Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For June 28, 2022

The daily brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 300+ that read this report daily, below!

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures rotated higher, along with commodities. Implied volatility was bid. Bonds were lower. 

In the news were some changes to China’s COVID policies, the European Central Bank’s (ECB) intent to follow its peers and raise interest rates in July by 25 basis points, and the Group of Seven (G-7) leaders are talking about geopolitics and placing limitations on Russia. 

At home, mortgage lenders are turning “desperate” as soaring rates roil their industry. Some are bracing for a 20% reduction in business as 30-year mortgage rates level out below 5.75%.

Pursuant to some of our analyses last week, Scion Asset Management founder Michael Burry suggested a “supply gut at retail is the bullwhip effect.” More on this, later.

Ahead is data on trade in goods (8:30 AM ET), S&P Case-Shiller U.S. home price index (9:00 AM ET), consumer confidence index (10:00 AM ET), as well as updates by Federal Reserve (Fed) members (8:00 AM ET and 12:30 PM ET).

Graphic updated 6:30 AM ET. Sentiment Neutral if expected /ES open is inside of the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. SHIFT data used for S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options activity. Note that options flow is sorted by the call premium spent; if more positive, then more was spent on call options. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. VIX reflects a current reading of the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) from 0-100.

What To Expect

Fundamental: Though badly timed, last year ARK Invest’s Cathie Wood said inflation would be on its way out due in part to inventory build-ups and their impact on commodity prices.

Graphic: Via Societe Generale SA (OTC: SCGLY).

At the time, she asked whether the velocity of money was depressed given pent-up savings and demand for assets, putting forth disappointing GDP updates (which grew, mostly, on the back of inventories) and slightly negative retail final sales as support for her broader thesis. 

Recall happenings in real estate – the iBuying debacle – late last year. Wood said this: 

“This is unsustainable, … and I’m wondering if even the housing market inflation is going to give way, here.”

Participants were extending moneyness to nonmonetary assets, given monetary policies and an environment of debt and leverage that ultimately cuts into asset price volatility. Ultimately, these trends bolster the risks of carry when volatility does rise and the demand for money pushes deflation, particularly in asset prices.

Read: Daily brief for May 18, 2022.

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

With bank deposits to drain about $1 trillion or so by year-end, that volatility is happening, now, as investors “continue to lower their selling prices to compete for the cash they want.”

Scion Asset Management’s Michael Burry nods at the “supply gut” in retail. Like Wood, he thinks that it is a deflationary pulse that manifests disinflation in consumer prices, prompting the Fed to reverse itself on rates and quantitative tightening (QT).

Read: DC’s Chartbook #16 on the “fundamental evolution in the global money markets.”

Graphic: Via Societe Generale SA (OTC: SCGLY).

That’s as Credit Suisse Group AG’s (NYSE: CS) Zoltan Pozsar, who gained much attention this year on his bold market commentary, said the Fed is likely to change course as it “can only deal with nominal [and] not real chokepoints.” This is as “nominal balance sheet and liquidity trends will, at some point, clash with the realities of a garden variety of supply chain issues.”

Graphic: Via @BarnabeBearBull. “[L]ast week 18 Central Banks tightened their monetary policy (12% of all monitored CBs), including 4 of the top 9. Strongest move in a while.”

Positioning: Incredible is the still-depressed volatility skew we’ve talked about ad nauseam on.

Graphic: Via JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM). Taken from The Market Ear. “Overwriting longs and using the premium to buy downside protection is relatively cheaper now.”

It’s the strong supply of volatility. Participants are hedging, buying into volatility that is closer to current prices, and selling (skew) that which is farther out. 

The counterparts are long that volatility further out, which they may sell into declines, and all of this, together, “results in vol underperformance on market declines,” per Sergei Perfiliev.

Graphic: Via Physik Invest. Taken from TradingView. The top is S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX). The second, from the top, is the Nations SkewDex (INDEX: SDEX), a clearer measure of options skew. The second from the bottom is the Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX). The bottom is the Cboe VVIX index (INDEX: VVIX), a naive measure of skew.

For that reason, the volatility that the markets are realizing (RVOL) is heightened and, at times, in excess of that implied.

Graphic: Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS). Taken from The Market Ear. “SPX 6-month realized volatility is at a level rarely seen outside of major crises; current 6-month implied volatility has been exceeded in just 3 periods since 1940.”

As said, yesterday, given these dynamics, it makes sense to lean toward owning volatility, rather than selling it. A “higher starting point” in IVOL, and a still-present right-tail (from the positioning for a bear market rally), make it so we may position, for less cost, in short-dated structures with asymmetric payouts (call and put side), precisely as we’ve been talking about for half-a-year.

Graphic: Via Pat Hennessy. “[T]he performance of short-dated 1×2 put ratios in SPX this year. Despite being short the tail, the grind lower has been well captured by this trade structure.”

In the near term, from a positioning perspective, the front-running of quarter-end repositioning flow is (and is expected), in part, to add to the equity market upside.

Graphic: Taken by Physik Invest from Interactive Brokers Group Inc (NASDAQ: IBKR) on 6/24/2022. Multi-expiry skew in the Invesco QQQ Trust Series 1 (NASDAQ: QQQ). Notice the v-shape in the shorter maturity and smirk in the longer maturity. Here’s what that means.

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $3,909.25 MCPOC puts in play the $3,943.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the HVNode could reach as high as the $3,982.75 LVNode and $4,016.25 HVNode, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $3,909.25 MCPOC puts in play the $3,885.75 ONL. Initiative trade beyond the ONL could reach as low as the $3,821.50 LVNode and $3,793.25 Ledge, or lower.

Click here to load today’s key levels into the web-based TradingView charting platform. Note that all levels are derived using the 65-minute timeframe. New links are produced, daily.
Graphic: 65-minute profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

Balanced (Two-Timeframe Or Bracket) Trade The Status Quo: 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). 

Modus operandi is responsive trade (i.e., fade the edges), rather than initiative trade (i.e., play the break).

Definitions

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

Volume Areas: A structurally sound market will build on areas of high volume (HVNodes). Should the market trend for long periods of time, it will lack sound structure, identified as low volume areas (LVNodes). LVNodes denote directional conviction and ought to offer support on any test. 

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

MCPOCs: POCs are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent over numerous day sessions. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit.

About

After years of self-education, strategy development, mentorship, and trial-and-error, Renato Leonard Capelj began trading full-time and founded Physik Invest to detail his methods, research, and performance in the markets.

Capelj also develops insights around impactful options market dynamics at SpotGamma and is a Benzinga reporter.

Some of his works include conversations with ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, investors Kevin O’Leary and John Chambers, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial, among many others.

Disclaimer

In no way should the materials herein be construed as advice. Derivatives carry a substantial risk of loss. All content is for informational purposes only.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For June 27, 2022

The daily brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 300+ that read this report daily, below!

What Happened

Overnight, equity index and commodity futures were higher while bonds were lower. Volatility measures were bid, too.

In the news is Russia’s default on foreign debts. Quarterly repositioning may bolster attempts higher, per JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM), while Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) strategists see the potential for lower with base cases calling for a soft economic landing.

Ahead is data on goods orders (8:30 AM ET) and pending home sales (10:00 AM ET).

Graphic updated 6:30 AM ET. Sentiment Risk-On if expected /ES open is above the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. SHIFT data used for S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options activity. Note that options flow is sorted by the call premium spent; if more positive, then more was spent on call options. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. VIX reflects a current reading of the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) from 0-100.

What To Expect

Fundamental: Very short, today.

Later this week, I’m excited to share some insights I gleaned from a veteran trader and macro strategist. As a preview, this person thinks that we are in a recession. However, a recovery in equity markets is not off the table with 2022 likely being a 1% total GPD year with 4% inflation.

Stay tuned for that.

Positioning: We’ve been speaking on the demand for protection and the still-strong supply of it lending to tameness in Wall Street’s preferred “fear gauge,” relative to those gauges tracking markets like rates and commodities.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

“The current behavior is playing out similar to the 2000-2002 dot-com bear market, with no big sudden shocks but sustained high realized volatility,” explained Talal Dehbi of PrismFP.

Graphic: Via Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS).

Options data and insights platform SqueezeMetrics explained that this is due in part to lower leverage, too.

