UPDATE: ES -7 after-hours from closing highs (McConnell-Off)
Equity markets started the day off slowly but with confidence disappointing and Harry Reid's name-calling, not even the arrival of the chosen one was enough to juice anything but a minimal bounce in stocks. It looked like S&P 500 futures (ES) were going to retest the flash-crash lows from last week but thanks to a well-timed piece of news that Boehner will be in session on Sunday night (though no accompanying notes on exactly what magical book of crap they will sign off - or not - on) was enough to spur Johhny-5 and his friends into algo-asm action. The initial jerk was perfectly to VWAP and the second jerk took AAPL up to yesterday's closing VWAP. This strength dragged ES higher - reconnecting with a less excited risk-asset market that had remained flat from the day-session open. FX and vol were the main levers to the upside with Treasuries less enamored - though HYG was lifted to fill Monday's gap. Mitch McConnell spoiled the party a little into the unchanged close.
As the markets ramped there were notable blocks and the large delta appeared to be sellers - which accompanied with VIX compression (big roundtrip today) suggests this strength enabled a few more big players to exit their underlying positions and unwind hedges. Gold rose as late-day USD weakness (and Treasury selling) jerked commodities higher. ES auctioned up to pre-Reid levels but was unable to hold those algo gains.
The S&P magically managed to get green for the month by the close...
The day in the S&P 500 futures market... with Scott Brown's on-again off-again facebook post impact... ending the UNCH!
Asset classes in general were all over the place with the US Open to EU Close session seeing a big EUR dump (on Reid's comments) after some more reptraiation strength early on. Gold rallied on that and stayed high all day. Evidently Treasuries (red) were not as excited with the ramp as the US and Oil)...
Equities did actually drop considerably more than risk-assets (upper right) in general today and the last day ramp dragged us back up to a more synchronized view of the world - even if correlations were weak overall. ETFs were relatively better-behaved (upper left) and stayed in close sync up and down - with VXX the major driver - though HYG was abused higher into the close (filling Monday's gap)... Cross-asset class correlation picked up notably into the close (lower right)
VIX round-tripped from low 19s to almost 21% and back down - and while much was made of VIX's compression it remains excessively bid relative to stocks - suggesting hedgers remain. Clearly, managers bid protection over the past week or so - knowing they could not sell down their exposures too aggressively; now we see headline-driven ramps that enable puts to be unwound profitably (higher vol and lower underlying price) and also to sell down exposure into the market's levered excitement (of retail) which then fades after-hours - just as it did after the last time - would not be surprised to see another ES cliff dive tonight.
Apple was heading for a 4 handle slowly but surely but the Boehner Boner enabled an absolute algo-gasm as we tested up to yesterday's closing VWAP...and stalled there
The problem, of course, as we tweeted an hour before the close, is that:
So market will close unchanged, removing any motivation to get a deal done. Perfect
— zerohedge (@zerohedge) December 27, 2012
Charts: Bloomberg and Capital Context