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Commentary

Weekly Brief For May 31, 2021

Market Commentary

Key Takeaways: Index futures in balance.

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

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

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

Options Expiration (OPEX): Option expiries mark an end to pinning (i.e, the theory that market makers and institutions short options move stocks to the point where the greatest dollar value of contracts will expire worthless) and the reduction dealer gamma exposure. 

Gamma is the sensitivity of an option to changes in the underlying price. Dealers that take the other side of options trades hedge their exposure to risk by buying and selling the underlying. When dealers are short-gamma, they hedge by buying into strength and selling into weakness. When dealers are long-gamma, they hedge by selling into strength and buying into weakness. The former exacerbates volatility. The latter calms volatility.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That said, participants can trade from the following frameworks.

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

POCs: POCs (like HVNodes described above) are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit. 

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

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

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

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

News And Analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What People Are Saying

Innovation And Emerging Trends

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

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

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

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

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

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

About

Renato founded Physik Invest after going through years of self-education, strategy development, and trial-and-error. His work reporting in the finance and technology space, interviewing leaders such as John Chambers, founder, and CEO, JC2 Ventures, Kevin O’Leary, businessman and Shark Tank host, Catherine Wood, CEO and CIO, ARK Invest, among others, afforded him the perspective and know-how very few come by.

Having worked in engineering and majored in economics, Renato is very detailed and analytical. His approach to the markets isn’t built on hope or guessing. Instead, he leverages the unique dynamics of time and volatility to efficiently act on opportunity.

Disclaimer

At this time, Physik Invest does not manage outside capital and is not licensed. In no way should the materials herein be construed as advice. Derivatives carry a substantial risk of loss. All content is for informational purposes only.

Categories
Commentary

Market Commentary For The Week Ahead: ‘Up, Up And Away’

Key Takeaways:

What Happened: U.S. stock index futures closed higher, last week.

What Does It Mean: The S&P 500 closed above $4,000.00 for the first time.

This comes as investors shifted their focus from the risks of rapidly rising inflation to the increasing pace of COVID-19 coronavirus vaccinations and a rebound in economic activity.

At the time, the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX), a measure of the stock market’s expectation of volatility based on S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options, hit the lowest level since February of 2020. This was likely the result of an oversupply in volatility due to contract rolling, signaling a shift in the demand for volatility and options-based hedging.

Graphic 1: Volatility declines ahead of the extended holiday weekend.

Adding, the market is entering into a historically bullish period, ahead of the upcoming corporate earnings season, with structural flows supporting the ongoing narrative, also, at least until mid-April. The reason being, most funds are committed to holding long positions. In the interest of lower volatility returns, these funds will collar off their positions, selling calls to finance the purchase of downside put protection.

Graphic 2: April, historically speaking, is usually a good month for equity investors. 

As a result of this activity, options dealers are long upside and short downside protection.

This exposure must be hedged; dealers will sell into strength as their call (put) positions gain (lose) value and buy into weakness as their call (put) positions lose (gain) value.

Now, unlike theory suggests, dealers will hedge call losses (gains) quicker (slower). This leads to “long-gamma,” a dynamic that crushes volatility and promotes momentum, observed by lengthy sprints — like the one the market is currently in — followed by rapid de-risking events as the market transitions into “short-gamma.”

What To Expect: Balance-to-higher into mid-April.

Why? One last hurrah before the reopening accelerates and flows turn. 

When flows turn, it is likely that equity and bond market volatility converge; the ongoing divergence comes alongside an attempt, by market participants, to price in rising debt levels and inflation. As consumers shift their preferences from saving and investing to spending, this divergence ought to disappear.

Graphic 3: Q1 2021 the worst quarter for bonds in decades, via Bloomberg
Graphic 4: Divergence in volatility across the bond and equity market.

Adding, metrics, like DIX, confirm increased buying pressure while divergences in options activity and volume delta suggest opportunistic selling.

More On DIX: For every buyer is a seller (usually a market maker). Using DIX — which is derived from short sales (i.e., liquidity provision on the market-making side) — we can measure buying pressure.

Volume Delta: Buying and selling power as calculated by the difference in volume traded at the bid and offer.
Graphic 5: Physik Invest maps out the purchase of call and put options in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY), for the week ending April 4, 2021. Activity in the options market was primarily concentrated in short- and long-dated tenors, in strikes as low as $330, which corresponds with $3,300 in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX).

What To Do: In the coming sessions, participants will want to pay attention to where the S&P 500 trades in relation to Thursday’s end-of-day spike higher.

More On Spikes: Spike’s mark the beginning of a break from value. Spikes higher (lower) are validated by trade at or above (below) the spike base (i.e., the origin of the spike).

In the best case, the S&P 500 remains above the $4,004.25 spike base. Doing so means that the participants are finding higher prices, above the VWAP anchored from the March 17 rally-high, valuable (i.e., buyers, on average, are in control and winning since the March 17 rally-high).

More On 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. 

In the case of higher prices, given that the $4,015.25 price extension was achieved in after-market trade that established an overnight high at $4,038.25, participants can target the $4,062.00 extension.

