Daily Brief For May 16, 2022

The daily brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 300+ that read this report daily, below!

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures auctioned lower after a failed attempt to solicit strong buying on a break of Friday’s regular trade high. 

Coincidentally, after a test of an anchored volume-weighted average price level, some measures from China had traders concerned about global growth, and that fed into a risk-off sentiment and probe further into Friday’s range.

Moreover, ahead is data on Empire State Manufacturing (8:30 AM ET).

Today, we add light context to our narratives with an aim to elaborate further in letters later this week. Take care!

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

Fundamental: Data from China shows contraction in light of COVID-19 troubles.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg

Bloomberg’s John Authers explains that a contracting China “would be a deflationary force for the rest of the world.”

Graphic: Via Stenos Signals. “China imports vs. Commodities – the most important macro chart in the world right now.”

Andreas Steno Larsen, of the Stenos Signals letter, recently talked about this “lack of economic activity in China,” as well as “slowing demand in the West,” both of which are to “lead inflation expectations lower.”

Graphic: Via CrossBorder Capital. “Latest weekly Fed liquidity injections and the S&P 500. Bigger the bull, the harder they fall? Fed trying to crash [the] economy to kill inflation [and] Wall Street is the victim.”

Notwithstanding, the Federal Reserve (Fed) remains on track “to deliver substantial QT and rate hiking,” all the while investors “hold a relatively risk-friendly position in equities and credits.”

Graphic: Via Societe Generale SA (OTC: SCGLY). Taken from The Market Ear.

Steno Larsen explains: “That disconnect [between sentiment and exposure to risk] will have to wane before I truly dare to re-add risk asset exposure to my list of recommendations.”

Graphic: Via @TheBondFreak. University of Michigan Sentiment.

Pursuant to that remark, Authers notes that the latest Chinese data emboldens the risks of a recession which Credit Suisse Group AG’s (NYSE: CS) Zoltan Pozsar explains is not enough.

“[T]he risk of recession, whether it is real or merely implied by an inversion of the yield curve, won’t deter the Fed from hiking rates higher faster or from injecting more volatility to build up negative wealth effects, and signs of a recession might not mean immediate rate cuts to ramp demand back up.”

“Rallies could beget more forceful pushback from the Fed – the new game.”

Graphic: Via @TheBondFreak. “2/10s spread has delivered its message. The long end is beginning to trend lower. NOW…it’s time to start watching the 3m/10yr spread, which will likely invert as the Fed continues with its rate hikes to kill demand, cause a recession, but “us” from inflation.”

Per Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS), baseline forecasts assume “no recession” and imply the S&P 500’s P/E ends unchanged at 17x. 

“A recession would see the index fall by 11% to $3,600.00 as the P/E drops to 15x.”

Graphic: Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Taken from The Market Ear. A recession brings S&P 500 to $3,600.00.

Positioning: Early on Friday morning, we approached trade too optimistically but, to our credit, we focused on participating with as little risk as possible, via the use of complex strategies, as validated by quoted research.

Graphic: Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The VIX’s “high starting point leaves vol high overall, and we like strategies with a short volatility bias, including put selling and 1×2 call spread overlays.”

Heading into Monday’s regular trade, little has changed and indexes are holding well, relative to some constituents.

This is as participants are hedged and volatility markets remain well-supplied, due in part to suppressive volatility selling, as well as passive flows supporting the largest index constituents.

Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan hypothesizes: “If a meaningful [volatility] event has happened within the last year, participants are more likely to be prepared for the move. So the ‘2nd event’ dramatically underperforms [implied volatility] skew expectations.”

“Take Jan/Feb 2016, Oct-Dec 2018, &…Sep 2020? All these ‘2nd Events’ ended up being as meaningful as their 1st events, if not more, for markets, but were much more orderly [and] accompanied by poor [volatility] performance.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “For all the recent declines — the S&P 500 is down more than 13% from its high on March 29 — stress indicators also aren’t at levels seen during comparable slumps. Fewer than 30% of the benchmark’s members have hit a one-year low, compared with nearly 50% during the growth scare in 2018 and 82% during the global financial crisis in 2008.”