“Leveraged long S&P lost favor (understandable), and marginal demand for puts went with it. Creeping into net selling territory is ‘smart’ bear market positioning. Short delta, short skew.”

Graphic: Via SqueezeMetrics.

Anyways, noteworthy is the sale of short-dated volatility, and this has played into generally poor performance in skew. In light of that, it makes sense to lean toward owning volatility, rather than selling it.

Graphic: Via TradingView. Taken by Physik Invest. The Cboe VVIX Index (INDEX: VVIX), the expected volatility of the 30-day forward price of the VIX, or the volatility of volatility (a naive but useful measure of skew), was very depressed, too, in comparison to the VIX, itself.

The note to point out, here, is – and this is in accordance with some very recent notes – that a “higher starting point” in IVOL, and a still-present right-tail, makes it so we may position, for less cost, in shorter-dated spread structures with attractive and asymmetric payouts.

Graphic: Taken by Physik Invest from Interactive Brokers Group Inc (NASDAQ: IBKR). Multi-expiry skew in the Invesco QQQ Trust Series 1 (NASDAQ: QQQ). Notice the v-shape in the shorter maturity and smirk in the longer maturity. Here’s what that means.

Heading into the end of the quarter is the expected rollover of large options positions. These are hedges to customer long-equity exposure, which the liquidity providers are short. A front-running of this repositioning flow is (and is expected), in part, to add to the equity market upside.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. “SPX prices X-axis. Option delta Y-axis. When the factors of implied volatility and time change, hedging ratios change. For instance, if SPX is at $4,700.00 and IV jumps 15% (all else equal), the dealer may sell an additional 0.2 deltas to hedge their exposure to the addition of a positive 0.2 delta. The graphic is for illustrational purposes, only.”

Per SpotGamma, after expiration, “it is more likely the [bearish] tone [all else equal] remains unchanged at least from a positioning perspective,” albeit many metrics appear a tad stretched.

Graphic: Via JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM). Taken from Callum Thomas’ Weekly S&P 500 ChartStorm.

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $3,943.25 HVNode puts in play the $3,982.75 LVNode. Initiative trade beyond the LVNode could reach as high as the $4,016.25 HVNode and $4,055.25 LVNode, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $3,943.25 HVNode puts in play the $3,909.25 MCPOC. Initiative trade beyond the $3,909.25 MCPOC could reach as low as the  $3,889.00 VPOC and $3,821.50 LVNode, or lower.

Click here to load today’s key levels into the web-based TradingView charting platform. Note that all levels are derived using the 65-minute timeframe. New links are produced, daily.
Graphic: 65-minute profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

Gap Scenarios In Play: Gaps ought to fill quickly. Should they not, that’s a signal of strength; do not fade. Leaving value behind on a gap-fill or failing to fill a gap (i.e., remaining outside of the prior session’s range) is a go-with indicator.

Auctioning and spending at least 1-hour of trade back in the prior range suggests a lack of conviction; in such a case, do not follow the direction of the most recent initiative activity.

Definitions

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

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

Also, MCPOCs are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent over numerous day sessions. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit.

About

After years of self-education, strategy development, mentorship, and trial-and-error, Renato Leonard Capelj began trading full-time and founded Physik Invest to detail his methods, research, and performance in the markets.

Capelj also develops insights around impactful options market dynamics at SpotGamma and is a Benzinga reporter.

Some of his works include conversations with ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, investors Kevin O’Leary and John Chambers, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial, among many others.

Disclaimer

In no way should the materials herein be construed as advice. Derivatives carry a substantial risk of loss. All content is for informational purposes only.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For June 17, 2022

The daily brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 300+ that read this report daily, below!

What Happened

Update: Technicals section now reflects the proper overnight inventory stat.

After a week-long or so de-rate to reflect the impact of higher inflation and harsher monetary policies, equity index futures are trading in a responsive fashion. 

The S&P 500, in particular, lies pinned against the $3,700.00 high options open interest strike. The large June monthly options expiration has implications on the expansion of the range, as noted in prior letters.

The newsflow remains depressing. Taken alone, you’d think the Federal Reserve (Fed) would be “soft[ly] landing” us into a depression, just in time for WWIII to help us get out of it. 

Kidding. The utmost sympathy for those negatively affected by war and economic hardship.

The distinction between the economy and the market is blurred and the drop is the recession. The equity markets are a mechanism pricing the implications of all the points we talk about, in real-time, months (6-12) in advance.

Given that, there are better measures to assess whether a de-rate has played out, fully. In the last session, information, generated by the market – internals, volatility measures, and the like – suggested to us that more selling was in store, all the while there was a definite change in tone in the non-linear strength of volatility and skew with respect to linear changes in price of assets.

Should you care for the narratives in news, then here it is:

The Bank of England (BOE) pointed to the potential for a more aggressive rate hike schedule if data were to reflect a wage spiral. The Swiss National Bank (SNB) upped rates an unexpected 50 basis points. The White House weighed fuel-export limits. Both residential permitting and housing starts plummeted with the 30-year fixed-rate breaching 6.00%. 

Adding, U.S. junk bond spreads topped 500 basis points for the first time since 2020, and China, also, launched its third most modern aircraft carrier. 

Ahead, Fed Chair Jerome Powell speaks at 8:45 AM ET. Then updates on industrial production and capacity utilization (9:15 AM ET), as well as leading economic indicators (10:00 AM ET).

Graphic updated 6:30 AM ET. Sentiment Neutral if expected /ES open is inside of the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. SHIFT data used for S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options activity. Note that options flow is sorted by the call premium spent; if more positive, then more was spent on call options. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. VIX reflects a current reading of the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) from 0-100.

What To Expect

Team. We’re going to have to keep it a bit shorter, today, and leave out the fundamentals section. Sorry!

Read: Daily Brief for June 16, 2022, on monetary updates and the implications of positioning.

In a nutshell, and this is borrowing from a past post-Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) event letter, as well put forth by Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, on a Fed day, “the first move tends to be structural. A function of the inevitable rebalancing of dealer inventory post-event.”

Graphic: Via SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options (HIRO) indicator alluded to counterparty buyback of static short delta hedges to positive delta options exposures.

“The second move and final resolution, if you wait for it, is usually tied to the incremental effects on liquidity (QE/QT).”

Essentially, the baseline bear trend held because, essentially, the Fed is, indeed, expected to continue raising rates and withdrawing liquidity. This will prompt a continued de-rate with QT being “a direct flow of capital to capital markets.”

Graphic: Via Charles Schwab Corporation-owned (NYSE: SCHW) TD Ameritrade’s Thinkorswim. The Eurodollar (FUTURE: /GE) futures curve is a reflection of participants’ outlook on interest rates. The peak of the Fed-rate-hike cycle – terminal rate – is around March 2023.

Great, moving on. What’s next?

Essentially, with the June monthly options expiration (OPEX), expected is a roll-off of a large amount of customer negative delta exposure (via put options they own). Taken in a vacuum, with expiration, liquidity providers (who are short put options and short underlying to hedge) will re-hedge (buyback static short-delta, among other things), and this is taken as bullish.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. “While many of these put positions could be paired off with other offsetting positions (i.e. netting out some of this delta), we remain of the opinion that a lot of these put positions are investor short hedges which will be rolled out and down on OPEX. This means that large ITM puts will be exchanged for OTM puts, which creates a short delta hedge imbalance for dealers (i.e. they need to cover short futures). This is what may drive the OPEX-related rally.

However, this is definitely discounting the impact on delta from participants rolling forward their bets on direction.

Graphic: Via Shift Search. Participants, mainly sell to close their short-dated bets on the downside while buying to open those that are further out in time and lower in price.

As talked about yesterday, we were to gauge the delta impact by how far below the high open interest strikes the equity indexes were to travel. As stated, these options, have little time to expiry and, thus, their gamma (the sensitivity of the option to change indirection) grows rather large, at near-the-money strikes.

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

As the time to expiry narrows, above the strike in question delta decays, and counterparts buy back their static delta hedges. 

As the time to expiry narrows, below the strike in question delta expands and counterparts sell more static delta to hedge.

