Goldman forecasts a gain of 200k non-farm payroll jobs tomorrow (against a 196k consensus +/-25k). Factors arguing for a solid print include the recent trend, an improvement in most employment indicators already released for the month, the compressed holiday hiring period, and a potential "couriers and messengers effect." On the negative side, Goldman warns cold weather is a downside risk. With respect to other aspects of the release, in general they note that the December report has not shown an overwhelming tendency to contain back-revisions in one direction or the other; and forecast an unchanged unemployment rate at 7.0%, and a 0.2% month-on-month gain in average hourly earnings.
While Ford and GM struggle somewhat, demand for the eilte-of-the-elite Bentley is soaring. As BusinessWeek reports, 2013 saw the firm sell 10,120 vehicles worldwide - dominated by the Americas - a 19% rise over 2012. Coincidentally, since Fed policy went extreme, Bentley has seen double-digit growth rates each and every year leading to the best performance in its 95-year history. As BusinessWeek ironically notes, it requires no small amount of consumer confidence to roll away in a Bentley Mulsanne, which has a sticker price just shy of $300,000.
The overnight session began on a dour mood, with both the Shanghai Composite and Nikkei sliding (the former once again just barely above 2,000, latter once again dropping below 16,000), even though Chinese CPI came below expectations suggesting the PBOC has some more room to ease and not rush into liquidity extraction (which just happens to blow out repo rates like clockwork), while in Japan BOJ board member Shirai implied the Japanese QE can be extended and expanded as needed. Europe had a weak start although shortly after 3 am Eastern staged a dramatic turnaround supported by a bounce in the EUR (and ES driving EURJPY) leading to broadly higher stocks, supported by solid demand for Portuguese 5y bond syndication, as well as oversubscribed debt auctions by the Spanish Treasury which sold above the targeted amount and consequently saw SP/GE 10y spread fall to its tightest level since April 2011. At the same time, having been propped up by touted redemption flows ahead of Spanish and French bond auctions, absorption of supply shortly after 1000GMT resulted in an immediate selling pressure on Bunds. Helping lift spirits was a rumored $1 billion trade order in September S&P futures, as well as chatter by the Greek PM that the country was like Portugal and Ireland, prepared to get back into the bond markets.
- Yellen’s Record-Low Senate Support Reflects Fed’s Politicization (BBG)
- Euro-Zone Inflation Rate Falls in December, even further below ECB's target (WSJ)
- Zambia politician charged for calling president a potato (AFP)
- Blame gold: India Savings Deposit Scam Collapse Leaves Thousands Penniless (BBG)
- Hedge Funds Raise Gold Wagers as Yamada Sees $1,000 (BBG)
- George Osborne limits cuts options with pensions promise (FT)
- Vietnam Raises Foreign Bank Ownership Caps to Aid System (BBG)
- But they said buy a year ago... Goldman to JPMorgan Say Sell Emerging Markets After Slide (BBG)
- SAC Trial Seen by Probe Convict as Latest Abusive Tactic (BBG)
Confidence abounds. Last week, Investor’s Intelligence reported a surge in advisory sentiment to the highest bullish percentage since October 19, 2007. John Hussman notes that NAAIM reported that the 3-week average equity exposure among its members increased to the highest level on record. Given the unfortunate resolution of similarly extreme overvalued, overbought, overbullish, rising-yield periods in history, it's almost mind-boggling that investors actually expect the present speculative run to end well. The accelerating pitch and shallowing corrections of the recent advance are worth noting. Based on the fidelity of the recent advance to this price structure, we estimate the “finite-time singularity” of the present log-periodic bubble to occur (or to have occurred) somewhere between December 31, 2013 and January 13, 2014.
After multiple months of positive acceleration, Goldman expect the Global Leading Indicator to continue to stabilize around current levels in the coming months. The infamous Swirlogram shows that the last 3 months have seen the indicator in "slowdown" mode - which Goldman optimistically notes is on the border of 'expansion' also...and while they see no clear evidence of further acceleration, they see overall level of growth at solid levels.
Similar to UMich's confidence measure soaring by the most in 4 years, the Conference Board's confidence measure beat expectations and jumped the most in 6 months (though remains below the year's highs). This is the best beat in 4 months. The improvement is all based on "expectations" which soared the most in 6 months. Confidence is critical (as we noted below) especially since the massive majority of actual investors are already bullish...(and definitely not bearish)...
