Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For May 17, 2022

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

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures were higher. The S&P 500, in particular, probed the high end of the low-volume (gap) area it broke into on May 9, 2022.

The key is to monitor whether the S&P 500 is able to sustain the prices it discovered overnight. If so, then the odds that participants are, indeed, hammering out a bottom are heightened.

Ahead is data on retail sales (8:30 AM ET), industrial production and capacity utilization (9:15 AM ET), the NAHB home builders’ index, and business inventories (10:00 AM ET).

Fed-speak is scattered. At 9:15 AM ET, the Philadelphia Fed’s Patrick Harker speaks on health care. At 2:00 PM ET, Fed Chair Jerome Powell is interviewed by the WSJ. At 2:30 PM ET, the Cleveland Fed’s Loretta Mester talks at an inflation conference. And, lastly, at 6:45 PM ET, the Chicago Fed’s Charles Evans speaks.

Graphic updated 6:50 AM ET. Sentiment Risk-On if expected /ES open is above the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. SHIFT data used for S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options activity. Note that options flow is sorted by the call premium spent; if more positive, then more was spent on call options. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. VIX reflects a current reading of the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) from 0-100.

What To Expect

Fundamental: Out of all the news, it was noteworthy when Elon Musk broke with the prevailing opinion to declare the U.S. was facing a tough recession that would last up to 18 months. 

This is on the heels of a large “misallocation of capital,” he says, caused by the government printing “a zillion amount of more money than it had.”

Musk cautioned companies to watch their costs and cash flows, the latter of which we talked on the importance of in cycles where monetary conditions are tighter and there is less money to be had for corporates who are taking “the long view” and “competing on eyeballs and growth,” per Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan who this letter’s writer spoke with last summer.

As Karsan puts it, over the last four decades, monetary policy was a go-to for supporting the economy. Money was sent to capital and that promoted deflation, ultimately creating “a disinterest and unimportance to cash flows.”

“Monetary policy has a velocity of almost zero, it goes directly to ‘Planet Palo Alto,’ and Palo Alto creates new technologies,” Moontower’s Kris Abdelmesih puts well in a summary of Karsan’s macro thesis.

“They’re sophisticated, futuristic people. They provide new self-driving cars and things getting delivered to your doorstep. They create supply … [and] does not increase demand. And so it is deflationary.”

Over the last years, in light of talk to address increasing inequality, money was sent to labor, so to speak, and that promoted inflation.

Moreover, today’s contractionary monetary policy is a blunt tool and is not equipped to “address the main problem which is a lack of supply to absorb the demand.”

Please read Moontower’s full write-up, here.

That’s sort of in accordance with comments we quoted Credit Suisse Group AG’s (NYSE: CS) Zoltan Pozsar making, yesterday. Essentially, “the Fed is pursuing demand destruction through negative wealth effects,” as the “central banks can only deal with nominal” chokepoints.

By that token, we must “[c]onsider at least the possibility that the extreme volatility and lack of liquidity [we] see in markets is by design, and the Fed will not be deterred by it, but rather that it will be emboldened by it in its singular pursuit of price stability.”

With even President Biden endorsing the closure of the “wealth window,” Karsan believes corporations will have to worry about making money again.

“These cycles are a lot shorter than the monetary supply-side cycles but they tend to be very bad for multiples and great for economic growth.”

With that in mind, there is no escape. Even the traditional bond-stock relationship – the 60/40 framework – is at risk of being upended.

Graphic: Via Andy Constan of Damped Spring Advisors. “Zero rate hikes in 2023. Clearly, a recession is being priced in.” Per Bloomberg, a Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC) survey puts the Fed put (a pivot) at $3,529.00 in the S&P 500.

Positioning: Measures of implied volatility came in. That’s significant since participants have a lot of exposure to put options.

Further, we see liquidity providers being short those puts. As volatility continues to come in, the exposure of those options to direction (delta) compresses. 

As a result, liquidity providers will taper some of their negative delta short stock and futures hedges to that positive delta put position.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. “SPX prices X-axis. Option delta Y-axis. When the factors of implied volatility and time change, hedging ratios change. For instance, if SPX is at $4,700.00 and IV jumps 15% (all else equal), the dealer may sell an additional 0.2 deltas to hedge their exposure to the addition of a positive 0.2 delta. The graphic is for illustrational purposes, only.”

Those delta hedging flows with respect to changes in volatility (vanna) are on top of what has historically been a front-running of the bullish flow associated with the delta decay of options, particularly with respect to time (charm), into options expirations (OPEX). 

Graphic: @pat_hennessy breaks down returns for the S&P 500, categorized by the week relative to OPEX. 

Notwithstanding, though proxies for buying and this hedging of existing options positioning, at the surface, appear to point to positively (skewed) forward returns, we have concern over the level at which from implied volatility is dropping from, and the general divergence between the volatility realized and implied, talked about yesterday.

Basically, as SpotGamma says, there’s not as much “stored energy to catalyze a rally.” 

SqueezeMetrics adds

The Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) compressing, while dealer gamma exposure is “more negative than it’s been in years is not how you get sustained rallies–it’s how you get energy for bigger downside moves.”

Therefore, we continue to focus on participating in upside with as little debit risk as possible, via the use of complex strategies, further validated by quoted research.

Graphic: Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The VIX’s “high starting point leaves vol high overall, and we like strategies with a short volatility bias, including put selling and 1×2 call spread overlays.”

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,083.75 overnight high (ONH) puts in play the $4,119.00 untested point of control (VPOC). Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as high as the $4,148.25 and $4,184.25 high volume nodes (HVNodes), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,083.75 ONH puts in play the $4,055.75 low volume area (LVNode). Initiative trade beyond the LVNode could reach as low as the $4,013.25 micro composite point of control (MCPOC) and $3,978.50 LVNode, or lower.

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

Considerations: A push-and-pull between the largest of S&P 500 weights.

For instance, Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL) is clinging to its prior trend.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

All the while products like Amazon Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN), are trading into key supports.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

We continue to monitor our market internals and (large) changes in positioning (e.g., open interest builds at higher prices further out in time) that will provide further validation to this most recent S&P 500 reversal.

Graphic: Market Internals as pioneered by (a mentor of mine) Peter Reznicek. Current reads of breadth (top charts), in particular, are uninspiring. An advance you do not short has an advance-decline line that’s pegged at +2,000, coupled with a Tick (bottom left) that has trouble closing below 0 for nearly the entirety of a session. Caution.

What People Are Saying

Definitions

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

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

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

POCs: POCs are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent in a prior day session. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit.

MCPOCs: POCs are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent over numerous day sessions. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit.

About

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

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

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

Disclaimer

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

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For May 16, 2022

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

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures auctioned lower after a failed attempt to solicit strong buying on a break of Friday’s regular trade high. 

Coincidentally, after a test of an anchored volume-weighted average price level, some measures from China had traders concerned about global growth, and that fed into a risk-off sentiment and probe further into Friday’s range.

Moreover, ahead is data on Empire State Manufacturing (8:30 AM ET).

Today, we add light context to our narratives with an aim to elaborate further in letters later this week. Take care!

Graphic updated 6:45 AM ET. Sentiment Neutral if expected /ES open is inside of the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. SHIFT data used for S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options activity. Note that options flow is sorted by the call premium spent; if more positive, then more was spent on call options. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. VIX reflects a current reading of the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) from 0-100.

What To Expect

Fundamental: Data from China shows contraction in light of COVID-19 troubles.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg

Bloomberg’s John Authers explains that a contracting China “would be a deflationary force for the rest of the world.”