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

This means that if far below these high-interest strikes, associated hedging, less any new reach for protection would keep markets pressured. If above, hedging, less new sales of protection, would bolster markets higher.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. “SPX prices X-axis. Option delta Y-axis. When the factors of implied volatility and time change, hedging ratios change. For instance, if SPX is at $4,700.00 and IV jumps 15% (all else equal), the dealer may sell an additional 0.2 deltas to hedge their exposure to the addition of a positive 0.2 delta. The graphic is for illustrational purposes, only.”

Ultimately, if lower, all else equal, the June 17 OPEX will coincide with the removal of the in-the-money options exposures in question. Negating the rollover of exposures and leaving the door open to some delta imbalance (need to buy to re-hedge exposure) suggests that after this expiration, markets may have less pressure to rally against. 

“The SPX index quarterly option notional is higher than usual, but the market is below the concentration of risk given the recent selloff,” Tanvir Sandhu, chief global derivatives strategist at Bloomberg Intelligence, wrote in a note. “Price action will reflect the economic context, but flows from expiring in-the-money hedges may support the market.”

What do you do with this information?

Well, recall that we’ve talked ad nauseam about the supply and demand of volatility, as well as how that impacted the volatility realized (RVOL) and implied (IVOL) by the market.

Graphic: Taken by Physik Invest from Interactive Brokers Group Inc (NASDAQ: IBKR). The divergence in volatility implied (IVOL) by participants’ options activity, versus that which the market realizes (RVOL) resurfaced on June 15, 2022, in the Nasdaq 100 (INDEX: NDX).

Essentially there was an “absolute slamming” (i.e., sale of options), particularly in shorter-dated tenors and this played into the generally poor performance in skew, hence our comments on the benefit to buying into implied skew convexity should volatility reprice.

Graphic: Via TradingView. Taken by Physik Invest. The Cboe VVIX Index (INDEX: VVIX), the expected volatility of the 30-day forward price of the VIX, or the volatility of volatility (a naive but useful measure of skew), was very depressed, too, in comparison to the VIX, itself.

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

To hedge or capitalize on a potential reach for protection, amid forced selling or demand for protection by a greater share of the market in ways not recently seen, then the repricing in those structures would be a boon to those that own them.

Graphic: Taken by Physik Invest from Interactive Brokers Group Inc (NASDAQ: IBKR).

To quote Benn Eifert of QVR Advisors: “Skew goes up if vol outperforms the skew curve a lot on  a selloff.”

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

And, as touched on in this morning’s introduction, there was a definite change in tone in the non-linear strength of volatility and skew with respect to linear changes in the price of assets.

Personally, I, along with a partner who I trade closely with, saw increases in the prices of ratio structures (long or short one option near-the-money, short or long two or more further out-of-the-money) by hundreds of percent for only a few basis points of change in the indexes.

As Karsan explained online, there was “a spike in short-dated -sticky skew, [the] first we’ve seen since [the] secular decline began and it hints [at] a potentially critical change in dealer positioning [and] the distribution of underlying outcomes.”

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

Graphic: Via English Stack Exchange. Visualizing the transition to a fat left tail and right-based distribution that is skewed negative (i.e., the green distribution).

So why does any of this matter?

This is a validation of our perspectives on how one should position, given what the supply and demand of volatility looked like prior.

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

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

In other words, by owning that protection, you are positioned to monetize on a continued non-linear repricing of volatility. However, doing this in a manner that cuts decay (when nothing happens) is the difficult part.

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

Graphic: Sourced via Towards AI. Skewness and kurtosis cheat sheet.

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $3,688.75 HVNode puts in play the $3,727.75 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the $3,727.75 HVNode could reach as high as the $3,773.25 HVNode and $3,808.50 HVNode, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $3,688.75 HVNode puts in play the $3,664.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the $3,664.25 HVNode could reach as low as the $3,610.75 HVNode and $3,587.25 LVNode, or lower.

Click here to load today’s key levels into the web-based TradingView charting platform. Note that all levels are derived using the 65-minute timeframe. New links are produced, daily.
Graphic: 65-minute profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

Definitions

Should the market trend for long periods of time, it will lack sound structure, identified as low volume areas (LVNodes). LVNodes denote directional conviction and ought to offer support on any test. 

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

About

After years of self-education, strategy development, mentorship, and trial-and-error, Renato Leonard Capelj began trading full-time and founded Physik Invest to detail his methods, research, and performance in the markets.

Capelj also develops insights around impactful options market dynamics at SpotGamma and is a Benzinga reporter.

Some of his works include conversations with ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, investors Kevin O’Leary and John Chambers, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial, among many others.

Disclaimer

In no way should the materials herein be construed as advice. Derivatives carry a substantial risk of loss. All content is for informational purposes only.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For June 14, 2022

The daily brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 300+ that read this report daily, below!

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures auctioned sideways-to-higher, along with bonds, snapping the pricing in of tighter monetary policies and economic slowing.

Creeping up are expectations regarding the amount of tightening policymakers are to add. Treasury yields had their biggest jump in decades. U.S. 3-year Treasury yields, in particular, were up 25 basis points, to 3.49%, the highest since 2007, per Bloomberg.

Now, traders see nearly 200 basis points of tightening by the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) by September, as well as the possibility of a one-off 75 basis point hike. The overnight rate is expected to peak near 4% by mid-2023.

Accordingly, the U.S. and European real estate values have taken a hit amid rising rates and inflated prices, falling 5-10%. Rental demand has thinned, also. 

In other news, the U.S. sought to boost supplies of Russian fertilizer as “sanctions fears have led to a sharp drop in supplies, fueling spiraling global food costs.”

Graphic updated 6:30 AM ET. Sentiment Neutral if expected /ES open is inside of the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. SHIFT data used for S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options activity. Note that options flow is sorted by the call premium spent; if more positive, then more was spent on call options. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. VIX reflects a current reading of the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) from 0-100.

What To Expect

Fundamental: In what seems to be “a coordinated attempt to guide the market through trusted journalists,” recent updates on the path of inflation may push policymakers to surprise markets.

Graphic: Via Tier1Alpha. “A disappointing CPI suggested that calls for inflation peaks were premature and now markets are trying to interpret Powell’s (and Lagarde’s) true intentions.”

Markets reacted, accordingly, pricing in a near-certainty of a 75 basis point hike, later this week.

Graphic: Graphic: Via CME Group Inc’s (NASDAQ: CME) FedWatch Tool. In one session, participants priced in a near-certainty of a 75 basis point hike.

Looking into the future, Fed Funds target rates, based on the Fed Fund futures contract prices, are projected to peak into the mid-next year (Spring/Summer 2023).

Graphic: Via CME Group Inc’s FedWatch Tool

Accordingly, Treasury market turmoil continued with liquidity “worse than it was leading up to Lehman,” says Christian Hoffman, a portfolio manager for Thornburg Investment Management.

“That creates even more risk because if the market doesn’t have liquidity, it can gap down very quickly.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. Taken from @DonutShorts. This could “be a sign of another shortage of collateral and that another systemic risk event might come up in the future,” as Fabian Wintersberger well explained in his newsletter.

As talked about in past newsletters, pressures in the financial system, all the while the economy is slowing, are rising. This is amidst a dash for cash as fixed income and equity markets are not perceived to be as safe.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “Two-year US Treasury yields surged 29 basis points as bond prices tanked, … the biggest two-day increase since 2008, a sign of just how rapidly traders are adjusting where they think the Federal Reserve will take interest rates.”

“People are trying to process what’s behind these large moves,” Subadra Rajappa, head of U.S. rates strategy at Societe Generale SA (OTC: SCGLY), said. She attributes some of the volatility to poor liquidity, panic selling, and margin calls.

Ultimately, according to Bloomberg’s John Authers, this is a tantrum the Fed is likely to let “rip for a while” before, potentially, suffocating “with more easy money.”

“The relationship between central banks and bond markets is, as I’ve said before, a lot like that between a parent and an angry toddler. Indulging the bond market early last year might prove a critical mistake in losing parental authority for the Fed.”

Graphic: Via Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS). Taken from The Market Ear. MS’s Mike Wilson says: “From our vantage point, both rates and ERP appeared to be mis-priced [and] we think the S&P 500 is headed toward 3,400 before a more tradable low is in.”

