A concise weekly overview of the U.S. equities and derivatives markets
Last week (October 18 – October 22), earnings and politics appeared to be two of the primary drivers of strong equity market performance. The percentage of companies beating earnings per share (EPS) and revenue expectations are near record levels. The VIX Index™ fell toward the lowest levels since the beginning of the pandemic.
Negotiations about the size of a potential social and infrastructure spending package continued. Senator Manchin (D-WV) holds considerable sway and has been pushing for a maximum spend of $2 trillion versus the $3 trillion the Biden Administration proposed. With respect to funding, Wall Street cheered the prospect that corporate tax rates may not change, according to the latest rumors about the infrastructure bill.
Meanwhile, the U.S. 10-year Treasury Yield reached five-month highs as inflation concerns remain front of mind for many investors. Interest rate implied volatilities have moved up lately, despite declining equity volatility measures. One measure of bond volatility is up about 27% over the past month. By contrast, the VIX Index declined 17% during the same time frame. Looking at S&P 500 Index sector performance overall, cyclicals were slightly stronger than defensive stocks last week. Real Estate, Utilities and Health Care led, followed by Communications Services. Social Media/Technology names came under pressure after Snapchat lowered its guidance on earnings.
- U.S. Equity Indices continued their advance.
- S&P 500 Index (SPX®): Increased 1.64% week-over-week.
- Nasdaq 100 Index (NDX): Increased 1.37% week-over-week.
- Russell 2000 Index (RUT℠): Increased 1.0% last week.
- Cboe Volatility Index™ (VIX™ Index): Measured between 17.93 and 14.84 last week and closed at 15.43, the second lowest weekly VIX Index close since February 2020.
- SPX options average daily volume (ADV) was about 1.42 million contracts per day, slightly below last week’s average of 1.5 million contracts per day. The one-week at-the-money (ATM) SPX options straddle (4545 strike with a 10/29 expiration) implies a +/- range of about 1.0%. The weekly ATM straddle settled on a 9.0% implied volatility.
- VIX options ADV was about 530,000 contracts last week, which was above the previous week’s ADV of 460,000 contracts. The VIX options call-put ratio was 1.17:1.
- RUT options ADV was 42,800 contracts, compared to an ADV of 59,500 contracts the previous week.
Across the Pond
- The Euro STOXX 50 Index increased 0.7% on the week.
- The MSCI EAFE Index (MXEA℠) increased 0.7% week-over-week and the MSCI Emerging Markets Index (MXEF℠) increased 0.8% week-over-week.
Charting It Out
Observations on VIX futures term structure
- The VIX Index closed down just less than one vol last week and measured below 15 (intraday) for the first time since early July.
- October VIX futures expired on Wednesday, October 20, and cash settled at 15.35 — the lowest VIX Index settlement (VRO) since January 2020.
- The Month-1/Month-2 VIX futures spread, which now uses the November and December contracts, settled at 1.95 wide.
- The November/December VIX futures spread widened by 0.45 on the week. The November VIX futures fell by 0.85 whereas December declined 0.40.
Source: LiveVol Pro
- The U.S. 10-year Treasury Yield climbed all week before falling slightly on Friday. Intraday, the 10-year yield moved to 1.69%, then ended the week at 1.66%, higher by 8 basis points.
- The S&P GSCI fell week-over-week for the first time since the week ending August 20, 2021 and finished the week down 1.67%. Crude Oil (WTI) traded above $84 (front -month) and gained 2% for the week. Silver and Gold were both higher as well. Copper fell nearly 5% and U.S. Natural Gas futures continued to fall.
- Big Tech was mixed last week ahead of most of the companies reporting earnings.
- Tesla led, jumping almost 8% week-over-week. Tesla announced record revenues and profits for third-quarter 2021 and traded above the $900 mark again, surpassing Facebook in terms of market cap last week.
- Apple and Microsoft added 2.7% and 1.6%, respectively.
- Facebook was unchanged on the week.
- Amazon fell by 2.2% and Alphabet declined by 2.7%.
- Bitcoin (BTC) traded up to $67,000 on Wednesday, reaching new all-time highs. By Friday afternoon prices declined to approximately $60,900. On a week-over-week basis, BTC fell 0.6%.
- BTC traded down to approximately $8,200 on the Binance platform in a notable “flash crash.”
- Ethereum (ETH) traded up to $4,350 on Thursday. At the end of the work week, ETH was trading near $3,950, up 3.5% on the week.
- ETH market cap is $470 billion, making up 18.3% of the overall crypto market.
- Walmart is piloting a program that will allow shoppers to buy Bitcoin at kiosks in some locations.
- JP Morgan analysts recently pointed to the demand for Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general as a reflection of larger inflationary concerns.
- The 7-day average COVID-19 infection rates in the U.S. decreased to approximately 75,000 on October 22, compared to approximately 86,200 a week prior. The number of new COVID-19 cases continues to decline.
- 58% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 66% have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. For just those 12 years and older, the numbers are 67% and 77% respectively. Last week, Pfizer announced that its (lower dose) treatment was 90%-plus effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 for children between ages 5 and 11.
- Globally, the 7-day average caseload remained steady around 403,000.
- Last week Russia recorded the highest fatality numbers since the beginning of the pandemic (1,000+ in a day). Less than 30% of Russians are vaccinated.
Source: The New York Times
Tidbits from the News
More than 17 million vinyl records were sold in the U.S. between January and June. For the first time since CDs were introduced, sales revenue for vinyl exceeded sales revenue for compact disks. Taylor Swift’s Evermore, Harry Styles’ Fine Line, and Billie Eilish’s When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? have topped the list. Meanwhile, artists have been forced to delay release plans because of logjams at record pressing plants.
Source: RIAA and Chartr
The Week Ahead
- Data to be released this week: Case-Shiller Home Price Index and Consumer Confidence Index on Tuesday; Durable Goods on Wednesday; Weekly Jobless Claims, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) on Thursday; Income and Spending, Core Inflation, Chicago Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) and University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index on Friday.
Originally Posted on October 25, 2021 – The Week that Was: October 18 to October 22
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