Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For May 6, 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 weak, inside of the prior day’s large trading range.

Yesterday, the equity indexes, bonds, and crypto (which many saw as a hedge against equities) were sold, aggressively. The selling came one day after the Federal Reserve hiked 0.50 basis points and outlined its balance sheet reduction timeline.

Notable was ten-year Treasury yields breaking the 3.00% barrier.

Despite a more dovish tone (i.e., Fed assuaging participants of a 0.75 basis point hike in the coming meetings), the near-vertical price rise (which we discussed was a function of “structural buyback” in yesterday’s morning letter) was taken back in a fire sale across all sectors.

Today is data on nonfarm payrolls, unemployment rates, average hourly earnings, and labor force participation (8:30 AM ET). Later, consumer credit data is released (3:00 PM ET).

Speaking today is the Fed’s John Williams (9:15 AM ET), Raphael Bostic (3:20 PM ET), James Bullard and Chris Waller (7:15 PM ET), as well as Mary Daly (8:00 PM ET).

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

What To Expect

Positioning: In yesterday’s detailed letter, we talked about the implications of participants’ hedging heading into and after the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) event.

Mainly, markets were stretched and participants were demanding protection in size. As said:

“Barring a worst-case scenario, if markets do not perform to the downside (i.e., do not trade lower), those highly-priced (often very short-dated) bets on direction will quickly decay, and hedging flows with respect to time and volatility may bolster sharp rallies.” 

After that “structural buyback,” as Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan explained clearly, it was highly likely the bear trend would hold. Participants not shifting their bets on direction (via options) to higher prices, further out in time, further suggested very little change in sentiment.

Toggle, which is an AI and machine learning research firm tracking 35,000 securities globally, sent us, yesterday, their post-Fed analysis. According to them, “during the first week after the Fed’s 50 bps hike markets broadly headed lower.”

“In fact, 1 in 5 times the drop reached more than 5%.”

Graphic: Via Toggle.

The firm’s CEO and founder – Jan Szilagyi – said, in response to the market action that “market bulls should root for stocks to go down first.”

That’s actually a powerful statement. For markets to break (rally), they sometimes need to rally (break). Said another way, at times the market is stretched. Sellers (buyers) are either too short (or too long), if we will.

In order to trade lower, for instance, that short inventory (which in and of itself is a support mechanism as it is a bunch of buy orders sitting at lower prices) must be cleared (i.e., covered).

After that support is removed, the market can succumb to whatever fundamental weaknesses it was trying to price in. 

In this case, “the incremental effects on liquidity (QE/QT),” as Karsan says.

Moreover, what’s interesting, and this is something others have picked up on, is the difference between the level of volatility that is realized and implied by activity in the derivatives market.

Another time we saw such divergences was during the 2020 Coronacrisis sell-off.

Graphic: Via @HalfersPower. On March 2, 2020, “VIX-30 day realized vol go from 99 percentile yesterday to inverted and 9 percentile today lol. (left vs. right).

Let’s unpack. So, the Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX), as described by Cboe Global Markets Inc (BATS: CBOE), is a “constant, 30-day expected volatility of the U.S. stock market, derived from real-time, mid-quote prices of S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX) call and put options.”

Essentially, to make it simple, VIX is the equity market’s pricing of risk or insurance and it has a strong inverse relationship with the SPX. If SPX is lower, the VIX higher, basically.

Then, just as we have metrics to measure the change in an option’s sensitivity to the underlying direction (delta) or gamma, we have the sensitivity of an option to changes in volatility (vega) or volga.

Volga has different names. Vomma. The convexity of vega (i.e., change in vega based on change in volatility implied by market participants’ activity). The volatility of volatility. And so on.

The volatility of volatility can naively be measured through the Cboe VVIX Index (INDEX: VVIX) which, according to Cboe, “represents a volatility of volatility in the sense that it measures the expected volatility of the 30-day forward price of VIX.”

Historically, the gauge has a mean somewhere beneath 100 and a high correlation with the VIX at times of heightened stress (e.g., Coronacrisis).

Graphic: The VVIX via Physik Invest.

What’s going on is there is really negative sentiment and emotion, both of which are playing into market weaknesses and realized volatility. However, that realized volatility is not priced in.

In other words, the volatility of volatility – VVIX – is low relative to the volatility realized (and implied) and that, as I take it, essentially means that the market is not pricing up protection.

Graphic: Via The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial. “Trotting out the good old VVIX/VIX (trader heuristic) to compare SPX skew to VIX Vol. Negative sentiment but lack of fear continues.”

Why does this matter? Well, when you think there is to be an outsized move, relative to what is priced, you buy options (positive exposure to gamma) so that you may have gains that are potentially amplified in case of directional movement.

You also buy can buy options for positive exposure to volga. This is so that you may have gains that are potentially amplified in case of movement (repricing) in implied volatility.

Graphic: Via @Alpha_Ex_LLC. “Here’s 10-day realized vs VVIX on a scatter. The ‘white star’ is 40 realized but only 117 VVIX. When realized this high, VVIX typically closer to 150.”

With back-to-back daily price changes sometimes in excess of 2%, this essentially suggests to us the potential for the pricing of equity market risk to “catch up.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. The realized volatility for the SPX versus the VIX.

Per SpotGamma, much of this has to do with market participants being “well-hedged.”

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

The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial, who felt that the liquidation was likely large desks de-risking their book, explains, well, too: 

“Vol is mainly used as a source of hedging. We are coming off of a big FOMC meeting where vol was slightly elevated. Think about this for a second, although SPX had a nasty day today, we are still right where we were at Tuesday… what does that tell you?”

“That means there wasn’t really a NEED to rehedge that same exposure. Volatility didn’t compress much after FOMC and when the market gave it all back it brought us right back to where we started. Put yourself in the shoes of an institution.”

Graphic: SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options Indicator (HIRO) for SPY shows light put selling and call buying. Participants are (likely) hedged and are not demanding protection in size amid lower prices.

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

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. Updated April 27, 2022.

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

So, what do you do with this information? The idea is that volatility implied may reprice to reflect what is realized. In such a case, you’d want positive exposure to volga (i.e., don’t sell volatility).

This is more of a view on volatility rather than direction, at this juncture.

Directionally speaking, the returns distribution is skewed positive. This is from an overlay of proxies for buying and naive gamma exposure.

Here’s one model using similar data we often look at in this letter.

Graphic: Via nextSignals. “When SPX and [gamma exposure] nosedive after an extended selloff while dark pools’ buying sharply diverges to the upside … buy the S&P 500.”