Positioning: Last night, as I wrote a report for SpotGamma’s subscribers, noteworthy is how “subdued” volatility was with, recently, “realized outpacing that which is implied by participants’ options activity.”

That dynamic resolved, Monday, as implied (IVOL) finally retook that which is realized (RVOL).

Read, also, the Daily Brief for Monday, June 13, 2022.

Graphic: Via Robson Chow.

Moreover, for much of the session, the equity markets were range-bound as most of the movement in both equity and volatility markets happened overnight. 

Graphic: SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options (HIRO) indicator for ES (SPX + SPY). Via SpotGamma, “Into weakness, participants mainly sold puts (a bullish trade). Into strength, they bought puts (a bearish trade). Throughout the session, too, there was light call buying (a bullish trade). This helps with understanding why the VIX moved much less during the day session.”

Noteworthy, was the absence of demand for protection that performs non-linearly with respect to changes in direction (delta) and volatility (vega).

“Fixed strike vols actually caught a bid, VIX futures are in backwardation,” The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial explains.

“However, that spot-vol relationship in the S&P still underperformed and skew was also lackluster.”

Graphic: Via TradingView. Taken by Physik Invest. The Cboe VVIX Index (INDEX: VVIX), the expected volatility of the 30-day forward price of the VIX, or the volatility of volatility (a naive but useful measure of skew), remains depressed, too, in comparison to the VIX, itself.

As said before, it is supply and demand dynamics that played into divergences between the volatility that the market realizes (RVOL) and that which is implied (IVOL). Participants are hedged and volatility remains well-supplied.

Was there to be forced selling and demand for protection en masse, we’d likely see that repricing in volatility we have been looking for.

To quote Benn Eifert of QVR Advisors: “Skew goes up if vol outperforms the skew curve a lot on a selloff.”

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

And so, to position for that, (although it is not as opportune as it was a week ago), it continues to make sense to own volatility structures (that, one, either sold very short-dated pre-FOMC and OPEX volatility to fund that which is farther-dated or, two, buy into implied skew convexity, non-linear with respect to delta [gamma] and vega [volga] changes).

Notwithstanding, per SpotGamma, a lower bound in the market is near $3,700.00. It is at this level options flows may shift from “inducing” to “reducing” volatility as, “beneath this level, all else equal, liquidity providers would have less and less pressure to add on further weakness.”

Ultimately, it is at higher levels of volatility that the marginal impact of further volatility compression is likely to do more to bolster equity market upside as liquidity providers buy back their negative delta hedges to positive delta (short put) exposures. 

SpotGamma’s founder, Brent Kochuba, adds: “Ultimately this expiration is clearing out a lot of equity put protection, which clears the way for lower lows in the weeks and months ahead.”

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $3,768.25 HVNode puts in play the $3,808.50 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the $3,808.50 HVNode could reach as high as the $3,836.25 LVNode and $3,863.25 LVNode, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $3,768.25 HVnode puts in play the $3,727.75 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the $3,727.75 HVNode could reach as low as the $3,688.75 and $3,664.25 HVNode, or lower.

Click here to load today’s key levels into the web-based TradingView charting platform. Note that all levels are derived using the 65-minute timeframe. New links are produced, daily.
Graphic: 65-minute profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

Definitions

Volume Areas: A structurally sound market will build on areas of high volume (HVNodes). Should the market trend for long periods of time, it will lack sound structure, identified as low volume areas (LVNodes). LVNodes denote directional conviction and ought to offer support on any test. 

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

Point Of Control: POCs are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent in a prior day session. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit.

Micro Composite Point Of Control: POCs are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent over numerous day sessions. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit.

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

About

After years of self-education, strategy development, mentorship, and trial-and-error, Renato Leonard Capelj began trading full-time and founded Physik Invest to detail his methods, research, and performance in the markets.

Capelj also develops insights around impactful options market dynamics at SpotGamma and is a Benzinga reporter.

Some of his works include conversations with ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, investors Kevin O’Leary and John Chambers, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial, among many others. 

Disclaimer

In no way should the materials herein be construed as advice. Derivatives carry a substantial risk of loss. All content is for informational purposes only.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For June 9, 2022

The daily brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 300+ that read this report daily, below!

What Happened

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

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

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

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

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

Graphic updated 6:40 AM ET. Sentiment Neutral if expected /ES open is inside of the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. SHIFT data used for S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options activity. Note that options flow is sorted by the call premium spent; if more positive, then more was spent on call options. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. VIX reflects a current reading of the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) from 0-100.

What To Expect

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s why that matters. 

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

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

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

Graphic: Via Bloomberg.

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

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

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

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

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

How to think about trades?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Technical: As of 6:40 AM ET, Thursday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, will likely open in the upper part of a balanced overnight inventory, inside of prior-range and -value, suggesting a limited potential for immediate directional opportunity.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,129.25 low volume area (LVNode) puts in play the $4,149.00 untested point of control (VPOC). Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as high as the $4,164.25 regular trade high (RTH High) and $4,189.25 LVNode, or higher.

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

Click here to load today’s key levels into the web-based TradingView charting platform. Note that all levels are derived using the 65-minute timeframe. New links are produced, daily.
Graphic: 65-minute profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

Definitions

Volume Areas: A structurally sound market will build on areas of high volume (HVNodes). Should the market trend for long periods of time, it will lack sound structure, identified as low volume areas (LVNodes). LVNodes denote directional conviction and ought to offer support on any test. 

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

POCs: POCs are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent in a prior day session. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit.

About

After years of self-education, strategy development, mentorship, and trial-and-error, Renato Leonard Capelj began trading full-time and founded Physik Invest to detail his methods, research, and performance in the markets.

Capelj also develops insights around impactful options market dynamics at SpotGamma and is a Benzinga reporter.

Some of his works include conversations with ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, investors Kevin O’Leary and John Chambers, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial, among many others.

Disclaimer

In no way should the materials herein be construed as advice. Derivatives carry a substantial risk of loss. All content is for informational purposes only.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For June 8, 2022

The daily brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 300+ that read this report daily, below!

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures took back some of Tuesday’s sharp advance which happened against the trend of prevailing options activity (discussed further below).

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

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

Graphic updated 6:30 AM ET. Sentiment Neutral if expected /ES open is inside of the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. SHIFT data used for S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options activity. Note that options flow is sorted by the call premium spent; if more positive, then more was spent on call options. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. VIX reflects a current reading of the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) from 0-100.

What To Expect

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Bonds are not acting as a hedge and appear to be becoming less ‘money’ like due persistent declines in price and elevated rate vol,” he said. “Investors in both bonds and stocks are reaching for cash by selling their assets, driving further asset price declines. For non-bank investors, ‘cash’ means bank deposits.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

To note the Cboe VVIX Index (INDEX: VVIX), the expected volatility of the 30-day forward price of the VIX or the volatility of volatility (a naive but useful measure of skew), dropped off largely, too, in comparison to the VIX, itself.

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

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

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

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

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

More to come in future commentaries.

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

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

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,133.00 VPOC puts in play the $4,101.25 LVNode. Initiative trade beyond the LVNode could reach as low as the $4,073.25 Weak H/L and $4,055.75 LVNode, or lower.

Click here to load today’s key levels into the web-based TradingView charting platform. Note that all levels are derived using the 65-minute timeframe. New links are produced, daily.
Graphic: 65-minute profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

Definitions

Volume Areas: A structurally sound market will build on areas of high volume (HVNodes). Should the market trend for long periods of time, it will lack sound structure, identified as low volume areas (LVNodes). LVNodes denote directional conviction and ought to offer support on any test. 

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

POCs: POCs are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent in a prior day session. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit.

About

After years of self-education, strategy development, mentorship, and trial-and-error, Renato Leonard Capelj began trading full-time and founded Physik Invest to detail his methods, research, and performance in the markets.

Capelj also develops insights around impactful options market dynamics at SpotGamma and is a Benzinga reporter.

Some of his works include conversations with ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, investors Kevin O’Leary and John Chambers, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial, among many others.

Disclaimer

In no way should the materials herein be construed as advice. Derivatives carry a substantial risk of loss. All content is for informational purposes only.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For May 27, 2022

The Daily Brief will be on pause till June 7, 2022, due to the author’s travel commitments. Apologies for this inconvenience.

