Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For January 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 lower alongside bonds and most commodities.

Ahead is data on wholesale inventories (10:00 AM ET) and Fed-speak (12:00 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

Fundamental: Improvements in the U.S. labor market and increased hawkishness from the Federal Reserve are some of the factors playing into a recent rotation.

With yields climbing and the 10-year benchmark breaking out toward 2.00%, there’s been a clear move out of growth- and innovation-names to value- and cyclical-type stocks.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg, “Markets face increasing volatility as investors grapple with how to reprice assets as the pandemic liquidity that helped drive equities to record highs is withdrawn.”

This is just as Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS) announced that it expects four interest rate hikes this year (in MAR, JUN, SEP, and DEC) and a balance sheet runoff to begin in July.

“Valuations are at historical highs, companies are raising billions based on fairy dust, and the Fed is signaling a tightening cycle,” said Jason Goepfert of Sundial Capital Research. “All of these are scaring investors that we’re on the cusp of a repeat of 1999-2000.”

Why are higher rates scary? 

Though higher rates are to fend off inflation, they have the potential to decrease the present value of future earnings making stocks (especially high growth) less attractive.

For context, at no other point since the dot-com bubble has so many constituents have fallen while the index was so close to its peak.

Graphic: From Sundial Capital Research. Posted by Bloomberg.

Despite participation continuing to narrow, equities should be able to withstand rate hikes and balance sheet runoff amidst above-trend growth and a looming rebound in some international markets, JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM) adds.

“As long as yields are rising for the right reasons, including better growth, we believe that equities should be able to tolerate the move,” a JPMorgan note said. 

“The rise in real rates should not be hurting equity markets, or economic activity, at least until they move into positive territory, or even as long as real rates are below the real potential growth.”

Positioning: As discussed in Friday’s detailed write-up, bonds and equities are down.

That’s due in part to the bond-stock relationship being upended as a result of monetary tightening to combat inflation.

“At stake are trillions of dollars that are managed at risk parity funds, balanced mutual funds, and pension funds that follow the framework of 60/40 asset allocation.”

As explained Friday, we mention this (broken) relationship as it forces us (participants, in general) to look elsewhere for protection. 

The growing asset class of volatility, so to speak, is that protection. Investors are aware of both the protective and speculative efficiency afforded to them by options and that is the primary reason option volumes are so comparable to stock volumes, now.

If interested, read this primer on “Trading Volatility, Correlation, Term Structure, and Skew.”

With option volumes higher, related hedging flows can represent an increased share of volume in underlying stocks; the correlation of stock moves, versus options activity, is pronounced.

All that means is that we can look to the options market for context on where to next.

According to options modeling and data service SpotGamma (learn more here), the S&P 500, in particular, based on an earlier demand for protection is set up for higher volatility.

“End-of-week compression in volatility, in spite of a high-volatility, negative-gamma regime characterized by dealer hedging that exacerbates movement, sets markets up for instability in case of even lower prices and demand for protection.”

Why? 

Knowing that demand for downside protection coincides with customers indirectly taking liquidity and destabilizing the market as the participant short the put will sell underlying to neutralize risk, participants ought to keep their eye out on whether implied volatility expands or contracts.

All else equal, higher implied volatility marks up options delta (exposure to direction) and this leads to more selling as hedging pressures exacerbate weakness.

Graphic: SqueezeMetrics details the implications of customer activity in the options market, on the underlying’s order book.
Graphic: Per Interactive Brokers Group Inc (NASDAQ: IBKR), VIX futures show little concern; “An inverted curve, or even a flattish one, indicates a shortage of available volatility protection.  We saw that as recently as a month ago, but not now.”

Taking into account options positioning, versus buying pressure (measured via short sales or liquidity provision on the market-making side), positioning metrics remain positively skewed.

Graphic: Data SqueezeMetrics. Graph via Physik Invest.

