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March CPI Higher Than Expected, Driven By 16.4% Annual Spike In Utilities, Increase In Shelter Index

Following the hotter than expected PPI data, it was the turn of CPI to come in stronger than consensus had hoped for, and sure enough, moments ago the BLS reported that March consumer inflation printed higher than the expected 0.1%, coming at 0.2% for both headline and the core (excluding food and energy) components, driven mostly higher by a surge in Utility costs which soared by 7.5% M/M, and a whopping 16.4% Y/Y. Curiously, the energy services spike of 2.6% of which utilities is a part, was offset by a drop in energy commodities, mostly fuel oil, whose cost dropped 2.9% in March and by gasoline down 1.7%, and down 4.7% Y/Y.  The BLS also noted the rapid increase in the shelter price index: "Almost two-thirds of this increase was accounted for by the shelter index, which rose 0.3 percent. The indexes for rent and owners’ equivalent rent both rose 0.3 percent, while the index for lodging away from home rose 1.5 percent." Is the housing bubble - both purchase and rent - and which has already burst across much of the nation, finally being noticed by the Fed?



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Empire Manufacturing Misses By Most In 15 Months, Drops To 2014 Lows

For the 8th month of the last 9, the Empire Manufacturing missed expectations. Tumbling to its lowest since December (despite the apparent let-up in weather freakishness), this is the biggest miss since Jan 2013. The average workweek slowed significantly, but the overall index was modestly saved by a push higher in 'hope' as the six-months-forward index jumped back to Feb highs. Perhaps most concerning, given the supposed pent-up demand that we have been told to expect when the weather picked up, was the tumble in new orders to their lowest since November.



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Gold Tumbles Most In 4 Months On China Demand Slowdown Fears

Gold prices are down almost 2% this morning (over $25) as last night's slowdown in Chinese money-supply growth and fears that China's insatiable gold demand has become less insatiable send the barbarous relic back towards $1300. Slowing GDP expectations, increasing restrictions on shadow-banking commodity-backed financing, and a need for liquidity are all factors weighing on the precious metal this morning.



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Ukraine Launches Military Operation Against Separatists, Russian PM Says Country "Anticipating Civil War"

Following last night's protest in front of the Kiev parliament by Maidan faithful and others who had gotten sick and tired by their government doing absolutely nothing to preserve the cohesion of the Ukraine - both west and east - this morning acting president Turchynov, realizing he is between a rock and a hard place and suddenly his position is quite precarious, finally announced that he had issued an order to the country's military to begin operations to retake government buildings seized by pro-Russia separatists in eastern areas.  Oleksandr Turchynov, also the parliament speaker, said the deployment had begun in the Donetsk region, where many of the approximately 10 towns affected by the protests are located.



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Frontrunning: April 15

  • Ukraine forces move against separatists (FT)
  • China GDP Gauge Seen Showing Deeper Slowdown (BBG)
  • China Is Losing Its Taste for Gold (WSJ)
  • Regulators Weigh Curbs on Trading Fees (WSJ)
  • Obama, Putin Talk as Unrest Roils Eastern Ukraine (WSJ)
  • Japan PM talks with BOJ chief, does not push for easing (Reuters)
  • BRICS countries to set up their own IMF (RBTH)
  • IMF Members Weigh Options to Sidestep U.S. Congress on Overhaul (WSJ)
  • Zebra to Buy Motorola Solutions Unit for $3.45 Billion (BBG)
  • Chinese Thunder God Herb Works as Well as Pain Therapy (BBG)


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Futures Ignore Overnight Newsflow, Prepare For More Yen-Driven Momentum Ignition

One can see that while the traditional 6:00 AM USDJPY buy program is just duying to resume aggressive upward momentum ignition, futures are still leery and confused by the recent post-open high beta selloffs. Then again, things like yesterday's ridiculous no news 3:30pm ramp happen and confused them even more just as momentum is about to take a downward direction. Stocks in Asia (ex-China) advanced amid a reversal in sentiment after Citigroup (+4.15%) inspired positive close on Wall Street, however Shanghai Comp (-1.4%) underperformed as concerns over GDP data on Wednesday following weak money supply data weighed on sentiment. Stocks remained on the back foot (Eurostoxx50 -0.42%), with Bunds supported by the release of lower than expected German ZEW survey and also ongoing concerns surrounding the stand-off between Ukraine/Russia. Short-Sterling bear steepened after UK CPI fell to its lowest level since October 2009, but house prices across Britain posted its biggest rise since June 2010, reviving concerns over an overheating market.



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Chinese Yuan (And Copper) Tumbles As Money Supply Growth Plunges To 13-Year Lows

Today's 'bounce' in US equity markets is not translating into Asian equity market strength as China, India, Indonesia, and Thai stocks are fading. Copper is crumbling and just stopped out Dennis Gartman's long. In China, the PBOC withdrew 172bn Yuan (highest since Feb 2013) and pushed the currency back towards its weakest since Feb (which is the weakest since the PBOC began its erstwhile carry-killing-policy). Lots of odd moving-parts in Chinese data tonight with M2 YoY growth tumbling to 12.1% (missing expectations) - its slowest since Jan 2001 but Total Social Financing smashed expectations at 2.07tn Yuan (vs 1.86tn expected). It seems, try as the PBOC might to control it, credit creation continues to balloon in China.



