Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For July 11, 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 7:00 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

To start, thank you to the many new subscribers who joined in the past weeks. I’m honored.

Further, today we start broad (fundamental) and hone into specifics on how to act in the current trade environment (positioning), as well as potential inflection (technical) points.

I encourage you to read through to the technicals part, if possible. Have a great week!

Seasonally speaking, the markets are in the midst of one of the most bullish periods of the year.

Graphic: Retrieved from The Market Ear.

This is as stock market flows have yet to turn as they did for bonds months ago.

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

The cycle is as follows: typically bonds are the first to turn. Stocks and commodities follow. 

Graphic: Retrieved from @granthawkridge

With bonds and equity products now off their swing lows and commodities off their highs (as inflation has, potentially, peaked), we have to question how much more?

Graphic: Retrieved from Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS).

Well, thus far, and this is something we’ve talked about in the past, markets have suffered through compression in multiples. Does it stop or is there a looming earnings compression?

Graphic: Retrieved from Credit Suisse Group AG (NYSE: CS).

The earnings season shall shed clarity on the answer all the while – what is known – a strong dollar is sure to translate into a headwind for S&P 500 earnings growth.

Graphic: Retrieved from The Market Ear. Via Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) research. “The simple math on S&P 500 earnings from currency is that for every percentage point increase on a year-on-year basis it’s approximately a 0.5xhit to EPS growth. At today’s 16% year-on-year level, that translates into an 8% headwind for S&P 500 EPS growth, all else equal”

“The main point for equity investors is that this dollar strength is just another reason to think earnings revisions are coming down,” Morgan Stanley’s Mike Wilson explains

“[T]he recent rally in stocks is likely to fizzle out before too long.”

Moreover, with the impulse in credit falling, labor market showing preliminary signs of weakness, a drawdown in commodities (which is consistent with sharply lower economic growth), and bond market pricing rate cuts in early 2023, immediately following the hiking cycle, portfolios can “stay away from highly speculative assets, own USD cash and start allocating towards 5-10y+ government bonds,” as Alfonso Peccatiello explains well in his letter, The Macro Compass.

Graphic: Retrieved from The Macro Compass published by Alfonso Peccatiello.

Positioning

Calmer trade alongside easing volatility and generally rising gamma exposures. Trade, at times, was responsive. Participants would add positive (negative) delta bets into weakness (strength).

Graphic: Updated 7/8/2022. SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options (HIRO) indicator registers the sale of put (blue line) and call (orange) options.

Noteworthy is the continued sale of volatility, particularly across shorter time horizons, as well as increased demand for call options, especially in some of the larger index weights. Volatility sale, on the part of customers, leaves liquidity providers warehousing long volatility (which is kind of a naive thing to say as we’re discounting customer trades being paired off with each other).

Nonetheless, these liquidity providers’ positions, all else equal, will maintain or increase in value if underlying(s) realize volatility (especially that far in excess of implied). To hedge, rips (dips) will be sold (bought) to offset the increasing positive (negative) delta.

Graphic: Updated 7/7/2022. SpotGamma’s HIRO indicator for Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL). Rising orange and blue lines point to call buying and put selling, both of which have bullish implications.

Moreover, this trend in volatility supply is in part on the loss of interest in “leveraged long S&P” trades, as well as “marginal demand for puts,” as SqueezeMetrics has stated, before.

Graphic: Retrieved from The Market Ear. Originally sourced via VIX Central. “Chart shows the VIX term structure ‘crash’ since June 13, which was the most recent VIX peak. The curve is now back to normal with the short end of the curve ‘much’ lower than longer-term maturities. Let’s see how far down they ‘press’ this.”

“Creeping into net selling territory is ‘smart’ bear market positioning. Short delta, short skew.”

Graphic: Retrieved from The Market Ear. “VIX has decoupled from cross-asset volatilities.”

Accordingly, the volatility markets have realized (RVOL) has crept (and exceeded, at times) the volatility implied (IVOL). 

Graphic: Via S&P Global. As explained by SpotGamma, “30-day realized SPX volatility is now trading above the VIX, something that generally shows after major selloffs wherein IV “premium” needs to reset to calmer/higher equity markets.”

This, coupled with “a flattening in the downside fixed strike skew, while the upside wings [are] more smiley,” as described by JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM), has made for attractive low-cost spread opportunities, as talked about in the July 8, 2022 letter.

Graphic: Via JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM). Taken from The Market Ear.

For instance, as discussed Friday, ratio spreads continue to work well for low- or no-cost exposure to the upside. 

Graphic: Via Option Alpha.

Pursuant to those remarks, no-cost spreads this letter’s writer has structured in Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) are pricing hundreds of dollars in credit to close.

Graphic: Via Charles Schwab Corporation-owned (NYSE: SCHW) TD Ameritrade’s Thinkorswim. 

Obviously, there’s no mention, here, of the risk management (e.g., sizing and width) involved. Again, this is as I’m trying to give actionable info without providing explicit recommendations.

Similarly, if one thought volatility, though at a high starting point particularly at the money (ATM), was due for a repricing, they would look for exposure to the downside via something such as an inverse ratio (or back spread), as said last week.

