Cboe Global Markets

The Week that Was: April 5 to April 9

Kevin Davitt
April 12, 2021

A concise weekly overview of the U.S. equities and derivatives markets

Last week (April 5 to April 9), U.S. equities continued their historic ascent. The ISM Manufacturing Index data hit 37-year highs, expanding at a rate not seen since 1983. Meanwhile, the Biden administration introduced the “American Jobs Plan,” which is focused on infrastructure, clean energy and manufacturing, and includes $2.25 trillion in potential spending over the next eight years. Additionally, vaccination efforts continue to improve, with the seven-day average at 3 million doses per day. However, despite strong vaccination rates, new COVID-19 cases ticked higher last week, likely due to variant strains and increased interaction.

Quick Bites

Indices

  • U.S. Equity Indices were mostly higher on the week. However, the small-cap Russell 2000 Index lagged.
  • S&P 500 Index (SPX): Was up 2.7% week-over-week after trading in a 2.3% high-to-low range during the week. The index is up nearly 10% for the year. 
  • Nasdaq 100 Index (NDX): Gained 3.9% last week, as tech names led the charge. The large-cap technology sector has gained 7.4% year-to-date.
  • Russell 2000 Index (RUT℠): Declined 0.5% for the week and traded in a 2.9% range relative to last Thursday’s close.
  • Cboe Volatility Index (VIX™ Index): Ranged between 16.20 and 18.40 last week and closed at 16.69, its lowest close since February 20, 2020.

Options

  • SPX options average daily volume (ADV) was about 1.2 million contracts, in line with the previous week. 30-day SPX options implied volatility declined, and one-month at-the-money options are trading on a 12.95% implied volatility. 
  • VIX options ADV was about 620,000 contracts last week, up from the previous week’s ADV of approximately 350,000 contracts. VIX call options volume was substantially higher than puts volume, in part because of the July 25/40 call spread printing 200,000 times on Thursday.
  • RUT options volume increased week-over-week to an ADV of 41,000 contracts, compared to an ADV of about 33,200 contracts the previous week. Friday’s session was the most active with approximately 57,000 RUT options contracts on the tape.  

Across the Pond

  • The Euro STOXX 50 Index gained 1.5% on the week.
  • The MSCI EAFE Index (MXEA™) increased 2.0% and the MSCI Emerging Markets Index (MXEF™) was down 0.4% week-over-week.  

Charting It Out

Observations on VIX futures term structure and Bitcoin market capitalization

  • The VIX futures curve declined slightly last week and steepened in the front.
  • The Month-1/Month-2 spread settled at 2.55 wide, compared to 1.95 the previous week.
  • April VIX Index futures declined 1.45 week-over-week, while the May VIX Index futures only declined 0.85. Standard April VIX Index futures have a week and a half until expiration.

VIX Futures Term Structure

Source: LiveVol Pro

Macro Movers

  • The U.S. 10-year treasury yield moved between 1.74% and 1.63% last week. Rates ended the week at 1.66%.
  • Growth stocks have outperformed value stocks for the past two weeks. The Russell Growth Index (ticker: RLG) established a new weekly closing high. The Russell Value Index (ticker: RLV) continues to tick higher but underperformed relative to the growth index.
  • Big Tech: Amazon closed just below all-time weekly highs from August 2020. Facebook, Google and Microsoft all reached new highs. Tesla advanced but remains 25% below its highs.

Coronavirus

  • Over the past week there were about 66,118 new COVID-19 cases per day, a 13% increase from the daily average two weeks earlier.
  • Michigan remains a hot spot, as do some states in the southwest. New Jersey and New York continue to struggle, but the number of COVID-19 diagnoses has slowed over the past few days.
  • Vaccination numbers continue to improve, with roughly 3 million people in the U.S. receiving a COVID-19 vaccine each day. Approximately 1/3 of the population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Average Number of COVID-19 Cases in the U.S.

Source: The New York Times

Tidbits from the News

  • The five-year rolling correlation of the S&P 500 Index sectors to the 10-year treasury yield shows interesting correlations. Clearly the Financials sector and treasury yields are highly correlated, whereas the Real Estate, Staples and Utilities sectors are very negatively correlated.

Correlation of the S&P 500 Index Sectors to the 10-Year U.S. Treasury Yield 

 Source: The Daily Shot

  • The Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) meeting minutes released Wednesday reiterated the FOMC’s commitment to keeping interest rates low for an extended time. High-yield spreads have declined to 3.22% -- just off October 2018 lows -- as investors and asset managers search for yield elsewhere.

U.S. High Yield Credit Spread

Source: Compound Advisors

The Week Ahead

  • Data to be released this week: ISM Manufacturing Index and Factory Orders on Monday; FOMC Minutes on Wednesday; Weekly Jobless Claims on Thursday and Producer Price Index on Friday.
  • Earnings Season will begin in mid-April with big banks reporting first quarter earnings on April 14.

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