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Commentary

Market Commentary For The Week Ahead: ‘Fast Moves’

Key Takeaways:

  • U.S. Senate passes a $1.9T relief package.
  • COVID vaccination timeline is sped up.
  • Equities are recipients of $12B in inflows.
  • Treasury yields aren’t at worrisome levels.
  • VIX term structure suggests no real panic.
  • Real GDP growth to be over 6% this year.

What Happened: U.S. stock index futures ended the week mixed.

This came after U.S. non-farm payrolls grew by 379,000, versus a consensus of ~180,000, improvement in sales and manufacturing data, as well as news that COVID-19 coronavirus vaccinations were accelerating.

Dynamics Unpacked: On a relative basis, the Nasdaq-100 is weaker, while the S&P 500, Russell 2000, and Dow Jones Industrial Average are stronger. This push-pull dynamic, in prior sessions, made it hard for participants to resolve directionally, evidenced by volatility.

On Friday, after an attempt by market participants to resolve lower, via a break of consolidation, stock indexes made a vicious rebound.

Why did stock indexes make a sudden reversal? Well, despite indexes being best positioned for sideways or lower trade, technically, near-term downside discovery reached its limit, based on market liquidity metrics and the inventory positioning of participants.

As stated in Friday’s morning commentary, according to SqueezeMetrics, the steepness of the GammaVol (GXV) curve suggested there was more risk to the upside than downside.

More On 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.
Graphic 1: SqueezeMetrics data suggested a near-term turnaround after Thursday’s violent liquidation.

Adding, also, coming into Friday’s session, market liquidity suggested (1) buying pressure was increasing and/or (2) sellers were absorbing resting liquidity (opportunistic buying or short covering into weakness), while speculative options activity was concentrated on the call-side.

In simple terms, one could argue, based on the aforementioned dynamics (e.g., speculative derivatives activity), that participants bought last week’s dip.

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

Important to note, though, is the S&P 500’s long-term trend break, prior to Friday’s dramatic reversal and higher close, as well as Friday’s divergent volume delta in ETFs that track the S&P 500, Nasdaq-100, and Russell 2000.

Graphic 3: Long-term uptrend in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX) was broken.
More On Volume Delta: Buying and selling power as calculated by the difference in volume traded at the bid and offer.

What To Expect: Directional resolve and volatility, given news that the U.S. Senate, on Saturday, passed President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 coronavirus relief plan, as well as the (2) short-gamma (Graphic 4) environment (i.e, volatility is exacerbated due to dealer hedging requirements), as mentioned in the prior section.

Graphic 4: SpotGamma data suggests Nasdaq-100, the weakest index discussed in this commentary, is below the “Short-Gamma” juncture.

What To Do: In the coming sessions, participants will want to pay attention to the VWAP anchored from the $3,959.25 peak, the $3,720.50 minimal excess low, as well as the $3,837.75 high-volume area (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.

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.

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

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 opens and remains above the $3,837.75 volume area. Auctioning above the VWAP anchored from the $3,959.25 peak would suggest buyers, on average, are in control and winning since the February 15 rally high.

In such a case, participants can look to the $3,892.75 HVNode for favorable entry and exit, the $3,934.25 profile ledge, and $3,959.25 overnight rally-high.

More On Ledges: Flattened area on the profile which suggests responsive participants are in control, or initiative participants lack confidence to continue the discovery process. The ledge will either hold and force participants to liquidate (cover) their positions, or crack and offer support (resistance).

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

Any activity below the VWAP anchored from the $3,959.25 peak may leave the $3,837.75 HVNode as an area of supply — offering initiative sellers favorable entry and responsive buyers favorable exit.

In such a case, participants can look to other areas of high-volume (i.e., $3,795.75 and $3,727.75) for favorable entry and exit, as well as the repair of the $3,720.50 minimal excess low.

Graphic 5: Profile overlays on a 65-minute candlestick chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.
Graphic 6: 4-hour chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

Conclusions: The go/no-go level for next week’s trade is $3,837.75.

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: $3,837.75 HVNode.

Cover photo by Chris Peeters from Pexels.

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Commentary

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.

Categories
Commentary

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

Key Takeaways:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Max Walter from Pexels.

Categories
Commentary

Market Commentary For 12/17/2020

What Happened: After yesterday’s Federal Reserve policy decision, U.S. index futures auctioned higher overnight alongside hopes of added U.S. fiscal and monetary stimulus, as well as vaccine rollouts.

What Does It Mean: During Wednesday’s regular trade, the S&P 500 initiated up to the $3,691.25 high-volume node, a valuable price, before sellers responded, established excess, and extended lower into the close.

Given the response to yesterday’s Federal Reserve decision, as well as overnight activity, the S&P 500 remains in a tactically bullish position, confirming the higher-time frame upside breakout which targets prices as high as $4,000.

What To Expect: In light of the overnight gap higher, the following frameworks apply for today’s trade.

In the best case, buyers maintain conviction and hold the index above the $3,691.25 high-volume node. Thereafter, upside references include the high-volume node near $3,710.00, and then the $3,720.00 price extension.

In the worst case, if the S&P 500 is brought back into range, participants can expect further balancing. The current market environment supports the long-gamma narrative in which volatility is suppressed and the market pins or slowly rises in a range-bound fashion.

Adding, the market has initiated back through $3,680.00, a low-volume area. Such low-volume areas denote directional conviction and ought to offer support on any test. Penetrating the low-volume area would put in play the $3,667.75 high-volume node.

Levels Of Interest:  $3,680.00 low-volume node, the $3,710.00 and $3,667.75 high-volume nodes, as well as the $3,720.00 price extension.

Bonus: Opportunities unfolding.