In ending this section, Friday’s put-heavy expiration removed some negative gamma that was adding to instability, at least at the index level. 

Though markets will tend toward instability so long as volatility is heightened and products (especially some constituents) remain in negative gamma, the dip lower and demand for protection may serve to prime the market for upside (when volatility starts to compress again and counterparties unwind hedges thus supporting any attempt higher).

“Failure to expand the range, lower, on the index level, at least, likely invokes supportive dealer hedging flows with respect to time (‘charm’) and volatility (‘vanna’),” SpotGamma adds.

At present, there’s a push-and-pull; “no-touch” garbage stocks in the S&P and Nasdaq 100 are gaining strength. If this dynamic persists, in light of what was discussed above, what happens?

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 lower part of a negatively skewed overnight inventory, just inside of prior-range and -value, suggesting a limited potential for immediate directional opportunity.

Spike Scenario Still In Play: 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).

Spike base is at $4,761.25. Above, bullish. Below, bearish.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,647.25 high volume area (HVNode) puts in play the $4,674.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the latter could reach as high as the $4,691.25 micro composite point of control (MCPOC) and $4,717.25 low volume area (LVNode).

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,647.25 HVNode puts in play the $4,629.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the latter could reach as low as the $4,585.00 and $4,549.00 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 is also a Benzinga finance and technology reporter interviewing the likes of Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary, JC2 Ventures’ John Chambers, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, and ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, as well as a SpotGamma contributor developing insights around impactful options market dynamics.

Disclaimer

Physik Invest does not carry the right to provide advice.

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 January 5, 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 indices auctioned sideways to lower after a failed balance-area breakout resulted in a rotation back toward the most accepted (or traded at) price levels over two weeks.

Ahead is data on ADP National Employment Report (8:15 AM ET), Markit Services PMI (9:45 AM ET), and FOMC minutes (2:00 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

Fundamental: Today, participants ought to get further clarity around the timing of the Federal Reserve’s first interest-rate hike and its taper to the pace of asset buying.

The central bank doubled the pace of tapering in mid-December, setting the stage for rate hikes, later in 2022.

According to Bloomberg, expected are three quarter-percentage-point increases in the key federal funds rate target in 2022. 

Graphic: The “annual rate of change in the Fed Funds rate” via topdowncharts.com.

This expectation has coincided with a move higher in Treasury yields and weakness in the growth- and innovation-heavy Nasdaq 100. 

Recall that inflation and rates move inverse to each other. In defending against the pressures of inflation, higher rates have the potential to decrease the present value of future earnings making stocks, especially those that are high growth, less attractive.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg, “Fed Chair Jerome Powell at his press conference after last month’s meeting said that policy makers eventually ‘expect a gradual pace of policy firming.’ They don’t anticipate raising rates before ending the taper process, but could hike before reaching full employment, he added.”

Moreover, a concern is that “[t]he minutes could hint at a quicker start to shrinking the balance sheet than after the prior tapering.”

With the equity market rallying on the back of easy monetary frameworks and max liquidity, markets diverged from fundamentals.

Reductions in the balance sheet (i.e., removal of liquidity) may help prick the bubble. 

Additionally, with the use of leveraged products trending higher than in the past, cross-asset correlations increase with volatility and stress. This may result in “hedging and de-leveraging cascades that affect the stability of all markets,” as well put in one article I recently wrote.

In other words, the response by customers, as well as the dynamics of dealers’ risk exposure to direction and volatility, can cause violent crash dynamics to transpire, further cutting into liquidity, and aiding an unraveling.

“It’s not a coincidence that the mid-February to mid-March 2020 downturn literally started the day after February expiration and ended the day of March quarterly expiration,” Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan once told me. “These derivatives are incredibly embedded in how the tail reacts and there’s not enough liquidity, given the leverage, if the Fed were to taper.”

See the graphic below for implications of customers’ demands for downside protection.

