Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For July 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!

Graphic updated 6:50 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. 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.

Fundamental

After the release of data on consumer prices, earlier this month, the belief was that a de-rate, on inflation, was, potentially, nearing an end, although it was likely to remain at a “higher level than we’ve seen historically,” per the likes of Chevron Corporation’s (NYSE: CVX) CEO Mike Wirth.

Read: National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) Housing Market Index (HMI) sees record decline. Rental markets cooling. Foreign buying jumps. Food to be the ultimate weapon in the 21st century.

Graphic: Retrieved from Randy Woodward. “Bloomberg commodities index vs. headline CPI.”

Now comes an even deeper compression on earnings?

Graphic: Retrieved from Callum Thomas. “Clear downward momentum in earnings revisions, only 33% of analyst earnings estimates have been revised upward (i.e. the rest downward) — matches the worsening macro.”

Well, maybe. Based on executives’ perspectives, we’re probably “talking ourselves into a recession,” precisely what the likes of Robert Shiller have expressed worry on.

Accordingly, participants are now pricing in shaky earnings, selling the stock of Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS), Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL), and beyond, on those firms’ preparations for an increased potential for an economic downturn.

Up until this week, the Nasdaq 100 (INDEX: NDX) was doing better, consolidating for a potential break above a key response area, like the S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX), highlighted in a section further below.

It failed after the release of earnings from some index heavyweights.

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg. “The Nasdaq 100, down 27% for the year so far, had briefly managed to get above its 50-day moving average on Monday, suggesting that the relentless downward trend was over — but the index failed to stay there, thanks in large part to Apple.”

Pessimism is incredibly strong among investors, however, a sort-of contrarian signal.

In spite of some Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC) indicators pointing to poor fundamentals, sentiment is suggestive of a looming “stocks/credit rally in coming weeks.”

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg. “Investors slashed their exposure to risk assets to levels not seen even during the global financial crisis in a sign of full capitulation amid a “dire” economic outlook, according to Bank of America Corp.’s monthly fund manager survey.”

Positioning

Though we’re far more than halfway through a dot-com type collapse that’s happened “underneath the surface of the indices,” per Simplify Asset Management’s Mike Green, still-strong passive flows continue to support the largest stocks within the indexes.

Graphic: Retrieved from The Market Ear. Via Barclays PLC (NYSE: BCS).

At the same time, options volumes show traders concentrating less on bullish strategies in the single stocks, while the index flows remain steady.

Graphic: Via Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE: DB).

Looking at skew on something like the tech- and growth-heavy Nasdaq 100 (INDEX: NDX), our comments in prior letters (regarding volatility supply from the re-hedging of defensive structures on the put side and volatility demand on the call side from the positioning for a reversal) appear still valid.

Read: Daily Brief for July 15, 2022.

Therefore, spread opportunities still exist and remain attractive.

Graphic: Via Charles Schwab Corporation-owned (NYSE: SCHW) TD Ameritrade’s Thinkorswim. Skew resembles more of a smile, rather than a smirk.

Read: Trading Volatility, Correlation, Term Structure and Skew by Colin Bennett.

Technical

As of 6:45 AM ET, Tuesday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, is likely to open in the upper part of a positively 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.

Any activity above the $3,867.25 LVNode puts into play the $3,895.00 VPOC. Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as high as the $3,909.25 MCPOC and $3,943.25 HVNode, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower.

Any activity below the $3,867.25 LVNode puts into play the $3,829.75 MCPOC. Initiative trade beyond the MCPOC could reach as low as the $3,800.75 LVNode and $3,770.75 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: 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.

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, former Bridgewater Associate Andy Constan, 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 June 9, 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

U.S. markets were weighed by action abroad before recovering late in the overnight session. 

This was ahead of a European Central Bank (ECB) decision that likely results in a tightening of monetary policies in that region of the world. The expectation is that the ECB will end its bond purchases this month. Then, hike rates in July and September. 

At home, in the U.S., the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is looking to change the business model of wholesalers. In consideration is a model in which different firms compete with each other to fill investors’ trades. Some suggest this would increase trading costs.

Elsewhere, one of the largest U.S. export plants of liquified natural gas (LNG) is to shut down due to a facility explosion, raising the risk of shortages in Europe, according to Reuters.

Ahead is data on jobless claims (8:30 AM ET), as well as real household net worth and domestic financial debt (12:00 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

In the past week, a narrative on bearish bets in funds such as the iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (NYSE: HYG) surfaced.

