Yesterday I said:
“Today was the option expiration on the Comex, and those options which are ‘in the money’ and have not been settled for cash are now converted to March futures positions.
Depending on the size and distribution of those conversions we may see some ‘action’ in the front month because they are sometimes notoriously weak hands and will receive at least one ‘gut check.'”
And a gut check to run the stops was very obviously delivered in the afternoon trading session at the Comex and across the monthly contracts.
This is remniscent of the ‘Dr. Evil’ strategy that got Citi warned and fined in Europe a few years ago. Memories of Citi’s Eurobond Manipulation At the time one of the defenses offered by an ex-pat trader was ‘in the US everybody does it.’ Has JPM taken up the trading strategy that Citi once made infamous? And why would banks be trading for themselves in markets with players they help to finance, and with public money?
Large players can come into a relatively small market and drive the price by selling in size, running the stops which they often can see through positional advantage, and essentially bomb the market, manipulating the price in the short term to their advantage. The profit is made through derivative and correlated bets that depend on the price of the metal, index, or bond such as shorts on mining stocks, currencies, bonds, etc.
This is why the ‘uptick rule’ in stocks served a purpose, and why regulators are in place to keep an eye on big players with deep pockets and a far reach. In a properly regulated market the CFTC would immediatly pull the trading records for today and track the big sellers, and inquire as to the reasons for their sudden selling.
It *could* have been a hedge fund margin call. It could even have been a margin call provoked by a bank tightening credit lines with one hand while playing the market with their other hand. There were rumours being spread all week keying in on the day after expiration. I do not have any inside information, no special knowledge, only the advantage of experience and a watchful eye on the markets.
And so there it all is. I was ready for it. I may or may not make money from it, but at least I had flattened my positions as I had said earlier this week and did not lose from it. But it sickens me to the heart nonetheless.