Following this morning's ISM Milwaukee disappointment, missing for the 8th month sof the last 9 (printing 47.67 vs 50.00 exp and hovering at 2 year lows) with production and prices plunging, Chicago PMI just printed a slightly disappointing 54.4 (against expectations of 54.5). After last month's surprise bounce, this slowdown suggests there is little to no momentum in any 'recovery' stemming from a Q2 bounce. Weakness under the surface is broad and as purchasers warned "failure of New Orders to materialize "within the next few weeks" could put firms at risk of being over-inventoried and curtail producton levels." Perhaps most worrying though is the 4th consecutive contraction in employment... but the recovery? Judging by the market's response - it appears bad news is now bad news.
It's a busy week for the market, and not to mention the Dow Jones-dependent Fed, which will have to parse through reports on Chicago PMI, Construction Spending, ISM (Mfg and Services), ADP, Productivity and Labor Costs, Factory Orders, Trade Balance, and the weekly highlight: Friday's Jobs reports.
Yesterday, the FT triumphantly proclaimed: "Beijing abandons large-scale share purchases", and that instead of manipulating stocks directly as China did last week on Thursday and Friday, China would instead focus on punishing sellers, shorters, and various other entities. We snickered, especially after the Shanghai Composite opened down 2% and dropped as low as 4% overnight. Just a few hours later we found out that our cynical skepticism was again spot on: the moment the afternoon trading session opened, the "National Team's" favorite plunge protection trade, the SSE 50 index of biggest companies, went super-bid and ramped from a low of 2071 to close 140 points higher, ending trading with a last minute government-facilitated surge, and pushing the Composite just 0.8% lower after trading down as much as -4.0%.
While many labor market indicators were softer in July, some important service sector indicators, such as ISM nonmanufacturing employment, were significantly stronger; and on balance, they expect job growth roughly consistent with the 223k increase in June. The participation rate showed a surprising drop of 0.3pp in June to 62.6% - due in large part from a calendar effect caused by the timing of the reference week relative to the end of the school year - they therefore expect an at least partial rebound in July.
It appears Chicago businesses are immune to the vaguaries of the worst quarterly wage growth in US history. Following significant weakness earlier in the year, Chicago PMI surged to 54.7, the second highest in 2015, smashing expectations of a 50.8 print. Having flashed its recessionary warning lights, while 7 underlying factors improved led by increased production and new orders (and prices paid), employment continued to fall (though at a slower pace). After missing in July's preliminary print (93.3 vs 94.0), UMich consumer sentiment final print for July dropped even further to 93.1, heading back towards the lows of the year as hope plunged from 87.8 to 84.1 - the lowest since Nov 2014.
In a repeat of Thursday's action, Chinese stocks which had opened about 1% lower, remained underwater for most of the session before attempting a feeble bounce which took the Shanghai Composite fractionally into the green, before the now traditional last hour action which this time failed to maintain the upward momentum and the last day of the month saw a surge in volume which dragged the market to its lows before closing roughly where it opened, -1.13% lower. This caps the worst month for Chinese stocks since since August 2009, as the government struggles to rekindle investor interest amid a $3.5 trillion rout, one which has sent the Shanghai market lower by 15% - the biggest loss among 93 global benchmark gauges tracked by Bloomberg.
Last week was a complete dead zone for US macro, however with the peak of Q2 earnings season there was more than enough commotion for everyone. This week US macro starts to pick up again, with Durable Goods on Monday, followed by Case Shiller, Q2 GDP, the Chicago PMI, various consumer confidence indices, and of course, the July FOMC meeting on Wednesday.
It all started in China, where as we noted previously, the Shanghai Composite plunged by 8.5% in closing hour, suffering its biggest one day drop since February 2007 and the second biggest in history. The Hang Seng, while spared the worst of the drubbing, was also down 3.1%. There were numerous theories about the risk off catalyst, including fears the PPT was gradually being withdrawn, a decline in industrial profits, as well as an influx in IPOs which drained liquidity from the market. At the same time, Nikkei 225 (-0.95%) and ASX 200 (-0.16%) traded in negative territory underpinned by softness in commodity prices.
Despite much hopeful banter among the mainstream media, Goldman forecast nonfarm payroll job growth of 220k in June, notably below consensus expectations of 234k. This is roughly in line with Goldman's expectations for below average job growth over the remainder of 2015. Employment indicators were mixed in June: reported job availability, the employment components of most manufacturing surveys, and ADP employment growth improved, but jobless claims and job cuts both rose slightly and online job ads declined. Overall, the June data point to a gain below the very strong 280k increase in May.
So much going on that by the time an article is prepared, everything has changed and it has to be scarpped. But, in any event, here is an attempt to summarize all that has happened in another turbulent overnight session.
Chicago PMI has now missed 4 of the last 5 months and printed sub-50 contractionary indications for 4 of the last 5 months. June's data improved from May (rising from 46.2 to 49.4) but missed expectations and is the weakest June print since 2008. Notably, away from 2015, June's print is the weakest since September 2009. Under the covers it was ugly - employment plunged to the weakest since Nov 2009, order backlogs plunges to the lowest since September 2009, and prices paid rose again (pressuring margins).
The Greek D-(efault) day has arrived, and with it so has quarter-end window dressing for many underwater hedge funds (recall the S&P is now red for the 2015) which means the rumor mill today will be off the charts. And sure enough, less than an hour ago, futures exploded higher as did the EURUSD, following another "report/rumor" of a last minute detente between Greece and the Troika when Greek Ekahtimerini said that "Tsipras is reconsidering the last-ditch offer made by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, sources have told Kathimerini."
At the open, Europe looked in the abyss, and with no help coming from China, it did not like what it saw: And then the answer came from the Swiss National Bank, which stepped in to prevent the collapse just as Europe was opening. Because seemingly out of nowhere, a tremendous bid came in to life the EURCHF, buying Euros (against the CHF and the USD) and selling Europe's last left safety currency. We now know that it was the SNB, the same central bank which is the proud owner of well over $1 billion in Apple stock.
What to expect next week.
Currently, there are things occurring that are very troublesome, and in more normal times, would likely already have investors heading for cover. However, in today's liquidity fueled, Central Bank supported environment, that has yet to be the case. The reason was best described recently by Dr. Robert Shiller "I call this the 'new normal' boom ó it's a funny boom in asset prices because it's driven not by the usual exuberance but by an anxiety." What happens next is only a guess. However, historically, it hasn't been the outcome that investors were hoping for. But then again, maybe "bearish bull" isn't as much of an oxymoron as it is just a warning.