A listless overnight session with just the previously noted first disappointing LTRO-2 repayment and the now traditional big beat out of the "other" German confidence indicator, IFO, which beat expectations of 104.9, rising to a 10 month high of 107.4 to attempt to push the economy out of the recessionary slump (just don't mention yesterday's PMI), and nothing on today's US calendar is a fitting way to end the week, and further shows that markets are once more completely oblivious to the risks of the Hung Parliament outcome that this weekend may bring in Italy should the Berlusconi juggernaut maintain its momentum. The EURUSD and the US futures have disconnected once more, with almost all of yesterday's market weakness filled in the overnight session as the good old low-volume levitation returns. Here are the few news items worth reporting.
Overnight Summary: German Hope Soars To Three Year High As European Car Registrations Drop To Record LowSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/19/2013 07:12 -0500
Europe's double dipping economy may be continuing to implode, but at least confidence abounds. And while the conifidence game was the purvey of career politicians and ex-Goldman central bankers in January, it has now shifted to Europe's equivalent of the reflexive UMichigan consumer confidence, after Germany's ZEW investor confidence soared to 48.2 vs expectations of a modest 35.0 print, leaving January's 31.5 print in the dust, and the highest since April 2010. And all of the surge was based on the hope, with none attributed to reality, or current conditions. From SocGen: "The positive mood in both the equity and bond markets since the beginning of the year has led to a strong surge in expectations (economic sentiment) in the ZEW survey, a survey completed among German investors. This surge was entirely driven by expectations while current activity remains muted. Expectations in most surveys have recently been rising more strongly than expected, but at one point we expect some moderation. We consider that Germany and the euro area are in a situation of readjusting expectations and activity from the weakness at end-2012. The recovery in expectations may already have overshoot if hard data disappoint in the coming weeks." And while Europe is starry-eyed with hope about the future, as it is in the beginning of every year, it blithely ignored the fact that new car registrations collapsed in January by 14.2% to a new record low, while construction output in the Euroarea declined for a second month in December, tumbling by 4.8% led by slumping activity in, wait for it, Germany. But this time the future will be different.
Horsemeat Scandal Goes Global As World's Largest Food Maker Pulls Tainted Pasta From Spain And ItalySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/18/2013 21:44 -0500
First it was Ireland, then the entire UK, then Germany, and gradually it spread to all of Europe (except for France of course, where it was always a delicacy). But it was only once its finally crossed the Alps and made its way to the Swiss factories of Nestle, the world's largest food maker, did the horsemeat scandal truly go global. The FT reports that "the escalating horsemeat scandal has ensnared two of the biggest names in the food industry, Nestlé, the world’s number-one food maker, and JBS, the largest beef producer by sales. Switzerland-based Nestlé on Monday removed pasta meals from shelves in Italy and Spain and suspended deliveries of all processed products containing meat from German supplier, H.J. Schypke, after tests revealed traces of horse DNA above 1 per cent. Nestlé said it had informed the authorities....Nestlé withdrew two chilled pasta products, Buitoni Beef Ravioli and Beef Tortellini from sale in Italy and Spain. Lasagnes à la Bolognaise Gourmandes, a frozen meat product for catering businesses produced in France, will also be withdrawn."
With the US closed today, the Shanghai Composite red after a week of partying not helped by news from China’s Ministry of Commerce showed that spending during the week-long Lunar New Year break grew at the slowest pace since 2009, and the Nikkei merely a tick-for-tick proxy of whatever the USDJPY does which in turn is a mood indicator for how any given G-7/20 statement is interpreted, the only relevant news in today's thinly traded market would come from Europe, where the EUR is once again modestly higher in overnight trading, even as Spain and Italy bonds are selling off.
This objective report concisely summarizes important macro events over the past week. It is not geared to push an agenda. Impartiality is necessary to avoid costly psychological traps, which all investors are prone to, such as confirmation, conservatism, and endowment biases. Also - from Citi's Steven Englander - what to worry about from this weekend's G-20 extravaganza...
While it is certain that derivative-hopers and uptick-algo-watchers are relieved to see a better than expected rise in University of Michigan's Confidence index (thanks to a generous rise in current economic expectations - which we suspect is as co-dependent on the miracle of rising stock prices as it is used to reflexively justify higher equity prices). Stocks are bid (briefly) on this but remain, medium-term, notably dislocated from the real state of less-than-exuberance among the people. And in great rhetorical questions, this one remains: are stocks now higher because rising consumer confidence, or is consumer confidence rising because stocks just spiked.
The quiet overnight session was started by comments from Buba's Weidmann, whose statement, among others, that the ECB will not cut interest rates just to weaken the EUR together with the assertion that the EUR is not seriously overvalued, sent the EURUSD briefly higher in pre-European open trading. Of secondary importance was his "hope" that the ECB will not have to buy bonds (it will once the market gets tired of Draghi open-ended verbal intervention), something he himself admitted when he said the ECB "may be forced to show its hand on OMT." The stronger EUR did not last long, and in a peculiar reversal from prior weeks when the European open led to a spike in the cross, saw the EURUSD dip to three week lows, touching on 1.3310, before modestly rebounding. This validity of the drop was confirmed two hours later when in the first key economic datapoint, it was revealed the Euroearea exports fell 1.8% in December, the most in five months. As SocGen said "the monthly trade data rounded off what has undoubtedly been a pretty dismal quarter for the euro area. Overall euro area exports fell by 1.8% m/m in December although this was offset by a even bigger 3% decline in imports - which itself reflects the weakness of domestic demand in some euro area countries. Maybe of more interest is the latest data on the destination of euro exports. These continue to show a pronounced weakness in global demand (albeit for November). This indicates that weakness in Q4 is not solely a domestic affair but also reflects a wider slowdown in the global economy."
