rotated the index back inside the aforementioned consolidation, suggesting they were seeking more information to base a directional move. 

As stated in the last few weekly commentaries, participants have a lot to account for in positioning themselves during one of the weakest stretches of the year. Among their worries are inflation expectations – in part due to “choke points in global supply chains” – and stalling retail sales, as well as consumer price and job data misses. At the same time, sentiment and positioning metrics are waning while inflows remain strong, across the globe, and many year-end index targets remain clustered at and above current prices.

Of all the factors mentioned, inflation is a key concern. Why? Generally speaking, inflation and rates move inverse to each other. Low rates stimulate demand for loans (i.e., borrowing money more attractive). With the rapid recovery, though, market participants are fearful that rates may have to rise to protect the economy from overheating.

Higher rates have the potential to reduce the present value of future earnings, making stocks, especially those that are high growth, less attractive. To note, however, rates remain rangebound; rates on the 10 Year T-Note sit below their March high and are likely to continue higher, which, according to research by JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM), the market will likely absorb.

In fact, JPMorgan’s Marko Kolanovic, in a CNBC appearance, said that the market is a little oversold, and his S&P 500 target of $4,400.00 remains in play.

“I think market is now actually getting cheap, in some sense,” Kolanovic said. “I think we’re at the end of this upset. I think the market is going to go higher here. That said, we do still again prefer reflationary themes.”

Looking back, also, according to The Market Ear, even during the so-called Taper Tantrum, in the early 2010s, rates settled in a wide range, and equities rallied big. 

Graphic: Nasdaq 100 rallies in 2013 after rates settle in a wide range, via The Market Ear.

To add, technically speaking, after testing into a composite low volume area (LVNode), the S&P 500 rejected lower prices and quickly traded back to the valuable $4,177.25 high volume area (HVNode).

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.

This volatility was expected; coming into the May 13 reversal, stock indexes were positioning for a vicious rebound as near-term downside discovery reached a potential limit, based on market liquidity metrics and the inventory positioning of participants. According to SqueezeMetrics, the steepness of the GammaVol (GXV) curve suggested there was more risk to the upside than the downside.

More On Gamma: In the simplest way, gamma is the sensitivity of an option to changes in the underlying price. Dealers that take the other side of options trades to 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.

What To Expect: In the coming sessions, participants will want to focus their attention on where the S&P 500 trades in relation to the $4,177.25 HVNode pivot.

That said, participants can trade from the following frameworks.

In the best case, the index trades sideways or higher; activity above the $4,177.25 HVNode may reach as high as the $4,227.00 POC. Initiative trade beyond the POC could reach as high as $4,238.00 overnight high (ONH) and $4,294.75 Fibonacci price extension, a typical recovery target.

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.

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

In the worst case, the index trades lower; activity below the $4,177.25 HVNode has the potential to reach the $4,136.25 HVNode. Beyond that level, of interest is the $4,122.25 HVNode, the $4,104.75 LVNode, and the $4,069.25 HVNode. 

Trading below the $4,029.25 overnight low (ONL) suggests a continuation of the bear trend. Caution longs.

Graphic: 4-hour profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.
Graphic: Weekly candlestick charts of the S&P 500 (top left), Nasdaq 100 (top right), Russell 2000 (bottom left), and Dow Jones Industrial Average (bottom right).
Graphic: SHIFT search suggests participants were most interested in put strikes at and below current prices in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX) and Nasdaq 100 Index (INDEX: NDX), last week. It appears that participants were positioning themselves in strikes across further-dated expiries (e.g., June 18, 2021) suggesting more commitment.

