If US consumers were miraculously supposed to regain all their confidence when the government reopened (even if companies completely ignored said shutdown according to the epic jump in the Chicago PMI - the biggest jump in 30 years), so far that has failed to happen based on the latest weekly Bloomberg consumer comfort index, which moments ago hit -37.6 down from -36.1 a week earlier, its lowest print since October 2012. With this drop the index has extended its five-week retreat that accelerated during the federal government’s partial shutdown and has slowed – but not stopped – in the two weeks since. Today the index is 21.3 points worse than its long-term average and 6.3 points worse than this year’s average. And what is more worrisome for The Fed, they have lost "the rich" as the comfort of the highest income survey participants has fallen to its lowest in 7 months - collapsing back to its 'normalized' divide with the 'poor'.
Sometimes you just have to laugh... Chicago, it would seem, felt not just no bad impact from the government shutdown (that so many asset managers and CEOs have proclaimed as the reason for any slowdown - and the need to avoid a Taper) but it roared to its highest since March 2011. This blew expectations away by the most on record (8-sigma). New orders are at the highest level since October 2004. October’s advance in the Barometer was its biggest monthly increase in over 30 years and only the third time in the past decade the Barometer has risen for four consecutive months. US equities are not happy about this apparent 'taper-on' improvement (and have dropped 8 points on the release) - though it appears seasonals are playing a major part.
In addition to the bevy of ugly European unemployment and inflation news just reported, the overnight session had a dollop of more ugly macro data for the algos to kneejerkingly react to and ramp stocks to fresh time highs on. First it was China, where the PBOC did another reverse repo, however this time at a fixed 4.3% rate, 0.2% higher than the Monday iteration and well above the 3%-handle from early October, indicating that China is truly intent on tightening its monetary conditions. Then Japan confirmed that despite the soaring imported food and energy inflation, wages just refuse to rise, and have declined now for nearly 1.5 years. Then, adding core insult to peripheral injury, Germany reported retail sales that missed expectations of a +0.4% print wildly, declining -0.4% from a prior downward revised 0.5% to -0.2%. And so on: more below. However, as usual what does matter is how the market digests the FOMC news, and for now the sense is that the risk of a December taper has risen based on the FOMC statement language, whether warranted or not, which as a result is pushing futures modestly lower following an epic move higher in the month of October on nothing but pure balance sheet and multiple expansion. The big data week in the US rolls on with the highlights being the Chicago PMI and initial jobless claims, which are expected to print their first accurate, non-impaired reading since August.
In the upcoming week, the key event is the US FOMC, though we and the consensus do not expect any key decisions to be taken. Though a strengthening of forward guidance is still possible, virtually nobody expects anything of import to be announced until the Dec meeting. In the upcoming week we also have five more central bank meetings in addition to the FOMC: Japan, New Zealand, India, Hungary and Israel. In Hungary we, in line with consensus, expect a 20bps cut to 3.40% in the policy rate. In India consensus expects a 25bps hike in the repo rate to 7.75%. On the data front, US IP, retail sales and pending home sales are worth a look, but the key release will be the ISM survey at the end of the week, together with manufacturing PMIs around the world. US consumer confidence is worth a look, given the potential impact from the recent fiscal tensions.
Just as it is easy being a weatherman in San Diego ("the weather will be... nice. Back to you"), so the same inductive analysis can be applied to another week of stocks in Bernanke's centrally planned market: "stocks will be... up." Sure enough, as we enter October's last week where the key events will be the conclusion of the S&P earnings season and the October FOMC announcement (not much prop bets on a surprise tapering announcement this time), overnight futures have experienced the latest off the gates, JPY momentum ignition driven melt up.
While hardly as followed as the other two key US manufacturing indices, the Mfg ISM and the Chicago PMI, the recently introduced Markit PMI, which comes from the same firm that tracks manufacturing data across the rest of the world, shows that in addition to the sliding job picture in September (and soon October), one other aspect of the US economy that took a big hit in October was manufacturing. As Markit just reported, "the U.S. manufacturing sector grew at its weakest pace for a year in October... based on approximately 85% of usual monthly survey replies. The flash PMI index registered 51.1, down from 52.8 in September, and was consistent with only a modest rate of expansion." Not only was this the lowest headline print in one year, and should the drop continue it would be the worst print since 2009, not only was the New Order index had its weakest number in 6 months, but worst of all, the Output index, plunging from 55.3 to 49.5, had its first contrationary print since 2009!