What Happened

Overnight, U.S. equity index futures came off of their Thursday peaks before, late in the morning, trading to a new rally high, at which is a confluence of technical nuances.

Thursday’s cash session was characterized by a near-vertical advance into mid-day. Then, trade became two-sided, a feature of short-covering and not new buying. More on this, later.

In the news was Citigroup Inc’s (NYSE: C) downgrading of U.S. stocks on recession risks and the “elements of a deflating bubble,” while leaning optimistic on China assets due to marginal policy support, there. This is on the heels of similar conclusions put forward by BlackRock Inc (NYSE: BLK) and Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS).

Mortgage rates staged their biggest drop since April of 2020 as “the housing market has clearly slowed, and the deceleration is spreading to other segments of the economy,” the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation’s (OTC: FMCC) Sam Khater explained.

In other news, Secretary of State Antony Blinken took aim at China, commenting on the U.S.’s intention to “shape the strategic environment around Beijing to advance [its] vision for an open, inclusive international system.” This is as the U.S. also plans economic talks with Taiwan.

Pippa Malmgren, who is a former White House adviser and economist we wrote on earlier this week, discussed more of this decoupling and coordination among Eastern and Western powers.

In a two-part series, she explains the challenging of U.S. island bases by China and Russia, as well as their maritime strategies, “island hopping [and] shopping.” Check them out.

Today we received data on PCE inflation, real disposable and personal income, along with consumer spending and trade in goods (8:30 AM ET). University of Michigan Sentiment and five-year inflation expectations come later (10:00 AM ET).

Graphic updated 6:45 AM ET. Sentiment Neutral if expected /ES open is inside of the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. SHIFT data used for S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options activity. Note that options flow is sorted by the call premium spent; if more positive, then more was spent on call options. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. VIX reflects a current reading of the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) from 0-100.

What To Expect

Fundamental: At its core, there’s a commitment to cutting liquidity and credit after the spending of COVID-era “benefits and lockdown savings … created a lot of demand,” and inflation.

Graphic: Via the Federal Reserve. Taken from Nasdaq Inc (NASDAQ: NDAQ). “Rates have risen dramatically this year, impacting valuations of stocks and bonds.”

This has consequences on the real economy and asset prices, accordingly, which rose and kept the deflationary pressures of prevailing monetary policies at bay.

Graphic: Taken from Nasdaq Inc. “At a very simple level, rising rates increase interest expenses, reducing profits. But they also cause investors, who can earn more interest on safe cash deposits, to demand stronger returns from all other investments too.”

As unpacked, in detail, on May 18, 2022, there is an argument that stock market drops are both a recession and a reflection of the unwind of carry (or investment in long-duration bets with cheap debt) – a deflationary shock.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “Tighter financial conditions themselves are a clear success story for the Fed — it is the only way they can reduce inflationary pressures,” said Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors.

“The Fed has a mandate … to control price stability,” Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan had explained.

“With supply-side economics, the only way that they can control this ultimately is to pull back. And slow capital markets decrease via the wealth effect. Ultimately, there’s a significant lag, so they are not in a position to ultimately control inflation without bringing down markets.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “Of course, economic growth is a good thing. But too much of that good thing will just continue to stoke inflation. With that perspective in mind, the slowdown in surprises is positive.”

Accordingly, in our May 25, 2022 commentary, in which we discussed what to search for in the minutes of the last Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting. Knowing that there’s a lag in policy impact, we accurately floated the potential for the Federal Reserve (Fed) to “shift gears” late this summer if further cooling of inflation and “evidence of a growth slowdown.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “After hitting a record above 3% last month, 10-year breakevens are on track for their biggest monthly drop since March 2020. The so-called five-year, five-year forward — the Fed’s favored measure — is set to post its biggest drop in May since August 2019.”

“Policy works with a lag,” as Diane Swonk of Grant Thorton explained. The Fed may pause as it seeks to “catch up but not outrun the market in its effort to tighten credit market conditions.” 

“There is still more progress to be made in bringing inflation expectations down to resonate with the Committee’s target, but current valuations are at least in the realm of acceptable,” Ian Lyngen, who is head of U.S. rates strategy at the Bank of Montreal (NYSE: BMO), said

“The market is showing some faith in Powell’s inflation-fighting creditability.”

Graphic: Taken from Nasdaq Inc. “Although inflation is high right now, it’s because of Covid and the Ukraine war. Both, hopefully, will pass, and 3%-4% inflation a year from now seems possible if the economy slows to a more normal level. In turn, that means the interest rate that keeps the U.S. economy growing slowly is likely much lower than we might currently be thinking. It might, in fact, be right around where bond rates are now.”

Concluding the fundamental section with remarks from a March 2022 Substack newsletter published by Andreas Steno Larsen of the Stenos Signals Substack.

“I simply don’t find >3.5% territory for the Fed Funds feasible as the hiking cycle peaked at 2.25-2.50% in 2018/2019 and fundamentals have worsened since. Debt loads are much higher, demographics have weakened, and the labour force is smaller, which suggests that the neutral rate is lower, not higher, than in 2018/2019.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. “​​The swaps market and consensus forecasts to Bloomberg Economics both imply considerably faster rate hikes, while Bloomberg’s own forecast is more hawkish still.”

Positioning: Per Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC) notes, investors poured nearly $20 billion into global stocks (in the week to May 25, 2022).

As I wrote in a SpotGamma note, notable was the reversal in beaten-down areas of the market, as well as the implosion at the front-end of the volatility term structure, affecting protection most sensitive to changes in direction and volatility.

The Cboe VVIX Index (INDEX: VVIX), the expected volatility of the 30-day forward price of the VIX or the volatility of volatility (a naive but useful measure of skew), dropped off markedly, too, in comparison to the VIX, itself.

Graphic: Via Physik Invest. Taken from TradingView. VVIX, top. VIX, bottom.

Further, as stated in SpotGamma’s note, a “falling VVIX (and VIX term structure drop off) may be the product of a collapse in the value of customers’ long put exposures concentrated in very short-dated timeframes (potentially exposures hedging tail risks with respect to the release of FOMC minutes, among other things).”

“It is then as the skew, here, decays, and term structure compresses, that liquidity providers buy back their hedges to the puts they are short (i.e., the vanna dynamic pointed to, earlier).”

This market-generated information helps us give context to this most recent equity market rally that is characterized by a little change in demand for bets on upside further in price and time 

All else equal, this is not a feature of sustainable market rallies.

Why you ask?

Those names that have been most depressed, and are now reversing, were recipients of heavy demand for protection in the months prior.

For this reason – participants being well hedged – selling was orderly, rather than violent as in past episodes of market shock when the reach for protection solicited a cascading reaction that exacerbated underlying price movements due to liquidity providers’ hedging.

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

The large drop off in term structure, as well as the VVIX versus the VIX, is affecting protection most sensitive to changes in direction and volatility and the unwind of liquidity providers’ short futures and stock hedges to this protection is, in part, playing into this internally weak rally.

So, what? How do you play this? Good question.

It still may make sense to have exposure to underlying markets, synthetically (i.e., own options), as detailed, well, May 25, 2022. Read that letter for detail on how to think about trade structure.

Technical: As of 6:45 AM ET, Friday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, will likely open in the upper part of a positively skewed overnight inventory, inside of prior-range and -value, suggesting a limited potential for immediate directional opportunity.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,069.25 HVNode puts in play the $4,095.00 ONH. Initiative trade beyond the ONH could reach as high as the $4,119.00 VPOC and $4,148.25 HVNode, or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,069.25 HVNode puts in play the $3,997.75 RTH High. Initiative trade beyond the RTH High could reach as low as the $3,982.75 LVNode and $3,951.00 VPOC, or lower.

Click here to load today’s key levels into the web-based TradingView charting platform. Note that all levels are derived using the 65-minute timeframe. New links are produced, daily.
Graphic: 65-minute profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

Definitions

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

Volume Areas: A structurally sound market will build on areas of high volume (HVNodes). Should the market trend for long periods of time, it will lack sound structure, identified as low volume areas (LVNodes). LVNodes denote directional conviction and ought to offer support on any test. 

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

POCs: POCs are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent in a prior day session. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit.

MCPOCs: POCs are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent over numerous day sessions. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit.

