Easy come, easier go. After yesterday's last hour ramp driven by a MarketWatch article that said absolutely nothing new about the Fed's monetization plans and an AAPL surge which saw the firm add $22 billion in market cap in one day (or more than the market cap of CBS Corp) sent stocks green, the overnight session has taken it all away and then some, with futures now trading roughly 12 ticks lower or at yesterday's lowest levels. The catalyst is, once again, Spain where Moody's downgraded five Spanish regions including Catalonia after the market close (for the reason, see our piece from the weekend "Spanish Regional Bailout Fund Runs Out Of Money"), coupled with news from Confidencial that Spain's budget deficit will overshoot the EU target of 6.3% and hit at least 7.3%, driven by a €10.5 billion deficit in the social security system, trashing the promises from last month's Spain's "reform" package, and as BNP said (confirming what we warned weeks ago), making the conditionality hurdle suddenly that much higher for Spain. And just as the world was getting comfortable that Spain will get away with using the OMP with virtually no conditions. The cherry on top came from France where the business conditions index slid to a 3 year low on expectations a trough had been put in place. The result is a tumble in the EURUSD to below the 1.3000 barrier, dragging stock futures, commodities, and of course Europe with it, sending the Spanish bond curve yield higher, and generally giving a very sour mood to the day as traders walk in.
- Dead Heat for Romney, Obama (WSJ)
- The Cheerful Billionaire Who Thinks Obama's a Socialist (Businessweek)
- "Get to work, Mr. Japanese Chairman": Japan Exports Tumble 10% as Maehara Presses BOJ to Ease (Bloomberg)
- Chinese Investors Fear Chill in Canada (WSJ)
- Rosneft Buys BP’s TNK-BP Stake for $26 Billion in Cash, Shares (Bloomberg)
- Hong Kong Defends Its Currency Peg for First Time Since 2009 (Bloomberg)
- Democrats threaten payroll tax cut consensus (FT)
- Spain's Rajoy gets mixed message in regional votes (Reuters)
- Merkel to warn UK on Europe budget veto (FT)
- Netanyahu says doesn't know of any U.S.-Iran talks (Reuters)... neither does Iran, so near certainty
- Der Kurrency Tsar: ECB’s Knot Backs Schaeuble Call for Stronger EU Budget Power (Bloomberg)
- Fannie Mae Limiting Loans Helps JPMorgan Mortgage Profits (Bloomberg)
Once again confusion is rife overnight, following yesterday's main European event, Spain's first "mixed" regional election, which saw Rajoy's PP party in his home state of Galicia eeking a majority by a few seats, offset by wins for nationalist parties in the Basque Country. The immediate read here is that the Galician win is an endorsement of Rajoy's "austerity poilicies" and thus EUR positive (which have yet to be actually implemented as Spanish spending continues to rise, as tax revenues continue to drop), yet it makes the likelihood that Spain requests a bailout before the Spanish regional election on November 25, which is about secession, virtually nil, and thus SPGB negative. Furthermore as Bank of America points out "some euro-area govts may remain reluctant to support Spain’s request as long as yields continue to be low, banks haven’t been recapitalized; probably reinforced by Catalonia elections" but that is a reality tale for another day - the "market" can only handle so much.
- Hillary Clinton Accepts Blame for Benghazi (WSJ)
- In Reversal, Cash Leaks Out of China (WSJ)
- Spain Considers EU Credit Line (WSJ)
- China criticizes new EU sanctions on Iran, calls for talks (Reuters)
- Portugal sees third year of recession in 2013 budget (Reuters)
- Greek PM says confident Athens will secure aid tranche (Reuters)
- Fears over US mortgages dominance (FT)
- Fed officials offer divergent views on inflation risks (Reuters)
- China Credit Card Romney Assails Gives Way to Japan (Bloomberg)
- Fed's Williams: Fed Actions Will Improve Growth (WSJ)
- Rothschild Quits Bumi to Fight Bakries’ $1.2 Billion Offer (Bloomberg)
The economic data twofer this morning was a beat and a miss. Retail sales increased by 1.1% on expectations of a 0.8% increase, with the last month's data being revised from 1.2% to 0.9%. Headline retail sales, ex autos was up 1.1% on expectations of a 0.7% print, and up from an upward revised 1.0%. Some of the main drivers in the September retail sales pick up were in electronics and appliance stores, which rose 4.5% from August (thank you iPhone 5), Gasoline Stations +2.5%, and Motor vehicle and parts dealers 1.3%, which continue to be a notable driver of retail strength for the second month in a row. As for the miss, it came from the Empire Fed, which increased from September's -10.41, to -6.16, but missed expectations of a -4 print. New Orders improved modestly from -14.03 to -8.97, and ironically was the only subindex in the entire report that staged an increase. Shipments declined to a negative print, from 2.75 to -6.40. Declines were also recorded in Delivery Times, Unfilled Orders, Inventories, Prices Paid, Prices Received, the average Employee Workweek, and most importantly, Number of Employees which declined from 4.26 to -1.08. Not even the forward looking indicators, so critical to consumer "confidence" managed to rise, dropping from 27.22 to 19.42.