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

Any activity below the $4,004.25 spike base puts the rally on hold and calls for balance or digestion of higher prices.

Balance (Two-Timeframe Or Bracket): Rotational trade that denotes current prices offer favorable entry and exit. Balance-areas make it easy to spot a change in the market (i.e., the transition from two-time frame trade, or balance, to one-time frame trade, or trend).

In the case of lower prices, participants can look to whether a test of the $3,943.00 and $3,908.25 high-volume areas (HVNodes) solicit a response.

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

If participants were to auction and find acceptance into areas of prior low-volume, then future discovery ought to be volatile and quick as participants look to areas of high volume for favorable entry or exit.
Graphic 6: 4-hour profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

Conclusions: The go/no-go level for next week’s trade is $4,004.25.

Any activity above this level confirms the bullishness of last Thursday’s end-of-day spike. 

Levels Of Interest: $4,004.25 Spike Base.

Cover photo by Taryn Elliott from Pexels.

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Commentary

Market Commentary For The Week Ahead: ‘To The Moon’

Key Takeaways:

  • Positive earnings revisions nearing records
  • Equity mutual funds attract strong inflows.
  • Multi-asset funds raising equity allocations.

What Happened: U.S. stock indexes resolved a week-long trading range, Friday.

What Does It Mean: As the new administration looked to advance the status of coronavirus relief, U.S. stock index futures established record highs.

This comes as stock indexes, particularly the S&P 500, traded sideways after a rapid de-risking event associated with the GameStop Corporation (NYSE: GME) crisis, and subsequent v-pattern recovery.

More On The V-Pattern: A pattern that forms after a market establishes a high, retests some support, and then breaks above said high. In most cases, this pattern portends continuation.

As stated on Friday, the tight trading range is most likely attributable to the large February monthly options expiration (OPEX), after which, the interest at the $3,900.00 S&P 500 option strike will roll-off. 

Graphic 1: Physik Invest maps out the purchase of call and put options in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY), for the week ending February 12, 2021. Activity in the option market was primarily concentrated in short-dated tenors near $390, a strike that corresponds with $3,900.00 in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX).

Why’s this? Most funds are committed to holding long positions. In the interest of lower volatility returns, these funds will collar off their positions, selling calls to finance the purchase of downside put protection.

As a result of this activity, option dealers are long upside and short downside protection.

This exposure must be hedged; dealers will sell into strength as their call (put) positions gain (lose) value and buy into weakness as their call (put) positions lose (gain) value.

Now, unlike theory suggests, dealers will hedge call losses (gains) quicker (slower). This leads to “long-gamma,” a dynamic that crushes volatility and promotes momentum, observed by lengthy sprints, followed by rapid de-risking events as the market transitions into “short-gamma.”

If the interest near $3,900.00 S&P 500 is not rolled up in price and out in time, then option hedging requirements will change.

However, it is important to note that, in recent days, some exposure has been rolled up in price and out in time. This suggests an inclination by participants to maintain long exposure through OPEX, a day that would mark an end to pinning (which we’ve seen over the past weeks).

One such example can be seen below.

Graphic 4: Purchase of call positions higher in price and farther out in time in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index

What To Do: In coming sessions, participants will want to pay attention to the $3,919.75 spike base and $3,928.25 balance-area high.

More On Spikes: Spike’s mark the beginning of a break from value. Spikes higher (lower) are validated by trade at or above (below) the spike base (i.e., the origin of the spike).

Balance-areas make it easy to spot change in the market (i.e., the transition from two-time frame trade, or balance, to one-time frame trade, or trend).

Given the spike out of balance, the following frameworks ought to be applied. 

In the best case, the S&P 500 opens and remains above the $3,919.75 spike base, confirming last week’s higher prices. In the worst case, the S&P 500 auctions below the $3,919.75 spike base.

Trade below the spike base would be the most negative outcome and may trigger a new wave of downside discovery, repairing some of the poor structures left in the wake of the aforementioned advance.

Graphic 5: Profile overlays on a 30-minute candlestick chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

Conclusions: The go/no-go level for next week’s shortened holiday trade is $3,919.75. Trade below this level suggests markets are not yet ready to rally.

Levels Of Interest: $3,919.75 spike base.

Cover photo by Pixabay, from Pexels.

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Commentary

Market Commentary For The Week Ahead: ‘Rally On Pause’

Key Takeaways:

What Happened:

Alongside mixed economic releases, plans for added fiscal stimulus, as well as a start to the Q4 earnings season, U.S. index futures broke balance and auctioned lower.

Given that Friday’s worst case scenario was realized, U.S. stock indexes are positioned for further downside discovery.

Graphic 1: Profile overlays on a 30-minute candlestick chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures

What To Expect: Friday’s session in the S&P 500 found responsive buying surface after a test of the $3,741.25 Virgin Point of Control, or VPOC (i.e., the fairest price to do business in a prior session).

Noting: POCs are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit.

In the simplest way, high-volume areas can be thought of as building blocks. A structurally sound market will build on past areas of high-volume. Should the market trend for long periods of time, it will lack sound structure. If participants were to auction and find acceptance into areas of prior low-volume, then future discovery ought to be volatile and quick as participants look to areas of value for favorable entry or exit.

