The Week that Was: August 16 to August 20
A concise weekly overview of the U.S. equities and derivatives markets
Last week (August 16 – August 20), each of the major U.S. equity indices was lower, as “reopening” companies (airlines, leisure, etc.) underperformed the “stay at home” stocks. European and Chinese equities sold off harder than U.S. stocks. In terms of sector performance, Energy continues to lag and the Energy Select Index fell 7.25%. Materials declined by 3.3%. Health Care was higher by 1.9% and Utilities climbed 1.7%. In short, defensive stocks held up, while more cyclical names came under pressure. The Dollar Index was strong last week on the heels of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting minutes release.
The S&P 500 Index lost approximately 3% relative to its high water mark, but ended the week less than 2% off highs.
- U.S. Equity Indices experienced a pickup in realized volatility.
- S&P 500 Index (SPX®): Increased 0.6% week-over-week.
- Nasdaq 100 Index (NDX): Decreased 0.3% week-over-week.
- Russell 2000 Index (RUT℠): Decreased 3% last week.
- Cboe Volatility Index™ (VIX™ Index): Moved in a wide range of 24.74 and 16.02 last week and closed at 18.56.
- SPX options average daily volume (ADV) was about 1.56 million contracts, which is well above the previous week’s ADV of approximately 1.14 million. The one-week at-the-money (ATM) SPX options straddle (4440 strike with an 8/27 expiration) settled at around 53.8, which implies a +/- range of about 1.2%. The weekly ATM straddle settled on an 11% implied volatility.
- VIX options ADV was about 500,000 contracts last week, which was lower than the previous week’s ADV of 540,000 contracts. The VIX options call-put ratio was 1.27:1.
- RUT options ADV was 69,700 contracts, compared to an ADV of 52,600 contracts the previous week. This was the most active week for RUT options since March 2020.
Across the Pond
- The Euro STOXX 50 Index declined 2.73% on the week.
- The MSCI EAFE Index (MXEA℠) decreased 3% week-over-week and the MSCI Emerging Markets Index (MXEF℠) decreased 4.8% week-over-week.
Charting It Out
Observations on VIX futures term structure and the Russell 2000 Index
- The VIX Index climbed more than three handles last week and the VIX futures curve moved higher across maturities.
- The August VIX futures contract expired and cash settled on Wednesday, August 18, at 18.58.
- September and October are now the Month-1 and Month-2 VIX futures. The spread between the two settled at 1.60 wide, with October over.
- The same spread was 1.30 wide the week prior.
Source: LiveVol Pro
- The Russell 2000 Index closed slightly below its 200-day simple moving average (SMA) on Thursday, August 18. From a technical standpoint, the same thing happened on September 23, 2020. That low was followed by a significant rally over the next five months. Time will tell whether the small cap index continues to trend lower and break the longer-term support or if the 2,132 level will hold on a closing basis.
Source: LiveVol Pro
- The U.S. 10-Year Treasury Yield vacillated between 1.30% and 1.22%, ending the week at 1.26%, down 4 basis points.
- The S&P GSCI fell 5.4% last week. Crude Oil (WTI) dropped more than 9% to $62, its lowest level since May 2021. Soybeans decreased 6.4% and Lumber continues to fall. Livestock markets were higher and Gold was up fractionally.
- According to the Bloomberg Commodity Index, commodities are set for their worst month since March 2020.
- The U.S. Dollar Index advanced last week and is now at the highest levels since the November 2020 elections.
- Almost all of the Big Tech companies were down on the week.
- Amazon fell 2.8%, Facebook lost 1.0% and Apple fell 0.6%. Tesla fell 5.4%, following news its autopilot feature is under investigation.
- Microsoft was the only Big Tech company in the green, climbing 4.0% after announcing price hikes on its most popular business products.
- Bitcoin (BTC) prices remained relatively range bound over the past week, moving from lows near $44,200 on Thursday to highs around $48,700 on Friday. Week-over-week, BTC was up approximately 2.2%.
- Bitcoin’s market cap is approaching $1 trillion again.
- Ethereum (ETH) chopped between approximately $3,000 on the low end to $3,300 on the high end. The second largest cryptocurrency was essentially unchanged relative to last Friday.
- Dogecoin (DOGE) doubled over the past month and its current market cap is $42.3 billion.
- United Wholesale Mortgage, the second largest U.S. lender announced plans to accept cryptocurrencies last week.
- Talk of more active cryptocurrency regulation in the U.S. continues. It may be included in the $1 trillion infrastructure bill. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, SEC Chair Gary Gensler and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell have all advocated for enhanced investor protections.
- The 7-day average COVID-19 infection rates continued to rise from 126,000 a week ago to approximately 144,000 on August 20.
- Nationwide, about 90,000 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, which is higher than it has been at any point, except late last winter.
- The infection rates in Louisiana, Missouri and Arkansas have been leveling off.
- 51% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 60% have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. For just those 18 years and older, the numbers are 62% and 73% respectively.
- Globally, the 7-day average moved from approximately 644,000 to approximately 658,000.
Source: The New York Times
Tidbits from the News
- Consumer spending typically drives approximately 65% of the U.S. economy. As a result, consumer confidence is an important gauge for future consumption. Last week, there was a huge decline in the University of Michigan Consumer Confidence Index. Expectations called for a reading of 81.2, but it came in at 70.2, the lowest level since 2011.
Source: The Daily Shot
- The debt ceiling debate is moving to the forefront, yet again. In the near term, short-term money market rates, funds and reverse repo facilities are coming under pressure. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that the U.S. Treasury will likely run out of cash by October or November. This remains a potential concern for all market participants as we move into September.
The Week Ahead
- Data to be released this week: Markit Manufacturing and Services Purchasing Managers Index and Existing Home Sales on Monday; New Home Sales on Tuesday; Durable Goods on Wednesday; Weekly Jobless Claims and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Revision on Thursday; Income/Spending Data and University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment on Friday.
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