Categories
Commentary

Weekly Brief For April 18, 2021

Happy Sunday! Though markets were relatively choppy, they ended higher last week. This came at a time of heightened public attention to the market.

The following commentary on U.S. broad market equity indices will discuss what happened, why it matters, what to expect, and how participants can position themselves for the coming week.

But first, here’s a quote from Sterling professor of economics at Yale, Robert J. Shiller:

“The current widespread fascination with the rising market accompanied by recent concern about a possible downward spiral and strained stock market valuations echo those of 100 years ago.”

Market Commentary

What Happened: The S&P 500, Nasdaq-100, and Dow Jones Industrial Average made new all-time highs before closing the week out with an attempt to balance and validate newly discovered prices.

  • Data suggests economic outlook improving.
  • Earnings pick up, add to clarity on recovery.
  • Risk, reward poor for new entries. Be picky.

Why It Matters: The price rise in U.S. broad market equity indices comes as the economic recovery from the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic accelerated.

According to S&P Global, the recovery’s acceleration warranted a revision in the firm’s 2021 global GDP growth forecast to 5.5%, a 50 basis point change.

At the same time, it’s S&P’s belief that U.S. inflation fears are overblown. Traders began to price in that realization, last week. 

After a slew of economic releases, yields pulled back dramatically.

In a Bloomberg article, Barclays strategists, including Anshul Pradhan, noted a raising of the bar on reflation; the drop in yields “reflects the fact that expectations for growth, inflation and the hiking cycle have all been significantly revised higher.”

Further, participants saw the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX), a measure of the stock market’s expectation of volatility based on S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options, continue a multi-week drop attracting the participation of systemic strategies and opportunistic hedging, as noted last week.

It is important to note that this most recent rally in equity indices, which coincides with a historically bullish period, came soon after Archegos Capital’s default on margin calls which triggered a fire sale by several big Wall Street banks.

SpotGamma, a source for actionable insights based on activity in the options market, in a commentary, attempted to unpack the narrative which suggests the mechanical bid across the broad market is tied to a “tangled web of counterparty risk and hedging,” among other factors.

Moving beyond speculations, a couple of things are true and must be accounted for in our narrative.

First, equity market inflows, over the past 5 months, exceeded inflows of the prior 12 years, total. Second, as the April monthly options expiration (OPEX) passes and the positioning of participants changes, the risks of a near-term pullback have increased substantially. 

Despite the stock market trading in a historically bullish period, as well as declining volatility attracting the participation of systematic strategies, increased put selling, and the like, downside protection is trading cheap relative to its upside counterpart.

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

Should the market turn and customers demand downside protection in an increasing fashion, dealers’ risk exposure to direction and volatility will cause violent crash dynamics to transpire.

An example of this is last year’s sell-off.

In a discussion on rising delta and volatility forcing dealers to sell into weakness to hedge a rapid move in prices, Kris Sidial, a former institutional trader and the co-chief investment officer of The Ambrus Group, a volatility arbitrage fund that looks to exploit changing market structure dynamics, said: “You have this dynamic in the derivatives market where there is a gamma squeeze when people are buying way far out-of-the-money [options], and dealers reflexively have to hedge off their risk,” Sidial said.

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

Putting it all together, despite markets being in a position to move higher, should there be a turn and spike in volatility, participants must be ready to accept the possibility of a violent liquidation.

As Market Ear puts it, hedge when you can, not when you must.

What To Expect: An increased potential to correct in time and price.

In addition, metrics, like DIX, market liquidity, and speculative derivatives activity, confirm participants’ bullishness and opportunistic hedging ahead of an acceleration in the global restart and a turn in flows, the result of consumers shifting their preferences from saving and investing to spending.

Graphic: Physik Invest maps out the purchase of call and put options in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY), for the week ending April 16. Activity in the options market was primarily concentrated in short-dated tenors, in strikes as low as $364, which corresponds with $3,640 in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX).
Graphic: SHIFT search suggests participants are not as inclined to add call-side exposure, through the month of May, in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY).

What To Do: In the coming sessions, participants will want to pay attention to where the S&P 500 trades in relation to Friday’s open-high-low-close (OHLC). 

Any activity above Friday’s regular trade-low suggests participants are not yet done discovering higher prices. Trading below Friday’s low suggests an inclination by participants to (1) form a consolidation area that denotes acceptance of higher prices or (2) revert to the mean and repair some of the poor structure left behind prior discovery. 

It is important to take note of the minimal excess and cluster of price extensions at $4,200.00, a typical price target based on Fibonacci principles.

Excess: A proper end to price discovery; the market travels too far while advertising prices. Responsive, other-timeframe (OTF) participants aggressively enter the market, leaving tails or gaps which denote unfair prices.

So, in the best case, the S&P 500 makes an attempt to balance or discover prices as high as $4,200.00. In the worst case, participants look to auction the S&P 500 into prior poor structures and low-volume areas (LVNodes) that ought to offer little-to-no support.

