Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For May 20, 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

Ahead of a $1.9 trillion options expiration, which we unpack later in the letter, the equity index and commodity futures, as well as yields, were bid.

This activity was on the heels of good news coming from overseas. China lowered prime rates on the five-year by a record to boost mortgages and loans amid an ongoing pandemic slump.

In other news, China warned the U.S. over a ‘dangerous situation’ forming over Taiwan, and the U.S. is set to block Russian debt payments, raising concerns of default. 

This is as Russian forces, per Michael Horowitz of Le Beck Int’l, broke “Ukrainian defenses west of Popasna in the Donbass, … a tactical success for Russia, the first in a very long time.”

Ahead, there is no data scheduled for release. Enjoy your Friday!

Graphic updated 6:30 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: Fundamentally, the narrative remains the same, albeit there has been a rise in concern over global growth given persistent supply chokepoints and a commitment to reducing liquidity and credit.

Moody’s Corporation’s (NYSE: MCO) Mark Zandi explains “the odds that the economy will suffer a downturn beginning in the next 12 months at one in three with uncomfortable near-even odds of a recession in the next 24 months.”

Graphic: Via The Macro Compass. “Analyst consensus for the 2022 US real GDP growth has been consistently revised down this year.”

Per Bloomberg’s John Authers, U.S. housing is slowing down in the context of still-heightened sales. Data on home building suggests builders “aren’t running scared” while chokepoints still are feeding into support for house prices.

“Now, with inflation rising, the Fed is more concerned about wealth effects,” Authers explained. 

“The rise in asset prices has made a lot of people wealthier and encouraged them to spend accordingly. It’s also stoked inequality. A fall in home values would be helpful at this point,” and it’s something the Fed is keen on “pursuing,” as talked about in letters earlier this week.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

Positioning: Friday marks the roll off of $460 billion of derivatives across single stocks and $855 billion of S&P 500-linked contracts, according to a Bloomberg report quoting Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS) research.

Graphic: Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Taken from Bloomberg.

Into this event, participants are hedged and volatility remains well-supplied, due in part to suppressive volatility selling, as well as passive flows supporting the largest index constituents.

Consequently, the market’s descent has been orderly and not exacerbated by the demand for hedges and associated repricings of volatility.

This was expected, per Kai Volatility Cem Karsan’s commentary published in December 2021.

“If a meaningful volatility event has recently transpired [e.g., COVID-19], implied volatility demand tends to be high,” as sellers of it were liquidated in previous declines and “buyers have been rewarded with profits and demand for their services.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “2022 is shaping up to be the busiest year for option trading. Almost 40 million contracts have changed hands daily on average, 6% above last year’s record, data compiled by Bloomberg show.”

“Market participants are thus overly hedged going into the second move, resulting in the suppression of implied volatility and skew along with a dampening of realized volatility.”

Graphic: Commentary published by Kai Volatility.

Given the aforementioned supply and demand dynamic, as well as illiquidity, we continue to observe a “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 @ftx_chris. “The relationship between illiquidity & volatility is a critical market driver for traditional markets now. In simple terms: lower liquidity creates increased volatility.”

“For some of these reasons – tempered measures of implied volatility – the market’s missing a lot of the ‘stored energy’ or ‘vanna fuel’ that’s helped support it in past periods of turmoil.”

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.”

So, barring changes in fundamentals, the catalysts to a potential rally are few and far between, and we elaborated on this in an earlier commentary.

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.”

Heading into Friday, Bloomberg quotes the $4,000.00 S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) strike having “93,000 open positions set to run out, … includ[ing] 41,024 calls and 52,269 puts.”

Graphic: Via SpotGamma.

An open well below $4,000.00 means that this expiration will coincide with the removal of a lot of in-the-money put-delta. That means, post-expiration, per SpotGamma, “market makers will be free to buy back stocks to cover the short exposures that are no longer needed.” 

“Any ultimate rally off of Opex, we’d consider to be short covering, and subject to swift reversals into the end of next week.”

Technical: As of 6:30 AM ET, Friday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, will likely open in the upper part of a positively skewed overnight inventory, just 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 $3,943.25 high volume area (HVNode) puts in play the $4,061.00 untested point of control (VPOC). Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as high as the $4,095.00 overnight high (ONH) and $4,119.00 VPOC, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $3,943.25 HVNode puts in play the $3,908.75 micro composite point of control (MCPOC). Initiative trade beyond the MCPOC could reach as low as the $3,862.75 and $3,836.25 low volume areas (LVNodes), 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.

Considerations: Push-and-pull, as well as responsiveness near key-technical areas (discernable visually on a chart), suggests technically-driven traders with shorter time horizons are (becoming) active.

Such traders often lack the wherewithal to defend retests.

Large participants (who often move by committee) seldom respond to key technical inflections. It is their activity that often results in poor reliability of our technical levels.

Sometimes, the better trade is to wait for the larger participants’ entry and use the expansion of the range as a confirmation of a new trend.

Definitions

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

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.

About

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.

Disclaimer

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.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For May 19, 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 continued lower as weakness spread overseas. Commodities were mixed and yields were lower. At a high-level, measures of implied volatility held their bid.

Apart from the removal of structural forces underpinning a rally into mid-week, earnings reports played into “fears of the consequences of if inflation is brought under control,” per Bloomberg.

Ahead is data on jobless claims and manufacturing (8:30 AM ET). Later, existing home sales and leading economic indicators (10:00 AM ET). No events are scheduled for tomorrow.

Graphic updated 8:30 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. 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: On the heels of Target reporting lower profits on costs and tighter margins, the beloved Cathie Wood of Ark Invest chimed in with a note on an explosion in inventories. Late last year, we quoted Wood suggesting businesses were scrambling to increase inventories.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “Target announced that sales were up, but profit was down thanks to increasing costs and tightening margins. Also like Walmart the day before, the market rewarded the stock with its biggest one-day decline since the Black Monday crash of October 1987. That’s alarming, although it’s worth pointing out that Target had been a conspicuous beneficiary of the pandemic to date.”

Though early, she said inflation would eventually be on its way out and inventory build-ups were one of the indicators to watch.

“Walmart Inc’s (NYSE: WMT) inventories increased 33% in nominal terms on a year over year basis, translating into 20-25% in real or unit terms, as Target Corporation’s (NYSE: TGT) inventories increased by 42% and 30-35%, respectively,” Wood said.

At the same time, sentiment has plunged to Great Recession levels, all the while consumers are “rebelling against their loss of purchasing power,” and China is in turmoil (talked about May 16).

These comments play into the recession narratives we unpacked earlier this week (May 17 and May 18). Monetary policies sent money to capital and that bolstered deflationary trends. 

Then came the pandemic and the increasing effects of inequality; money was sent to labor, and that bolstered inflationary trends.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “Overall wage increases were 6% in April, for the second month running — too high for the Fed’s comfort but at least with no increase. It is the least well paid who are commanding the highest percentage rises.”

As we quoted Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan explaining, today’s contractionary monetary policy is a blunt tool and is not equipped to “address the main problem which is a lack of supply to absorb the demand.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “China appears to be gradually easing its lockdown of Shanghai, but that won’t bring immediate relief to global supply-chain congestion.”

Likewise, Credit Suisse Group AG’s (NYSE: CS) Zoltan Pozsar explained what he felt was “the Fed is pursuing demand destruction through negative wealth effects,” as the “central banks can only deal with nominal” chokepoints.

