Archives February 2022

Founder’s Afternoon Notes – 2/28/2022

This chart shows the entry point for the latest Navigator swing buy signal.
S&P 500 Continuous Futures - Navigator Swing Buy Signal
  • If you enlarge the 5-minute S&P 500 chart above, you will observe that the cash index gapped down (it was an orthodox rather than true gap) and opened between the 5-day line (red) and the Navigator Algo Trigger (purple).
  • The index found support on the 5-day line, retested it, then rallied up to fill the morning and Globex gap, stalling at the gap top and first resistance line identified in my morning notes at 4380,
  • 4380 is the Volatility Trigger, normally resistant, and rests just below the Algo Trigger, also resistant.

  • The index then rolled over into an ABC correction, finding support at a material gamma level and option strike just above the first support level I announced this morning at 4307.
    This is a daily chart of the S&P 500 Continuous Futures Contract
    S&P 500 Continuous Futures Daily Chart
    • As expected, the fairly significant strips of in-the-money options (both calls and puts) at Friday’s expiration led to less trending, a tighter range, more two-way trading, and consolidation.
    • The daily futures candle was inside Friday’s candle, setting up a future break-out scenario.
    • The decline in dealer exposure to negative gamma means dealers are less exposed to short put gamma (i.e., less exposed to increasing losses with price movement lower).
    • The area spanning $4,400.00-$4,500.00 (Call Wall) is the key resistance area. 
    • The stabilizing implications of trading in areas that carry more positive gamma weight are offset by heavy negative gamma exposures down below. These exposures will continue to promote more volatile ranges until there is increased clarity on the Fed’s intent to maneuver monetary policy in light of geopolitical tensions.
    • The window for increased volatility (and even lower prices) remains open. But the market has remained resilient thus far.

    We are in one of those times where investing and trading are counterintuitive. It is tough to deploy capital mentally. I am just as vulnerable to fear-mongering as anyone, and we are somewhat navigating in unchartered waters. Yet, the best investments come at such times, as long as the market has discounted the risks.

    Geopolitics concern me – but I fear our government more than anything else. The media complex is pounding narratives as they did with Covid. “Putin wants to reassemble the Soviet Union.” “Putin is showing signs of mental deterioration.” I don’t buy any of it – I am concerned the power elites are conditioning us for war.

    Suddenly, all of the draconian Covid mandates have been lifted – even in New York. The W.H.O. is quietly circulating a treaty requiring countries to surrender their sovereignty to them in any future pandemic. You know the old magic trick – “look over here, not over there.” Ukraine is the new “Covid” crisis with all the same tricks coming your way.

    I am concerned that the Davos crowd is behind all of this. Russia is a threat to the Great Reset and New World Order. People in Russia tell me they feel threatened by the Davos money laundering crowd raiding the U.S. Treasury and expanding their operations in Ukraine after the Afghanistan scams shut down.

    Heavy Davos-backed military have been conducting operations in Ukraine. How would we react if China and Russia conducted similar operations in Mexico? And of all countries, Ukraine? Why not just agree to keep Ukraine neutral?

    All the impeachment witnesses against President Trump over the Ukraine phone calls are the same players drawing us into this mess. Victoria Neuland, Alexander Vindamin – we know them all. 

    How about noting that President Biden was in charge of Ukraine as Vice President? It is the country with the energy company paying off Biden through his crackhead son – Hunter Biden at the rate of $1 million-plus per year. How can this all be a coincidence?

    And is it also a coincidence that Russia was the foundation of the Clinton Campaign’s fraudulent collusion narrative against President Trump. It was another attempt involving our entire intelligence apparatus to impeach him. Davos hates Trump and Russia. Russia only has two genders, men and women. They are not “woke” nor do they want to be a “woke joke.”

    There are no coincidences. These events are all connected. We cannot idly accept the propaganda issued by our government and its media allies. We need to be very careful about what we believe is accurate. Even Hillary Clinton and the corrupt Clinton Foundation have their fingerprints all over Ukraine!

    When the same corrupt players keep showing up over and over again, grab your mind and your wallet before you lose both. That is what keeps me up at night.

    Updated trading levels will be published in the Morning Notes.

    A.F. Thornton

    Founder’s Morning Notes – 2/28/2022

    This chart shows the key day trading levels set by BluPrint's founders for the day ahead.
    Founder’s S&P 500 Futures Day Trading Levels

    My overall sentiment is that the market is holding up well under the circumstances this morning. But we should take nothing for granted.

