The long awaited moment finally arrived after Scots began voting at 7am BST on whether to break away from the U.K. and end the 307-year union, even as latest opinion polls show the campaign against independence maintaining a narrow lead over those favoring independence. And while the No's are said to have a slim lead into the vote, even if it is really the Undecideds whose vote will determine the final outcome, somewhat surprisingly, the Yes camp got an unexpected boost just hours before the polls opened when 27 year old tennis star, and Scot, Andy Murray declared his support for Scottish independence in an 11th hour intervention on Thursday morning, after years of keeping silent on the issue.
It has been a story of central banks, as overnight Asian stocks reversed nearly two weeks of consecutive declines - the longest stretch since 2001 - and closed higher as the same catalysts that drove US equities higher buoyed the global tide: a combination of Chinese liquidity injection (for the paltry amount of just under $90 billion; "paltry" considering Chinese banks create over $1 trillion in inside money/loans every quarter) and Hilsenrath leaking that despite all the "recovery" rhetoric, the Fed will not be turning hawkish and there will be no change in the Fed language today (perhaps not on the redline but Yellen's news conference at 2:30pm will certainly be interesting), pushed risk higher, if not benefiting US equities much which remains largely unchanged.
If over the weekend we got some terrible economic news out of China, then overnight it was turn for a major disappointment in capital flows, when Chinese Foreign Direct Investment in August crashed by 14%, far below the 0.8% increase expected, attracting just $7.2 billion in FDI, and the lowest in four years. This once again sparked fears of a Chinese hard landing and sent the Shanghai Composite tumbling 1.82%, the biggest drop in six months. In addition to China, there was the German ZEW Survey, which while beating expectations of a 5.0 print, dropped from 8.6 to 6.9 in August, the lowest since 2012. In fact, the gauge has decreased every month since December when it reached a seven-year high. And while there is not much other news today ahead of the blitz assault of data later in the week, including the Fed tomorrow, the TLTRO announcement on Thursday and the Scottish referendum results and the BABA IPO on Friday, we are stunned futures aren't as usual, soaring.
"...we anticipate that the start of US rate hikes will do damage to markets in the short term, but that there will be greater differentiation over a more medium term between liquid and less liquid assets. In the short term, investors sell what they can, making liquid assets more vulnerable." - JPMorgan
Something appears to have changed not only because the USDJPY is not some 100 pips higher overnight on, well, nothing but because the S&P, which is treading water, has yet to spike on no volume reasons unknown. That something may be algos which are too confused to buy ahead of this week's Fed announcement which may or may not have some notable changes in language or the Scottish referendum on the 18th. Or it could simply be that algos are no longer allowed to openly manipulate and rig the market on the CME as of today now that "disruptive market practices" are banned (why weren't they before)? In any case, keep a close eye on the market today: not all is at it has been for a while, unless of course it is still just a little early and the rigging algos (which haven't gotten the Rule 575 memo of course) haven't woken up just yet.
Forget the Siren calls of the impending end of days and the imminent collapse of civilization. Here is a non-polemical non-bombastic overview of three key events in the week ahead: FOMC meeting, TLTRO launch in Europe and the Scottish referendum.
Well, I am profitable on this latest move up in 10-year yields, and I expect yields to continue rising through the 10 and 30 year bond auctions later this week ...
- British PM begs Scots: Don't rip apart our UK 'family of nations' (Reuters)
- Obama has become Bush: Obama’s Task: Rally U.S. Public, Allies in Terror Fight (BBG)
- Alibaba's record IPO covered after first few roadshow meetings (Reuters)
- Ferrari chairman Luca Di Montezemolo to quit after 23 years (BBC)
- Combat Reversals Pressure Assad (WSJ)
- Top LBO Fund Investors Pile on Leverage to Boost Returns (BBG)
- BOJ's Iwata upbeat on economy, unfazed by post-tax hike slump (Reuters)
- Carney Can’t Escape Housing as Debt Colors BOE Policy (BBG)
- Detroit Clears Crucial Hurdle on Bankruptcy (NYT)
The dramatic rise in support for Scottish independence is nowhere more evident than in GBPUSD implied volatility, which has soared to 3-year highs as The Guardian reports a further poll showing next week's referendum is on a knife-edge with a gap of just 1 percentage point between yes and no. As one 'Yes Scotland' representative noted, "This new Scotland could be less than a fortnight away. But we must not be complacent. The scaremongering, dissembling and misrepresentation of the no campaign will be ramped up as we approach polling day." Of course, Scotland is not the only EU nation seeking separation, as we illustrate below, and as Goldman Sachs notes, there could be a broader impact on the risk premium across Europe as Scottish independence leads to other calls for more regional autonomy.
