Cboe Global Markets

The Week That Was: April 26 to April 30

Kevin Davitt
May 3, 2021

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

Last week (April 26 to April 30), U.S. equities traded in a narrow range, ending the week in-line with the week prior. The U.S. economy has shown resilience in the first four months of the year and the economic backdrop now combines strong growth, rising earnings, an improving labor market and exceptionally accommodative fiscal and monetary policy. The question going forward is, how much is priced in and if/when growth slows, what would that mean for equity markets? Additionally, last week the Biden Administration announced its $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, which is focused on education, childcare and paid family leave. The $1.8 trillion proposal is in addition to the previously outlined $2 trillion infrastructure plan. The efforts would be partially funded by higher tax rates, particularly on capital gains, and perhaps closing the carried interest loophole.

Quick Bites

Indices

  • U.S. Equity Indices were quiet again last week. Overall, earnings continue to impress.
  • S&P 500 Index (SPX): traded in very narrow range of less than 1% last week. The large cap index has been very contained for the last two weeks. 
  • Nasdaq 100 Index (NDX): Fell slightly last week.
  • Russell 2000 Index (RUT℠): Traded in a tight range last week. The small cap index traded in a 2.8% high-to-low range and settled six handles lower on the week. 
  • Cboe Volatility Index (VIX™ Index): Measured as high as 19.25 last week. The weekly low was 16.67 and the index closed at 18.61, up 1.25 on the week.

Options

  • SPX options average daily volume (ADV) was about 1.01 million contracts, down slightly week-over-week. The one-week at-the-money SPX options straddle (4180 strike with a 5/7 expiration) settled at 57.3 (14.4% implied volatility) which implies a +/- range of 1.35%.
  • VIX options ADV was about 387,500 contracts last week, down from the previous week’s ADV of approximately 470,000 contracts.
  • RUT options volume decreased week-over-week to an ADV of 36,100 contracts, compared to an ADV of about 48,500 contracts the previous week.

Across the Pond

  • The Euro STOXX 50 Index was fractionally lower last week.
  • The MSCI EAFE Index (MXEA™) fell slightly and the MSCI Emerging Markets Index (MXEF™) was also slightly lower week-over-week.  

Charting It Out

Observations on VIX futures term structure

  • The front of the VIX futures curve was effectively unchanged on a weekly basis.
  • The May VIX futures contract was up 0.10 week-over-week, the June contract was up 0.05 and July was unchanged.
  • The back end of the VIX futures term structure fell slightly.
  • The January 2022 VIX futures were listed and began trading.

VIX Futures Term Structure

Source: LiveVol Pro

Macro Movers

  • The U.S. 10-year treasury yield peaked on Thursday at 1.68% and ended the week at 1.64%, ahead of next Friday’s jobs data. The year-to-date range on the 10-year treasury yield is 0.92% to 1.75%.
  • Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell reiterated the Fed’s commitment to asset purchases and indicated improved growth metrics during The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting and press conference last week.
  • Annualized first quarter gross domestic product (GDP) was 6.4% and economic activity is returning to pre-pandemic levels.

Major Cryptos

  • Bitcoin (BTC) prices rebounded last week. Week-over-week BTC moved from $50,500 to $57,000.   
  • Ethereum (ETH) reached new highs again last week, trading between 2,200 and 2,800. ETH has a market cap over $321 billion.

Coronavirus

  • Over the past week there were about 52,000 new COVID-19 cases per day, compared to a seven-day average of 68,500 earlier in the month.
  • Hotspots in Michigan and Minnesota have started to subside.
  • 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated and 43% of U.S. residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • On average, 2.65 million doses have been administered daily over the past week, compared to a daily average of 280,000 at the start of 2021.

Source: The New York Times

Tidbits from the News

  • Proceeds from global initial public offerings (IPOs) already hit $230 billion in 2021, which is higher than the full year totals for 21 of the previous 26 years.

Annual Number of IPOs 2000 - 2021

Source: StockAnalysis

  • A chicken is sweeping the nation. Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) store sales are up 14% year-over-year and North Carolina-based Bojangles ran out of chicken tenders across 750 locations this week. Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride and Purdue dominate the producer market. Their labor costs are increasing quickly, but the price for chickens remains relatively rangebound.

Price of Chicken Over the Last Five Years

Source: Y Charts

The Week Ahead

  • Data to be released this week: Purchasing Managers’ Index, ISM Manufacturing and Motor Vehicle Sales on Monday; Trade Deficit on Tuesday; ADP Employment Report and ISM Services on Wednesday; Weekly Jobless Claims on Thursday; Non-Farm Payrolls, Unemployment Rate and Consumer Credit Report on Friday.
  • Earnings season will continue into mid-May, then slow considerably.

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