Graphic: Via Stenos Signals. “China imports vs. Commodities – the most important macro chart in the world right now.”

Andreas Steno Larsen, of the Stenos Signals letter, recently talked about this “lack of economic activity in China,” as well as “slowing demand in the West,” both of which are to “lead inflation expectations lower.”

Graphic: Via CrossBorder Capital. “Latest weekly Fed liquidity injections and the S&P 500. Bigger the bull, the harder they fall? Fed trying to crash [the] economy to kill inflation [and] Wall Street is the victim.”

Notwithstanding, the Federal Reserve (Fed) remains on track “to deliver substantial QT and rate hiking,” all the while investors “hold a relatively risk-friendly position in equities and credits.”

Graphic: Via Societe Generale SA (OTC: SCGLY). Taken from The Market Ear.

Steno Larsen explains: “That disconnect [between sentiment and exposure to risk] will have to wane before I truly dare to re-add risk asset exposure to my list of recommendations.”

Graphic: Via @TheBondFreak. University of Michigan Sentiment.

Pursuant to that remark, Authers notes that the latest Chinese data emboldens the risks of a recession which Credit Suisse Group AG’s (NYSE: CS) Zoltan Pozsar explains is not enough.

“[T]he risk of recession, whether it is real or merely implied by an inversion of the yield curve, won’t deter the Fed from hiking rates higher faster or from injecting more volatility to build up negative wealth effects, and signs of a recession might not mean immediate rate cuts to ramp demand back up.”

“Rallies could beget more forceful pushback from the Fed – the new game.”

Graphic: Via @TheBondFreak. “2/10s spread has delivered its message. The long end is beginning to trend lower. NOW…it’s time to start watching the 3m/10yr spread, which will likely invert as the Fed continues with its rate hikes to kill demand, cause a recession, but “us” from inflation.”

Per Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS), baseline forecasts assume “no recession” and imply the S&P 500’s P/E ends unchanged at 17x. 

“A recession would see the index fall by 11% to $3,600.00 as the P/E drops to 15x.”

Graphic: Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Taken from The Market Ear. A recession brings S&P 500 to $3,600.00.

Positioning: Early on Friday morning, we approached trade too optimistically but, to our credit, we focused on participating with as little risk as possible, via the use of complex strategies, as validated by quoted research.

Graphic: Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The VIX’s “high starting point leaves vol high overall, and we like strategies with a short volatility bias, including put selling and 1×2 call spread overlays.”

Heading into Monday’s regular trade, little has changed and indexes are holding well, relative to some constituents.

This is as participants are hedged and volatility markets remain well-supplied, due in part to suppressive volatility selling, as well as passive flows supporting the largest index constituents.

Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan hypothesizes: “If a meaningful [volatility] event has happened within the last year, participants are more likely to be prepared for the move. So the ‘2nd event’ dramatically underperforms [implied volatility] skew expectations.”

“Take Jan/Feb 2016, Oct-Dec 2018, &…Sep 2020? All these ‘2nd Events’ ended up being as meaningful as their 1st events, if not more, for markets, but were much more orderly [and] accompanied by poor [volatility] performance.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “For all the recent declines — the S&P 500 is down more than 13% from its high on March 29 — stress indicators also aren’t at levels seen during comparable slumps. Fewer than 30% of the benchmark’s members have hit a one-year low, compared with nearly 50% during the growth scare in 2018 and 82% during the global financial crisis in 2008.”

Given the aforementioned supply and demand dynamic, we continue to observe “divergence in the volatility (movement of underlying equity market up and down) realized, versus that which is implied by options activity,” SpotGamma says. 

Graphic: Via @HalfersPower. “1 day return distribution when QQQ ROC[1] > 3.7%. Historically you can expect the weakest relative mean forward returns, and second-highest mean realized volatility amongst deciles.”

For “divergences in volatility realized and implied to resolve, it would likely take forced selling. Liquidity providers’ response to demand for protection would, then, likely exacerbate the move and aid in the repricing of volatility to levels where there would be more stored energy to catalyze a rally.”

All else equal, SpotGamma adds, there is no catalyst to rally until the May 20, 2022 options expiration (OPEX). Till then, rallies are subject to failure.

Graphic: Via SqueezeMetrics. Updated May 13, 2022. “VIX compressing to 30 on a modest pre-market rally with dealer gamma exposure more negative than it’s been in years is not how you get sustained rallies—it’s how you get energy for bigger downside moves.”

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,013.25 micro composite point of control (MCPOC) puts in play the $4,036.00 regular trade high (RTH High). Initiative trade beyond the $4,069.25 high volume area (HVNode) could reach as high as the HVNode and $4,119.00 untested point of control (VPOC), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,013.25 MCPOC puts in play the $4,3978.50 low volume area (LVNode). Initiative trade beyond the LVNode could reach as low as the $3,943.25 HVNode and $3,899.00 VPOC, or lower.

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

Definitions

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

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

POCs: POCs are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent in a prior day session. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit.

MCPOCs: POCs are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent over numerous day sessions. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit.

Volume-Weighted Average Prices (VWAPs): A metric 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.

About

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

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

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

Disclaimer

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

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For May 12, 2022

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

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures auctioned lower, mostly, alongside most commodities and crypto.

Notable is how orderly the selling has been, particularly in the equity space. That’s due in part to suppressive volatility selling, as well as passive flows supporting the largest index constituents.

The fundamental narrative has changed little. Chief among participants’ worries are growth and inflation, the monetary response to the two, as well as chokepoints not limited to supply chains.

Ahead is data on jobless claims and the producer price index (8:30 AM ET), as well as Fed-speak by Mary Daly (4:00 PM ET).

Graphic updated 7:15 AM ET. Sentiment Risk-Off if expected /ES open is below the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. SHIFT data used for S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options activity. Note that options flow is sorted by the call premium spent; if more positive, then more was spent on call options. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. VIX reflects a current reading of the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) from 0-100.

What To Expect

Fundamental: In Wednesday’s morning letter, we talked about the expectations for annual inflation to have peaked and month-on-month inflation to have risen a small amount.

Per Bloomberg, “the broader CPI rose 0.3% from the prior month and 8.3% on an annual basis, a slight cooling but still among the highest readings in decades.”

Stocks were sold, after, on the limited change to the broader fundamental outlook. The hardest hit was growth and technology, including cryptocurrency. 

“Now that central banks are unwinding monetary support, growth stocks’ valuations have further to fall,” Citigroup Inc (NYSE: C) strategists including Robert Buckland said

Notwithstanding, “any stabilization in nominal yields should eventually help to stabilize real yields and hence equity valuations.” 

This is because higher rates play into bigger discounts on future profit.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

Positioning: Orderly selling continues.

Despite falling about the same distance (peak to present low) during the equity market rout of 2020, selling, this time around is steady and there is no panic, and that’s partly the result of there being “plenty of put-buyers, but nearly as many sellers,” according to SqueezeMetrics.

Accordingly, using off-exchange short sales as a proxy for buying activity, we see implicit buying support, and that’s due in part to “passive flows” which ultimately end up “supporting the largest stocks,” hence the index’s strength versus smaller (and much weaker) constituents.

Taken together, some metrics this letter often looks to for insight into the potential distribution of future returns, carry less weight; it’s odds and when the largest stocks succumb to fundamental weaknesses, for lack of a better way of expressing it, that likely takes the indexes with it.

