Daily Brief For November 29, 2021

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures auctioned sideways to higher as participants looked to take back nearly all of Friday’s shortened holiday trading range. 

According to some metrics, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY), one of the largest ETFs that track the S&P 500 index, experienced one of its most illiquid days, Friday.

At the same time, the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) closed up nearly 50% while the VIX futures term structure settled in backwardation amidst a re-pricing of tail-risk, so to speak.

Moreover, ahead is data on Pending Home Sales (10:00 AM ET).

Graphic updated 5:50 AM ET. Sentiment Neutral if expected /ES open is inside of the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. 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

Despite the lackluster intraday breadth and divergent market liquidity metrics, the worst-case outcome occurred, Friday, evidenced by downside expansion of range and separation of value.

Coming into the session, the experiences associated with ‘Volmageddon’ came to mind; the VIX was up nearly 40.00%, a concern given the exuberance of past weeks and options positioning, as well as a decline in correlations, and unsupportive breadth.

Tempering the fall were divergences; the Russell 2000 was down nearly 4.00% before Friday’s U.S. open while the S&P 500 was off about 2.00% or so, buoyed by the Nasdaq 100 which was only down about 1.00% amidst an 8% dip in the ten-year yield.

The divergence persisted with the S&P 500 closing firmly below its 20-day simple moving average, a visual level often acted on by short-term, technically-driven participants who generally are unable to defend retests.

Graphic: Divergent delta (i.e., non-committed selling as measured by volume delta or buying and selling power as calculated by the difference in volume traded at the bid and offer) in SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY), one of the largest ETFs that track the S&P 500 index.

Context: A resurgence in the COVID-19 coronavirus as an improvement in macroeconomic conditions prompts a hawkish shift from the Federal Reserve (Fed). 

“Many risky asset tailwinds in 2021 are turning into at least mild headwinds in 2022,” Nordea says. “Economic growth should decelerate, liquidity conditions are deteriorating, profit margins should be under pressure from rising costs and question marks regarding the Fed/ECB put will arise due to elevated inflation indicators. To us, this spells higher volatility.”

Moreover, for the past two years, almost, equities rallied amidst an acceleration in growth, which is typically correlated with equity outperformance over bonds.

Graphic: Accelerating growth correlates with equity outperformance over bonds.

At the same time, there’s been an insatiable appetite for stocks, according to Bloomberg, with investors pouring “almost $900 billion into equity exchange-traded and long-only funds in 2021 — exceeding the combined total from the past 19 years.”

This appetite for risk fed into the activity of some high-flyers like Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) with customers, at least in the past weeks, opting to aggressively sell puts and buy calls heading into the November monthly options expiration (OPEX).

Graphic: Per The Market Ear, participants were hating on downside protection for weeks.

Unfortunately, (1) after OPEX, the absence of sticky and supportive hedging flows freed the broader market for directional resolve, and (2) according to SpotGamma, in light of recent exuberance, “participants [were] underexposed to downside put protection.”

Graphic: Customers took on significant leverage in their purchase and sale of options, via SpotGamma.

What this meant was that after OPEX’s unpinning and increase in correlation, fundamental contexts were to matter more.

Therefore, the Fed’s “increased openness to accelerat[e] the taper pace” and hike rates, alongside fresh travel restrictions on a new COVID-19 variant, as well as holiday illiquidity, resulted in a rough re-pricing of tail risk as participants sought after those highly “convex” options which had counterparties exacerbating underlying price movement.

Graphic: According to Bloomberg, markets price “a full quarter-point rate hike into the June Fed meeting with a second by September and a third by December.”

To elaborate, in short, was volatility to pick up, those participants (who were once exuberant) were likely to reach for protection forcing dealers to reflexively hedge in a destabilizing manner. 

Dealers is the term used to describe those participants that take the other side and warehouse customer options risk, at least in the case where orders can’t be matched between customers.

With that, as volatility rose and customers demanded protection, counterparties hedged by selling into weakness. The conditions worsened when much of the activity was concentrated in shorter-dated tenors where the sensitivity of options to direction is higher if we will.

Graphic: VIX term structure. Backwardation signals an entry into an unstable environment.

Once that short-dated protection rolls off the table (and/or is monetized), dealers will reverse and support the market, buying to close their existing stock/futures hedges.

This flow is stabilizing and may play into a seasonally-aligned rally into Christmas as participants see defenses rolled out against the new COVID-19 variant, and the positive effects of pro-cyclical inflation and economic growth, improvements in global trade, and continuity at the Fed, among other dynamics, play out.

We see participants opportunistically buying the dip, already, via metrics like DIX that’s derived from liquidity provision on the market-making side.

