Even Bob Pisani knows by now that the European Close seems to create a trend-reversal moment intraday that few machines (and even fewer humans) are willing to fight. Whether this is remnants of short-term cycles found due to POMO or just a drop in liquidity is unclear; but what is clear, it happens, and all too regularly... except today. After a notably weak start to the day, the machines were just getting revved up for the 1130ET reversal to kick in and lift the market back to VWAP when a curious thing happened... "someone" canceled-and-replaced orders for 666 contracts 26 times in the 1130ET to 1200ET period... and selling accelerated lower, no reversal, to close at the lows on heavy volume.
While CNBC's Bob Pisani prevaricates on low "high" volume rally days and "the important things," ahead of Q3 earnings and a horde of hungry commission-takers explain to a gullible public how fundamentals are strong (ignoring entirely the massive manipulation buybacks and financial engineering) and earnings will confirm the equity market's wisdom any day now; we thought it worth a glance at the dismal evolution of earnings expectations for Q3. Since the start of July, S&P 500 Q3 earnings expectations have collapsed from 11.0% to just 6.4% with 9 of the 10 sectors lower and Consumer Discretionary now expected to see negative growth. But... that's probably not the important thing, right?
It was just Friday when a pithy Bob Pisani noted that investor confidence in markets is up because there have been no market malfunctions recently... he spoke too soon. As Nanex's Eric Hunsader reports, an apparent malfunction at BATS-Y has caused dozens of flash crashes... including in AAPL.
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.
But the pretty people on TV said the Fed Minutes proved they were the most dovish ever and initial claims hit recovery lows... What a total disaster - Equity markets peaked within a few minutes of the open and never looked back - yesterday's "Fed Cat Bounce" gave way to Really Red Thursday... with the Nasdaq and Russell 6.5% from their recent highs (and the S&P 3.5% off), we suspect a "markets in turmoil" special on business media any moment...
US equities tagged new highs early in the day-session sparked by USDJPY ignition and rotating to support from AUDJPY as stops were run and exuberance over shitty data reigned. "Most shorted" stocks dramatically outperformed early on providing the sacrifice required but while bond yields rose from their open last night, they end the day practically unchanged (10Y +1bps); The USD rallied into the open but EUR and AUD strength cracked it back to practically unchanged by the close. Copper flailed (on slowing China construction fears) but oil, silver, and gold all rallied around 1% on the day (though rolled over in the afternoon). VIX dropped but held 14% and remains notably divergent. Credit rallied but remains a laggard compared to equity exuberance. Stocks tanked into the close; catching down to VIX, credit, and USDJPY - what a "market" with the S&P losing its highs and closing red for 2014 once again.
While the world may be reeling in the aftermath of a horrible week for markets, which following today's largely expected $10 billion additional taper announcement, is only set to get worse (because, oops, the global economy turned out to not be in escape velocity mode as everyone simply confused the artificial level of the S&P 500 with economic output, as usual), one entity is delighted by the recent surge in volatility and market uncertainty: CNBC.
2013 is in the books... and quite a year it was...
- Fed Balance Sheet +39%
- Dow Transports' best year since 1997 +39%
- Russell 2000's best year since 2003 +37%
- S&P 500's best year since 1997 +29%
- Dow Industrial's best year since 1995 +26%
- USD, WTI Crude, and Treasury 5s30s curve Unchanged
- 30Y Bonds' worst year since 2009 -13%
- Gold's worst year since 1981 -28%
The last few days have seen VIX rising, stocks limp higher (with a mini melt-up into the close today on huge volume), bond yields higher, and the USD lower.
For those of you who remember the months following the 2008 financial crisis, one of the most viral videos out there (it has over 2 million views) was the “Peter Schiff Was Right” compilation. It consists of various clips of Mr. Schiff being prescient about the financial condition of the U.S., as talking heads on various financial shows mock him and laugh in his face. Well, the “Peter Schiff Was Right Video Part Deux” is now out. In this case, pundits laugh at Peter’s insistence that there will be no taper and that it was all a bluff (they pull off the same bluff every year). It ends in classic fashion with Bob Pisani explaining to the dwindling audience at CNBC that “no one saw it coming.” It seems we’re back to that again. The next crisis can’t be far off.
An ugly day all around...
30Y Treasury yield - biggest 4-day yield compression in 15 months
Dow Transports - biggest single-day loss in ~5 months (2nd worst in 11 months)
Nasdaq - 2nd worst day in 10 months
AAPL - worst day in 3 months (2nd worst day of 2013)
USDJPY - biggest gain in JPY in 10 weeks
WTI - biggest single-day gain in 10 months
Financials - worst day in 10 months
In no particular order: Weak (and strong) US data (good or bad news?), War, Taper (Treasuries 'special'), Debt Ceiling, German elections, New Fed Chairman, imploding developing markets and collapsing global currencies... (S&P 500's first close <100DMA in 2013) it is on... (oh and S&P 500 futures 2nd biggest volume day in 2 months)
We can't wait to hear Bob Pisani explain this one... JPY weakness continues this morning (now -2% on the week) but early in the European day (around the time of the German confidence survey), carry-traders rotated greatly into peripheral European debt and out of US Treasuries and US equities... US equities accelerated lower in the last few minutes following the Business Inventories print.
"You can't go up forever," noted Bob Pisani before piling on a series of excuses for the recent 'weakness' that quite frankly could have been used at any 1.1% drop in stocks of the last 3 years... While stocks bounced off lows today and are making the headlines for a third down day for the first time in 2 months, the real story that most are ignoring is the surge in the JPY. The USD is legging lower confusing the 'Taper' chatter but it is the JPY strength that is dominating (up 3.6% against the USD in the last 4 days (and the Nikkei futures -800 from Friday's highs). Treasuries rallied 3-4bps (and the curve flattened) as it seems the modest weakness in stocks is being met with some safe-haven demand. Despite bonds' bid, Homebuilders were battered (-4.5% on the week). Gold and silver strengthened off pre-open lows as WTI fell back to around $104. VIX spiked to 13.9% at the open but ended around 13% at the close. Back to CNBC for the close: "off the lows," but not in credit Maria...
It started moments after the release of the Federal Reserve’s latest decision on interest rates. Even though officially they announced maintaining the same policies of low rates and Quantitative Easing, it was a single word change in the official text of their press release from the prior month that sent shockwaves around the world and changed everything forever...
Equity markets were very much in a land of their own relative to broad risk asset classes all day until the FT's Harding "mo' Taper" memo hit and slammed reality back into the herding masses. Still convinced that the Fed will 'only' taper if the data confirms it, we suspect the broad market is missing the signals from broken markets and frothy levels that mean the Fed will use the modest improvements as a crutch upon which to jawbone tapering into our minds. Today's price action was - in the words of the great Bob Pisani, "just silly." A ramp out of the gate following Japan's lead which followed a Hilsenrath-inspired ramp-job from Friday combined with a beat for NAHB (and Empire Fed) sent all the high-beta into overdrive (builders +2.2%) - but nothing else was really moving (FX was relatively flat, bonds went sideways, commodities wriggled in a small range). The Harding hit and we gave back all the post-Hilsenrath gains, 330-ramped to VWAP and held it magically into the close (though the USD ended at its lows of the day, bond yields at their highs, and credit markets at their lows).