Graphic: Via Physik Invest. Data retrieved from SqueezeMetrics. A higher DIX/GEX ratio has historically been associated with S&P 500 outperformance in the subsequent month. A very low DIX/GEX ratio has historically been associated with positive S&P 500 performance in the subsequent month, though there are many more negative outliers.

Moreover, with the S&P 500’s break of $4,000.00, an area around which there is a lot of open interest, particularly on the put side, “increases capitulation risk” in the case participants start reaching for protection and indirectly taking from market liquidity as liquidity providers sell into weakness to hedge.

Notwithstanding, later this month is a large options expiration (OPEX), and expected is the roll-off of a large amount of put-heavy negative gamma. Per Pat Hennessy of IPS Strategic Capital, returns one to two weeks prior are skewed bullish.

Ways to participate in upside, while limiting downside, markedly, were discussed on May 10. Making money is one thing. Not losing money is another.

Lose less when wrong. Make more when right.
Graphic: @pat_hennessy breaks down returns for the S&P 500, categorized by the week relative to OPEX. 

Technical: As of 6:45 AM ET, Thursday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, will likely open in the lower part of a negatively skewed overnight inventory, outside of prior-range and -value, suggesting a potential for immediate directional opportunity.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $3,907.75 micro composite point of control (MCPOC) puts in play the $3,943.25 high volume area (HVNode). Initiative trade beyond the $3,943.25 HVNode could reach as high as the $4,011.00 untested point of control (VPOC) and $4,069.25 HVNode, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $3,907.75 MCPOC puts in play the $3,862.75 LVNode. Initiative trade beyond the $3,862.75 LVNode could reach as low as the $3,816.75 and $3,780.75 LVNodes, or lower.

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

What People Are Saying

Definitions

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

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

POCs: POCs are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent in a prior day session. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit.

MCPOCs: POCs are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent over numerous day sessions. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit.

About

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

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

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

 Disclaimer

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

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For May 10, 2022

The Daily Brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 200+ that read this report daily, below!

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures auctioned sideways to higher, inside of the prior day’s range. Most other commodity and bond futures were bid while implied volatility metrics came in a bit.

Notable was the depth and breadth of Monday’s decline. Though the indexes were tame, some of which is attributable to suppressive hedging, single stocks expanded their ranges, greatly, to the downside, and this points to potential capitulation.

On the news front, a U.S. central bank report found that “the risk of a sudden significant deterioration [in liquidity] appears higher than normal” and stablecoin use to meet margin requirements in crypto trades makes them “vulnerable to runs.”

This is just as some algorithmic stablecoins have lost their peg (e.g., UST/USD ~$0.60).

Additionally, the report found elevated inflation, as well as the reaction to that “could negatively affect domestic economic activity, asset prices, credit quality, and financial conditions.”

Ahead is data on real household debt (11:00 AM ET).

Graphic updated 6:25 AM ET. Sentiment Neutral if expected /ES open is inside of the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. SHIFT data used for S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options activity. Note that options flow is sorted by the call premium spent; if more positive, then more was spent on call options. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. VIX reflects a current reading of the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) from 0-100.

What To Expect

Context: We continue to build out the narrative.

A market-wide drop, Monday, pointed to signs of capitulation as “small-time investors offloaded a net of about $1 billion in equities, the most aggressive selling in 14 months,” per JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM).

Graphic: Via @TaviCosta. “Nasdaq has already declined almost as much as it did during the March 2020 crash. Back then, the Fed was all about saving the stock market and the economy. Today, it’s all about how much more they are going to hike rates.

Notwithstanding, the volatility divergences this letter has pointed to, in the face of pronounced realized volatility, continue.

Graphic: Via Topdown Charts. Wednesday (FOMC) price rise (right) versus Thursday (post-FOMC) liquidation.

As Pat Hennessy of IPS Strategic Capital explains, at-the-money implied volatility is high and term structure is in backwardation, which are reflections of uncertainty and demand for hedges.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. At-the-money implied volatility is backwardated given the heightened demand for shorter-dated protection, relative to that which is longer-dated.

“It’s just rare to see wingy short-dated puts like this so cheap relative to ATM.”

As explained in Monday’s letter (and in greater detail, Friday), a measure like the Cboe VVIX Index (INDEX: VVIX), or the volatility of volatility, has a mean below 100 and a high correlation with the Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) during times of stress.

When realized volatility is as high as it is, today, the VVIX typically trades closer to 150.

To quote Benn Eifert of QVR Advisors: “Skew goes up if vol outperforms the skew curve a lot on  a selloff.”

Graphic: Updated May 9, 2022. The VVIX via Physik Invest.

What’s going on? 

There is really negative sentiment and emotion, both of which are playing into market weaknesses and realized volatility. However, that realized volatility is not priced in.

There are “plenty of put-buyers, but nearly as many sellers,” SqueezeMetrics explains

You “don’t have to protect what you don’t own. Some investors de-grossed. Short momo (e.g., CTA) wants to bet on a bleed (a la 2000), but not on a crash. Put underwriting! No carry trades elsewhere. Sell SPX vol!”

Graphic: Via SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options (HIRO) indicator, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY) was a recipient of heavy put selling and call buying on 5/9/22.

Why does this matter?

When you think there is to be an outsized move in the underlying, relative to what is priced, you buy options (positive exposure to gamma) so that you may have gains that are potentially amplified in case of directional movement.

When you think there is to be an outsized move in the implied volatility, relative to what is priced, you buy options (positive exposure to volga) so that you may have gains that are potentially amplified in case of implied volatility repricing.

So, in all, it is a question of whether the reward is worth the risk (see below “How To Play”).

Based on stretched positioning, equity markets are positioned for upside. Notwithstanding, the potential for large negative outliers, remains. In the case of an outlier, the consequent repricing of volatility may increase the reward, relative to the risk, for selling options, particularly puts.

As The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial sums well: 

With an S&P 500 below $4,000.00, “I would expect more of an aggressive reach for hedges … that spot- vol correlation break (weakness) would not be as present.”

“Spot- vol correlation has sucked recently, but vol relative strength should kick in.”

How I’m Playing: Borrowing from May 3’s letter, here.

Presently, the market is stretched to the downside and, as SpotGamma says, “traders are underpricing right-tail risk,” which opens the window for unique ways to play a returns distribution that continues to be skewed positive (albeit with large negative outliers).

This letter’s author is concentrated on zero- and low-cost bets ($0.00-$1.00 debit to open) that deliver asymmetric payouts (sometimes in excess of $10.00 credit to close) in case of violent and short-lived reversals.

This letter’s author is structured positive delta and gamma in the Nasdaq 100 (INDEX: NDX) via ratios spread (1×2) and butterfly (1x2x1) structures.

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

The concern with these strategies is the width and time to expiry. Should either of those be wrong, then spreads initially positive gamma turn negative, meaning losses are amplified.

For instance, in the Nasdaq 100, to put in short, 500-1000 points wide ratio spreads (buy the closer leg, sell two of the farther legs) expiring in ten to fifteen days work well.

For those spreads that are not zero cost, debits can be offset with credit sales (on the put side) in products that have shown relative strength like the S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX). This, inherently, carries more risk, and, as explained, the risk has yet to meet the reward.

Read more about these strategies, here. The above is NOT a trade recommendation or advice.