Graphic: Via Option Alpha.

This is as the ATMs, unlike those further out of the money (OTM), are less convex in vega.

Graphic: Via Mohamed Bouzoubaa et al’s Exotic Options and Hybrids.

Technical

As of 7:00 AM ET, Monday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, is likely to open in the middle-to-lower 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.

Any activity above the $3,867.25 LVNode puts into play the $3,909.25 MCPOC. Initiative trade beyond the MCPOC could reach as high as the $3,943.25 HVNode and $3,982.75 LVNode, or higher.

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

Any activity below the $3,867.25 LVNode puts into play the $3,831.00 VPOC. Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as low as the $3,800.25 LVNode and $3,755.00 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.

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.

Example: The below 65-minute S&P 500 chart with volume profiles was included in the July 8, 2022 edition of the newsletter. Prices were near an inflection (micro-composite point of control and two key volume-weighted average price levels). From thereon, selling surfaced.

This is what is meant by responsiveness near key-technical areas.
Graphic: Updated 7/2/22. 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, 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 22, 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 and commodity futures were sideways to lower all the while bonds and volatility were bid. 

This is after participants, based on metrics included later in the letter, took the advance as an opportunity to sell at higher prices. Demanded was protection, and this bid implied volatility.

Big headlines include China sending warplanes near Taiwan after the U.S. rejected its strait claims. The Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu wrote that the threat was “more serious than ever.” This is, also, ahead of Taiwan and U.S. officials talking about arms sales.

In other news, Congress was called on to pass a $0.184 per gallon gasoline tax holiday. Growth in job postings slowed as Q2 GDP forecasts have been revised lower, Chinese manufacturing orders declined by 20-30%, U.K. inflation hit a 40-year record, and sellers of homes are cutting prices in some of the hottest markets while the demand for adjustable-rate mortgages surges.

Ahead, the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) Patrick Harker speaks at 9:00 AM ET. Then, Jerome Powell testifies to the Senate Banking Committee at 9:30 AM ET. Later, Charles Evans speaks at 12:50 PM ET, followed by Harker and Barkin, again, at 1:30 PM ET.

Graphic updated 6:30 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: For what it is worth when it comes to talking of theory and the economy, ARK Invest’s Cathie Wood has been spot on, in many ways.

Somewhat pursuant to our detailed analysis on May 18, 2022, which talked about the impact of reduced liquidity and credit on the real economy and asset prices, Wood explained that the U.S. fell into a recession during the first quarter.

Read: Daily brief for May 18, 2022.

“If massive inventor[ies] bloat real GDP in the second quarter, they will unwind and hurt growth for the rest of the year,” she said. Last year, though badly timed, Wood said that inflation would be on its way out due in part to excess inventory which would be reflected in commodity prices.

Read: Walmart Inc’s (NYSE: WMT) inventory glut to reduce in a “couple of quarters” and how Target Corporation’s (NYSE: TGT) oversupply problem should scare all retailers.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “The hot commodities rally is cooling off fast as recession fears again ground and cloud the outlook for demand.”

“If inventories and stock prices are leading indicators for employment and wages, … then fears of cost-push inflation a la 1970’s should disappear during the next six months.”

To put it briefly, as we’ve talked about in the past, the recent market rout is a recession and the direct reflection of the unwind of carry. It is the manifestation of a deflationary shock, and today’s sentiment and reducing demand for goods, among other things, reflect this.

And, with that, after a period during which capital was misallocated, the Fed is not in a position to control price stability “without bringing down the markets,” per Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan.

Read: Kris Abdelmessih’s Moontower #148 on prevailing macroeconomic perspectives.

In light of these efforts to control price stability, to remain is a continued reach for cash (or bank deposits) and the sale of non-cash assets.

Graphic: Via Redfin Corporation (NASDAQ: RDFN).

“Bonds are not acting as a hedge and appear to be becoming less ‘money’ like due persistent declines in price and elevated rate vol,” as Joseph Wang, who was a trader at the Fed, puts it.

Bank deposits are to drain about $1 trillion or so by year-end, prompting investors to “continue to lower their selling prices to compete for the cash they want.”

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.”

If it provides any solace, per comments by Credit Suisse Group AG’s (NYSE: CS) Zoltan Pozsar, the Fed, which “can only deal with nominal [and] not real chokepoints,” is likely to change course.

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

Likewise, Andreas Steno Larsen explains that bond yields remain governed by demographics, and this is good news for stocks, in general.

“Just look at the growth rate of the working-age population (10 years forward) versus the term premium of US Treasury bonds. The current bond bear market is not standing on structural pillars.”

Graphic: Via Andreas Steno Larsen. “Bond yields remain governed by demographics over the medium-term. Low(er) for longer.”

Positioning: To preface, I encourage everyone to check out the Daily Brief for June 17, 2022.

Moving on. So, last week, we had a large monthly options expiration (OPEX). After this, liquidity providers’ re-hedging flows supported the market.

Over the weekend, into Tuesday’s U.S. close, equities, then, traded higher. The rally, however, was not confidence-inspiring and was indicative of short-covering.