Graphic: Via JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM). Taken from The Market Ear. “A stronger dollar, lower equity prices, and higher mortgage rates will weigh on demand growth [and] Over time weaker output demand should lead to weaker labor demand Don’t fight the Fed as this is what Fed wants (slower growth).”

By that token, we must “[c]onsider at least the possibility that the extreme volatility and lack of liquidity [we] see in markets is by design, and the Fed will not be deterred by it, but rather that it will be emboldened by it in its singular pursuit of price stability.”

Why does any of this matter? 

As quoted, yesterday, “[w]ith supply-side economics, the only way that they can control [price stability] is to pull back. And slow capital markets decrease via the wealth effect. Ultimately, there’s a significant lag, so [the Fed is] not in a position to ultimately control inflation without bringing down markets.”

By that token, a stock market drop is both a recession and a direct reflection of the unwind of global carry. It is the manifestation of a deflationary shock, and today’s sentiment, the gradual build-up of inventories, tightening of financial conditions, and the like, are a reflection of this.

Graphic: Via Guggenheim Partners. Taken from MarketWatch. The “ Fed is headed toward overtightening financial conditions just as employment show some softness.”

Perspectives: Recall that the indexes are trading relatively strong, in comparison to constituents, especially those that are smaller technology and growth companies.

Essentially, “we’re two-thirds of the way through a dot-com type collapse,” we quoted Simplify Asset Management’s Mike Green explaining.

“It’s just happened underneath the surface of the indices which is [that] … dynamic of passive flows supporting the largest stocks within the index, whereas the smaller stocks can be influenced to a greater extent by the behavior of discretionary managers.”

Pursuant to those remarks, JPMorgan Chase & Co’s Marko Kolanovic says there are significant opportunities in the beaten areas of the market.

“I almost refuse to talk about ‘where should I buy S&P?’” he said adding that “[m]ost of the bad things have happened already this year.”

“There will be no recession this year, some summer increase in consumer activity on the back of reopening, China increasing monetary and fiscal measures.”

Per the earlier quoted Pozsar, Kolanovic, like Wood, maybe too early in his calls.

“Banks’ stock buybacks are lowering SLRs [], and the Fed is about to embark on QT,” Pozsar says. For context, QT (Quantitative Tightening) is the central banking authorities’ removal of balance sheet assets via sales or the non-reinvestment of the principal sum of maturing securities. 

The dynamic is as follows: if bonds are sold, their values fall and yields rise, thus pushing yield-hungry investors into less risky asset categories.

“These nominal balance sheet and liquidity trends, will at some point clash with the realities of a garden variety of supply chain issues,” as a result of geopolitical chokepoints.

Graphic: Per Bloomberg, “[E]very $1 trillion of QT will equate to a decline of roughly 10% in stocks over the next 12 months or so.”

Given Pozsar’s findings, the Fed is likely to do QE again in the summer of 2023. 

Checking Eurodollar (FUTURE: /GE), a reflection of participants’ outlook for U.S. interest rates, shows the peak of the Fed-rate-hike cycle – terminal rate – at around June 2023.

Positioning: This week’s expiration of options on the Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX), per SpotGamma, pulled forward the positive effects of volatility compression heading into the large May monthly equity and index options expiration (OPEX).

“Barring a forced re-pricing, we saw what was already little fuel to the upside drained into the weighty VIX options expiration (as bets on the VIX decay, this leads to hedging that bolsters S&P 500 upside),” SpotGamma said. 

“Following this event (and the coming monthly May OPEX), we see the door open to lower prices amid the removal of “max put” positioning which “clears the way for lower-lows.”

Heading into the monthly OPEX, if the S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX) is well below $4,000.00, “the buyback of short futures to short put exposures that no longer require liquidity providers to hedge,” may bolster a sharp reversal.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. Taken from The Market Ear. “Deep short gamma where dealers are trapped in selling low and buying high and the poor liquidity environment, where the pushing of deltas (both ways) gets even more magnified due to non-existent volumes. This dynamic works both ways.”

Technical: As of 8:30 AM ET, Thursday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, will likely open in the lower part of a negatively skewed overnight inventory, outside of prior-range and -value, suggesting a potential for immediate directional opportunity.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $3,862.75 low volume area (LVNode) puts in play the $3,908.75 micro composite point of control (MCPOC). Initiative trade beyond the MCPOC could reach as high as the $3,943.25 high volume area (HVNode) and $4,061.00 virgin point of control (VPOC), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $3,862.75 LVNode puts in play the $3,836.25 LVNode. Initiative trade beyond the LVNodes could reach as low as the $3,795.75 and $3,727.25 HVNodes, 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.

Definitions

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

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.

About

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.

Disclaimer

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.

Categories
Commentary

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.

Definitions

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.

About

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.

Disclaimer

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.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For May 3, 2022

The Daily Brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 200+ that read this report daily, below!

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures were sideways, inside of the prior range, after exploring much lower, Monday. Measures of implied volatility, bonds, and most commodities were bid.

This is alongside news that Russia is dodging default, the necessity for the Fed to drop inflation down to 4% by year-end per Citadel’s Ken Griffin, the U.S. Treasury’s intent to scale back sales of longer-term debt, falling earnings estimates, Taiwan preparing to fend-off a potential invasion as Beijing ordered officials to find ways to fight against western sanctions, similar to those used against Russia, among other things including Fitch trimming China’s 2022 growth forecast.

Also, near risk-free, inflation-protected I bonds will pay 9.62% through October, the Treasury said, and here’s more on the Citigroup Inc (NYSE: C) trader that’s behind a European crash.

Ahead is data on job openings and quits, as well as factory and core capital goods orders (10:00 AM ET).

Read on for coverage on the fundamental and technical position of the market, as well as ways to position for future trade.

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: The Federal Reserve (Fed) is expected to raise its target overnight rate by about 50 basis points and provide updates on quantitative tightening (QT).

Graphic: Via CME Group Inc’s (NASDAQ: CME) FedWatch Tool. Market participants expect a near-100% chance the fed moves its target rate to 75 or 100 basis points.

The expectations of the aforementioned have played into a tightening of financial conditions which, as Columbia Threadneedle’s Gene Tannuzzo explains, “reduces demand and ultimately slows inflation.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “Tighter financial conditions are the mechanism that reduces demand and ultimately slows inflation,” said Tannuzzo, the firm’s global head of fixed income. “If financial conditions don’t tighten and inflation remains high, in their eyes, they need to hike more.”

The key is the update on QT. As Bloomberg’s John Authers puts it well, “what the Fed does with its balance sheet at the margin [] matters for asset prices, and there is little or no lag.”

Graphic: Via Crossborder Capital Ltd. Taken from Bloomberg.

The Fed’s liquidity reductions, thus far, have played into the market’s troubles since the start of the year. This is as QT has an impact on the “ability to roll over or refinance investments.”

Graphic: Taken from The Market Ear. “46% of non-earnings driven market cap changes were explained by Fed balance sheet expansion since GFC.”

Perspective: JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM) strategists note that investors’ fears are unwarranted. The U.S.’s economic expansion has not been derailed. 

“Worries about China’s growth outlook, a negative take on the Q1 earnings reporting season, concerns about higher bond yields and further tightening of financial conditions from a strong dollar, all appear to have soured equity and credit investors’ sentiment,” the strategists said. 

“We find these fears overblown.”

Positioning: Comments from yesterday’s morning letter remain valid, today.

