Market Commentary For 3/4/2021

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

What Happened: After Tuesday’s end-of-day spike liquidation, U.S. stock index futures were further sold, during Wednesday’s sessions.

What Does It Mean: Broad market indices are mixed.

On a relative basis, the Nasdaq-100 is weaker, while the S&P 500 and Russell 2000 are stronger. This push-pull dynamic is making it hard for participants to resolve directionally, evidenced by recent volatility.

Based on Wednesday’s action, the S&P 500 and Russell 2000 are in balance, while the Nasdaq-100 is in price-discovery mode, evidenced by a successful break from balance. In other words, the outlook is mixed; one may argue that lower prices in the S&P 500 are likely, given the relative weakness of the Nasdaq.

Adding, there’s one guarantee over the next few sessions: volatility.

Given that the S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 are in short-gamma territory (Graphic 1), option dealers are required to hedge their exposure in a manner that exacerbates volatility. This hedging activity will worsen with the purchase of put options by market participants looking to hedge their downside, which is happening, as evidenced by Graphic 2.

More On Gamma: Gamma is the sensitivity of an option to changes in underlying price. Dealers that take the other side of option trades hedge their exposure to risk by buying and selling the underlying. When dealers are short-gamma, they hedge by buying into strength and selling into weakness. When dealers are long-gamma, they hedge by selling into strength and buying into weakness. The former exacerbates volatility. The latter calms volatility.
Graphic 1: SpotGamma data suggests Nasdaq-100 at or below “Short-Gamma” juncture.
Graphic 2: Option activity for the largest ETFs that track the S&P 500, Nasdaq-100, and Russell 2000.

Important to note is market liquidity, which suggests (1) buying pressure is increasing or (2) sellers are absorbing resting liquidity (which could be opportunistic buying or short covering into weakness).

What To Expect: Thursday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET) will likely open just inside of prior-value and -range, suggesting a limited potential for immediate directional opportunity.

During Wednesday’s trade, the worst case outcome occurred: participants auctioned past Tuesday’s regular trade low, emboldening sellers and starting a new auction, to the downside. The session ended on a spike lower, away from value, with the Nasdaq-100 breaking its week-long balance area, to the downside.

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

More On Balance (Two-Timeframe Or Bracket): Rotational trade that denotes current prices offer favorable entry and exit. Balance-areas make it easy to spot change in the market (i.e., the transition from two-time frame trade, or balance, to one-time frame trade, or trend).

Important to mention is overnight discovery, which established clear excess on the composite profile.

More On 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.

Given the aforementioned dynamics, participants can trade from the following frameworks.

In the best case, the S&P 500 either (1) remains rotational, trading responsively between the $3,785.00 gap boundary and $3,837.75 high-volume area (HVNode), or (2) auctions past the $3,837.75 HVNode.

Thereafter, if higher, attention shifts to whether the S&P 500 can get past the $3,861.25 low-volume area (LVNode). Doing so suggests the most recent downside probe was an auction failure (i.e, participants rejected lower prices, sparking a rapid recovery).

In the worst case, participants auction past the $3,777.75 regular trade low (RTH Low). In such a case participants may target the $3,727.75 and $3,689.50 HVNodes.

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

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

Levels Of Interest: $3,837.75 HVNode, $3,777.75 RTH Low, and $3,727.75 HVNode.


Market Commentary For The Week Ahead: ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go’

Notice: Physik Invest’s daily market commentaries will be suspended for the next five regular trading sessions or February 22-26.

Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience and thank you for the support!

Key Takeaways:

  • Debt, inflation threatening low-rate regime.
  • Markets most complacent in two decades.
  • Sentiment turns hot from hotter amid slide.
  • Global equity fund net inflows decelerated.
  • Markets fret about economic performance.
  • Retail sales and industrial production gain.

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

What Does It Mean: Market participants witnessed a rapid de-risking event, as a result of individual stock volatility, and a subsequent v-pattern recovery, that was later taken back as Friday’s large February monthly options expiration (OPEX) neared.

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

At the same time, bond and equity market volatility diverged, materially. 

In other words, a rapid move up in rates — as investors become increasingly concerned over the value of their bonds due to rising debt levels and inflation — has yet to be priced in as an equity market risk.

Graphic 1: The Market Ear unpacks divergence in volatility across different markets.

Adding, the risk of inflation comes alongside a potential for slowing in economic growth, which may have knock-on effects, such as savers protecting their capital by investing in non-productive assets, thus helping form speculative asset bubbles.

Risk Of Monetary Support: The increased moneyness of financial markets; investors look to exchange-traded products (e.g., S&P 500) as savings vehicles, thereby forcing participants, like the Federal Reserve, to backstop market liquidity, and promote market and economic stability in times of turmoil.
A great paper on the impact of central bank intervention, passive index investing, and asymmetric liquidity provisioning.