While overnight US equity futures have done nothing notable, what everyone's attention has been fixed on, in addition to the GBP and the read-through to all things UK-ish ahead of the Scotland independence referendum, is the sudden flare up in USDJPY trading and volatility, which exploded by some 100 pips in the past 24 hours hitting fresh post-2008 highs, on what appears to be a major capital reallocation move (it surely is not driven by any news) and/or forced squeeze. What is more perplexing is the change in correlations signals, because while until recently the USDJPY was synonymous with the E-Mini, and thus the S&P, as of late the USDJPY pair has moved tick for tick with the 10Year yield: almost as if the NY Fed's favorite HFT trading shop was instructed to change its vast array of signal inputs away from the S&P and to force a gentle levitation in the 10Y.
For those just catching up on the main news event of the weekend, namely the sudden surge in Scotland "Yes" vote polling surpassing 50% for the first time, here is a complete round up of the background, updates and expert reactions from RanSquawk, Bloomberg and AFP.
"The ECB's quantitative expansion is hitting the financial system at a time when broad liquidity is also very high. The rise in excess liquidity, i.e. the residual in the model of Figure 3, is supportive of all assets outside cash, i.e. bonds, equities and real estate. The current episode of excess liquidity, which began in May 2012, appears to have been the most extreme ever in terms of its magnitude and the ECB actions have the potential to make it even more extreme, in our view.... These liquidity boosts are not without risks. We note that they risk creating asset bubbles which when they burst can destroy wealth leading to adverse economic outcomes. Asset yields are mean reverting over long periods of time and thus historically low levels of yields in bonds, equities and real estate are unlikely to be sustained forever."- JPMorgan
After being solidly ignored for weeks, suddenly the Scottish independence referendum is all anyone can talk about, manifesting itself in a plunge in the GBPUSD which ha slide over 100 pips in the past 24 hours, adding to the slide over the past week, and is now just above 1.61, the lowest since November 2013. In fact, the collapse of the unionist momentum has managed to push back overnight news from Ukraine, major Russian sanction escalations, Japan GDP as well as global trade data on the back burner. Speaking of global trade, with both China and Germany reporting a record trade surplus overnight, with the US trade deficit declining recently, and with not a single country in the past several month reporting of an increase in imports, one wonders just which planet in the solar system (or beyond) the world, which once again finds itself in a magical global trade surplus position, is exporting to?
We warned here that the "Yes" vote for Scottish Independence was a "high risk" event, and as we noted earlier, with polls indicating its a high probability and 'English' leadership in full panic mode, it is perhaps not surprising that the British Pound opened down 160pips at 10-month lows... (a 500 pip drop in 3 days)... But, didn't the clever people on TV tell us 'it was priced in'?
Even as the NATO summit began hours ago in Wales, conveniently enough (for Obama) at the venue of the 2010 Ryder Cup, so far today geopolitics has taken a backseat to the biggest event of the day - the ECB's much hyped and anticipated announcement. So anticipated in fact that even as it has been priced in for the past month, especially by BlackRock which is already calculating the Christmas bonus on its "consultancy" in implementing the ECB's ABS purchasing program and manifesting itself in record low yields across Europe's bond market, Reuters decided to milk it some more moments ago with the following blast: "Plans to launch an asset-backed securities (ABS) and covered bond purchase programme worth up to 500 billion euros are on the table at Thursday's European Central Bank policy meeting..." The notable being the size of the program, which at €500 billion, is precisely what Deutsche Bank said a week ago the size of the ABS program would be. Almost as if the bank with the world's biggest derivative exposure is helping coordinate the "Private QE"...