Categories
Commentary

Weekly Brief For April 18, 2021

Happy Sunday! Though markets were relatively choppy, they ended higher last week. This came at a time of heightened public attention to the market.

The following commentary on U.S. broad market equity indices will discuss what happened, why it matters, what to expect, and how participants can position themselves for the coming week.

But first, here’s a quote from Sterling professor of economics at Yale, Robert J. Shiller:

“The current widespread fascination with the rising market accompanied by recent concern about a possible downward spiral and strained stock market valuations echo those of 100 years ago.”

Market Commentary

What Happened: The S&P 500, Nasdaq-100, and Dow Jones Industrial Average made new all-time highs before closing the week out with an attempt to balance and validate newly discovered prices.

  • Data suggests economic outlook improving.
  • Earnings pick up, add to clarity on recovery.
  • Risk, reward poor for new entries. Be picky.

Why It Matters: The price rise in U.S. broad market equity indices comes as the economic recovery from the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic accelerated.

According to S&P Global, the recovery’s acceleration warranted a revision in the firm’s 2021 global GDP growth forecast to 5.5%, a 50 basis point change.

At the same time, it’s S&P’s belief that U.S. inflation fears are overblown. Traders began to price in that realization, last week. 

After a slew of economic releases, yields pulled back dramatically.

In a Bloomberg article, Barclays strategists, including Anshul Pradhan, noted a raising of the bar on reflation; the drop in yields “reflects the fact that expectations for growth, inflation and the hiking cycle have all been significantly revised higher.”

Further, participants saw the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX), a measure of the stock market’s expectation of volatility based on S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options, continue a multi-week drop attracting the participation of systemic strategies and opportunistic hedging, as noted last week.

It is important to note that this most recent rally in equity indices, which coincides with a historically bullish period, came soon after Archegos Capital’s default on margin calls which triggered a fire sale by several big Wall Street banks.

SpotGamma, a source for actionable insights based on activity in the options market, in a commentary, attempted to unpack the narrative which suggests the mechanical bid across the broad market is tied to a “tangled web of counterparty risk and hedging,” among other factors.

Moving beyond speculations, a couple of things are true and must be accounted for in our narrative.

First, equity market inflows, over the past 5 months, exceeded inflows of the prior 12 years, total. Second, as the April monthly options expiration (OPEX) passes and the positioning of participants changes, the risks of a near-term pullback have increased substantially. 

Despite the stock market trading in a historically bullish period, as well as declining volatility attracting the participation of systematic strategies, increased put selling, and the like, downside protection is trading cheap relative to its upside counterpart.

Option Expiration (OPEX): 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.

Should the market turn and customers demand downside protection in an increasing fashion, dealers’ risk exposure to direction and volatility will cause violent crash dynamics to transpire.

An example of this is last year’s sell-off.

In a discussion on rising delta and volatility forcing dealers to sell into weakness to hedge a rapid move in prices, Kris Sidial, a former institutional trader and the co-chief investment officer of The Ambrus Group, a volatility arbitrage fund that looks to exploit changing market structure dynamics, said: “You have this dynamic in the derivatives market where there is a gamma squeeze when people are buying way far out-of-the-money [options], and dealers reflexively have to hedge off their risk,” Sidial said.

Graphic: SqueezeMetrics highlights implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness.

Putting it all together, despite markets being in a position to move higher, should there be a turn and spike in volatility, participants must be ready to accept the possibility of a violent liquidation.

As Market Ear puts it, hedge when you can, not when you must.

What To Expect: An increased potential to correct in time and price.

In addition, metrics, like DIX, market liquidity, and speculative derivatives activity, confirm participants’ bullishness and opportunistic hedging ahead of an acceleration in the global restart and a turn in flows, the result of consumers shifting their preferences from saving and investing to spending.

Graphic: Physik Invest maps out the purchase of call and put options in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY), for the week ending April 16. Activity in the options market was primarily concentrated in short-dated tenors, in strikes as low as $364, which corresponds with $3,640 in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX).
Graphic: SHIFT search suggests participants are not as inclined to add call-side exposure, through the month of May, in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY).

