The Russell 2000 tumbled to its worst month since May 2012. 30 Year bond yield had the 2nd best month in a year (with the entire bond complex lower and curve flatter for 5th month in a row). Gold rallied for the month as high-yield credit spreads widened for the 2nd month in a row. US economic growth collapsed. But what really matters... what is key for the headline-makers, story-tellers, and asset-gatherers... is that the Dow Jones Industrial touched new record highs. On the day, early equity weakness gave way to exuberant buying as the Fed admitted its forecast for Q1 was shit but everything it says about the future is spot on - stocks urged, the Dow hit new all-time-highs (and green for the year) but once that level was hit, stocks began to fade but were rescued by the always-happy-to-help 330 Ramp which closed us at record highs and green year-to-date. By the close, the day saw Stocks Up, Bonds Up, Gold Unch, USD Down
Following last month's biggest miss in a year, Chicago PMI resurged to its highest level (and biggest beat) since October 2013. Optimism is rife in the report as the rise in new orders and production is now instantly extrapolated into escape velocity growth (as opposed to catch-up demand). Prices Paid dropped... which is odd if there's so much awesome demand? Employment improved, but did not offset March's decline. Of course, the 5 standard deviation beat of expectations is now considered the new normal...
Since it's not Tuesday (the only day that matters for stocks, of course), call it opposite, or rather stop hunt take out, day. First, it was the BOJ which, as we warned previously, would disappoint and not boost QE (sorry SocGen which had expected an increase in monetization today, and now expects nothing more from the BOJ until year end), which sent the USDJPY sliding, only to see the pair make up all the BOJ announcement losses and then some; and then it was Europe, where first German retail sales cratered, printing at -1.9%, down from 2.0% and on expectations of a 1.7% print, and then Eurozone inflation once again missed estimates, and while rising from the abysmal 0.5% in March printed at only 0.7% - hardly the runaway inflation stuff Draghi is praying for. What happened then: EURUSD tumbled then promptly rebounded a la the flash crash, and at last check was trading near the high of the day.
The coming week will be busy in terms of data releases in the US; highlights include an improvement in consumer confidence, anemic 1Q GDP growth, and solid non-farm payrolls (consensus expects 215K). Wednesday brings advanced 1Q GDP - consensus expected a pathetic 1.1% qoq, on the back of what Goldman scapegoats as "weather distortions and an inventory investment drag", personal consumption (consensus 1.9%), and FOMC (the meeting is not associated with economic projections or a press conference). Thursday brings PCE Core (consensus 0.20%). Friday brings non-farm payrolls (consensus of 215K) and unemployment (6.6%). Other indicators for the week include pending home sales, S&P/Case Shiller home price index, Chicago PMI, ADP employment, personal income/spending, and hourly earnings.
The early session risk on trade, which materialized after the Pfizer confirmation it was seeking to buy AstraZeneca, and which sent the GBPUSD to its highest level since 2009, and also sent the EURUSD and EURJPY soaring in the process lifting US equity futures, has started to fizzle on the most recent news out of Ukraine, where the pro-Russian mayor of Ukraine's second largest city of Kharkiv was shot in the back in an apparent assassination attempt, which happened hours before the US is set to announce more sanctions against the Kremlin and its closest financial oligarchs. As a result, futures have pared gaisn modestly, especially since AstraZeneca made it clear with its initial reponse it has no interest in Pfizer's offer in its current format.
It has been exactly six days in which algos, reversing the most recent drop in the S&P with buying sparked by a casual Nikkei leak that the BOJ may, wink wink, boost its QE (subsequently denied until such time as that rumor has to be used again), have pushed the market higher in the longest buying streak since September, ignoring virtually every adverse macroeconomic news, and certainly ignoring an earnings season that is set to be the worst since 2012. Today, the buying streak may finally end on rumors even the vacuum tubes are scratching their glassy heads if more buying on bad or no news makes any sense now that even the likes of David Einhorn is openly saying the second tech bubble has arrived. Keep an eye on the USDJPY which has had seen some rather acute "trapdoor" action in early trading and is approaching 102 after breaching its 55-DMA technical support of 102.38. If the support is broken here we go again on the downside. Keep an eye on biotechs and GILD in particular - if the early strength reverts into more selling again (after the two best days for the biotech space in 30 months), the most recent euphoria phase is now over.
