While hardly a surprise, following recent speculative punditry (which failed miserably in forecasting Mark Carney as the next BOE head, something Zero Hedge predicted half a year ahead of the event due to one simple variable - he is from Goldman) and numerous trial balloons on Bernanke's successor coming hot and heavy from every direction, it was time for the Fed's own mouthpiece, Jon Hilsenrath, to speak, and bring back much needed drama and confusion.
Stocks in Europe recovered from a cautious start to the trading session and gradually edged back into positive territory, though the DAX index in Germany under performed following less than impressive earnings by SAP. Company’s shares fell around 3% after the company trimmed its outlook for 2013 software revenue, blaming slowing economic growth in China. Elsewhere, Akzo Nobel shares fell 5% in early trade after the company said that its Q2 net profit almost doubled from the same period last year thanks to the sale of its North American paints division and a tax gain. Going forward, market participants will get to digest the release of the weekly jobs report, Philadelphia Fed survey for the month of July and earnings report releases from Morgan Stanley, Verizon, BlackRock and Google. Finally, today is the second day of Bernanke's semi-annual testimony.
Bernanke today testifies on monetary policy before the House Financial Services Committee (formerly the Humphrey-Hawkins). The testimony will be released at 8:30 am NY with Q&A after his testimony. Tomorrow he testifies before the Senate Banking Committee but the prepared remarks are the same for both days. Indeed it’s likely that the Q&A will be where all the fun starts. As DB says, he will likely try to pull off the trick of continuing to prepare the groundwork for tapering but try to give bond markets something to help them fight off the pressure of higher yields. With no post-meeting press conference planned for the July 30th/31st FOMC, and Bernanke not scheduled to speak publicly until he appears at the Global Education Forum event on August 7th, this week’s testimony may well be the only remarks we hear directly from the chairman for some weeks.
Dispassionate review of some of next weeks important developments.
My muse today was from the movie Network from nearly 40 years ago. In this clip you merely need to substitute global central banks (Fed, ECB, BOE, BOJ and etc) and mega-banks (GS, JPM, C and etc) into the mix.
Gold surged 3.3% or nearly $50 from $1,248/oz to $1,298/oz after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke admitted that the U.S. economy continues to need a highly accommodative monetary policy and will do for the “foreseeable future”.
Gold climbed for a fourth day to the highest level in more than two weeks due to safe haven buying after Bernanke also admitted, what many more realistic analysts have been saying for some time, that the 7.6% unemployment rate probably "overstates the health of the labor market."
The only story this morning remains Bernanke's after hours speech, which solidly trumped the FOMC minutes in market impact, and which, in addition to ramping US equity futures to just about new all time highs, sent the EURUSD soaring by almost the same amount (+300 pips) as the actual QE1 announcement on March 18, 2009. Such is the power of verbal currency warfare, when Bernanke hasn't acutally done anything and merely hinted the Fed is as confused as ever about what to do. Of course, as Commerzbank notes this morning, the U.S. economy would have to lose a lot of momentum for the Fed to cancel tapering, and the central bank would only expand the purchase program if the economy collapses, but none of that matters to the "wealth effect" for the 1% where economic destruction simply means more wealth.
The central bank "reason" goal-seeked for today's US overnight ramp - because it sure wasn't fundamentals with both German exports (-2.4%, Exp. +0.1%) and Industrial Production (-1.0%, Exp. -0.5%) missing - was the weekend Spiegel story that despite the unanimous decision by the ECB last week to keep rates unchanged, ECB chief economist Peter Praet and Mario Draghi himself had insisted on a 25 bps rate cut. They were, however, stopped by seven council members from the northern euro states, including Weidmann, Knot and Asmussen. As a result, Draghi was steamrolled in the final vote. Yet somehow this is bullish for risk, pushing equity futures higher and peripheral debt spreads lower, even as the EURUSD has drifted higher. Of course, one can't have an even more dovish ECB as a risk on catalyst alongside a rising Euro, but who cares about news, fundamentals, or logic at this point. All that matters is that US futures are higher, which was especially needed following yet another rout in the Shanghai Composite which dropped 2.44% back under 2,000 following news that China's Finance Ministry has told central government agencies to cut expenditures by 5% this year, and a 1.4% drop in the PenNikkeiStock225 on a weaker USDJPY. Remember: all is well in the global economy (whose forecast is about to be cut by the IMF) if the US is generating a record number of part-time jobs.