Graphic: SqueezeMetrics details the implications of customer activity in the options market, on the underlying’s order book. For instance, in selling a put, customers add liquidity and stabilize the market. How? The market maker long the put will buy (sell) the underlying to neutralize directional risk as price falls (rises).

Positioning: Pursuant to some of the comments made in yesterday’s commentary, expected is a continued compression in volatility. 

Monday saw the selling of upside (call) and downside (put) protection. Tuesday saw more of the former, and that promoted some of the reversion, for lack of better phrasing, seen yesterday.

Recall that the participant on the other side of this dominant trade is taking on more exposure to positive delta. 

Why? Well, with any price rise, gamma (or how an option’s delta is expected to change given a change in the underlying) is added to the delta. Counterparties are to offset gamma by adding liquidity (as can be approximated with thickening of book depth, below) to the market (i.e., buy dips, sell rips).

Graphic: Analysis of book depth for the E-mini S&P 500 futures contract, via CME Group Inc’s (NASDAQ: CME) Liquidity Tool. For more on the implications of participants’ options positioning and dealer hedging, read here.

The continued compression of volatility will only serve to bolster any price rise as “hedging vanna and charm flows, and whatnot will push the markets higher.”

Were participants to reach for downside protection, markets will tend toward instability. Not seeing this yet.

Graphic: The “Biggest tail risk to SPX isn’t any macro data/virus/war but its own options market.”

Technical: As of 6:40 AM ET, Wednesday’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.

Balance (Two-Timeframe Or Bracket) Scenarios: 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).

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,783.75 micro composite point of control (MCPOC) puts in play the $4,808.25 minimal excess high. Initiative trade beyond the $4,808.25 figure could reach as high as the $4,814.00 and $4,832.25 extension, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,783.75 MCPOC puts in play the $4,756.00 low volume area (LVNode). Initiative trade beyond the LVNode could reach as low as the $4,732.50 high volume area (HVNode) and $4,717.25 LVNode, or lower.

Considerations: The aforementioned trade in the S&P 500 marks a potential willingness to continue balance, and it is built on poor structure, a dynamic that adds to technical instability.

On a liquidation that finds acceptance (i.e., more than 30-minutes of trade at a particular price level) below $4,756.00, there is increased potential for a fast move lower to $4,732.50 or lower.

This is as there has been a persistence of responses to technical levels; weaker-handed participants (which seldom defend retests) are carrying a heavier hand in recent discovery.

With that, any penetration of low-volume pockets – voids like gaps that can be seen on a chart – there ought to be follow-through as the participants that were most active at those levels run for the exits.

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.

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.

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.

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

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 is also a Benzinga finance and technology reporter interviewing the likes of Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary, JC2 Ventures’ John Chambers, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, and ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, as well as a SpotGamma contributor developing insights around impactful options market dynamics.

Disclaimer

Physik Invest does not carry the right to provide advice.

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
Methodology

Theory Applied: Contextualizing Recent Market Volatility

With SpotGamma, Physik Invest’s Renato Leonard Capelj unpacks recent market movements from an options positioning perspective.

Coverage includes the following:

  • Definition and application of first and second order options greeks.
  • Implications of the November and December options expirations.
  • How current positioning may dictate trade in Q1 2022 and beyond.
  • Expert commentary and much more!

Click below to learn more!

Categories
Methodology

Macro And Options And Excessive Leverage, Oh My!

Yesterday, Physik Invest’s Renato Leonard Capelj joined Benzinga’s Spencer Israel and Aaron Bry live.

Topics discussed include Capelj’s thoughts on the current market environment, as well as how he goes about structuring trades around his opinion.

Tune in, below!

Categories
Results

Case Study: Trading Skew With Ratio Spreads

What Happened: On June 23, 2021, shares of Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) surged on news the company opened a Chinese-based solar-powered charging station with on-site power storage.

Prior to the development, the stock endured months of corrective activity during which negative narratives were out in full force. From calls against Tesla’s biggest bull – ARK Invest – to famed Michael Burry’s synthetic short position on the stock, it seemed as though the end was near.