    • Use caution as this is the last trading day of February, and money managers could be window dressing as the day wears on.
    • The WEM Range is still wide this week from 4269 to 4492.
    • The Fed Meeting looms in two weeks (March 16th) and may be one of the most critical meetings in some time. The market’s current rebound is partially due to reduced expectations for tighter monetary policy due to adverse global events.
    • I believe that the uptrend is limited until there is clarity on monetary policy. Clarity around policy can reduce incentives to maintain put positions, reduce volatility, and drive higher markets. 
    • Futures gapped down significantly in Globex last night, retraced below Friday’s low, then bullishly pivoted near the WEM low, and came back into Friday’s regular session range. The index positively recovered about half the losses, and Thursday’s swing low and value area remained out of bounds and secure overnight.
    • The double bottom positive divergence in the Russell 2000 (IWM) looks interesting. In contrast, the S&P 500 and NASDAQ 100 achieved new intraday lows on the retest. The IWM divergence underscores the observation that the broad market may be starting to recover as the large-cap stocks finish correcting.
    • Note the fairly significant shifts in our key levels as strips of in-the-money options (both calls and puts) were closed Friday.
    • High volatility should continue again today, but less than last week as put fuel has drained out.
    • Resistance today starts at 4355, then 4380 and 4402. Support lies at 4307, then 4250.
    • I am bullish above the overnight high at 4383.50, tipping to bearish below Friday’s regular session low at 4281.50, and running for the hills below the overnight low at 4241.50.
    • SPY/QQQ options flow shifted from long deltas (bullish) to short deltas (bearish) on the break from 4350-4400. But the largest strike (open interest) has moved back to 4400. The market may have reverted to equilibrium after the solid short-covering rally.
    • Early traders will likely be repositioning, which is exploitable by nimble and experienced traders.
    • The overnight low at 4251.50 came down to the base of the spike from the 2/24 regular session, indicating that sellers were not as strong as they seemed on that initial panic last night (Sunday). I would also carry this level forward as weak.
    • Higher odds trades will develop later rather than earlier in the session.  
      Given that prices are susceptible to the news, it isn’t easy to pinpoint exact potential scenarios.

    I am trading from the starting point that the 2/24 low is secure, and sellers are losing control. I would start to abandon that narrative only if we were to develop value today low in the 2.24 regular session range.

    A.F. Thornton

    The Navigator Oracle™

    Issue Number 0973 – 02/28/2022

    The Navigator Oracle™ is BluPrint Quantitative Strategies’ signature publication. The weekly forecast is available Monday mornings free and can be sent directly to your email if you register here. Subscribers receive the Oracle on Sunday morning, along with essential updates during the week and live access to swing trading signals initiated by the BluPrint Founders Group.


    Whether or not a long-term bear market is underway, the 2/24 retest of January’s low was successful, and the low should be secure. By most measures, the retest has all the hallmarks of a critical swing low. The secure low does not tell us how far the market will rally – but even a bear market rally can be significant, especially as traders panic to cover short positions.

    Large-cap growth stocks may struggle some more as the broad market begins to either base in a trading range or move out of this corrective phase to new highs. But global tensions respecting Ukraine and Taiwan are significant and unpredictable wildcards to even the most prescient forecast.

    In this issue, we will revisit our longer-term thesis, review the status of the Navigator Algorithm, and travel through our checklist of relevant technical indicators.

    Navigator™ Algorithm – Current System Status

    On Friday morning, the Navigator Algorithm flipped to a preliminary swing buy signal at 4192.25. The call followed and confirmed a lower time-frame buy signal for day traders on Thursday morning’s hourly chart at 4192.25.

    Day traders close out their positions at the end of each day, mitigating the risk of adverse overnight developments. But swing traders would have been required to hold any acquired positions over an entire weekend.

    With the Russia – Ukraine conflict in full gear, we decided to wait until Monday to issue the buy signal (if we do so at all). Not even an algorithm can escape the volatility and news related to the current conflict. However, the market have reacted more favorably than expected as the negative news keeps flowing from the Eurasian theatre.