The release schedule is relatively light in the current week, without major central planning meetings. Nonetheless, there will a number of speeches from US FOMC members at the annual American Economic Association meeting. In terms of economic data releases we have manufacturing surveys from the US (Tuesday and Thursday), China (Wednesday and Thursday) and Europe (Thursday and Friday). On balance, slightly softer prints are expected for most of these releases when compared to the previous data points. However, consensus expects US consumer confidence to pick up significantly in December. Also of interest: harmonized inflation numbers from Spain and Italy on Friday, as low inflation remains an issue for ECB policy. Consensus expectations are for a small increase in the former and decrease in the latter.
While some would argue (as they always do) that there are good reasons to be bullish going into 2014 (central bank liquidity provision being an obvious one); there are ample reasons to remain vigilant with respect to your investments. The stagnation of wage growth combined with higher costs leaves an already cash strapped consumer with few options. It is likely that we will see a push by consumers to re-leverage their household balance sheet which will be hailed by the media as a return of consumer confidence. However, one should not forget the last time a highly levered consumer ran into problems. Furthermore, there are three potential headwinds that are likely to weigh on the economy and the markets which are potentially being overlooked.
From the first headline to the last, the following brief month-by-month summary of the year shows just how far markets and global happenings have come...
With both current conditions and future expectations indices jumping higher, the UMich consumer confidence headline final print rose at its equal fastest pace since Sept 2009. The surge in current conditions - the largest since Dec 2008 - has lifted it back to the highest level since July 2007. If there was anything to note that took the shine off such an exuberant surge it's the fact that the headline number did actually miss expectations (3rd miss of last 4) and the final outlook data dropped from the preliminary print. As we have noted before, it is confidence that 'inspires' the multiple-expanding hope as fundamental reality fades - bulls better hope it's different this time as we hit the year's highs in confidence.
Another day, another low volume overnight meltup to record highs in equity futures. Stocks traded higher in Europe this morning, with tech stocks outperforming following reports that Apple has finally secured a deal to bring the iPhone to China Mobile, which has more than 750 million subscribers. As a result, the likes of ARM Holdings and STMicro traded with gains of over 2% and Apple's German listing traded up around 2.5%. At the same time, French CAC index under performed its peers, with Technip among the worst performing stocks after being removed from Goldman's Sustained Focus List. Addtionally, over the weekend, the ECB's Praet said that the ECB is ready to intervene if credit contracts - and since Euro credit is contracting at a record pace, we wonder what he is waiting for. This happened as Fitch affirmed France at AA+, outlook stable. Looking elsewhere, thin trading conditions resulted in an aggressive spike higher in CME US 30y futures this morning after a large clip was traded, which consequently saw the exchange adjust prices lower, but did not bust any trades.
Although the probability of any one of the predictions coming true is low, they are deduced strategically by Saxo Bank analysts based on a feasible - if unlikely - series of market and political events. As Saxo's chief economist notes, "This isn't meant to be a pessimistic outlook. This is about critical events that could lead to change - hopefully for the better. After all, looking back through history, all changes, good or bad, are made after moments of crisis after a comprehensive failure of the old way of doing things. As things are now, global wealth and income distribution remain hugely lopsided which also has to mean that significant change is more likely than ever due to unsustainable imbalances. 2014 could and should be the year in which a mandate for change not only becomes necessary, but is also implemented."
Despite misses on stocks and gold, Citi FX Technicals' excellent "12 Charts of Christmas" performed well in 2013 directionally across FX, bonds, and commodities. This year, Tom Fitzpatrick and his team unveil 2014's most important charts - establishing a starting point for their outlook in the year ahead. From a slowing housing market to expectations of a strong USD; and from a "roll-over" in Consumer Confidence to strength in gold, they see the "repair process" continuing albeit at a slow pace but worry that the stock markets are looking more and more like 2000.
If one believes the various US diffusion indices - among which key are the assorted regional Fed surveys the monthly PMI data - and listens to the pithy soundbites of their respondents, the US economy has hardly ever been better (of course, that 60% of "growth" in the past year has been due to inventory accumulation on hope that the consumer end demand will finally come is neither here nor there). However, we don't exactly believe said indices. Instead, to get a true sense of what is going on, it is always better to listen directly to those who are not only deep in the trenches, but are also accountable to their shareholders every quarter: the various CEOs and CFOs of America's public corporations. Below, courtesy of Bloomberg chief economist Rich Yamarone, who has compiled a selection of Q3 earnings call soundbites, is an indicative snapshot of the US economy as seen most recently through the prism of executives in a wide range of industries.