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,148.25 high volume area (HVNode) puts in play the $4,184.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the $4,184.25 HVNode could reach as high as the $4,212.25 micro composite point of control (MCPOC) and $4,303.00 weak high (obvious breakout level), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,148.25 HVNode puts in play the $4,099.25 regular trade low (RTH Low). Initiative trade beyond the RTH Low could reach as low as the $4,055.75 low volume area (LVNode) and $3,978.50 LVNode, or lower.

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

Definitions

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

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

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

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

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

About

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

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

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

Disclaimer

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

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For May 4, 2022

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

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures were quiet, auctioning sideways-to-higher, ahead of updates on monetary policies.

A check on some naive measures suggests we’re in for an expansion of range (i.e., heightened realized volatility) in the coming session(s). Key, today, are Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) updates (2:00 PM ET) and a news conference (2:30 PM ET). 

The expectation is a 50 basis point hike and balance sheet contraction with run-off caps of $95 billion. If the action is in line with expectations (priced in), the reaction is likely to be positive.

Today’s economic calendar includes, also, a release of the Automatic Data Processing Inc’s (NASDAQ: ADP) employment report (8:15 AM ET), international trade balance (8:30 AM ET), S&P Global Inc’s (NYSE: SPGI) U.S. services PMI (9:45 AM ET), and the ISM services index (10:00 AM ET). 

Graphic updated 7:00 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: Expected is front-loaded tightening, by the Federal Reserve (Fed), today.

The consensus is anchored around a 50 basis-point hike in May and no adjustments to the Reverse Repo Rate (RRP) or Interest on Reserve Balances (IORB), says Nordea Bank (OTC: NRDBY) research. The Fed may opt, also, to initiate a 75 basis-point hike in June.

“We believe that after the FOMC hikes by a half-point in May and presents a detailed plan to reduce the Fed balance sheet,” imminently, says Anna Wong, Yelena Shulyatyeva, Andrew Husby, and Eliza Winger of Bloomberg. 

“Powell will avoid definitive guidance about the size of future hikes, as policymakers assess how the runoff is affecting the economy in coming months.”

Graphic: Via Nordea research. Heightened inflation, exacerbated by sticky supply pressures and the conflict in Ukraine, and trends in demand have played into a tough talk on monetary policies.

As noted before, the key (risk) is the statements on the Fed’s balance sheet and the (imminent) process to shrink it through quantitative tightening (QT).

Graphic: Via Mish Talk. “The Fed expanded QE aggressively for years. But nearly all of that expansion was longer-dated securities as the [] chart shows. If the Fed had short-term securities it could reduce its balance sheet simply by runoff. Instead, the Fed will aggressively have to sell securities, especially MBS, if it really wants to reduce its balance sheet as quickly as it has implied.

Per Nordea, QT is likely to consist of a 3-month phase-in period and run-off caps of $95 billion (i.e., $60 billion on U.S. Treasuries [USTs] and $35 billion in mortgage-backed securities [MBSs]), effectively lowering the Fed’s balance sheet by $670 billion by year-end.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc (NYSE: MUFG) U.S. Macro Strategy.

This is alongside the realization that “1Q may be the last good quarter of earnings as higher costs and increased recession risks weigh on future growth,” Morgan Stanley’s (NYSE: MS) Mike Wilson explains.

Graphic: Via Royal Bank of Canada (NYSE: RY) U.S. Equity Strategy and Bloomberg.

Market weakness in the past weeks was the result of “growing evidence that growth is slowing faster than most investors believe,” Wilson adds, and “the market is currently so oversold, any good news [such as Fed action being as expected] could lead to a vicious bear market rally.”

“We can’t rule anything out in the short term but we want to make it clear this bear market is far from complete.”

Positioning: Borrowing from yesterday’s letter, as little has changed, bets on the direction are concentrated in negative delta (long puts, short calls). The exposure is short-dated and highly sensitive to changes in implied volatility and direction.

Graphic: SqueezeMetrics on “how IV, direction, and moneyness cause option dealers to buy or sell the underlying.”

This exposure’s roll-off and compression in volatility ought to coincide with liquidity provider support to markets (i.e., relief of pressure from hedges to concentrated options positioning).

Per Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, on a Fed day, “the first move tends to be structural. A function of the inevitable rebalancing of dealer inventory post-event. The second move and final resolution, if you wait for it, is usually tied to the incremental effects on liquidity (QE/QT).”

Validation of the latter (move) ought to be confirmed by participants’ new concentration of bets. In other words, if participants start to concentrate their bets at higher prices, further out in time, that confirms (changing sentiment) and (improves) the odds of sustained follow-through.

If not, it’s likely that prices, after a short-term relief, will succumb to fundamental weaknesses.

Technical: As of 7:00 AM ET, Wednesday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, will likely open in the upper part of a balanced overnight inventory, just inside of prior-range and -value, suggesting a limited potential for immediate directional opportunity.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,157.00 untested point of control (VPOC) puts in play the $4,195.50 regular trade high (RTH High). Initiative trade beyond the RTH High could reach as high as the $4,247.00 VPOC and $4,279.75 overnight high (ONH), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,157.00 VPOC puts in play the $4,123.00 VPOC. Initiative trade beyond the $4,123.00 VPOC could reach as low as the $4,055.75 and $3,978.50 low volume areas (LVNodes), or lower.

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

What People Are Saying

Definitions

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

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

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

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

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

About

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

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

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

Disclaimer

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

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For May 2, 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 off of Friday’s regular trade lows. Yields, the dollar, and implied volatility metrics were bid.

There were no changes in the newsflow’s tone this weekend; investors remain concerned over the implications of monetary policy shifts and inflation, as well as war, COVID, and the supply pressures associated.

Ahead is data on S&P Global Inc’s (NYSE: SPGI) U.S. manufacturing PMI (9:45 AM ET), as well as the ISM manufacturing index and construction spending (10:00 AM ET).

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

What To Expect

Fundamental: The indexes continue to hold well in the context of severe weaknesses under the hood, so to speak, especially in the high-flying technology and growth of 2020-2021.

Stocks like Zoom Video Communications (NASDAQ: ZM) and Netflix Inc (NASDAQ: NFLX), the beneficiaries of the work-from-home trends, have de-rated substantially since the start of 2022.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

In spite of earnings growth (~10% for S&P 500 companies that have reported, per Bloomberg), “the reaction to earnings surprises in April was asymmetric,” and a display of “the outsized role played by outliers.” 

For context, “Mega-cap growth (MCG) & Tech earnings are missing by -6.0% at the aggregate level [while] the median company [is] beating by 5.7%.”

This is as inflation, among other factors, continues to bite into the “over-optimistic multiples driven by the assumption that pandemic-era performance could continue in perpetuity.”

Per Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC), the S&P’s current P/E is way too high, given the current CPI.