What To Do: In the coming sessions, participants will want to pay attention to where the S&P 500 trades in relation to Friday’s open-high-low-close (OHLC). 

Any activity above Friday’s regular trade-low suggests participants are not yet done discovering higher prices. Trading below Friday’s low suggests an inclination by participants to (1) form a consolidation area that denotes acceptance of higher prices or (2) revert to the mean and repair some of the poor structure left behind prior discovery. 

It is important to take note of the minimal excess and cluster of price extensions at $4,200.00, a typical price target based on Fibonacci principles.

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.

So, in the best case, the S&P 500 makes an attempt to balance or discover prices as high as $4,200.00. In the worst case, participants look to auction the S&P 500 into prior poor structures and low-volume areas (LVNodes) that ought to offer little-to-no support.

More On Volume Areas: A structurally sound market will build on past areas of high-volume (HVNode). Should the market trend for long periods of time, it will lack sound structure (identified as a low-volume area (LVNode) 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.
Graphic: 4-hour profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

News And Analysis

Economy | Housing starts reach the highest level since 2006. (MND)

Recovery | U.S. is unlikely to ‘just cancel’ J&J COVID-19 shots. (BBG)

Markets | Citi to exit banking in 13 markets across Asia, Europe. (BBG)

Markets | Record-high systemic leverage is pressuring rates. (Moody’s)

Economy | S&P Global Ratings expects global rebound to roar. (S&P)

Economy | Projections on global population, aging, urbanization. (REU)

Trade | Amazon sellers slammed with COVID-induced constraints. (S&P)

Recovery | How well COVID-19 vaccines work against variants. (AB)

Markets | SPACs boost credit at targets but carry unique risks. (Moody’s)
Markets | ‘Roaring Kitty’ adds to GME bet after exercising calls. (BBG)

What People Are Saying

Innovation And Emerging Trends

Economy | Looking at the pop culture of the original Roaring Twenties. (NYT)

Markets | Want to take your company public? Here are your options. (CB)

FinTech | Societe Generale adds first structured product on blockchain. (SG)

Exodus | Hedge funds are ready to get out of NY and move to FL. (BBG)

Trading | The answer to how much capital you should be allocating. (TT)

Venture | European venture reaches all-time high in first quarter 2021. (CB)

About

Renato founded Physik Invest after going through years of self-education, strategy development, and trial-and-error. His work reporting in the finance and technology space, interviewing leaders such as John Chambers, founder, and CEO, JC2 Ventures, Kevin O’Leary, Canadian businessman and Shark Tank host, Catherine Wood, CEO and CIO, ARK Invest, among others, afforded him the perspective and know-how very few come by.

Having worked in engineering and majored in economics, Renato is very detailed and analytical. His approach to the markets isn’t built on hope or guessing. Instead, he leverages the unique dynamics of time and volatility to efficiently act on opportunity.

 Disclaimer

At this time, Physik Invest does not manage outside capital and is not licensed. In no way should the materials herein be construed as advice. Derivatives carry a substantial risk of loss. All content is for informational purposes only.

Cover photo by eberhard grossgasteiger from Pexels.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For April 16, 2021

Market Commentary

Index futures initiate out of balance and explore higher prices.

  • Economic data fuels strong rally.
  • Ahead: Housing, sentiment data.
  • Market is accepting higher prices.

What Happened: U.S. stock index futures auctioned higher alongside strong economic data, over the past 24 hours.

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

Adding, during the prior day’s regular trade, the best case outcome occurred, evidenced by initiative trade above $4,137.00, which is significant because it marked Wednesday’s POC, the fairest price to do business. 