News And Analysis

Markets | Rates remain resilient after the recent inflation scare. (MND)

Markets | Caught-short strategists are a stealth market accelerant. (BBG)

Ratings | Out-of-court restructurings may lead to repeat defaults. (S&P)

Energy | Oil, and gas benefiting from rising crude, value rotation. (BBG)

Energy | Colonial Pipeline resumes normal operations after hack. (Axios)

Markets | Selected indicators – global automotive manufacturing. (REU)

Ratings | Risk of supply chain financing, partial asset sell-downs. (S&P)

Economy | U.K.’s worse recession to turn into a stronger recovery. (S&P)

Economy | Don’t you dare say stagflation; safeguards are slipping. (BBG)

What People Are Saying

Innovation And Emerging Trends

Working | Reimagining the workplace – adapting to new normals. (S&P)

Banking | US banks could cut nearly 200K jobs over the next decade. (FT)

Space | China has made history with its successful Mars landing. (Axios)

FinTech | Cryptocurrency, and blockchain must lead in sustainability. (TC)

Energy | California Governor proposes a $3.2B EV investment plan. (TC)

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, 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 May 9, 2021

Market Commentary

Key Takeaways: Index futures in price discovery.

  • JPMorgan puts emphasis on reflation.
  • Earnings were great. NFP not so much.
  • Indices diverge. S&P 500, Dow higher.

What Happened: Last week, U.S. stock index futures were divergent with the Nasdaq 100 and Russell 2000 lagging behind the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average.

The push-pull between equity indices comes as market participants doubled down on the so-called “reflation” trade. JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM) strategists, led by Marko Kolanovic, warned many managers will “need to quickly switch gears from their deflationary playbook or risk an ‘inflation shock,’” according to Bloomberg.

“We expect a strong pickup in inflation this year, which the market will likely be slow to recognize and is poorly positioned for,” Kolanovic and his colleagues said. “A combination of boomy global growth and significant bottleneck price pressures should keep inflation on an upward trajectory while most central banks remain committed to their very accommodative stances and are looking through the inflation pickups.”

Kolanovic recommends participants cut cash and credit to increase their allocations to cyclical and value assets.

In parallel, while companies look to cut costs and boost prices, the April jobs report failed to meet expectations as people who increasingly looked for jobs had a difficult time getting hired.

Graphic: Bloomberg data shows first-quarter earnings from S&P 500 companies surging.

“We still think growth will be historically strong this year, but today’s jobs report is a reminder that there’s still work to be done,” Ally Inc-owned Ally Invest strategist Callie Cox said. “It’s a big data point for the inflation worries, too. If hiring slows for the next few months, businesses may not be able to pass on higher costs to consumers.”

Adding, though the April payroll miss was big enough to likely limit the Federal Reserve’s taper or rate hike discussions, traders signaled otherwise.

Earlier this week, Bloomberg reported on a large option bet over quicker rate hikes by the Federal Reserve. The Eurodollar bet carries a notional value of $40 billion and is focused on a potential surprise at the Jackson Hole symposium, used in the past to signal policy changes.

Graphic: Eurodollar bet on SHIFT’s institutional platform. The purchase of 98.00 strike put options suggests traders are looking to add “two Fed hikes to [current] expectations.”

Moving on, technically speaking, equity indexes are at an interesting juncture. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 resolved their multi-week consolidations, to the upside, while the Russell 2000 is rotating within prior range and Nasdaq 100 is relatively weak, losing support and auctioning into a low-volume area.

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.

Further, the strong break in the S&P 500, which targets the Fibonacci-derived price extension near $4,300, has thus far been validated by numerous hours of trade outside of the consolidation zone (i.e., balance area). To note, though, the structure left behind Friday’s price discovery was very poor, opening the door for potential repair.

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).

Participants ought to be cautiously optimistic given the weakness in heavily-weighted sectors like technology. Should weakness accelerate, the S&P 500 may succumb. 

Graphic: Daily candlestick charts of the S&P 500 (top left), Nasdaq 100 (top right), Russell 2000 (bottom left), and Dow Jones Industrial Average (bottom right). The Dow is the strongest of the four. The Nasdaq is the weakest.

What To Expect: In the coming sessions, participants will want to focus their attention on where the S&P 500 trades in relation to the balance area it just broke from.

