Categories
Commentary

Market Commentary For The Week Ahead: ‘Fast Moves’

Key Takeaways:

  • U.S. Senate passes a $1.9T relief package.
  • COVID vaccination timeline is sped up.
  • Equities are recipients of $12B in inflows.
  • Treasury yields aren’t at worrisome levels.
  • VIX term structure suggests no real panic.
  • Real GDP growth to be over 6% this year.

What Happened: U.S. stock index futures ended the week mixed.

This came after U.S. non-farm payrolls grew by 379,000, versus a consensus of ~180,000, improvement in sales and manufacturing data, as well as news that COVID-19 coronavirus vaccinations were accelerating.

Dynamics Unpacked: On a relative basis, the Nasdaq-100 is weaker, while the S&P 500, Russell 2000, and Dow Jones Industrial Average are stronger. This push-pull dynamic, in prior sessions, made it hard for participants to resolve directionally, evidenced by volatility.

On Friday, after an attempt by market participants to resolve lower, via a break of consolidation, stock indexes made a vicious rebound.

Why did stock indexes make a sudden reversal? Well, despite indexes being best positioned for sideways or lower trade, technically, near-term downside discovery reached its limit, based on market liquidity metrics and the inventory positioning of participants.

As stated in Friday’s morning commentary, according to SqueezeMetrics, the steepness of the GammaVol (GXV) curve suggested there was more risk to the upside than downside.

More On Gamma: Gamma is the sensitivity of an option to changes in the underlying price. Dealers that take the other side of options trades hedge their exposure to risk by buying and selling the underlying. When dealers are short-gamma, they hedge by buying into strength and selling into weakness. When dealers are long-gamma, they hedge by selling into strength and buying into weakness. The former exacerbates volatility. The latter calms volatility.
Graphic 1: SqueezeMetrics data suggested a near-term turnaround after Thursday’s violent liquidation.

Adding, also, coming into Friday’s session, market liquidity suggested (1) buying pressure was increasing and/or (2) sellers were absorbing resting liquidity (opportunistic buying or short covering into weakness), while speculative options activity was concentrated on the call-side.

In simple terms, one could argue, based on the aforementioned dynamics (e.g., speculative derivatives activity), that participants bought last week’s dip.

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 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).

Important to note, though, is the S&P 500’s long-term trend break, prior to Friday’s dramatic reversal and higher close, as well as Friday’s divergent volume delta in ETFs that track the S&P 500, Nasdaq-100, and Russell 2000.

Graphic 3: Long-term uptrend in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX) was broken.
More On Volume Delta: Buying and selling power as calculated by the difference in volume traded at the bid and offer.

What To Expect: Directional resolve and volatility, given news that the U.S. Senate, on Saturday, passed President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 coronavirus relief plan, as well as the (2) short-gamma (Graphic 4) environment (i.e, volatility is exacerbated due to dealer hedging requirements), as mentioned in the prior section.

Graphic 4: SpotGamma data suggests Nasdaq-100, the weakest index discussed in this commentary, is below the “Short-Gamma” juncture.

What To Do: In the coming sessions, participants will want to pay attention to the VWAP anchored from the $3,959.25 peak, the $3,720.50 minimal excess low, as well as the $3,837.75 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 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.

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.

In the best case, the S&P 500 opens and remains above the $3,837.75 volume area. Auctioning above the VWAP anchored from the $3,959.25 peak would suggest buyers, on average, are in control and winning since the February 15 rally high.

In such a case, participants can look to the $3,892.75 HVNode for favorable entry and exit, the $3,934.25 profile ledge, and $3,959.25 overnight rally-high.

More On Ledges: Flattened area on the profile which suggests responsive participants are in control, or initiative participants lack confidence to continue the discovery process. The ledge will either hold and force participants to liquidate (cover) their positions, or crack and offer support (resistance).

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 VWAP anchored from the $3,959.25 peak may leave the $3,837.75 HVNode as an area of supply — offering initiative sellers favorable entry and responsive buyers favorable exit.

In such a case, participants can look to other areas of high-volume (i.e., $3,795.75 and $3,727.75) for favorable entry and exit, as well as the repair of the $3,720.50 minimal excess low.

Graphic 5: Profile overlays on a 65-minute candlestick chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.
Graphic 6: 4-hour chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

Conclusions: The go/no-go level for next week’s trade is $3,837.75.

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: $3,837.75 HVNode.

Cover photo by Chris Peeters from Pexels.

Categories
Commentary

Market Commentary For The Week Ahead: ‘Ping-Pong’

Quote Of The Week: Excessive determinism is almost always the biggest enemy of stability. This seeming contradiction is behind the concept of metastability which captures the mode of market functioning in the last years. Metastability is what seems stable, but is not — a stable waiting for something to happen. [An] avalanche is a good example of metastability to keep in mind — a totally innocuous event can trigger a cataclysmic event (e.g., a skier’s scream, or simply continued snowfall until the snow cover is so massive that its own weight triggers an avalanche).

Quote by Aleksandar Kocic, Managing Director at Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE: DB), from Heisenberg Report.

Key Takeaways:

  • V-pattern recovery suggests higher prices.
  • Risks offset and funds looking to re-gross.
  • Dip presented a favorable buy opportunity.

What Happened: In light of a v-pattern recovery, after a quick de-risking event, U.S. stock indexes are positioned for further upside, as high as the 100% price projection, which happens to be above $4,000.00, a primary target in the S&P 500.

