Daily Brief For October 11, 2021

Editor’s Note: The newsletter schedule has changed.

From now on, you can expect to see Daily Briefs only – Monday through Friday – posted shortly before 8:00 AM ET. The Weekly Trade Idea will be packaged into Monday’s commentary, also.

Thanks again for your continued support. I strive to simplify and add value, as best I can.

Market Commentary

Equity index futures trade sideways to lower with bonds. Commodities were mixed.

  • October bottom; a rip up into EOY?
  • Ahead: No economic reports today.

What Happened: Ahead of a busy start to the third-quarter earnings season, this week, U.S. stock index futures auctioned sideways to lower overnight alongside some mixed narratives.

Last night, it was revealed that Goldman Sachs Group (NYSE: GS) cut its U.S. growth forecast on consumption and a fiscal slowdown. Not even a day later, there is news that Goldman, alongside JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM) strategists, suggests the recent dip is a buy.

Given the Columbus Day holiday, today, no economic reports are scheduled.

Graphic updated 6:20 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. 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. 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: As of 6:20 AM ET, Monday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM EST) in the S&P 500 will likely open 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.

Further, during the prior week’s trade, on mostly strong intraday breadth and divergent market liquidity metrics, equity index futures established a rounded bottom and minimal excess low.

Then, a swift recovery ensued; initiative sellers lacked the wherewithal to take prices lower, beyond the S&P 500’s $4,363.25-$4,278.00 balance area. Initiative buyers were then emboldened, expanding range and value the opposite way.

During this recovery process, the S&P 500 – as evidenced by p-shaped emotional, multiple-distribution profile structures – established a minimal excess high before momentum from covering shorts was overpowered by responsive selling at key areas of resting liquidity, at and around /ES $4,410.25 (SPY $441.00), the site of a key anchored volume-weighted average price (VWAP) level.

Note: Liquidity algorithms are benchmarked and programmed to buy and sell around VWAPs.

Friday’s session succumbed to divergences in buying and selling power as calculated by the difference in volume traded at the bid and offer, resolving some of the aforementioned emotional structures through what’s called the “cave-fill” process. 

During this process, participants revisited, repaired, and strengthened – building out areas of high volume (HVNodes), or value – areas low volume (LVNodes).

Note: The cave-fill process widened the area deemed favorable to transact at by an increased share of participants. This is a good development.

Moreover, September’s seasonally-aligned weakness saw the Nasdaq 100 lead lower. Last week – alongside improvement amongst some positioning metrics – the tone shifted with the cash-settled Nasdaq 100 (INDEX: NDX) rising 4.35% versus the S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) rising 3.25%.

That comes as October traditionally marks an end to weakness amidst a cycle of rebalancing and earnings; according to LPL Financial Research, “Stocks rise 3.8% on average during the fourth quarter, but the past seven times the S&P 500 was up 15% year-to-date heading into the home stretch of the year, the fourth quarter was higher every single time, up a very impressive 5.8%.” 

“Earnings for the third quarter should again be strong and mostly outpace expectations,” Leuthold Group chief investment strategist Jim Paulsen adds. “Hours worked in the third quarter rose by about 5% suggesting real GDP for the quarter may be close to 7%. With most companies reporting strong pricing power, solid real GDP growth should result in another surprisingly strong corporate earnings season.”

Graphic: LPL Financial Research unpacks S&P 500 seasonality.
Graphic: SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSE: SPY) top left, Invesco QQQ Trust Series 1 (NASDAQ: QQQ) top right, iShares Russell 2000 ETF (NYSE: IWM) bottom left, SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF Trust (NYSE: DIA) bottom right. Spending more than a few hours of trade above trend, VWAP (yellow), and the 61.80% Fibonacci retracement suggest good odds of upside continuation.

Notwithstanding, some risks to be aware of include the Federal Reserve’s tapering initiatives and the prospects of a rise in the Fed funds rate, amidst hot sentiment, a decline in top-of-book depth, as well as back and forth entry (exit) into (from) short-gamma.

“What we see in the equity space is a lot of sensitivity to higher real yields,” Joseph Little, chief global strategist at HSBC Holdings Plc (NYSE: HSBC) Asset Management, said. “We are seeing policy normalization everywhere. That creates a little bit of a challenge for [the] equity market because it does change the drivers of equity performance.”

Graphic: A “gentle reminder of the fact tapering matters,” via The Market Ear.
Graphic: Sentiment elevated, “generating a 96% historical probability of down markets in the next 12 months at current levels.”