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

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

News And Analysis

Economy | Housing starts reach the highest level since 2006. (MND)

Recovery | U.S. is unlikely to ‘just cancel’ J&J COVID-19 shots. (BBG)

Markets | Citi to exit banking in 13 markets across Asia, Europe. (BBG)

Markets | Record-high systemic leverage is pressuring rates. (Moody’s)

Economy | S&P Global Ratings expects global rebound to roar. (S&P)

Economy | Projections on global population, aging, urbanization. (REU)

Trade | Amazon sellers slammed with COVID-induced constraints. (S&P)

Recovery | How well COVID-19 vaccines work against variants. (AB)

Markets | SPACs boost credit at targets but carry unique risks. (Moody’s)
Markets | ‘Roaring Kitty’ adds to GME bet after exercising calls. (BBG)

What People Are Saying

Innovation And Emerging Trends

Economy | Looking at the pop culture of the original Roaring Twenties. (NYT)

Markets | Want to take your company public? Here are your options. (CB)

FinTech | Societe Generale adds first structured product on blockchain. (SG)

Exodus | Hedge funds are ready to get out of NY and move to FL. (BBG)

Trading | The answer to how much capital you should be allocating. (TT)

Venture | European venture reaches all-time high in first quarter 2021. (CB)

About

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

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

 Disclaimer

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

Cover photo by eberhard grossgasteiger from Pexels.

Categories
Commentary

Weekly Brief For April 11, 2021

Editor’s Note

Welcome to Market Intelligence, Physik Invest’s response to the many newsletters that seldom provide actionable market insights, free.

Through this newsletter you will get a glimpse into the following:

  • The implications of credit and positioning.
  • Impactful events in finance and technology.
  • Technical commentary for index products.
  • Media on emerging trends and hot topics.

Again, thanks for joining! Physik Invest looks forward to providing you an objective view into the who, what, when, where, why, and how in finance and technology.

Regards,

Renato Leonard Capelj


Market Commentary

Index futures are in price discovery mode.

  • Institutions bullish but risks add up.
  • Earnings season to start this week.
  • Balance-to-higher into April OPEX.

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

What Does It Mean: The S&P 500 closed above $4,100 for the first time as investors looked to price in an economic “‘Goldilocks moment’—fast, sustained growth alongside inflation and interest rates that drift slowly upward.”

According to a letter by JPMorgan Chase & Co’s (NYSE: JPM) Jamie Dimon, strong consumer savings, an increased pace in COVID-19 coronavirus vaccinations, and unprecedented efforts to spur economic activity could mean that a boom lasts as long as 2023. 

This perspective differs from Dimon’s comments a year ago; he warned of a recession in which GDP could fall nearly 35%. Is Dimon one to fade? Likely not, given the fact that (1) he heads one of the biggest banks and (2) most forecasts by other institutions support Dimon’s perspectives.

Further, the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX), a measure of the stock market’s expectation of volatility based on S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options, traded to its lowest level since February 2020.

At the same time, participants saw blocks of VIX call spreads — bets that serenity won’t last — hit the tape; the unknown participant(s) bought nearly 200,000 contracts.

Graphic 1: Risk graph of the 25/40 VIX call spread in question via MarketEar

“With VIX being priced in the low 17 area, I would imagine we would see more of these larger-sized bets going forward,” Kris Sidial, co-chief investment officer at Ambrus Group, told Bloomberg. “I think smart money understands that, although volatility has contracted a lot in these last two months, we are still seeing signs of excess market fragility appear from many different angles.”

Graphic 2: Volatility declines to its lowest level since February 2020.

As stated last week, the market is in a historically bullish period, ahead of the upcoming corporate earnings season, with structural flows supporting the ongoing narrative into the coming April monthly options expiration (OPEX).

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

Adding, most funds are committed to holding long positions. In the interest of lower volatility returns, these funds will collar off their positions, selling calls to finance the purchase of downside put protection.

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

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

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

What To Expect: Balance-to-higher.

Important to note is that equity market inflows, over the past 5 months, exceeded inflows of the prior 12 years, total. Think about the supply and demand dynamics of the market; in case of an equity market sell-off, a lot of late buyers will have poor location which may leave a thick area of supply above the market, putting a dampener on future rallies. 

“You should definitely be worried about valuations and all the more so when people start justifying extremely high valuations. We are risk-on, but we haven’t put our foot down on the accelerator because of valuations in some parts of the market,” said Fahad Kamal, chief investment officer at Kleinwort Hambros.

Adding to the narrative, metrics, like DIX, confirm increased buying pressure while divergences in options activity suggest opportunistic hedging, especially with puts trading at their cheapest level, relative to calls the same delta.

Graphic 3: 1-month 25 delta risk-reversal, via SpotGamma, suggests puts are trading cheap.
More On DIX: For every buyer is a seller (usually a market maker). Using DIX — which is derived from short sales (i.e., liquidity provision on the market-making side) — we can measure buying pressure.
Graphic 4: Physik Invest maps out the purchase of call and put options in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY), for the week ending April 9, 2021. Activity in the options market was primarily concentrated in short- and long-dated tenors, in put strikes as low as $340, which corresponds with $3,400 in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX).