Today’s AM fix was USD 1,232.75, EUR 957.40 and GBP 822.55 per ounce.
Yesterday’s AM fix was USD 1,249.50, EUR 961.15 and GBP 819.67 per ounce.
While the skeleton crew of market participants are still digesting yesterday's uber-dovish, "forward guidance" conversion by the BOE and ECB, driven in response to the Fed's increasingly tight (at least relatively) monetary policy, they now have month's biggest economic and market catalyst to look forward to. In a day which promises to be rife with illiquidity as the bulk of US market participants are within 100 feet of a sandy beach, we are about to get the number that will shape the market's mood for the next month: will the Fed's tapering planes be strengthened in response to strong NFP, or not. As Deutsche accurately points out, the curveball to throw in is that June-August numbers have tended to be seasonally weak over the whole period we have data (back 70+ years) and again over the last 10 years. Today's number is therefore going to be fascinating. A number between 150-200k is unlikely to change anyone’s opinion on the Fed whereas a number below might start to build a case for a taper delay. Above 200k and the September taper momentum will build. Such a high number (especially in a weak seasonal period) is unlikely to be great for markets but the ECB/BoE might have cushioned some of the hawkish blow for now. For the record the market is expecting 165k on payrolls and 7.5% (DB same) for unemployment. A full NFP preview post is coming shortly.
While we all eagerly await for the final 80 pips in EURUSD to trickle down before Stolper's latest "long EURUSD" masterpiece is stop lossed out in under a week and precisely in line with expectations, here comes Goldman with its latest fade reco, this time in the form of a "Top Trade for 2013" (supposedly this means an epic muppet steamrolling instead of just the occasional Kermit speed bump), namely to go long UK equities (the FTSE 100 Dec 13 futures) with a target of 7100 and a stop loss below 5950 (or 6% lower). If Stolper is any guide, this should be the easiest 6% imaginable. Of course, the hypocrisy of Goldman upgrading the UK market following its tentacle being appointed to run UK monetary policy, and the Bank Of England, with the sole purpose of boosting the UK "wealth effect" (and Goldman bonuses), does not escape us...
Since 1694 and the ensuing three centuries’ of Bank of England history, the base rate has never been this low (see chart). Draghi, emulated his fellow Goldman Sachs banker, Carney and kept rates at 0.5%. Ultra loose monetary policies involving record low base rates have been in place in the UK since March 2009, a lengthy 4½ years. In the Eurozone 0.5% record low rates have been seen since May this year.
Confused what the (non) news of today's "unprecedented" forward guidance announcement by the ECB means? Shocked that the ECB is about as dovish as it has ever been? Then SocGen is here to explain, if only for all those who are seemingly stunned that the ECB isn't planning on hiking rates, or even "tapering" any time soon.
Following BoE Carney's earlier dovishness, and purely by "coincidence" according to Draghi, the ECB has "extended forward guidance" on rates for the first time - once again changing rules and clearly indicating (in spite of his explicit comments that he is not) the ECB's reaction to Fed and BoJ instability introduced into markets. The OMT remains a ghost - but he promises its there if they need it - and negative rates are still on the table. All this jawbone easing (for critically nothing was said apart from no withdrawal of liquidity anytime soon) has sent markets surging higher on a US-market-holiday-induced low liquidity background...
The all important ECB press conference is set to begin momentarily. Will Draghi answer questions regarding the readiness of the OMT's use in Portugal whose short end has exploded this morning, or will he be forced to wait for the German court's decision first? Or maybe Draghi will finally have some comments on either the ongoing Monte Paschi scandal or the recently revealed Italian derivative debacle which took place under Draghi's watch. We somehow doubt it...
*DRAGHI SAYS ECB RATES TO STAY LOW FOR EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME
*DRAGHI: IMPROVEMENT IN FINANCIAL MARKETS SHOULD REACH ECONOMY
*DRAGHI SAYS INFLATION RATES MAY BE VOLATILE THROUGHOUT YEAR
*DRAGHI: RECENT TIGHTENING OF MARKET RATES MAY WEIGH ON GROWTH