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $3,978.50 low volume area (LVNode/gap boundary) puts in play the $4,055.75 LVNode/gap boundary. Initiative trade beyond the $4,055.75 could reach as high as the $4,119.00 untested point of control (VPOC) and $4,153.25 regular trade high (RTH High), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $3,978.50 LVNode/gap boundary puts in play the $3,943.25 high volume area (HVNode). Initiative trade beyond the $3,943.25 could reach as low as the $3,907.75 HVNode and $3,862.75 LVNode, or lower.

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

Definitions

Cave-Fill Process: Widened the area deemed favorable to transact at by an increased share of participants. This is a good development.

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

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

Gamma: Gamma is the sensitivity of an option to changes in the underlying price.

Vanna: The rate at which the delta of an option changes with respect to volatility.

Charm: The rate at which the delta of an option changes with respect to time.

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.

POCs: POCs are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent in a prior day session. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit.

MCPOCs: POCs are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent over numerous day sessions. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit.

Options Expiration (OPEX): Reduction of dealer gamma exposure.

Volume-Weighted Average Prices (VWAPs): A metric 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.

About

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

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

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

Disclaimer

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

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For May 9, 2022

The Daily Brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 200+ that read this report daily, below!

What Happened

Overnight, equity index, commodity, and bond futures were all lower while yields, and implied volatility metrics we monitor were bid.

This is as new fundamental data did little to disrupt the Federal Reserve’s (Fed’s) course to hike rates and reduce the size of its balance sheet, as well as the odds of further slowing as a result of actions to curb the spread of COVID-19 abroad, and geopolitical conflict.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS), among others, cut their equity market forecasts. Presently, they see an economic contraction playing into the S&P 500’s test of $3,600.00.

Notable is the market’s retest of a very key technical area ($4,055.75 in the E-mini S&P 500). This area, last week, likely solicited responsive buying by technically-driven market participants who often lack the wherewithal to defend retests, just days before the Fed’s decision on policy.

Now, the market is set to open below those key technical areas and that is the worst outcome.

Ahead is data on wholesale inventories (10:00 AM ET), as well as inflation (11:00 AM ET).

Graphic updated 6:35 AM ET. Sentiment Risk-Off if expected /ES open is below the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. SHIFT data used for S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options activity. Note that options flow is sorted by the call premium spent; if more positive, then more was spent on call options. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. VIX reflects a current reading of the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) from 0-100.

What To Expect

Positioning: Last week’s letters went in-depth on the implications of volatility divergences, the post-Fed rally, responses to key technical levels, and beyond.

On Friday, May 6, 2022, this letter essentially remarked the following:

Based on stretched positioning, equity markets are positioned for upside. Notwithstanding, the potential for large negative outliers, remains. In the case of an outlier, the consequent repricing of volatility may increase the reward, relative to the risk, for selling options.

Graphic: Via MarketWatch. “[B]ack-to-back swings in the internals on the scale seen this week are rare, with the last one occurring close to the COVID lows in stocks of March 2020. Indeed, investors had never seen a swing in internals as severe as Thursday’s before the financial crisis of 2008-09.”

How do you know whether the risk is worth the reward? 

A naive measure like the Cboe VVIX Index (INDEX: VVIX), which measures the volatility of volatility, has a mean below 100 and a high correlation with the Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) during times of stress.

When realized volatility is as high as it is, today, the VVIX typically trades closer to 150.

Graphic: Updated May 6, 2022. The VVIX via Physik Invest.

We’re not there yet and the market remains well-hedged, as SpotGamma explains well:

“From an options perspective, participants would have to demand en masse protection (buy puts, sell calls) for liquidity providers to further take from market liquidity (sell into weakness) and that volatility skew to, essentially, blowout (e.g., Corona crisis, Meme mania, and the like).”

Pursuant to those remarks, SpotGamma sees markets reaching a lower limit near the $4,000.00 SPX area. At that juncture, the rate at which liquidity providers add pressure in their hedging activities flattens as they, too, have hedges.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. Updated April 27, 2022.

“In turn, dealers may be able to advantageously reduce delta hedging (sell less), and supply markets with more liquidity (buy more stock). This could serve to reduce volatility.”

Noting, later this month is a large options expiration (OPEX), and expected is the roll-off of a large amount of put-heavy negative gamma.

Per Pat Hennessy of IPS Strategic Capital, returns one to two weeks prior are skewed bullish.

Graphic: @pat_hennessy breaks down returns for the S&P 500, categorized by the week relative to OPEX. 

This is amid what is a front-running of the bullish flow associated with the delta decay of options with respect to changes in volatility (vanna) and time (charm), among other factors.

In other words, it is participants’ increased awareness of the implications of options and OPEX that has resulted in a front running. According to SqueezeMetrics, “People didn’t know about the OpEx week effect (in this case, largely charm). Now everyone and their mother knows about it.’”

So what?

Charm is a measure of an options delta’s change with respect to the passage of time. As time passes, delta “bleeds” as options decay. 

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. “SPX prices X-axis. Option delta Y-axis. When the factors of implied volatility and time change, hedging ratios change. For instance, if SPX is at $4,700.00 and IV jumps 15% (all else equal), the dealer may sell an additional 0.2 deltas to hedge their exposure to the addition of a positive 0.2 delta. The graphic is for illustrational purposes, only.”

As most participants, at least at the index level, own protection, the counterparties to this trade are short protection. These counterparties, therefore, have positive exposure to delta (i.e., as index falls [rises], position loses [makes] money) and negative exposure to gamma, or delta (directional) sensitivity to underlying price changes (i.e., as the index moves against short option exposure, losses are multiplied). 

Moreover, given the growth of options volumes, participants’ heavy demand for protection matters more, to put simply. Counterparties, in light of this recent drop, pressured markets with their hedging. The decay (and eventual expiry) of this protection marks options deltas down.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. Rising put volumes coincide with early 2022 market sell-off.

To re-hedge, counterparties buy back short stock and futures hedges. This supportive action is what has been front-run. The bullishness of the event can happen in the days and weeks prior.

Technical: As of 6:35 AM ET, Monday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, will likely open in the lower part of a negatively skewed overnight inventory, outside of prior-range and -value, suggesting a potential for immediate directional opportunity.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,055.75 low volume area (LVNode/gap boundary) puts in play the $4,119.00 untested point of control (VPOC). Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as high as the $4,153.25 regular trade high (RTH High) and $4,212.25 micro composite point of control (MCPOC), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,055.75 LVNode/gap boundary puts in play the $3,978.50 LVNode/gap boundary. Initiative trade beyond the LVNode/gap boundary could reach as low as the $3,943.25 and $3,907.75 high volume areas (HVNodes), or lower.

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

Considerations: Last Tuesday, we discussed the response to a key technical level ($4,055.75).

Specifically, the E-mini S&P 500 probed $4,056.00 before staging a sharp reversal and closing higher. This was noteworthy as it told us a lot about who was gaining the upper hand.

Push-and-pull, as well as responsiveness near key-technical areas (discernable visually on a chart), suggests technically-driven traders with shorter time horizons are (becoming) active.

Such traders often lack the wherewithal to defend retests.

Moreover, heading into last week’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) event, large participants (who often move by committee) de-grossed and hedged resulting in poor reliability of our technical levels.

In the days leading up to the event, these larger had little to do with respect to repositioning. 

The market’s tests of key technical areas solicited responsive buying by these short-term traders, and this played into a rally that continued through FOMC. Post-FOMC, the market quickly succumbed to the initiative selling by longer time frame participants.

All else equal, Monday’s regular trade is expected to start somewhere below a key technical area that solicited strong responsive buying by shorter timeframes. 

Given capital constraints and tolerances, shorter timeframes may fuel an acceleration of the prevailing downtrend.