    This chart shows the Navigator Algorithm as applied to the S&P 500 Continuous Futures Contract at 2/22/2022.
    Navigator Algorithm System Dashboard – S&P 500 Continuous Futures Daily Chart (2-25-2022)

    This chart shows the Navigator Algorithm as applied to hourly the S&P 500 Continuous Futures Contract at 2/22/2022.
    Navigator Algorithm System Dashboard – S&P 500 Continuous Futures Hourly Chart (2-25-2022)

    Looking at the daily dashboard on the first chart above, The Navigator Algorithm™ set the first stop level at 4371 and the second at 4127. These are dynamic levels that change with price. With trailing deltas running at 156.8, the lower stop gives the price action more wiggle room.

    A lot of energy has already been released, so fractal gamma (energy) is neutral after the last two daily bars. We will revisit stops if we take the buy signal.

    The Founders Group would be considering a 25% long call spread for its swing position on the buy signal. The spread reduces risk and reduces vega (the risk of a volatility crush). If we proceed with the trade today, we will carefully evaluate market conditions if 15-minute candles start closing below the stop to exit.

    As I often remind subscribers, the algorithm gives us the buy or sell signal, but it does not tell us how far the market will move after the signal. We set the targets with Fibonacci math and other objective measures, depending on context.

    Our first target would be 4400, then 4435, then 4470, and finally 4585. The Founders Group would evaluate market conditions for taking all or partial profits at each target. We would look to the hourly Navigator Algorithm to guide us short term.

    Thursday and Friday were the easy moves. The index will encounter significant resistance above Friday’s close.

    The trend state is still strongly bearish at 34.3. We remain in a short-term downtrend and kill zone. The market did manage to close above the 5-EMA Friday, which is positive. But we may be working with a bear market rally, rather than continuation of the bull trend. Only time will tell. We discuss whether or not the Thursday 2/24/2022 intraday low is secure below.

    Weekly Stock Market Forecast

    Last week’s theme was “sell the rumor buy the news.” The chart immediately below was the prescient chart of the week, presented in an alert on the eve of Russia Invading Ukraine last Wednesday evening:

    Image shows how the stock market rallied on past invasions / commencement of conflicts, including Vietnam, the Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Crimea.
    Buy the Invasion

    This week’s theme is “follow the leader.” We discuss our confidence level in last week’s swing low, the extraordinary influence of the options market, follow-through, and small company leadership developing in the Russell 2000 Index (IWM). We will finish up with our weekly checklist.

    Press Here to Skip Down to Current Conditions

    Background and Context

    Our current thesis is that the U.S. stock market (we use the S&P 500 cash index as our proxy) has started a generational correction that will end at its long-term mean. The mean is roughly the halfpoint in its 100-year channel – currently 2500. The level is in the same neighborhood as the 2018 lows, but slightly above the Covid-19 crash low at 2100. Of course, the mean rises over time, so time and price are both elements of the downside target.

    The S&P 500 cash index peaked at 4818 on January 4, 2022, also the intersection of a multi-timeframe channel top and three standard deviations above its long-term mean. Our thesis would be negated if the index found acceptance at new all-time highs.

    This chart shows the S&P 500 multitimeframe intersection and channel top the index reached in Janaury 2022.
    S&P 500 Index Multitimeframe Channel Top

    This backdrop distinguishes the road ahead from recent bull market experiences, corrections, and tactics. The stock market has tagged the 100-year top channel line only three times: 1929, 2000, and the recent January peak. Recency bias can be fatal as a new bear market unfolds. 

    If the past is prologue, this will not be a buy-and-hold market. Rallies and declines will occur swiftly, and both traders and investors must apply appropriate tactics to produce consistent profits and avoid losses.

    From a technical perspective, tagging the 100-year channel top is a “three-sigma” event, driven by unusually accommodative Fed policy leading to excess speculation. The last two touches culminated in bear markets with declines exceeding 50%. BluPrint’s working thesis calls for similar corrective processes in the coming weeks and months. 

    This Chart Shows How the Dow Jones Industrial Average has Resolved Elevated Valuations Over the Past 100-Years. The S&P 500 Index has Less History, but Shows a Similar Pattern. The Default Mean Regression Sees the Index Move Sideways into its Mid or Lower Channel Line. Only in One Case, 1929. Did the Index Move from the Channel Top to Bottom Resulting in a 90% Delcine. Rapidly
    The Stock Market Typically Regresses to its Mean (MId or Lower Channel Line) by Moving Sideways Accross the Channel in a Wide Range, Except in 1929, When it Crashed to the Bottom in a 90% Loss

    From a fundamental perspective, traditional valuation models also support mean regression. Using the S&P 500 index Price/Earnings as a measure, the ratio is 76% above its historic average. Readers can track multiple market valuation measures using these additional resources.