The ETF saw some of the largest volumes since March of 2020, presumably as traders looked to hedge for low cost, the Federal Reserve’s (FED) hawkishness. 

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “Given that HYG’s realized volatility is still relatively low, it’s an inexpensive way to hedge the impact of tightening monetary policy on corporate credit.”

According to The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial, “a lot of banks continue to push credit vol[atility] as a cheap hedge. Every month, at least four banks push the theme on that trade because of ‘value.’”

This is “also, another reason why every month you see HYG put spreads hit the tape with big size, relatively speaking,” he adds.

Adding, Bridgewater Associates, which was founded by Ray Dalio in 1975, is betting on the sale of corporate bonds via credit default swaps (CDS), which are used to transfer and hedge credit exposure on fixed income products.

Bridgewater’s Co-Chief Investment Officer Greg Jensen explained their bet against corporate bonds is based on inflation remaining stubborn, resulting in the Fed to “tighten in a very strong way, which would then crack the economy and probably crack the weaker [companies].”

Here’s why that matters. 

The firms facing challenges, “are creations of easy credit,” according to Bloomberg and, now, for some of them, their time is running short as they “aren’t earning enough to cover their interest expenses, let alone turn a profit.” 

“When interest rates are at or close to zero, it’s very easy to get credit, and under those circumstances, the difference between a good company and a bad company is narrow,” said Komal Sri-Kumar of Sri-Kumar Global Strategies. 

“It’s only when the tide runs out that you figure out who is swimming naked.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

Despite many of these companies having debt that could last them “months, even years,” Vincent Reinhart explains that “[a]s rates rise, it pushes more of those firms into distress, and amplifies the tightening by the Fed of financial conditions and credit availability.”

As stated yesterday, financial conditions are “the mechanism through which the Fed [impacts] the economy,” and “if the data doesn’t slow, financial conditions will need to tighten more,” potentially feeding into a freezing of credit and a harder hit on still-frothy areas of the market “with the greatest systemic risk.”

As we quoted Simplify Asset Management’s Mike Green explaining in early May, we’re more than halfway through a dot-com type collapse that’s happened “underneath the surface of the indices.” 

That’s noteworthy since still-strong passive flows continue to support the largest stocks within the index.

That said, with bonds “not acting as a hedge and appear to be becoming less ‘money’ like due persistent declines in price and elevated rate vol,” per Joseph Wang, who was a trader at the Fed, “[i]nvestors in both bonds and stocks are reaching for cash by selling their assets, driving further asset price declines. For non-bank investors, ‘cash’ means bank deposits.”

How to think about trades?

As explained, yesterday, the marginal impact of further volatility compression is likely to do less to bolster equity market upside. Heading into the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) event, next week, according to SpotGamma, short-dated, pre-event volatility is likely to get sold (further promoting market consolidation) while that which is farter-dated is likely to be bought.

To capitalize on a resolution of the index-level pinning, participants, too, could sell short-dated volatility (which capitalizes on pinning and the rapid decay of soon-to-expire options) and use those proceeds to fund farther dated options. 

Such a structure would assist in lower the cost of directional exposure.

Graphic: The risk profile of a long put calendar spread, via Fidelity.

Alternatively, if bearish on volatility, one could buy a butterfly (short two times at the money and long above and below out of the money options). 

Graphic: The risk profile of a long call butterfly spread, via Fidelity.

In such a case, the trader becomes long implied skew convexity. This is a play on the comments above, coupled with the fact that the Cboe VVIX Index (INDEX: VVIX), the expected volatility of the 30-day forward price of the VIX, or the volatility of volatility (a naive but useful measure of skew), dropped off largely, too, in comparison to the VIX, itself.

Graphic: Text taken from Exotic Options and Hybrids: A Guide to Structuring, Pricing and Trading.

Technical: As of 6:40 AM ET, Thursday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, will likely open in the upper 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 $4,129.25 low volume area (LVNode) puts in play the $4,149.00 untested point of control (VPOC). Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as high as the $4,164.25 regular trade high (RTH High) and $4,189.25 LVNode, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,129.25 LVNode puts in play the $4,101.25 LVNode. Initiative trade beyond the LVNodes could reach as low as the $4,073.25 weak high/low and $4,055.75 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.

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.

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 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.