However, as evidenced by Tesla’s June 23 breakout from consolidation and subsequent upside continuation in light of a 300,000 vehicle recall in China, it is obvious the fear was unwarranted.

Those who understand that markets are most influenced by credit and positioning knew this all along.

Taking a look at market liquidity metrics – such as those offered by services like HFT Alert – market participants had been aggressively accumulating shares of the company from its mid-May low.

Graphic 1: Buying accelerates (as evidenced by the purple line), in Tesla, after its mid-May bottom, via HFT Alert

Still, with skepticism out in full force, there was a heightened demand for protection, as evidenced by metrics like volatility skew, in options at and below the current stock price.

Skew: The difference in implied volatility (IV) – an estimate of potential price changes given the fear of movement – between option strikes that are close and far from the underlying stock price. 

To put it simply, the fear of corrective activity in Tesla fueled demand for protection via put option strikes farther below the stock. This, in turn, bid volatility in downside strikes, more than upside strikes. Because volatility is input in option pricing models, put options, further down the chain, were valued more relative to their call-side counterparts.

Graphic 2: June 23, 2021 screenshot implies increased demand for put options, further below (left of) the stock price, relative to calls (right) for the expiries traded. 
Graphic 3: Notice the increased volume and open interest in put option strike prices at and below $500. This dynamic results in skew, as observed in Graphic 2. 

Given this dynamic, the following sequence analysis unpacks how Physik Invest traded options tied to the carmaker leading up to, and through, the June 23, 2021 upside consolidation break.

Note: Click here to view all transactions. Adding, positions were structured in a way that would potentially net higher credits had the stock moved markedly lower or higher.

Sequence 1: After skew was observed, through 6/18/2021, the following positions were initiated against the $500 support level for a $1,011.00 credit.

  • June 11 Expiry 500P+1, 450P-2
  • June 25 Expiry 490P+9, 440P-18 
  • June 25 Expiry 550P+2, 500P-4
  • June 25 Expiry 300P+2

By 6/21/2021, all aforementioned positions were closed for a $271.00 debit, netting a $691.58 credit after commissions and fees.

Sequence 2: Through 6/29/2021, skew improved and the following positions were initiated for a $5,651.38 credit.

  • July 2 Expiry 500P+3, 450P-6 
  • July 2 Expiry 525P+7, 475P-14
  • July 2 Expiry 545P+1, 495P-2 
  • July 9 Expiry 850C+2, 900C-4 
  • July 9 Expiry 580P+11, 530P-22 
  • July 9 Expiry 350P+3 
  • July 16 Expiry 850C+4, 900C-8

Through 7/12/2021, the above structures were removed for a $90.00 debit, netting a $5,443.93 credit after commissions and fees.

Sequence 3: Through 7/6/2021, skew remained and the following positions were initiated for a $3,566.00 credit.

  • July 16 Expiry 575P+11, 525P-22
  • July 16 Expiry 600P+1, 550P-2
  • July 16 Expiry 350P+3 

Through 7/14/2021, the above structures were removed for a $473.00 debit, netting a $3,043.29 credit after commissions and fees.

Summary: In total, the sequence of trades net a $9,178.80 credit after commissions and fees. 

The above strategies were employed per Physik Invest’s core edge: the trade of ratioed, multi-leg strategies that combine short and long positions to reduce risk and increase returns. 

By leveraging the dynamics of time and volatility, through complex spreads, Physik Invest was paid to express a neutral stance on underlying Tesla stock with the potential to further capitalize on an expansion of range in either direction.

Disclaimer: There is a $0.77 discrepancy between the transaction sheet and the numbers provided in this case study. This is attributable to differences in rounding.

Categories
Results

Case Study: Trading A Balance-Breakout Failure In The Nasdaq 100

What Happened: On April 29, 2021, market participants attempted to move the Nasdaq 100 stock index from balance, an area of recent price acceptance, above a developing ledge, or flattened area on the composite volume profile.