Graphic: Via Bank of America Corporation. Taken from Bloomberg. “It’s straightforward common sense that higher inflation would lead to paying a lower multiple of earnings because you expect future earnings to be eaten into by inflation. And common sense is borne out empirically; all else equal, higher inflation does indeed tend to mean lower earnings multiples.”

Notwithstanding, trimming outliers, inflation may have peaked and that is a positive for those equity investors who think “inflation is high, but they’re confident that it’s transitory,” therefore current valuations are just.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

Per @ConvexityMaven, recession chatter is unwarranted. The economy is expanding and the only worry investors should have is “if the Fed cannot chill nominal GDP.”

That means “rates are going north” and, according to Bank of America Corporation’s Michael Hartnett, “asset prices must reset lower.”

Some investors, like the Japanese, have heeded this message and are offloading billions in Treasuries in anticipation of more attractive levels and “stabilization in long-dated yields.”

Perspectives: Some, including Credit Suisse Group AG’s (NYSE: CS) Zoltan Pozsar, believe market participants are in for a world of [much more] hurt as “central banks can only deal with nominal, not real chokepoints.”

“Banks’ stock buybacks are lowering SLRs as we speak, and the Fed is about to embark on QT, and these nominal balance sheet and liquidity trends, will at some point clash with the realities of a garden variety of supply chain issues,” as a result of geopolitical chokepoints.

Graphic: Per Bloomberg, “[E]very $1 trillion of QT will equate to a decline of roughly 10% in stocks over the next 12 months or so.”

Given Pozsar’s findings, “The Fed will do QE again by summer 2023.”

Positioning: Recall that the indexes are trading relatively strong, in comparison to constituents, especially those that are smaller technology and growth companies.

Essentially, “we’re two-thirds of the way through a dot-com type collapse,” explains Simplify Asset Management’s Mike Green.

“It’s just happened underneath the surface of the indices which is [that] … dynamic of passive flows supporting the largest stocks within the index, whereas the smaller stocks can be influenced to a greater extent by the behavior of discretionary managers.”

This liquidity supply, apart from passive flows, stems from index-level hedging pressures, also.

Here’s why, as borrowed from our April 27, 2022 commentary.

Participants are well-hedged and use weakness as an opportunity to buy into a less highly valued broader market.

Well-hedged means that customers (i.e., you and I) own protection against long equity exposure. So, that could mean customers own puts and/or are short calls. One of the most dominant flows is the long put, short call.

Such trade offers customers positive, yet asymmetric (gamma), exposure to direction (delta). In other words, negative delta and positive gamma. 

The counterparty has exposure to positive delta and negative gamma. If the underlyings trade lower and volatility rises, all else equal, the position will lose. To hedge against these losses, the counterparties will sell underlying into weakness.

If prices reverse and move higher, these counterparties will re-hedge and buy underlying.

Normally, as seen over the bull run of 2020 and 2021, markets are in an uptrend and there’s a strong supply of volatility. Often, customers sell more calls than puts and, in an uptrend, those calls solicit more active hedging than the put options.

Recall that the customer is short the call. That means the counterparty is long the call (a positive delta and gamma trade) and will make money if prices rise, all else equal. 

The hedging of this particular exposure (i.e., sell strength, buy weakness), in an uptrend, occurs slower (i.e., counterparts will allow their profits to run), and that’s what can help the market sustain lower volatility trends for longer periods.

When prices reverse and underlyings trade lower, put options solicit increased hedging activity. Given the nature of counterparty exposure to those puts, that hedging happens quickly and can take from market liquidity as to volatility (i.e., buy strength, sell weakness).

Graphic: Via SqueezeMetrics. Equity move lower solicits increased hedging activity of put options. Counterparties have negative gamma exposure to these puts. Therefore, to hedge, they buy strength and sell weakness, adding to realized volatility. This trend is ongoing.

So, what now?

Participants are most concerned (and hedging against) unforeseen monetary policy action and economic chokepoints like a potential Russian default. 

Investors will get clarity on some of these issues in the coming sessions.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma, the estimated gamma for calls by strike as a positive number and puts as a negative number on the S&P 500 ETF, the SPY. Notice the weight on the put side.

Barring a worst-case scenario, if markets do not perform to the downside (i.e., do not trade lower), those highly-priced (often very short-dated) bets on direction will quickly decay, and hedging flows with respect to time and volatility may bolster sharp rallies.

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

Whether those price rises kick off a sustained reversal depends on what the fundamental situation is, then.

Presently, the largest index constituents are starting to succumb to worsening fundamentals and that will, ultimately, feed into the indexes which are pinned due to passive and hedging flows.

In other words, fundamentals will trump this talk of positioning (i.e., it is only in the short-term does this positioning we’ve talked about have greater implications).

Consideration: The returns distribution, based on implied volatility metrics alone, is skewed positive (though there are some large negative outliers pursuant to The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial recent explanation that despite negative sentiment, “nobody is truly scared” and “Fixed strike vols continue to underperform, along with the lack of concern in the VX term structure”).

Caution.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma, “Put vs Call gamma suggests stretched positioning.”

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,118.75 regular trade low (RTH Low) puts in play the $4,158.25 overnight high (ONH). Initiative trade beyond the ONH could reach as high as the $4,247.00 untested point of control (VPOC) and $4,279.75 ONH, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,118.75 RTH Low puts in play the $4,101.25 overnight low (ONL). Initiative trade beyond the ONL could reach as low as the $4,055.75 low volume area (LVNode) and $3,978.50 low volume area (LVNode), or lower.

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

Considerations: Terribly weak price action, last week, with the S&P 500, Nasdaq 100, and Russell 2000 all flirting with early 2022 lows.

The weaker of the bunch – the Invesco QQQ Trust Series 1 (NASDAQ: QQQ) – just broke a major VWAP anchored from the lows of March 2020. 

That indicator denotes the level at which the average buyer/seller is in.

In other words, it is the fairest price to pay for Nasdaq 100 exposure (since March 2020) and, instead of being construed as a so-called demand zone, the level ought to be looked at as overhead supply on tests, higher. Caution.

Graphic: Invesco QQQ Trust Series 1 (NASDAQ: QQQ) with anchored VWAPs.

Definitions

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

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

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

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

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

About

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

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

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

Disclaimer

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

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For April 25, 2022

Editor’s Note: Wow, what a month! Looks like there was a ton of volatility we weren’t able to navigate together.

I’m back now and will be making changes to both the quantity and quality of notes sent. In total transparency, I took on way too much work, and quality suffered a tad. I look forward to making things a bit more sustainable and am grateful for your interest in remaining a subscriber.