About

After years of self-education, strategy development, mentorship, and trial-and-error, Renato Leonard Capelj began trading full-time and founded Physik Invest to detail his methods, research, and performance in the markets.

Capelj also develops insights around impactful options market dynamics at SpotGamma and is a Benzinga reporter.

Some of his works include conversations with ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, investors Kevin O’Leary and John Chambers, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial, among many others.

Disclaimer

In no way should the materials herein be construed as advice. Derivatives carry a substantial risk of loss. All content is for informational purposes only.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For May 10, 2022

The Daily Brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 200+ that read this report daily, below!

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures auctioned sideways to higher, inside of the prior day’s range. Most other commodity and bond futures were bid while implied volatility metrics came in a bit.

Notable was the depth and breadth of Monday’s decline. Though the indexes were tame, some of which is attributable to suppressive hedging, single stocks expanded their ranges, greatly, to the downside, and this points to potential capitulation.

On the news front, a U.S. central bank report found that “the risk of a sudden significant deterioration [in liquidity] appears higher than normal” and stablecoin use to meet margin requirements in crypto trades makes them “vulnerable to runs.”

This is just as some algorithmic stablecoins have lost their peg (e.g., UST/USD ~$0.60).

Additionally, the report found elevated inflation, as well as the reaction to that “could negatively affect domestic economic activity, asset prices, credit quality, and financial conditions.”

Ahead is data on real household debt (11:00 AM ET).

Graphic updated 6:25 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

Context: We continue to build out the narrative.

A market-wide drop, Monday, pointed to signs of capitulation as “small-time investors offloaded a net of about $1 billion in equities, the most aggressive selling in 14 months,” per JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM).

Graphic: Via @TaviCosta. “Nasdaq has already declined almost as much as it did during the March 2020 crash. Back then, the Fed was all about saving the stock market and the economy. Today, it’s all about how much more they are going to hike rates.

Notwithstanding, the volatility divergences this letter has pointed to, in the face of pronounced realized volatility, continue.

Graphic: Via Topdown Charts. Wednesday (FOMC) price rise (right) versus Thursday (post-FOMC) liquidation.

As Pat Hennessy of IPS Strategic Capital explains, at-the-money implied volatility is high and term structure is in backwardation, which are reflections of uncertainty and demand for hedges.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. At-the-money implied volatility is backwardated given the heightened demand for shorter-dated protection, relative to that which is longer-dated.

“It’s just rare to see wingy short-dated puts like this so cheap relative to ATM.”

As explained in Monday’s letter (and in greater detail, Friday), a measure like the Cboe VVIX Index (INDEX: VVIX), or the volatility of volatility, has a mean below 100 and a high correlation with the Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) during times of stress.

When realized volatility is as high as it is, today, the VVIX typically trades closer to 150.

To quote Benn Eifert of QVR Advisors: “Skew goes up if vol outperforms the skew curve a lot on  a selloff.”

Graphic: Updated May 9, 2022. The VVIX via Physik Invest.

What’s going on? 

There is really negative sentiment and emotion, both of which are playing into market weaknesses and realized volatility. However, that realized volatility is not priced in.

There are “plenty of put-buyers, but nearly as many sellers,” SqueezeMetrics explains

You “don’t have to protect what you don’t own. Some investors de-grossed. Short momo (e.g., CTA) wants to bet on a bleed (a la 2000), but not on a crash. Put underwriting! No carry trades elsewhere. Sell SPX vol!”

Graphic: Via SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options (HIRO) indicator, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY) was a recipient of heavy put selling and call buying on 5/9/22.

Why does this matter?

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

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

So, in all, it is a question of whether the reward is worth the risk (see below “How To Play”).

Based on stretched positioning, equity markets are positioned for upside. Notwithstanding, the potential for large negative outliers, remains. In the case of an outlier, the consequent repricing of volatility may increase the reward, relative to the risk, for selling options, particularly puts.

As The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial sums well: 

With an S&P 500 below $4,000.00, “I would expect more of an aggressive reach for hedges … that spot- vol correlation break (weakness) would not be as present.”

“Spot- vol correlation has sucked recently, but vol relative strength should kick in.”

How I’m Playing: Borrowing from May 3’s letter, here.

Presently, the market is stretched to the downside and, as SpotGamma says, “traders are underpricing right-tail risk,” which opens the window for unique ways to play a returns distribution that continues to be skewed positive (albeit with large negative outliers).

This letter’s author is concentrated on zero- and low-cost bets ($0.00-$1.00 debit to open) that deliver asymmetric payouts (sometimes in excess of $10.00 credit to close) in case of violent and short-lived reversals.

This letter’s author is structured positive delta and gamma in the Nasdaq 100 (INDEX: NDX) via ratios spread (1×2) and butterfly (1x2x1) structures.

Graphic: Via Banco Santander SA (NYSE: SAN) research, the return profile, at expiry, of a classic 1×2 (long 1, short 2 further away) ratio spread.

The concern with these strategies is the width and time to expiry. Should either of those be wrong, then spreads initially positive gamma turn negative, meaning losses are amplified.

For instance, in the Nasdaq 100, to put in short, 500-1000 points wide ratio spreads (buy the closer leg, sell two of the farther legs) expiring in ten to fifteen days work well.

For those spreads that are not zero cost, debits can be offset with credit sales (on the put side) in products that have shown relative strength like the S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX). This, inherently, carries more risk, and, as explained, the risk has yet to meet the reward.

Read more about these strategies, here. The above is NOT a trade recommendation or advice.

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

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $3,978.50 low volume area (LVNode/gap boundary) puts in play the $4,055.75 LVNode/gap boundary. Initiative trade beyond the $4,055.75 could reach as high as the $4,119.00 untested point of control (VPOC) and $4,153.25 regular trade high (RTH High), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $3,978.50 LVNode/gap boundary puts in play the $3,943.25 high volume area (HVNode). Initiative trade beyond the $3,943.25 could reach as low as the $3,907.75 HVNode and $3,862.75 LVNode, or lower.

Click here to load today’s key levels into the web-based TradingView charting platform. Note that all levels are derived using the 65-minute timeframe. New links are produced, daily.
Graphic: 65-minute profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

Definitions

Cave-Fill Process: Widened the area deemed favorable to transact at by an increased share of participants. This is a good development.

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.

Vanna: The rate at which the delta of an option changes with respect to volatility.

Charm: The rate at which the delta of an option changes with respect to time.

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.

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): Reduction of dealer gamma exposure.

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

About

After years of self-education, strategy development, mentorship, and trial-and-error, Renato Leonard Capelj began trading full-time and founded Physik Invest to detail his methods, research, and performance in the markets.

Capelj also develops insights around impactful options market dynamics at SpotGamma and is a Benzinga reporter.

Some of his works include conversations with ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, investors Kevin O’Leary and John Chambers, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial, among many others.

Disclaimer

In no way should the materials herein be construed as advice. Derivatives carry a substantial risk of loss. All content is for informational purposes only.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For May 9, 2022

The Daily Brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 200+ that read this report daily, below!

What Happened

Overnight, equity index, commodity, and bond futures were all lower while yields, and implied volatility metrics we monitor were bid.

This is as new fundamental data did little to disrupt the Federal Reserve’s (Fed’s) course to hike rates and reduce the size of its balance sheet, as well as the odds of further slowing as a result of actions to curb the spread of COVID-19 abroad, and geopolitical conflict.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS), among others, cut their equity market forecasts. Presently, they see an economic contraction playing into the S&P 500’s test of $3,600.00.

Notable is the market’s retest of a very key technical area ($4,055.75 in the E-mini S&P 500). This area, last week, likely solicited responsive buying by technically-driven market participants who often lack the wherewithal to defend retests, just days before the Fed’s decision on policy.

Now, the market is set to open below those key technical areas and that is the worst outcome.

Ahead is data on wholesale inventories (10:00 AM ET), as well as inflation (11:00 AM ET).

Graphic updated 6:35 AM ET. Sentiment Risk-Off if expected /ES open is below the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. SHIFT data used for S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options activity. Note that options flow is sorted by the call premium spent; if more positive, then more was spent on call options. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. VIX reflects a current reading of the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) from 0-100.

