Yesterday China's richest man, Li Hejun, lost more than half his fortune when his solar company stock suddenly crashed over 50%. Overnight it happened again, and Hong Kong’s securities regulator, warned other investors to exercise "extreme caution," as Hong Kong's best-performing stocks this year are crashing in a serial, tulip-like manner. And another billionaire was promptly wiped out: Pan Sutong started the day engorged with wealth after his companies Goldin Financial and Goldin Properties had risen 300% this year. By the close he had lost 60% of his wealth!
"Six years after the recession ended, many U.S. states are hard pressed to balance budgets because of a sluggish recovery and their own policy decisions and in fact, thirty-two states faced budget gaps in fiscal 2015 or 2016 or both." Bloomberg reports. Indeed, state and local governments are so broke that "even Republican governors loath to raise taxes have proposed higher levies."
Manufacturing PMI - Miss/Drop. Existing Home Sales - Miss/Drop. Philly Fed - Miss/Drop. Economic Confidence - Miss/Drop. Buy Stocks...
It was about two years ago when we summarized all the known and confirmed rigged markets. Since then things have gone from bad to worse for believers in fair and efficient markets, with not only countless more banks now admitting they rigged Libor and FX. It all culminated with yesterday's settlement in which five of the world's biggest banks, including JPM, Citi and Barclays, agreed to plead guilty in a currency-rigging probe. And, to Bloomberg's dismay, the public yawned.
The most stunning data point from today's report: "Housing inventory declined from last year and supply in many markets is very tight, which in turn is leading to bidding wars, faster price growth and properties selling at a quicker pace," says Yun. "To put it in perspective, roughly 40 percent of properties sold last month went at or above asking price, the highest since NAR began tracking this monthly data in December 2012."
After a very modest bounce in April, Philly Fed fell again in May, printing a disappointing 6.7 (against 8.0 expectations). Philly Fed has now missed 5 of the last 6 (and 7 of the last 9) months. While new orders picked up, prices paid plunged at recessionary pace, inventories tumbled, and the average workweek slumped. Hope also tumbled as future expectations dropped.
Consumer Comfort is now the lowest it has been since Dec 2014 as Bloomberg's sentiment index continues to track the pain of higher gas prices better than the gain of higher stock prices. This is the biggest 6-week plunge in sentiment since Oct 2013. What is more worrisome is 'hope' is plunging. Economic Expectations fell by the most since Oct 2013 - the government shutdown - having fallen for 3 straight months. It appears the trickle-down popularity of seeing a Green Dow print every night on the news does not make the average joe feel any better about the world after all???
Having dipped and missing by the most on record in April, Markit's US Manufacturing PMI printed 53.8 (against expectations of 54.5). This comes on the heels of weakness in European PMIs (especially Germany - but but but lower EUR... exports, growth, etc...) and Chinese PMIs. This is the lowest US Manufacuring PMI since Jan 2014 (in the middle of the polar vortex). May saw the slowest rise in new orders since Jan 2014 - but the post-weather rebound? - and input costs rrise for the first time in 2015. Markis now carefully noting that "the survey is likely to encourage policymakers to err on the side of caution."
"We were sellers Monday, May 4th of the Russell and we were buyers of the S&P, for the chart of the former is ominously bearish while the chart of the latter is interestingly bullish. We’ve done equal dollar sums on both sides of the trade and for now we’ll not wish to see the trade more 2% against us. As we wrote the June Russell 2000 was trading 1222 and the June S&P was trading 2099.50. This morning they are 1253.50 and 2119.50 respectively, so we are now behind by 2.6% on the Russell and are ahead by 1.0% on the S&P. For now we shall sit tight but we are swiftly approaching our stop point, which is a 2% loss."
The lamentable tale of Lumber Liquidators goes from bad to worse to farce as the company releases a press release explaining "Robert M. Lynch unexpectedly notified the Company of his resignation as the Company’s President and Chief Executive Officer." The stock is down another 20% on this news (as rates leaving sinking ships comes to mind) trading with an $18 handle briefly in the pre-market...
Initial claims rose very modestly this week but the smoother 4-week average hit fresh cycle lows at 271k - just shy of the lowest level since 1973. Continuing claims also fell to new cycle lows at their lowest since 2000. It appears, as we have noted previously, that peak job-related cost-cutting has been achieved. However, it's not all unicorns and ponies... as Chicago Fed National Activity Indicator printed a disappointing -0.15, the 4th month in a row of contraction.
Even without a double seasonal adjustment, the Fed may very well surprise with not only a September, but even a June hike. After all recall that to Yellen stocks are now clearly overvalued, and the cornered Fed Chairwoman is between a rock and a hard place - keep failing to rase rates and risk another bond tantrum as all the shorts are squeezed leading to even more illiquidity and volatility, or slowly take the air out of the stock bubble (good luck with that).
The fact that Saudi Arabia is on the U.N. Human Rights Council at all is more than sufficient to make a mockery out of the entire body. Nevertheless, it appears this ridiculous membership isn’t enough for the Saudis, and the Washington Free Beacon is reporting that the medieval desert monarchy is angling to take over the head position when the leadership position becomes available after 2016.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the Syriza show will ultimately have to be canceled in Greece (or at least recast) if the country intends to find a long-term solution that allows for stable relations with European creditors, but as we noted on Wednesday, it may be time for Greeks to ask themselves if binding their fate to Europe is in their best interests. Indeed, it's time to take a hard look at the political ramifications of the June 5 IMF deadline and ask if the troika will, in the final analysis, be successful in using financial leverage to undermine the democratic process.