After starting the overnight trading at its lows, the EURUSD has once again seen the now traditional overnight levitation, this time with absolutely no economic news, in the process raising equity futures across the Atlantic, even as unfounded Chinese optimism for more liquidity has waned leading to the SHCOMP closing down 0.3%. Perhaps the most notable event in the quiet trading session so far has been the surge in 10 year Greek debt whose yield has tumbled to post-restructuring lows, driven by more and more hedge funds piling in to piggyback on Dan Loeb's recent public GGB purchase announcement (strength into which he has long since sold), and hopes that Greece will somehow see an Official Sector Initiative (OSI) to make recovery prospects for Private Investors more attractive: a capital impairment the ECB has said would happen only over its dead body. But in the new normal, facts and rules are for chumps, and only exist to be broken. More on this amusing stupidity here. Amusingly, this comes just as Greece’s Staikouras says the economy’s downward spiral is not over yet. But, again, who cares about fundamentals.
In continuing the pre-election twilight zone data series, respondents to the UMichigan consumer confidence poll apparently have not a care in the world about the upcoming fiscal cliff, or record high gas prices in California for that matter, and are more confident than they have ever been in the past 5 years. With the final number printing at 83.1, well above the highest Wall Street forecast of 81.0 from DB's Joe LaVorgna of course, and 5 std deviations above the consensus forecast (a 7 year beat of expectations) of a decline to 78.0 from last month's 78.3, all one can do at this point is pull a Biden and just keep on laughing. The internal, while completely irrelevant as we have uncovered merely the latest doctored economic data set, joining the unemployment rate and the initial claims number, current conditions rose to 88.6 from 85.7, while it was expectations that set the mood, rising to the highest since July 2007 or 79.5, up from 73.5. And while last month it was the inflation expectations, both 1 and 5 year, that soared because apparently UMich was unaware these have to decline for "inflation expectations to be anchored" this time around respondents saw 5 year inflation decline from 2.8% to 2.6%, apparently confused that the only reason why expectations are soaring is because the Chairman promised to send future inflation soaring. But who cares about logic when massaging data.
- Global easing deluge resumes: Bank of Korea Slashes Policy Rate (WSJ)
- And Brazil: Brazil cuts Selic rate to new record low of 7.25 pct (Reuters)
- With Tapes, Authorities Build Criminal Cases Over JPMorgan Loss (NYT) Just don't hold your breath
- IMF snub reveals China’s political priorities (FT)
- Add a dash of trade wars: Revised Duties Imposed by U.S. on Chinese Solar Equipment (Bloomberg)
- IMF calls for action as euro zone crisis festers (Reuters)
- Dubai Losing Billions as Insecure Expats Send Money Abroad (BBG)
- Softbank in Advanced Talks to Acquire Sprint Nextel (WSJ)
- Lagarde calls for brake on austerity (FT)
- EU lambasts Turkey over freedoms (FT)
- Race Tightens in Two States (WSJ)
Just two weeks after Egan-Jones started the party, S&P has downgraded Spain to BBB- (with a negative outlook). As we discussed here when Egan Jones pushed all-in with Spain to CC, of course, Moody's (Baa3 Neg) will likely follow shortly with Fitch (BBB Neg) deciding to avoid the office-raid and keep its French parents happy. The main reasons - and concern going forward, via Bloomberg:
- *S&P MAY CUT SPAIN IF POLITICAL, EUROZONE SUPPORT WANED
- *S&P MAY CUT SPAIN IF NET GOVT DEBT RISES ABOVE 100%/GDP '12-'14
- Doubts over some eurozone governments' commitment to mutualizing the costs of Spain's bank recapitalization are, in our view, a destabilizing factor for the country's credit outlook.