Per SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options (HIRO) indicator, participants took the relief rally “as an opportunity to hedge/sell,” as I wrote for SpotGamma, yesterday.

Graphic: SpotGamma’s combined HIRO reading for the S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) and SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY). Trade was responsive (i.e., buy dip, sell rip) up until 2:00 PM ET when demand for negative delta (i.e., put buying, call selling) outweighed that for positive delta.

This ultimately showed up in broad measures of implied volatility. As The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial said: “[I]n the final hour, spot [and] vol up.”

This plays into decreased odds for a far-reaching rally. Participants are positioned out in strikes that are lower and the activity in those strikes plays into a change in tone with respect to the non-linearity and strength of volatility and skew with respect to linear changes in asset prices.

As Karsan spoke to, last week, the spikes in short-dated -sticky skew – the “first we’ve seen since [the] secular decline began” – hints at a “critical change in dealer positioning.”

“We’re transitioning to a fat left tail, right-based distribution,” Karsan adds

So why does any of this matter?

There still appears to be a heavy supply of options, particularly those with less time to maturity, and skew remains poor-performing (hence comments in prior letters on the benefit of buying into implied skew convexity should volatility reprice).

Graphic: Via Charles Schwab Corporation-owned (NYSE: SCHW) TD Ameritrade’s Thinkorswim. Note historical or realized volatility (RVOL) versus that which is implied (IVOL).

Basically, participants are hedged and volatility remains well-supplied. 

If there was to be forced selling or demand for protection by a greater share of the market in ways not recently seen, then the repricing of the aforementioned structures would be a boon for those who own them.

Graphic: Via Banco Santander SA (NYSE: SAN) research.

Options have a “non-zero second-order price sensitivity (or convexity) to a change in volatility,” as Mohamed Bouzoubaa et al explain well in the book Exotic Options and Hybrids.

“ATM vanillas are [not] convex in the underlying’s price, … but OTM vanillas do have vega convexity … [so], when the holder of an option is long vega convexity, we say she is long vol-of-vol.”

In other words, by owning that protection – e.g., butterfly and back spreads – you are positioned to monetize on a continued non-linear repricing of volatility. The difficult part is cutting the decay of those spreads when nothing happens.

Read: Trading Volatility, Correlation, Term Structure and Skew by Colin Bennett et al. Originally sourced via Academia.edu.

As an aside, despite the bearish tilt in positioning, there has been a notable uptick in index call buying per UBS Group AG (NYSE: UBS), presumably so that participants don’t miss out on a vicious reversal, should one transpire.

Graphic: Via UBS Group AG.

Adding, the “high starting point” in IVOL makes it possible to put on zero- and low-cost bets that deliver asymmetric payouts in case of violent and short-lived reversals. 

Read: Daily Brief for May 13, 2022.

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 (the inverse of a back spread).

Technical: As of 6:30 AM ET, Wednesday’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.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $3,696.00 low volume area (LVNode) puts in play the $3,722.50 LVNode. Initiative trade beyond the LVNodes could reach as high as the $3,735.75 and $3,770.75 high volume areas (HVNodes), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $3,696.00 LVNode puts in play the $3,675.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as low as the $3,639.00 RTH Low and $3,610.75 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: Gap scenarios are in play, today.

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.

Definitions

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 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 June 13, 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, futures for commodities, the equity indexes, and bonds were weak. There was no salvation in different assets. Instead, the realized correlation, across markets, tightened.

This is on the heels of inflation data updates that have traders pricing a 50-50 odds for a 75 basis point interest rate hike in July, after a 50 basis point hike this month.

That said, Ben Bernanke, who is a former Federal Reserve (Fed) Chair, said monetary policy leaders may be able to sidestep a big recession, expressing hopes that improvements in supply chains, among other things, would help rein inflation.

In other news, Chinese military officials warned their U.S. counterparts to avoid the Taiwan Strait and dismissed the need for the United Nations to review labor standards in the Xinjiang region.

This is as Britain’s economy unexpectedly shrank and Russia claims it has destroyed U.S. and European weapons stores in Ukraine. Additionally, despite OPEC+’s modest output gains, the average price of a gallon of gas rose to over $5 per gallon in the U.S. 

This output shock is likely to last into 2023 with gas potentially reaching as high as $6-$7.

Interestingly, as an aside, power grid operators in the Midwest are suggesting rolling blackouts in the coming years. This is just as power use in the South hit all-time records.

Ahead is data on inflation expectations (11:00 AM ET). This week’s focus is on the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) monetary policy decisions and large derivative expirations.

Graphic updated 6:30 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: The CPI report was released Friday. 

Expected was an 8.2% rise year-over-year (YoY) and 0.7% month-over-month (MoM). Core CPI (which excludes food and energy) was to rise by 5.9% YoY and 0.5% MoM, respectively.

Officially, the headline number rose to 8.6%, and, the same day, consumer sentiment dropped to record lows while expectations for inflation (5-10 years from now) jumped 0.3%.

Graphic: Via All-Star Charts. Taken from the Weekly S&P 500 ChartStorm.

As Bloomberg’s John Authers put it well, the report’s details “were if anything even more alarming. There’s no way around it; this was a bad report.”

