Consumer sentiment and confidence has been a smorgasbord of confusion recently. Bloomberg's Consumer Comfort index just had its biggest 3-week plunge in 16 months falling back to its lowest since the first week of April. Conference Board confidence was 'stable' at 5.5 year highs and now UMich Confidence, which missed expectations for the first time in 2013 last month in its preliminary print, has been revised up with its final data to the best level in 4 months. The schizophrenia is completed with this little beauty from Gallup. As we have warned before, beware 'the big con' and as these two charts suggest, confidence seems very much in the eye of the beholder.
- Merkel Blames SPD’s Schroeder for Letting Greece Into Euro (BBG)
- U.S. Bank Legal Bills Exceed $100 Billion (BBG)
- U.K. to Request U.N. Action to Protect Syrians From Chemical Weapons (WSJ) - and Russia to veto any decision
- U.N. inspectors in new Syria mission as West prepares to strike (Reuters)
- Emerging-Market Rout Intensifies on Syria Jitters (WSJ)
- Rebels Without a Leader Show Limit to U.S. Role in Syria War (BBG)
- Anger at IRS Powers Tea-Party Comeback (WSJ)
- China has much at risk but no reach in Middle East (Reuters)
- 'London Whale' Penalties Put at $500 Million to $600 Million (WSJ)
- U.S. lawmaker says 'compelling' evidence of Syrian chemical attack (Reuters)
The key overnight events were already discussed previously, but here they are again: the wholesale selloff in Asia (which subsequently shifted to Europe), the accelerating outflows from India (moment ago the SEBI website announced a net INR13.7 billion selling in Indian stocks yesterday and the near record collapse in the Indian Rupee to new record lows, and the ongoing uncertainty over Syria and what it will do to crude prices (if SocGen is right, nothing good). In brief: a market conditioned and habituated to a world in which Bernanke promises "to make everything ok" suddenly finds itself in the throes of uncertainty and following 4 years of dumb trend-following, has no idea what to do.
The Richmond Fed survey surged to 14, its biggest beat since April 2010 and its highest level since January 2011. All makes perfect sense right? Just a 3.5 sigma beat of analyst expectations at 0. All sub-indices improved to multi-month highs and expectations for six months ahead also surged (even as prices paid and received collapsed). Consumer Confidence, amid surging interest rates and near-record gas prices for this time of year (and a pending war), rose (beating expectations) after falling last month. All of the gains in confidence came from 'hope' as the expectations sub-index rose from 86.0 to 88.7 as the present situation fell from 73.7 to 70.7 - the biggest drop since January. Remember, beware of the big 'con'.
Overnight the emerging market rout continued, with the India Sensex down another 3.18%, the Philippines tumbling 4%, Jakarta down 3.7% and Dubai crashing 7%. A driving factor continues to be the fear over an imminent air campaign launched at Syria, leading both WTI and Brent higher by 1%, and gold finally breaking out above the $1400 tractor beam, and printing at $1412 at last check, a hair away from a 20% bull market from the lows. In other news, the market is once again "surprised" to learn that Summers, who as we have been showing for over three weeks is the frontrunner for the Fed chair, is the frontrunner for the Fed chair according to CNBC. Of course, there is nothing preventing this from being the latest trial balloon (and nothing that suggest Summers will actually be hawkish as conventional wisdom seems to think: the guy basically works for the financial sector) but futures aren't waiting to find out, and US traders are walking in this morning to a red screen with ES down just over 10 point and sliding. Any minute now the great unrotation from stocks into bonds (10 Year was 2.77% at last check) is about to be unleashed. And if Obama actually goes to war (without talking to Congress of course), watch the bottom fall from the market.
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.
After the banks, after the city of Detroit it will be the USA that will be going bankrupt and filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. If only that were possible! But unfortunately it won’t be.
It was a quiet overnight session, in which the Nikkei was catching up to USDJPY weakness from the past two days, while China dipped once more despite the NDRC's chief economist stating China may cut RRR or conduct more reverse repos in H2 to maintain stable credit as loan growth slows down (or in other words things go back to normal). In Europe ECB's Nowotny decided to undo some of Draghi's recent work when he said that "good economic news" removes the need for a rate cut which in turn pushed the EURUSD higher (and European exports lower), even as former Cyprus central bank Orphanides said the Euro crisis may flare up after the German elections. In the UK Q2 GDP came in slightly stronger than expected at 0.7% vs 0.6% Exp. letting the GBP outperform since a need for the BOE to ease, at least in the short run, is becoming less pertinent. In amusing news, Moody’s late yesterday put six largest U.S. banks on review as it considers the effect of evolving bank resolution policies under Dodd-Frank and international regulations. As such GS, JPM, MS and WFC may be cut.
Consumer confidence for those who earn $50,000 or more per year has recovered entirely to pre-Great Recession levels while lower income groups continue to lag. It seems, as Bloomberg's Rich Yamarone points out, money (or credit) really can buy happiness.
Numbers, Numbers Everywhere...are any true?
The week ahead will be relatively quiet with few major data releases. The main focus will be on the Flash PMIs in the Eurozone and China as well as the FOMC minutes and Jackson Hole. In the US the relatively new Preliminary PMI has been found useful by our US team in forecasting the ISM. Existing and new home sales are additional data points of interest in the US. The key focus this week will be on central bank action. Minutes from the FOMC and the RBA will be followed by rate decisions in Thailand and Turkey. Finally, on Thursday starts the annual Jackson Hole conference with lots of Fed speakers, including Yellen next weekend. Chairman Bernanke, whose term ends in January, will not attend.
It's all about rates this largely newsless morning, which have continued their march wider all night, and moments ago rose to 2.873% - a fresh 2 year wide and meaning that neither Gross, nor the bond market, is nowhere near tweeted out. As DB confirms, US treasuries are front and center of mind at the moment.... the 10yr UST yield is up another 4bp at a fresh two year high of 2.87% in Tokyo trading, adding to last week’s 20bp selloff. As it currently stands, 10yr yields are up by more than 120bp from the YTD lows in early May and more than 80bp higher since Bernanke’s now infamous JEC testimony. We should also note that the recent US rates selloff has been accompanied by a rapid steepening in the rate curve. Indeed, the 2s/10s curve is at a 2 year high of 250bp and the 2s/30s and 2s/5s are also at close to their highest level in two years.
For the first time in 2013, UMich consumer confidence missed expectations dropping from a cyclical high 85.2 to a 'mere' 80.0. However, the miss from an expectation of 85.0 is the big news - this is the biggest miss since records began in 1999. The US Consumer (so in the news this week on the back of the retail earnings) appears have finally woken up to soaring mortgage rates, rising gas prices, and only part-time job growth. We warned this might happen - just as it has happened in the previous two cycles... Both the current and future conditions indices collapsed to their lowest in 4 months.
We have the equity market surging to new highs. We now have the surge in yields. As Citi's FX Technicals group warn, that's "2 down and 1 to go"… A push above the 2011-2012 peaks in Brent crude ($127-128.40) would be the “straw” that breaks the proverbial camel’s back with the elevated likelihood of a negative feedback loop... knocking the third leg of consumer confidence out.