Interested in getting this free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 200+ that read this report daily, below, today!

What Happened

Overnight, the equity index and most commodity futures explored lower. Bonds and implied volatility metrics were bid.

This is alongside news that China’s reaction to a local COVID-19 outbreak may feed into global slowdowns just as supply pressures, among other things, are pushing the Federal Reserve (Fed) to adopt a more hawkish policy stance.

Notable is the pace at which China’s yuan is falling. 

Per TD Securities, it suggests “the PBOC is utilizing the yuan as another tool to provide stimulus to the economy at a time when they are showing restraint on the monetary policy front.” 

Ahead, there are no important economic events scheduled. See who is reporting earnings, here.

Graphic updated 7:30 AM ET. Sentiment Risk-Off if expected /ES open is below the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. SHIFT data used for S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options activity. Note that options flow is sorted by the call premium spent; if more positive, then more was spent on call options. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. VIX reflects a current reading of the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) from 0-100.

What To Expect

Fundamental: A push-and-pull, continues.

At a high level, it was surmised that many of the responses to geopolitical tension and inflation were priced in. The economy, since early pandemic disruptions, has strengthened and the need for ultra-accommodative policies is no more.

Graphic: Via S&P Global Inc (NYSE: SPGI).

That means low rates and quantitative easing (QE) – easy money so to speak – are on the way out, at least for the time being.

Recall that QE is a policy to expand the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet “to provide monetary accommodation, typically when interest rates are at a zero-lower bound (when nominal interest rates are at, or near, zero),” as JH Investment Management explains.

With QT, central banks remove assets (e.g., government bonds they bought from the private sector) from their balance sheet “either through the sale of assets they had purchased or deciding against reinvesting the principal sum of maturing securities.”

With that, we note that when bonds rise in value, their yields decline; “when the Fed embarks on bond-buying program[s] to support the U.S. economy, … [it nudges] the prices of these assets higher while pushing yields lower, which also has the effect of driving yield-hungry investors into relatively riskier asset categories that promise high returns.”

Graphic: Via ICI. Taken from The Market Ear.

As a result, participants’ demand for risk assets prompts their divergence from fundamentals. As liquidity is removed and funding costs increase, this may prompt risk assets to converge with fundamentals.

This is because, for investors to take on additional risk for return, they must receive in excess of the risk-free rate (as provided by the Treasury). This excess is the risk premium.

Previously, as the Damped Spring’s Andy Constan had previously commented, “[a]dditional risk premium expansion pressures from these levels is not likely.”

“However, if, in the unlikely event, details of QT do emerge suggesting a start of QT before June and at a greater size than expected, we would no longer be willing to hold [risk] assets as that would cause an end to any risk premium contraction possibilities.”

Well, that’s what happened in early April when Fed members said their debt holdings would be reduced “at a rapid pace” as soon as May, as well as hike rates, faster. 

“Given that the recovery has been considerably stronger and faster than in the previous cycle, I expect the balance sheet to shrink considerably more rapidly than in the previous recovery,” the Fed’s Lael Brainard said

The Fed may even raise “caps” on the pace of QT.

Graphic: Via The Market Ear. Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS) sees the balance sheet shrinking “to an equilibrium size of just over $6tn by early- or mid-2025, though there is substantial uncertainty about its terminal size.”

Per CME Group Inc’s (NASDAQ: CME) FedWatch Tool, market participants are pricing a near-100% probability that the Fed will move the target rate to 75-100 bps (+50 or +75 bps).

Graphic: Via CME Group Inc. FedWatch Tool suggests a near-100% chance of a Fed hike that moves the target rate between 75 and 100 bps.

At a high-level, rates hikes take time to flow through to the economy while “QT is a direct flow of capital to capital markets or flow out of,” according to statements by Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan. 

“An increase in the pace of tightening of QT should mean lower stocks, wider credit spreads and a slight reduction in the need for front-end hikes,” explains Kevin Muir of the MacroTourist.

“Using the balance sheet as a tightening tool represents a large change in the Fed’s attitude, and IS NOT priced into the market.”

Graphic: Bloomberg. “Everyone bearish, but redemptions just starting,” said BofA strategists led by Michael Hartnett, adding that the environment of “extreme inflation” and rates shock is just setting in, as the Federal Reserve tightens monetary policy. “75 basis points is the new 25 basis points,” Hartnett said, referring to the scope of future interest-rate hikes.

As an aside, adding to earlier comments on the yuan’s fall, Bob Parker, a senior adviser at Credit Suisse Group AG (NYSE: CS) explains that “When Chinese investors lose confidence in their own economy/markets, capital outflows from China accelerate, … [and] this, then, leads to a central bank which has to prop up the currency by selling some of the country’s huge reserve piles.” 

“Part of their reserves will have been/are in U.S. equities so as the reserves fall, they are natural sellers of the S&P.”

Graphic: Via Refinitiv. Taken from The Market Ear. CNH versus SPX.

Positioning: In a comparison of options positioning and passive buying support, the returns distribution is skewed positive and points to building support for a potential short-term bounce.

Graphic: Via Physik Invest. Data via SqueezeMetrics.

The most recent liquidation resulted in participants reaching for protection and this exacerbated movement to the downside amidst the reflexive hedging.

As this short-dated exposure decays, the counterparts’ hedges are to be tapered and this may assist in the market hammering out a bottom or rallying. 

On the contrary, however, as SpotGamma explained in a recent note, “[t]op of mind as we head into new trade on Monday is the likelihood traders will not aggressively sell volatility (i.e., if they sell volatility -> that drives volatility lower -> resulting in hedging flows that support the market) until the FOMC (5/4) and/or some resolution on the geopolitical front.”

“Therefore, [] expect larger trading ranges this upcoming week.”

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, outside of prior-range and -value, suggesting a potential for immediate directional opportunity.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,247.75 regular trade low (RTH Low) puts in play the $4,274.50 spike base. Initiative trade beyond the spike base could reach as high as the $4,314.75 high volume area (HVNode) and $4,337.00 untested point of control (VPOC), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,247.75 RTH Low puts in play the $4,227.75 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the $4,227.75 HVNode could reach as low as the $4,177.25 HVNode and $4,129.50 overnight low (ONL), or lower.

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

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

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

What People Are Saying

Definitions

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

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

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

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

About

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

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

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

Disclaimer

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

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For March 29, 2022

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

What Happened

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

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

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

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

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

What To Expect

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Graphic: Via Physik Invest. Data via SqueezeMetrics.

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

Graphic: Via Physik Invest. Data via SqueezeMetrics.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Definitions

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

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

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

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

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

About

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

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

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

Disclaimer

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

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For March 22, 2022

Editor’s Note: 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 were sideways to higher, and this validates higher prices, more. 