Graphic: Via Schroders plc (OTC: SHNWF). Taken from the Weekly S&P 500 ChartStorm. “Everyone’s (current) favorite economic data report was out this week and it showed annual CPI inflation running at an 8.6% clip. On this chart that would imply a P/E ~11x (Current P/E is ~20x).

Subsequently, a key part of the U.S. yield curve turned upside down while traders priced more tightening by September (i.e., two 50 basis point hikes and one that is potentially 75 basis points), selling nearly everything but the U.S. dollar.

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

Early last week, after commentaries resumed, we talked about the reach for cash amid poor safety in fixed income and stock price declines.

Ultimately, to quote Joseph Wang who was a trader at the Fed, an increase in the RRP (reverse repo) and QT (which is a direct flow of capital to capital markets) “would drain the pool of bank deposits by ~$1t by year-end,” and this may prompt investors to “continue to lower their selling prices to compete for the cash they want.”

Graphic: Via McClellan Financial Publications. “These bonds move a lot more like the stock market than like T-Bonds. What makes them even more interesting is that they tend to be terribly sensitive to liquidity, both good and bad.”

“Inflation is eating margins, eating consumer demand, and causing the dramatic monetary tightening we are witnessing. None of this is good for stocks,” said James Athey of Abrdn. 

“There is still much downside to come.” 

Positioning: In short, prior-mentioned supply and demand dynamics resulted in divergences between the volatility that the market realizes (RVOL) and that which is implied (IVOL).

Graphic: Via Robson Chow, founder at Tradewell. The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY) “is off ~5% in two trading sessions and implied volatility is still below realized volatility.”

Basically, 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.

Graphic: Commentary published by Kai Volatility.

Accordingly, for “divergences in RVOL and IVOL to resolve, it would likely take forced selling,” as I explained in a recent SpotGamma commentary.

This is similar to the happenings of the Global Financial Crisis when, according to The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial, “vol slowly [ground] until the eventual October 2008 move (i.e., Lehman).”

“The markets were understanding that there was a change going on, especially in credit. But that risk was discounted until it was forced into realization.”

In light of this, on June 8, we talked about long volatility structures (that, one, either sold very short-dated pre-FOMC and OPEX volatility to fund that which is farther-dated or, two, buy into implied skew convexity, non-linear with respect to delta [gamma] and vega [volga] changes).

Why would you do that?

When you think there is to be an outsized move in the underlying, relative to what is priced, you buy options (positive exposure to gamma) so that you may have gains that are potentially amplified in case of directional movement.

When you think there is to be an outsized move in the implied volatility, relative to what is priced, you buy options (positive exposure to volga) so that you may have gains that are potentially amplified in case of implied volatility repricing.

Graphic: Via Banco Santander SA (NYSE: SAN) research.

Ultimately, “liquidity providers’ response to demand for protection (en masse) 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.”

More on these dynamics later this week.

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 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 $3,808.50 HVNode puts in play the $3,836.25 LVNode. Initiative trade beyond the $3,836.25 LVNode could reach as high as the $3,863.25 LVNode and $3,911.00 VPOC, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $3,808.50 HVNode puts in play the $3,768.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the $3,768.25 HVNode could reach as low as the $3,727.75 and $3,688.75 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.

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.

Point Of Control: 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.

Micro Composite Point Of Control: 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 June 8, 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 took back some of Tuesday’s sharp advance which happened against the trend of prevailing options activity (discussed further below).

This is as narratives remain unchanged. Investors are pricing the implications of the actions to address heightened inflation, as well as how that may play into (further) economic slowing.

Ahead is data on wholesale inventories (10:00 AM ET). Below is a light commentary to rebuild our narrative after the week-long pause.

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: On Friday, participants will receive an update on inflation when consumer price data is released.

Graphic: Taken from Morningstar Inc (NASDAQ: MORN). Forecasts for this week’s remaining U.S. data from a survey compiled by The Wall Street Journal.

It is one of the Federal Reserve’s commitments to promote stable prices; the institution is aiming for a soft landing just as supply chains, higher prices, and borrowing costs, among other things, are cutting into growth. 

Graphic: Via the New York Federal Reserve. Taken from Bloomberg. “The gauge brings together 27 variables that take the temperature of everything from cross-border transportation costs to country-level manufacturing data in the euro area, China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the UK and the US.”

“The Fed is in a major jam,” said Oren Klachkin of Oxford Economics. “They don’t want to let inflation spiral but they also don’t want to kill the expansion. Finding the middle ground between those is hard, and their tools are blunt, so the task before them is monumental.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg analysis of the World Bank Group’s Flagship Report – Global Economic Prospects – for 2022. “Against the challenging backdrop of higher inflation, weaker growth, tighter financial conditions, and limited fiscal policy space, governments will need to reprioritize spending toward targeted relief for vulnerable populations.”

Last Wednesday marked the start of quantitative tightening (QT), a practice used to shrink the Fed’s balance sheet and amplify the effect of rate hikes, further cutting into financial conditions, “the mechanism through which the Fed [impacts] the real economy,” explains Dennis DeBusschere of 22V Research.