What People Are Saying

Definitions

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

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

POCs: POCs are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent in a prior day session. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit.

MCPOCs: POCs are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent over numerous day sessions. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit.

Volume-Weighted Average Prices (VWAPs): A metric 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.

About

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

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

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

 Disclaimer

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

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For April 4, 2022

The Daily Brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 200+ that read this report daily, below!

Editor’s Note: Hey team, thanks again for your reading of this daily newsletter. Due to travel commitments, I will not be writing reports consistently for the rest of this month.

Don’t expect any updates until Monday, April 11, 2022. Thereafter, coverage may be sporadic for the rest of the month.

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures were higher after exploring lower, briefly. Commodities were mixed while bonds were lower and implied volatility measures were bid.

In terms of news, the European Union said it was interested in penalizing Russia, further, for its actions in Ukraine. This is as China battles new COVID-19 sub-strains. 

Ahead is data on factory and core capital equipment orders (10:00 AM ET). 

Graphic updated 5:45 AM ET. Sentiment Neutral if expected /ES open is inside of the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. SHIFT data used for S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options activity. Note that options flow is sorted by the call premium spent; if more positive, then more was spent on call options. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. VIX reflects a current reading of the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) from 0-100.

What To Expect

Fundamental: In the face of geopolitical tension, supply pressures, and inflation, consumer sentiment is at or below pandemic levels, prompting the Federal Reserve (Fed) to destimulate.

Graphic: Via S&P Global Inc (NYSE: SPGI) research. “Confluence Of Risks Halts Positive Credit Momentum.

“It has entered 2008-09 territory and is not far from all-time lows in the ‘80s when inflation and interest rates hit double digits,” ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood explained in a Twitter discussion on yield-curve inversions and aggressive action by the Federal Reserve, as well as inflation.

“The economy succumbed to recession in each of those periods. Europe and China are also in difficult straits. The Fed seems to be playing with fire.”

In accordance, the Macro Compass’ Alfonso Peccatiello explains that his credit impulse metrics, which lead economic activity and risk asset performance, imply a slowdown in earnings.

Graphic: Via The Macro Compass.

Still, in spite of these metrics, on average, recessions happen 12 to 24 months after the first yield curve inversions, according to Jefferies Financial Group Inc (NYSE: JEF).

Post-inversion S&P 500 performance, actually, is often positive.

Graphic: Via Jefferies Financial Group. Taken from The Market Ear.

Bolstering the call for positive equity market performance are strong seasonality trends during Fed-rate-hike episodes, a contraction in equity risk premia, and “still accommodative” monetary policy, per explanations by rates strategist Rishi Mishra. 

Graphic: Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS). Taken from The Market Ear. “Equities are a real asset as they make a claim on nominal GDP. In the post-financial crisis era, weak economic activity and lower inflation pushed down nominal GDP, raising the equity risk premium and reducing the bond term premium. So as long as economies grow, revenues and dividends should also grow. The dividend yield can be thought of as a real yield. Equity risk premia have started to decline in the post COVID cycle but remain higher than in the pre-financial crisis era.”

“[T]he 3ms2s vs 2s10s spread (or the 3m2s10s fly) is the widest it has been since the end of 1994. The widening of this fly is indicative of the fact that while the Fed shifted its guidance from dovish to extremely hawkish, the policy is still accommodative.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. Taken from Rishi Mishra.

Positioning: The equity market’s ferocious end-of-March rally, which placed the S&P 500 back above a key go/no-go level – the 200-period simple moving average – may have been in part the result of institutional investors purchasing equities ahead of quarterly reporting.

“Remember that stocks settle T+2, meaning that shares are actually owned by buyers two business days after they are purchased in the market,” says Interactive Brokers’ Group Inc (NASDAQ: IBKR) Steve Sosnick. 

“That means that institutions who wanted to show stock positions on their quarterly reports would have needed to purchase those shares no later than Tuesday the 29th. The sharp end-of-day runups that we saw on Monday and Tuesday had the hallmarks of aggressive institutional buying.”

According to Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE: DB) analyses, “[a]ggregate equity positioning has now risen off the lows but only to the 22nd percentile and is still well below neutral.”

That said, quarter-end rebalances and options expirations (OPEX) likely do little to upset the balance of trade. Based on a lot of the insights shared in this letter, barring some exogenous event, the market is in a position to drift or balance.

This, as a result, may solicit a “stronger impulse to chase the rally,” at which point JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM) strategists say they would “generally be more concerned.”

A collapse (or convergence) in volatility metrics for different asset classes (like the Merrill Lynch Options Volatility Estimate [INDEX: MOVE] and Cboe Volatility Index [INDEX: VIX]) would bolster the “drift or balance” thesis.

Graphic: Via Physik Invest.

Technical: As of 5:45 AM ET, Monday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, will likely open in the upper part of a positively skewed overnight inventory, inside of prior-range and -value, suggesting a limited potential for immediate directional opportunity.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,527.00 untested point of control (VPOC) puts in play the $4,562.50 spike base. Initiative trade beyond the spike base could reach as high as the $4,583.00 VPOC and $4,611.75 low volume area (LVNode), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,527.00 VPOC puts in play the $4,501.25 regular trade low (RTH Low). Initiative trade beyond the RTH Low could reach as low as the $4,469.00 VPOC and $4,438.25 HVNode, or lower.

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

In a spike up (down) situation, trade below (above) the spike base, negates the buying (selling).

Click here to load today’s key levels into the web-based TradingView charting platform. Note that all levels are derived using the 65-minute timeframe. New links are produced, daily.

Graphic: 65-minute profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

What People Are Saying

Definitions

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

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

POCs: POCs are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent in a prior day session. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit.

About

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

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

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

Disclaimer

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

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For April 1, 2022

The Daily Brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 200+ that read this report daily, below!

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures auctioned sideways to higher after their late-day liquidation and break from a multi-day consolidation area on technical factors (e.g., options expirations) among other things, potentially, like the increase in personal consumption expenditures.

Broadly speaking, the narrative that investors are showing some concern over the economic outlook, with respect to geopolitical tension and monetary policy, continues to emanate. 

U.S. high-grade bonds shed over 5%, booking the worst quarterly performance since the ‘80s. This is as recession risks have risen more than two-fold. 

Notwithstanding, the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) favorite yield curve metric remains steep; per a Bloomberg commentary, “the gap between the three-month bill rates and 10-year yields is the ‘most useful term spread for forecasting recessions,’ … [and] it currently stands at 186 basis points, versus negative 2 basis points on 2s10s.”

In terms of news, the U.K. will join the U.S. in releasing oil from its reserves to lower prices and reduce its reliance on external partners. This helped ease futures calendar spreads on oil, Reuters’ John Kemp said in a newsletter to followers; the “six-month spread [narrowing] to a backwardation of $9 per barrel, the lowest since before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

Ahead is data on nonfarm payrolls, the unemployment rate and average hourly earnings, as well as labor-force participation (8:30 AM ET). Thereafter, the Chicago Fed’s Charles Evans is scheduled to speak (9:05 AM ET). 

Later is Markit manufacturing PMI (9:45 AM ET), as well as ISM manufacturing index and consumer spending data (10:00 AM ET).

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

What To Expect

Fundamental: The S&P 500 bagged its first quarterly loss in two years as recession probabilities, implied by some yield curves, have risen.

