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VXX’s Bullish Crossover Signals the Emergence of a New Market Paradigm

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A key measure of expected volatility may have just confirmed the start of the end for the so-called Trump reflation rally. With contango out of the picture, the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (VXX) is showing rare stability – and possibly signaling the emergence of a new market paradigm.

The Return of Volatility

VXX, which provides directional exposure to the CBOE VIX Volatility Index, experienced a bullish crossover on Thursday, with the 50-day simple moving average (SMA) crossing the 200-day SMA. The index itself closed at 47.31. As the following chart illustrates, VXX has maintained consistently higher levels since early February when volatility surged.

The bullish crossover is significant for several reasons, chief being that the VXX is closely tied to the current value of the S&P VIX Short-Term Futures Total Return. Since market participants cannot trade the CBOE VIX directly, this hypothetical portfolio is considered the next closest thing. In other words, it provides the market’s overall view of the future direction of the CBOE VIX. The CBOE VIX surged nearly 81% in the first quarter to settle right around its historical average.

From an investment perspective, the VXX essentially operates as a long position in first- and second-month VIX futures contracts that roll daily. Investors with bullish bets on volatility usually buy the VXX, but hold it for short periods because it decays heavily over time due to contango. When volatility spikes, the normal state of contango is disrupted, as the following chart shows:


Source: vixcentral.com

Under normal conditions of contango, the futures price is above the cash price, with each futures month being more expensive than the previous.

The return of volatility makes the VXX much more appealing from an investment perspective, but not as a buy-and-hold strategy. Time decay makes holding VXX very risky. One way to overcome this is to implement short holding periods and limit buys to significant spikes in the VIX/VXX.

We are Not in a Bear Market

While recent movements in the VXX suggest that the stock market is in a temporary downturn or possibly a broader correction, the case for a bear market is weak. Looking at official government data, we see a gradually improving economy and signs of rising inflation. On the earnings front, we are also witnessing stronger profit and revenue growth for S&P 500 companies. To that end, financial research firm FactSet is forecasting earnings growth of 17.3% for Wall Street during Q1 2018. That would mark the best quarter in seven years.

What VXX does signal is the end of complacency and tranquil market conditions that we’ve grown accustomed to for the last two years. The Trump administration is now in position to implement much of what it promised during the 2016 election campaign. We saw just how difficult it was to pass tax reform. As recent developments show, the White House will have a harder time convincing markets that protectionism is in their best interest.

The so-called “trade war” signals a profound paradigm shift for the U.S. economy. Although many nations have called out China’s unfair trade practices, few have sought to address them given Beijing’s growing dominance on the international stage. Trump holding China to account may be necessary, but it will be a difficult sell in a market that is largely averse to protectionism.

That said, we are not in a bear market – at least, not yet. By the end of Q1, the S&P 500 Index was down 8% from record levels. That’s still a long ways away from meeting the technical definition of a bear market, which usually requires a drop of 20% or more from previous peaks.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.7 stars on average, based on 773 rated postsChief Editor to Hacked.com and Contributor to CCN.com, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi




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How to Escape Inflation

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Hi Everyone,

After years of economic crisis and hyperinflation, it seems that Zimbabwe may finally be taking their first steps toward stabilization.

For more than a decade the African nation has been relying on a multi-currency system that relies heavily on the US Dollar. However, in a country of 16 million people, there aren’t always enough dollar bills to go around. Talk about a liquidity issue.

So most Zimbabweans receive their monthly paycheck by electronic transfer to their bank account, which they then need to figure out how to spend in the grocery store.

In 2016 the government issued a new currency called a bond note, the exchange rate of which has been controlled by the government. In a recent update, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has ditched capital controls and is now allowing bond notes to trade according to the free market.

In a country that has full mobile penetration, it’s really a wonder to me how cryptocurrencies are not playing a larger role.

Hint hint, wink wink, to Dash, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin.

@MatiGreenspan
eToro, Senior Market Analyst

Today’s Highlights

  • US-China trade deadline: 7 days | Days to Brexit: 35
  • Crypto Changing Landscape
  • Ethereum’s Rate of Inflation

Please note: All data, figures & graphs are valid as of February 22nd. All trading carries risk. Only risk capital you can afford to lose.

Traditional Markets

Stocks pulled back a bit yesterday but this morning investors are looking to reverse the losses. We’ve been counting down on geopolitical timers for so long that many market participants are already dreaming of a day when those counters get to zero and all is resolved.

The tricky one remains Brexit. At this point, analysts have identified three possible yet unlikely outcomes.