Participants’ bets on the direction are concentrated in negative delta (long puts, short calls). The exposure is short-dated and extremely sensitive to changes in implied volatility and direction.

Graphic: Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS). Taken from The Market Ear. “Retail Investors buyers of 0-1 DTE (days-to-expiry) puts are largest on record.”

Those options carry a lot of gamma and are exposed to the potential for asymmetric or convex payouts. This is not good for those who are on the other side.

In hedging a short put, for instance, a positive delta and negative gamma trade, counterparties sell underlying if there is weakness or jumps in implied volatility. If the underlying trades higher, or dips in volatility, the counterparty will buy the underlying, all else equal.

Taken together, in such an environment, the counterparty leans toward taking liquidity and this exacerbates underlying movement if there’s a thinning liquidity environment, SpotGamma says.

Graphic: Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS). Taken from SpotGamma.

In other words, hedging matters more in such an environment. This was clear during Monday’s trade when a bout of put selling and light call buying appeared in both the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY) and Invesco QQQ Trust Series 1 (NASDAQ: QQQ).

This, ultimately, too, fed into the compression of volatility at the short-end of the term structure, yesterday. To re-hedge, counterparts likely bought into the market’s weakness and bolstered the near-vertical reversal, and close higher.

Graphic: SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options (HIRO) indicator for SPY. A rising blue and orange denote put selling and call buying, respectively.

The odds of follow-through, to the upside, come back to the fundamental situation and Fed announcements this week. Should fears with respect to monetary policy be assuaged, then volatility can compress and that, alone, will spur a buy-back of those underlying short hedges.

If participants start to concentrate their bets at higher prices, further out in time, that confirms the odds of sustained follow-through. If not, it’s likely that prices, after a short-term relief, will succumb to fundamental weaknesses.

Technical: As of 6:45 AM ET, Tuesday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, will likely 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; activity above the $4,123.00 untested point of control (VPOC) puts in play the $4,176.00 overnight high (ONH). Initiative trade beyond the ONH could reach as high as the $4,247.00 VPOC and $4,279.75 ONH, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,123.00 VPOC puts in play the $4,055.75 low volume area (LVNode). Initiative trade beyond the LVNode could reach as low as the $3,978.50 LVNode and $3,943.25 high volume area (HVNode), 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.

Considerations: Most interesting was Monday’s response at a key technical level ($4,055.75) outlined in the morning letter.

Specifically, the E-mini S&P 500 probed $4,056.00 before staging a sharp reversal and closing higher. This is noteworthy as it tells us a lot about who has (or is gaining) the upper hand.

Push-and-pull, as well as responsiveness near key-technical areas (discernable visually on a chart), suggests technically-driven traders with shorter time horizons are (becoming) active.

Such traders often lack the wherewithal to defend retests and, additionally, this type of trade may suggest other time frame participants are waiting for more information to initiate trades.

Adding, the Federal Reserve’s meeting this week concludes with statements to be shared on Wednesday. For weeks heading into this event, (larger) participants (that move by committee) have de-grossed and hedged. For that reason, the reliability of our technical levels took a hit.

Graphic: Via JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM). Taken from The Market Ear. Per Bloomberg, “Hedge funds tracked by Morgan Stanley have also cut their net leverage — a measure of risk appetite that takes into account long versus short positions — to a two-year low.”

In the very near term, until more fundamental information is revealed, these technical-driven traders may play a larger role in the volatility. These traders, given capital constraints and tolerances, often trigger sharp moves in their entry and exit on news. Caution on whipsaw.

How I’m Playing: Presently, the market is stretched to the downside and participants are leaning, heavily, one way.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma, “Put vs Call gamma suggests stretched positioning.”

Pursuant to that remark, as SpotGamma says, “traders are underpricing right-tail risk,” and that opens the window for unique ways to play a returns distribution that is skewed positive (albeit with large negative outliers).

Consider zero- or low-cost bets that deliver asymmetric payouts in case of reversals.

This letter’s writer presently is structured positive delta and gamma in the Nasdaq 100 (INDEX: NDX) via ratios spread (1×2) and butterfly (1x2x1) structures. 

The concern with these strategies is the width and time to expiry. Should either of those be wrong, then spreads initially positive gamma turn negative, meaning losses are amplified.

For instance, in the Nasdaq 100, to put in short, 500-1000 points wide ratio spreads (buy the closer leg, sell two of the farther legs) expiring in ten to fifteen days work well. 

For those spreads that are not zero cost, debits can be offset with credit sales (on the put side) in products that have shown relative strength like the S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX). This, inherently, carries more risk. Read more about these strategies, here.

Please note that the above is NOT a trade recommendation or advice.

Graphic: Via Banco Santander SA (NYSE: SAN) research, the return profile, at expiry, of a classic 1×2 (long 1, short 2 further away) ratio spread.

Definitions

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

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.

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.

About

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.

Disclaimer

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.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For May 2, 2022

The Daily Brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 200+ that read this report daily, below!

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures auctioned off of Friday’s regular trade lows. Yields, the dollar, and implied volatility metrics were bid.

There were no changes in the newsflow’s tone this weekend; investors remain concerned over the implications of monetary policy shifts and inflation, as well as war, COVID, and the supply pressures associated.

Ahead is data on S&P Global Inc’s (NYSE: SPGI) U.S. manufacturing PMI (9:45 AM ET), as well as the ISM manufacturing index and construction spending (10:00 AM ET).

Graphic updated 6:30 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: The indexes continue to hold well in the context of severe weaknesses under the hood, so to speak, especially in the high-flying technology and growth of 2020-2021.

Stocks like Zoom Video Communications (NASDAQ: ZM) and Netflix Inc (NASDAQ: NFLX), the beneficiaries of the work-from-home trends, have de-rated substantially since the start of 2022.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

In spite of earnings growth (~10% for S&P 500 companies that have reported, per Bloomberg), “the reaction to earnings surprises in April was asymmetric,” and a display of “the outsized role played by outliers.” 

For context, “Mega-cap growth (MCG) & Tech earnings are missing by -6.0% at the aggregate level [while] the median company [is] beating by 5.7%.”

This is as inflation, among other factors, continues to bite into the “over-optimistic multiples driven by the assumption that pandemic-era performance could continue in perpetuity.”

Per Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC), the S&P’s current P/E is way too high, given the current CPI.

Graphic: Via Bank of America Corporation. Taken from Bloomberg. “It’s straightforward common sense that higher inflation would lead to paying a lower multiple of earnings because you expect future earnings to be eaten into by inflation. And common sense is borne out empirically; all else equal, higher inflation does indeed tend to mean lower earnings multiples.”

Notwithstanding, trimming outliers, inflation may have peaked and that is a positive for those equity investors who think “inflation is high, but they’re confident that it’s transitory,” therefore current valuations are just.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

Per @ConvexityMaven, recession chatter is unwarranted. The economy is expanding and the only worry investors should have is “if the Fed cannot chill nominal GDP.”

That means “rates are going north” and, according to Bank of America Corporation’s Michael Hartnett, “asset prices must reset lower.”

Some investors, like the Japanese, have heeded this message and are offloading billions in Treasuries in anticipation of more attractive levels and “stabilization in long-dated yields.”

Perspectives: Some, including Credit Suisse Group AG’s (NYSE: CS) Zoltan Pozsar, believe market participants are in for a world of [much more] hurt as “central banks can only deal with nominal, not real chokepoints.”