- In our view, the shortage of credit is an even greater problem than its cost.
Even if both the Bush tax cuts and emergency unemployment insurance are extended, the 'sequester' is mostly postponed, and the fresh fiscal drag is confined to the expiration of the payroll tax cut and the new taxes to pay for Obamacare, Goldman estimates suggest that fiscal policy would shave nearly 1.5% from real GDP growth in early 2013. While it seems the 'market' believes that some compromise will be enough to lift the market to new stratospheric heights; we believe, as does Goldman, that the risks are almost exclusively on the downside of this 'not so good' fiscal scenario.
It would appear the US consumer has become entirely bipolar. Bloomberg's US Consumer Comfort index has swung in +/- 3-sigma ranges for much of the last few months as hope turns to despair and once again rises phoenix-like to hope. The last four weeks have seen the biggest rise in 'comfort' in six years - mirroring quite closely the chaos that was occurring in the lead up to the financial crisis. What is a little perplexing - with all this exuberant optimism and confidence, that factory orders just plunged off a cliff - falling the most since Jan 2009 (though slightly better than expected). Or is it so bad that it can only get better as the imploding economy is imploding slightly slower than expected?
One-by-one, the highest quality collateral in the world (according to ratings that is) is disappearing. To wit, Fitch warns that a downgrade of the UK's AAA rating is increasingly likely: "weaker than expected growth and fiscal outturns in 2012 have increased pressure on the UK's 'AAA' rating, which has been on Negative Outlook since March 2012." The Negative Outlook on the UK rating reflects the very limited fiscal space, at the 'AAA' level, to absorb further adverse economic shocks in light of the UK's elevated debt levels and uncertain growth outlook. Global economic headwinds, including those emanating from the on-going eurozone crisis, have compounded the drag on UK growth from private sector deleveraging and fiscal consolidation as well as from depressed business and consumer confidence, weak investment, and constrained credit growth. But no mention of unlimited QE? Fitch expects only a weak recovery beginning in 2013 and output is not expected to surpass its 2007 pre-crisis peak until 2014.
- China accuses Bo Xilai of multiple crimes, expels him from communist party (Reuters), China seals Bo's fate ahead of November 8 leadership congress (Reuters)
- "Dozens of phone calls on days, nights and weekends" - How Bernanke Pulled the Fed His Way - Hilsenrath (WSJ)
- Fed won't "enable" irresponsible fiscal policy-Bullard (Reuters)
- PBOC Adviser Says Easing Restrained by Concerns on Homes (Bloomberg)
- Data Point to Euro-Zone Recession (WSJ)
- Fiscal cliff dims business mood (FT)
- FSA to Oversee Libor in Streamlining of Tarnished Rates (Bloomberg)
- Monti Says ECB Conditions, IMF Role Hinder Bond Requests (Bloomberg)
- Japan Heads for GDP Contraction as South Korea Weakens (Bloomberg)
- Moody’s downgrades South Africa (FT)
- Madrid Struggles With Homage to Catalonia (WSJ)
After seeing its stock market tumbling to fresh 2009 lows, the PBOC decided it couldn't take it any more, and joined the Fed's QE3 and the BOJ's QE8 (RIP) in easing. Sort of. Because while the PBOC is prevented from outright easing as we have been saying for months now (even as "experts" screamed an RRR or outright rate cut is imminent every day while we warned that Chinese inflation has proven quite sticky especially in home prices and food and China's central bank will not attempt to push its stocks up as long as the situation persists, so for quite a while) it can inject liquidity on a ultra-short term basis using reverse repos (or what are called repos here in the US). And shortly after it was found that Chinese companies industrial profits fell 6.2% in August after tumbling 5.4% in July, we learned that the PBOC added a record 365 billion Yuan to the financial system in order to prevent a creeping lockup in the banking system. While this managed to push the Shanghai Composite by nearly 3% overnight, this injection will prove meaningless in even the medium-term as the liquidity is now internalized and the PBOC has no choice but to add ever more liquidity or face fresh post-2009 lows every single day. Which it won't as very soon it will seep over into the broader market. And as long as the threat of surging pork prices next year is there, and with a global bacon shortage already appearing, and food prices set to surge in a few short months on the delayed effects of the US drought, one thing is certain: China will need a rumor that someone- even Spain- is coming to its rescue.
Yes, it did feel kinda rainy already yesterday with “Purple Rain”.
Total Risk Off close today.
Bad Rain. Bad, Bad Rain...