This is as implied volatility metrics – such as the Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) – continue to suggest less demand for protection and a potential easing of concern.

As discussed in detail, yesterday, participants are not committing themselves to increased call option (i.e., insurance for shorts or bets on the upside) exposures, a dynamic usually seen at the start of sustained reversals. 

Given this, as well as institutional selling in spite of underinvestment (watch a chat), and the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) commitment to reining in inflation via “aggressive” monetary policy (i.e., hike and taper asset purchases) action, there is concern over the sustainability of this rally.

Ahead is Fed-speak. The New York Fed’s John Williams speaks at 10:35 AM ET. San Francisco Fed’s Mary Daly talks at 2:00 PM ET. The Cleveland Fed’s Loretta Mester talks at 5:00 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: Based on remarks by the Fed’s Jerome Powell, quantitative tightening (QT) will move at a pace of $1 trillion a year. This is a faster pace than that of the prior QT.

Read yesterday’s commentary for more on QE and QT.

According to Joseph Wang’s detailed discussion on the implications of QT, the “[a]nticipation of QT is already widening the spread between Agency MBS and Treasuries but does not yet appear to affect Treasury prices.”

“The supply and demand dynamics suggest that the market may simply be slow to react. In that case, Treasury prices will also have to adjust downward, maybe by a lot.”

Pursuant to that remark, Damped Spring’s Andy Constan explains that quantitative easing (QE), “which decreased risk premiums and increased wealth was inflationary to assets but ineffective in generating inflation of goods and services.”

Essentially, QT is not a good tool to fight inflation.

“Raising rates is the strong tool to fight inflation for the Fed and decreasing the budget deficit growth is the tool for Fiscal policymakers; … the [Fed] will do both QT to reduce the balance sheet and hike rates to fight inflation.”

Moreover, higher bond yields (lower bond prices) are usually not good for stocks. The question is whether participants want to take on the added risk of investing at high valuations?

Graphic: Via S&P Global Inc (NYSE: SPGI). Markets tend not, necessarily, to perform poorly during rising interest rate environments. 

The QT narrative amplifies the impact of rate hikes

Lisa Shalett, CIO at Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) Wealth Management, discussed recently QT at $80 billion per month (and $500 billion in balance sheet reduction through year-end), as well as how the added risks are to be compensated through lower price-to-earnings multiples in the stock market.

“In tightening terms, that’s the equivalent of another 25-basis-point hike,” Shalett explained. “In contrast, balance sheet run-off totaled $700 billion from 2017 through 2019 before the Fed stopped because markets seized and stocks sold off.”

Graphic: Via Index Indicators. Breadth, here, is measured by the % of SPX stocks above the 50-day average.

Positioning: As discussed before, a feature of falling markets is the demand for protection. 

When this protection is monetized (or decay ensues), options counterparties add to the market liquidity (i.e., buying back short futures hedges).

Graphic: Via CME Group Inc (NYSE: CME). Book depth thickens since early March swing low.

A feature of markets entering a sustainable recovery is the demand for call options.

Based on metrics published by SpotGamma, call-buying was near its lows.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. “Plots show the premium per trade aggregated each week, with calls in blue and puts in orange. This is only customer flow (i.e. retail, hedge funds). Starting with equities, call buying this past week was at LOWS going back to 2020 (top right).”

Looking at intraday measures, yesterday, we see that participants’ commitment to a change in direction remains low, still.

Graphic: SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options trade. The rising blue line denotes put selling (a positive delta impact). The falling orange line denotes call selling (a negative delta impact).

It’s possible that the bottoming process has yet to conclude. Instead, a build of positive options gamma (via the supply of protection – call selling – and more active hedging of call options near the money) may give the market some support.

To explain, in accordance with the HIRO graphic above, we surmise counterparties are long calls and therefore tend toward selling into strength (buying into weakness) amid increasing (decreasing) positive delta exposure.

As short-dated activity clusters in the area just north of the most recent price rise, and this protection decays, dealer exposure to positive delta (gamma) falls (rises).”

“Taken together, dealers add to the market liquidity. When there is rising liquidity, volatility (a measure of how ample liquidity is) falls,” SpotGamma adds. 

“Was the SPX to liquidate, again, demand for protection and increases in volatility likely have us targeting options-based support.”

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. Key levels of interest.

In other words, based on the information we have at the moment, the market is prone to sharp drops lower, and the rally is questionable. Caution.

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,464.75 low volume area (LVNode) puts in play the $4,499.00 untested point of control (VPOC). Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as high as the $4,526.25 high volume area (HVNode) and $4,565.00 VPOC, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,464.75 LVNode puts in play the $4,438.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as low as the $4,409.00 and $4,355.00 VPOC, or lower.

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

Such traders often lack the wherewithal to defend retests and, additionally, the type of trade may be indicative of the other time frame participants waiting for more information to initiate trades.

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

Definitions

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

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

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

Liquidation Breaks: The profile shape suggests participants were “too” long and had poor location.

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.

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

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

Disclaimer

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

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For March 21, 2022

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

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures auctioned sideways to lower with commodities and bonds.

There are no overnight fundamental catalysts to make note of. However, it bears mentioning that implied volatility metrics – via the Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) – are back to levels seen before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. One may conclude that concerns are easing.

Ahead is data on the Chicago Fed national activity index (8:30 AM ET) and Fed-speak by Chair Jerome Powell (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: In spite of uncertainties with respect to economic growth and the implications of tighter monetary policy to rein in inflation, as well as geopolitical conflicts abroad, the pricing of equity market risk – via the VIX – is back at levels before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

That leads us to question whether the de-rate (or pricing in of uncertainties) has played out? 

Potentially. With greater clarity on the Federal Reserve’s commitment to raising borrowing costs (as discussed March 17 in detail), strategists like JPMorgan Chase & Co’s (NYSE: JPM) Marko Kolanovic suggest it is time to add risk in beaten-down, high-beta positions

“While the commodity supercycle will persist,” Kolanovic said, “the correction in bubble sectors is now likely finished, and geopolitical risk will likely start abating in a few weeks’ time (while a comprehensive resolution may take a few months).”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “Officials on the Federal Open Market Committee voted 8-1 [] to lift the target range for their main policy rate to 0.25%-0.5% and forecast a sequence of increases that would raise it to 1.75%-2% by year-end. The projections, known as the dot plot, also showed that almost half of the 16 current policymakers wanted to move faster.”

Complicating Kolanovic’s outlook is uncertainty with respect to the Fed’s decision to hike and taper asset purchases faster, as some Fed members say they are “very open to.”