Graphic: Via Barclays. Taken from The Market Ear. “[T]he 1y ahead recession probability implied by the 3m10y curve rises to about 40% a year from now (so for an early 2024 recession), slightly higher than implied by other curves.”

This is as the stock performance, relative to bonds against the lagged spread of 10- and 2-year bond yields, is expected to be weak, according to insights by Pictet Asset Management.

Graphic; Via Pictet Asset Management Ltd. Taken from Bloomberg. “On this basis, stocks’ great outperformance this quarter may end up looking like a head-fake.”

Pictet’s narrative further validates some of the theses shared by institutions like Brevan Howard Asset Management, which is having one of its best years, Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS), Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS), and Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC).

Adding to the prospects for weaker earnings amid higher costs, among other things, some of these institutions see the potential for the Fed’s terminal rate to reach between 3% and 3.25%.

Graphic: Via Andreas Steno Larsen. “The Fed is now priced to hike to levels above 3% by Dec-2023, … which is the main reason why we have seen a sell-off in all assets with an intensive duration profile over the past 12-15 months … [and has] duration intensive assets … starting to look attractive again from a risk/reward perspective.”

This would hit valuations as higher yields both reduce the present value of future earnings and “hurt those carrying the highest leverage,” potentially playing into a slowdown or recession. 

Graphic: Via S&P Global Inc (NYSE: SPGI) “expects the economic damage [of geopolitics and pricing pressures] to lower U.S. GDP growth to 3.2% this year, matching its preliminary forecast in early March but a full 70 bps lower than its November forecast of 3.9%.”

“Now rates volatility can drive growth volatility and that actually becomes a vicious cycle between the two,” said Christian Mueller-Glissmann of Goldman Sachs. 

“That’s a big difference to the last cycle where growth volatility drove rates volatility.”

Graphic: Via Vanda. Taken from The Market Ear. “The bond market is pricing the 2022 cycle to be remarkably fast. Macro Alf: ‘Remember: sharp changes in borrowing conditions often cause non-linear reactions in a highly leveraged system.’”

However, this is as the dominance of rate-sensitive tech stocks is set to shrink next year amid sector reclassifications, as well as still-stimulative policy and beats of economic expectations that may feed into earnings surprises, later.

JPMorgan’s Marko Kolanoivc explains that (1) “both equity and credit markets have historically fared well at the start of monetary tightening cycles,” (2) “the real policy rate is extremely negative and thus stimulative,” and (3) “not all central banks are tightening.”

Morgan Stanley’s Michael Wilson vehemently disagrees suggesting the recent equity market turnaround “was nothing more than a vicious bear market rally,” and offers participants a clear opportunity to sell at better prices.

Taking all of the above comments and perspectives together, one thing is for certain: this period in history is like no other. It makes sense to pick a timeframe and stick with it. 

Positioning: In the past weeks, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co’s Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, the supportive “rebalancing flows away from bonds into equities” are no more and, therefore, equities are subject to increased vulnerabilities “if bond yields continue to rise.”

This is after measures of equity implied volatility were crushed heading through the mid-March FOMC and monthly options expiry (OPEX) events, and the options hedging impact of this, at least, was very supportive, as we’ve talked about many times in this newsletter.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “The CBOE-VIX index, measuring stock volatility from the options market, unsurprisingly spiked immediately after Russia’s attack. It reached another high three weeks ago. Then the VIX started to fall, and in the two weeks since the Fed unveiled its first rate hike in years, the decline has been almost linear. The ‘fear gauge,’ as it is often known, is now significantly lower than it was a week before the invasion, when markets were priced on the assumption that there would be no war.”

On the contrary, measures of volatility for other assets, like the Merrill Lynch Options Volatility Estimate (INDEX: MOVE), a useful measure of bond market sentiment, are doing the opposite. 

We discussed early last month, what we saw was an increased supply of equity market volatility, as a potential reason for some of these divergences. 

As Bloomberg’s John Authers explained well, it, too, could have been “an aggressive central bank” that prompted a move out of bonds and into equities, and subdued target-date fund rebalancing flows which usually sell stocks and buy bonds.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

“[I]t looks as though the contradictions that had built up in the market over the last two years, and in the decade before that, are being put under extreme stress by the double whammy of a newly aggressive Federal Reserve, and the worst geopolitical shock in decades,” Authers adds.

Still, realized volatility continues to trend down which ought to force those (e.g., computer-driven traders) who position (and size equity exposure) based on underlying volatility to load up, again.

Nomura Holdings Inc’s (NYSE: NMR) Charlie McElligott explains that “volatility-targeting funds and trend-following commodity trading advisers, purchased” billions of equity futures which bolstered the price rise of the last weeks.

From a positioning versus buying support perspective, the forward returns distribution is skewed positive but not by a lot; a lot of the supportive options exposure is rolling-off and this could free up (i.e., unpin) indexes for the next leg up or down.

Graphic: SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options Indicator shows negative delta trade in the S&P 500 SPY ETF, and this pressured the underlying index.

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,546.00 spike base puts in play the $4,573.25 high volume area (HVNode). Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as high as the $4,583.00 untested point of control (VPOC) and $4,611.75 low volume area (LVNode), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,546.00 spike base puts in play the $4,526.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as low as the $4,515.25 and $4,489.75 LVNodes, or lower.

Considerations: A change in the market (i.e., the transition from two-time frame trade, or balance, to one-time frame trade, or trend) occurred.

Continue to monitor for acceptance outside of the balance area. Rejection (i.e., return inside of balance) portends a move to the opposite end of the balance. See the below graphic for more.

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

What People Are Saying

Definitions

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

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

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

POCs: POCs are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent in a prior day session. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit.

Options Expiration (OPEX): Marks change in dealer gamma exposure. 

Volume-Weighted Average Prices (VWAPs): A metric 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.

About

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

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

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

Disclaimer

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

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For March 31, 2022

The Daily Brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 200+ that read this report daily, below!

What Happened

A mixed bag, overnight, with U.S. equity indexes pinned at their most recent swing highs ahead of large options expirations (OPEX). 

News, too, was mixed. Notable was the United States’ potential release of oil reserves amounting to nearly a million extra barrels of oil a day. Oil sold alongside this update. 

Geopolitical tensions remain. Mainly, Russia and Ukraine tensions are ongoing and there’s a lack of clarity on what’s going on with the negotiations between the two parties.

Additionally, China is weighing the raise of billions to stabilize its economy and cut off the spread of the crisis. The money would stem risks from small, weakened banks and developers.

Ahead is data on jobless claims, personal income and consumer spending, PCE price index, as well as real disposable income and consumer spending (8:30 AM ET). Later, Chicago PMI is posted (9:45 AM ET).

Graphic updated 6:40 AM ET. Sentiment Neutral if expected /ES open is inside of the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. SHIFT data used for S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options activity. Note that options flow is sorted by the call premium spent; if more positive, then more was spent on call options. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. VIX reflects a current reading of the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) from 0-100.

What To Expect

Fundamental: Carry trades (i.e., the act of borrowing at low rates and investing where there are higher rates to make money so long as nothing [bad] happens) are receiving attention, again.

In recent days, it’s been the sale of the Japanese yen and the purchase of the Aussie dollar.

Example: Via Bloomberg.

Prior to 2008, this carry trade, according to a commentary by Bloomberg’s John Authers, which “became very correlated with speculative equity investing, … suffered an almighty crash as the yen appreciated dramatically against the Aussie dollar in 2008.”

Basically, Bank of Japan (BoJ) interventions are dovish and consistent, as Authers explains, buying bonds at a massive scale and “making the country an irresistible source of [cheap] funds.”