1. No deal Brexit
2. Theresa May’s deal, or some variation
3. A time extension

Each of the above seems to be extremely unlikely yet we know that one of them has to happen. Should option one materialize, it’s very likely that the British Pound will fall, and in the event of option two, the Pound should rise.

The Pound has been falling pretty steadily since May. Here we can see the GBPJPY kissing her 200-day moving average (blue line).

Also, the New York session today should be really interesting as we’ll hear from a slew of central bankers including Mario Draghi and no less than four Fed members as well as receiving a monetary policy report from the Fed.

Remember, these are the guys who drive the markets. So it pays to pay attention.

SEC Watchers

Just as traders in traditional markets watch the Fed, cryptotraders seem to be forming a habit of watching the SEC.

Today, we got some pretty astonishing news that an ICO called Gladius Network LLC received a pass from the SEC despite them selling $12.7 million worth of unregistered securities tokens. This is quite a different outcome than the SEC took with Paragon and Airfox just three months ago, who each needed to pay a fine of a quarter million dollars.

While the SEC is the most important regulatory body in the United States when it comes to securities, other regulators may be influencing policy as well. Our US Managing Director Guy Hirsch wrote me this morning…

How about the Crypto Rally?

Well, excitement is still high but seems to be fading. Volumes did peak out at $35 billion during the full moon on Tuesday, February 19th. Today we’re down to $23 billion traded across global crypto exchanges.

Some have pointed to the volumes on Wall Street’s bitcoin futures, provided by the CME group, which reached a new record high of 18,338 contracts during Tuesday’s madness. That comes out to a total volume of approximately $357 million, or approximately 1% of the amount traded on exchanges.

Also, the major price surge actually happened on Monday, when the CME was closed for President’s day. So, it’s clear that Wall Street is the passenger here and not driving.

So, to find out whether this rally is about to continue or claw back we need to look at the root. As we’ve been discussing, this entire rally seems to have been caused by a shortage in the supply of new Ethereum.

Historically, the Ethereum network produces about 20,000 to 30,000 new ETH per day. However, since the beginning of the year the amounts have been tapering off and as of last week, the new supply was more like 13,000 per day.

The Constantinople upgrade which is currently scheduled for block height 7,280,000 (approximately February 27th), is supposed to stabilize supply to about 5,700 blocks per day and reduce the block reward from 3 ETH to 2 ETH per block. So, by these metrics, we can deduce that new production after the fork will be about 11,400. Far less than the current rate mentioned above.

Now, another part of Constantinople is that it’s supposed to reduce the amount of gas needed per transaction. However, it’s not apparent how the new gas fee structure will affect demand.

So even though we know supply will be reduced drastically, we don’t know if this will affect bottom line inflation because we don’t know exactly what demand will look like under the new system.

Clearly, forward guidance on monetary policy is not the largest concern for Ethereum’s community leaders.

As far as the rest of the crypto market, this recent rally certainly has the big fish nibbling. We’ve been in the accumulation zone for a while now and this latest push off the floor might just be enough to bring the market out of a slump, but there are several technical levels that need to be broken before that happens.

Wishing you an awesome weekend!

Best regards,

Mati Greenspan
Senior Market Analyst

Connect with me on….

eToro: @MatiGreenspan Twitter: @MatiGreenspan LinkedInMatiGreenspan |Facebook:MatiGreen

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 152 rated postsSenior Market Analyst at Etoro.com.




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Market Overview

U.S. Stocks Post Biggest Drop in Two Weeks as Business Investment Spells Trouble for the Economy

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The U.S. stock market declined on Thursday, snapping a three-day winning streak and heading for its worst loss in two weeks after the latest report on durable goods revealed a sharp slowdown in business investment. Crypto markets corrected lower as trade volumes continued to unwind from their yearly peak.

Stocks Retreat

All of Wall Street’s benchmark indexes headed for losses, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 103.81 points, or 0.4%, to close at 25,850.63. The broad S&P 500 Index fell 0.4% to 2,774.88, with seven of 11 primary industries reporting losses. The technology-focused Nasdaq Composite Index closed down 0.4% at 7,459.71.

Disappointing quarterly results weighed on the major indexes after Domino’s Pizza Inc. (DPZ) reported earnings and revenue that disappointed investors. Hormel Foods Corporation (HRL) also missed analysts’ expectations.

S&P 500 companies have mostly beaten quarterly earnings estimates, but that could soon change, according to FactSet. The research firm anticipates a sharp downturn in profitability for Q1 2019 based on January EPS estimates. More on that story can be found here.