What To Expect

Positioning: Last week’s letters went in-depth on the implications of volatility divergences, the post-Fed rally, responses to key technical levels, and beyond.

On Friday, May 6, 2022, this letter essentially remarked the following:

Based on stretched positioning, equity markets are positioned for upside. Notwithstanding, the potential for large negative outliers, remains. In the case of an outlier, the consequent repricing of volatility may increase the reward, relative to the risk, for selling options.

Graphic: Via MarketWatch. “[B]ack-to-back swings in the internals on the scale seen this week are rare, with the last one occurring close to the COVID lows in stocks of March 2020. Indeed, investors had never seen a swing in internals as severe as Thursday’s before the financial crisis of 2008-09.”

How do you know whether the risk is worth the reward? 

A naive measure like the Cboe VVIX Index (INDEX: VVIX), which measures the volatility of volatility, has a mean below 100 and a high correlation with the Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) during times of stress.

When realized volatility is as high as it is, today, the VVIX typically trades closer to 150.

Graphic: Updated May 6, 2022. The VVIX via Physik Invest.

We’re not there yet and the market remains well-hedged, as SpotGamma explains well:

“From an options perspective, participants would have to demand en masse protection (buy puts, sell calls) for liquidity providers to further take from market liquidity (sell into weakness) and that volatility skew to, essentially, blowout (e.g., Corona crisis, Meme mania, and the like).”

Pursuant to those remarks, SpotGamma sees markets reaching a lower limit near the $4,000.00 SPX area. At that juncture, the rate at which liquidity providers add pressure in their hedging activities flattens as they, too, have hedges.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. Updated April 27, 2022.

“In turn, dealers may be able to advantageously reduce delta hedging (sell less), and supply markets with more liquidity (buy more stock). This could serve to reduce volatility.”

Noting, later this month is a large options expiration (OPEX), and expected is the roll-off of a large amount of put-heavy negative gamma.

Per Pat Hennessy of IPS Strategic Capital, returns one to two weeks prior are skewed bullish.

Graphic: @pat_hennessy breaks down returns for the S&P 500, categorized by the week relative to OPEX. 

This is amid what is a front-running of the bullish flow associated with the delta decay of options with respect to changes in volatility (vanna) and time (charm), among other factors.

In other words, it is participants’ increased awareness of the implications of options and OPEX that has resulted in a front running. According to SqueezeMetrics, “People didn’t know about the OpEx week effect (in this case, largely charm). Now everyone and their mother knows about it.’”

So what?

Charm is a measure of an options delta’s change with respect to the passage of time. As time passes, delta “bleeds” as options decay. 

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. “SPX prices X-axis. Option delta Y-axis. When the factors of implied volatility and time change, hedging ratios change. For instance, if SPX is at $4,700.00 and IV jumps 15% (all else equal), the dealer may sell an additional 0.2 deltas to hedge their exposure to the addition of a positive 0.2 delta. The graphic is for illustrational purposes, only.”

As most participants, at least at the index level, own protection, the counterparties to this trade are short protection. These counterparties, therefore, have positive exposure to delta (i.e., as index falls [rises], position loses [makes] money) and negative exposure to gamma, or delta (directional) sensitivity to underlying price changes (i.e., as the index moves against short option exposure, losses are multiplied). 

Moreover, given the growth of options volumes, participants’ heavy demand for protection matters more, to put simply. Counterparties, in light of this recent drop, pressured markets with their hedging. The decay (and eventual expiry) of this protection marks options deltas down.

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. Rising put volumes coincide with early 2022 market sell-off.

To re-hedge, counterparties buy back short stock and futures hedges. This supportive action is what has been front-run. The bullishness of the event can happen in the days and weeks prior.

Technical: As of 6:35 AM ET, Monday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, will likely open in the lower part of a negatively skewed overnight inventory, outside of prior-range and -value, suggesting a potential for immediate directional opportunity.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,055.75 low volume area (LVNode/gap boundary) puts in play the $4,119.00 untested point of control (VPOC). Initiative trade beyond the VPOC could reach as high as the $4,153.25 regular trade high (RTH High) and $4,212.25 micro composite point of control (MCPOC), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,055.75 LVNode/gap boundary puts in play the $3,978.50 LVNode/gap boundary. Initiative trade beyond the LVNode/gap boundary could reach as low as the $3,943.25 and $3,907.75 high volume areas (HVNodes), or lower.

Click here to load today’s key levels into the web-based TradingView charting platform. Note that all levels are derived using the 65-minute timeframe. New links are produced, daily.
Graphic: 65-minute profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

Considerations: Last Tuesday, we discussed the response to a key technical level ($4,055.75).

Specifically, the E-mini S&P 500 probed $4,056.00 before staging a sharp reversal and closing higher. This was noteworthy as it told us a lot about who was gaining the upper hand.

Push-and-pull, as well as responsiveness near key-technical areas (discernable visually on a chart), suggests technically-driven traders with shorter time horizons are (becoming) active.

Such traders often lack the wherewithal to defend retests.

Moreover, heading into last week’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) event, large participants (who often move by committee) de-grossed and hedged resulting in poor reliability of our technical levels.

In the days leading up to the event, these larger had little to do with respect to repositioning. 

The market’s tests of key technical areas solicited responsive buying by these short-term traders, and this played into a rally that continued through FOMC. Post-FOMC, the market quickly succumbed to the initiative selling by longer time frame participants.

All else equal, Monday’s regular trade is expected to start somewhere below a key technical area that solicited strong responsive buying by shorter timeframes. 

Given capital constraints and tolerances, shorter timeframes may fuel an acceleration of the prevailing downtrend.

What People Are Saying

Definitions

Volume Areas: A structurally sound market will build on areas of high volume (HVNodes). Should the market trend for long periods of time, it will lack sound structure, identified as low volume areas (LVNodes). LVNodes denote directional conviction and ought to offer support on any test. 

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

POCs: POCs are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent in a prior day session. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit.

MCPOCs: POCs are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent over numerous day sessions. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit.

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

About

After years of self-education, strategy development, mentorship, and trial-and-error, Renato Leonard Capelj began trading full-time and founded Physik Invest to detail his methods, research, and performance in the markets.

Capelj also develops insights around impactful options market dynamics at SpotGamma and is a Benzinga reporter.

Some of his works include conversations with ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, investors Kevin O’Leary and John Chambers, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial, among many others.

 Disclaimer

In no way should the materials herein be construed as advice. Derivatives carry a substantial risk of loss. All content is for informational purposes only.

Categories
Commentary

Daily Brief For May 6, 2022

The Daily Brief is a free glimpse into the prevailing fundamental and technical drivers of U.S. equity market products. Join the 200+ that read this report daily, below!

What Happened

Overnight, equity index futures auctioned weak, inside of the prior day’s large trading range.

Yesterday, the equity indexes, bonds, and crypto (which many saw as a hedge against equities) were sold, aggressively. The selling came one day after the Federal Reserve hiked 0.50 basis points and outlined its balance sheet reduction timeline.

Notable was ten-year Treasury yields breaking the 3.00% barrier.

Despite a more dovish tone (i.e., Fed assuaging participants of a 0.75 basis point hike in the coming meetings), the near-vertical price rise (which we discussed was a function of “structural buyback” in yesterday’s morning letter) was taken back in a fire sale across all sectors.

Today is data on nonfarm payrolls, unemployment rates, average hourly earnings, and labor force participation (8:30 AM ET). Later, consumer credit data is released (3:00 PM ET).

Speaking today is the Fed’s John Williams (9:15 AM ET), Raphael Bostic (3:20 PM ET), James Bullard and Chris Waller (7:15 PM ET), as well as Mary Daly (8:00 PM ET).

Graphic updated 6:45 AM ET. Sentiment Neutral if expected /ES open is inside of the prior day’s range. /ES levels are derived from the profile graphic at the bottom of the following section. Levels may have changed since initially quoted; click here for the latest levels. SqueezeMetrics Dark Pool Index (DIX) and Gamma (GEX) calculations are based on where the prior day’s reading falls with respect to the MAX and MIN of all occurrences available. A higher DIX is bullish. At the same time, the lower the GEX, the more (expected) volatility. Learn the implications of volatility, direction, and moneyness. SHIFT data used for S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) options activity. Note that options flow is sorted by the call premium spent; if more positive, then more was spent on call options. Breadth reflects a reading of the prior day’s NYSE Advance/Decline indicator. VIX reflects a current reading of the CBOE Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX) from 0-100.

