As the market anxiously await Janet Yellen's Humphrey-Hawkins testimony this morning, hanging on every word and intonation, ConvergEx's Nick Colas is reminded of Harry Truman’s famous request: “Give me a one-handed economist!” The U.S. central bank clearly feels challenged by the cross currents of the global economy even as it reiterates confidence in domestic growth prospects. In an effort to help clear things up, Colas brings some 21st century data to the Fed’s distinctly old-school toolset and looks at the historical popularity of 10 Google search terms with a decidedly economic twist. Bottom line: the Google data is clear. The Fed needs to wait a while longer before raising interest rates.
- Yellen faces Senate grilling on Fed rate policy, transparency (Reuters)
- Big Banks Face Scrutiny Over Pricing of Metals (WSJ)
- Greece makes more concessions to euro zone, Germany sets vote (Reuters)
- Time for another executive order: Longer Lives Hit Companies With Pension Plans Hard (WSJ)
- The Syria invasion "false flag" approaches: Islamic State in Syria abducts at least 90 from Christian villages (Reuters)
- Why Lenders Love the $2.5 Million Home Loan (BBG)
- Reuters journalist Maria Golovnina dies in Pakistan aged 34 (Reuters)
- Qatar’s Ties to Militants Strain Alliance (WSJ)
There was an expectation that today's receipt by the Troika of the revised Greek "reform proposal" would send risk and the EUR higher, which is probably precisely why nothing has happened so far, and US equity futures are unchanged ahead of what the HFT algos' new attention focus is today, namely Yellen's semi-annual testimony to Congress. As a result, the only thing that has seen notable strength this morning is the USD, which has surged to 119.50 against the Yen, and briefly pushed the EURUSD under 1.1300. which also means that WTI has also gone nowhere overnight and remains under $50. One wonders just what OPEC "rumor" those long crude will leak today.
With Greece moving to the, ahem, periphery if only for a few days/hours, this week the US calendar returns to the forefront with Fed Chair Yellen’s semi-annual monetary policy testimony before the Senate Banking Committee tomorrow night and the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday, which the market will be paying very close attention to for the reconciliation of how the Fed plans to continue on its rate-hiking path despite rapidly deteriorating US macro data that has started 2015 at the worst pace (in terms of downside surprises) since Lehman.
If you thought the Greek tragicomedy is over, you ain't seen nothing yet, because despite the so-called Friday agreement, the immediate next step is for Greece to submit its list of reform measures to the Troika, which will almost certainly result in an immediate revulsion in Germany's finance ministry, and lead to another protracted back and forth between the Troika and Greece, which may once again well end with a Grexit, especially if the Greek liquidity situation, where bash is bleeding from both the banks and the state at a record pace, remains unhalted. It is therefore not surprising that the ongoing decline in the EURUSD since the inking of the agreement, and the fact that the pair briefly dipped below 1.13 this morning - over 100 pips below the euphoric rip on Friday - is a clear indication that the market is starting to realize that absolutely nothing is either fixed, or set in stone.
Having put Russia on review in mid-January, Moody's has decided (somewhat unsurprisingly) to downgrade Russia's sovereign debt rating to Ba1 (from Baa3) with continuing negative outlook. The reasons:
*MOODY'S SAYS RUSSIA EXPECTED TO HAVE DEEP RECESSION IN '15, CONTINUED CONTRACTION IN '16
*MOODY'S SEE RUSSIA DEBT METRICS LIKELY DETERIORATING COMING YRS
We assume the low external debt, considerable reserves, lack of exposure to US Treasuries, and major gold backing were not considered useful? Moody's concludes the full statement (below) by noting that they are unlikely to raise Russian sovereign debt rating in the near-term.
With the new and revised (until it is re-revised again to some future date), Greek D-Day set for today's third in the past 2 weeks Eurogroup meeting, every favorable headline serves as a springboard for ES-buying algos, while every negative headline is promptly ignored. And since this is Europe's style trial ballooning, there have been many of both with just these two hitting in the last hour:
- GREECE, EURO ZONE NEAR DEAL ON PACKAGE, REUTERS CITES UNIDENTIFIED GREEK OFFICIAL
- GREECE DID NOT GO FAR ENOUGH IN THEIR LATEST PROPOSAL: GREEK GVOERNMENT SPOKESMAN
Guess which one pushed ES into the green?