Thereafter, buying pressure quickly disappeared, and the S&P 500 confirmed the balance-break. Now, in light of the market’s search for an area to establish balanced, two-sided trade, participants will come into Tuesday’s session knowing the following:

  1. Prior to a multi-session consolidation, profile structures denoted the presence of short-covering. This was the result of old, weak-handed business emotionally buying to cover short positions, causing swift movement, followed by a stalled advance, or two-sided trade.
  2. Unsupportive speculative flows and delta (e.g., non-presence of committed buying or selling) in some instances, as can be viewed by the order flow graphics 2 and 3 below.
  3. The multi-month upside breakout targeting S&P 500 prices as high as $4,000.00 remains intact, per graphic 4.
  4. After a v-pattern recovery, the S&P 500 consolidated near the $3,800 high-open interest strike, forming a balance-area. This structure was resolved with Friday’s balance-break. A break-out from balance is usually the start of a short-term auction. Therefore, placing trades in the direction of the break is the normal course of action. Trading back into the consolidation (above $3,763.75), thereby invalidating the break-out, may portend a move to the other end of balance ($3,824.25).
Graphic 2: Divergent delta in the iShares Russell 2000 ETF (NYSE: IWM), one of the largest ETFs that track the Russell 2000
Graphic 3: Order flow in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY), the largest ETF that tracks the S&P 500
Graphic 4: Daily candlestick chart of the cash S&P 500 Index

Given the above dynamics, the following frameworks apply for next week’s shortened holiday trade.

In the best case, the S&P 500 remains above its $3,763.75 balance-area low (BAL). Expectations thereafter include continued balance or initiative buying to take out the $3,824.25 balance-area high (BAH).

In the worst case, the S&P 500 remains below its $3,763.75 BAL. Expectations thereafter include a test of the low-volume node (LVNode) near $3,732.75. A break of the LVNode would portend a response near the $3,703.25 balance-break projection.

Conclusions: For now, despite a negative balance-break jeopardizing the bullish thesis, broad-market indices are in a longer-term uptrend. Participants ought to look for favorable areas to transact, such as those big-picture high-volume areas featured in graphic 5.

Graphic 5: 4-hour profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures

Levels Of Interest: $3,763.75 BAL, $3,824.25 BAH, $3,732.75 LVNode, $3,703.25 balance-break projection.

Cover photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels.

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Commentary

Market Commentary For 12/24/2020

Holiday Note: Thank you for your support! Wishing you and your closest good health and happy holidays!

What Happened: As Britain and the European Union hone in on a trade deal, while Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives aim to win quick passage of legislation providing $2,000 direct payments to Americans, U.S. index futures point to an open in prior-balance and -range.

What Does It Mean: During Wednesday’s session, participants in the S&P 500 failed to auction and sustain prices above the $3,691.00 balance boundary.

Adding, given the holiday trade schedule, tapering volumes, as well as the return to balance after responsive selling surfaced at the $3,700.00 high-volume node (HVNode), odds do not favor directional resolve.

What To Expect: In light of flat overnight trade, after Wednesday’s session failed to muster increased participation above the $3,691.00 boundary, the following frameworks apply for today’s trade.

In the best case, the S&P 500 remains above its $3,667.75 HVNode, and continues to balance. As stated earlier, given the tapering volume and holiday, the odds of directional resolve are quite low. Two go, no-go levels exist; trade that finds increased involvement above $3,691.00 and below $3,667.75 would suggest a change in conviction. Anything in-between favors responsive trade.

Levels Of Interest: The $3,691.00 boundary and $3,667.75 HVNode.

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Commentary

Market Commentary For 11/27/2020

What Happened: On hopes of a sustained economic rebound, stock index futures are trading higher, in balance, suggesting acceptance of higher prices in the S&P 500.

What Does It Mean: In Wednesday’s regular trading, participants balanced, accepting higher prices near the $3,630 balance-area high, as evidenced by the non-presence of range expansion.

Now, buyers extended their gains, auctioning into Tuesday’s excess high, which ended the upside discovery process when responsive sellers were found near the $3,650 mark, a balance-area projection.

As a result, participants come into Friday’s session knowing that (1) the market has accepted Tuesday’s advance, (2) the auction is trading into a prior excess high, above the $3,630 balance-area boundary, and (3) the odds do not favor range expansion during a shortened, holiday session.

Therefore, today will likely further confirm Tuesday’s activity was the start of a new trend to the upside. Since the auction below $3,625, into Tuesday’s poor profile structure, did not attract further selling, initiative buyers remain in control. Thus, participants must monitor for signs of (1) continuation or (2) balance.

In case of the former, participants ought to take out the $3,655 overnight rally high first. In case of the latter, the auction ought to find responsive buyers near $3,630, a prior resistive balance-area high. An initiative drive below below that figure would put the rally on hold, and would target first $3,620, and then the node near $3,610.

Levels Of Interest: $3,655 overnight high, $3,630 balance-area high/high-volume node.