“If the data doesn’t slow, financial conditions will need to tighten more,” and this will play into less demand for goods and services, many of which (are continuing to) remain in short supply.

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

Accordingly, Joseph Wang, who was a trader at the Fed, explains well that cash, which has been spared from the market rout, is set to become scarcer.

“Bonds are not acting as a hedge and appear to be becoming less ‘money’ like due persistent declines in price and elevated rate vol,” he said. “Investors 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.”

Graphic: Via the Investment Company Institute. Taken from Joseph Wang. “Investors are selling everything for cash.”

Ultimately, an increase in the RRP (reverse repo) and QT (which is a direct flow of capital to capital markets) “would drain the pool of bank deposits by ~$1t by year-end,” and this may prompt investors to “continue to lower their selling prices to compete for the cash they want.”

Graphic: Via the St. Louis Fed’s (FRED) Federal Reserve Economic Data. Taken from Joseph Wang. “The overall level of bank deposits is declining even as demand for bank deposits from investors is increasing.”

Positioning: Responsive trade is the status quo, as validated by SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options (HIRO) indicator.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. “Delta hedging flows with respect to changes in volatility (vanna) likely helped dampen some of the negativity of options buys and sells.”

Accordingly, measures of implied volatility, based on supply and demand dynamics talked about in the past, are falling from already low levels, and thus, the marginal impact of further volatility compression does less to bolster equity market upside.

To note 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: Updated June 3, 2022. Via Tier1Alpha. “Several commentators have noticed that the price of volatility on the VIX, VVIX, has retreated sharply versus the past two years. If we look over a longer time horizon, this seems less so with a structural bid VIX tails driving higher implied hedging costs at each level of the VIX.  The current sub-100 VVIX level, while certainly lower than the past two years, is far from cheap historically.”

Given this all, SpotGamma suggests ultra-short-dated volatility, before the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, is likely to be sold, further depressing the front-end of the term structure while the “proceeds of that trade are funneled into farther-dated post-FOMC volatility.”

In other words, participants could sell short-dated volatility for exposure to that which is farther dated and, even, non-linear with respect to changes in delta (gamma) and vega (volga). 

Ultimately, such a structure would assist participants in lowering the cost of directional exposure.

Graphic: Text taken from Exotic Options and Hybrids: A Guide to Structuring, Pricing and Trading. In a long calendar spread, the trader sells shorter-dated implied volatility and uses the proceeds of that sale to fund, in part, longer-dated implied volatility exposure at the same strike.

More to come in future commentaries.

Technical: As of 6:30 AM ET, Wednesday’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.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,133.00 VPOC puts in play the $4,164.25 RTH High. Initiative trade beyond the RTH High could reach as high as the $4,189.25 LVNode and $4,227.75 HVNode, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,133.00 VPOC puts in play the $4,101.25 LVNode. Initiative trade beyond the LVNode could reach as low as the $4,073.25 Weak H/L 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 24, 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 softened after what appeared to be continued covering of shorts into Monday’s close. Commodities were mixed, bonds higher, and implied volatility higher.

In the news the amount of money parked at major Federal Reserve facilities climbed to another all-time high, passing $2 trillion. JPMorgan Chase & Co’s (NYSE: JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon said recently that the Fed must do quantitative tightening since there’s too much liquidity in the pipes.

Adding, the Fed’s Raphael Bostic said policymakers may hike rates by 0.50 basis points after their next two meetings before pausing in September to allow for observation. This is as banks UBS Group AG (NYSE: UBS) and JPMorgan Chase & Co cut their expectations for growth here and abroad.

Ahead is data on S&P Global Inc (NYSE: SPGI) manufacturing and services (9:45 AM ET). Later, participants get updates on new home sales (10:00 AM ET) and Fed-speak by Chair Jerome Powell. Later this week, on Wednesday, participants will receive minutes of the Fed’s most recent meeting which may provide further insight into the central bank’s intent to tighten.

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: So long as market participants are using JPEG images of rocks as collateral for debt, it is likely we have not reached a more permanent bottom in the broad market. 

Kidding – just trying to lighten the mood, haha! Sorry to my crypto friends! 

For real, though, maybe the destruction of that market is what we’re to watch for.
Graphic: Via Corey Hoffstein. “You call it ‘tulip mania,’ but I’m gonna need to see evidence that the Dutch set up lending markets where they used paintings of rocks as collateral.”

Support of market excesses was liquidity in the financial system, a lot of which is now piling into the Fed’s overnight reverse repurchase agreement facility (RRPs).

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. Per the Federal Reserve Bank of New York: “A reverse repurchase agreement conducted by the Desk, also called a “reverse repo” or “RRP,” is a transaction in which the Desk sells a security to an eligible counterparty with an agreement to repurchase that same security at a specified price at a specific time in the future. The difference between the sale price and the repurchase price, together with the length of time between the sale and purchase, implies a rate of interest paid by the Federal Reserve on the transaction.”

Since the start of the year, however, the anticipation and pricing in of the removal of some of this liquidity have fed into market weaknesses.

