As pensions dry up and blow away under the relentless erosion of the Federal Reserve's zero-interest rate policy (ZIRP), unaffordable property taxes may well start evicting homeowners from the "asset" they mistakenly thought they "owned." If your Social Security pension can barely pay your property tax, never mind your Medicare, healthcare costs, food and other living expenses, then what exactly do you own? If politicos and tax authorities think people will passively watch their neighbors lose their homes to sky-high property taxes, they will soon discover their mistake.
For those who thought that the world's biggest company losing over $40 billion in market cap in an instant on disappointing Apple earnings, would have been sufficient to put a dent in US equity futures, we have some disappointing news: with just over 7 hours until the FOMC reveals its April statement, futures are practically unchanged, even though the Nasdaq appears set for an early bruising in the aftermath of what is becoming a disturbing quarter for tech companies. Instead of tech leading, however, the upside has once again come from the energy complex where moments ago WTI rose above $45 a barrel for the first time since November after yesterday's unexpected 1.07 million barrel API inventory drawdown.
For the 5th month in a row (and 10th of last 11), S&P Case-Shiller Home Price growth YoY missed expectations. February saw prices rise 5.38% (below 5.5% exp) which is the weakest annual growth since September 2015. Seattle and San Francisco rose the most MoM as Cleveland and New York saw the biggest drops MoM.
With the Fed decision just one day away, followed the very next day by the increasingly more irrational BOJ, stocks had no desire to make significant moves and overnight's boring session was the result, as European stocks and U.S. index futures rose modestly but mostly hugged the flatline while Asian declined 0.2% for a third day as raw-material shares declined and Tokyo equities slumped before central bank meetings in the U.S. and Japan this week. China’s stocks rose the most in almost two weeks, up 0.6% but failed to rise above 3000 on the Shanghai Composite, in thin trading.
The April FOMC gathering headlines a crowded economic events calendar this week. The post-meeting statement, released Wednesday afternoon, should continue to strike a cautious tone. There will be no press conference and updated economic and financial forecasts will not be released. Few expect the FOMC to add the “balance of risks” sentence back into its communiqué at this point. Doing so would be quite bearish for risk assets as it would definitely open the door for a June rate hike.
At the end of the day, it was all about the dollar and the reason for this morning's stock surge around the globe, as we noted last night, is absurdly delightful: Yellen signaled "weakening world growth" and "less confidence in the renormalization process." In other words, the "bad news is good news" mantra is back front and center.
US Home prices rose 5.75% YoY according to Case-Shiller (the fastest rate since July 2014) as it appears the Chinese buyers are migrating south from Canada with Portland, Seattle, and San Francisco reported the highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities with another month of double digit annual price increases. Home prices continue to climb at more than twice the rate of inflation amid a suply shortage as West Coast propertty markets become "Vancouvered."
With Europe back from Easter break, we are seeing a modest continuation of the dollar strength witnessed every day last week, which in turn is pressuring oil and the commodity complex, and leading to some selling in US equity futures (down 0.2% to 2024) ahead of today's main event which is Janet Yellen's speech as the Economic Club of New York at 12:20pm, an event which judging by risk assets so far is expected to be far more hawkish than dovish: after all the S&P 500 is north of 2,000 for now.
On Monday, everyone was giddy that the rally is back on. Less than two days later, the dour fatalism of some HFT algo stop hunting price action and a few comments by the Saudi oil minister, and the markets have remember than nothing has changed and that nothing has been fixed. But at least the biggest shorts squeeze in 5 years is finally over.
After four months of hope-strewn expectation beats, Case-Shiller's home price index missed expectations with MoM growth slowing from 0.96% to 0.8% (and YoY from 5.83% to 5.74%). This is the first inflection in the resurrection of home-price acceleration since June, and we are sure will be blamed on the weather and the stock market. Perhaps most notably Miami saw prices drop MoM as the smoking gun canary in the coalmine of real estate speculation remains well worth watching.
The biggest question on all traders' minds will be whether the bear market short squeeze that sent the S&P higher by 130 points in 6 days, is finally over - with most global market rolling over and with US equity futures unable to find their solid early morning footing, it may finally be time to cash out of the bear market rally which so many predicted, and which GSBank yesterday may have top-ticked with perfection.
"Nobody is really sure where we go from here, and nobody is brave enough to make the call,” Peter Dixon, Commerzbank AG’s global equities economist in London told Bloomberg. “Corporate earnings season won’t provide much of a support - markets may find a floor if the Fed is extremely dovish tonight. At least investors will have time to think and reassess valuations."
While the Case-Shiller home price index rose modestly MoM (+0.87%), it continues to disappoint expectations with the 7th consecutive miss in a row. Notably, unadjusted the monthly rise in prices was just 0.1%. Year-over-year gains of 5.8% for the top 20 cities is the fastest price appreciation since July 2014 - thanks once again to the magic of seasonal adjustments.
It has been another volatile, illiquid, whipsawed session, driven by the only two things that have mattered so far in 2016, China and oil.... and stop-hunting algos of course.
Following a rerun of September 2015, when Draghi sent market expectations about ECB action sky-high only to massively disappoint in December (we will have to wait until March to see if it is deja vu all over again) last week, this week is just as big for central bank jawboning with the FOMC (Wednesday) and the BoJ meeting on Friday, with hopes that they will at least hint of more easing if not actually do much.