    This is a chart showing that the S&P 500 Index P/E Ratio is 76% above its historical average since 1950.Average Since 1950
    The S&P 500 P/E Ratio is 76% above its historical average since 1950

    Potential Bear Market catalysts include high inflation, a related reversal in accommodative Fed policies, the risk of Fed policy errors (inducing a recession), and rising global tensions, including the Russia – Ukraine conflict. The entire world is experiencing secular upheaval, challenging the existing international order. The disruptions are characteristic of “Fourth Turnings, ” which we have previously discussed on these pages.

    Projected Path and Targets

    The stock market can travel along several different paths to correct its excesses. It can crash, zig-zag, move sideways, or combine all three. Crashes are low probability events – more often associated with unknown and unexpected circumstances.

    The market is more likely to establish one or more trading ranges as it works its way to the mean. The mean can rise while the market moves sideways until the mean and price meet. The process can take a long time, even years. 

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average chart above highlights the various corrective paths the index has taken over the past 100 years in gray. Of particular interest is the Dow Jones Industrial Average behavior from 1966 to 1984. That segment of the long-term chart is magnified below and documents the index’s regressive price behavior in the last U.S. inflationary spiral:

    This is a close-up chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average showing the last inflationary spiral from 1965-1984. The index went sideways in a 50% trading range for 16 years - moving from the middle to the bottom of its 100-year channel.
    Dow Jones Industrial Average – Last Inflationary Period from 1965 – 1984

    Current Conditions

    The past week was extraordinary. Thursday and Friday saw parabolic rallies off the 2/24 swing low. The quick and parabolic price action generated a Navigator Algorithm swing buy signal. however the signal is on hold for the weekend until we can evaluate conditions on Monday. We need to look at the weight of the evidence and consider recent global tensions before we jump in with both feet.

    This is a chart of the cash S&P 500 index with 2-hour candles showing the relentless and parabolic short covering rally off the recent low.
    S&P 500 Index 2-hour Chart – Parabolic Short-Covering Rally

    Is Thursday’s Swing Low Secure?

    The simple technical answer would be yes – were it not for very serious and unpredictable global events. Let’s review our usual MGI checklist and then we will draw some conclusions.

    ✓ Trend

    The short-term trend remains bearish. While the market broke up through and closed above a secondary downtrend line on Friday, the futures gapped down tonight (Sunday), returning prices below the line and break. Price also remains below the primary downtrend line from the January market peak. How the market opens Monday morning (also the last trading day of February) will tell us more about the runway ahead of us.

    This chart shows the important trendlines on the S&P 500 Index daily chart. The trendlines show the index is short-term bearish and longer-term bullish.
    S&P 500 Continuous Index Futures – Important Daily Chart Trendlines

    The longer-term trend is still bullish. Price closed above the primary uptrend line and inside the ‘best fit” price channel tracing back to the March 2020 Covid Crash.

    From a trend perspective, the price action supports Thursday’s low as secure. However, the news-driven sell-off in Globex tonight has the Covid rally uptrend hanging by a thread.

    ✓ Chart Patterns

    The market reversed from an “h” pattern and an even more rare “piercing pattern“, both of which are bullish outcomes. According to the Pattern Website, the piercing pattern has a 65% follow-through rate, which is among the most reliable market reversal patterns. Friday’s candle also bullishly  “swept” up and through four daily bear candles.

    This chart shows the bullish chart patterns associated with the Thusday lows.
    S&P 500 Continuous Futures Daily Chart – Bullish Chart Patterns Associated with 2/24/2022 Low

    The bullish chart pattern resolutions support the 2/24 Thursday low as secure.

    ✓ Moving Averages

    The moving averages slope down and remain stacked negatively, which is bearish. The price closed above the 5-EMA Friday, which is a step in the right direction. The market must hold the 5-day line this week to stay bullish.