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Bart Chilton Joins America's Largest Law Firm As Policy Advisor

It seems like it was only yesterday (actually it was early November) when infamous CFTC commissioner, legendary threat to gold manipulators nowhere, and Alexander Godunov impersonator, Bart Chilton made a very dramatic exit stage left. At the time, we asked rhetorically if said dramatic depature was just for show. The rhetorical answer to the rhetorical question: of course it was, confirmed moments ago when Chilton became just the latest "regulator" to take the great revolving door out of a worthless public service Washington office into a just as worthless, but much better paying private-sector Washington office. Presenting the latest employee of DLA Piper, the largest law firm in the US, and possibly the world, by number of partners - Bart Chilton, poet.



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"Death Spiral" - Harvard Professor Predicts Up To Half Of US Universities May Fail In 15 Years

Soaring student debt, competition from online programs and poor job prospects for graduates are shrinking the applicant pools for many universities and, as Bloomberg reports, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities warns "there will clearly be some institutions that won’t make it..through these difficult steps." Rather stunningly, Moody’s found that expenses are outpacing revenue at 60 percent of the schools it tracks even as many try to slash their way to balanced budgets," and concluded "what we’re concerned about is the death spiral... this continuing downward momentum for some institutions." As Harvard professor Clayton Christensen has warned, as many as half of the more than 4,000 universities and colleges in the U.S. may fail in the next 15 years, and is "not sure a lot of these institutions have the cushion to experiment with how to stay afloat."



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Is China Already The World's Largest 'Owner' As Opposed To 'Holder' Of Gold?

Combining China's aggregate domestic production and apparent imports indicates that she has now over 3,514 tonnes. Assuming the U.S. still owns all the gold held by the Fed, this would make China the world's second largest national owner... but it remains unclear whether the Fed's published Gold holdings are actually the property of other nations. Clearly the recent price rise in gold owes something to inflation fears, repressed interest rates and to the Ukrainian situation. In the meantime, a growing awareness of a possible serious and increasing shortage of physical gold and a decline in the power of western central banks to suppress the price, point to a resumption of the fundamental bull market in gold, despite a possible increase in fears of recession.



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Baltic Dry Drops For 15th Day To Lowest In 9 Months (Back Below $1000)

And still the mainstream media's discussion of the collapse in the Baltic Dry shipping index is entirely absent. As we have been pointing out for weeks now, something extreme is occurring in the cost of shipping dry bulk around the world. 2014 is now witnessing the biggest drop in price (a typical seasonal pattern) to start the year since records began. Today's drop to $989 (the first time below $1000 since June 2013) is the 15th drop in a row and it's not just this index that is fading: Capesize, Panamax, and Supramax rates are all falling. As we noted previously, the shipbuilding industry is already feeling the pain.



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Things That Make You Go Hmmm... Like Rigged Markets (All Of Them!)

While Grant Williams can’t speak for anybody else, his nearly thirty years immersed in equity, bond, and commodity markets all around the world, have shown him enough to absolutely confirm in his own mind that the markets are rigged. Not just some of them. All of them. In different ways, to be sure, but they’re all rigged. Not only are they rigged, but they are rigged in ways that beggar belief; and in many places they are rigged by the very people who ought to be responsible for stopping any rigging... Whether Bill O’Brien (or Bob Pisani) likes it or not, Michael Lewis was speaking the truth when he said the market was rigged. He was talking about US equity markets, but rigging goes much, much deeper.



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Sixth Phone Conversation: Obama Warns Putin "Costs" Will Increase; Kremlin Tells Obama To "Prevent Bloodshed"

A few hours ago, Obama and Putin held their sixth phone conversation since the fate of Ukraine rekindled the second cold war. As usual, much was said, the generic talking points were uttered, and nothing was resolved nor will anything change.



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Copper Is On The Edge, Says BofA

"Copper is on the edge of resuming its downtrend," is how BofA begins it brief note on the evolution of China's crucial credit-collateral commodity (as we noted earlier). Copper futures limped lower today - fading even as the exuberant stock market ripped on 330pm fundamentals today.



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All This And World War, Too?

Ukraine is quickly turning into a Vietnam moment for the US political scene. When will parties in the USA (including Obama camp “progressives”) stop cheerleading for a showdown over this hapless doormat of a faraway nation whose destiny is not entwined with the people of Ohio, Nebraska, Rhode Island, or any of the other fifty states? We have enough to do in our own country to adjust to the new realities of the unraveling turbo-industrial global economy — and, by the way, we are not doing a damn thing to address any of it. Our domestic political conversation at all levels is juvenile and idiotic.



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