At a high level, higher rates make borrowing more costly (i.e., higher rates on mortgages and business loans, as well as credit cards, among other things, disincentivize borrowing, and this funnels into less growth and inflation).

These higher rates compound the challenges of limited supply, for instance, in housing.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “The slide in sales reflects a market still constrained by a lack of inventory, which in February was the second-lowest on record. Buyers are bidding up prices on the few homes available. Meantime, affordability is showing signs of worsening, especially among first-time buyers … [which] accounted for 29% of sales last month, down from 31% a year earlier. [A]t current rates, monthly mortgage payments are up 28% from February last year.”

There’s also the topic of using quantitative tightening (QT) to fight inflation, too. 

Recall that quantitative easing (QE) is a policy to expand the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet “to provide monetary accommodation, typically when interest rates are at a zero-lower bound (when nominal interest rates are at, or near, zero),” as JH Investment Management explains.

With QT, central banks remove assets (e.g., government bonds they bought from the private sector) from their balance sheet “either through the sale of assets they had purchased or deciding against reinvesting the principal sum of maturing securities.”

With that, we note that when bonds rise in value, their yields decline; “when the Fed embarks on bond-buying program[s] to support the U.S. economy, … [it nudges] the prices of these assets higher while pushing yields lower, which also has the effect of driving yield-hungry investors into relatively riskier asset categories that promise high returns.”

As a result, participants’ demand for risk assets prompts their divergence from fundamentals. As liquidity is removed and funding costs increase, this may prompt risk assets to converge with fundamentals.

This is as, for investors to take on additional risk for return, they must receive in excess of the risk-free rate (as provided by the Treasury). This excess is the risk premium.

At present, according to commentary by Damped Spring’s Andy Constan, “Additional risk premium expansion pressures from these levels is not likely from news emanating from” Fed meetings.

“However, if, in the unlikely event, details of QT do emerge suggesting a start of QT before June and at a greater size than expected, we would no longer be willing to hold [risk] assets as that would cause an end to any risk premium contraction possibilities.”

Positioning: According to Morgan Stanley’s (NYSE: MS) trade desk, institutions (e.g., volatility targeting funds and trend following commodity-trading advisers) dumped nearly $200 billion in global equities over the first two months of 2022. 

Hedge funds’ net leverage, too, “fell 7.5 percentage points over the two weeks through March 11, the largest decrease over any comparable period since at least January 2016,” according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS). 

“Institutional traders, major money managers, asset managers, and hedge funds, their moves have to do with the current market conditions — a lot of volatility, a lot of uncertainty, inflation concerns, geopolitical concerns,” says Bloomberg’s Jackson Gutenplan. 

“As the market continues to downtrend, institutions selling out of positions are overwhelming any retail buying pressure.”

Given this, as mentioned in the prior fundamentals section, strategists like JPM’s Kolanovic suggest these are some of the reasons to boost risk. 

“Current risk positioning is very light. This is a result of high and persistent volatility, and risk aversion caused by global geopolitical developments,” Kolanovic says. “And for this reason, risks are skewed to the upside.”

And so, alongside the buying of futures and stock to offset the decay of counterparty positive delta (post-FOMC and through OPEX), retail investor buying remained undeterred last week.

But, as Zephyr’s Ryan Nauman says, “even though retail has gained a lot of momentum over the past two years, institutional money still outweighs the retail money, and it’s still going to move markets.”

Graphic: Via TD Ameritrade. Taken from Bloomberg. “There’s a little bit of what I think is a retrenchment going on, where they weren’t just buying everything across the board,” Shawn Cruz, senior market strategist at TD Ameritrade Inc said. “As much as there is some pulling back, and there’s a lot of volatility going on, you’re seeing some selling in the more highly valued areas and the buying is very targeted.”

That is in the face of lackluster options activity. According to SpotGamma, call-buying, a feature of sustained bull markets “was at lows going back to 2020,” last week. 

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. “Here’s options data from the OCC. These plots show the premium per trade aggregated each week, with calls in blue and puts in orange. This is only customer flow (i.e. retail, hedge funds). Starting with equities, call buying this past week was at LOWS going back to ’20 (top right).”

Maybe you get to an extreme bearishness, and that’s usually where you bottom out,” adds Liz Young of SoFi Technologies Inc (NASDAQ: SOFI) in a statement on mom-and-pop investors eventually following institutional selling trends.

As this commentary has said before, a way to participate in the upside (while lowering debit risk) is through complex options structures, such as the ratio spread. Note, ratio spreads may carry margin risk, depending on the structure, resulting in undefined losses, potentially.

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

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,438.25 high volume area (HVNode) puts in play the $4,466.00 regular trade high (RTH High). Initiative trade beyond the RTH High could reach as high as the $4,499.00 untested point of control (VPOC) and $4,526.25 HVNode, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,438.25 HVNode puts in play the $4,409.00 VPOC. Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as low as the $4,395.25 HVNode and $4,355.00 VPOC, or lower.

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

Such traders often lack the wherewithal to defend retests and, additionally, the type of trade may be indicative of the other time frame participants waiting for more information to initiate trades.

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

Definitions

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

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

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

About

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

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

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

Disclaimer

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

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For February 28, 2022

Editor’s Note: 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 in light of an escalation of geopolitical tensions between Russia, Ukraine, and the rest of the world.

Western powers imposed harsh sanctions including the exclusion of some Russian lenders from the SWIFT messaging system “that underpins trillions of dollars worth of transactions,” globally.

As the Russian ruble lost ⅓ of its value and costs of insuring Russian government debt rose, the Bank of Russia (BoR) doubled its key interest rate to 20% and imposed some capital controls to take from the risk of a potential run on banks. Policymakers also banned foreign security sales.

The odds of an aggressive lift-off in interest rates by the Federal Reserve declined, accordingly. The market is now pricing in under six hikes for 2022 as crisis opens room for policy mistakes.

Ahead is data on trade in goods (8:30 AM ET), Chicago PMI (9:45 AM ET), and Fed-speak by Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic (10:30 AM ET).

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

What To Expect

Fundamental: As of February 27, 2022, there are reports that with its invasion of Ukraine, “Moscow was frustrated by the slow progress caused by an unexpectedly strong Ukrainian defense and failure to achieve complete air dominance.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg, locations of Russian controls and attacks.

At present, Russia has only committed 50% of its available firepower to the war and solicited the involvement of neighboring allies. Still, even at 50%, it’s rough.

Russian markets, to put it simply, are in turmoil as a result of this conflict. Its policymakers, to stem the bleed, have banned foreigners from selling assets.

Graphic: Via Topdown Charts, Russian assets are imploding.

Accordingly, sentiment is as bad as it was in 2020, 2016, the period spanning 2008-2009, as well as the period just after the topping of the tech-and-telecom bubble. 