Expectations: As of 6:00 AM ET, Monday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, will likely open in the middle part of a positively skewed overnight inventory, inside of prior-range and -value, suggesting a limited potential for immediate directional opportunity.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades sideways or higher; activity above the $4,618.75 high volume area (HVNode) puts in play the $4,647.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the latter HVNode could reach as high as the $4,674.25 micro composite point of control (MCPOC) and $4,691.25 HVNode, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,618.75 HVNode puts in play the $4,590.00 balance boundary (BAH). Initiative trade beyond the BAH could reach as low as the $4,574.25 HVNode and $4,551.75 LVNode, or lower.

Click here to load today’s updated 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. Learn about the profile.

Charts To Watch

Graphic: (NYSE: SPY). (S~$460 and $453). S is for support.
Graphic: (NASDAQ: QQQ). (S~$389 and $381). S is for support.
Graphic: (NYSE: IWM). (S~$222 and $216). S is for support.

What People Are Saying


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.

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.

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.

Options Expiration (OPEX): Traditionally, 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) and the reduction dealer gamma exposure.

Rates: Low rates have to potential to increase the present value of future earnings making stocks, especially those that are high growth, more attractive. To note, inflation and rates move inversely to each other. Low rates stimulate demand for loans (i.e., borrowing money is more attractive).


After years of self-education, strategy development, 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.

Additionally, Capelj is a Benzinga finance and technology reporter interviewing the likes of Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary, JC2 Ventures’ John Chambers, and ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, as well as a SpotGamma contributor, developing insights around impactful options market dynamics.


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.


Weekly Brief For May 2, 2021

Happy Sunday! Markets were choppy, ending the week flat-to-down. This came after President Joe Biden’s joint session of Congress, Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s assessment of the economy, and blowout earnings by heavily weighted index constituents.

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.

Market Commentary

What Happened: U.S. broad market indices closed the week out flat-to-down after a failed attempt to break higher on Thursday, April 29. Last week’s action suggests participants are looking for information to initiate a directional move.

  • Policy leaders, creators: Inflation pockets transitory.
  • Ahead: Data on labor, manufacturing, and earnings.
  • Markets balancing, positions for directional resolve.
Updated: 10:00 AM EST Sunday.

Why It Matters: The sideways action during last week’s trade came after a lengthy run, higher. 

The S&P 500, in particular, from its March 2020 low, is up over 90%.

That said, as investors enter into a new month, popular news outlets are beating the drum of an old adage: “Sell in May and go away.”

Is there any truth to this statement? It depends on perspective.

Historically speaking, the period spanning May to October is generally weak. On average, the S&P 500 is up as high as +2% during this six-month period.

“Stocks are up more than 87% from the March lows, suggesting a well-deserved pullback during these troublesome months is quite possible,” LPL Financial Chief Market Strategist Ryan Detrick said in a recent blog post. “But with an accommodative Fed, fiscal and monetary policy, along with an economy that is opening faster than nearly anyone expected, we’d use any weakness as an opportunity to add to positions.”

Adding, trends are changing, though; stocks have been higher during these so-called weak months 8 out of the past 10 years, according to LPL Research. 

Graphic by LPL Research. Data from FactSet. 

So, with that, in maintaining objectivity, we zoom out and ask a few questions.

  1. Where are we in relation to the prior week’s range? Overlapping.
  2. Is the market’s attempt to go in a certain direction supported? No. After a failed balance-area breakout, participants rotated and accepted prices back in the prior range, as evidenced by unchanged value-area placement, the area where 70% of prior trade (i.e., 1 standard deviation) is conducted.
  3. Is the technical and fundamental narrative supportive of current prices? Technically, the market is in an extended uptrend. However, despite value-area placement suggesting a validation of higher prices, market liquidity metrics point to distribution, the opposite of accumulation.

Now, we analyze other factors in play.

  • Real Yields: Alongside April’s FOMC — at which the Federal Reserve left rates unchanged and asset purchases steady — 10-year real yields are on track for their biggest drop since last summer. Low real rates may catalyze risk assets as the present value of their future earnings become more attractive
  • Capital Gains Tax (CGT): The White House expressed its desire to raise the federal CGT rate to 43.4% for wealthy individuals. However, as Goldman Sachs Group (NYSE: GS) sees it, Congress is likely to settle on a more modest increase. Adding, weak S&P 500 returns, historically, going into CGT hikes are short-lived.
  • Low Rates, Debt Expansion: Such dynamics incent market participants to take risks, causing destabilizing factors to brew. As Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial says, “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.
  • Positioning: According to Nomura data presented by The Market Ear, CTAs have taken their positions too far on the long side, reaching levels last seen prior to the 2018 Volmageddon. Additionally, the (1) SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY) and the (2) Invesco QQQ Trust Series 1 (NASDAQ: QQQ) funds saw some of their biggest outflows. At the same time, certain breadth metrics are diverging from current prices while the SPDR S&P 500 ETF, cash-settled S&P 500 Index, and Invesco QQQ saw sizable call-side bets trade, Friday. 
  • Earnings Reaction: Last week, heavily weighted index constituents reported blowout earnings. The reaction was muted, leaving broad market indices flat-to-down. One explanation is that the expectations, going into the events, were too high. Another is that the equity market is priced to perfection, at this stage of the recovery, and further advances will be supported by the rotation into cyclical parts of the market — financials, energy, and value. 
  • 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. According to SpotGamma, a provider of actionable options insights, on Friday, up to 30% of the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100’s gamma rolled off which may allow the indices an opportunity to directionally resolve.