Goldman Sachs forecasts a 200k increase in non-farm payrolls for March - in line with consensus - and believe last month's 175k print supports the ongoing positive trend (in light of the weather effect). Key employment indicators looked mixed-to-better in March, and despite the continued cold temperatures, less extreme weather conditions overall should give an additional boost to job gains this month. Citi suggests the weather could have knocked 172k off payrolls overall from Dec to Jan and are more hopeful, expecting a 240k print. Their biggest fear, a greater than 275k print (which is the high bar that Joe Lavorgna has set) could see asset markets reacting badly (on the basis of quicker Fed tightening).
Among the key overnight events was the February Euro area unemployment report, which was unchanged at 11.9%, lower than the 12% median estimate; in Italy it rose to a record 13% while in Germany the locally defined jobless rate for March stayed at the lowest in at least two decades Euro zone PMI held at 53 in February, unchanged from January and matching median estimate in a Bloomberg survey HSBC/Markit’s China PMI fell to 48 in March, the lowest reading since July, from 48.5 in February; a separate PMI from the government, with a larger sample size, was at 50.3 from 50.2 the previous month NATO foreign ministers meet today to discuss their next steps after Putin began withdrawing forces stationed on Ukraine’s border Gazprom raised prices for Ukraine 44% after a discount deal expired, heaping financial pressure on the government in Kiev as it negotiates international bailouts.
"But it must be the weather", we are sure, will be the cry of a thousand economists whose meterologist forecasts just got torn up. Chicago PMI just missed expectations by the most in a year and tumbled to its lowest since August as it appears knowing what the weather was like in March did nothing for analysts' ability to comprehend the awful reality of the underlying economy. The business barmoter has been falling since October (pre-weather) but this month saw the employment sub-index collapsed to 50 (from 59.3), prices paid dropped, and new orders tumbled to the lowest since August. However, rest assured that all will be well, as the survey reports, "Panellists, though, were optimistic about the future."
- US, Russia talks fail to end Ukraine deadlock (AP)
- Russian forces 'gradually withdrawing' from Ukraine border (AFP)
- Turkish PM Erdogan tells enemies they will pay price after poll (Reuters)
- And Goldman arrives: Credit markets open to Argentina for first time in years (Reuters)
- Regulators Twice Failed to Open GM Probes (WSJ)
- Bad loan writedowns soar at China banks (FT)
- Investors Breathe Life Into European Banks' Bad Loans (WSJ)
- Euro zone inflation drops to lowest since 2009 (Reuters)
- Yellowstone National Park rattled by largest earthquake in 34 years (Reuters)
After ramping in overnight trading, following the spike in Japanese stocks following another batch of disappointing economic data out of the land of the rising sun and setting Abenomics which sent the USDJPY, and its derivative Nikkei225 surging, US equity futures have pared some of the gains in what now appears a daily phenomenon. Keep in mind, the pattern over the past 6 consecutive days has been to ramp stocks into the US open, followed by a determined fade all the way into the close, led by "growthy" stocks and what appears to be an ongoing unwind of a hedge fund basket by one or more entities. Could the entire market be pushed lower because one fund is unwinding (or liquidiating)? Normally we would say no, but with liquidity as non-existant as it is right now, nothing would surprise us any more.
Dispassionate look at next week's calendar.
With the Ukraine now openly appealing to the world to halt what in its own words is a Russian invasion, it only made sense that after the bigger than expected downward revision to Q4 GDP, and the miss in Pending Home Sales, that the S&P would close at a new all time high
In a stunning turn of events, Chicago, where the bulk of the polar vortex impact was felt in the past month, apparently experienced zero negative economic impact from, you know, the weather, after moments ago the Chicago PMI February print blew away forecasts of a 56.4 print, and after printing at 59.6 in January in fact rose to 59.8, just shy of the highest sellside forecast of 60. Because after beating expectations 5 times in a row why not make it six.
- Yuan suffers biggest weekly loss as PBOC punishes speculators (Reuters)
- Euro Gains as Bonds Decline With Stocks on Inflation Data (BBG)
- Biggest Sovereign Fund Forced to Sell Stocks as Mandate Breached (BBG)
- Because we don't already have enough fried foods.. (Reuters)
- Putin: Russia to Consider Aid to Ukraine (AP)
- Wall Street Hates JPMorgan Fee for $1 Trillion Junk Loans (BBG)
- Yellen Sticks to Plan Amid Weather Doubts (WSJ)
- U.S. Retail Chains See First Profit Decline Since Recession (BBG)