    This chart shows the current bearish position of the key moving averages on the S&P 500 Index Futures daily chart.
    S&P 500 Continuous Index Futures Daily Chart – Bearish Moving Average Positions

    The bearish position of the key daily chart moving averages does not support the 2/24 Thursday low as secure. Additionally, the price remains below the 21-week average (mean) which continues to be resistant to any advance.

    ✓ Sentiment

    Sentiment supports the 2/24 low as secure. There are many measures I could quote to confirm this, but one of the best remains the CNN Fear/Greed Index:

    This is a chart of the CNN Fear/Greed Index as of 2/28/2022
    NN Fear-Greed Index as of 2-28-2022

    Many other measures of fear exceed their March 2020 Covid Crash peaks. When fear is this high, most sellers have exited the market, leaving buyers with a lot of cash on the sidelines. Sentiment supports the 2/24 low as secure.

    ✓ Breadth

    The correction at hand started almost a year ago in the broad market, using measures such as the Russell 2000, or NYSE index. The large-cap stocks, many of which are represented in the Nasdaq 100 and S&P 500 Indexes, are the last to correct and may still be correcting.

    It is not surprising then, that the broad market would be bottoming ahead of the generals. We see that reflected in the positive breadth divergences at the 2/24 low.

    This chart shows NYSE and S&P 500 Index Breadth Measures
    NYSE broad market index breadth shows a positive divergence on the 2/24 low while the large cao S&P 500 index does not.

    The NYSE has clear, positive breadth divergences at the 2/24 low. There were fewer net new lows than January, and the number of stocks below their 50 and 200-day lines contracted between the January and 2/24 low.

    As mentioned, the S&P 500 index did not enjoy the same positive divergences in members above the 50 and 200-day lines. We will need to keep a close eye on these differences, but for now, it evidences to me that the generals are still basing and correcting while the soldiers are beginning to advance.

    ✓ Volume

    The positive volume divergence is another confirmation of the February 24th retest low as secure. Spike volume is often associated with intermediate lows, and the January low was no exception. On the piercing low retest, volume was spiking but significantly lower than the spike volume on the January low. The behavior is but another positive divergence solidifying a successful retest.

    This chart shows the positive volume divergence at the 2/24 swing low.
    S&P 500 Continuous Futures – Positive Volume Divergence at 2-24-2022 Retest Low

    Friday’s market and volume profile shows both the point of control and value area gapping significantly higher. This is characteristic of an important auction low.

    This chart shows the S&P 500 Continuous Futures Contract Value Area and Point of Control Migrating Significantly higher on the 2/25 follow through after the 2/24 low.

    The profiles support the 2/24 low as secure.

    ✓ Momentum

    We could provide many examples but will focus on the RSI indicator. The RSI came in higher as the market put in a lower low on 2/24. This is a positive strength/momentum divergence:

    This chart shows the positive momentum divergence at the 2/24 swing low.


    Whether or not a long-term bear market is underway, the 2/24 retest of January’s low was successful and, by most measures, has all the hallmarks of an important swing low. Even so, we don’t know how far the market will rally from here.

    The caveats are that the large-cap growth stocks may struggle some more as the broad market begins to either base or move out of this first corrective phase. Also, global tensions respecting Ukraine and Taiwan are significant and unpredictable wildcards to even the most prescient forecast.

    Finally, there is evidence that we are starting something more significant than a bull market correction. A generational bear market could be unfolding. If so, the next decline in the sequence typically exceeds any previous bull market correction. There are plenty of catalysts at hand to eventually drive the market below the 2/24 low.

    A.F. Thornton

    Morning Outlook for S&P 500 Index Day Traders

    S&P 500 Index Analysis – 9:15 AM EST

    Our Morning Outlook for S&P 500 Index Day Traders considers potential negotiations underway in the Russia – Ukraine conflict. A few hours ago, the prospect of talks reversed the S&P 500 futures’ overnight losses into overnight gains. Rates are climbing this morning, but consensus has morphed again into a 25 basis point Fed rate hike instead of 50. At this writing, the S&P 500 and other index futures are positive and bullishly above yesterday’s high of 4290 (SPY 428.76).

    Key Levels and Analysis

    I would frame today’s bear/bull reference points as the Weekly Expected Move low (also the overnight low) at 4229 on the S&P 500 March Continuous Futures Contract (SPY 423) and the 5-EMA at 4300 (SPY 430.50). 4300 would be the first resistance, then 4350.