“Banks’ stock buybacks are lowering SLRs as we speak, and the Fed is about to embark on QT, and these nominal balance sheet and liquidity trends, will at some point clash with the realities of a garden variety of supply chain issues,” as a result of geopolitical chokepoints.

Graphic: Per Bloomberg, “[E]very $1 trillion of QT will equate to a decline of roughly 10% in stocks over the next 12 months or so.”

Given Pozsar’s findings, “The Fed will do QE again by summer 2023.”

Positioning: Recall that the indexes are trading relatively strong, in comparison to constituents, especially those that are smaller technology and growth companies.

Essentially, “we’re two-thirds of the way through a dot-com type collapse,” explains Simplify Asset Management’s Mike Green.

“It’s just happened underneath the surface of the indices which is [that] … dynamic of passive flows supporting the largest stocks within the index, whereas the smaller stocks can be influenced to a greater extent by the behavior of discretionary managers.”

This liquidity supply, apart from passive flows, stems from index-level hedging pressures, also.

Here’s why, as borrowed from our April 27, 2022 commentary.

Participants are well-hedged and use weakness as an opportunity to buy into a less highly valued broader market.

Well-hedged means that customers (i.e., you and I) own protection against long equity exposure. So, that could mean customers own puts and/or are short calls. One of the most dominant flows is the long put, short call.

Such trade offers customers positive, yet asymmetric (gamma), exposure to direction (delta). In other words, negative delta and positive gamma. 

The counterparty has exposure to positive delta and negative gamma. If the underlyings trade lower and volatility rises, all else equal, the position will lose. To hedge against these losses, the counterparties will sell underlying into weakness.

If prices reverse and move higher, these counterparties will re-hedge and buy underlying.

Normally, as seen over the bull run of 2020 and 2021, markets are in an uptrend and there’s a strong supply of volatility. Often, customers sell more calls than puts and, in an uptrend, those calls solicit more active hedging than the put options.

Recall that the customer is short the call. That means the counterparty is long the call (a positive delta and gamma trade) and will make money if prices rise, all else equal. 

The hedging of this particular exposure (i.e., sell strength, buy weakness), in an uptrend, occurs slower (i.e., counterparts will allow their profits to run), and that’s what can help the market sustain lower volatility trends for longer periods.

When prices reverse and underlyings trade lower, put options solicit increased hedging activity. Given the nature of counterparty exposure to those puts, that hedging happens quickly and can take from market liquidity as to volatility (i.e., buy strength, sell weakness).

Graphic: Via SqueezeMetrics. Equity move lower solicits increased hedging activity of put options. Counterparties have negative gamma exposure to these puts. Therefore, to hedge, they buy strength and sell weakness, adding to realized volatility. This trend is ongoing.

So, what now?

Participants are most concerned (and hedging against) unforeseen monetary policy action and economic chokepoints like a potential Russian default. 

Investors will get clarity on some of these issues in the coming sessions.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma, the estimated gamma for calls by strike as a positive number and puts as a negative number on the S&P 500 ETF, the SPY. Notice the weight on the put side.

Barring a worst-case scenario, if markets do not perform to the downside (i.e., do not trade lower), those highly-priced (often very short-dated) bets on direction will quickly decay, and hedging flows with respect to time and volatility may bolster sharp rallies.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. “SPX prices X-axis. Option delta Y-axis. When the factors of implied volatility and time change, hedging ratios change. For instance, if SPX is at $4,700.00 and IV jumps 15% (all else equal), the dealer may sell an additional 0.2 deltas to hedge their exposure to the addition of a positive 0.2 delta. The graphic is for illustrational purposes, only.”

Whether those price rises kick off a sustained reversal depends on what the fundamental situation is, then.

Presently, the largest index constituents are starting to succumb to worsening fundamentals and that will, ultimately, feed into the indexes which are pinned due to passive and hedging flows.

In other words, fundamentals will trump this talk of positioning (i.e., it is only in the short-term does this positioning we’ve talked about have greater implications).

Consideration: The returns distribution, based on implied volatility metrics alone, is skewed positive (though there are some large negative outliers pursuant to The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial recent explanation that despite negative sentiment, “nobody is truly scared” and “Fixed strike vols continue to underperform, along with the lack of concern in the VX term structure”).

Caution.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma, “Put vs Call gamma suggests stretched positioning.”

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 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; activity above the $4,118.75 regular trade low (RTH Low) puts in play the $4,158.25 overnight high (ONH). Initiative trade beyond the ONH could reach as high as the $4,247.00 untested point of control (VPOC) and $4,279.75 ONH, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,118.75 RTH Low puts in play the $4,101.25 overnight low (ONL). Initiative trade beyond the ONL could reach as low as the $4,055.75 low volume area (LVNode) and $3,978.50 low volume area (LVNode), 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.

Considerations: Terribly weak price action, last week, with the S&P 500, Nasdaq 100, and Russell 2000 all flirting with early 2022 lows.

The weaker of the bunch – the Invesco QQQ Trust Series 1 (NASDAQ: QQQ) – just broke a major VWAP anchored from the lows of March 2020. 

That indicator denotes the level at which the average buyer/seller is in.

In other words, it is the fairest price to pay for Nasdaq 100 exposure (since March 2020) and, instead of being construed as a so-called demand zone, the level ought to be looked at as overhead supply on tests, higher. Caution.

Graphic: Invesco QQQ Trust Series 1 (NASDAQ: QQQ) with anchored VWAPs.

Definitions

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

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.

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.

About

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.

Disclaimer

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.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For April 29, 2022

The Daily Brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 200+ that read this report daily, below!

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures auctioned sideways-to-lower after a mid-day price bump Thursday, on the heels of dismal earnings, among other things including a contraction in economic growth, last quarter.

Amazon Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN) shares fell after the company projected sluggish sales as well as higher costs.

Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL) saw strong sales and profit help top estimates. The company announced a $90 billion share buyback and fears over supply constraints.

Tesla Inc’s (NASDAQ: TSLA) Elon Musk offloaded $4 billion worth of shares just after his deal to buy Twitter Inc (NYSE: TWTR) was reached days before.

Also in the news: Russia’s urgency to avoid a default. Food Inflation hits an all-time high. China’s currency plunge raises the risk of 2015-style panic. No-money-down crypto mortgages and why housing may be topping. Barclays PLC (NYSE: BCS) halts ETN sales.

Ahead is data on the employment cost index, PCE, personal income and consumer spending (8:30 AM ET), as well as Chicago PMI (9:45 AM ET), and University of Michigan consumer sentiment and inflation expectations (10:00 AM ET).

Graphic updated 6:30 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: In hindsight, a very volatile week characterized by large, two-sided action and little constructive movement (i.e., a week that ended sideways rather than up or down).

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. Indexes sideways, mainly, as large constituents report their earnings.

This is ahead of what many think is likely to be front-loaded 50 basis point tightening next week and in June with rates, ultimately, trading in the range of 2.25-2.50% end-of-year.

Graphic: Via CME Group Inc’s (NASDAQ: CME) FedWatch Tool.

In light of tightening expectations, Columbia Threadneedle’s Gene Tannuzzo says “Tighter financial conditions are the mechanism that reduces demand and ultimately slows inflation.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. Financial conditions have started to tighten.

“If financial conditions don’t tighten [i.e., stocks regain their swagger] and inflation remains high, in their eyes, they need to hike more.”

Graphic: Via S&P Global Inc (NYSE: SPGI). Food Inflation Hits All-Time High, Fuels Security Risks.