Further, participants failed to find acceptance beyond the balance area, given the Nasdaq 100’s move back into the prior range. As a result, odds favored (1) sideways or (2) lower trade, as low as the balance area low (BAL) near $13,700.00.

Adding, a weak reaction by heavily-weighted index constituents to blowout earnings, as well as poor structure left behind prior price discovery, among other factors, such as the will to raise the Capital Gains Tax, suggested an increased potential to trade below the $13,700.00 BAL, into prior poor structures, or low volume areas (LVNodes), that ought to offer little-to-no support.

In response, the following sequence analysis unpacks how Physik Invest traded options tied to both the cash-settled Nasdaq 100 (INDEX: NDX) and Nasdaq 100 (CME: /NQ) future, leading up to the May 12, 2021 swing low. 

Note: Click here to view all transactions.

Sequence 1: On April 29, 2021, Physik Invest applied the balance-break and gap scenarios, monitoring for acceptance (i.e., more than 1-hour of trade) outside the balance area. 

To preface, gaps ought to fill quickly. 

Should they not, that’s a signal of weakness; 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.

After a confirmed balance-breakout failure, Physik Invest bought the following structures for a $203.00 debit. At this point, if all legs were to remain out of the money (i.e., expire worthless) by May 21, 2021, the maximum loss would have been $203.00, approximately 1/5 of a standard risk unit, or the debit risked in a typical position.

  • 13500+1/13300-2/13100+1 NDX long put ratio spread
  • 14100+3/14110-6/14140+3 NDX short call ratio spread
  • 14400-1 /NQ short call

By 5/10/2021, the aforementioned position was closed for a $1,855.00 credit, an 813.80% return on the initial debit outlay.

The above put-side structure was initiated against the $13,300 high volume area, also a prior balance area boundary. The reason being, a structurally sound market will build on past areas of high volume. Should the market trend for long periods of time, it will lack sound structure (identified as a low volume area which denotes directional conviction and ought to offer support on any test). If participants were to auction and find acceptance into areas of prior low volume, then future discovery ought to be volatile and quick as participants look to areas of high volume for favorable entry or exit.

Summary: After a failed balance-breakout setup presented itself, Physik Invest financed long put-side structures targeting a test of $13,300, with short-call exposure, risking ⅕ of a standard risk unit in debit, over a timeframe of one month.

In total, the sequence of trades net a $1,621.71 profit after commissions and fees.

The above strategies were employed in accordance with Physik Invest’s core edge: the trade of ratioed, multi-leg strategies that combine short and long positions to reduce risk and increase returns.

Yes, in hindsight, one could have opted for static short exposure (e.g., selling stock to open a position). However, the risks tied to such strategies are immense in a regime characterized by increased volatility and uncertainty.

By leveraging the dynamics of time and volatility, through complex spreads, unwanted directional risks were reduced.

Reflection: Hindsight is 20/20.

Though the entry was perfectly timed, the exit was not; 1-day prior to expiry, the 13500/13300/13100 ratio spread – which was removed for a $21.11 credit – priced at nearly $90.00. 

The correct move would have been to initiate the position with up to four 13500/13300/13100 ratio spreads. Thereafter, as prices moved lower, the position would have been pared down enough to at least cover the cost of any remaining spreads.

Those remaining spreads would have been kept on as so-called “lottery tickets.”

Categories
Methodology

Presentation: Trading Options Strategically

From Theory To Practice

How to express your opinion strategically using options.

Categories
Commentary

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

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

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

Key Takeaways:

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

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

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

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

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

More On DIX: For every buyer is a seller (usually a market maker). Using DIX — which is derived from short sales (i.e., liquidity provision on the market making side) — we can measure buying pressure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More On Gamma: Gamma is the sensitivity of an option to changes in underlying price. Dealers that take the other side of option trades hedge their exposure to risk by buying and selling the underlying. 

