Misprint My Foot

Whether or not they’ll label this a misprint post facto – that early morning spike on Mr. VIX perhaps was a harbinger of the nasty tape we’d be seeing today on the equities side. Which is a good segue into the situation on the volatility side – let me walk you through it:

So first I thought it was just a TOS retail data misprint but I double checked it on stockcharts.com and my (much more reliable and paid for) Kinetick feed and both confirmed a spike to 21.26 today. Now when I suggested yesterday that we should expect a jump in volatility that certainly was not what I had in mind.

Fearless offered his own pertinent musings in the comment section and although I cannot confirm his suspicions I am still awaiting a proper explanation. Let’s not forget that the VIX is NOT a tradeable instrument – it is a continuously computed index which derives from actual bid offers on SPX listed options. Nobody ‘bought’ or ‘fat fingered’ the VIX here – one would have to buy or sell SPX options in order to affect the VIX price directly, or indirectly, buy or sell VIX futures. However, the sheer size and liquidity of both markets effectively rules out a short term market distortion such as this one.

In any case – we are awaiting clarification and I certainly hope it will be forthcoming shortly. Otherwise, how are we to trust any VIX print going forward?

UPDATE 3:21pm EDT: Here’s a link to the official “explanation” on Bloomberg. My take – a ‘software error’ – seriously? And it does not affect option prices? That’s just wonderful – but anyone looking at a chart may be tempted to trade that candle, especially if it is not a glitch that is so obvious (i.e. a rise by only a few percent). So the real question here is this – how often are we getting bad data that perhaps remains uncorrected? IMO this ‘explanation’ opens up more serious questions. Plus the nonchalant manner in which it is being offered and the fact that no further investigation is being promised along with the information deeply worries me.

Now, in related news I would like to show you my long term VIX:VXO chart. If you’re unsure (a.k.a. oblivious) as to the difference of the two: The latter effectively represents the ‘old VIX’ which formula was changed in 2003 – here’s the pertinent announcement back when lifted right off the CBOE site:

The new VIX will be based on prices of S&P 500 (SPX) options. Previously, the original-formula VIX was based on prices of the S&P 100 (OEX) Index Options, and CBOE will continue to calculate and disseminate the original-formula index to be known as the CBOE S&P 100 Volatility IndexSM with the ticker VXO.

What’s missing here is a detail you really have to dig around for. The old formula used (and still uses for the VXO) 30-day ATM (at-the-money) options, while the VIX uses 30-day options across the chain. And that subtle difference offers an important clue – namely when market makers are pricing ATM options either higher or lower against the entire option chain.

Congrats if you stuck around this far – here’s the sweet reward: Obviously judging by the chart above spikes of the ratio (i.e. a drop in ATM or a rise in OTM options) seems to precede market reversals. The timing is clearly on the soft side – it may happen weeks, maybe even months ahead of time. But it is something to keep an eye on as distribution (or accumulation of short positions) would happen ahead of time.

The VXV:VIX ratio however is comparatively muted – although there is a pretty clear falling resistance line which we’re approaching right now. In case you wonder – the VXV is basically a 90-day VIX, thus representative of the expected volatility three months out instead of just 30 days (as in the VIX or VXO).

As they’re cleaning out some of the weak hands I thought I’d offer some plausible support zones. On the cash I’ve got 1756 which is the lower 25-hour BB – but quite frankly speaking it’s a rather weak one. That only leaves us with the daily NLSL at 1757.67 which seems more credible.

If nothing else this day confirms why I avoid being long in bot-driven tape like the one we’ve seen in the previous days. When the machines decide to throw things into reverse it can go ugly quickly – and quite frankly this still was a rather mild day by any measure.

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Equities On Cruise Control

Unfortunately my physical condition hasn’t improved much so please forgive me if this will be a really quick update – I’m obviously not trading today. At the danger of pointing out the obvious I would however like to warn any of you to step in front of this slow motion melt up.

I think the hourly SPX chart shows the point I’m trying to make – markets rarely move in such an orderly fashion and this has been going on for five sessions straight now. The whole situation reeks of bot driven activity and when they throw things into reverse is anyone’s guess. Actually I strongly caution you to not even think about this as there is no context and most likely your imagination would be tempted to fill in the void.

On the hourly Zero indicator we are seeing very muted participation – especially when compared with the early phase of this particular leg higher.

A little bit more content below for my intrepid subs:

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Thank you all for the kind words in the comment section as well as the emails – I hope to be in much better shape tomorrow.


The Mole Smells A Rat

Let me cut right to the point: I don’t trust this tape further than I can throw the average NYSE market maker, and if you’ve been there then you know that most of those guys aren’t exactly underwear models. Whatever is the source of your paranoid suspicions, you ask? We barely have three down candles and you already getting antsy, you say? That’s right – once again the Mole is smelling a rat. Let’s observe:

Exhibit A: The tape has been dropping (thus far – we ain’t seen the close yet) but UVOL is clearly outrunning DVOL. Rather suspicious and that’s putting it mildly.

Exhibit B: NYUD clearly in ‘meh’ territory. There is no selling pressure and this is all for show. Perhaps it’ll change by the EOD, but for now I’m not seeing any angry bears taking advantage of a clear inflection point as the SPX is pinned below its 25-day SMA .

VIX:VXO – on the rise already and that divergence on Friday before the close looks rather iffy (especially given the late Friday drop). Perhaps EOM artifact – possible – but even then today’s ratio does not suggest MMs are overly worried here.

The only one that’s doing what one would expect is the VXV:VIX ratio. Provided here as the Mole believes in ‘fair and balanced’ charting practices 😉

The Zero Lite isn’t exactly screaming bearish either here. But again, let’s not jump to conclusions and wait for the close.

In the absence of any daily/weekly/monthly resistance levels I would keep my eye on the 25-hour right now. It held up well this morning and I expect it’ll be the decider here.

Remember one of our prime directives – it’s not the first sell-off that counts, it’s the follow up. The Mole is watching in eager anticipation.

Bonus Chart!

I would be remiss in not sharing this prime rib AAA rated EUR/USD setup with my intrepid steel rats. It’s bumping against daily AND weekly resistance, of which the weekly is rather pronounced (i.e. 25-w and 100-w right above). Excellent inflection point for the Euro and if it hops the fence(s) it’s going to be one cold summer for the greenback.


It’s not too late – learn how to consistently bank coin without news, drama, and all the misinformation. If you are interested in becoming a subscriber then don’t waste time and sign up here. The Zero indicator service also offers access to all Gold posts, so you actually get double the bang for your buck.


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