Per the Damped Spring Advisors’ Andy Constan, the “Fed will reduce their balance sheet by choosing not to reinvest the proceeds of maturity payments of existing holdings back into the market. The U.S. Treasury will need to find new buyers for the bonds it issues.”

Please read our Daily Brief For May 5, 2022, here, for more on the Federal Reserve’s updates.

On June 1, the Fed will start the process of balance sheet reduction at $47.5 billion ($30B UST and $17.5B MBS) a month for the first three months. This will increase to $95 billion ($60B UST and $35B MBS), after, about double the maximum pace of $50 billion a month in 2017-2019.

Constan adds: “In June, that supply those markets will need to absorb will be $50 billion USD and will grow to $95 billion (of which some will be outright sales of mortgages by the Fed).”

Accordingly, “[j]ust as USD strength occurred as global investors chased U.S. assets, as the U.S. economy led the global economy out of the Covid chasm, the next leg of asset returns is more likely in countries that remain relatively easy and where the economy is still lagging.”

Goldman Sachs Group Inc’s (NYSE: GS) Vickie Chang notes: “Using history as a guide, in order for equities to come off their recent lows (and stop declining), this kind of monetary-tightening induced contraction is most likely to end when the Fed itself shifts.” 

“It may be that the market needs to see signs of the inflation deceleration that our US economists expect in the second half of the year in order to see sustained relief.”

Positioning: Pursuant to comments established last week, Dennis Davitt of Millbank Dartmoor Portsmouth explains that the “realized volatility of the underlying S&P 500 is above 27% … with implied volatility of options trading between 24%-27%,” which translates to a VIX at 30%.

“It is profitable to own options with such an active and volatile cash market. This is the opposite of 2017 where the VIX was at 10% and the realized was 7%,” a trade that leverage poured into and resulted in the spectacular short-volatility ‘Volmageddon’ blow-up in February of 2018.

Graphic: Via Banco Santander SA (NYSE: SAN) research.

What does this mean?

Davitt concludes that “18 months” out there are “elevated option prices which may foretell an increase in the volatility of the equity market through this time next year.”

Though the Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) may print higher, it is likely that it does not spike and point to an immediate market bottom, all else equal, like it has in the very near past.

Graphic: Via Millbank Dartmoor Portsmouth.

How to play?

It makes more sense to have exposure to underlying markets, synthetically (i.e., own options). This is based on the current relationship between realized and implied volatility.

Graphic: Via Robson Chow, founder at Tradewell. “The spread between IV and RV remains quite low relative to the past 50 trading days and 1st decile in the historical data.  It is printing where, historically, the most forward realized volatility and the weakest relative mean returns over the next 60 days can be expected.”

This is in contrast to the thesis that “long volatility is a poor equity hedge” because, on average, it’s overpriced and has less than a 100% negative correlation with the equity market.

Graphic: Via Banco Santander SA (NYSE: SAN) research.

Given fundamental contexts, many foresee continued weaknesses. Notwithstanding, markets are stretched to the downside and the path of least resistance, based on prior comments, is up.

This is with the caveat that traders should look at the current window of time as a period during which markets have less pressure to rally against. Per SpotGamma, this is due to the put-heavy options expiration (OPEX), Friday. 

Still, the rally into Monday “pulled forward some of the energy from [those] options that were to roll off,” and now, participants are “much less hedged than they were.” Should demand return, that will bid options prices and likely solicit liquidity provider pressures which, all else equal, start to cool into the $3,700.00 S&P 500 area.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma.

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.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $3,943.25 HVNode puts in play the $3,969.00 VPOC. Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as high as the $4,061.00 VPOC and $4,095.00 ONH, 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 MCPOC. Initiative trade beyond the MCPOC could reach as low as the $3,862.75 LVNode and $3,831.00 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.

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 very 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.

Catalysts to consider include the release of Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) minutes, Wednesday.

Definitions

Overnight Highs And Lows (ONH and ONL): 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 April 27, 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 probed higher, essentially negating Tuesday’s end-of-day, knee-jerk liquidation.

Tuesday’s selling came alongside Russia cutting gas to Poland and Bulgaria, Vice President Kamala Harris testing positive for COVID-19, and heavy selling in growth and tech stocks, amid doubts corporate profits can withstand the Federal Reserve’s bid to tame inflation.

As Jerome Schneider of Pacific Investment Management Co says, QT will “have a profound effect on the cost of liquidity and more importantly the cost of transacting business and reallocating assets from one avenue to another avenue.” 

“There might not necessarily be a rapid deceleration or decline in the stock market or other risk assets, but there’s going to be a changing cost of capital that this balance sheet is going to be part of.”

After the close, weakness continued. Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOGL) (NASDAQ: GOOG) missed on slowing sales growth and digital-ad spending. One of the biggest losers was Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) which shed 12% or so on news that Elon Musk would use his fortune, much of which is tied up in Tesla, to buy Twitter Inc (NYSE: TWTR).

Germany’s passage of a bigger borrowing budget, coupled with China’s pledge to boost infrastructure bolstered an overnight advance that fed into price action at home. The S&P 500, in particular, for a brief moment, took back a key level, negating much of yesterday’s liquidation.