Chronicling the collapsing Greek socioeconomic reality would be an interesting business school case study of what a zombie monetary regime kept alive at all costs does to the "weakest link(s)" (most recently "Greek Economy Grinds To A Halt As New Construction Implodes By 66.6%"), if only there weren't real men and women suffering as a result of the stupidity and greed of a few entrenched individuals who will stop at nothing to see their paper wealth preserved at all costs. The latest salvo of the utter misery Greek society finds itself in comes from Nielsen research, which reports that Greeks are now the most pessimistic consumers on the planet, with the Greek consumer confidence index dropping to 35 points in the last quarter of 2012. That is the lowest level among a total of 58 countries surveyed and 11 points lower than the same period last year in Greece. It gets worse. As Kathimerini reports: "Four out of 10 Greeks told the same survey that they no longer have any disposable money left after covering their basic needs, which is the highest rate ever recorded in Greece and the biggest in the October-December period in Europe. A year earlier (in Q4 2011) that rate had stood at 34 percent and in Q4 of 2010 it had been at 25 percent." Obligatory spin: once nobody has any disposable income, things can only get better. Unless, as Rajoy might add, they get much worse.
The price action in the foreign exchange market is choppy as short-term participants seem nervous after being whipsawed yesterday. Sterling fell nearly a cent to new multi-month lows following the BOE's inflation report that confirmed official expectations that price pressures will remain above target and King welcomed the recent depreciation of the point. Also of note the Australian dollar, which staged a sharp recovery off the year's lows yesterday and has seen follow through buying today, helped perhaps by gains in a consumer confidence measure.
The was nothing in the rogue G7 sourced comment yesterday that that Japanese Finance Minister Aso did not say prior to the G7 statement and before the weekend. The pace of the yen's depreciation was too fast. The market reacted to it at the time.
- Tunisian opposition politician shot dead, protests erupt (Reuters)
- China says extremely concerned after latest North Korea threats (Reuters)
- Postal Service to cut Saturday mail to trim costs (AP)
- Debt Rise Colors Budget Talks (WSJ)
- Obama proposes short-term budget fix, Republicans swiftly object (Reuters)
- S&P Analyst Joked of Bringing Down the House Before Crash (BBG)
- Dell’s Bigger Challenge Ahead in Turnaround After Buyout (BBG)
- Some of the Mark Carney Gloss Is Coming Off (WSJ)
- Japan Official Says BOJ Tools Sufficient as Shake-Up Looms (BBG)
- S&P Lawsuit Undermined by SEC Rules That Impede Competition (BBG)
- Heavy Clashes Erupt in Syrian Capital (WSJ)
This objective report concisely summarizes important macro events over the past week. It is not geared to push an agenda. Impartiality is necessary to avoid costly psychological traps, which all investors are prone to, such as confirmation, conservatism, and endowment biases.
While the baffle with BS theme was strong earlier, when the UMich consumer confidence soared, rejecting the plunge in the consumer confidence tracked by the Conference Board, contrary to our expectations, the manufacturing ISM did not do a "China", which last night was reported to have grown and ungrown at the same time, did not drop to disprove yesterday's Chicago PMI and instead soared to 53.1 from 50.2, well above the expectations of a 50.7 print, and above the highest Wall Street estimate. This was the biggest beat of expectations in 16 months, and was driven by virtually every series rising except for Exports and Deliveries, but mostly by a surge in Inventories, which soared from 43 to 51.
The honey badger ramp continues, once more driven entirely by the USD carry as both the EURUSD and USDJPY hit new highs (14 month and 3 year, respectively). The EUR took another major leg higher following today's second ECB refinancing operation in two days, a 3 month LTRO, in which just €3.71 billion was allotted to some 46 bidders, far less than the €10 billion expected particularly in the context of the €6 billion the matured, leading to further Euribor curve steepening, more non-expansion of the ECB balance sheet, and a surge in the EURUSD to new post-2011 highs of 1.3560. But if it wasn't this it would be something else. Elsewhere we got the final official Spanish GDP number, which as previously reported once again came worse than expected at -0.7%, compared to expectations of -0.6%, and -1.8% Y/Y vs Exp. -1.7%. But once again we are told to ignore current reality and look with optimism to the future as various European confidence indices posted higher than expected prints. This seems logical: when the ugly fundamentals don't matter, one must at least pretend there is hope they will improve in the future to serve as a buying catalyst. Finally, and what the surging EUR and crushed exports are all about, Italy sold some €6.5 billion in 5 and 10 year BTPs at yields of 2.94% and 4.17%, both respectively lower than the prior auctions of 3.26% and 4.48%.
For many the rise of nominal equity prices over the past few years has been remarkable given the back-drop of stagnating growth and joblessness. But it is the last few months that perhaps beggars belief as macro fundamentals plunge to 5-month lows, consumer confidence to 13-month lows, and earnings show considerable weakness (if you look at the data and ignore the anecdotes); and yet, day-after-day, stocks push higher little-by-little, stop-run by stop-run to five-year highs. The chart below suggests, though, that for now the parabola may need a little pullback before gathering steam once again.
Gold fell $4.00 or 0.24% in New York yesterday and closed at $1,654.90/oz. Silver climbed to $31.30 in Asia before it eased off to $30.73 and finished with a loss of 1.09%.