Still, as Bloomberg suggests, reasons to not panic include an overreaction by market participants, premature Fed tightening, and a risk asset rout (i.e., rising rates may eventually increase demand for safety assets).

“Typically it’s a good environment for risk assets. Neither the pace nor the extent of the move so far has been unusual relative to other historical moves coming out of a recession,” said Pimco’s Erin Browne. “It would take a significant move in real yields in order to disrupt risk markets broadly.”

Graphic 2: Benchmark 10-year real rate in solidly negative territory.

Moving on, given OPEX, participants have a clue as to why the market failed to resolve directionally over the past week: option expiries mark an end to pinning (i.e, the theory that market makers and institutions short options move stocks to the point where the greatest dollar value of contracts will expire worthless) and the reduction dealer gamma exposure.

Aside from OPEX, we must talk more about the v-pattern recovery and a prior week’s spike exit from balance, as well as low broad market volatility.

In light of the v-pattern, balance, and spike, the S&P 500’s long-term uptrend remains intact. In support of this uptrend, systematic and hedge fund participants are increasing their long-exposure, given the economic recovery, and a drop in volatility.

Beyond that, speculative activity in the options market and measures of market liquidity fail in offering much information.

Graphic 3: Physik Invest maps out the purchase of call and put options in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY), for the week ending February 19, 2021. Activity in the options market was primarily concentrated in short- and long-dated tenors, near the $390, a strike that corresponds with $3,900.00 in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX).

What To Expect: U.S. stock indexes are positioned for directional resolve.

This comes alongside the acceptance of higher prices (inside a prominent high-volume area, or HVNode) and an overnight rally-high at $3,959.25.

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

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

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

What To Do: In the coming sessions, participants will want to pay attention to the VWAP anchored from the $3,959.25 peak and $3,909.25 HVNode.

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 opens and remains above the $3,909.25 volume area.

Additionally, auctioning above the $3,915.00 VWAP would suggest buyers, on average, are in control and winning, since the February 15 rally high.

Auctioning beneath $3,909.25 turns the HVNode, nearby, into an area of supply, offering initiative sellers favorable entry and responsive buyers favorable exit. 

The situation would drastically deteriorate with trade beneath the $3,880.00 HVNode, the last reference before participants find acceptance in an area of low-volume.

In such scenario, future discovery ought to be volatile and quick as participants repair some of the poor structures left in the wake of a prior advance, and look to the next area of high-volume (i.e., $3,830.75) for favorable entry and exit.

Graphic 4: Profile overlays on a 65-minute and 4-hour chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures. See all decision levels of /ES and /NQ here, also.

Conclusions: The go/no-go level for next week’s trade is $3,909.25. 

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

Levels Of Interest: $3,909.25 HVNode.

Photo by Charles Parker from Pexels.


Market Commentary For 2/5/2021

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

What Happened: Ahead of data on employment, alongside the passage of a budget plan to advance $1.9 trillion in COVID aid, U.S. stock index futures rose overnight.

What Does It Mean: Given a v-pattern recovery, U.S. stock indexes are positioned for further upside, as high as the 100% price projection, which happens to be near $4,000.00 in the S&P 500.

This positive price action is happening in the context of bearish undercurrents as evidenced by non-participatory speculative flows, delta (i.e., non-committed buying as measured by volume delta), and a divergence in DIX, a proxy for buying derived from short sales (i.e., liquidity provision on the market making side).

Since price pays, participants ought to discount these undertones and position themselves for further upside discovery.

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

Currently, the S&P 500 is rotating below the $3,884.75 projection, a typical target on a break from balance. Below current price lies Thursday’s $3,855.00 Virgin Point Of Control, or VPOC (i.e., the fairest price to do business in a prior session).

Noting: POCs (like HVNodes described below) 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.

Further below is a the $3,840.25 HVNode. As stated in prior sessions, HVNodes can be thought of as building blocks — they also denote areas of supply and demand. The primary strategy is to respond to probes into these supply (i.e., selling responsively) and demand (i.e., buying responsively) areas as they offer favorable entry and exit.

In the coming session, participants will want to pay attention to Thursday’s end-of-day spike and overnight all-time high (ONH).

Spike’s mark the beginning of a break from value and, in this case, would support the bullish thesis as long as participants, during regular trade, spend time above the spike base ($3,857.75). Adding, there is a low historical probability that overnight rally-highs end the upside discovery process.

For today, the following frameworks ought to be applied.

In the best case, the market will remain above, or find acceptance at (in the form of rotational trade) the $3,857.75 spike base. In the worst case, responsive sellers appear and restart the downside discovery process.

A break above the $3,886.25 ONH, participants may see discovery as high as $3,900.00, a balance-area extension (i.e., another balance-break target). A break below the prior RTH Low ($3,830.25), participants may see prices as low as the $3,799.00 balance-area low.

Levels Of Interest: $3,886.25 ONH, $3,857.75 spike base, $3,830.25 RTH Low.