In regards to balance sheet reduction, “QT will consist of run-off caps of USD 60bn for US Treasuries (UST) and USD 35bn for mortgage-backed securities (MBS), which will make up for a cap of USD 95bn per month going forward,” Nordea Bank (OTC: NRDBY) research says.

“The balance sheet reduction will revolve around coupon securities, with the Fed’s c. USD 326bn Treasury bills only allowed roll-off in months when maturing caps do not reach the cap. We expect the Fed to use a 3-month roll-on period in its reduction, which will make up for a relatively smooth and predictable treasury run-off.”

Positioning: Our April 27 discussion on positioning went into great detail on the likelihood of continued volatility and lower prices. 

On April 28 we noted the implications of heightened implied volatility and no follow-through to the downside. 

The returns distribution, based on implied volatility metrics alone, was skewed positive, albeit with a potential for large negative outliers.

Graphic: Via @HalfersPower. “In backwardation via $VIX: $VIX3M next month [realized volatility] is highest amongst the deciles (d10 >1) ~43% subsequent realized volatility.”

During Thursday’s trade, markets endured a near-vertical price rise alongside repositioning and what SpotGamma says is a “put-heavy expiration [Friday] (20% of gamma roll-off expected).”

Graphic: SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options indicator for the QQQ.

The idea is as follows: customers are well-hedged (customers own puts and/or are short calls) and this offers them positive, yet asymmetric (gamma), exposure to direction (delta). In other words, negative delta and positive gamma

The counterparty has exposure to positive delta and negative gamma. If the underlyings trade lower and volatility rises, all else equal, the position will lose. To hedge against these losses, the counterparties will sell underlying into weakness.

If this exposure is to roll off or underlying prices reverse and move higher, these counterparties will re-hedge and buy underlying. That’s what SpotGamma is hinting at.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma, the estimated gamma for calls by strike as a positive number and puts as a negative number on the S&P 500 ETF, the SPY. Notice the weight on the put side.

SpotGamma also notes: “VIX call open interest (blue) is near March ’20 highs. With VIX near 1-yr highs put interest (red) is near lows. Equity rally/vol decline seems like it would catch most everyone offsides.”

Graphic: Via SpotGamma.

Technical: As of 6:15 AM ET, Friday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, will likely 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; activity above the $4,235.00 overnight low (ONL) puts in play the $4,279.75 overnight high (ONH). Initiative trade beyond the ONH could reach as high as the $4,303.50 regular trade high (RTH High) and $4,337.00 untested point of control (VPOC), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,235.00 ONL puts in play the $4,191.00 VPOC. Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as low as the $4,182.50 ONL and $4,156.75 regular trade low (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.
Graphic: 65-minute profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

Considerations: Into this week, markets were extremely weak alongside hawkish remarks from the Fed and dismal responses to earnings results, among other things.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

Then, as a major index – the Invesco QQQ Trust Series 1 (NASDAQ: QQQ) – tested a major VWAP anchored from the lows of March 2020. After, a rounded bottom began to form while implied volatility metrics continued to trend higher.

Graphic: Invesco QQQ Trust Series 1 (NASDAQ: QQQ) with anchored VWAPs.

Thursday’s price rise and volatility compression, particularly at the short-end of the term structure coincided with some of the strongest breadth in days. 

Notwithstanding, the entire advance was taken back overnight and now the S&P 500 is trading back inside a multi-day consolidation. 

If a short-term trader, playing responsively (i.e., fading edges) is likely the best course of action until the indexes, at least, are able to break above this week’s ranges and remain there (i.e., not trade back down).

Graphic: Market Internals as pioneered by (a mentor of mine) Peter Reznicek. Notice the indicator in the top right, weighted S&P sectors (histogram) versus unweighted (blue line). During late last week, participants sold the entire market, heavily (as supported by the difference between the volume flowing into stocks that are up versus those that are down).

Definitions

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

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.

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.

About

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.

Disclaimer

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.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For March 18, 2022

Editor’s Note: The Daily Brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 200+ that read this report daily, below!

What Happened

Ahead of Friday’s triple witching derivatives expiry, the equity index and most commodity futures auctioned sideways to lower.

Ahead is data on existing home sales and leading economic indicators (10:00 AM ET), as well as Fed-speak by Tom Barkin (1:20 PM ET).

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: Today’s focus is on market positioning. Therefore, the fundamental section is (more) lighthearted.

Equity markets rose in the context of a sharp multi-month drawdown. This is, in part, masking the concern over Russia’s economic situation, a slowing in the flow of U.S. credit, supply and demand imbalances, the impact of COVID-19, and other things.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

Further, in spite of the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) comments on the strength of the economy and its likely resilience in the face of tighter policies, Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS) said the odds of a recession were “broadly in line with the 20-35% odds currently implied by models based on the slope of the yield curve.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “Whenever the yield curve inverts, it tends to function as an early warning for a recession, suggesting that in the medium-term rates will have to fall.”

The forecast “implies below potential growth in 2022 Q1 and 2022 Q2 and potential growth for 2022 overall.”

With the Fed now eyeing about six more rate hikes in 2022 – putting the policy rate at ~2.8% before 2024 – commentators were quick to point out the “central bank’s patchy record on not tipping the economy into recession.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

Alhambra Investments’ Jeffrey Snider, however, made an interesting point.

“To believe the Fed is behind all this or can do something useful about it, like the rate hikes you would have to be” born yesterday, he said.

“On the contrary, bond curve recession probabilities are more attuned to why production levels have struggled despite prices, having more to do with global conditions and the lack of actual volume expansion. Consumer, producer, and commodity prices have obscured, to some substantial extent, the true underlying economic situation.”

Moreover, Goldman forecasts the S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) to end 2022 near $4,700.00 (down from $4,000.00), ~6% higher than today’s prices.

“The S&P 500 has dropped about 24% from peak-to-trough around past recessions (based on the median),” Goldman said in one newsletter. 

“But when the U.S. economy avoids a sustained contraction after a 10% market correction, the index has returned 15% over the next 12 months.”

Positioning: Friday marks the quarterly triple witching options expiry and index rebalancing.

Through this event, ~$3.5 trillion in options are set to expire, according to Goldman, with “more near-the-money options are maturing than at any time since 2019.”

Graphic: Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

In terms of the index rebalance, according to Howard Silverblatt of S&P Global Inc’s (NYSE: SPGI) Dow Jones Indices, “the rebalance in the index alone could spur $33 billion of stock trades.”

This newsletter has talked about the implications of derivatives and their expirations, too, ad nauseam.

Mainly, stock moves and options activity is more correlated and this is the result of participants’ increased exposure to derivatives products (particularly those with less time to expiration).

The demand for this derivatives exposure is transmitted to underlying stocks, via the risk management of counterparties; with option volumes heightened, related hedging flows may represent an increased share of volume in underlying stocks.

As I talked about this in conversations with the Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial and Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, among others, the counterparties’ response to this options trading is impactful (and often predictable).

“Moreover, heading into Wednesday’s FOMC, we saw the market well-hedged,” SpotGamma, an options modeling and analysis service explained. “Participants’ demand for protection is concentrated in options with little time to expiry (given the monthly options expiration and roll-off a significant size of S&P delta).”

“Adding, the compression of volatility [post-FOMC and into OPEX], coupled with trade higher, solicits less counterparty hedging of put protection … [and] less positive delta = less selling to hedge = less pressure.”