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

Yesterday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average pushed through $34,000. Peter Essele, Head of Portfolio Management for Commonwealth Financial Network, in a statement on the development, said: “[I]nvestor appetite for future growth prospects is spilling over into more value-oriented names. The industrial heavy index has trailed its more tech-oriented counterparts over the last year (S&P 500 and NASDAQ), a trend that has started to reverse as of late. The demand for industrials and more cyclically-oriented areas should continue as the vaccines take hold and earnings potentially come in higher than originally expected.”

Obviously, there are a lot of reasons to be highly bullish on the stock market and economy, in general. However, as the April monthly options expiration (OPEX) passes and the positioning of participants changes, the risks of a near-term pullback have increased substantially. Despite the stock market trading in a historically bullish period, as well as declining volatility attracting the participation of systematic strategies, and the like, downside protection is trading cheap relative to its upside counterpart. 

Option Expiration (OPEX): 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.

In the simplest way, as Market Ear puts it, hedge when you can, not when you must. 

For today, participants can trade from the following frameworks. 

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades sideways or higher; activity above the $4,166.75 regular-trade high could reach as high as the $4,174.50 price extension. Initiative trade beyond $4,174.50 could reach as high as the confluence of Fibonacci price extension near $4,187.00-$4,197.25. In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,154.25 overnight-low (ONL) could reach as low as the $4,137.00 POC and $4,113.00 minimal excess low.

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.
Graphic: 4-hour profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.
Graphic: Physik Invest maps out the purchase of call and put options in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY), for April 15. Activity in the options market was primarily concentrated in short-dated tenors, in strikes as low as $385, which corresponds with $3,850 in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX).
Graphic: SHIFT search suggests participants are not as inclined to add call-side exposure, through the month of May, in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY).

News And Analysis

Markets | There’s a New Jersey deli valued at $105 million. Not good. (BBG)

Markets | Record amount of assets in ETFs and ETPs listed globally. (MM)

Markets | Yields dropped Thursday, despite strong economic data. (CNBC)

Technology | Regulators are seeking to revoke Robinhood’s license. (REU)

Markets | Coinbase’s retail popularity tops that of GameStop, Tesla. (FN)

Investing | Family offices target 800% returns with SPAC economies. (BBG)

Markets | JPMorgan sells $13B of bonds in the largest bank deal. (BBG)

Economy | China’s GDP grows at a record pace as recovery speeds. (REU)

Economy | City of London Brexit hit worst than expected, says study. (REU)

Economy | Retail sales jumped nearly 10% in March amid reopening. (Axios)

What People Are Saying

Innovation And Emerging Trends

Crypto | Miami-Dade County may get a cryptocurrency task force. (TB)

Markets | Unpacking what happens to IPOs over the long-term. (NDAQ)

Travel | Porsche’s electric Taycan sales on course to eclipse 911. (BBG)

Travel | Elon Musk’s Boring Company finds paradise in the desert. (BBG)

Crypto | Brevan Howard to invest nearly 1.5% in cryptocurrencies. (TB)

Markets | Coinbase direct listing alters landscape for fintech startups. (TC)

About

Renato founded Physik Invest after going through years of self-education, strategy development, and trial-and-error. His work reporting in the finance and technology space, interviewing leaders such as John Chambers, founder, and CEO, JC2 Ventures, Kevin O’Leary, Canadian businessman and Shark Tank host, Catherine Wood, CEO and CIO, ARK Invest, among others, afforded him the perspective and know-how very few come by.

Having worked in engineering and majored in economics, Renato is very detailed and analytical. His approach to the markets isn’t built on hope or guessing. Instead, he leverages the unique dynamics of time and volatility to efficiently act on opportunity. 

Disclaimer

At this time, Physik Invest does not manage outside capital and is not licensed. In no way should the materials herein be construed as advice. Derivatives carry a substantial risk of loss. All content is for informational purposes only.

Categories
Commentary

Market Commentary For The Week Ahead: ‘Missed Approach’

Key Takeaways:

  • High doses of stimulus yet to be fully felt.
  • Hedge funds add to long, short exposure.
  • Economies eye growth, uneven recovery.
  • Powell kept stressing inflation downsides.
  • Traders price in a quarter-point rate hike.
  • 10-yr yield, S&P 500 dividend yield cross.
  • Bond, equity market volatility separations.
  • JPMorgan does not see a market bubble.