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

What Does It Mean: This positive price action is happening in the context of bearish undercurrents, as evidenced by non-participatory speculative flows and delta, as well as a divergence in the DIX.

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

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 Speculative Flows: Participants looking to capitalize on either upside or downside through the purchase and sale of options, the right to buy or sell an asset at a later date and agreed upon price.

Adding, according to The Market Ear, similar risk rallies have happened after hedge fund de-grossing events; now, “Equities are rising along higher yields, dollar and [volatility], and the magic word here is discounting inflation.”

Further, since price pays, participants ought to discount the bearish undercurrents, and position themselves for upside. Hedge funds are doing so, as evidenced by an increase in gross exposures (Graphic 1), alongside other speculative participants that look to capitalize on their opinions through the options market (Graphic 2). 

Graphic 1: JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) data suggests normalization as “HFs add back to gross exposures.”
Graphic 2: Physik Invest maps out the purchase of call and put options in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust, for the week ending February 6, 2021.

Last week, per Graphic 2, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust, the largest ETF that tracks the S&P 500, saw a rise in purchases of short-dated call and put options. Given the tenor (i.e., the length of time remaining before contract expiration), there’s a lack of long-term commitment to direction.

Adding, early and late in the week, the purchase of put options dominated. This suggests participants were either looking to protect against or capitalize on downside. In the middle of the week, participants were looking to protect against or capitalize on upside. 

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

The above, alongside the market’s re-entry into long-gamma (Graphic 3) and a normalization of the VIX futures term structure (see Graphic 4) in which longer-dated VIX expiries are more expensive, suggests the potential for less risk and volatility in equity markets.

More On Gamma: Gamma is the sensitivity of an option to changes in underlying price. Dealers that take the other side of option trades hedge their exposure to risk by buying and selling the underlying. 

When dealers are short-gamma, they hedge by buying into strength and selling into weakness. When dealers are long-gamma, they hedge by selling into strength and buying into weakness. The former exacerbates volatility. The latter calms volatility.

Graphic 3: SpotGamma suggests S&P 500 at or above “Long-Gamma” juncture.
Graphic 4: VIX Futures Term Structure per vixcentral.com.

What To Expect: U.S. stock indexes are best positioned for further balance or upside discovery.

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

In Graphic 5, the highlighted zones denote high-volume areas (HVNodes), or valuable areas to transact.

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.

Last Monday, participants found acceptance in prior low-volume. Thereafter, discovery was volatile and quick as participants looked to areas of high-volume for favorable entry and exit (e.g., where the market spent the majority of its time Tuesday through Thursday).

On Friday, the S&P 500 left the HVNode near $3,840.00. As stated, HVNodes can be thought of as building blocks — they also denote areas of supply and demand. In this case, $3,840.00 can now be thought of as an area of demand. The primary strategy is to respond to probes into these supply (i.e., selling responsively) and demand (i.e., buying responsively) areas as they offer favorable entry and exit.

What To Do: Participants will want to pay attention to last Thursday’s $3,855.00 Virgin Point Of Control, or VPOC (i.e., the fairest price to do business in a prior session), and end-of-day spike, as well as the $3,840.00 HVNode.

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

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).

Given the above references, the following frameworks ought to be applied.

In the best case, the S&P 500 does some backfilling to repair aforementioned poor structures. In such a case, participants would look for responsive buying to surface at or above the $3,840.00 HVNode

In the worst case, any break that finds increased involvement (i.e., supportive flows and delta) below the $3,840.00 HVNode, would favor continuation as low as the $3,794.75 and $3,727.75 HVNodes.

Note that the $3,727.75 HVNode corresponds with the $372 SPY put concentration, which may serve as a near-term target, or bottom, for a sell-off. 

Graphic 6: Profile overlays on a 15-minute candlestick chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

Conclusions: Simplicity is key here.

Participants ought to look for favorable areas to transact, such as those high-volume areas in the S&P 500 featured in Graphic 5.

Levels Of Interest: $3,840.00 HVNode.

Photo by Josh Sorenson from Pexels.

Categories
Commentary

Market Commentary For 2/1/2021

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

What Happened: As investors looked to another round of earnings, amidst a popularized retail stock buying frenzy, U.S. index futures tested lower and returned violently into Friday’s regular trading range.

What Does It Mean: After signs of deleveraging, inversion of the VIX term structure, a shift into short-gamma, and a rise in purchases of downside protection with time, U.S. stock indexes are best positioned for downside discovery.

However, after the best case scenario — the S&P 500 taking back Friday’s liquidation and auctioning above the $3,727.75 high-volume area (HVNode) — was realized in overnight trade, participants can expect continued balance on supportive speculative flows and delta (e.g., committed buying as measured by volume delta).

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

As a result, participants ought to zoom out, and look for valuable areas to transact, such as those highlighted zones in Graphic 1 which denote high-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, 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.

Graphic 1: 4-hour profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

In the best case, the market will initiate and find acceptance (in the form of rotational trade) above the $3,767.75 high-volume node.

In the worst case, responsive sellers appear and continue the downside discovery process. 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.

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 2).

Graphic 2: 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 go/no-go for upside is the $3,770.50 regular-trade high. The go/no-go for downside is $3,685.50 regular-trade low. Anything in-between portends responsive, non-directional trade.

Levels Of Interest: $3,770.50 regular-trade high, $3,767.75 HVNode, $3,685.50 regular-trade low.

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.