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Hey team – the Daily Brief will be paused until August 29, at least, due to Renato’s travel commitments. Apologies and thank you for the support!
As of 7:20 AM ET, Thursday’s expected volatility, via the Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX), sits at ~1.05%. Net Gamma exposures (generally) rising may promote tighter trading ranges.
As an aside, real quick, in a rising market, characterized by demand for call options, those who are on the other side of options trades, hedge in a manner that may bolster the upside (i.e., the naive theory is that if customers buy calls, then counterparties sell calls + buy stock to hedge).
That said, if IVOL drops, liquidity providers’ out-of-the-money (in-the-money) Delta exposures drop (rise) and, thus, they will sell (buy) underlying hedges which may pressure (support) the advance or play into pinning action, as seen over the past week or so at the $4,300.00 options strike, at which there is a lot of open interest and volume, in the S&P 500.
Read: The Implied Order Book by SqueezeMetrics for a sort-of detailed primer on this.
Given realized (RVOL) and implied (IVOL) volatility measures, as well as skew, it is beneficial to be a buyer of options structures to protect against (potential) downside (e.g., S&P 500 [INDEX: SPX] +1 x -2 Short Ratio Put Spread | 200+ Points Wide | 15-30 DTE | @ $0.00 or better).
This is not to say that call options, which we said could “outperform” their Delta (i.e., exposure to direction) weeks ago, are out of favor (note: this is the case for something such as an SPX, not a Bed Bath & Beyond Inc [NASDAQ: BBBY]).
No! On the contrary, Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS) strategists say “call premiums are attractive.” This is “evidenced by [their] GS-EQMOVE model which estimates 33% probability of a 1-month 5% up-move versus only 13% implied by the options market.”
A quick check of implied volatility skew, which is a plot of the implied volatility levels for options across different strike prices, shows a smile in the shortest of tenors, rather than a usual smirk.
Given this, the options with strike prices above current market prices are seemingly more pricey than those that have more time to expiration. One could think about structuring something like a Short Ratio Call Spread or, even, a Long Call Calendar Spread at or above current prices.
In the latter, any sideways-to-higher movement would allow for that spread to expand for profit.
Context: Participants’ proactive hedging of positive Delta equity exposure, via negative Delta put option exposures, as well as the monetization of those hedges into the decline, resulted in poor performance in IVOL metrics like the Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX).
Therefore, per the Cboe, it’s the case that “since the launch of the VIX Index, the past six-month period has been the weakest for volatility in 29 years, relative to similar [SPX] price moves.”
Accordingly, its structures we thought would work best, given the potential for measured selling, which others thought would carry a lot of risks, such as Short Ratio Put Spreads, that performed best, seen below.
Moreover, it’s the case that after a nearly 20% multi-month run, higher, markets are stretched.
To continue this pace would require, per JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM) strategists, a continued interest in demand for positive Delta exposure via equity or options, lower prints of consumer price data, as well as a dovish Federal Reserve (Fed) inflection.
The former we see now via call option volumes. The latter, not so much as the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) minutes “left the door open to another ‘unusually large’ increase at the next meeting in September,” in spite of a commitment to dial back if the data supported.
Presently, retail sales are steady, and supply pressures, though starting to ease, remain, bolstering inflation which the Fed is ultimately trying to stop from becoming entrenched.
Though there are fundamental contexts we are leaving out (e.g., negative earnings revisions, Chinese retail, industrial output, and investment data missing which prompted an easing, the use of tools like Treasury buybacks to ease disruptions via Fed-action, as well as increasing recession odds), in short, the focus should be on the technicals which actually make us money.
And, presently, on the heels of macro- and volatility-type re-leveraging, per Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE: DB) the technical contexts are bullish.
Keith Lerner, the co-chief investment officer and chief market strategist at Truist Financial Corporation’s (NYSE: TFC) Advisory Services puts it all well:
“Even if the Fed does pivot, they are less likely to support the markets as quickly as they have in the past given the scar tissue left behind as a result of the inflation challenges of the past year… The market rally over the past four weeks has been nothing short of impressive. Such strong buying pressure following indiscriminate selling has historically been a very positive sign for the market, often following important market bottoms. This is a welcome sign. Still, other factors in our work are less supportive. Indeed, markets are not only fighting the Fed, but the most aggressive global monetary tightening cycle in decades.”
Beyond this, from a volatility perspective, we’d look for the VIX to sink below 15 to increase our optimism over a “sustained [and] better-than-typical” rally, per Jefferies Financial Group Inc (NYSE: JEF). Look at this last remark through the lens of participation on the part of traders who employ volatility-targeting strategies, for instance.
As of 7:20 AM ET, Thursday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, is likely to 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.
Any activity above the $4,273.00 VPOC puts into play the $4,294.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as high as the $4,337.00 VPOC and $4,393.75 HVNode, or higher.
In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower.
Any activity below the $4,273.00 VPOC puts into play the $4,253.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as low as the $4,231.00 VPOC and $4,202.75 RTH Low, 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.
Considerations: 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.
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.
Gamma: Gamma is the sensitivity of an option to changes in the underlying price. Dealers that take the other side of options trades hedge their exposure to risk by buying and selling the underlying. When dealers are short-gamma, they hedge by buying into strength and selling into weakness. When dealers are long-gamma, they hedge by selling into strength and buying into weakness. The former exacerbates volatility. The latter calms volatility.
Vanna: The rate at which the delta of an option changes with respect to volatility.
Charm: The rate at which the delta of an option changes with respect to time.
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, ex-Bridgewater Associate Andy Constan, Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial, among many others.
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.