Economic Data Mostly Positive, with One Big Caveat

U.S. economic indicators were largely positive on Thursday, with one very big caveat: a gauge of business investment fell for the fourth time in five months.

The Commerce Department reported on Thursday that durable goods orders – a proxy for manufacturing demand – rose at a seasonally adjusted 1.2% in December. When removing the volatile transportation category, orders rose at a much slower 0.1% pace. A closer look at the report revealed that new orders for nondefense capital goods, a bellwether for business investment, fell 0.7% in December. Clearly, American businesses are feeling the effects of global economic uncertainty.

Most of the other major releases Thursday were positive. Initial jobless claims fell by 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 216,000 in the latest week, the Labor Department said.

A measure of U.S. private-sector business known as the Composite purchasing managers’ index (PMI) improved to eight-month highs in February. Markit’s PMI gauge climbed to 55.8 from 54.4 in January. All of the monthly gains were attributed to the services sector, which accounts for the vast majority of economic output.

Cryptocurrencies See Minor Pullback

The major cryptocurrencies posted modest declines on Thursday, as the total market cap fell by around $3 billion. Daily exchange trading has also fallen by roughly $10 billion from its peak on Tuesday. As far as we can tell, the daily turnover printed on Tuesday was the highest in at least ten months.

Crypto Update: Litecoin Leads Pullback in Majors

Litecoin (LTC) led the pivot lower among the majors, falling 4% to $49.12. The LTC price peaked at four-month highs earlier this week.

Bitcoin cash (BCH) posted a drop of 2.9% to $142.72. XRP`s price broke below 32 cents after falling 2.4%. Ethereum (ETH) edged down 1.2% to $145.83.

Losses for Bitcoin (BTC) were capped at 1% during the day. It was last down 0.9% at %3,948.36, according to aggregate data from CoinMarketCap.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.7 stars on average, based on 773 rated postsChief Editor to Hacked.com and Contributor to CCN.com, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi




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U.S. Stocks Rise as Fed Confirms Dovish Pivot

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U.S. stocks extended their gains Wednesday after the Federal Reserve offered further reassurance that it will hold off on raising interest rates for the time being. Cryptocurrencies reported a mixture of modest gains and losses as volumes backed off from their yearly highs.

Stocks Extend Rally

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 63.12 points, or 0.2%, to close at 25,954,44. The blue-chip index has risen in five of the past six sessions and looks poised to reach 26,000 this week.

The broad S&P 500 Index finished up 0.2% to 2,784.70. Materials stocks led six of 11 primary sectors higher, with most of the gains concentrated in primary industry.

Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite Index pared gains to finish flat at 7,489.07.

Stocks are in the midst of an eight-week rally, but the following chart spells trouble for the S&P 500 Index.

Fed Puts on the Brakes

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday provided more details as to why it decided to be patient with normalizing monetary policy. In the official transcript of last month’s meeting, Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) members cited stock market volatility and weaker global economic growth as the main obstacles standing in the way of policy normalization.

According to the minutes, there were a “variety of considerations that supported a patient approach.” Additionally, “a patient posture would allow time for a clearer picture of the international trade policy situation and the state of the global economy to emerge and, in particular, could allow policymakers to reach a firmer judgment about the extent and persistence of the economic slowdown in Europe and China.”

The Fed’s dovish pivot last month allowed the stock market to extend a bullish revival that began just after Christmas. Central bankers will hold their next policy meeting next month. The March interest rate statement will be accompanied by a revised summary of economic projections covering GDP, unemployment and inflation.

Crypto Markets Flatline

The combined value of all cryptocurrencies hovered north of $135 billion on Wednesday, where it was little changed compared with the previous day. Markets succumbed to a fresh wave of selling overnight, as bitcoin and the major altocins reported modest declines. By the early morning, most of the losses had disappeared.

Trading volumes dipped below $30 billion but were well off the highs from Tuesday. An influx of capital into the crypto ecosystem could make for volatile trading conditions in the near term.

Bitcoin was last seen trading at $3,983.49, according to CoinMarketCap, an aggregate data provider. The bitcoin price is trading hands well north of $4,000 on Bitfinex.

Ethereum’s price was little changed at $147.83. XRP edged down 1.7% to $0.30275. EOS extended its rally, climbing 5.3% to $3.84. Read more: Litecoin, EOS, Binance Coin, Maker: Altcoins Leading the Charge.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.7 stars on average, based on 773 rated postsChief Editor to Hacked.com and Contributor to CCN.com, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi




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