Graphic: Implied volatility term structure shifts inward. This solicits positive hedging (vanna) flows as counterparty exposure to positive delta declines. In other words, short stock and futures hedges (against options) are bought back.

So, at a high level, this week’s events (a ”rally [that’s] been fueled by dealers covering short positions to balance exposures while demand for stock hedges is elevated”) have bolstered positive price action. 

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

What’s interesting, also, is the S&P 500’s response to the $4,400.00, level. At this level is a concentration of call exposure.

Graphic: Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc. SPX resistance at $4,400.00.

As noted before, the dominant customer positioning, at least at the index level, is short call and long put (i.e., finance downside insurance by selling upside to hedge equity exposure).

The counterparty, in such a case, is short downside and long upside protection; when volatility contracts and underlying prices move higher, the put side, as noted above, solicits less active hedging whilst the call side solicits more active hedging.

In other words, the counterparty has less exposure to negative gamma (from puts) and more exposure to positive gamma (from calls), meaning gains are multiplied to the upside).

Graphic: Via SqueezeMetrics. Market gamma turns positive.

Knowing that “the range of spot prices across which option deltas shift from near-zero to near-100% becomes very narrow as options approach maturity (and at maturity, options on one side of the settlement value have zero delta and the other side have 100% delta),” trading into that concentration of calls (which have increased sensitivity to direction or gamma) quickly adds to counterparty positive delta exposure.

This must be offset with counterparty negative delta in the underlying (selling futures and stock to hedge). If there are enough “contracts sitting close to the spot price this time around,” that leads to more frenetic hedging as participants “actively trade around those positions,” and pressure upside, even.

Graphic: Via Nomura Holdings Inc (NYSE: NMR). Taken from ZeroHedge. “SPX / SPY currently “pinning” btwn 4400 strike ($4.1B $Gamma), 4350 ($2.5B), 4300 ($2.4B); currently see ~43% of the $Gamma dropping-off for Friday’s expiration; currently at “Zero Gamma” level, “Max Short Gamma” at 4125 and -$17B per 1% move.”

Ultimately, this post-FOMC price rise may put the market in an underhedged position. In such a case, as talked about yesterday, new demand for protection would add fuel to weakness (later). 

“I’ve never seen an environment where you’ve had so many potential overhangs in the market that can not be controlled,” said David Wagner, a portfolio manager at Aptus Capital Advisors. “We’ll see if people can see to redeploy their puts.”

SpotGamma’s Delta Tilt indicator. Current readings rival that of Dec ’18 and Mar ’20. These expirations can be correlated to sharp rallies in the S&P (red line).

Technical: As of 6:45 AM ET, Friday’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 $4,395.25 high volume area (HVNode) puts in play the $4,418.75 overnight high (ONH). Initiative trade beyond the ONH could reach as high as the $4,438.25 HVNode and $4,464.75 low volume area (LVNode), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,395.25 HVNode puts in play the $4,355.00 untested point of control (VPOC). Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as low as the $4,314.75 and $4,285.25 HVNodes, or lower.

Considerations: Push-and-pull, as well as 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.

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.

Definitions

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

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.

About

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 is also a Benzinga finance and technology reporter interviewing the likes of Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary, JC2 Ventures’ John Chambers, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, and ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, as well as a SpotGamma contributor developing insights around impactful options market dynamics.

Disclaimer

Physik Invest does not carry the right to provide advice.

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.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For March 15, 2022

Editor’s Note: The Daily Brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 200+ that read this report daily, below!

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures explored lower prices alongside most commodities. Bonds and implied volatility metrics were bid, also.

The narrative is that this is follow-on selling as participants look to price in the implications of COVID-19 lockdowns in China, as well as the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Arguably, there is some pre-Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) positioning going on, too.

Ahead is data on the Producer Price Index and Empire State Manufacturing (8:30 AM ET).

Graphic updated 6:15 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: Keeping it short, today. Please check out Monday’s commentary, if you haven’t!

Weak start to 2022 as participants look to price slower growth and inflation, tighter monetary policy, geopolitical tensions, a resurgence in COVID-19, potential Russian defaults, and beyond.

Graphic: Via S&P Global Inc (NYSE: SPGI). 

Bolstering inflation pressures are supply-demand challenges. For instance, geopolitical tensions are stifling vehicle production here in the U.S.

Graphic: Via S&P Global Inc (NYSE: SPGI). 

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, gas in the U.S. climbed about $0.80/gallon, also, prompting talk of gas tax holidays.

Graphic: Via Reuters.

Pursuant to these remarks, Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS) economists suggest the probability of recession in the next year is between 20-35% while Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) strategists see equity valuations overshooting to the downside with out of control inflation.

Graphic: Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

In opposition, JPMorgan Chase & Co’s (NYSE: JPM) Marko Kolanovic suggests there is too much negativity priced in and that investors should add equity risk

“We believe that the past month’s correction has induced too much negativity in markets, e.g., reflected by our market-implied recession probabilities, on the fear that growth will be severely affected by the war. We stay with a pro-risk stance as we do not believe that we will see a recession or that we have entered a sustained bear market.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “A Moody’s Analytics computer model suggests that the U.S. as a whole would be able to avoid a recession, even if military hostilities are prolonged.”

Positioning: Per Goldman Sachs Group Inc’s derivatives team, “puts are more overvalued than any time over the past five years.”

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. “Netting call & put delta, you can see we’re near extremes in terms of put:call positions. Often large put positions are removed by expirations, which seems to coincide with market lows. Many of these are quarterly expirations which coincide w/FOMC meetings – such as next week.”

Further, it is expected that the compression of volatility (via passage of FOMC), as well as the removal of customer puts and (accordingly) counterparty negative gamma exposure (OPEX) may serve to alleviate some of this pressure.

Graphic: Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS). Taken from The Market Ear. “18-Mar has more expiring near-the-money SPX open interest than any expiration since 2019.”

In taking the other side of this demand for protection, counterparties carry exposure to positive delta and negative gamma (losses amplified to the downside). In hedging their own exposure, counterparties will sell underlying(s), and this is where the aforementioned pressure arises.

Graphic: SqueezeMetrics details the implications of customer activity in the options market, on the underlying’s order book. For instance, in selling a put, customers add liquidity and stabilize the market. How? The market maker long the put will buy (sell) the underlying to neutralize directional risk as price falls (rises).

Given present supply and demand conditions (customer hedging in months prior), the incremental pressure counterparties add with each leg lower is less, if you will. 

Here’s a good explanation:

“When implied volatility is high, that same 1% move lower is much more ‘expected’ so there generally won’t be the same upward pressure on volatility and in fact it might decline,” said Christopher Jacobson, a strategist at Susquehanna Financial Group LLP.

“Along the same lines, investors at that point have had more opportunity and time to hedge, so those same market moves may not lead to as much hedging activity.”

Pictured: SqueezeMetrics highlights implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness.

Adding to that last remark, as Amy Wu Silverman of Royal Bank of Canada’s (NYSE: RY) capital markets group puts it well: “You’re also seeing people selling that volatility and doing some overwriting. That can probably dampen volatility.”

Graphic: SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options (HIRO) indicator for QQQ shows strong put selling 3/14/2022. Divergences often precede reversals in the underlying.

There is the potential, according to SpotGamma, for some “path dependency,” however, as “the expiration and/or covering of a large swath of these put hedges may place the market back into an ‘underhedged’ position.” In such a case, new demand would add fuel to weakness.

Technical: As of 6:15 AM ET, Tuesday’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.