    Below the 4229 WEM low, 4200 and 4155 are key support. Market makers and dealers should defend 4229 until today’s weekly expiration at the close.

    While I am somewhat neutral this morning after yesterday’s momentous climb, a break of either the top or bottom references above would tip the scales to bullish or bearish as the case may be. If the market were to break down from here, the scant time spent and volume generated inside yesterday’s spike low is an air pocket should the S&P 500 index move lower.

    On a related note, yesterday’s short-covering resulted in a “roll-down.” Traders closed puts greater than 4200 (SPY420) while open interest near 4000 (SPY 400) moved higher. Technically, this results in a slight increase in downside risk exposure. We don’t want to see any acceptance below the breakdown low at 4212.50.

    I am amazed that our market proxy climbed out of a 127 point hole yesterday. The move back to and above the WEM low saved a few dealers and market makers from Armageddon.

    Impact of Option Open Interest, Gamma and Delta

    4300 Futures (430 SPY) is the Key Gamma Strike and Hedge Wall from an options perspective. While this level will be resistance, acceptance above would increase confidence that this rally is more than just technical short-covering.

    S&P 500 Trendlines

    A secondary downtrend line also provides resistance at 4300.

    The fact that the market has rejected the range inside January’s spike low and initially found acceptance above it and the 4212.50 (SPY 421.35) breakdown level is bullish. Also, there are multiple positive divergences in strength, momentum, and breadth, qualifying yesterday’s recovery as a successful retest of January’s spike low, perhaps avoiding the need for a further retest of yesterday’s low.

    Despite the rally, geopolitical and economic risks are no clearer today than yesterday. Demand for downside protection remains.

    This demand leads to unstable markets – no different than what we’ve been experiencing. Volatility remains high, and my forecast of an eventual move to 4000, then 3600, and finally the long-term mean around 2400 to 2500 remains intact.

    In the short-term, stability only comes with a concrete resolution of the unknowns, diminishing downside protection demand.

    As to the open, overnight inventory is balanced, but a “true” gap this morning follows yesterday’s spike into the close. Both Gap and Spike rules apply.

    We want the price to stay within or above the spike to keep the bulls in control. Acceptance below the spike low and back into yesterday’s range isn’t fatal but questions the reversal.

    Always remember that how the market handles the gap fill is your first sentiment indicator.

    Good Luck Today!

    A.F. Thornton

    The Mother of All Short-Covering Rallies

    The Fed would have needed to start raising interest rates until the invasion because inflation is out of control. But the Fed doesn’t want to raise rates. It should have started tightening almost a year ago, and it looked for any excuse to delay – a delay that has led to the current inflation crisis.

    Now the Vladiator has given America’s Finest Central Bank a new excuse to do nothing about inflation, and doing nothing is what this Fed does best. Ostensibly, a potential continuation of easy money flow triggered a short-covering rally. No, it had nothing to do with Biden’s speech which came long after the market had started the short-covering rally.

    All those weight loss commercials always show you the before and after pictures. That is the best way to start this dialogue. Let’s start with the before picture in this morning’s outlook:

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-142-1024x690.png
    Buy on the Canons and Sell on the Trumpets

    The argument for Day Traders this morning – if it made sense to trade at all – was to buy the invasion news, as fear was historically high, including puts versus calls. Probably the only thing we missed was a preferred entry at 4050. The market never got below 4125. But a pivot always overrides a target.

    There were so many puts that the gift of the gap down was too good to pass up. Suffice it to say, the mother of all short-covering rallies ensued. Here is the after:

    Bought on the Canons and Sold at the Close

    The short-squeeze kicked in right at the open, and the market only stalled a few times, closing near the high and leaving a spike low on the charts. All of our levels held. As we pointed out, there was scant resistance up to 4300 on a pivot.

    Day Traders following the plan laid out this morning made a lot of money. Swing Traders need to be patient. While the rally was impressive, it is primarily short-covering, not actual longer-term buying.

    Source –

    In other words, put selling accounted for the volume today. There was little to no call buying. To confirm a real turnaround, we need to see actual institutional buying and follow-through. We need greater call volume extending out to longer expirations. When that materializes, we will make our move for Swing Traders. The Navigator is close to a buy signal.

    A similar spike low in January rolled over until the 5th day – and then followed through. We would look for the same behavior here. Until the next Fed meeting passes in Mid March, (negative) volatility will remain high.

