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Trader Thoughts - Downside risks build in big tech

Chris Weston
Head of Research
27 jun 2023
Amid increased talk on the desks of a big equity liquidation into month-end, US equity markets have closed not too far from session lows.

We can see breadth has been healthy (69% of US500 companies closed higher on the day), and the key theme was traders cutting back on the 2023 market darlings (Tesla, Netflix, Meta, MSFT, and Amazon) and/or increasing hedges over these plays - others are part rotating these exposures into ‘value’ areas of the market.

Momentum juggernaut Tesla has also been well traded in both cash equity and options, succumbing to solid profit taking, thanks to a rating downgrade from Goldman's – one for the radar as the structure on the higher timeframes has shifted and I quite like Tesla from the short side for $220.

We’ve seen a small uptick in equity volatility, with the VIX index tracking just above 14%, while S&P500 and NAS100 1-month puts have seen their implied volatility rise by more than calls – where this rise in ‘skew’ is another sign of increased equity hedging flows. I like the NAS100 from the short side too, with a stop above 15,100, and would look for 14100/14050 – but the preference is to use a mechanical stop, and ‘hopefully’, the trade can run. As many will attest to, trading tech short in 2023 has been a frustrating and fruitless task, as such, I would be keeping position sizing low despite the still subdued volatility.


Month-and-quarter-end end flows aside, this is a big week for the central bank liquidity callers – we should see a solid ramp-up in Fed QT this week, and we’re seeing signs that the US Treasury bill issuance is being funded more by bank reserves than RRP balances. We also know EU banks are repaying a sizeable amount of legacy TLTRO loans this week - while some have said this ‘liquidity drain’ is not priced by markets, the fact we’ve known about it for months suggests the EU banks are more than adequately prepared for this.

Still, if equity markets are to play catch-up to reduced global central bank balance sheets, then this is the week it needs to play out.

On the bond side, we’ve limited moves across the US and EU curves, and we see little change in the 144bp of rate cuts priced into US rates markets for 2024.

The USD closed -0.2%, although we’ve seen some better buying in NOK and NZD. USDJPY has been well traded, with clients skewed short – verbal intervention from the BoJ has ramped up but at this stage, it’s just ‘letting us know’ price moves are on their radar.


Looking forward to the session ahead - it will be quite lively in US Treasury bond/bill markets issuance, where later in the week we can assess if the take-up of this issuance has been more skewed to bank reserves – again, impacting system liquidity. FX traders can look forward to Canadian CPI (22:30 AEST – consensus is for 3.4% YoY), and with 15bp of hikes priced into Canadian rates for the 12 July BoC meeting, CAD exposures need to be monitored – AUDCAD is breaking down to new cycle lows. In the US we see durable goods, new home sales and CB consumer confidence. I suspect month-end flows will still dominate the price action, and that as we’ve seen can be hard to rationalize at times.  

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