The risk of the trade is that the yen appreciates. In such a case, the opposite of what is going on now (similar to what happened during the Global Financial Crisis or GFC) occurs.

A great book on this – “The Rise of Carry: The Dangerous Consequences of Volatility Suppression and the New Financial Order of Decay Growth and Recurring Crisis – discusses many of the different forms of carry, their attractiveness, and the implications of their failure.

Mainly, such strategies are characterized by a sawtooth wave returns pattern (i.e., steady positive returns followed by sharp drops).

Graphic: Via Risky Finance. “Cumulative log returns from shorting the VIX future, a common carry strategy. Notice the poor returns in 2008 and other market crises.”

One such trade is that which captures the VIX futures curve roll yield.

Basically, the VIX futures curve is (usually) in contango (i.e., sloping upward) as farther-dated contracts are priced up (since portfolio insurance [should] cost more over longer periods). 

As those contracts near expiration, they converge with spot.

If volatility is flat (all else equal), the sale of farter-dated contracts allows you to capture the difference between the future and spot (or shorter-dated contracts). 

It’s a bit more complex, but that’s a general idea. Such trades attract lots of capital (and leverage) as they work (most of the time); positioning turns one-sided and complacency builds.

Eventually, markets move and this hurts those with not much wherewithal such as during 2020 when yield-seeking participants (who were forced out the risk curve given the reduction in rates and market stabilization programs) deleveraged en masse.

Since 2020, hardcore volatility selling (especially that which is short-dated), if you will, hasn’t returned and, as stated in yesterday’s commentary, this “has us a little less concerned (about some sort of armageddon situation).”

According to Banco Santander SA’s (NYSE: SAN) cross-asset research, “[t]he supply of volatility remains very subdued in a trend that has continued since the pandemic. For example, there are still virtually zero sales in short-term index variance swaps.”

“We did observe some activity in 4Q21 and 1Q this year, but almost all of that was unwinding of existing positions from earlier, and these were not new trades.”

Graphic: Via SG Cross Asset Research. Taken from Corey Hoffstein.

Notwithstanding, Santander’s research says that the demand for volatility (to hedge) remains strong “amidst the elevated uncertainty from geopolitics and central banks.”

With there being less of a supply of something, demand is not as easily absorbed and may have greater implications for the pricing of that something (such as the volatility of volatility itself).

Graphic: Cboe VIX Volatility Index (INDEX: VVIX). Per the Milken Institute, “The VIX is a measure of the expected volatility in S&P 500 index options. It trades as a futures contract, and there are also options traded on this futures contract,” and the VVIX, which is the “expected volatility of the VIX futures contract,” is referred to as “the VIX of the VIX.”

Hence, we see sharper moves in measures of volatility itself as the counterparts to this demand seek to absorb and hedge their risks (in the underlying), in accordance with prevailing regulatory frameworks, among other things.

Though we’ll, once again, explore this phenomenon in later commentaries, as well as the potential implications of its return in size, below is an interesting conversation featuring Kevin Coldiron, co-author of the “Rise of Carry” book pointed to earlier. Check it out!

Positioning: Yesterday’s commentary explained well the implications of recent positioning. If you haven’t checked it out, click here.

Conditions, today, are similar. OPEX’s clearing of existing options exposure, in the coming days, likely opens the door to underlying breadth which has improved markedly since early March. 

Though today’s market is unprecedented, so to speak, improvements in breadth support a historical case for sideways-to-higher through tightening cycles.

Graphic: Via JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM).

Should there be some exogenous event or weakness on fundamentals, any new demand for protection (in size) likely adds velocity to a leg lower. Caution new buyers.

Graphic: Via Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS).

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,611.75 low volume area (LVNode) puts in play the $4,618.25 high volume area (HVNode). Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as high as the $4,631.00 regular trade high and $4,641.75 LVNode, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,611.75 LVNode puts in play the $4,573.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as low as the $4,546.00 spike base and $4,533.00 untested point of control (VPOC), or lower.

Considerations: The market is in balance. This is 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). 

Modus operandi is responsive trade (i.e., fade the edges), rather than initiative trade (i.e., play the break).

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

Definitions

Spikes: Spikes 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).

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

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

POCs: POCs are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent in a prior day session. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit.

About

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

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

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

Disclaimer

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

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For March 30, 2022

The Daily Brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 200+ that read this report daily, below!

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures auctioned sideways to lower while most commodities and the ten-year yield were higher.

The bullishness of the past days, driven in part by breakthroughs in Russia and Ukraine peace talks is threatened by new updates. Now, the Kremlin said that its talks with Ukraine yielded no breakthroughs. Geopolitical matters and supply chain issues are major headwinds for markets.

Ahead is data on ADP employment (8:15 AM ET), GDP revision, gross domestic income, and corporate profits (8:30 AM ET), as well as Fed-speak. Tom Barkin speaks at 9:15 AM ET and Esther George speaks at 1:00 PM ET.

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

What To Expect

Positioning: Buying the March 14 S&P 500 low would have yielded you nearly a 12% gain. Buying and holding the Nasdaq 100 low would have yielded you about 17%.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

The forward returns when the 10-day S&P 500 return crosses above 10% are mixed. 

From 2000 to 2009, forward returns are weak. From 2009 and beyond, returns are strong.

Graphic: Via @HalfersPower. “Every time the $SPY has a 10-day return crossing above 10%, and fwd returns from those dates.  2000-2009 weak forward returns, 2009 fwd, strong fwd returns.”

These powerful moves are due in part to the “reflexive dynamic coming from structural flows,” explains The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial who sees a lot of opportunity in the “front of the term structure.”

Sidial and I have spoken a couple of times regarding the implications of increased derivatives exposures and the transmission of those risks associated to underlyings. 

Mainly, counterparties, as a result of regulatory frameworks, among other things, lend to cascading reactions that exacerbate underlying price movements.

Graphic: Via VIX Central. Shorter-dated implied volatility is sold aggressively at the front end. The steepening of this curve bolstered a near-vertical price rise as options counterparts bought back stock and futures hedges to downside (put) protection they were short.

Further, this recovery is in the context of geopolitical tension and monetary uncertainties that have lent to volatility spikes across other asset classes. Though fear tends to spread across markets, it is not, today, as discussed in past commentaries.

Basically, the equity market’s pricing of risk, which we use the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) as a proxy for, is not moving in lockstep with that of measures in FX and rate markets. 

Notwithstanding, as SqueezeMetrics explains, there are no “hardcore vol[atility] sellers in the SPX right now,” and this may actually be a good thing.

As SqueezeMetrics explains in their Implied Order Book paper, “Selling options is a tough business, since you’re on the wrong end of a derivative with a convex payoff.”

“In terms of gamma [an option deltas sensitivity to direction] and vanna [delta hedging flow with respect to changing levels of implied volatility], crash risk is a function of how many investors have sold puts [which] … are, quite literally, a bunch of huge buy limit orders below the market, and then a bunch of liquidity-taking stop-losses further down.”

Graphic: Via SqueezeMetrics. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness.

Heading into the early-to-mid March reversal period, this newsletter revealed the forecasted returns distribution of a comparison of proxies for buying (DIX) and gamma exposure (GEX). 

At the time, the returns distribution was skewed positive given a deeply negative GEX and strong DIX.

Graphic: Via Physik Invest. Data via SqueezeMetrics.

The bullishness of those metrics was taken with a bit of a discount, given the aforementioned cross-asset divergences, as a result of geopolitical conflict, among other things.

