Tuesday, March 12, 2013


If you thought Monday’s FII action in derivatives was eye popping, Tuesday would make you fall off the chair. While on Monday, FIIs net bought Rs 2,200 cr worth Index options (mainly Nifty) with Open Interest  going up by 73 lakh shares; On Tuesday both these numbers almost doubled with net buying of Rs 4,000 cr along with an addition of a massive 1.5 crore shares in Open Interest

What really stands out on both days is the massive Open Interest build-up at deep out of the money strikes. For example, in Tuesday’s trade, 5600 Put added 26 lakh shares while 5500 Put added nearly 15 lakh shares. For an index, which is trading above 5900, we are talking about strikes which are a good 5-7% off current levels with a relatively short series (only 11 days left in current series)

Tuesday also stood out in terms of futures data from FIIs, with a net selling of nearly Rs 500 cr and an Open Interest build-up of nearly 6 lakh shares. For the first time since budget, we have seen short positions in Nifty.

Now, what does this data mean? Well it could mean 2 things – first, some FIIs are buying in cash markets but given last month’s experience, they want to be completely hedged. And second, some FIIs have taken directional call on the Nifty with a view that the short covering bounce is mostly done with and an inherently weak market would now complete its logical move towards the 200 day moving average. If it’s the first case, that’s as healthy as it can get for the market since over-hedged markets would normally inch higher. But if the second scenario plays out, it may actually make February look relatively better.

What was also interesting on Tuesday was the sharp intra-day recovery between 1:30 to 2:30 and an equally sharp drop again between 2:30-3:30. There is an old saying “Amateurs open the market and professional close it”. Normally if a market closes near day’s low, it tells you that professional traders are happy keeping their shorts overnight. What was also interesting was that the last hour selling was not accompanied by added weakness in global markets. In fact, European markets had turned in the green.

Keep in mind the market had a crunching 7% fall from its February high of 6110 to the budget day low of 5670. That’s a total of 440 points. At Monday’s high of 5970, it had reclaimed 300 points out of that. We all know that bear market rallies are sharp and at times give an impression that a new bull market has started. But until the Nifty crosses 6,000 and makes a move towards previous peak, this just remains a sharp pullback in a structurally weak market. One thing is certain; the screen is not looking comfortable, especially for the high beta midcaps and to me last week remains a sucker’s rally. I would be happy to change my view if the Nifty rallies this week.

Disclaimer: I reserve the right to be wrong. If I was always right about stock markets, I would own some island in Caribbean.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


The word on the street is that the worst is over for Indian markets. Budget coinciding with expiry was seen as a climatic event with selling reaching its exhaustion. There are a few data points which actually support that view.

First, the market has found support at budget day lows and for last 3 days has been closing at day’s high. Secondly Nifty has rebounded from the mid-point of its 100 and 200 DMAs (daily moving averages). Then of course, the midcap screen is looking much better than it had looked all of February.  And the most important one, the pullback from budget day low has been led by Bank Nifty and strong banking stocks which leads one to believe that the market may be a bit more constructive. Even on the F&O side of the market, the Nifty futures have kept pace with the spot and are trading at decent premium. And while stock futures have shed nearly 10 cr shares in Open Interest over last 2 days, that’s only because of NHPC. Excluding NHPC, stock futures have actually added Open Interest.

However, one look at Tuesday’s FII number would suggest that something is amiss. The way Reliance, TCS and ICICI Bank rallied on Tuesday, I was expecting to see an FII buy number of over Rs 1,000 cr. But the number is actually Rs 220 cr. On top of that, DIIs actually sold Rs 245 cr. On a net basis, institutions sold in cash markets. There was no great buying in the futures markets either and that’s where I get most of my cues.

There was big buying by FIIs in Nifty options and if you see the build-up, it was mostly in Puts. Now conventional wisdom would suggest this is Put writing and hence positive for markets – the texture of the market over last few months has changed with a bias of buying options rather than selling them. Even individual stocks are not giving the comfort that they could be bought again.

Also, let’s keep the global setup in mind, the market has been underperforming the globe this year. While most markets are near all time high with US markets actually right there, the Indian market is still a fair distance away from that. The rupee market has not stabilized at all and is giving an indication that a move towards 56 is on.

So the big question – how to trade this market? The best strategy would be to identify weak stocks and keep building your shorts at every minor pullback. Some examples could be the likes of IFCI, Unitech, HDIL, IVRCL, Welspun Corp, Adani Power. Now keep in mind, some of these stocks could have big intra-day bounces and hence the best way to play these stocks would be via Put options, which are very liquid in most of these stocks. As for Nifty, you should ignore the first 3-4 days of a new series in determining a trend, which would emerge next week. My sense, looking at the internals is that another wave of selling is coming our way and the Nifty may head towards 5550, where the mother of all support of 200 DMA comes in.