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

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 remains above the $4,104.00 spike base. Doing so means that the participants are validating the prices caused by the late-day knee-jerk rally. 

In the case of higher prices, given that the 161.80% and 127.20% Fibonacci price extensions were achieved, and after-market trade established an overnight high at $4,121.50, participants can target prices as high as the $4,197.25 price extension.

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

Any activity below the $4,104.00 spike base puts the rally on hold and calls for balance or an attempt to digest higher prices.

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

In the case of lower prices, participants can look to whether a test of the $4,069.00 high-volume area (HVNode) solicits a response. If not, initiative trade could take prices as low as $3,943.00, the next most valuable price area in the chain.

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

If participants were to auction and find acceptance into areas of prior low-volume, then future discovery ought to be volatile and quick as participants look to areas of high volume for favorable entry or exit.
Graphic 5: 4-hour profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

News And Analysis

Economy | No elevated default risk expected until 2023. (Moody’s)

Economy | China looks to curtail loan growth amid bubble fears. (BBG)

Markets | Pre-IPO, Coinbase releases blowout Q1 2021 results. (BW)

Markets | Growing signs that equity bull market overheating. (Axios)

Economy | CFPB warns lenders of a wave of distressed mortgages. (MP)

Markets | Cboe extends global trading for VIX and SPX options. (Cboe)

Markets | Unpacking the feedback loop that is distorting markets. (RV)

Trade | Global trade disruptions after the Suez Canal incident. (S&P)

Economy | U.S. COVID-19 vaccination rates to plateau in April. (Surgo)

Markets | Treasuries rally signaling bets on Fed hikes pared back. (BBG)

Markets | Bitcoin fills a demand for alternatives to fiat currencies. (BBG)

Economy | Powell says the economy poised for stronger growth. (BBG)

Markets | Earnings season starts with banks reporting this week. (WSJ)

Markets | Citadel Securities feels the heat of the political spotlight. (BBG)

Markets | Oil sideways. Gold, DXY higher. Copper, aluminum lower. (REU)

What People Are Saying

Innovation And Emerging Trends

Strategy | Strategies one VC believes made Stripe so successful. (BI)

FinTech | Fidelity, Square, and others, form crypto trade group. (WSJ)

FinTech | WealthCharts expands offer, tackles emerging trends. (BZ)

FinTech | SoftBank invests $500M in mortgage lender Better. (CNBC)

FinTech | Rarible co-founder says NFTs to stay, growth robust. (BZ)

FinTech | JPMorgan’s Dimon acknowledges fintech’s big threat. (BZ)

FinTech | Vesica launches a search engine for the options market. (BZ)

About

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

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

Disclaimer

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

Cover photo by Kammeran Gonzalez-Keola from Pexels.

Categories
Commentary

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

Key Takeaways:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More On Volume-Weighted Average Prices (VWAPs): A metric highly regarded by chief investment officers, among other participants, for quality of trade. Additionally, liquidity algorithms are benchmarked and programmed to buy and sell around VWAPs. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Levels Of Interest: $4,004.25 Spike Base.

Cover photo by Taryn Elliott from Pexels.

Categories
Commentary

Market Commentary For The Week Ahead: ‘Green Shoots’

Notice: Physik Invest’s daily market commentaries will be suspended until further notice.

Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience, thank you for the support, and see you next week!

Key Takeaways:

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

What Does It Mean: Heading into last week’s Federal Reserve policy update, stock index futures were in balanced, two-sided trade as participants looked for more information to base their next move. 

Then, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell discussed his organization’s commitment to an inclusive recovery. At the same time, the central bank announced it expects real GDP to grow 6.5% and inflation to rise as high as 2.4% this year.

The comments were immediately followed by a vertical price rise.

Thereafter, participants that caused the vertical price rise traded out, evidenced by the index trading lower into Friday’s derivative expiry.

Important to note is that despite the attempted pricing in of rising debt levels and inflation, a divergence in bond and equity market volatility persists. Historically, fear across markets tends to move in tandem. That hasn’t been the case for a number of weeks, now (e.g., Graphic 1).

Graphic 1: Divergence in volatility across the bond and equity market. 

What To Expect: Directional resolve.

Why? The passage of a large derivative expiry, the resolve of the vertical price range that occurred in the face of Federal Reserve policy updates, as well as market liquidity metrics suggesting opportunistic buying or short covering into weakness, and increased buying pressure (as witnessed through measures like DIX and options activity).

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

More On Option Expiration (OPEX): Option expiries mark an end to pinning (i.e, the theory that market makers and institutions short options move stocks to the point where the greatest dollar value of contracts will expire worthless) and the reduction dealer gamma exposure.
Graphic 2: Physik Invest maps out the purchase of call and put options in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY), for the week ending March 19, 2021. Activity in the options market was primarily concentrated in short- and long-dated tenors, in strikes as high as $435, which corresponds with $4,350.00 in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX).
Graphic 3: Index option traders add to call buying and put selling, a bullish dynamic. 