    I will update critical levels in the morning.

    A.F. Thornton

    Buy on the Canons – Sell on the Trumpets?

    Navigator Algorithm Status: 100% Cash and Hunting

    Ben Franklin coined “Buy on the Canons and Sell on the Trumpets” over 100 years ago. The anecdotal evidence supports him even in modern times:

    Source: Northman Trader

    But this morning, we encounter a volatile and dangerous situation on top of an already highly complicated macro backdrop. Unless this resolves quickly, sanctions and skyrocketing energy prices likely will accelerate the arrival of a U.S. recession.

    On the Hunt for a Swing Low

    This morning, we are on the hunt for a tradable low, as we have been for the past few sessions. Preferably, that low sits around 4050, give or take. The target recognizes the considerable options open interest and Gamma around 4000 on the S&P 500. The forming S&P 500 Index channel also supports the target (see Navigator Chart above and SPX chart below). This invasion severely alters the global order in place since World War II. Did I not warn you about Fourth Turnings?

    It paid to take a long trade on the above-referenced invasions, but this invasion is somewhat distinguishable. This time we have a super nuclear power attacking a country because it can – and for no other ostensibly legitimate reason. Russia is capitalizing on Western weakness, much like Hitler did with Great Britain in World War II.

    On the one hand, the backdrop could ease pressures on the Fed to tighten monetary policy. But I honestly cannot quantify whether the current situation exacerbates or ameliorates inflation pressures. My instinct is that inflation will worsen short-term (e.g., $100 plus per barrel oil prices) and decline as a recession unfolds.

    Ironically this is the type of environment where you’d expect Fed intervention not tightening. Because the Fed didn’t pull back on monetary policy when it could, it has little ammunition left.

    Many individual stocks have already crashed as the bubble bursts. Our job is to find opportunities in the carnage.

    We have terrific returns year-to-date in both the leveraged and non-leveraged accounts. It would be easy to blow it in this kind of volatility. But I am considering deploying at least some cash today so stay alert.

    There were bullish divergences in the S&P 500 index, as far as breadth, momentum, and strength at yesterday’s close. We will see how it looks this morning. I am surprised the overnight action isn’t worse.

    The bottom line is that we should favor longs over shorts. Buying puts as Putin invades Ukraine is like asking for a quick insurance policy on your house when the house is already burning.

    As mentioned above, let’s also watch the trend channels to confirm a long entry. Here is the S&P 500 cash index:

    Source – Zero Hedge and Market Ear

    The NASDAQ 100 is even better formed:

    Source – Zero Hedge and Market Ear

    Weakness begets weakness. We can trace the current situation to our disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan. China invading Taiwan in the coming months will be traced to our inability to discourage this invasion.

    One distinction is that China cannot afford to lose us economically, so it is a different animal. Comparatively, Russia is an economic blip on the radar screen. But China has bought off most of our elites (traitors) anyway, so China will likely take Taiwan with a whimper. By the way, I wonder if Ukraine now has buyer’s remorse with the Biden family payoffs? Serves them right,

    I hate to state the obvious, but to quote Steve Bannon at War Room, “elections have consequences, and stolen elections have major consequences.” The evidence continues to mount that the Biden regime stole the election through multiple means, the latest being a comprehensive and illegal national ballot harvesting scheme. We are now bearing the consequences of an unqualified, incompetent, and cognitively impaired President. We would be far better off if an adult were running our government rather than a cognitively impaired septuagenarian.

    Regardless of my opinions, this meltdown can become systemic, i.e., forced liquidations due to hedge funds blowing up, etc. Stops are critical in this environment. There are always one or two funds that hit the pavement in these circumstances. I would proceed cautiously in the circumstances.

    Day Traders

    Today may not be the best day to trade, as you could get crushed in the volatility. If you must trade, keep your positions smaller rather than larger and widen your stops to handle the volatility. Gamma is extremely negative across all indices / ETFs, and the VIX is near 37. The market is pricing in a 2.32% daily move. Overhead resistance is light at 4200 and more substantial at 4300. Support is at 4064 and 4000.