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.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,129.50 overnight low (ONL) puts in play the $4,177.25 high volume area (HVNode). Initiative trade beyond the $4,177.25 HVNode could reach as high as the $4,227.75 HVNode and $4,249.25 LVNode, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,129.50 ONL puts in play the $4,101.25 ONL. Initiative trade beyond the ONL could reach as low as the $4,069.25 HVNode and $4,055.75 LVNode, or lower.

Considerations: Push-and-pull, as well as 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.

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.

Definitions

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

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.

About

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 is also a Benzinga finance and technology reporter interviewing the likes of Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary, JC2 Ventures’ John Chambers, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, and ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, as well as a SpotGamma contributor developing insights around impactful options market dynamics.

Disclaimer

Physik Invest does not carry the right to provide advice.

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.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For March 10, 2022

Editor’s Note: The Daily Brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 200+ that read this report daily, below!

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures auctioned lower practically negating the prior day’s advance. Per the news, Ukraine and Russia failed in their efforts to end the war.

Adding, similar to days prior, areas where there are key technical nuances served as supports and resistances. One may construe this as short-term traders’ dominance in the smaller time horizons while the other time frames are positioning for expansive moves (yet to happen).

To note, key metrics under the hood (SpotGamma’s HIRO, among other things) yesterday, further validated the status quo and short-covering.

Moreover, ahead is data on jobless claims and the consumer price index (8:30 AM ET). Later, participants get data on real domestic nonfinancial debt and wealth (1:00 PM ET), as well as the budget deficit (2:00 PM ET).

Graphic updated 6:40 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: The consumer price index (CPI) is to likely accelerate to 7.8% from a year ago.

This forecast varies widely, however, based on economic analysis with respect to the implications of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the sanction that resulted after.  

“There’s going to be a lot of noise in the next six months that’s going to be extremely difficult to disentangle,” said Omair Sharif of Inflation Insights LLC. 

“If you thought it was difficult to figure out what used car prices were doing and whether that was transitory, multiply that by a thousand.”

In a mention on energy market volatility, while today’s economy is less dependent on oil (i.e., less likely to kill the expansion), the action in that market (and the responses it may solicit from policymakers, later) is noteworthy.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “When families have to spend more money on necessities, they have less to spend on discretionary items and services. Economists at Barclays Plc expect the spike in energy prices to subtract an annualized 0.3 percentage point from consumption growth on average per quarter through the end of 2023.”

Despite a deterioration in the relationship between prices of crude and inflation, oil is “a major input in the economy – it is used in critical activities such as fueling transportation and heating homes – and if input costs rise, so should the cost of end products,” Investopedia says well.

Further, according to Reuters’ John Kemp, fuel oil inventories fell last week to the lowest seasonal level in more than 15 years.

Graphic: Via John Kemp’s “Best in Energy” note. “Distillate stocks were already looking tight and are now on track to become exceptionally tight before mid-year. Distillate inventories are on course for an expected first-half low of 103 million barrels (with a range of 92-114 million).”

“Stocks are on track to hit an even lower seasonal level than 2008 when the distillate shortages helped propel crude oil prices to a record high at the middle of the year,” Kemp says.

Graphic: Via Physik Invest. The CBOE Crude Oil Volatility Index (INDEX: OVX) reveals signs of peaking.

The highest oil prices ~$150/bbl had printed in 2008. As Alfonso Peccatiello of The Macro Compass hypothesizes, “Oil is denominated in fiat currency, and there has been A LOT of spendable money printing over the last 15 years. If you think the market gets as extreme as 2008, the equivalent oil price in today’s USD would be above $250/bbl.”

Given wage growth and the like, consumers likely start “to feel the heat way below $250.”

Graphic: Via Alfonso Peccatiello. “The red line shows the inflation-adjusted crude price: if you expect a proper tight oil environment, >$150-160 is your number. Also, anything above $120 in today’s prices and sustained for a few quarters would likely hit the demand side. 2013-2014 a good example, with the private sector turning defensive in 2015-2016 and China forced to ease big times to shore up the global economy.”

Why mention any of this? Fast moves higher in some of these commodity markets may impact end-consumer prices and behavior, quickly. In a bid to rein inflation – ”very high CPI in 2022, [and] still high in 2023 – central bankers will tighten. 

“The path of least resistance is for the Fed to hike rates from 0% to at least 2% relatively quickly,” Peccatiello explains in a recent post. 

However, the “Last time companies were revising their forward earnings estimates down on a net basis while Central Banks were attempting to tighten monetary policy was mid-2018,” when the markets sold nearly 20%.

Graphic: Via Yardeni Research. Taken from The Macro Compass. “The chart above shows the 3-months average of the MSCI World net earnings revisions: essentially, this metric measures the difference between the number of companies revisiting their forward earnings estimate up versus down.”

With financial conditions tightening, Peccatiello posits the Fed will be receptive to that.

Graphic: Via The Macro Compass. “Credit-default swaps on 5-year US Investment Grade Corporate Bonds are trading at 76 bps at the time of writing: Fed puts (or pivots) became more visible in the past when this measure of credit spreads approached 100 bps.”

Basically, if selling were to continue, the Fed would reassess tightening. At such level of reassessment is the Fed Put, a dynamic we’ve discussed in the past.

Graphic: Via Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC). Retrieved from Callum Thomas.

Chamath Palihapitiya recently posted about this, too. He said: “In 2018, the Fed was concerned about inflation. They were wrong and within a quarter or so, the risk shifted to recession. This chart shows how the equity markets reacted… seems eerily similar.”

“Value then faded and Growth ripped.”

Graphic: Via Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS).

Positioning: Based on a comparison of present options positioning and buying metrics, the returns distribution is skewed positive, albeit less so than before. 

Graphic: Via JPMorgan, from Bloomberg.

Obviously, the fundamental picture and the market’s responsiveness to news events – given the negative gamma environment – has us discounting these metrics. It’s noteworthy, nonetheless.

For instance, in the face of some positive developments abroad, fundamentally, markets diverged from what participants in the options complex were doing.

Graphic: SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options (HIRO) indicator reveals strong put buying and call selling (a bearish negative delta trade) in the context of Wednesday’s rise.

This divergence resolved itself, some, overnight in the broader market (even in the face of a ~7% price rise of Amazon Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN) large index constituent).

I’d be remiss if I did not point out growing bets on drops in the equity market’s pricing of risk (via the CBOE Volatility Index [INDEX: VIXI]). That would occur if indexes likely rebounded.

Graphic: Via SHIFT. There was heavy buying of the 26 VIX put.

Taken together, it’s difficult to get a grasp of where the market wants to head, in the near term. 

What is for certain: the compression of volatility (via passage of FOMC) or removal of counterparty negative exposure (via OPEX) may serve to alleviate some of this pressure. 

Until then, participants can expect the options landscape to add to market volatility.

Graphic: @pat_hennessy breaks down returns for the S&P 500, categorized by the week relative to OPEX. 

In case of lower prices, according to SpotGamma, the rate at which options counterparties increasingly add pressure on underlying SPX, so to speak, tapers off in the $4,100.00 to $4,000.00 area. Caution.

Graphic: Gamma profile flattens out near the $4,100-4,000 range suggesting less pressure and more counterparty support.

A way to take advantage of this volatility, while lowering the cost of bets, is options spreads. For instance, the Call Ratio (buy 1 call, sell 2 or more further out) can lower the cost of bets on the upside while providing exposure to asymmetric payouts.