That said, participants can trade from the following frameworks.

In the best case, the index trades sideways or higher; activity above the $4,210.75 boundary targets the $4,235.25 price extension. Initiative trade beyond the price extension could reach as high as the $4,266.50-$4,272.75 confluence of Fibonacci-derived price targets.

In the worst case, the index trades lower; activity below $4,210.75 puts in play the $4,179.50 spike base. Trading below the spike base negates end-of-week bullishness.

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).
Graphic: 65-minute profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.
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 May 7, 2021. Activity in the options market was primarily concentrated in short-dated tenors, in strikes as low as $404.00, which corresponds with $4,030.00 in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX).

News And Analysis

Economy | Forbearance exits soar as more plans expire last week. (MND)

Economy | Demand decline fuels price wars across mortgage industry. (WSJ)

Markets | Focus shifts to U.S. prices after the jobs disappointment. (BBG)

Politics | Infrastructure talks could set course of Biden spending plans. (WSJ)

Markets | New SEC chairman sets sights on firms Citadel and Virtu. (WSJ)

Markets | Pipeline hack may push pump rices to $3, ahead of holiday. (BBG)

Recovery | Fauci says ‘no doubt’ the U.S. undercounted virus deaths. (BBG)

What People Are Saying

Innovation And Emerging Trends

Crypto | German, U.S. regulators tighten focus on the crypto market. (FT)

Space | China’s ambitions in space: national pride or taking on U.S. (FT)

Crypto | Crypto startup Dfinity set to launch a blockchain AWS rival. (FT

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, 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

Market Commentary For 2/18/2021

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

What Happened: U.S. stock index futures balanced within prior range, ahead of releases on weekly jobless claims.

What Does It Mean: After a v-pattern recovery and sideways trade in the weeks prior, stock index futures auctioned out of prior-balance and -range, via Friday’s end-of-day spike.

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).

Since then, the S&P 500 had difficulty in maintaining higher prices.

At the end of regular trade Wednesday, the aforementioned spike and shift from balance (i.e., the transition from two- to one-time frame trade) was accepted. Overnight, however, the market rotated back into the meat of Wednesday’s range, putting in jeopardy the near-term bullish bias. This is likely the resolve of uninspired buying interest during regular trade (as measured by volume delta).

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

Noting, as the bid in volatility drops, demand is seen rising.

That’s according to one statement by Goldman Sachs Group Inc‘s (NYSE: GS) trading desk which said: “CTAs [are] purchasing ~$5B of S&P this week, regardless of what the tape does.”

That statement echoes what JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM) Marko Kolanovic’s said last year. 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. Kolanovic has since downgraded growth and suggested the limited potential for further upside despite odds of a sustained economic recovery.

Important to add also is 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 is this important? 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.

What To Expect: Thursday’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.

This comes alongside a resumption of balance, acceptance of higher prices (above a prominent high-volume area), 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.

Given the above dynamics, and the S&P 500’s move back below the $3,919.75 spike base (i.e., Wednesday’s worst case outcome), the following frameworks ought to be applied.

In the best case, the S&P 500 opens and remains above the $3,900.00 confluence zone. Auctioning beneath $3,900.00 turns the high-volume area (HVNode) nearby into supply, offering initiative sellers favorable entry and responsive buyers favorable exit.

So, above $3,900.00, expect balance-to-higher. Below $3,900.00, expect the potential for downside discovery.

Levels Of Interest: $3,900.00 HVNode.

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.

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

‘To Infinity And Beyond’: Market Commentary For The Week Ahead

Key Takeaways:

What Happened: During last week’s trade, U.S. index futures auctioned to new all-time highs, before moving back into balance.

What Does It Mean: After participants established an all-time rally high during Wednesday’s overnight session, the S&P 500 liquidated in regular trading, down to the micro-composite high-volume node near $3,667.75, a price level where participants spent a large amount of time in the past. The session ended in prior balance and range with poor profile structure denoting the presence of directional conviction.

