- S&P 500 Futures Slip as Aussie Gains on Rate Outlook; Oil Rises (BBG)
- Xi Says China Needs at Least 6.5% Growth in Next Five Years (BBG)
- Ben Carson Vaults to Lead in Latest Journal/NBC Poll (WSJ)
- World's Biggest Banks Still Not `Truly Resolvable,' FSB Says (BBG)
- Keystone XL's builder faced darkening prospects (Reuters)
- Merkel Says Germany Must Step Up World Role in Refugee Crisis (BBG)
So far today's trading session has been a repeat of what happened overnight on Monday, when following a weak start on even more weak Chinese data, US equities soared on the first trading day of the month continuing their blistering surge since that dreadful September payrolls report, which as we showed was mostly catalyzed by a near record bout of short's being squeezed and covering, which accelerated just as the S&P broke the 2100 level.
While understandably all eyes have been fixed on every monthly capital outflow update from China (even the ones that the Politburo is clearly massaging), few have noticed that one of the biggest total outflows currently in the global developed economy is taking place right in America's own back yard.
Janus Capital shares have tumbled back from earlier gains after WSJ reports that a firm run by George Soros has pulled a $500M investment with Bill Gross. The firm reportedly invested the money a year ago after Gross started at Janus Capital.
Amid the ever-expanding easing program in Europe (longer? more-er? different-er?), one of the gravest concerns was (amid a growing scarcity of collateral), finding willing sellers (at any price) to meet the needs of central bank asset purchasers could be a problem. However, as The FT reports, it appears the Chinese stepped up to the plate to 'help' The ECB (rather The Bundesbank) out from its dilemma. Just as we saw with Chinese selling US Treasuries (whether to diversify away from the major reserve currencies, deal with outflows, or to manage a liquidity crisis at home), The PBoC's reserve management wing, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, has been selling some of its German government bonds since the ECB began buying them in March, say two sources close to central banks in China and Europe. This news has prompted further weakness in Bunds today, despite expectations of Draghi unleashing more buying in December.
If one looks at the NDX alone, one would have to conclude that the bull market is perfectly intact. The same is true of selected sub-sectors, but more and more sectors or stocks within sectors are waving good-bye to the rally. Even NDX and Nasdaq Composite have begun to diverge of late, underscoring the extreme concentration in big cap names. Naturally, divergences can be “repaired”, and internals can always improve. The reality is however that we have been able to observe weakening internals and negative divergences for a very long time by now, and they sure haven’t improved so far. In terms of probabilities, history suggests that it is more likely that the big caps will eventually succumb as well.
The torrid October, with its historic S&P500 point rally, is finally in the history books, and at least for a select group of hedge funds such as Glenview, Pershing Square and Greenlight and certainly their L.P.s, a very scary Halloween couldn't come fast enough, leading to losses between 15% and 20%. How did everyone else fare? Below, courtesy of Deutsche Bank's Jim Reid, is a summary of what worked in October (and YTD), and what didn't.
A bigger problem for Valeant, however, emerged today when none other than Warren Buffett's right hand man Charlie Munger in an interview with Bloomberg "tore anew into the besieged drug company, calling its practice of acquiring rights to treatments and boosting prices legal but “deeply immoral” and “similar to the worst abuses in for-profit education.” And to prove just how much clout Munger does indeed have, moments ago the most important Wall Street bank, Goldman Sachs, downgraded Valeant to Neutral from Buy, cutting its share price target from $180 to $122.
On a day full of Manufacturing/PMI surveys from around the globe, the numbers everyone was looking at came out of China, where first the official, NBS PMI data disappointed after missing Mfg PMI expectations (3rd month in a row of contraction), with the Non-mfg PMI sliding to the lowest since 2008, however this was promptly "corrected" after the other Caixin manufacturing PMI soared to 48.3 in October from 47.2 in September - the biggest monthly rise of 2015 - and far better than the median estimate of 47.6, once again leading to the usual questions about China's Schrodinger economy, first defined here, which is continues to expand and contract at the same time.
Late on Friday afternoon, after recording its biggest monthly points gain in history, the S&P500 unexpectedly took a surprising swoon lower to close trading well in the red. This chart may be the reason why.
We will be the first to admit that yield curve inversion is not the only factor causing recessions, but through the credit channel it can be an important contributor. Depending on the importance of the credit channel, the Federal Reserve, by pegging the short term rate at zero, have essentially removed one recessionary market mechanism that used to efficiently clear excesses within the financial system. While stability obsessed Keynesians on a quest to the permanent boom regard this as a positive development, the rest of us obviously understand that false stability breeds instability.
Should the Fed actually hike in December (the statement explicitly mentioned the possibility), we think it’s highly likely to become a “one and done” that will be taken back shortly, similar to the BoJ’s handful of attempts to hike rates after the bursting of the 1980s bubble. We say this simply based on the economy’s actual performance. After all, it took only a minimal tightening of policy (the “tapering” of QE3) to induce a bust in the sector most exposed to capital malinvestment.
The Fed's confidence trick this week was, once again, the Keyser Soze gambit (via Beaudelaire)- "convincing the world of Yellen's hawkishness, when no such character trait exists." However, unlike the movies, stocks and FX markets have already seen through the con, leaving Fed Funds futures alone to believe the hype. As we noted previously, "The Fed Can't Raise Rates, But Must Pretend It Will," repeating its pre-meeting hawkishness to dovishness swing time and again in a "Groundhog Day" meets "Waiting For Godot"-like manner. Time is running out Janet, tick tock...
"Easy policy has passed the point of diminishing return and keeping it longer would only increase moral hazard and distort financial markets," exclaims the Institute of International Finance, warning that the gap between the value of Americans' holdings of stocks, bonds and other financial assets and the trend growth rate of the economy is still large and not far off the level that prevailed in 2007 before the financial crisis. "The Fed should start to normalize policy as soon as possible," removing the excess as the 'gap' "typically ends up being narrowed by a correction in the stock market."
“It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark.”