Commodity Futures Trading Commission
It was not until Friday, April 22, over a week after the Deutsche Bank gold rigging settlement news broke, that the CFTC's press office admitted what many had speculated, when he said he was unaware of the Deutsche Bank story and could find no reference to it in the commission's compendium of news reports of interest to the commission's work. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the "US commodity" regulator hard at work.
If asking traders where stocks and oil would be trading one day after a weekend in which the Doha OPEC meeting resulted in a spectacular failure, few if any would have said the S&P would be over 2,100, WTI would be back over $40 and the VIX would be about to drop to 12 and yet that is precisely where the the S&P500 is set to open today, hitting Goldman's year end target 8 months early, and oblivious of the latest batch of poor earnings news, this time from Intel and Netflix, both of which are sharply lower. We expect that after taking out any 2,100 stops, the S&P will then make a solid effort to take out all time highs, now just over 1% away.
Well, that didn't take long.
In a stunning victory for "conspiracy theorists" within the precious metals space, overnight Deutsche Bank not only agreed to settle a lawsuit accusing it of manipulating the silver fix, but also agreed to help the plaintiffs pursue similar claims against other banks as part of the settlement by providing instant messages and other communications. And so the former cartel members are turning on each other.
What's a Couple Hundred Trillion Benjamins Between Friends?
According to Bloomberg, the market is the most short since 2008. Which is odd... because according to a report released this morning by UBS, while there are allegedly record shorts, the market is somehow, at the very same time, the most overbought since 2009.
The "smart money" have been net sellers of US stocks for the ninth consecutive week.
Investors are positioning for a market reversal based on leveraged positions in volatility funds.
Oil bulls never jumped on board the latest rally.
The CS Fear Barometer remains elevated
It is now official: as crude soared 50% since Feb. 11, Bloomberg writes, the number of bets on increased prices has barely budged. "Instead, the upward pressure on prices appears to have come from traders cashing out of bearish wagers at an unprecedented pace. The liquidation of short positions during the last seven weeks covered by data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission was the largest on record."
“Your urgent assistance is greatly appreciated! My Governor would like to draw from your good experience."
While Asia was up on China's bad data, and Europe was higher again this morning to catch up for the Friday afternoon US surge, US equity futures may have finally topped off and are now looking at this week's critical data, namely the BOJ's decision tomorrow (where Kuroda is expected to do nothing), and the Fed's decision on Wednesday where a far more "hawkish announcement" than currently priced in by the market, as Goldman warned last night, is likely, in what would put an end to the momentum and "weak balance sheet" rally.
- Europe shrugs off pre-G20 China stocks slump, sterling steadies (Reuters)
- China Unveils Its Deliverables for G-20 -- And No Plaza Pact (BBG)
- Foreign Money Could Be Slow to Enter China’s Bond Markets (WSJ)
- China Urged to Stomach Much Higher Fiscal Deficit (WSJ)
- Trump's Momentum Has Republicans in Congress Confused and Cowed (BBG)
With the "generals" finally meeting their reality-maker, investors appear to be questioning the DotCom bubble-like highs as momentum collapses. "Exuberance has turned to panic pretty quickly," notes one asset manager and after a very rapid plunge in recent days, options traders are piling into protection at a pace not seen since Q4 2008.
Amid denied rumors of production cuts (and Goldman's dismissal), crude oil prices have jumped "August 2015 Andy Hall squeeze style" to 3-week highs. This 'change' in trend has hedge funds calling the bottom once again adding to bullish oil bets at the fastest pace since 2010 in the last week. However, most ironically, it appears the weak longs are being squeezed today as WTI crashes 6%.
It may not be as sexy as gold and silver, but sometimes even doctor copper needs a little squeeze and corner love as well, and according to Bloomberg, that is precisely what someone is trying to do. One company whose identity is unknown, is "hoarding as much as half the copper available in warehouses tracked by the London Metal Exchange."
To the extent we believed there might be a shred of honesty and/or dignity buried somewhere in the bowels of the government body tasked with policing the derivatives market, our hopes were dashed on Tuesday when we learned that the Commission’s auditor has withdrawn “nearly a decade” of financial opinions after discovering that the books may be cooked.