The Week that Was: Feb. 8-12
A concise weekly overview of the U.S. equities and derivatives markets
Last week (February 8 to 12), marked another week of new all-time highs as COVID-19 vaccinations pick up, earnings growth continues and more economic stimulus seems imminent. However, employment data still remains a point of concern. Job growth has stalled and continuing unemployment claims data is well above last year’s measures. Additionally, inflation expectations have climbed dramatically, with the 5-year forward inflation expectations rate back above the 2.3% mark, according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve. Equity trading activity remained high last week, with two-week average daily volume just below 17 million. The two-week average is just below late March 2020 levels, which were at decade highs.
- U.S. Equity Indices continued to advance with large caps, small caps and big tech reaching new all-time highs.
- S&P 500 Index (SPX): Rose 1.23%, posting new all-time highs. The index is 1.65% below 4,000.
- Nasdaq 100 Index (NDX): Up an additional 1.5% after reaching new highs the previous week.
- Russell 2000 Index (RUT℠): Higher by 2.51%, closing just below the 2,300 mark to continue its small-cap indices leadership.
- Cboe Volatility Index™ (VIX™ Index): Closed the week below 20 for the first time since February 21, 2020. On a closing basis, the index ranged between 22 and 19.97 during the week.
- SPX options volume averaged about 1.06 million contracts per day, down from the 1.13 million contracts of the previous week.
- VIX options average daily volume (ADV) was about 760,000, up from the previous week’s ADV of about 580,000 contracts. On Friday, 1.1 million VIX options contracts hit the tape.
Across the Pond
- Euro Stoxx 50 Index: Up by 1.8%.
- MSCI EAFE Index (MXEA℠) is up by 2.1% and the MSCI Emerging Markets Index (MXEF℠) is up by 2.4% as global markets move higher alongside U.S. equities.
Charting It Out
Observations on VIX Futures Term Structure and Implied Volatility
- The VIX futures term structure steepened last week. The front end of the curve shifted slightly lower but the middle and back of the curve closed up on the week.
- The February/March spread closed at 4.50 wide. February will roll off the board on Wednesday, February 17.
- The March/April spread settled at 2.10 wide.
- February VIX futures dropped 2.80 week-over-week and March futures were down 0.80 week-over-week. April VIX futures were up 0.15 week-over-week.
VIX Futures Term Structure
Source: LiveVol Pro
- Commodity option (energies, grains and metals) volatilities trended higher in recent months while credit volatility (U.S. long bonds, high yield and investment grade) continue to move lower.
Commodities Tugging Higher Long-end UST Volatility Expectations
Source: Arbor Data Science
- U.S. 10-year yields moved higher again last week, settling at 1.21%, compared to 1.17% the previous week.
- Despite the recent selloff in 5-,10- and 30-year maturities due to higher yields, yields still remain below last year’s levels.
- The 30-year yield is now back at 2.0% for the first time since February 19, 2020. The 30-year yield moved as low as 1.125% in April and 1.18% in August.
- Crude oil (WTI) traded to 13-month highs and the March contract is approaching $61.
- Big Tech: Big tech was a mixed bag last week as Microsoft and Facebook moved higher, while Google was virtually unchanged but Apple, Amazon and Tesla were all lower.
- The chart below shows the U.S. yield curve as of Friday, February 12 (black) and one year ago (blue). The short end of the curve is clearly back near the “zero bound.”
U.S. Yield Curve in 2020 and Today
- Over the past week there were, on average, about 97,000 new COVID-19 cases per day in the U.S., compared to a moving average of approximately 137,000 a week ago. Infection rates continue to improve nationwide and hospitalization numbers are also significantly better.
- Approximately 1.7 million vaccines were administered daily last week, compared to 1.3 million the week before.
COVID-19 in the U.S.
Source: The New York Times
Tidbits from the News
- Amsterdam became Europe’s primary hub for equity trading following Brexit.
London's Loss: Amsterdam Overtakes UK as Europe's Biggest Share Trading Center
Source: Bloomberg/Cboe Global Markets (Average Daily Trading in Euros)
- The 5-year forward inflation expectations rate is above the 2.3% mark, according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve. The 5-year forward inflation measure has not been so high since 2012.
- The reading came in at 2.16% in early February 2018 just before a sharp pullback.
- According to Angelo Kourkafas of Edward Jones, since 2003, the S&P 500 gained 1.6% on average during the months when inflation was accelerating. In the months when inflation was decelerating the S&P 500 declined 0.8%.
5-Year U.S. Inflation Expectation Rate
Source: Compound Advisors
The Week Ahead
- Data to be released: Home Builders Index, Initial Jobless Claims, The Philly Fed’s Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), Producer Inflation, Retail Sales Growth
- Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting minutes
- U.S. equities and options markets closed Monday in honor of Presidents Day
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