Graphic: Via Topdown Charts, “sentiment basically as bad as the COVID crash.”

In light of the world’s response to this conflict, Russia, too, has heightened its nuclear readiness.

Moreover, over the weekend, Credit Suisse Group AG’s (NYSE: CS) Zoltan Pozsar, in gauging the implications of conflict and sanctions, explained that excluding Russia from SWIFT may lead to missed payments and overdrafts similar to that experienced during March of 2020.

“Banks’ inability to make payments due to their exclusion from SWIFT is the same as Lehman’s inability to make payments due to its clearing bank’s unwillingness to send payments on its behalf,” he noted.

“The consequence of excluding banks from SWIFT is real, and so is the need for central banks to re-activate daily U.S. dollar funds supplying operations.”

In light of this, some have advanced a narrative around a potential run on Russian banks.

However, former BoR official Sergey Aleksashenko, in an alarmed yet less pessimistic take on CNBC, suggested a “low likelihood” of a run on the ruble.

Further, in light of the deceleration at home in the U.S., Pozsar concludes that “the Fed’s balance sheet might expand again before it contracts via QT (quantitative tightening).”

Graphic: Alfonso Peccatiello of The Macro Compass. He says “YTD: 2022 hikes priced in up from 3 to 6-7. Curves big-time flatter. Inflation expectations 10 bps lower. Real yields higher 40-50 bps. Credit spreads wider. Cyclical growth impulse fading away. Not a risk-on environment.”

Interactive Brokers Group Inc’s (NASDAQ: IBKR) Chief Strategist Steve Sosnick adds: “The tide of money is still positive, and it should provide a cushion for nervous markets as long as that remains the case. But when we consider that monetary conditions are supposed to be changing, volatility should persist if the monetary tide actually ebbs as expected.”

Perspectives: “​​Geopolitical catastrophes tend to be worse than believed in the short term but less than believed in the long term,” Ophir Gottlieb of Capital Market Laboratories notes

Similarly, JPMorgan Chase & Co’s (NYSE: JPM) head of global equity strategy Mislav Matejka says that “If one is selling on the back of the latest geopolitical developments now, the risk is of getting whipsawed.”

“Historically, [the] vast majority of military conflicts, especially if localized, did not tend to hurt investor confidence for too long, and would end up as buying opportunities.”

Graphic: Via Tier1Alpha. Taken from The Market Ear

Positioning: Strong passive buying support persists in the face of a lower liquidity, negative-gamma, high-volatility regime.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. Taken from The Market Ear.

Adding, in light of the liquidation into last Thursday’s open (after which there was a large reversal), the VIX futures term structure, though in backwardation, was not as steep as in past moments of true panic.

IBKR’s Sosnick explains that “Even though VIX futures [were higher on Thursday morning] across the board and the curve has further steepened, neither the spot level nor the curve are yet demonstrating panic.” 

“I interpret the message of the market to be that we should continue to expect volatility – remember that volatility encompasses moves in both directions – but not to expect that a major bottom was put into place in recent sessions.”

With realized volatility is heightened and implied volatility not performing, so to speak, @darjohn25 explains, try to avoid “any short gamma on all short-dated tenors—you want to own the short term stuff for the foreseeable future.”

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

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

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,285.50 high volume area (HVNode) puts in play the $4,345.75 untested point of control (VPOC). Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as high as the $4,371.00 VPOC and $4,395.25 HVNode, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,285.50 HVNode puts in play the $4,227.75 HVNode and overnight low (ONL) area. Initiative trade beyond the HVNode/ONL could reach as low as the $4,177.25 HVNode and $4,137.00 VPOC, or lower.

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

What People Are Saying

Definitions

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

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

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

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

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.

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

About

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

Capelj 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 24, 2022

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

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures auctioned sideways to lower while measures of implied volatility expanded, which suggests increased fear and demand for protection.

This is in the context of an environment wherein the equity market, in particular, is positioned for heightened volatility, albeit potential strength, after Friday’s large monthly options expiration.

Ahead is data on Markit Manufacturing and Services PMI (9:45 AM ET).

Graphic updated 6:15 AM ET. Sentiment Risk-Off if expected /ES open is below the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. SHIFT data used for S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options activity. Note that options flow is sorted by the call premium spent; if more positive, then more was spent on call options. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. VIX reflects a current reading of the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) from 0-100.

What To Expect

Fundamental: “The ratio of stocks hitting 52-week lows is at the highest since March 2020,” according to The Market Ear

In fact, in the face of a traditionally bullish period, seasonally, this is the worst January on record for the Nasdaq.

Graphic: Per Bloomberg, “Down almost 12% in January, the Nasdaq 100 is on course for its worst month since the 2008 global financial crisis. On any four-day basis, the current streak of 1% drops was the first since 2018.”

This weakness is in the context of months of divergent breadth by lesser weighted index constituents, geopolitical tensions, the prospects of reduced stimulus to combat high inflation, poor responses to earnings results, and disappointments in real demand and growth.

Graphic: @MacroAlf plots credit impulse as a percent of GDP and SPX year-over-year earnings.

The tone amongst retail participants is changing, too, with outflows starting for the first time since a major rush in account openings. When asked whether the selling is over, JPMorgan Chase & Co’s (NYSE: JPM) prime brokerage data suggests no.

This is in opposition to the typical trend into the start of the Federal Reserve (Fed) hiking cycles.

“U.S. equities have stumbled significantly on their way toward the first hike of this cycle, which is not the norm,” Jefferies Financial Group (NYSE: JEF) explained. “Performance tends to be poor immediately after the first hike, and can be worse if stocks are weakly into the first hike.”

Notwithstanding, Jefferies adds, “the SPX was higher in the 12 months that followed the start of each of the last 7 hike cycles.”

Graphic: S&P 500 performance before and after rate hikes.

With some of that context in mind, what is there to look forward to? The corporate buyback blackout window ended after the close of business, Friday, and equity inflows remain robust.

What is there to be wary of? 

Well, given that “risk is being repriced to fit the world where real rates are a lot higher, and the Fed put [is] much lower thanks to the Fed’s need to fight inflation,” this week’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting shall provide market participants more context as to the “timing and pace of QT” which may assuage fears unless the Fed is all out to “drop QE next week itself.”

The odds of that happening are low.

Graphic: Per Bloomberg, “As Savita Subramanian of Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC) shows in the following chart, expected earnings are far less helpful in explaining market outcomes since 2010 than they were before. Meanwhile, changes in the Fed’s balance sheet, the amount of money it’s making available to markets, have become hugely important.”