When dealers are short-gamma, they hedge by buying into strength and selling into weakness. When dealers are long-gamma, they hedge by selling into strength and buying into weakness. The former exacerbates volatility. The latter calms volatility.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusions: Simplicity is key here.

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

Levels Of Interest: $3,840.00 HVNode.

Photo by Josh Sorenson from Pexels.

Categories
Results

Case Study: Trading Tesla’s S&P 500 Inclusion

What Happened: On November 17, 2020, shares of Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) surged on news that S&P Dow Jones Indices would include the stock in the S&P 500, the most liquid index in the world.

Since markets are most influenced by credit and positioning, news of the inclusion was impactful. Funds tied to the S&P 500 would purchase Tesla shares from a dealer by the addition date. This means that dealers would look to purchase shares of the stock heading into the event, to later supply funds at the close of Friday, December 18, the last session before the inclusion.

In the simplest of terms, the event was a positive since it meant that (1) speculative derivatives activity and associated hedging, (2) short-term traders, as well as (3) dealers and index funds would now support the stock.

The following sequence analysis unpacks how Physik Invest traded equity and derivatives tied to the carmaker’s stock leading up to the December 21, 2020 index inclusion.

Note: Click here to view all transactions.

Sequence 1: On news of the inclusion, market participants initiated shares of Tesla out of balance, beyond trend resistance. Thereafter, in accordance with a typical give and go scenario, the stock faded, filling 50% of the low-volume area left after the initial move higher, before aggressive buying resurfaced to continue the new trend.

Through November 19, the following positions were added for a $61.00 debit, in total. At this point if all legs were to remain out of the money (i.e., expire worthless) by November 20, the maximum loss would be $61.00, approximately 1/10 of a standard risk unit, or the capital risked in a typical position.

  • 500+1/530-2 call ratio spread
  • 490+2/505-3 call ratio spread
  • 525+1/550-2 call ratio spread
  • 510+1/525-2 call ratio spread
  • 445-1 put
  • 460-1 put

By November 20, all aforementioned positions were closed for an $827.00 credit, a 1,255.74% return on initial investment.

All the above call-side structures were initiated against the $500 high open interest strike. Reason being, option expiries mark an end to pinning (i.e, the theory that market makers and institutions short options move stocks to the point where the greatest dollar value of contracts will expire worthless) and the reduction dealer gamma exposure.

On November 20, nearly 40% of Tesla’s gamma was to roll off. 

Pictured: November options gamma by Spot Gamma
Pictured: Speculative call-side options activity after the index inclusion announcement 

Moreover, since derivatives exposure was rolled into farther dated expiries, the stock would now be supported by dealers buying to hedge their derivatives exposure and facilitate the index inclusion.

Noting, at a simplistic level, prices often encounter resistance at prior highs due to the supply of old business. These areas take time to resolve. Breaking and establishing value (i.e., trading more than 15-minutes above this level) portends continuation.

Sequence 2: On November 20, the following structures expiring on December 4 were initiated for a $644.00 credit.

  • 450-1 put
  • 520+1/550-1 call ratio spread
  • 570+1/600-2 call ratio spread
  • 490-1/475+1 put ratio spread

Through November 24, the above structures were removed for a $876.00 credit.

Sequence 3: On November 24, the cost basis from November 19 ($61.00 debit) was reduced via an intraday long stock delta hedge that bought 10 shares at an average of $539.50.

The initial cost basis, after this particular trade, was brought down to a $0.20 debit.

Sequence 4: On November 25 the following positions were opened and closed the same day for a $179.30 credit.

  • Bought stock at $550.14 average
  • 480+1/500-2 call ratio spread

Sequence 5: On November 27, the following positions were initiated and closed by December 3 for a $117.10 debit.