Given the aforementioned supply and demand dynamic, we continue to observe “divergence in the volatility (movement of underlying equity market up and down) realized, versus that which is implied by options activity,” SpotGamma says. 

Graphic: Via @HalfersPower. “1 day return distribution when QQQ ROC[1] > 3.7%. Historically you can expect the weakest relative mean forward returns, and second-highest mean realized volatility amongst deciles.”

For “divergences in volatility realized and implied to resolve, it would likely take forced selling. Liquidity providers’ response to demand for protection would, then, likely exacerbate the move and aid in the repricing of volatility to levels where there would be more stored energy to catalyze a rally.”

All else equal, SpotGamma adds, there is no catalyst to rally until the May 20, 2022 options expiration (OPEX). Till then, rallies are subject to failure.

Graphic: Via SqueezeMetrics. Updated May 13, 2022. “VIX compressing to 30 on a modest pre-market rally with dealer gamma exposure more negative than it’s been in years is not how you get sustained rallies—it’s how you get energy for bigger downside moves.”

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 $4,013.25 micro composite point of control (MCPOC) puts in play the $4,036.00 regular trade high (RTH High). Initiative trade beyond the $4,069.25 high volume area (HVNode) could reach as high as the HVNode and $4,119.00 untested point of control (VPOC), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,013.25 MCPOC puts in play the $4,3978.50 low volume area (LVNode). Initiative trade beyond the LVNode could reach as low as the $3,943.25 HVNode and $3,899.00 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.


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.

MCPOCs: POCs are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent over numerous day sessions. 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.


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.


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.


Weekly Brief For May 31, 2021

Market Commentary

Key Takeaways: Index futures in balance.

  • Best to assume the taper tantrum happened.
  • Ahead: Fed speak and data on employment.
  • Indices traded sideways-to-higher last week.

What Happened: Coming into the large May monthly options expiration (OPEX) and extended holiday weekend, U.S. stock index futures pinned, trading sideways-to-higher.

Options: If an option buyer was short (long) stock, he or she would buy a call (put) to hedge upside (downside) exposure. Option buyers can also use options as an efficient way to gain directional exposure.

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. 

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.

Furthermore, looking back, the movement in price was both volatile and mechanical.

After a short covering-like rally toward $4,200.00, the S&P 500 was responsively bought and sold at key visual references, suggesting a dominance by short-term participants.

Responsive Buying (Selling): Buying (selling) in response to prices below (above) areas of recent price acceptance.

The technically-driven trade denotes a lack of interest by institutional participants, at record highs; supply chain uncertainties and rising inflation, fiscal and monetary tightening, COVID-19 concerns, political risks, and the like, are some of the emerging concerns larger participants are looking to price in.

Of all the above risks, inflation remains the hottest topic.

Generally speaking, inflation and rates move inversely to each other. Low rates stimulate demand for loans (i.e., borrowing money is more attractive). With the rapid recovery, though, market participants fear that rates will rise to protect the economy from overheating.

Higher rates have the potential to reduce the present value of future earnings, making stocks, especially those that are high growth, less attractive. 

To note, however, rates remain range-bound; rates on the 10 Year T-Note sit below their March high and are likely to continue higher, which the market may absorb

How may the market absorb a rise in rates? During the so-called Taper Tantrum, in the early 2010s, rates settled in a wide range, and equities rallied big. Adding, some strategists, like Kit Juckes of Societe Generale SA (OTC: SCGLY) suggest it may be best to assume a tantrum has already happened.

“U.S. 10-year yields rose from a low of 1.4% in 2012 to 3% during their tantrum. In this cycle, the rise has been from 0.5% to a high just below 1.8%. That’s comparable in relative terms. The eventual peak in U.S. yields in 2018 was 3.25%. Can’t we accept that the taper tantrum has already happened? The important difference is that in the tantrum cycle, core CPI never got above 2 ½%. A bet on further bond weakness is a bet on inflation proving to be stickier than the Fed can cope with.”