After spending the past year deteriorating with each passing month, as global acceleration dipped decidedly in the negative camp, the only thing that kept the Goldman Global Leading Indicator "swirlogram" somewhat buoyant was that "Growth" measured in absolute terms had remained slightly positive. Not any more: according to Goldman's latest global economic read, the world is now officially in contraction, following a sharp plunge in both acceleration and growth in February.
After yesterday's FOMC Minutes, despite a huge dovish reversal by the Fed - one which increasingly puts its "credibility" and reputation at risk - stocks were unable to close green, or even above 2100, for one simple reason: uncertainty with the fate of Greece. Overnight there has not been much more clarity, when as previously reported Greece submitted a 6 month extension request to its master loan agreement but not to its bailout extension, a nuance lost in the annals of diplomacy. But is this the much-awaited Greek capitulation? Or will the Eurogroup reject this too? The answer may be available in a few hours after an emergency Eurogroup meeting due later today. However, as usual stocks are ready to "price in" yet another Greek conflict resolution, and after futures were lower by 7 points overnight, were up 4 points at last check: a rebound which will not correct if the latest Greek "compromise" fails to deliver.
The "conundrum" between lower gasoline prices and retail sales is not really one at all. Furthermore, the real story behind the weakness in retail sales also suggest that something is "amiss" within the broader economic backdrop. When combined with the deterioration in earnings, the risk of a "gotcha" moment in the market has risen markedly.
It has been a quiet start to the week, with US equity futures and European stocks mostly unchanged with all eyes on what progress (if any) will be made between Greece and the Eurogroup, where the press conference is scheduled for 7:00 pm GMT (expect significant delays) in what is otherwise expected to be a relatively subdued day with the US away from market and a light macroeconomic calendar.
After six month so soaring confidence, UMich consumer confidence tumbled from 11 year highs by the most since October 2013 in January (despite the low gas price stimulus), printing at 93.6, missing expectations of 98.1 by the most on record. It appears survey-based 'hope' is catching down to hard-date-based reality of spending habits as the sheer idiocy of the low-gas-price meme is destroyed once again. The drop was led by a plunge in Current Conditions from 109.3 to 103.1 and towards teh future, fewer now expect higher incomes and those who have favorable business expectations plunged from 70 to 58 with a surge in people expecting "bad times" over the next 12 months.
Who would have thought all it takes for Eurozone Q4 GDP to print above expectations, even if by the smallest of possible margins - one which even the Chinese goalseek-o-tron bows its head down to in respect - which at 0.3% Q/Q was above the 0.2% expected and above Q3's 0.2%, was for Europe to admit it has finally succumbed to deflation. Oh, and for the ECB to admit the situation has never been more serious by launching Q€. Oh, and add the "estimated contribution" to GDP from hookers and drugs. Put all that together and on an annualized basis, the European economy grew by 1.4%. Whatever the reason, Q4 GDP was the best print since Q1, even as Germany blew not only consensus of 0.3%, but the highest GDP estimate of 0.6% out of the water when it reported that courtesy of a spike in spending, its economy grew by 0.7% in the fourth quarter, up from the near-recessionary 0.1% in Q3. That, together with QE and ZIRP now raging across the continent, was enough to push the DAX above 11,000 for the first time ever.
Two weeks ago we reported that "the next victim of crashing oil prices has been identified: housing", particularly non-residential construction among the energy producing regions, where the capex collapse reality is already being felt far and wide. Eventually, once the overall economy of these same oil producing regions is impacted sufficiently, the pain would spread to residential housing as well, as the energy boom that kept the local economies humming for years, turns to a bust. But while the US patiently, and nervously, awaits the outcome of the crude crash, one place is already starting to suffer the consequences of the price collapse is Canada's energy Mecca, Calgary, where as the Financial Post reports, "the stage has been set for a massive correction in the oilpatch."
The bottom line is that unfortunately for the BTFDers, with the Fed no longer giving explicit buy signals with the "considerable time" language struck, and with an implicit economic upgrade suggesting a rate hike is still on the table, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to frontrun the Fed's "wealth creation" intentions.