    S&P 500 Options Gamma and Strike Open Interest

    The markets should bounce on a test of the 4000 – 4050 area due to the forming channel. Be mindful that my ultimate targets remain 3600 and then 2400 as outlined in my Weekly Forecast. I don’t mean to suggest we achieve the latter targets this week. I expect it to take a while. However, 3600 is a slight possibility in a complete meltdown/crash or systemic dislocation.

    S&P 500 Other Key Levels

    Assuming that the 4050ish bounce scenario unfolds, there won’t be a lot of resistance back to 4300. But any rally will be short-lived without a sustainable reduction of put positions. It is doubtful that will happen before the March 16th-18th Fed meeting.

    I am considering long positions at the target on a confirmed price pivot to hold up to and then cover at the Daily 5-EMA.

    We will be gapping down at the open, so Gap Rules are in play. Overnight inventory is 100% net short. Be mindful of the size of this gap down per the rules.

    Remember that gap fills or lack thereof are the first clues to strength or weakness. There is potential for early trade to work the gap fade move given the context.

    Consider buying the high of the first one-minute bar or buy a cross back up through the open if there is an opening drive lower that reverses. Odds are increased if the overnight low is not taken out first. Monitor for continuation with an ultimate target of overnight halfback at 4165 or so.

    Any fade that is only partial or fails quickly may be a short signal on a cross back through the open. This sort of “go with” trade can be relatively difficult to pull off as per gap rule #4. Use caution and monitor very closely for continuation with the understanding that when markets are piling on (100% o/n inventory true gap on top of weak close), reversals can be unpredictable and swift.

    The best scenario would be a gap fill and green candle on the day. One can wish?

    A.F Thornton

    Liquidity Cascades – Invasion Update 2/23/2022

    A liquidity cascade and negative feedback loop can take the market significantly lower. I will do my best to explain it. It involves the influence of the options market, which has grown so large in the past few years that we have to consider it in our algorithms.

    I discuss and identify the Weekly Expected Moves week to week respecting weekly options. And you see how influential they are most of the time. But options have an even more significant impact when considering Gamma and Delta hedging. Dealers on the other side of puts and calls have to hedge. At certain levels of Gamma and Delta, they have to hedge a lot and frequently.

    When volatility is this high, it is nearly impossible for dealers to keep up. Accordingly, they step away from the market, and liquidity evaporates, making the problem worse.

    We had the positive benefit of Gamma in the bull market phase. We would see tight, persistent rallies. These were positive Gamma squeezes. The more traders bought calls, the more the dealers had to hedge by buying the underlying stock or index or futures. The hedging created a positive feedback loop.

    Now we are seeing the opposite. The more investors buy puts; the more dealers have to sell the underlying stock or index or sell futures. This hedging creates a negative Gamma squeeze with tight sell patterns.

    ETFs and indexing, in general, are related problems. It does not matter how good your stock is; it suffers when investors dump ETFs and indexes. Options leverage only exaggerates the problem.

    Most of the Gamma is sitting at 4000 on the S&P 500 index. As the market approaches that or other significant Gamma levels, dealers may have to unwind their positions as investors cover their puts, and the Gamma squeeze reverses to positive.

    I will mention something one of my mentors once told me. The best investments sometimes make you sick to your stomach because the fear is high. We call it the puke point. As Russia makes its full-blown Ukraine invasion and given most of the other Fed risks are known, we may deploy some capital into the capitulation.

    Fasten your seatbelts, and let’s see how it goes. It is going to be a long night.

    A.F. Thornton

    This is Ugly – S&P 500 Index Retest

    We have a full retest of the January low underway. Not only is the S&P 500 going to close on its low. It will close on or near its critical retest level just above 4200 – leaving us hanging. The NASDAQ 100 will close below its January low. One could suggest that where the NASDAQ 100 goes, the S&P 500 will follow.

    The S&P 500 has been one-time-framing lower for five sessions in a row. The slow, consistent, and somewhat demolishing behavior reminds me of 2000 and 2007, but more on that later. I have watched the order book dry up several times today, meaning there is little or no liquidity, at least as it relates to the order book.

    The U.S. Intelligence community has informed Ukraine that a full-scale invasion will be underway in 24 to 48 hours. A full-scale invasion could precipitate a full-on market crash into the 3600 level.

    I will expand on all this tonight with a short video and discussion. The WEM low at 4229 did provide some brief support.

    I am beyond thankful that our strategies are in cash. The Navigator Algorithm is an extraordinary tool.

    A.F. Thornton


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