What To Do: In the coming sessions, participants will want to pay attention to the VWAP anchored from the $3,978.50 overnight rally-high, as well as the high-volume area (HVNode) near $3,900.00.

Volume-Weighted Average Prices (VWAPs): Metrics highly regarded by chief investment officers, among other participants, for quality of trade. Additionally, liquidity algorithms are benchmarked and programmed to buy and sell around VWAPs.

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

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

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 remains above the $3,900.00 volume area, and VWAP anchored from the $3,978.50 peak, taking out Friday’s minimal excess high. This would suggest buyers, on average, are in control and winning since the March 17 rally-high.

More On Excess: A proper end to price discovery; the market travels too far while advertising prices. Responsive, other-timeframe (OTF) participants aggressively enter the market, leaving tails or gaps which denote unfair prices.

Any activity below the VWAP anchored from the $3,978.50 peak may (1) leave the $3,900.00 HVNode as an area of supply, offering initiative sellers favorable entry and responsive buyers favorable exit.

Graphic 4: Profile overlays on a 30-minute candlestick chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.
Graphic 5: 4-hour profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

Conclusions: The go/no-go level for next week’s trade is $3,900.00.

Any activity at this level suggests market participants are looking for more information to base their next move. Anything above (below) this level increases the potential for higher (lower).

Levels Of Interest: $3,900.00 HVNode.

Photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels.

Categories
Commentary

Market Commentary For The Week Ahead: ‘Mostly Sunny’

Key Takeaways:

  • $1.9T relief package is enacted.
  • Inflation to print past Fed goal.
  • Policy actions to limit volatility.
  • Potential for late-March selling.
  • Bond, equity volatility diverged.
  • U.S. to lead economic recovery.

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

This came alongside (1) the enactment of a massive, $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan, (2) convergence in the 10-year Treasury rate and S&P 500 dividend yield, as well as (3) a material divergence in bond and equity market volatility.

What Does It Mean: The pandemic disrupted the global economy, hitting the hardest airlines, leisure facilities, energy, manufacturing, and restaurants, among other industries.

The stock market tumbled, as a result, and the subsequent recovery was lead by technology, which delivered its strongest annual average return since the Global Financial Crisis (GFC).

Now, as virus case counts fall, the pace of vaccinations accelerates, and massive coronavirus relief bills are passed, shares of stocks in beaten-down industries are becoming favorites.

This reopening trade, as it’s called, comes alongside projections the U.S. will lead the 2021 global economic recovery.

Amidst the bullishness, the yield on a 10-year Treasury, a risk-free asset, which was — per Axios — “artificially depressed by the flight-to-quality trade during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as by large-scale purchases by the Federal Reserve,” converged with S&P 500’s dividend yield. 

Graphic 1: Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS) projects yields to rise and the curve to steepen.

Typically, the S&P 500’s dividend yield is less than the risk-free rate because investors expect to earn less in dividends than they would holding the same amount in bonds, absent rising stock prices.

Values are derived using the discounted cash flow calculation; as interest and discount rates go up, the present value of future earnings goes down, which will drag stock prices, especially in growth categories, as evidenced by the Nasdaq-100’s relative weakness.

Graphic 2: Nordea Group expects inflation to print above the Federal Reserve’s target, soon.

Still, historically speaking, rising yields aren’t that harmful. Looking as far back as the 1960s, there are 13 periods in which the yield on a 10-year Treasury rose by at least 1.5%.

“In nearly 80% (10 of 13) of the prior periods, the S&P 500 Index posted gains as rates rose, as it has so far in the current rising-rate period,” a statement by LPL Financial said. “In fact, the average yearly gain for the index during the previous rising-rate periods, at 6.4%, is just a little lower than the historical average over the entire period of 7.1%, while rising rates have been particularly bullish for stocks since the mid-1990s.”

Further, despite an attempted pricing in of rising debt levels and inflation, a divergence in bond and equity market volatility persists.

Historically, fear across markets tends to move in tandem. That’s not the case today.

Graphic 3: Divergence in volatility across the bond and equity market. 

What To Expect: Balance, or two-sided trade as participants look for more information to base their next move on after last week’s rapid recovery.

Coming into the weekend, market liquidity suggested (1) buying pressure was leveling out and/or (2) buyers were absorbing resting liquidity (opportunistic selling or selling into strength), while speculative options activity was concentrated on the put-side. 

Graphic 4: Physik Invest maps out the purchase of call and put options in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY), for the week ending March 12, 2021. Activity in the options market was primarily concentrated in short- and long-dated tenors, in strikes as low as $353, which corresponds with $3,530.00 in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX).

What To Do: In the coming sessions, participants will want to pay attention to the VWAP anchored from the $3,959.25 overnight rally-high, as well as the $3,840.00 high-volume area (HVNode).

