There was more good news for the UK economy this morning; the unemployment rate dropped to 7.1% during the three months to December - the biggest ever quarterly increase in employment. This follows the IMF this week raising its (admittedkly terrible track record-based) forecast for the UK economy; it now expects it to grow 2.4% this year which is faster than any other major European economy. Nick Beecroft, Chairman of Saxo Capital Markets UK, is “optimistic” about Britain’s recovery, but has three concerns...
- Winter Storm Expected to Make Northeast Commutes Harder (BBG)
- Invasion of Spanish Builders Angers France Struggling to Compete (BBG)
- Toronto mayor, caught ranting on video, admits drinking a 'little bit" (Reuters)
- IBM's Hardware Woes Accelerate in Fourth Quarter (WSJ)
- Sharp Divisions Come to Fore as Peace Talks on Syria Begin (NYT)
- Afghanistan cracks down on advertising in favor of U.S. troops (Reuters)
- Microsoft CEO Search Rattles Boards From Ford to Ericsson (BBG)
- Banks Sit Out Riskier Deals (WSJ)
- Netflix Seen Reporting U.S. Web Users Reach 33.1 Million (BBG)
With all eyes gloating over Ireland's recent ability to issue debt in the capital markets once again (and now with 10Y trading only 40bps above US Treasuries), Europe's game of distraction continues. However, while spreads (and yields) tumble in all the PIIGS, with Italian yields at almost 7-year lows, it is perhaps surprising to some that Italian bad loan rates are at their highest on record. Having risen at a stunning 23% year-over-year - its fastest in 2 years, Italian gross non-performing loans (EUR149.6 billion) as a proportion of total lending rose to 7.8% in November (up from 6.1% a year earlier). As the Italian Banking Association admits in a statement today, deposits are declining (-1.9% YoY) and bonds sold to clients (-9.4% YoY) as Italy's bank clients with bad loans have more than doubled since 2008.
A number of readers have recently suggested there must be collusion between America and China over the transfer of physical gold from Western capital markets. They assume that governments know what they are doing, so there is a bigger game afoot of which we are unaware.
The truth is that China and Western capital markets view gold very differently and with very different philosophies about gold.
Next time you cry over your paycheck or you scrimp and scrape to find the extra few dollars to finish the month, remember that admittedly money doesn’t grow on trees…
Markets have started the week on the back foot, despite a brief rally following a better-than-expected Q4 GDP print in China. Indeed, Asian equities recorded a small pop following the GDP report, but the gains were shortlived as the general negativity on China’s growth trajectory continues to weigh on Asian markets. In terms of the data itself, China’s Q4 GDP (7.7% YoY) was slightly ahead of expectations of 7.6% but it was slower than Q3’s 7.8%. DB’s China economist Jun Ma maintains his view that economic growth will likely accelerate in 2014 on stronger external demand and the benefits from deregulation. The slight slowdown was also evident in China’s December industrial production (9.7% YoY vs 10% previous), fixed asset investment (19.6% YoY vs 19.9% previous) and retail sales (13.6% vs 13.7% previous) data which were all released overnight. Gains in Chinese growth assets were quickly pared and as we type the Shanghai Composite (-0.8%), HSCEI (-1.1%) and AUDUSD (-0.1%) are all trading weaker on the day. On a more positive note, the stocks of mining companies BHP (+0.29%) and Rio Tinto (+0.26%) are trading flat to slightly firmer and LME copper is up 0.1%. Across the region, equities are generally trading lower paced by the Nikkei (-0.5%) and the Hang Seng (-0.7%). Staying in China, the 7 day repo rate is another 50bp higher to a three month high of 9.0% with many investors continuing to focus on the Chinese shadow banking system following the looming restructuring of a $500m trust product that was sold to ICBC’s customers.
Altogether, of the 1881 days starting on November 25, 2008 and continuing through January 19, 2014, the Fed has directly and unambiguously intervened in the markets for a total of 1592 days. It was not been directly involved in the market for a tiny 289 days. In sum: the New Normal is best characterized by a Federal Reserve which has been actively manipulating the equity "market" 85% of the time.
Moments ago The Hill reported that what many thought was absolutely impossible, may in fact become a reality: President Obama is considering issuing an executive order (#394,039,993,837?) to raise the minimum wage for Federal Workers... and in the process - with the help of that other central planner par excellence Bern-ellen - lap all those other Banana republics that everyone so enjoys making fun of.