Time and volatility are two factors, however, to be mindful of when initiating such spreads. Risk is undefined and if the time to expiry is too long (e.g., in excess of 1-2 weeks), fast moves and increases in volatility may result in large losses. 

For that reason, also, one must be extremely careful with Put Ratio spreads. Consider adding protection far away from your short strikes to cap risk and turn the spreads into Butterflies.

Graphic: Via Banco Santander SA (NYSE: SAN) research, the return profile, at expiry, of a classic 1×2 (long 1, short 2 further away) ratio spread.

Technical: As of 6:30 AM ET, Thursday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, will likely open in the lower part of a negatively skewed overnight inventory, inside of prior-range and -value, suggesting a limited potential for immediate directional opportunity.

Gap Scenarios Potentially In Play: 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.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,231.00 regular trade low (RTH Low) puts in play the $4,249.25 low volume area (LVNode). Initiative trade beyond the LVNode could reach as high as the $4,285.75 high volume area (HVNode) and $4,319.00 untested point of control (VPOC), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,231.00 RTH Low puts in play the $4,177.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as low as the $4,138.75 and $4,101.25 overnight low (ONL), or lower.

Considerations: Push-and-pull, as well as 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.

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.

Definitions

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

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.

About

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 is also a Benzinga finance and technology reporter interviewing the likes of Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary, JC2 Ventures’ John Chambers, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, and ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, as well as a SpotGamma contributor developing insights around impactful options market dynamics.

Disclaimer

Physik Invest does not carry the right to provide advice.

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.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For March 7, 2022

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What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures auctioned lower as participants looked to price in the implications of heightened inflation and risk of recession amidst geopolitical tensions.

Ahead is data on consumer credit (3:00 PM ET).

Graphic updated 5:45 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. 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: Hawkishness with respect to monetary policy, in the face of heightened inflation and slowing economic growth, is affecting global markets.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. European markets trade weak relative to their U.S. peers.

Overseas markets have sold more, relatively, and the pricing of equity market risk in Europe is far outpacing that in the U.S.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. Divergences in the pricing of risk across markets.

Last week, we unpacked the potential factors behind (and the implications of) divergences in cross-asset volatility. Mainly, the fear in one market tends to feed into the fear of another.

Pursuant to those remarks on this push-and-pull comes as Goldman Sachs Group Inc’s (NYSE: GS) prime brokerage saw hedge-fund clients unloading risk at the fastest rate in three months, while JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM) saw retail buying nearly $4.1 billion, “with money sent to S&P 500-linked ETFs more than 2 standard deviations above the 12-month average.”

Graphic: Via JPMorgan, from Bloomberg.

Per Bloomberg’s John Authers, market professionals likely view reactions to geopolitical tension “as increasing the risk of stagflation, a rare combination of high inflation and a recession.”

Graphic: Via JPMorgan, from The Market Ear.

“This looks like 2007, on the eve of the Global Financial Crisis, with even higher inflation expectations and a yield curve that has not quite yet inverted.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “[A]n outright inversion, which generally signals a recession a matter of months later, now seems an imminent possibility.”

UBS Group AG (NYSE: UBS) ran a machine-learning analysis that “reckons the Russia/Ukraine conflict could send the S&P 500 anywhere from 3,800 to 4,800 – a 26% range – depending on how it resolves.”

Graphic: Via UBS, from Bloomberg.

Perspectives: “Every other market is consistent with the idea that the economy is in trouble and there’s stress in the markets,” said Jim Bianco, president of Bianco Research LLC in Chicago. 

“The stock market historically does this — it’s the last market to turn, it’s the slowest market to understand the problems. It’s the market driven by narratives and hope.”

Graphic: Via @exposurerisk from @Callum_Thomas. “Slowly at first, then all of a sudden.”

Alternatively, BCA Research Ltd suggests that “Even if World War III is ultimately averted, markets could experience a freak-out moment over the next few weeks, similar to what happened at the outset of the pandemic. Google searches for nuclear war are already spiking.”

“Despite the risk of nuclear war, it makes sense to stay constructive on stocks over the next 12 months. If an ICBM is heading your way, the size and composition of your portfolio becomes irrelevant. Thus, from a purely financial perspective, you should largely ignore existential risk, even if you do care about it greatly from a personal perspective.”

Positioning: The fundamental picture is clouded by the options market positioning.

At present, in the face of continued passive buying support, the overwhelming demand for downside (put) protection (a negative delta, positive gamma trade) results in counterparty hedging that may exacerbate weakness.

The reason why? The counterparty has exposure to positive delta and negative gamma. If underlying prices print lower and/or measures of implied volatility rise (given increased fear and demand for protection), short puts rise in value (and counterparty losses are multiplied).

To overcome these potential losses, counterparties sell the underlying to hedge. If nothing happens, the protection decays, and counterparties buy back their hedges potentially bolstering the underlying market’s calmness or attempts higher.

As noted earlier and explained in detail last week, the pricing of risk across markets has diverged and the S&P 500, among other U.S. indices, is relatively strong (unlike peers in Europe and Asia). 

Among other things, one dynamic balancing this pressure from puts is negative-delta trade, by customers, on the call side. In selling calls, dealers are long (a positive delta, positive gamma trade that makes money if the underlying rises). To hedge, dealers tend towards selling strength and buying weakness, adding liquidity to the market. 

Still, again, the news is bad, and returns into monthly options expirations (like the one coming up next week) are often weak.

Graphic: @pat_hennessy breaks down returns for the S&P 500, categorized by the week relative to OPEX. 

So, there is potential that weakness climaxes into the options expiration. Thereafter, the reduction in put-heavy positioning may coincide with less counterparty exposure to the positive delta.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. “Netting call & put delta, you can see we’re near extremes in terms of put:call positions. Often large put positions are removed by expirations, which seems to coincide with market lows. Many of these are quarterly expirations which coincide w/FOMC meetings – such as next week.”

Still, the return distributions, based on where the implied volatility term structure is at, point to continued chop and expanded ranges.

And, according to some, the “real deleveraging hasn’t hit yet.”

Graphic: Via @FadingRallies.

Technical: As of 5:45 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, outside of prior-range and -value, suggesting a potential for immediate directional opportunity.

Balance-Break + Gap Scenarios: A change in the market (i.e., the transition from two-time frame trade, or balance, to one-time frame trade, or trend) is occurring.

Monitor for acceptance (i.e., more than 1-hour of trade) outside of the balance area. 

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. 

Rejection (i.e., return inside of balance) portends a move to the opposite end of the balance.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the visual $4,282.75 balance boundary puts in play the $4,319.00 untested point of control (VPOC). Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as high as the $4,346.75 high volume area (HVNode) and $4,375.00 VPOC, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,282.75 balance boundary puts in play the $4,249.25 low volume area (LVNode). Initiative trade beyond the LVNode could reach as low as the $4,227.75 overnight low (ONL) and $4,177.25 HVNode, or lower.

Considerations: The $4,282.75 level has solicited mechanical responses over the past weeks.

Therefore it is considered to be a level at which short-term participants will lack the wherewithal (both emotional and financial) to respond to a successful break.

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.

Definitions

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

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.

About

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 is also a Benzinga finance and technology reporter interviewing the likes of Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary, JC2 Ventures’ John Chambers, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, and ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, as well as a SpotGamma contributor developing insights around impactful options market dynamics.

Disclaimer

Physik Invest does not carry the right to provide advice.

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.