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Market's risky calm

The Market Ear Picture

Complacent?

BofA deriv team: "With SPX 4550 and VIX 13 at the time of writing, US equities & equity vol appear to be (once again) going all-in on the soft-landing consensus. As noted in our macro outlook, however, it’s dangerous to be overly convicted in any thesis, as few have experienced today’s elevated macro uncertainty in their lifetimes."

Need cheap hedges?

The 1 month rolling 3% out of the money put goes for 34 basis points, lowest level over the past 5 years. The problem is that most don't buy protection when they can, but they chase it when they must (more here).

Source: Refinitiv

 

The VVIX mini Jaws

The gap between VVIX and VIX has actually become rather wide. Last time we had VVIX at these levels wasn't long ago...and back then VIX traded "much higher", just below 15 ish. You know VIX is on the low side when 15 sounds "high"...

Source: Refinitiv

 

JPY moving

Surprisingly little noise regarding the massive JPY move. We have not seen such big moves in the JPY without the VIX moving higher. The latest JPY move has been accompanied with declining VIX...

Source: Refinitiv

 

Pension fund rebalancing

GS expects pension funds to sell $11 billion worth of US equities by the end of the month (outperformed fixed income by 5.6% month-to-date). This performance ranks in the 64th percentile in terms of absolute value over the past three years.

Overbought in a pic

We have seen even more extreme levels, but this is starting to flash a bit red here. Tier1Alpha writes: "A considerable portion of the S&P 500 is treading in overbought territory, with about 17% of the index showing an RSIreading above 70. Although 17% may not seem exceptionally high, it represents a 91st percentile reading over the past decade".

Source: Tier1Alpha

 

They have room to buy

Risk parity punters are still far from running big longs. This is the slower cohort of systematic funds and they trade according to volatility models.

Source: UBS

 

The upside shocks

Upside remains the larger risk than the downside. BofA's derivatives team write: "S&P’s positive return in the week of the Nov 2023 FOMC was larger than any negative 5-day return experienced this year".

Source: BofA

 

That's why I'm easy (yeah)

Financial conditions easy like Sunday morning. GS: "The nominal GS US Financial Conditions Index eased by 9.0bp to 99.85 over the last week, mostly due higher equity prices, lower BBB credit spreads, and a weaker dollar. The real GS US FCI eased by 8.0bp to 99.54"

Source: Goldman

 

CTA fragility

CTA strategies have become much more fragile lately (higher Kurtosis) as more investors crowd into very similar trades. We have seen two major reversals this year (March and November). BofA's derivs team adds: "This instability is coming despite no real increase in (publicly known) CTA assets in the last decade, suggesting a growing number of investors crowding into similar trades".

Source: BofA

 

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