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A big week for stock and index traders as US earnings season kicks in

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Pepperstone clients are fairly nuanced on the US equity index, and while no one trader is the same in their approach and strategy, 58% of open positions are held long and largely following the grind higher in the underlying tape.

Volumes are lower at the moment, with the cash VIX trading with a 14-handle. For the options heads out there, the S&P500 1-month 5% out of the-money calls are trading below 10%. Looking at skew, the flow would be tilted towards taking advantage of that volume structure, selling puts and buying upside calls – but it is certainly not at levels to really go hard on that yet.

This is a market that is holding off from applying hedges with any kind of conviction. However, that may change when the big ballers come out with earnings. Given the levels of implied movement in these individual names, it could be a big week for single stock and index traders alike.

Needless to say, the after-market on Tuesday could get a little wild given the index weights Microsoft and Apple hold. With UPS so entwined in the supply chain thematic, this could be worth watching too.

  • 25 Oct – Facebook – 5.7%
  • 26 Oct – Microsoft – 2.6%, Alphabet – 4%, Twitter – 11%, VISA -2.9%, UPS – 5.3%
  • 27 Oct – Boeing – 3.7%
  • 28 Oct – Apple – 2.8%, Amazon – 3.8%, Caterpillar – 3.8%, Merck – 2.3%, Newmont – 2.5%

Base metal Commodities driving the show

Commodities have been the focal point, with base metals really driving the show with copper down a sizeable 3.7%,. Aluminium and nickel are lower by around 5%. Natural Gas is holding up well (+0.9%), while WTI crude found profit-taking trading into $80.79 before the BTD crowd moved and the price is 2.3% off that low.

The rally in crude is helping push US stocks back higher, while front-end Treasuries have found sellers, with 2s and 5s +5bp and 6bp respectively. In the US rates markets, eurodollar futures have sold off quite aggressively in the 2024/25 contracts with around 10bp (or 0.10%) of additional hikes priced in the US through that period.

US Dollar stength

Perhaps this move in rates has been the cue for USD strength, and we’ve seen inflation expectations really move up hard today (5yr breakeven rates +10bp) with US real rates lower again. It is surprising that gold is only +0.1%, given the strongest correlation gold has in a suite of variables is with US real rates. I guess the move in the USD is proving to be a headwind. There is some indecision on the daily timeframe to push price through the June downtrend, which as I detailed in the gold weekly video should see $1812 and potentially $1833 come into play.

While the USD has found some form, the JPY has finally succumbed to short covering, a fate clients were largely positioned for. ZARJPY is -2.1%, but its AUDJPY which has caught the attention with a 1% decline. GBPJPY and EURJPY have seen the bigger flow on the day, but the fall in base metals would have weighed more on the AUD. For GBP traders, consider expectations of moves from the BoE on 4 November has eased off a touch, although we still see around 20bp of hikes priced – so there is a debate, do they go 15bp or 25bp?

On the tech front, there have been engulfing candles going off all over the shop in the JPY crosses, so that needs monitoring. After the rollover, if we see price kick lower in the likes of EURJPY, AUDJPY CADJPY et al, then it could confirm the trend in the JPY crosses is done and this could compel slower-moving JPY shorts to get in on the action too.

This article is brought to you in association with Pepperstone. All opinions expressed in this article are from the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of The Armchair Trader.

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This article does not constitute investment advice. Do your own research or consult a professional advisor.

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