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

This came alongside (1) a material divergence in bond and equity market volatility, as well as (2) a convergence in the 10-year Treasury rate and S&P 500 dividend yield.

What Does It Mean: Equity traders began pricing in the risk of a rapid move up in rates, due to concerns over bond values, as a result of rising debt levels and inflation.

Additionally, the yield on a 10-year Treasury, a risk-free asset, which was — per Axios — “artificially depressed by the flight-to-quality trade during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as by large-scale purchases by the Federal Reserve,” converged with S&P 500’s dividend yield.

Typically, the S&P 500’s dividend yield is less than the risk-free rate because investors expect to earn less in dividends than they would holding the same amount in bonds, absent rising stock prices.

Values are derived using the discounted cash flow calculation; as interest and discount rates go up, the present value of future earnings goes down, which will drag stock prices, especially in growth categories, as seen.

Still, despite the pricing in of rising debt levels and inflation, a divergence in bond and equity market volatility persists. In such a case, market participants ought to widen their outlook; there is some potential for risk asset capitulation in the present down cycle.

Graphic 1: Divergence in volatility across the bond and equity market. 

Moving on, it’s important to take note of the market’s unpinning, after February’s monthly options expiration (i.e., OPEX), as well as the long-term trend.

More On OPEX: Option expiries mark an end to pinning (i.e, the theory that market makers and institutions short options move stocks to the point where the greatest dollar value of contracts will expire worthless) and the reduction dealer gamma exposure.

Aside from OPEX, last week’s volatility did not disrupt the S&P 500’s long-term uptrend (Graphic 2), and a skewness toward put options — evidenced by Graphic 3 and market gamma — suggests the potential for a near-term turn-around.

Graphic 2: Long-term uptrend in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX) is intact.
Graphic 3: Physik Invest maps out the purchase of call and put options in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY), for the week ending February 26, 2021. Noting activity in short- and long-dated tenors, near the $380, a strike that corresponds with $3,800.00 in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX).

What To Expect: Directional resolve, given the S&P 500’s rotation near a prominent high-volume area, or HVNode (Graphic 4), and an overnight rally-high at $3,959.25.

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

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

If participants were to auction and find acceptance into areas of prior low-volume, then future discovery ought to be volatile and quick as participants look to areas of high-volume for favorable entry or exit.
Graphic 4: 4-hour chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

What To Do: In coming sessions, participants will want to pay attention to the VWAP anchored from the $3,959.25 peak and $3,657.00 low, as well as the $3,840.00 HVNode.

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 opens and remains above the $3,840.00 volume area.

Additionally, auctioning above the $3,875.75 VWAP would suggest buyers, on average, are in control and winning, since the February 15 rally high.

Auctioning beneath $3,785.00 would (1) leave the $3,840.00 HVNode as an area of supply — offering initiative sellers favorable entry and responsive buyers favorable exit — and (2) portend repair of poor structures (e.g, the $3,785.00-$3,777.00 gap) left in the wake of a prior advance.

In such a case, participants should look to the next area of high-volume (i.e., $3,794.75 and $3,727.75) for favorable entry and exit.

Graphic 5: Profile overlays on a 65-minute candlestick chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

Conclusions: The go/no-go level for next week’s trade is $3,840.00.

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

Levels Of Interest: $3,840.00 HVNode.

Photo by Sohel Patel from Pexels.

Categories
Commentary

Market Commentary For 2/8/2021

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

What Happened: U.S. stock index futures established record all-time highs overnight, alongside hopes of a speedy economic recovery, as a result of pandemic relief efforts.

What Does It Mean: After a quick de-risking event and v-pattern recovery, 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. 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.”

Important to note also is the persistent presence of bearish undercurrents, as evidenced by non-participatory speculative flows and delta, as well as a divergence in the DIX.

