No surprises in today's release of US CPI, which unlike China's still searing inflation (which is the PBoC's way to check to Bernanke on more easing) came just as expected at 0.3% headline and 0.2% core, or 2.7% Y/Y. From the release: "The indexes for food, energy, and all items less food and energy all increased in March. The gasoline index continued to rise, more than offsetting a decline in the household energy index and leading to a 0.9 percent increase in the energy index. The food index rose 0.2 percent as the index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs increased notably. The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.2 percent in March after increasing 0.1 percent in February. Most of the major components increased in March, with the indexes for shelter and used cars and trucks accounting for about half the total increase for all items less food and energy. The indexes for medical care, apparel, recreation, new vehicles, and airline fares increased as well, while the indexes for tobacco and household furnishings and operations were among the few to decline in March." The items rising the most in March sequentially: fuel oil at 2.7%, gasoline at 1.7% and apparel at 1.3%. The only decliner was electricity at -0.8%, courtesy of nat gas plunging. With a record hot summer approaching, this is a good thing.
Gold bullion remains supported, mostly due to a pickup in physical Indian and Chinese gold demand this week. There are expectations of sustained Indian consumption next week in the lead up to the Akshaya Tritiya festival later this month. Western physical buying remains unusually anaemic - for now. In recent years, April and May have been positive months for gold in terms of returns (see table above). April has returned 1.4% per annum in the course of the current bull market since 2000. May has returned 1.75% per annum in the course of the current bull market since 2000. Interestingly, the last month of Q1 and Q2, March and June, have been negative in terms of returns. March in particular has seen the poorest returns for any month in the last 11 years with average falls of 0.6%. Therefore the very poor performance of gold in March 2012 (-6.4%) may represent another buying opportunity as it did last year (see chart below) and in previous years.
Risk-aversion is noted in the European markets with all major European bourses trading lower heading into the US open. Participants remain particularly sensitive to Spain following a release from the ECB showing that Spanish bank’s net borrowing from the ECB hit a new record high at EUR 227.6bln in March against EUR 152.4bln in February. Further pressure on the equity markets was observed following the overnight release of a below-expected Chinese GDP reading, coming in at 8.1% against a consensus estimate of 8.4%. As such, markets have witnessed a flight to safety, with Bund futures up over 40 ticks on the day. In the energy complex, WTI and Brent futures are also trading lower, as the disappointing Chinese GDP data dampens future oil demand, however a failed rocket launch from North Korea may have capped the losses.
- ECB Seen Favoring Bond Buying Over Bank Loans (Bloomberg)
- Italians Rally Against Monti’s Pension-Overhaul Limbo (Bloomberg)
- Spain Cracks Down on Fraud as Rajoy Says Aid Impossible (Bloomberg)
- Europe’s Capital Flight Betrays Currency’s Fragility (Bloomberg)
- China’s Less-Than-Forecast 8.1% Growth May Signal Easing (Bloomberg)
- China Banks Moving to Lower Mortgage Interest Rates (China Daily)
- Fed Officials Differ on Need to Keep Rates Low to 2014 (Bloomberg)
- North Korea Confirms Rocket Failure (Reuters)
- Yuan Lending Set to Cross New Border in Pilot Plan (China Daily)
JPM Earnings Beat Courtesy Of $0.28 Benefit From Loan Loss Reserves Despite First Increase In Nonperforming Loans In YearsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/13/2012 - 07:33
Earlier today JPMorgan announced results that were better than expected, with revenue of $27.4 billion on expectations of $24.1 billion, and EPS of $1.31 or $5.0 billion, on expectations of $1.17. As previously noted, the bank increased its dividend to $0.30/share, and has authorized a $15 billion new repurchase, which however will likely not be a sizable factor, as JPM has already said with the stock price at the current level buybacks are not accretive. As for the EPS beat, as usual the one-time items swamped everything else, of which the primary one, reduction in loan loss reserves which is the traditional way for the bank to pump up the bottom line, accounting for $1.8 billion or $0.28/share. We are curious how Jamie Dimon will justify this accelerating release even as the firm's Nonperforming loans increased for the first time in years from $10 billion to $10.6 billion: just the TBTF put or something else? Other amusing "one-time" items were the $1.1 billion ($0.17/share) from the WaMu bankruptcy settlement as well as a $0.9 billion loss ($0.14/share) loss from DVA this time hurting the bank as JPM's CDS tightened in Q1. Also curious was a substantial $2.5 billion expense for additional litigation reserves, which is certainly not a one-time item now that every bank is suing JPM and is merely a catch up for Dimon to where he should have been reserved. That, or something else - just what is JPM seeing that others are not (hint: ask Bank of America). This number will continue rising. So net of the real one-time items, EPS was less than a $1.00.