The positive momentum in equities slowed in Asian trading with losses seen on the Nikkei (-0.4%), and HSCEI , the SCHOMP unchanged and EM indices such as the Nifty (-
0.1%). In Australia, a disappointing December employment report saw a 23k fall in jobs for the month against consensus expectations of rise of 10k. The 10yr Australian government bond has rallied 5bp and the front end is outperforming as a number of investors expect the RBA to continue its easing bias over 2014. AUDUSD has sold off -1.1% to a three year low of 0.881. The ASX200 closed up 1.2% however, boosted by mining-giant Rio Tinto (+2%) who reported better than anticipated Q4 production. Amid recent fears of a Chinese growth deceleration, Rio Tinto reported record levels of production of iron-ore, coal and bauxite. In FX, USDJPY is finding further support in Asia, adding 0.1% to yesterday’s 0.38% gain to trade not too far from the 105 level. Which is also why the S&P futures are trading modestly lower: without a major breakout in the Yen carry, there can't be a sustained ramp in the US stock market which is driven entirely by the value of the Yen, which in turn is a reflection of the expectations of future BOJ easing.
Yesterday, Deutsche's Jim Reid was kind enough to put modern capital markets in their most proper context: "in these artificial markets the percentages are skewed towards the bulls for now." Today, for everyone confused how to navigate the "artificial market", Reid has the much needed explanation. To wit: "So far this year markets have gone down on good data, gone up on good data, gone down on concerns over weaker data and also gone up on weaker data."
And now you know everything there is to "know."
- House Unveils $1.01 Trillion Measure to Fund Government (BBG)
- Credit Suisse Tells Junior Bankers to Take Saturdays Off (BBG)
- Spot the odd word out: ECB Sees Bad-Debt Rules as Threat to Credible Bank Review (BBG)
- Insert laugh track here: Spain GDP grows at fastest pace in almost six years (FT)
- Scandinavian Debt Crisis Waiting to Happen Puzzles Krugman (BBG)
- Fed Said to Release Plan to Limit Banks’ Commodities Activities (BBG)
- Thai Protesters Extend Blockade After Rejecting Poll Talks (BBG)
- China provinces set lower growth goals for 2014 (BBG)
It's just sad now: with every passing day bringing new (and previously unseen) cases of high frequency trading algo-generated market halts or crashes, that none of the regulators are willing to take a stand against this market scourge that we have written about for nearly 5 years now, is a clear indication that the HFT lobby is firmly in control of what were once "capital markets" and that the retail investor is once again, the sacrificial lamb. But while it was one thing for the high freak thugs to control marginal price action through momentum ignition, quote stuffing, hide not slide, flash trades, and all the other well-known manipulative techniques which seemingly are too complicated for the SEC to figure out, in equities where things get really bad is when HFTs start crashing, or at least halting, the bond market at key market inflection points such as during the most important monthly data release, the payrolls release. This is precisely what happened on Friday, when as Nanex clearly shows, a momentum ignition algo sent the ZF (5 Year T-Note future) soaring and resulting in a 5 second - an eternity in today's nanosecond age - trading halt during the actual release of the BLS report.
When it comes to forecasts and outlooks for 2014 (or 2013, or 2012, or 2011, etc), there is no way one can't be tired of the endless Keynesian drivel which the sellside bombards its gullible client base, which can be summarized as follows: "this is the year when the central bank strategies, which have failed to boost the global economy for the past 5 years, will finally work and the economy picks up - yes, this time will be different, we promise. Oh, and 'if' we are wrong (again), well just blame it on cold weather in the winter, or warm weather in the summer and if need be, delay the 'recovery" to the following year, while blaming the lack of insufficient stimulus - because $1 trillion in balance sheet expansion per year is obviously not enough." Rinse. Repeat. One would think spinning the same yarn year after year, they would get it right purely by luck at this point. Alas, they haven't. So for everyone tired of listening to the same old broken record, here is a completely different "Austrian" perspective, one shared by Scotiabank's Guy Haselmann.
Is it all about expectations about tapering, again?
Despite an apparent belief among the US mainstream media that 'taper' is priced in, Saxo Capital Markets warns that Emerging Market countries with large current account deficits like Brazil, India, South Africa, Indonesia, and Turkey face increasing problems. As the following chart shows (and highlghted most recently by Brazil's highest FX outflows since 2002!) could see their currencies weaken even further if the Fed's taper plans result in a deterioration of global risk appetite.