Last week, we noted that the declining volatility of option prices ahead of this Wednesday’s FOMC meeting was curious, to say the least. As we dug in, we noted the broader scope of this trend towards declining option volatility. Today, I’ll show you another way of using the Commitments of Traders report to track investor sentiment and in this case, why the correspondingly bullish put/call ratio via the large speculators is probably bad news for the stock market.
The S&P 500 is making all-time highs ahead of the triple witching expiration of the underlying futures, futures options and cash options next Friday, June 17th. While this combination can be precarious in its own right, the fact that it comes two days after one of the most highly anticipated Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetings in recent history could make it truly pivotal for the remainder of the year. This week, we’ll focus on the S&P 500 and a combination of factors that could sustain a breakout in either direction based on the FOMC’s actions or, inaction.
Most of our trading is based on the consensus opinion of the commercial trader group as reported in the weekly Commitment of Traders report. We track their behavior in a couple of different ways but the simple conclusion is that we want to buy when they’re buying and sell when they’re selling. You’ll see the net commercial trader position plotted in the second pane of the stock index charts, below. We measure their actions on a sum and momentum basis. This allows us to determine how anxious the commercial traders are to get their trades executed at a given price level which, in turn, tells us a lot about the importance of a given area. Obviously, the previous year’s lows are an important area. Based on the collective actions of the commercial traders across the major indices, we’ve issued a COT Buy signal.
I understand that our weekly readers may feel like we’re beating a dead horse over the last few weeks. We’ve stated and re-stated various reasons for our concerns regarding the equity markets and this week has provided yet more fuel for the warning signal. First of all, let me begin with my personal bias by stating that, as an S&P 500 pit trader whose only decade on the floor was the 1990’s, I’m used to making money on the long side. However, there are enough warning signs in the marketplace right now that I won’t take a long position home. I believe the next home run trade in these markets will be on the short side and this week, I’ll provide one more big money example.
This morning’s unrevised Q4 GDP number at 2.2% on declining corporate profits provides just the right ambiance for a what has been a gloomy week. While we had a completely separate trade looking at multi-year lows in , “Time to Sweeten on Sugar,” most of our focus was on the financial markets.
We’ve been discussing the turmoil in the financial markets for the last three weeks both literally and figuratively. We’ve discussed the massive flow of money headed into the short-term rates in, “Expected Turbulence in the Financial Markets.” We noted the rotation from industrial to precious metals in, “Re-shuffling the Metals Markets.” We’ve caught both sides of the equity market volatility between, “Equity Rally Waves a Caution Flag” and “Hidden Strength in the S&P 500.” The final piece of the confusion was addressed timely enough in, “Bottoming Action in the Euro Currency” which we wrote the night before the Dollar turned. The point of all this review is that today’s action in the copper market further reinforces the increasingly negative attitude that the commercial traders are taking towards global output. Taken in total, the signs are negative. Taken individually, they are good trading opportunities.
Is this the first failure of the coming weakness? We’ve been planning ahead in, “Equity Rally Waves a Caution Flag.”
This was a quiet week for our trading in spite of the explosive moves created by the Fed. Those brave souls willing to take currency positions ahead of the announcement based on our Discretionary COT Signals were handsomely rewarded as our COT Sell Signal in the U.S. Dollar Index was sent out before 10pm on the 17th.
Our focus took a macro view as we attempt to assimilate contradicting indicators into a general thesis upon which to base our long-term trading. We found, “Hidden Strength in the S&P 500,” in our piece for Equities.com. Once again, ahead of the Fed’s announcement.
I frequently talk about using the commercial traders as a proxy for fundamental information. Commercial traders’ pinpoint focus on the markets they trade takes into account the supply and demand structure within their individual markets, including stocks and bonds. Furthermore, their actions within the markets they trade literally, tell us what they expect to happen within their market going forward. Thus, our thesis that, “No one knows the markets they trade like those whose livelihood is based directly upon the correct forecasting of their market.” All things being equal, when my analysis of the fundamentals seems confounded, I defer to the respective experts within their markets. Finally, when the market sectors are analyzed in total, commercial traders’ actions can lead to a bigger picture. The recent shift in their positions within the financial markets leads me to believe Continue reading Expected Turbulence in the Financial Markets