Volume-Weighted Average Prices (VWAPs): Metrics highly regarded by chief investment officers, among other participants, for quality of trade. Additionally, liquidity algorithms are benchmarked and programmed to buy and sell around VWAPs.

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

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

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 remains above the $3,840.00 volume area, and VWAP anchored from the $3,959.25 peak. This would suggest buyers, on average, are in control and winning since the February 15 rally-high.

Any activity below the VWAP anchored from the $3,959.25 peak may (1) leave the $3,840.00 HVNode as an area of supply, offering initiative sellers favorable entry and responsive buyers favorable exit.

Graphic 5: Profile overlays on a 30-minute candlestick chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.
Graphic 6: 4-hour profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

Conclusions: The go/no-go level for next week’s trade is $3,840.00.

Any activity at this level suggests market participants are looking for more information to base their next move. Anything above (below) this level increases the potential for higher (lower). 

Levels Of Interest: $3,840.00 HVNode.

Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric from Pexels.

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Commentary

Market Commentary For 3/1/2021

Notice: To view this week’s big picture outlook, click here.

What Happened: Overnight, U.S. stock index futures auctioned higher on news of COVID-19 vaccine approvals and stimulus progress.

What Does It Mean: Alongside (1) a material divergence in bond and equity market volatility, as well as (2) a convergence in the 10-year Treasury rate and S&P 500 dividend yield, U.S. stock indexes auctioned lower during regular trade, last week.

Aside from the volatility, the S&P 500’s long-term uptrend, and a skewness toward put options suggests the potential for a near-term turn-around.

What To Expect: Monday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET) will likely open inside of prior-balance and -range, suggesting the limited potential for immediate directional opportunity.

Further, because the S&P 500 auctioned above the $3,840.00 high-volume area, or HVNode, attention shifts to the $3,860.75 low-volume area, or LVNode.

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

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 is able to auction and maintain prices above the $3,860.75 LVNode, formed by earlier selling forces.

Auctioning beyond that reference suggests near-term conviction has changed; participants would look for responses at the $3,907.75 HVNode, an area that would offer initiative buyers (responsive sellers) favorable exit (entry).

In the worst case, the S&P 500 auctions below the $3,840.00 HVNode.

In such case, initiative sellers would be emboldened; participants may look to repair the gap below $3,785.00.

Levels Of Interest: $3,860.75 LVNode.

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Commentary

Market Commentary For The Week Ahead: ‘Missed Approach’

Key Takeaways:

  • High doses of stimulus yet to be fully felt.
  • Hedge funds add to long, short exposure.
  • Economies eye growth, uneven recovery.
  • Powell kept stressing inflation downsides.
  • Traders price in a quarter-point rate hike.
  • 10-yr yield, S&P 500 dividend yield cross.
  • Bond, equity market volatility separations.
  • JPMorgan does not see a market bubble.

What Happened: U.S. stock index futures auctioned lower.

This came alongside (1) a material divergence in bond and equity market volatility, as well as (2) a convergence in the 10-year Treasury rate and S&P 500 dividend yield.

What Does It Mean: Equity traders began pricing in the risk of a rapid move up in rates, due to concerns over bond values, as a result of rising debt levels and inflation.

Additionally, the yield on a 10-year Treasury, a risk-free asset, which was — per Axios — “artificially depressed by the flight-to-quality trade during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as by large-scale purchases by the Federal Reserve,” converged with S&P 500’s dividend yield.

Typically, the S&P 500’s dividend yield is less than the risk-free rate because investors expect to earn less in dividends than they would holding the same amount in bonds, absent rising stock prices.

Values are derived using the discounted cash flow calculation; as interest and discount rates go up, the present value of future earnings goes down, which will drag stock prices, especially in growth categories, as seen.

Still, despite the pricing in of rising debt levels and inflation, a divergence in bond and equity market volatility persists. In such a case, market participants ought to widen their outlook; there is some potential for risk asset capitulation in the present down cycle.

Graphic 1: Divergence in volatility across the bond and equity market. 

Moving on, it’s important to take note of the market’s unpinning, after February’s monthly options expiration (i.e., OPEX), as well as the long-term trend.

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

Aside from OPEX, last week’s volatility did not disrupt the S&P 500’s long-term uptrend (Graphic 2), and a skewness toward put options — evidenced by Graphic 3 and market gamma — suggests the potential for a near-term turn-around.

Graphic 2: Long-term uptrend in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX) is intact.
Graphic 3: Physik Invest maps out the purchase of call and put options in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY), for the week ending February 26, 2021. Noting activity in short- and long-dated tenors, near the $380, a strike that corresponds with $3,800.00 in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX).

What To Expect: Directional resolve, given the S&P 500’s rotation near a prominent high-volume area, or HVNode (Graphic 4), and an overnight rally-high at $3,959.25.

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

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

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

What To Do: In coming sessions, participants will want to pay attention to the VWAP anchored from the $3,959.25 peak and $3,657.00 low, as well as the $3,840.00 HVNode.