For the first time in 4 months, Chicago PMI printed better than expected with its highest level since May. Production and New Orders rose but in keeping with the new normal, the employment sub index fell for the 3rd month in a row to 5 month lows. It seems the good news that was "expected" as the market ramped higher into the release has been stymied by good news is bad news reality as all the opening ramp gains have faded.
In the upcoming week markets will continue to focus on these fiscal issues in the US, now that a temporary Government shutdown past Tuesday is assured. Still on the fiscal side but outside the US, look forward to Prime Minister Abe announcing his final decision on the VAT hike as well as unveiling a widely anticipated economic stimulus package. Finally, fiscal policy also played a role in the Italian political instability with four ministers resigning from the coalition Government. The backdrop to these events is a rapid deterioration of the political climate after former PM Berlusconi was convicted of tax evasion by a High Court.
European equities trade negatively as political tensions on both sides of the Atlantic dampens risk appetite and a lower than expected HSBC manufacturing PMI figure from China further weighs upon investor sentiment. In the US, government is on the precipice of the first shutdown since 1996 after House Republicans refused to pass a budget unless it involved a delay to Obama’s signature healthcare reforms. If the Republicans follow through with their threat a shutdown will occur at midnight tonight. As a result a fixed income in the US and core Europe benefit with investors wary of the immediate harm a shutdown will do to confidence in the economy.
One week after we released the following damning evidence (below) of fraud in the "markets", CNBC has now claimed their scoop. Crucially, it seems, after reading Nanex's concise explanation of the proof of fraud, the Fed has now launched a probe into the release of its own FOMC statements. ... Our question then is, unless Nanex and ZeroHedge had pointed out this obvious cheat, would the fraudsters still be considered too big to care about special relativity, and if a fallen HFT tree collapses its wave function in the forest, and nobody reports, did an HFT tree just fall?
One of Einstein's great contributions to mankind was the theory of relativity, which is based on the fact that there is a real limit on the speed of light. Too bad that the bad guys on Wall Street who pulled off The Great Fed Robbery didn't pay attention in science class. Because, as Nanex shows below, hard evidence, along with the speed of light, proves that someone got the Fed announcement news before everyone else. There is simply no way for Wall Street to squirm its way out of this one...
The headline Chicago PMI, as leaked by the subscribers when it was released at 9:52 am, came just as expected at 53.0. And once again the story, if any, was in the components, with New Orders rising from 53.9 and Inventories finally increasing from 37.7 to 45, however this was offset by a decline in Employment from 56.6 to 54.9, a 4 month low. Perhaps the most notable line from the release is that some respondents reported "supply chain disruptions" - one wonders how much this is due to the recent and ongoing drubbing in emerging markets.
Overnight, the market continued to digest news out of the UK that the formerly solid pro-war alliance has splintered following a historic vote by the House of Commons, leaving Obama to "go it alone." The result was a rather sizable slamdown in both crude and gold, accelerating as Europe opened for trading, and pushing gold back under $1400. This happened even as data out of Europe showed that European unemployment remained at a record high 12.1%, while inflation missed expectations and printed at 1.3%, or below 2% for the seventh month. Earlier in the session, headline data out of Japan showed that inflation had risen at the fastest pace since 2008. However, before the deflation monster is proclaimed dead, the core-core figure (excluding foods and energy) of the Tokyo CPI was down 0.4% yoy, unchanged since June for three months, suggesting that prices are still largely driven by energy-related costs. In other words cost-push inflation is rampant, which is the worst possible scenario and means the BOJ's QE is going to all the wrong place.
A quiet week to send off August ahead of a deluge of key data next week and as the fateful Septembr 18 FOMC announcement approaches. Still, quite a few macro events to keep track of.
Last week it was the Nasdaq, today it was the Eurex Exchange, which broke down "due to technical issues" shortly after 2 am Eastern and which was offline for over an hour. Further keeping a lid on liquidity and upward momentum is today's UK market holiday which has resulted in a driftless move lower across European stocks, following a red close in the Nikkei225. It only means that the inevitable ramp up in the disconnected from all fundamentals and reality market will have to come only during US trading hours when the NY Fed trading desk steps up its POMO-aided levitation.
Next weeks events placed within the larger context.