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

More On 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.

What To Expect: Monday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET) will likely open on a gap, outside of prior-balance and -range, which — in normal circumstances — suggests the potential for immediate directional opportunity. However, market participants must not discount how far the discovery process has come.

Over 11 sessions (overnight and regular-trade), participants traversed nearly 7%, a non-typical weekly trading range. Adding, the S&P 500 took out its $3,900.00 price extension (i.e., a typical recovery price target) overnight, before leaving minimal excess at the high (i.e., a proper end to price discovery).

Now, in light of the low historical probability associated with overnight rally-highs ending the upside discovery process, the odds favor (1) backfilling or (2) balance before a participants restart the upside discovery process.

So, in the best case, the S&P 500 does some backfilling to repair poor structures left in the wake of strong initiative buying. In such a case, participants would look for responsive buying to surface at or above the $3,840.00 high-volume area (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.

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.

Today’s go/no-go level is the $3,880.00 HVNode. Below, would portend downside discovery and structural repair. At or above denotes balance, a sign that the market is awaiting new information to make its next move.

Levels Of Interest: $3,880.00 HVNode.

Bonus: It’s very tough to read the market at this juncture.

Buying has run out (as evidenced by the aforementioned bearish undercurrents) and it’s as if market risks are not being priced in correctly, an opinion shared by Nomura’s Charlie McElligott.

According to McElligott, crash and tail risk is holding back dealers from supplying volatility amid “a near-endless need for skew/forward vol/convexity from hedgers.” In an environment in which true fundamental buying is absent, flows as a result of activity in the derivatives market become increasingly impactful.

Adding, as the Heisenberg Report states, “markets are increasingly susceptible to the self-referential, flows-volatility-liquidity feedback loop (colloquially: the ‘doom loop’) and other manifestations of VaR shocks. Long periods of apparent calm hide an underlying fragility in true ‘stability breeds instability’ fashion.”

As a result of this new regime, as stated in the “What To Expect” section above, dealers have a difficult time taking the other side. Due to this, market participants see a persistent bid in volatility, a factor preventing many systematic and hedge fund strategies from going “all-in” on the long-side.

Categories
Commentary

Market Commentary For The Week Ahead: ‘Follow The Flow’

Key Takeaways:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Graphic 2: SpotGamma S&P 500 Gamma Levels

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

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

Graphic 3: SpotGamma plots opening option positions.

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

In the simplest way, high-volume areas can be thought of as building blocks. A structurally sound market will build on past areas of high-volume. Should the market trend for long periods of time, it will lack sound structure (identified as a low-volume area which denotes directional conviction and ought to offer support on any test).

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

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

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

  1. The S&P 500’s higher-time frame breakout remains intact, per graphics 7, 8, and 9.
  2. Late last year, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) strategist Marko Kolanovic suggested equities would rally with the S&P 500 auctioning as high as $4,000 on the basis of low rates, improved fundamentals, buybacks, as well as systematic and hedge fund strategies. Since then, Kolanovic downgraded growth and expressed the limited potential for further upside.
  3. The earnings of heavily weighted index constituents suggests participants discount improved speculative flows and delta (e.g., presence of committed buying or selling as measured by volume delta). Please see graphics 4, 5, and 6.
Graphic 4: Supportive order flow in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY), the largest ETF that tracks the S&P 500, on January 20 trend day.
Graphic 5: Supportive order flow in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY), the largest ETF that tracks the S&P 500, on January 22.
Graphic 6: Speculative derivatives activity for the week ending January 23, 2021.
Graphic 7: Daily candlestick chart of the cash S&P 500 Index

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 takes back Friday’s liquidation and auctions above the $3,840.75 HVNode. Expectations thereafter include continued balance or initiative buying to take out the $3,859.75 overnight all-time high (there is a low probability that overnight all-time highs end the upside discovery process). Thereafter buying continues as high as the $3,884.75 price projection, or double the width of the balance-area, the typical target on a balance-area breakout.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cover photo by Jayant Kulkarni from Pexels.