Volume-Weighted Average Prices (VWAPs): Metrics highly regarded by chief investment officers, among other participants, for quality of trade. Additionally, liquidity algorithms are benchmarked and programmed to buy and sell around VWAPs.

In the best case, the S&P 500 opens and remains above the $3,840.00 volume area.

Additionally, auctioning above the $3,875.75 VWAP would suggest buyers, on average, are in control and winning, since the February 15 rally high.

Auctioning beneath $3,785.00 would (1) leave the $3,840.00 HVNode as an area of supply — offering initiative sellers favorable entry and responsive buyers favorable exit — and (2) portend repair of poor structures (e.g, the $3,785.00-$3,777.00 gap) left in the wake of a prior advance.

In such a case, participants should look to the next area of high-volume (i.e., $3,794.75 and $3,727.75) for favorable entry and exit.

Graphic 5: Profile overlays on a 65-minute candlestick chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

Conclusions: The go/no-go level for next week’s trade is $3,840.00.

Any activity at this level suggests market participants are looking for more information to base their next move. Anything above (below) this level increases the potential for higher (lower).

Levels Of Interest: $3,840.00 HVNode.

Photo by Sohel Patel from Pexels.

Categories
Commentary

Market Commentary For 2/18/2021

Notice: To view this week’s big picture outlook, click here.

What Happened: U.S. stock index futures balanced within prior range, ahead of releases on weekly jobless claims.

What Does It Mean: After a v-pattern recovery and sideways trade in the weeks prior, stock index futures auctioned out of prior-balance and -range, via Friday’s end-of-day spike.

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

Since then, the S&P 500 had difficulty in maintaining higher prices.

At the end of regular trade Wednesday, the aforementioned spike and shift from balance (i.e., the transition from two- to one-time frame trade) was accepted. Overnight, however, the market rotated back into the meat of Wednesday’s range, putting in jeopardy the near-term bullish bias. This is likely the resolve of uninspired buying interest during regular trade (as measured by volume delta).

More On Volume Delta: Buying and selling power as calculated by the difference in volume traded at the bid and offer.

Noting, as the bid in volatility drops, demand is seen rising.

That’s according to one statement by Goldman Sachs Group Inc‘s (NYSE: GS) trading desk which said: “CTAs [are] purchasing ~$5B of S&P this week, regardless of what the tape does.”

That statement echoes what JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM) Marko Kolanovic’s said last year. Kolanovic suggested equities would rally short-term with the S&P 500 auctioning as high as $4,000 on the basis of low rates, improved fundamentals, buybacks, as well as systematic and hedge fund strategies. Kolanovic has since downgraded growth and suggested the limited potential for further upside despite odds of a sustained economic recovery.

Important to add also is the large February monthly options expiration (OPEX), after which, the interest at the $3,900.00 S&P 500 option strike will roll-off. 

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

What To Expect: Thursday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET) will likely open inside of prior-balance and -range, suggesting the limited potential for immediate directional opportunity.

This comes alongside a resumption of balance, acceptance of higher prices (above a prominent high-volume area), and an overnight rally-high at $3,959.25.

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

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

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

Given the above dynamics, and the S&P 500’s move back below the $3,919.75 spike base (i.e., Wednesday’s worst case outcome), the following frameworks ought to be applied.

In the best case, the S&P 500 opens and remains above the $3,900.00 confluence zone. Auctioning beneath $3,900.00 turns the high-volume area (HVNode) nearby into supply, offering initiative sellers favorable entry and responsive buyers favorable exit.

So, above $3,900.00, expect balance-to-higher. Below $3,900.00, expect the potential for downside discovery.

Levels Of Interest: $3,900.00 HVNode.

Categories
Commentary

Market Commentary For The Week Ahead: ‘The Flow Won’

Key Takeaways:

What Happened: Amid a volatile, news-heavy week, after a slew of earnings reports by heavily weighted index constituents, and an FOMC meeting that made no change to existing monetary policy, financial markets experienced a rapid de-risking, similar to what transpired prior to the sell-off in February 2020.

What Does It Mean: After extending the S&P 500’s rally, as well as establishing acceptance near the $3,850.00 price extension, an upside target, and excess (i.e., a proper end to price discovery), participants auctioned back into range, repairing poor structures left in the wake of initiative buying.

The action found acceptance below the $3,824.00 – $3,763.75 balance-area, invalidating the prior week’s break-out to new highs.

Since then, market participants were witness to violent two-sided trade, a result of the market transitioning into a short-gamma environment (Graphic 1).

In such case dealers hedge derivatives exposure by buying into strength and selling into weakness. This, will exacerbate volatility.

Graphic 1: SpotGamma data suggests S&P 500 has entered short-gamma environment

In a conversation for a Benzinga article to be released this coming week, I spoke with Kris Sidial, co-chief investment officer at The Ambrus Group, a volatility arbitrage fund, regarding GameStop Corporation (NYSE: GME) share price volatility, market microstructure, and regulation.

According to Sidial, the dynamics that transpired in GameStop can be traced back to factors like Federal Reserve stabilization efforts, and low rates, which incentivize risk taking (see Graphic 2).