Adding, research by JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM), as well as Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS), suggests equities may be getting cheap with reflationary themes being the go-to play. This sentiment would help explain the increased interest in S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 call options.

Graphic: Equity valuations at their cheapest, relative to the macro in March 2009 and in the depth of the 1982 recession, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS), via The Market Ear.
Graphic: SHIFT search suggests participants were becoming more interested in call strikes at and above current prices in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX) and Nasdaq 100 Index (INDEX: NDX), last week.
Graphic: Physik Invest maps out the purchase of call and put options in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY), for the week prior. Activity in the options market was primarily concentrated in short-dated tenors, in strikes at and above $425.

Outlier risks remain, though; aside from the seasonally weak period, S&P 500 skew – a measure of perceived tail risk and the chances of a black swan event – rose dramatically over the past few weeks. At the same time, sentiment cooled considerably, while individual stock volatility increased the potential for a repeat of the GameStop Corporation (NYSE: GME) de-risking event.

Graphic: Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS) unpacks outlier risks based on the implied volatility of S&P 500 out-of-the-money options, via The Market Ear.

What To Expect: In the coming sessions, participants will want to focus their attention on where the S&P 500 trades in relation to the $4,197.25 high volume area (HVNode).

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.

That said, participants can trade from the following frameworks.

In the best case, the index trades sideways or higher; activity above $4,197.25 has the potential to reach the $4,227.00 point of control (POC). Initiative trade beyond the POC could reach as high as first the $4,238.00 overnight all-time high (ONH) and then, the $4,294.75 Fibonacci-derived price extension, a typical recovery target. 

POCs: POCs (like HVNodes described above) 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. 

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

In the worst case, the index trades lower; activity below the $4,177.25 HVNode puts in play the $4,153.25 HVNode, first. Thereafter, if lower, the $4,122.25 HVNode and $4,071.00 POC come into play. 

On a cross through the $4,050.75 low volume area (LVNode), long-biased traders should beware of a rapid liquidation, as low as first the $4,015.00 and $4,001.00 POCs. In such a liquidation, odds favor a test of ~$3,970.00 50.00% retracement, as well as the $3,918.00 61.80% retracement and HVNode.

Graphic: 4-hour profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.
Graphic: Weekly candlestick charts of the S&P 500 (top left), Nasdaq 100 (top right), Russell 2000 (bottom left), and Dow Jones Industrial Average (bottom right). Nasdaq is primed for upside and has the potential to pull the S&P with it. 

News And Analysis

Trade | One of the world’s top ports expects delays on an outbreak. (BBG)

Markets | PBOC raises reserve ratio for foreign exchange holdings. (BBG)

Economy | Recovery solidifies in U.S., Europe, while EM faces risks. (Moody’s)

Markets | China bars banks from selling commodity-linked products. (REU)

Economy | Fed security purchases draw fire in hot U.S. housing market. (S&P)

Energy | Global oil demand is seen eclipsing India, Iran’s uncertainty. (S&P)

Economy | U.S. won’t experience stagflation over next few years. (Moody’s)

Economy | Non-government loans seeing a jump in forbearances. (MND)

Economy | U.S. speculative-grade corporate default rate to fall to 4%. (S&P)

Markets | Inflation, higher oil, stronger yuan point in same direction. (BBG)

Economy | U.S. retailers face headwinds from slowing sales, inflation. (S&P)

Markets | Everyone with bonds to liquidate had ample time to do so. (BBG)

What People Are Saying

Innovation And Emerging Trends

Markets | How recent growth in leveraged finance affects investors. (BZ)

Politics | Tech growth overshadowed by regulatory risks, challenges. (S&P)

Markets | Chamath: SPACs need more oversight and regulation. (BBG)

Politics | China moves to a three-child policy to boost its birthrate. (BBG)

Markets | Shakeout stirs debate over ether’s long-term potential. (BBG)

FinTech | Which banks are positioned for low rates, digital adoption. (S&P)


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.


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.