Categories
Commentary

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

Key Takeaways:

What Happened:

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

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

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

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

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

In the simplest way, high-volume areas can be thought of as building blocks. A structurally sound market will build on past areas of high-volume. Should the market trend for long periods of time, it will lack sound structure. If participants were to auction and find acceptance into areas of prior low-volume, then future discovery ought to be volatile and quick as participants look to areas of value for favorable entry or exit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cover photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels.

Categories
Commentary

Market Commentary For 1/11/2021

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

What Happened: Alongside a rise in cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus that could delay the pending economic recovery, U.S. index futures backed off their all-time highs during weekend trade.

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

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

What To Expect: Monday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET) will likely open on a gap, in prior-balance and -range, implying higher volatility at the open.

Noting: In most cases, a break-out (i.e., gap) from balance is usually the start of a short-term auction. Therefore, placing trades in the direction of the gap is the normal course of action. Further, gaps tend to fill within the first half-hour of regular trade (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET). The longer a gap holds, however, the higher odds of continuation. Should responsive buyers auction through the entire gap, then conditions have changed.

Two major dynamics to note:

  1. For numerous sessions, profile structures denoted the presence of short-covering, the result of old, weak-handed business emotionally buying to cover short positions, causing swift movement followed by a stalled advance, or two-sided intraday trade.
  2. The week ending January 8 established a v-pattern recovery, a price sequence that ought to be followed by further price discovery, as high as the 100% price projection, which happens to be near the multi-month upside breakout target at $4,000.

Given the above dynamics, the go/no-go level for upside in the S&P 500 is the $3,824.25 regular trade high. The go/no-go level for downside is the regular trade low at $3,775.25.

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

In the worst case, the S&P 500 initiates below its $3,762.25 HVNode. Expectations thereafter include a test of the minimal excess low near $3,732.75 (a LVNode).

As of now, all broad-market indices are in an uptrend, evidenced by higher prices and value. A break of Monday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET) low would jeopardize the bullish thesis.

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

Categories
Commentary

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

Key Takeaways:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bonus: Some opportunities unfolding in the week ahead.

Photo by Valdemaras D. from Pexels.

Categories
Commentary

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

Key Takeaways:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Max Walter from Pexels.

Categories
Commentary

Market Commentary For 12/31/2020

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

What Happened: After a range-bound balancing day, U.S. index futures tested lower overnight alongside news that COVID-19 case counts were rising, before turning at a visual level, and trading back into range.

What Does It Mean: Participants further accepted the upside break of $3,691.00 in the S&P 500, a boundary that attracted responsive selling in the week prior.

What To Expect: Thursday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET) will open within prior-balance and -range.

Given three-sessions worth of unchanged value, and the failure to fill the gap beneath a weak low (i.e., a visual level that attracts the business of short-term, technically-driven market participants) at $3,714.50, participants will come into today’s session knowing the following: (1) markets are closed on Friday, (2) the failure to resolve directionally points to the absence of larger, other time frame participants (i.e., institutions that don’t transact at technical levels), (3) the overnight rally high at $3,747.75 remains intact (i.e., historically, there is a low probability that overnight all-time highs end the upside discovery process), and (4) the period leading up to New Year, after Christmas, is historically bullish.

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

Putting it all together, the S&P 500 is trading within a larger bracket; trade between $3,747.75 and $3,714.50 ought to be responsive. Auctioning beyond either reference would end the bracketing process and portend continuation.

Levels Of Interest: Overnight high at $3,747.75, Tuesday’s pullback low at $3,714.50, the upside extension at $3,756.75 and the $3,691.00 break-point.

Bonus: Below, you will find two visuals. The first suggests the big picture S&P 500 breakout remains intact. The second suggests conviction is thinning, given light intra-day participation (i.e., the activity that occurred before the end-of-day positioning).

Pictured: Daily candlestick chart of the cash S&P 500 Index on the left. Intraday order flow in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY) on the right.