“The growth of structured products, passive investing, the regulatory standpoint that’s been implemented with Dodd-Frank and dealers needing to hedge off their risk more frequently, than not,” are all part of a regime change that’s affected the stability of markets, Sidial notes. 

“These dislocations happen quite frequently in small windows, and it offers the potential for large outlier events,” like the equity bust and boom during 2020. “Strength and fragility are two completely different components. The market could be strong, but fragile.”

The aforementioned regime change is one in which dealer exposure to direction and volatility promotes crash up and down dynamics. Last February, the market was heavily one-sided with participants, like target date funds (e.g., mutual funds), selling far out-of-the-money puts on the S&P 500 for passive yield, and investors buying-to-open put options in an increasing amount for downside exposure, thus exacerbating volatility. 

Graphic 2: Newfound Research unpacks market drivers, implications of liquidity.
Graphic 3: SqueezeMetrics highlights implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness.

Last week, per Graphic 4, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust, the largest ETF that tracks the S&P 500, saw a rise in purchases of downside protection with time, which will likely lead to an increase in implied volatility and sensitivity of options to changes in underlying price.

These risks will be hedged off by dealers selling into weakness (see Graphic 3), thereby exacerbating downside volatility.

Graphic 4: Physik Invest maps out the purchase of call and put options in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust, for the week ending January 30, 2021.

The activity was most concentrated in put options with a strike price of $361, corresponding with $3,610 in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX). This, alongside the market’s entry into short gamma, and an inversion of the VIX futures term structure (see Graphic 5), in which longer-dated VIX expiries are less expensive, is a warning of elevated near-term risks for equity market stability.

Graphic 5: VIX Futures Term Structure per vixcentral.com.

What’s more? Aside from breaking technical trend (Graphic 6) is DIX, a proxy for buying derived from short sales (i.e., liquidity provision on the market making side) declining, and the presence of divergent speculative flows and delta (e.g., non-committed buying as measured by volume delta).

Graphic 6: Cash-settled S&P 500 Index experiences technical breakdown.
Graphic 7: DIX by SqueezeMetrics suggests large divergence between price and buying on January 27.
Graphic 8: Divergent Delta in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSE: SPY), the largest ETF that tracks the S&P 500.

What To Expect: In light of the technical breakdown U.S. stock indexes are best positioned for downside discovery.

As a result, participants ought to zoom out, and look for valuable areas to transact.

Graphic 9: 4-hour profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

In Graphic 9, the highlighted zones denote high-volume areas (HVNodes), which can be thought of as building blocks.

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

If participants were to auction and find acceptance into areas of prior low-volume, as they have in the week prior, then future discovery ought to be volatile and quick as participants look to areas of value for favorable entry or exit.

Additionally, it’s important to remember what the market’s long-term trajectory is: up.

Late last year, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) strategist Marko Kolanovic suggested equities would rally short-term with the S&P 500 auctioning as high as $4,000 on the basis of low rates, improved fundamentals, buybacks, as well as systematic and hedge fund strategies. Since then, Kolanovic has downgraded growth and suggested the limited potential for further upside despite odds of a sustained economic recovery.

Note, Kolanovic has not called for an implosion in equity markets. Instead, the market is due for some downside discovery given a moderation in the recovery.

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 takes back Friday’s liquidation and auctions above the $3,727.75 HVNode. Expectations thereafter include continued balance.

In the worst case, any break that finds increased involvement (i.e., supportive flows and delta) below the $3,689.50 HVNode, would favor continuation as low as the $3,611.50 and $3,556.00 HVNodes. Note that the second to last HVNode corresponds with the $361 SPY put concentration, which may serve as a near-term target, or bottom, for this sell-off, given last week’s activity at that strike.

Graphic 10: Profile overlays on a 15-minute candlestick chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

Conclusions: Participants ought to look for favorable areas to transact, such as those highlighted areas in the S&P 500, featured in Graphic 9.

Big picture, the sell-off ought to be bought, just not yet. Per Graphic 11, euphoria is still too high.

Graphic 11: Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC) sentiment indicators.

Levels Of Interest: $3,727.75, $3,689.50, $3,611.50 and $3,556.00 HVNodes.

Cover photo by Pixabay from Pexels.

Categories
Commentary

Market Commentary For The Week Ahead: ‘Follow The Flow’

Key Takeaways:

What Happened: After prices were advertised below balance in the week prior, responsive buyers in the S&P 500 began a rally that found acceptance back inside a larger balance-area, near the $3,800 high-open interest strike.

Thereafter, initiative buyers extended the S&P 500’s rally, breaking the index above its $3,824.25 balance-area high (BAH), before establishing acceptance near the $3,850.00 price extension, an upside target, and auctioning back into range, repairing poor structures left in the wake of discovery.

What Does It Mean: In light of a failed breakdown in the week prior, U.S. stock indexes were best positioned for further downside discovery. However, after what appears to be aggressive buying in response to prices below value, it was clear that was not the case.

