Skip to main content

Morning Update

Yesterday the S&P 500 sold off over 1% and the VIX also sold off over 4%. Typically for a 1% down move in the S&P 500 the VIX will move up by 4%, so yesterday’s price action was very atypical and is a bullish indicator. The VIX moves up when the S&P moves down because traders bid up the cost of out of the money puts in order to protect their portfolios from further declines. Yesterday we saw traders doing the opposite: selling puts at levels they were willing to get long the market. The biggest trade of the day in SPY options was the sale of 48,000 Nov. 136 puts for $0.53 with SPY at 138.75. This trade will profit as long as SPY is above 135.47 (2.4% lower) at November expiration, which is in 8 days. If SPY is lower than 136 then the trader will be put to 4.8 million shares of SPY at 136, but regardless the trader will keep the $0.53 in premium collected.

For people who want to begin buying into this sell off selling puts is a good way to go because you can effectively get paid to lock in a price you are willing to buy at. However, selling puts means that you have all of the risk on the downside as a long stock position so you must be comfortable with the risks of owning the stock at the strike price. For people trying to pick a bottom in the S&P 500 but who don’t want to take delivery of the stock I recommend turning this trade into a put spread by buying a deep out of the money put as a hedge.

The case for keeping risk fixed and portfolios hedged is this chart, which overlays the price action around the 1987 crash with today’s market.

Though this doesn't necessarily mean the market will crash today, it is important to remember that it could, and does so unpredictably. We are currently cautiously long the market with tightly hedged positions and are closely monitoring the S&p 500's price action in the vicinity of the 200-day moving average.

Ahead of the open futures are down but off their lows, and given the options order flow yesterday I would be surprised if the market did not at least attempt to reverse some of yesterday’s sell off. Apple has been a great leading indicator of the overall market the past few months and in pre-market trading is up on the day and nearly $10 off its overnight lows, which coincided perfectly with a 50% Fibonacci retracement from its November ‘11 – October ’12 rally.


Popular posts from this blog

FED Rate Hikes Could Cause Unintended Volatility Shock

Last week the Federal Open Market Committee surprised no one when they raised rates 0.25 basis points to increase rates to between 1% and 1.25%.  What did surprise the market, was the revelation that the FED is committed to normalize rates, even if inflation does not meet their target.  This was reiterated this week in a speech by William Dudley, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, who stated he feels the FED needs to raise rates, despite low inflation, to be ready to act if the economy does slow down.
The market has been quick to respond, and nothing was hit harder by a reduction in inflation expectations than commodities.  Gold, since the announcement, is lower by 2.39%, and oil is down -3.18%.  Crude futures have broken their upward trend line and appear poised to test the previous low of $39.56.
While, oil has been under pressure all year, the S&P 500 does not seem to care, as it continues to make all-time highs.  Oil is down 23% year to date, while the S&P…

Gold and Treasuries Say “RISK OFF”, But VIX Says "RISK ON"

Today we are seeing a modest rebound in the market after yesterday’s small selloff.  Volatility remains extremely low, with the VIX hovering around 10.  It’s important for traders to recognize how low the VIX has been lately.  Since 2010, the VIX has only closed below 10 five times, and each of those five times has come in the last month.                   However, the market is not without risks right now.  Gold has rallied 6.5% since May 9th.  Treasuries have rallied, pushing rates to below 2.15.  So, the market is currently in a risk off mode while equities are in a period of historically low risk.  The VVIX (the VIX of the VIX), for its part, is not sounding the all clear signal, 87 is in the medium range for VIX volatility.  Tomorrow we have a potential market moving event with James Comey’s testimony to Congress.  The last time Comey’s name was in the news, we saw the VIX move from 10.5 to over 15 in one trading day (a 50% increase) on a day where the market was down over 2%.  …

Markets Soft without Stimulus

Markets around the world pulled back the reigns as central banks look to taper quantitative easing. Japan’s central bank decided to leave their current pace of monetary policy unchecked, which has effectively cut the Nikkei down 1.5% on the day, affecting nearly every market in-between, scaring the DJIA 165 points off the start this morning. US Treasuries have now notched the highest yield in 14 months on the 10 year note.

This morning 55,257 EEM July 35 puts were purchased by a trader for $0.29 each, costing him a large $1,602,453. This is a bearish move on the Emerging Markets ETF, with expectations that by the July expiration, the price of EEM will dip below $34.71. EEM opened today at $39.32 and if this trader was to pass the breakeven point, the ETF would have to drop by more than 11.7% within a little over a month.

EEM opened today 1.9% lower than its closing price yesterday and since the 52-week high the ETF experienced in early January, it has lowered by over 13%. While this …