Ahead is data on international trade in goods (8:30 AM ET), as well as pending home sales and the rental vacancy rate (10:00 AM ET).

Graphic updated 7:00 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

Positioning: Markets are positioned for continued volatility. 

Based on a reading of market gamma exposure (GEX) and buying support (DIX), the returns distribution is skewed positive. There’s buying in the context of an environment in which the hedging of options positioning implies selling into weakness and buying of strength.

Graphic: Via Barclays PLC (NYSE: BCS) research.

In the most simple way that I can explain: when positioning is stretched one way, that often tends to mark a turning point – the returns distribution is either skewed positive or negative.

Graphic: Via Physik Invest. Data via SqueezeMetrics. Updated March of 2022. A high DIX/GEX ratio often portends positive 1-month returns.

An updated read, after Tuesday’s weak close, tells us that we can (1) definitely expect larger ranges to continue and (2) potential for short-term bounces

Based on overnight activity, one of those is happening, now.

Graphic: Via Physik Invest. Data via SqueezeMetrics.

This is as participants are both well-hedged and using weakness as an opportunity to buy into a less highly valued 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).

See, below, E-mini S&P 500 book depth, a proxy for market liquidity, and how much it has declined since the end of last year when markets became more volatile and noise around the Federal Reserve’s intent to taper bond-buying and raise rates grew louder.

Graphic: Via CME Group Inc (NASDAQ: CME) Liquidity Tool. Note how in late March, book depth rose as markets rose and customer call activity solicited increased hedging of counterparty long-gamma exposure (i.e., buy weakness, sell strength), adding to market liquidity.

In the above environment, counterparty hedging matters; the market is more sensitive to the flow, so to speak. That sensitivity is expected to continue.

SpotGamma, an options data and analysis service, sees the early May period as pivotal. Then is the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting and the potential Russian default, per Moody’s Corporation (NYSE: MCO).

As quoted: “Russia ‘may be considered in default’ if it does not pay two bonds in US dollars by end of a grace period on May 4.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

Until those events are resolved, participants will likely continue to (remain) hedge(d). Upon resolve, customers likely monetize their protection to offset losses on underlying equity exposure. 

That means selling volatility which reduces counterparty exposure to short puts (negative gamma and positive delta). To re-hedge, underlying is bought back and that may support a price rise.

Graphic: VIX term structure via VIX Central. Expansion (higher) solicits counterparty selling which pressures the market lower. Compression (lower) solicits counterparty buying which bolsters attempts higher.

Whether that price rise has legs depends on what the fundamental situation is, then. See the below section titled Considerations for a full technical picture and the most likely turning points.

Technical: As of 7:00 AM ET, Wednesday’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 $4,217.25 overnight high (ONH) puts in play the $4,267.75 regular trade high (RTH High). Initiative trade beyond the RTH High could reach as high as the $4,303.75 ONH and $4,337.00 VPOC, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,217.25 ONH puts in play the $4,193.25 spike base. Initiative trade beyond the spike base could reach as low as the $4,136.50 regular trade low (RTH Low) and $4,101.25 overnight low (ONL), or lower.

Considerations: Spikes 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).

Additionally, the indexes continue to trade below their 20-, 50-, and 200-day simple moving averages, confirming the trend change and bearish tone (further validated by poor breadth).

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).

All indexes remain, as stated, yesterday, below their volume-weighted average prices (VWAPs) anchored from the start of this year (or their respective peaks). 

VWAPs are a metric highly regarded by chief investment officers (CIOs), among other participants, for quality of trade. Liquidity algorithms, too, are benchmarked and programmed to buy and sell around VWAPs.

The Invesco QQQ Trust Series 1 (NASDAQ: QQQ) just tested a major VWAP, yesterday, anchored from the lows of March 2020. That’s a fair price to pay for Nasdaq 100 exposure.

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

Notwithstanding, notice the flat-to-declining AVWAP that’s black in color. So long as prices remain below this level, the index is likely a sell. 

Should that level flatten (and begin to rise), and if the QQQ was able to trade above it for a sustained period, there is potential for sustained upside.

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 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 February 11, 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 continued lower after the hottest inflation reading in decades and hawkish (i.e., favoring contractionary policy) Fed-speak by St. Louis Fed Chair James Bullard.

Ahead is data on University of Michigan sentiment and inflation expectations (10:00 AM ET).

Graphic updated 6:30 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: Bonds and equities were sold, yesterday.

This is after the hottest inflation reading in four decades and comments by the Fed’s Bullard that the central bank should hike rates by 100 basis points over the next three meetings.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg, “This is a heat map produced by the Bloomberg ECAN function, and it shows every indicator relevant to U.S. inflation now well above its recent mean.”

“Bullard’s plan involves spreading the increases over three meetings, shrinking the Fed’s balance sheet starting in the second quarter and then deciding on the path of rates in the second half based on updated data,” Bloomberg explained

“Markets boosted bets on rate hikes, pricing a full percentage-point increase over three meetings, which would require the first 50 basis-point increase since 2000 unless a move was made between Fed meetings.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

Further, though this FOMC participant’s more hawkish tilt differs from what the entire committee has committed to, so long as “the market expects it, … the odds of a 50bp hike in March or May are higher.”