As Bloomberg’s John Authers puts it well: “Despite many scares, money has stayed plentiful for the last decade, rates have fallen, and anyone who did much to protect themselves against the risk of a decline would have done badly by it.”

Graphic: As Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS) “shows in this chart, companies are becoming ever more profitable in a way that seems to be sustained.”

Positioning: The major broad market indices – the S&P 500, Nasdaq 100, and Russell 2000 – are in an environment characterized by negative gamma and heightened volumes. 

Graphic: Per Tom McClellan, “Persistently high volume late in QQQ is a sign of overly bearish sentiment worthy of a bottom. Key caveat: just because one notices a sentiment indication which should matter does not mean it has to matter right away.”

The negative gamma – in reference to the options counterparties reaction “when a position’s delta falls (rises) with stock or index price rises (falls)” – is what compounds the selling. 

With measures of implied volatility expanding, as is the case when there is heightened demand for downside put protection (a positive-delta trade for the dealers), protection is bid and the dealer’s exposure to positive delta rises, which solicits more selling in the underlying (addition of short-delta hedges).

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).

Moreover, in negative-gamma, dealers are selling weakness and buying strength, taking liquidity. 

That’s destabilizing but it appears that “Friday in the markets did not have abnormal liquidity across S&P500 stocks.”

Graphic: Per @HalfersPower on Twitter, liquidity rankings for S&P 500 components. 

High readings in indicators like the put/call volume ratio, which denotes heightened trade of puts, relative to calls, as well as how calm equity market volatility is relative to rate volatility, could be the result of adequate hedging into the monthly options expiration (OPEX) and this week’s FOMC meeting.

“A very nasty flush out on a key polarized psychological level (S&P 500 $4,500.00) on the highest negative gamma day on an OPEX,” said Kris Sidial of The Ambrus Group on the increased potential for relief as a result of aggressive dip-buying. 

“Aggressive shorts piling in on an already dismantled tech selloff, leading into FOMC meeting after an 8% decline in the market, and Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL) reporting earnings.”

Sidial’s opinion that the market is due for a counter-trend rally, in the face of an environment in which “there does not seem to be a direct hazard,” is aligned with the expectation that removal of put-heavy exposure, post-OPEX, and a reduction in embedded event premiums tied to the approaching FOMC, opens up a window of strength, wherein dealers have less positive delta exposure to sell against.

Technical: As of 6:15 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 balanced skewed overnight inventory, outside of prior-range and -value, suggesting a potential for immediate directional opportunity.

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

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,381.50 regular trade low (RTH Low) puts in play the $4,449.00 untested point of control (VPOC). Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as high as the $4,486.75 RTH High and $4,526.25 high volume area (HVNode), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,381.50 RTH Low puts in play the $4,349.00 VPOC. Initiative trade beyond the $4,349.00 VPOC could reach as low as the $4,299.00 and $4,233.00 VPOC, or lower.

Considerations: The daily, weekly, and monthly charts are in alignment. 

The loss of trend across higher timeframes suggests a clear change in tone. This does not discount the potential for fast, but short-lived counter-trend rallies.

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

Definitions

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

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

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

Options Expiration (OPEX): Traditionally, 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) and the reduction dealer gamma exposure.

About

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

Capelj 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 July 13, 2021

Market Commentary

U.S. equity index futures diverge overnight.

  • Ahead: Inflation, earnings, Fed speak.
  • SPX, RUT, DJI lower. NDX firming up.

What Happened: U.S. stock index futures traded in different directions.

The S&P 500, Russell 2000, and Dow Jones Industrial Average traded relatively weak, in comparison to the technology and growth-focused Nasdaq 100. 

This rotation is likely attributable to technical factors – issuance, short coverings, a fading reflation trade, and peak growth pushing lower Treasury yields – as well as the upcoming monthly options expiration and pre-earnings positioning.

Ahead is data on inflation and earnings with some Fed speak around noon Eastern time. 

Graphic updated 7:20 AM ET.

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

Adding, during the prior day’s regular trade, the best case outcome occurred, evidenced by initiative trade up to the $4,373.00 Fibonacci-derived price target. 

This price exploration comes amidst a divergence. As noted, the Nasdaq 100 is trading relatively strong in comparison to the S&P, Russell, and Dow. The holding pattern is not only attributable to positioning ahead of the monthly options expiration (OPEX), but second-quarter earnings, inflation expectations, and the like. 

Options 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.

“The broad markets are settling back and awaiting U.S. inflation,” said Sebastien Galy, a senior macro strategist at Nordea Investment Funds SA. “We view the environment as one of gestation as earnings come in, before the risk-taking trend starts again, though a higher U.S. inflation print could create a temporary setback.”

That said, the dip in the 10-year Treasury yield is not all too concerning. 

Graphic: S&P 500 performance when 10-year Treasury yield slides via The Market Ear.

Obviously, that’s just one data point. Another consideration is the unwind of certain stimulus measures, like quantitative easing (QE) which shifts the returns distribution right.

Graphic: Impact of QE on S&P 500 returns via The Market Ear

Knowing the above, for today, participants can trade from the following frameworks. 

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades sideways or higher; activity above the $4,365.75 low volume area (LVNode) pivot puts in play the $4,378.75 minimal excess overnight high (ONH). Thereafter, if higher, the $4,398.50 and $4,417.50 Fibonacci price extensions come into play.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below $4,365.75 puts in play the $4,343.25 high volume area (HVNode). Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as low as the $4,314.75 HVNode and $4,291.00 untested Point of Control (POC).

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

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

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

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

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.
Graphic: 65-minute profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.
Graphic: Daily candlestick charts of the S&P 500 (top left), Nasdaq 100 (top right), Russell 2000 (bottom left), and Dow Jones Industrial Average (bottom right).
Graphic: SHIFT search suggests participants were most interested in call strikes at and below the price in the cash-settled S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) and Nasdaq 100 (INDEX: NDX), yesterday. Noting, yesterday and over the past few weeks, there’s been increased activity in long-dated put options. 

News And Analysis

Economy | Yellen sees U.S. companies pushing back global tax deal. (BBG)

Energy | OPEC+ impasse risks price war as demand keeps surging. (REU)

Politics | Biden team mulls digital trade deal to counter China in Asia. (BBG)

Politics | Biden to warn companies of risks of operating in Hong Kong. (FT)

Markets | Boeing cutting 787 production on new structural problems. (REU)

Markets | Goldman dealmakers’ bumper quarter counters trade slump. (BBG)

Markets | JPM fell amid climbing expenses, loan growth expectations. (BBG)

Economy | PBOC said monetary policy unchanged despite RRR cut. (BBG)

FinTech | FTX deal provides institutions new access to crypto market. (BBG)

What People Are Saying

About

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

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

Disclaimer

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