This leads to the following question: why did selling stop on January 15? One answer, aside from a positive start to the earnings season and prospects for further stimulus, may be OPEX, the January 15 option expiry. On expiration days, delta and gamma exposures change — depending on how derivatives exposure is removed or rolled — which causes dealers to adjust hedges.

According to SpotGamma, the January 15 expiry “resulted in a ~50% reduction in single stock gamma … [which] creates volatility because, as large options positions expire[], are closed and/or rolled, dealers have large hedges they need to adjust. There is a trove of data to suggest that the bulk of single stock call activity is long calls, and based on that we believe dealers (who are short calls vs long stock) therefore have long stock positions to sell.”

Put more simply, the price action may have been attributable to the sale of long stock that hedged expiring short derivatives exposure above the market (i.e., call side).

Per the SpotGamma S&P 500 dealer hedging graphic for the January 15 expiry below, “The black line was the mark on Thursday evening, with the red line being the forecasted position on Tuesday. This red line being substantially lower than the black suggests that dealers had to reduce delta exposure as a result of expiration. Note there is a larger shift at overhead prices suggesting this was a ‘call heavy’ expiration.”

Graphic 1: SpotGamma S&P 500 dealer hedging graphic for the January 15 options expiry

After the VIX (i.e., CBOE’s Volatility Index) expiry on January 20, alongside the inauguration of President Joe Biden, the prospects for a rally improved as “event premium in IV dries up … [and] put values drop, which allows dealers (who are short puts) to buy back short hedges … [fueling] a quick rally up to the 3850SPX/385SPY level (green arrow).”

Graphic 2: SpotGamma S&P 500 Gamma Levels

Adding, the number of put options sold to open exceeded the number bought to open, per SpotGamma, suggesting increased confidence in higher prices as market participants look to options for income, and not insurance.

Historically, the returns after such developments are mixed — more often the appearance of strong initiative buying surfaces (e.g., August and January 2020) before a liquidation helps correct excess inventory, and bring sense back into the market.

Graphic 3: SpotGamma plots opening option positions.

What To Expect: During Friday’s session in the S&P 500, responsive buying surfaced after a test of the $3,818.25 High-Volume Node (HVNode), above the $3,813.50 ledge (below which is a pocket of low-volume).

In the simplest way, high-volume areas can be thought of as building blocks. A structurally sound market will build on past areas of high-volume. Should the market trend for long periods of time, it will lack sound structure (identified as a low-volume area which denotes directional conviction and ought to offer support on any test).

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

After the S&P 500 found acceptance above the $3,813.50 ledge and $3,824.25 BAH, it encountered responsive selling near the $3,840.75 HVNode, the site of a downtrend line. Since the selling transpired at a visual level, market participants know that technically-driven, short-term traders in control. In other words, institutions (e.g, funds) tend not to transact at exact technical levels.

Given the aforementioned dynamics, participants will come into Monday’s session knowing the following:

  1. The S&P 500’s higher-time frame breakout remains intact, per graphics 7, 8, and 9.
  2. Late last year, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) strategist Marko Kolanovic suggested equities would rally with the S&P 500 auctioning as high as $4,000 on the basis of low rates, improved fundamentals, buybacks, as well as systematic and hedge fund strategies. Since then, Kolanovic downgraded growth and expressed the limited potential for further upside.
  3. The earnings of heavily weighted index constituents suggests participants discount improved speculative flows and delta (e.g., presence of committed buying or selling as measured by volume delta). Please see graphics 4, 5, and 6.
Graphic 4: Supportive order flow in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY), the largest ETF that tracks the S&P 500, on January 20 trend day.
Graphic 5: Supportive order flow in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY), the largest ETF that tracks the S&P 500, on January 22.
Graphic 6: Speculative derivatives activity for the week ending January 23, 2021.
Graphic 7: Daily candlestick chart of the cash S&P 500 Index

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 takes back Friday’s liquidation and auctions above the $3,840.75 HVNode. Expectations thereafter include continued balance or initiative buying to take out the $3,859.75 overnight all-time high (there is a low probability that overnight all-time highs end the upside discovery process). Thereafter buying continues as high as the $3,884.75 price projection, or double the width of the balance-area, the typical target on a balance-area breakout.

In the worst case, any break that finds increased involvement (i.e., supportive flows and delta) below $3,824.25 BAH, would favor continuation as low as the $3,763.75 BAL.

Graphic 8: Profile overlays on a 15-minute candlestick chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures

Conclusions: Despite broad-market indices being in a longer-term uptrend, the odds of substantial upside resolve are low. Participants ought to look for favorable areas to transact, such as those high-volume areas in the S&P 500 featured in graphic 8.

All in all, the risk and reward dynamics, at these price levels, are poor.

Graphic 9: 4-hour profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures

Levels Of Interest: $3,884.75, $3,859.75, $3,840.75 HVNode, $3,824.25 BAH, $3,763.75 BAL.

Cover photo by Jayant Kulkarni from Pexels.