This trend in expectations has been worsening with each major macroeconomic event in 2022. The Fed’s Minutes, FOMC meeting, Nonfarm Payrolls, and CPI have all played a part in the disruption of long-term trends in yields which has a negative impact on valuations, to put simply.

Though earnings growth may offset the negative valuation impact of higher rates, as discussed in detail days ago, the yield curve – e.g., spread between 10- and 2-year – is on its way toward an inversion, as is the yield curve measure involving overnight index swaps (OIS).

For context, per Reuters, an “OIS transaction involves exchanging an overnight rate such as the federal funds rate for a fixed one. For instance, in a U.S. 2-year OIS swap, one party to the transaction receives a fixed two-year rate in exchange for paying the fed funds rate daily over the next two years.”

The OIS market is also a reflection of traders’ expectations for rates. An inversion (which may signal the expectation of aggressive action against inflation that could also stifle economic growth) previously occurred in July 2018. Months later, markets sold and the Fed cut rates. 

Per Alfonso Peccatiello, the former head of a $20 billion investment portfolio and author of The Macro Compass: The inversion of the OIS curve may worsen a downturn in the economy as short-term refinancing credit becomes more expensive and markets price weaker long-term growth.

The OIS curve is “a cleaner indication of yield curve inversions,” Peccatiello added. 

Positioning: Bonds down. Equities down. What the heck? 

This newsletter has talked about this dynamic in the past and will borrow from that, below.

In short, over the past 40 or so years, monetary policy was used as a crutch to support the economy. This promoted deflation, innovation, and the subsequent rise in valuations.

With rates near zero and lifting, that’s a headwind; coupled with participants’ increased exposure to rate and equity market risk, which can play into cross-market hedging and de-leveraging cascades, 60/40 turns into somewhat of a poor hedge.

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

According to a note published by Andy Constan of Damped Spring Advisors, “The lack of additional liquidity provided by Fed purchase will also remove a damper for the market and the economy keeping asset volatility well bid, while also causing asset diversification benefit to fall, generating rising portfolio volatility and the risk demanded to hold assets.”

“Now, with the Fed poised to hike interest rates to combat raging inflation, the bond-stock relationship could be upended,” Bloomberg explains

“At stake are trillions of dollars that are managed at risk parity funds, balanced mutual funds, and pension funds that follow the framework of 60/40 asset allocation.”

Why mention any of this? Well, it forces us to look elsewhere for protection. 

In this case, the growing asset class of volatility, so to speak, is that protection. Investors are aware of both the protective and speculative efficiency afforded to them by options and that is the primary reason option volumes are so comparable to stock volumes, now.

Notwithstanding, with option volumes higher, related hedging flows can represent an increased share of volume in underlying stocks. Therefore, the correlation of stock moves, versus options activity, is more pronounced.

To put it simply, we can look to the options market for clues on where to next, for lack of better phrasing. So, let’s do that!

Heading into Thursday’s session, participants were committing capital to bets on lower volatility.

The counterparties to this short volatility trade were long; if the market were to trade higher (lower), they would sell (buy) futures against increased (decreased) positive delta exposure.

Graphic: A rudimentary example of what is involved in hedging a long call option. 

However, Thursday’s post-CPI trade disrupted the balance of trade; lower prices and demand for protection, in the face of lower levels of “on-screen liquidity,” solicited dealer selling to hedge increased exposure to the positive delta from demanded short-dated, highly convex options.

Graphic: SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options (HIRO) indicator; “customers bought put options (a negative delta trade) leaving dealers short (a positive delta trade).” 

The demand for shorter-dated protection is better visualized by the VIX term structure which shifted markedly at the front-end, yesterday.

Graphic: VIX term structure shifts higher (dramatically at the front-end).

As direction (delta) and volatility (vega) are inputs to the pricing of options, lower prices and higher volatility (a reflection of fear and demand for protection) will mark options higher. Hedging pressures will exacerbate weakness, as a result of real selling (as talked about above), at the index and single-stock level.

Graphic: SqueezeMetrics details the implications of customer activity in the options market, on the underlying’s order book.

Taking into account options positioning, versus buying pressure (measured via short sales or liquidity provision on the market-making side), positioning metrics remain positively skewed.

Graphic: Data SqueezeMetrics. Graph via Physik Invest.

To conclude, the dip lower and demand for protection could serve to prime the market for upside (when volatility starts to compress again and counterparties unwind hedges thus supporting any attempt higher). All eyes are on next week’s monthly options expiration (OPEX). We will discuss the implications of this, later.

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 middle-to-lower 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 $4,473.00 point of control (POC) puts in play the $4,526.25 high volume area (HVNode). Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as high as the $4,565.00 untested POC (VPOC) and $4,585.00 regular trade high (RTH High), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,473.00 POC puts in play the key response area at $4,438.75 (BAL/ONL/HVNode). Initiative trade beyond the key response area could reach as low as the $4,393.75 HVNode and $4,365.00 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

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.

Options Expiration (OPEX): Traditionally, option expiries mark an end to trend or 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) and the reset in dealer gamma exposure.

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 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.