In hindsight, the right call would have been to buy hand over fist.

A bout of speculative demand (expressed through short-dated options highly sensitive to direction), as well as the compression of ultra short-dated volatility heading into and through the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting and large March monthly options expiration (OPEX) bolstered strong buying support and lent to the market’s resolve higher.

The price rise, now, has likely reached a climax. The S&P 500, in particular, is at an overbought level: the concentrations of call open interest at and around $4,600.00.

As SpotGamma explained well, recently, “customers are short calls up top (to finance put options, or bets on the downside, down below). As underlying SPX prices rise, the call (put) side solicits more (less) hedging.” 

Graphic: SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options (HIRO) indicator for the S&P 500 SPY ETF on 3/29/2022.

“Since counterparties’ call positions provide positive exposure to direction (positive delta) and profits are amplified to the upside (positive gamma), counterparties must sell into higher prices and buy into lower prices, thereby adding liquidity and supporting the market.”

Participants’ selling of volatility at these higher levels suggests increased odds of sideways, rather than up or down; as time and volatility trend to zero for these options, their gamma increases, and the reaction to this will result in the promotion of pinning.

Thereafter, the clearing of this options exposure likely opens the door to underlying breadth which has improved markedly since early March. 

Though today’s market is unprecedented, so to speak, improvements in breadth support a historical case for sideways-to-higher through tightening cycles.

Graphic: Via JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM).

In opposition to this narrative (i.e., higher prices through the tightening cycle) are some Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC) strategists.

“The worsening macro backdrop and market-unfriendly Fed make sustained U.S. equity gains unlikely,” Bank of America strategists said in a statement that recommended investors sell upside (call) protection to hedge downside. 

If Bank of America is correct, it’s possible that, given the recent clearing of puts, participants’ demand for protection, and the hedging of this exposure, would add velocity to the move lower.

SqueezeMetrics’ remark on hardcore volatility selling, however, has us a little less concerned (about some sort of armageddon situation).

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,597.00 untested point of control (VPOC) puts in play the $4,611.75 low volume area (LVNode). Initiative trade beyond the LVNode could reach as high as the $4,631.00 regular trade high (RTH High) and $4,641.75 LVNode, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,597.00 VPOC puts in play the $4,574.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as low as the $4,546.00 Spike Base and $4,533.00 VPOC, or lower.

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

Definitions

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

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

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.

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

Vanna: The rate at which the delta of an option changes with respect to volatility.

POCs: POCs are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent in a prior day session. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit.

Options Expiration (OPEX): Traditionally, option expiries mark a reduction in dealer gamma exposure.

About

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

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

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

Disclaimer

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

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For March 29, 2022

The Daily Brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 200+ that read this report daily, below!

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures auctioned higher alongside progress in cease-fire talks between Russia and Ukraine.

Geopolitical improvements could play into the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) pivot toward more aggressive, front-loaded interest-rate hikes.

Ahead is data on the Case-Shiller and FHFA national house price indexes (9:00 AM ET), consumer confidence, as well as job opens and quits (10:00 AM ET). 

Later, the Fed’s Patrick Harker speaks at 10:45 AM ET, followed by the Atlanta Fed’s Raphael Bostic (6:30 PM ET).

Graphic updated 6:50 AM ET. Sentiment Risk-On if expected /ES open is above the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. SHIFT data used for S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options activity. Note that options flow is sorted by the call premium spent; if more positive, then more was spent on call options. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. VIX reflects a current reading of the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) from 0-100.

What To Expect

Fundamental: In Monday’s commentary, we discussed the Fed’s intention to tighten policy and yield curve inversions, the implications of quantitative tightening (QT), and other things.

Graphic: Via Bespoke Investment Group. Taken from Bloomberg. The chart “suggests even more tightening than is currently priced by two-year bonds. Nothing as aggressive as this has been seen since Paul Volcker was Fed chair four decades ago.” 

In a nutshell, the gap between shorter and longer yields is smaller, and, in some cases, the shorter yield is above that of the longer yield––the consequence of suppressed yields lifting, now, after the Fed’s historic bond-buying spree and balance sheet growth over the past years.

Graphic: Via Macrodesiac. “The yield curve looks ‘normal’ at the start of the cycle, then flattens mid-cycle (as central banks hike and short-dated yields catch up to growth), then inverts as economic contraction begins. Usually, longer-dated yields are more stable. Economic growth will expand and contract in the short term. Over time it will average out to around 2% per year in developed economies. Shorter-dated yields are more volatile because they’re sensitive to the current market cycle.” 

As Bloomberg’s John Authers explains, “an inverted yield curve is regarded as an alarm for a central bank — it’s taken as the bond market saying that this can go no further, and makes it hard for the Fed or any other central bank to proceed with a tightening.”

There is the “argument that something will break before the central bank gets [inflation back down to 2%].”

Graphic: Via Andreas Steno Larsen. “Policy real rates are basically [at a] record low.”

Though curve inversions often preceded economic slowings, we pointed to the 5-30 curve, yesterday, specifically, which has provided false positives in the past. 

This time things truly are different as, without the Fed’s QE, the fair value of the 2s10s spread could be in the 150bp-200bp range, according to statements by Richard Bernstein Advisors’ Michael Contopoulos says on the potential for steepening via QT.

“Though the Fed is likely to maintain a sizeable balance sheet, thereby keeping yields relatively anchored versus what would be expected had they never bought bonds, there is clearly scope for yields to increase in the long end over coming quarters. Whether or not this happens with ever-higher 2y yields, time will tell, but for now, we would search for other indicators of recession.”

Graphic: Via @mark_ungewitter. Taken from Callum Thomas. “A tell in terms of the lateness-of-cycle.”

Correlation isn’t causation, Authers ends. Markets are reflections of investor psychology and expectations about the future. 

“Just as the Fed now admits that it has been behind the curve, so investors have also been slow on the uptake, and may now be over-compensating. That suggests that a curve inversion here should be treated with some caution.”

Positioning: Alongside participants’ heavy sale of puts and some call buying, implied volatility metrics compressed markedly, and this bolstered a near-vertical price rise in the equity market.

Graphic: SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options (HIRO) indicator shows put selling in the SPY coincides with a reversal attempt.

Heading into the end-of-week large quarterly options expiration, comparing buying and options positioning metrics, the returns distribution is skewed positive.

Graphic: Via Physik Invest. Data via SqueezeMetrics.

However, the skew is nothing like what it was in the weeks prior, before the early March reversal period. Caution new buyers.

Graphic: Via Physik Invest. Data via SqueezeMetrics.

As SpotGamma explains, “All else equal, it’s likely the SPX levels out in the $4,600.00 area over the coming sessions as the factors of time and volatility trend toward zero for highly short-dated options exposure concentrated in the end-of-month expiry,” at those higher prices.

“When the gamma of these options increases, as a result, counterparties add liquidity (i.e., sell [buy] more into strength [weakness] against increasing [decreasing] positive delta exposure).”

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

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

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,592.75 overnight high (ONH) puts in play the $4,611.75 low volume area (LVNode). Initiative trade beyond the LVNode could reach as high as the $4,618.75 and $4,631.75 high volume area (HVNode), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,592.75 ONH puts in play the $4,574.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as low as the $4,546.00 spike base and $4,533.00 untested point of control (VPOC), or lower.

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

Definitions

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).

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

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

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

POCs: POCs are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent in a prior day session. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit.

About

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

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

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

Disclaimer

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