In addition, to balance some of our Q4 bullishness, in a quote highlighted by The Market Ear, Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC) explained: September 30 “was the 24th time since 1928 that the S&P experienced two or more 3-sigma shocks in 10 trading days, … [and] only in 3 of 23 episodes (and 1 in the last 50yrs) did the S&P surpass the prior month’s peak in the month following the second shock.”

Moreover, for today, participants may make use of the following frameworks.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades sideways or higher; activity above the $4,363.25 high volume area (HVNode) puts in play the $4,393.00 untested point of control (VPOC). Initiative trade beyond the $4,393.00 VPOC could reach as high as the $4,415.00 VPOC and $4,437.75 micro composite point of control (MCPOC), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,363.25 HVNode puts in play the $4,346.75 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as low as the $4,332.25 low volume area (LVNode) and $4,299.00 VPOC, or lower.

Graphic: 65-minute profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures updated 6:20 AM ET.


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.

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.

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.

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.

Value-Area Placement: Perception of value unchanged if value overlapping (i.e., inside day). Perception of value has changed if value not overlapping (i.e., outside day). Delay trade in the former case.

News And Analysis

Banks bought epic amounts of safe assets; forget inflation.

The Fed is likely to side with growth and keep policy easy.

Merck seeks emergency use authorization for COVID pills.

Europe Economic Snapshot: Faster-than-expected restart.

Latin America settles into new post-pandemic slow growth.

S&P talking stock-flow confusion again – QE and tapering.

What People Are Saying

Weekly Trade Idea


After years of self-education, strategy development, 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. 

Additionally, Capelj is a finance and technology reporter. Some of his biggest works include interviews with 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.


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.


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.


‘Dualism’: Market Commentary For The Week Ahead

Key Takeaways:

  • Decline in cash levels is a sign of stretched sentiment. 
  • Positioning: Odds of sustained directional resolve low.
  • Potential confirmation of multi-month balance-break.

What Happened: During last week’s shortened holiday trade, U.S. index futures broke out to new all-time highs.

What Does It Mean: After Tuesday’s initiative upside drive alongside news that provided clarity on the election transition, participants rotated back over the $3,580 balance-area boundary, invalidating the prior week’s initiative selling activity. Thereafter, conviction disappeared and the market remained range-bound, as evidenced by a non-participatory delta (i.e., the non-presence of committed buying) and mechanical trade (i.e., low-excess at the edges of developing balance).

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

What To Expect: During Friday’s shortened holiday session, the S&P 500 remained in balance, further auctioning and accepting value into Tuesday’s excess high, which marked an end to the upside discovery process. 

Given that initiative buyers remained in control after auctioning into the micro-composite high-volume node at $3,631, the fairest price to do business after Tuesday’s upside drive, participants come into Monday’s session knowing the following: 

  1. The amount of cash investors are holding in their portfolios fell to levels last seen prior to the February sell-off. 
  2. Market sentiment, as represented by Citigroup Inc’s (NYSE: C) Panic/Euphoria Model, is historically stretched.
  3. Tuesday’s upside impulse, through the low-volume node at $3,580, was reminiscent of short-term, momentum-driven buying. 
  4. Holiday trade was dominated by low-volume and responsive participation, implying the non-presence of conviction and institutions (e.g., funds that transact at non-technical levels).
  5. Positioning suggests dealers are long gamma, meaning they sell into strength and buy into weakness, suppressing volatility and the potential for directional resolve.
Graphic by Spotgamma, taken from The Market Ear

Therefore, given the acceptance of higher prices, the following frameworks for next week’s trade apply.

If participants manage to spend time and build value above the $3,631 micro-composite high-volume node, then initiative buyers remain in control — nearest targets include the $3,655 and $3,668.75 rally highs.

Otherwise, the auction ought to find responsive buyers near the high-volume node. An initiative drive below that figure would put the rally on hold, and would target first $3,620, and then the node near $3,610.

Conclusion: Though sentiment and positioning imply limited potential for further upside, the market remains in a strong technical uptrend bolstered by factors including a divided government, vaccine administration, rebound in profits, low rates, and a small rise in the yield curve.

As of now, the S&P 500 is on the verge of confirming a multi-month balance-break.

Pictured: Daily candlestick chart of the cash S&P 500 Index

Levels Of Interest: Micro-composite HVN at $3,631, the $3,655 and $3,668.75 rally highs, as well as the nodes near $3,620 and $3,610.

Cover photo courtesy by cottonbro from Pexels.