On Easter Friday we presented the parabolic egg that Italy laid in March in the form of Italian bank borrowings from the ECB, which had surged by a record €75 billion to €270 billion from €195 in one month. Of course, since the US market was closed and everyone was preoccupied with the ugly NFP report, nobody paid much attention. Today, however, everyone is paying attention as Italy's counterpart in the unsalvageable periphery - Spain, just posted its monthly consolidated Eurosystem borrowings update for March. And if last week's Italian data was the Easter egg, today's parabola is the Friday the 13th funny, because Spain bank borrowings from the ECB in March soared by... €75 billion, or precisely the same amount as Italy, to €227.6 billion, the highest ever, and a 50% increase over the €152 billion in February. The result: Spain CDS touching 491 bps according to CMA, just 2 bps shy of the November all time wides. Other securities impacted: 10 Year Spanish yield + 10 bps to 5.92%, and a spread over bunds now well into the 400 bps, or 418 bps to be precise. Italy is also catching the contagious bug, with its own 10 year starting to grind wider yet again, now at 5.47%. We have the feeling as more wake up this morning, that this latest glaring confirmation that the PIIGS banks now exist solely courtesy of the ECB, will not be liked by many.
As we have recently pointed out (here), the exponential level of global central bank one-upmanship has created a level of dependency in capital markets never seen so obviously before. Critically, though, it is not the sheer scale of the balance sheet (or STOCK of assets) that is good enough anymore - equity market performance is all about the marginal change in that stock (FLOW). Nowhere is this "It's The Flow Stupid" better highlighted than in the chart below showing the periods of central bank balance sheet expansion coinciding almost perfectly with the largest surges in equity market performance. Furthermore, as the flow fades so the performance starts to fade (unable to counter the natural tendency of retail to exit the risky markets perhaps) and as the Fed's balance sheet begins to actually compress marginally (as it has the last few weeks), so equity market performance has turned negative - and notably so. This leaves the Fed with the dilemma that it is not just about the size of the bazooka anymore but the frequency with which you are willing to use it - and as we are likely to see this week - jaw-boning alone will not do the trick (no matter what today's market might have been hoping for) as unless we see the balance sheet of the Fed expand again (which would mean a rise of around 0.4% - something we haven't seen since mid February), we should expect the rolling 4-week performance of equities to continue to fall.
The number the market has been waiting for with bated breath arrives:
CHINA 1Q GDP GROWS 8.1% ON YEAR, EXPECTED 8.4%, and whispered at 9.0%
CHINA STATISTICS BUREAU SAYS PROBLEMS REMAIN IN THE ECONOMY
NBS: CHINA STILL FACES UPWARD PRESSURE ON INFLATION
NBS: CHINA FACES DIFFICULTY STABILIZING EXPORTS
And so the rumormill, which was expecting some ridiculous GDP print of 9.0% based on a third-rate research report released overnight, despite China posting some epic budget surpluses in the past few months, is stuck dumping risk in this late hour. Everything selling off as China's GDP posts the biggest sequential drop since March 2009 and the lowest sequential GDP rise since September 2009.
Was The SEC "Explanation" Of The Flash Crash Maliciously Fabricated Or Completely Flawed Out Of Plain Incompetence?Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/12/2012 - 20:59
Regular readers know that since the beginning, Zero Hedge has been vehemently opposed to the official SEC explanation of the chain of events that brought upon the Flash Crash of May 6, 2010, in which the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 1000 points in a span of seconds, and during which billions were lost when stop loss orders were triggered catching hapless victims unaware (unless of course, one had a stop loss well beyond a reasonable interval of 20%, in which case the trades were simply DKed). It is no secret that one of the main reasons why the retail investor has since declared a boycott of capital markets, which lasts to this day, and manifests itself in hundreds of billions pulled out of equities and deposited into bonds and hard assets, has been precisely the SEC's unwillingness to probe into this still open issue, and not only come up with a reasonable and accurate explanation for what truly happened, but hold anyone responsible for the biggest market crash in history in absolute terms. Instead, the SEC, naively has been pushing forth a ridiculous story that the entire market crash was the doing of one small mutual fund: Waddell and Reed, and its 75,000 E-mini trade, which initially was opposed to being scapegoated, but subsequently went oddly radio silent. Well, if they didn't mind shouldering the blame, the SEC was likely right, most would say. However, as virtually always happens, most would be wrong. Over the past few days, Nanex has one again, without any assistance from the regulators or any third parties, managed to unravel a critical component of the entire 104 page SEC "findings" which as is now known, indemnified all forms of high frequency trading (even as subsequently it was found, again by Nanex, that it was precisely HFT quote churning that was the primary, if not sole, reason for the catastrophic chain of events) with a finding so profound which in turn discredits the entire analytical framework of the SEC report, and makes it null and void.... The only open question is whether the SEC, which certainly co-opted the authors of the paper to reach the desired conclusion, real facts be damned, acted out of malice and purposefully fabricated the data knowing very well the evidence does not support the conclusion, or, just as bad, was the entire supporting cast and crew so glaringly incompetent they did not understand what they were looking at in the first place.
Red headline time. From Yonhap:
North Korea launches rocket - S.Korea's YTN Television
U.S official confirms North Korea has launched rocket
Rocket launch took place at 7:39 local time - South Korea Defense Ministry,
Japan likely in full mobilization mode right about now. Or not: this just in:
ABC's Martha Raddatz reports the North Korean rocket launch has FAILED.
Somebody is about to be punished big time since local rockets no fly long time.
While it is unknown if this is merely a bull trap to get yet another bubble going, then to slaughter everyone with the same relentless barrage of margin hikes as we saw in the spring of 2011, or simply volumes in commodities have gotten so low that even the CME is willing to allow a little price appreciation in exchange for participation is unknown, but as of April 16 silver initial and maintenance margins will be 12.5% lower, while copper margins are declining by 20%.