What To Expect

Positioning: In yesterday’s detailed letter, we talked about the implications of participants’ hedging heading into and after the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) event.

Mainly, markets were stretched and participants were demanding protection in size. As said:

“Barring a worst-case scenario, if markets do not perform to the downside (i.e., do not trade lower), those highly-priced (often very short-dated) bets on direction will quickly decay, and hedging flows with respect to time and volatility may bolster sharp rallies.” 

After that “structural buyback,” as Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan explained clearly, it was highly likely the bear trend would hold. Participants not shifting their bets on direction (via options) to higher prices, further out in time, further suggested very little change in sentiment.

Toggle, which is an AI and machine learning research firm tracking 35,000 securities globally, sent us, yesterday, their post-Fed analysis. According to them, “during the first week after the Fed’s 50 bps hike markets broadly headed lower.”

“In fact, 1 in 5 times the drop reached more than 5%.”

Graphic: Via Toggle.

The firm’s CEO and founder – Jan Szilagyi – said, in response to the market action that “market bulls should root for stocks to go down first.”

That’s actually a powerful statement. For markets to break (rally), they sometimes need to rally (break). Said another way, at times the market is stretched. Sellers (buyers) are either too short (or too long), if we will.

In order to trade lower, for instance, that short inventory (which in and of itself is a support mechanism as it is a bunch of buy orders sitting at lower prices) must be cleared (i.e., covered).

After that support is removed, the market can succumb to whatever fundamental weaknesses it was trying to price in. 

In this case, “the incremental effects on liquidity (QE/QT),” as Karsan says.

Moreover, what’s interesting, and this is something others have picked up on, is the difference between the level of volatility that is realized and implied by activity in the derivatives market.

Another time we saw such divergences was during the 2020 Coronacrisis sell-off.

Graphic: Via @HalfersPower. On March 2, 2020, “VIX-30 day realized vol go from 99 percentile yesterday to inverted and 9 percentile today lol. (left vs. right).

Let’s unpack. So, the Cboe Volatility Index (INDEX: VIX), as described by Cboe Global Markets Inc (BATS: CBOE), is a “constant, 30-day expected volatility of the U.S. stock market, derived from real-time, mid-quote prices of S&P 500 Index (INDEX: SPX) call and put options.”

Essentially, to make it simple, VIX is the equity market’s pricing of risk or insurance and it has a strong inverse relationship with the SPX. If SPX is lower, the VIX higher, basically.

Then, just as we have metrics to measure the change in an option’s sensitivity to the underlying direction (delta) or gamma, we have the sensitivity of an option to changes in volatility (vega) or volga.

Volga has different names. Vomma. The convexity of vega (i.e., change in vega based on change in volatility implied by market participants’ activity). The volatility of volatility. And so on.

The volatility of volatility can naively be measured through the Cboe VVIX Index (INDEX: VVIX) which, according to Cboe, “represents a volatility of volatility in the sense that it measures the expected volatility of the 30-day forward price of VIX.”

Historically, the gauge has a mean somewhere beneath 100 and a high correlation with the VIX at times of heightened stress (e.g., Coronacrisis).

Graphic: The VVIX via Physik Invest.

What’s going on is there is really negative sentiment and emotion, both of which are playing into market weaknesses and realized volatility. However, that realized volatility is not priced in.

In other words, the volatility of volatility – VVIX – is low relative to the volatility realized (and implied) and that, as I take it, essentially means that the market is not pricing up protection.

Graphic: Via The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial. “Trotting out the good old VVIX/VIX (trader heuristic) to compare SPX skew to VIX Vol. Negative sentiment but lack of fear continues.”

Why does this matter? Well, when you think there is to be an outsized move, relative to what is priced, you buy options (positive exposure to gamma) so that you may have gains that are potentially amplified in case of directional movement.

You also buy can buy options for positive exposure to volga. This is so that you may have gains that are potentially amplified in case of movement (repricing) in implied volatility.

Graphic: Via @Alpha_Ex_LLC. “Here’s 10-day realized vs VVIX on a scatter. The ‘white star’ is 40 realized but only 117 VVIX. When realized this high, VVIX typically closer to 150.”

With back-to-back daily price changes sometimes in excess of 2%, this essentially suggests to us the potential for the pricing of equity market risk to “catch up.”

Graphic: Via Bloomberg. The realized volatility for the SPX versus the VIX.

Per SpotGamma, much of this has to do with market participants being “well-hedged.”

“From an options perspective, participants would have to demand en masse protection (buy puts, sell calls) for liquidity providers to further take from market liquidity (sell into weakness) and that volatility skew to, essentially, blowout (e.g., Corona crisis, Meme mania, and the like).”

The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial, who felt that the liquidation was likely large desks de-risking their book, explains, well, too: 

“Vol is mainly used as a source of hedging. We are coming off of a big FOMC meeting where vol was slightly elevated. Think about this for a second, although SPX had a nasty day today, we are still right where we were at Tuesday… what does that tell you?”

“That means there wasn’t really a NEED to rehedge that same exposure. Volatility didn’t compress much after FOMC and when the market gave it all back it brought us right back to where we started. Put yourself in the shoes of an institution.”

Graphic: SpotGamma’s Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options Indicator (HIRO) for SPY shows light put selling and call buying. Participants are (likely) hedged and are not demanding protection in size amid lower prices.

Pursuant to those remarks, SpotGamma sees markets reaching a lower limit near the $4,000.00 SPX area. At that juncture, the rate at which liquidity providers add pressure in their hedging activities flattens as they, too, have hedges.

Graphic: Via SpotGamma. Updated April 27, 2022.

“In turn, dealers may be able to advantageously reduce delta hedging (sell less), and supply markets with more liquidity (buy more stock). This could serve to reduce volatility.”

So, what do you do with this information? The idea is that volatility implied may reprice to reflect what is realized. In such a case, you’d want positive exposure to volga (i.e., don’t sell volatility).

This is more of a view on volatility rather than direction, at this juncture.

Directionally speaking, the returns distribution is skewed positive. This is from an overlay of proxies for buying and naive gamma exposure.

Here’s one model using similar data we often look at in this letter.

Graphic: Via nextSignals. “When SPX and [gamma exposure] nosedive after an extended selloff while dark pools’ buying sharply diverges to the upside … buy the S&P 500.”

Technical: As of 6:45 AM ET, Friday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, will likely open in the middle part of a negatively skewed overnight inventory, inside of prior-range and -value, suggesting a limited potential for immediate directional opportunity.

In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,148.25 high volume area (HVNode) puts in play the $4,184.25 HVNode. Initiative trade beyond the $4,184.25 HVNode could reach as high as the $4,212.25 micro composite point of control (MCPOC) and $4,303.00 weak high (obvious breakout level), or higher.

In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,148.25 HVNode puts in play the $4,099.25 regular trade low (RTH Low). Initiative trade beyond the RTH Low could reach as low as the $4,055.75 low volume area (LVNode) and $3,978.50 LVNode, or lower.

Click here to load today’s key levels into the web-based TradingView charting platform. Note that all levels are derived using the 65-minute timeframe. New links are produced, daily.
Graphic: 65-minute profile chart of the Micro E-mini S&P 500 Futures.

Definitions

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

Volume Areas: A structurally sound market will build on areas of high volume (HVNodes). Should the market trend for long periods of time, it will lack sound structure, identified as low volume areas (LVNodes). LVNodes denote directional conviction and ought to offer support on any test. 

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

POCs: POCs are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent in a prior day session. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit.

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

About

After years of self-education, strategy development, mentorship, and trial-and-error, Renato Leonard Capelj began trading full-time and founded Physik Invest to detail his methods, research, and performance in the markets.

Capelj also develops insights around impactful options market dynamics at SpotGamma and is a Benzinga reporter.

Some of his works include conversations with ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, investors Kevin O’Leary and John Chambers, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, Kai Volatility’s Cem Karsan, The Ambrus Group’s Kris Sidial, among many others.

Disclaimer

In no way should the materials herein be construed as advice. Derivatives carry a substantial risk of loss. All content is for informational purposes only.