  • Bought stock at $595.55 average
  • 475+1/437.5-2 put ratio spread

Sequence 6: On December 1 through December 3, the following positions were initiated, and then exited from by December 7 for a $1.77 debit.

  • Bought stock at $589.20 average
  • Bought stock at $563.77 average
  • 740+1/780C-2 call ratio spread

Sequence 7: Through December 17, the following positions were initiated and closed for a total $452.30 credit.

  • 720+1/820-2 call ratio spread
  • 740+1/830-2 call ratio spread
  • Bought stock at $632.17 average
  • 720+1/820-2 call ratio spread
  • Bought stock at $606.88 average
  • 800+1/860-2 call ratio spread
  • 500+1/480-2 put ratio spread

Sequence 8: From December 17 through December 23 the following positions were entered and exited from for a $322.00 credit.

  • 500+2/450-4 put ratio spread
  • 800+2/850-4 call ratio spread
  • 670+1/685-2 call ratio spread

Summary: In total, the above sequence of trades net a $3,098.29 credit after commissions and fees.

The strategies employed were in accordance with Physik Invest’s methodology: the trade of ratioed, multi-leg strategies that combine short and long positions to reduce risk and increase returns. 

Yes, in hindsight, one could have opted for something as simple as risk-reversals (e.g., buying calls and selling puts). However, the risks tied to such strategies are immense. By leveraging the dynamics of time and volatility, through complex spreads, risk was reduced.

Note: There were many times, during these sequences, that positions were structured in a way that would net no loss had the security moved sideways or lower into expiry.

Adding, per Fibonacci principles, one core aspect of Physik Invest’s market structure analysis, an upside target of $675.10 was established early on in the process. Tesla spent the majority of its December 18 session at this level.

Disclaimer: There is a $0.11 discrepancy between the transaction sheet and numbers provided in this case study. This is attributable to differences in rounding.

Categories
Methodology

An Unconventional Approach To Markets

Insurance is a means of protecting against the risk of financial loss. 

When it comes to financial markets, products exist to reduce risk or capitalize on opinions at low cost. One such product is an option, a derivative that acts like an insurance contract. 

Options are the right to buy or sell an asset at a later date and agreed upon price. 

Option buyers purchase put and call options to increase return or insure against loss.

If the option buyer was short stock, he or she would buy a call to hedge upside exposure. 

If the option buyer was long stock, he or she would buy a put to hedge downside exposure. 

The counterparty in this transaction writes options in exchange for a premium derived from factors such as the spot and strike price, time to maturity, volatility, as well as the rate of interest. 

Option buyers pay sellers to cover their losses past a certain level and time.

Nothing is free. When it comes to selling options, similar to insurance, returns are obtained through the calculation of expected probabilities and writing of overpriced contracts. A key input in pricing formulas is volatility, the magnitude of potential change. 

Volatility, a derivative of fear, compels option demand

When the demand for an option rises, volatility and option premia rise with it. Demand for an option does not necessarily mean an underlying security will move. It just means that fear has compelled a market to increase its demand for protection.

As is true for most other aspects in life, fear is blown out of proportion and hence this is what happens in the derivatives market: fear overstates the magnitude of potential change.

So, when purchasing protection, one must be correct in their assumption on direction, time, and volatility to make money on an option. When selling, one must hedge against the risks associated with direction and volatility, among other things.

An option seller must not necessarily be directional to make money. Instead, they can leverage the dynamics of time and volatility to gain statistically measurable exposure in products traded.

In light of these market dynamics, Physik Invest derives its core edge from trading ratioed, multi-leg strategies that combine short and long positions to reduce risk and increase returns. Though direction often is a factor in positions netting a positive return, holistic market structure analysis is a requisite for entry.

About Physik Invest

Physik Invest is an actively managed, derivative-focused investment entity whose edge lies in ratioed, multi-leg strategies.

Physik is led by Renato Leonard Capelj, who founded the company in 2020 to detail his methodsresearch, and performance in the markets.

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.