For the remainder of the week, participants accepted lower prices until Friday’s session established minimal excess lows, broke into prior poor structure, and ended the technical downtrend. 

Given the mechanical trade (i.e., minimal excess at Friday’s lows) and poor structure (e.g., low-volume areas), it’s very likely that the selling range extension was the result of weak-handed, short-term momentum buyers liquidating positions in panic.

Pictured: Profile overlays on a 65-minute candlestick chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures

What To Expect: Friday’s session found responsive buyers surface at a key technical level (i.e., the high-volume node near $3,630.00 and 20-day simple moving average). The fact that there was a response at a technical reference confirms that participation in the market is overwhelmingly short-term; in other words, institutions (e.g, funds) tend not to transact at exact technical levels. 

Given that the higher-time frame breakout remains intact, participants will come into Monday’s session knowing the following:

  1. Both sentiment and positioning are historically stretched while the market has entered a short-gamma environment; in such cases, dealers hedge their derivatives exposure by buying into strength and selling into weakness. This, alongside the presence of short-term traders in U.S. equities, will exacerbate volatility in the coming week.
  2. Looking to 2021, the decline in realized correlation due to factor and sector rotation, as well as the return of systematic option selling strategies should push the long-gamma narrative in which volatility is suppressed and the market pins or slowly rises in a range-bound fashion.
  3. 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 on the basis of low rates, improved fundamentals, buybacks, as well as systematic and hedge fund strategies.
  4. Despite high CAPE ratios, stock-market valuations aren’t that absurd.
  5. Prior trade points to the non-presence of committed selling; after Friday’s session saw a failure to range extend and establish excess, the technical down-trend was broken.

Therefore, the following frameworks for next week’s trade apply.

In the best case, buyers surface at the $3,654.75 low-volume node and extend range up to the high-volume node at $3,667.75. High-volume areas denote value and should slow prices allowing participants enough time to enter and exit trades. An initiative drive through this area would portend a test of the $3,690.75 high-volume node, and then the prior all-time rally high.

In the worst case, if the S&P 500 auctions below $3,630.00, participants would look to repair the poor structure just shy of $3,625.00. Finding acceptance (i.e., spending more than one half-hour of regular trade) below Friday’s range would be the most negative outcome.

Conclusion: Though sentiment and positioning imply limited potential for further upside, the S&P 500’s higher-time frame breakout remains intact.

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

Levels Of Interest: $3,720.00 extension, $3,715.00 all-time rally high, the micro-composite HVNode at $3,690.75, $3,667.75, and $3,630.00, as well as the $3,654.75 LVNode and poor structure near $3,625.00.

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

Spotify Technology SA (NYSE: SPOT) – Acceptance after higher-time frame balance-breakout. Potential remains for a push to the balance-area projection.

Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL) – Acceptance after higher-time frame balance-breakout. Potential scenarios include (1) continued rotation, (2) upside continuation, or (3) failed breakout and a return to balance.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc (NASDAQ: AMD) – Acceptance after higher-time frame balance-breakout. Potential for upside continuation or failed breakout and return to balance.

Shopify Inc (NYSE: SHOP) – Balance just shy of channel boundary. Potential for upside breakout and continuation.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc (NYSE: CMG) – Just shy of balance-area high. Potential for upside breakout and continuation.

Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) – Rejected prior week’s balance-area. Likelihood of continuation up to S&P 500 index inclusion intact on surging call volumes, dealer accumulation. $700 strike is the high-OI strike of interest.

Zoom Video Communications Inc (NASDAQ: ZM) – Just shy of long-term trend, anchored VWAP. Potential for responsive buying.

Summit Materials Inc (NYSE: SUM) – Failed breakout, but speculative call volumes surfaced on the return into balance. Potential exists for another attempt higher.

Nasdaq-100 (INDEXNASDAQ: NDX) – Retest of balance-area high. Higher time-frame breakout remains intact.

Cover photo by SpaceX 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.