So, in summarizing this section, technically, the market is bullish, supported by the prospects of a healthy rotation. In the coming week, given increased clarity on policy and a sizable derivatives expiry, participants may see directional resolve.

What To Expect: An increased potential to resolve directionally.

In addition, metrics, like price movement, market liquidity, and speculative derivatives activity, confirm participants’ bullishness and opportunistic hedging in light of an acceleration in the global restart and a turn in flows, the result of an apparent shift in consumer 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 30. Activity in the options market was primarily concentrated in short-dated tenors, in strikes as low as $400.000, which corresponds with $4,000.00 in the cash-settled S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX).

What To Do: In the coming sessions, participants will want to pay attention to where the S&P 500 trades in relation to its $4,186.75-$4,110.50 balance area. 

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

Any activity above (below) the balance-area high suggests participants are interested in discovering higher (lower) prices. Any activity within the balance area suggests participants are looking for more information to base their next move; in such case, responsive buying and selling is the course of action. 

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

Initiative trade below the balance-area low suggests an inclination by participants to revert to the mean and repair some of the poor structure left behind prior discovery. Initiative trade above the balance area puts in play the $4,210.75 minimal excess rally-high, and the cluster of price extensions at and above $4,200.00, typical price targets based on Fibonacci principles.

Initiative Buying (Selling): Buying (selling) within or above (below) previous price acceptance.

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 $4,300.00. 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: 65-minute profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

News And Analysis

Markets | U.S. builders produced record share of homes with hot market. (BBG)

Economy | Consumer spending, labor cost data suggests inflation warming up. (REU

Trade | Baltic Dry Index breaks 3,000 points in more than a decade on prices. (TW)

Wealth | Rich Americans fleeing tax hikes may turbocharge the shift to ETFs. (BBG)

Markets | Fed’s Robert Kaplan warns on ‘imbalances,’ wants to talk taper. (REU)

Markets | A volatility quant nets $540 million as momentum trades boom. (BBG)

Lending | States are investigating predatory subprime auto lenders. (Jalopnik)

Markets | Record metals prices catapulted mining profits beyond big oil. (BBG)

Medicine | Biden’s ARPA-H agency to ‘end cancer’ modeled after Darpa. (TC)

Markets | Bond market’s inflation bulls get Powell’s go-ahead to double down. (BBG)

Markets | Bridgewater Co-CIO sees ‘fair amount’ of stock market in bubble. (BBG)

Markets | Retail investors could counter the much-anticipated correction. (SA)

Economy | Warren Buffett denounces SPACs and Robinhood at meeting. (Axios)

Markets | Crypto’s shadow currency surges past deposits of most U.S. banks. (BBG)

Technology | Roku says it may lose YouTube app after Google’s demands. (Axios)

Economy | Ex-Treasury Secretary Summers on scarcity of workers, inflation. (BBG)

Markets | Parametric fund earns ‘Gamma Hammer’ moniker with its bets. (FT)

What People Are Saying

Innovation And Emerging Trends

FinTech | Apex Fintech has blow-out earnings ahead of NYSE listing. (BZ)

FinTech | How to attract large investors to your direct investing platform? (TC)

FinTech | New fintech groups form as industry scrutiny is ramping up. (S&P)

FinTech | Cryptocurrency bank wins OCC approval to form de novo. (S&P)

Markets | CME eyes wider customer base with micro bitcoin futures. (TB)

FinTech | Coinbase plans to acquire data and analytics platform Skew. (TB)

FinTech | How U.K.-based Lendable is powering fintechs across EMs. (TC)

FinTech | Amid the IPO gold rush, how should we value fintech startups? (TC)

FinTech | 10 fintech headhunters you need to know for recruiting to talent. (BI)

FinTech | U.K. banks speed up plans to ax branches, switch to digital focus. (S&P)

Medicine | Kevin O’Leary-backed MindMed has uplisted on the Nasdaq. (BZ)

Media | Creators are making lots of money selling Google spreadsheets. (Mashable)

Media | As newsletter advertising grows, advertisers opting for quality. (ADWK)


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.


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.