Overnight newsflow (which nowadays has zero impact on markets which only care what Ben Bernanke had for dinner) started in Japan where factory orders were reported to have risen the most since December 2011, retail sales climbed, the unemployment rate rose modestly, consumer prices stayed flat compared to a year ago, however real spending plunged -1.6% significantly below the market consensus forecast for +1.3% yoy, marking the first yoy decline in five months. This suggests that households are cutting utility costs more so than the level of increase in prices. By contrast, real spending on clothing and footwear grew sharply by 6.9% yoy (+0.6% in April) marking positive growth for a fourth consecutive month. Simply said, the Japanese reflation continues to be limited by the lack of wage growth even as utility and energy prices are exploding and limiting the potential for core inflation across the board.
It's almost as if the manic-depressive market has gotten exhausted with the script of surging overnight volatility, and following a week of breathless global "taper tantrumed" trading, tonight's gentle ramp seems modest by comparison to recent violent swings. With no incremental news out of China, the Shanghai composite ended just modestly lower, the Nikkei rushed higher to catch up to the USDJPY implied value, Europe has been largely muted despite better than expected news out of Germany on the unemployment front. This however was offset by a decline in Europe's May M3 (from 3.2% to 2.9%) while bank lending to NFCs and households simply imploded, confirming that there is no hope for a Keynesian, insolvent Europe in which there isn't any credit creation either by commercial banks or by the central bank (and in fact there is ongoing deleveraging across the board). US futures are rangebound with ES just shy of 1,500. We will need some truly ugly data in today's economic docket which includes claims, personal income/spending and pending home sales to push stocks that next leg higher. To think the S&P could have been higher by triple digits yesterday if the final Q1 GDP has just printed red. Failing that, the Fed's doves jawboning may be sufficient for a 100+ DJIA points today with Dudley, Lockhart and Powell all set to speak later today.
Once again it is all about central banks, with early negative sentiment heading into Asian trading - following the disappointing announcement from the PBOC about "ample liquidity" leading to the 6th consecutive drop in the Shanghai Composite while the PenNikkeiStock index tumbled yet again - completely erased and flipped as Mario Draghi spoke, although not to explain his involvement with the latest European derivative window-dressing scandal, but to announce that he is, once again, "ready to act" (supposedly through the OMT, which despite the best hopes to the contrary, still DOES NOT OFFICIALLY EXIST) and that while it is up to government to raise growth potentials, growth would "partly come from accommodative policy." In other words, ignore all BIS warnings, for Europe's unaccountable Goldmanite overlord Mario Draghi continues to promise more morphined Koolaid (read record Goldman bonuses) to any banker that comes knocking.
Perhaps - as we are always reminded - it will be different this time but following this morning's surge in Consumer Confidence, we got to thinking, just why is everyone so confident? The facts are, as Citi's FX Technicals group notes, the last times we saw mortgage rates surge like they just have, that marked the peak in consumer confidence and the market followed shortly after. It seems that the Fed, by engineering ever lower rates, can lift confidence; but as is clear from this chart (and as we noted previously) there is a limit to this effect (ZIRP) and each cycle has diminishing returns.
It was shaping up to be another bloodbathed session, with the futures down 10 points around the time Shanghai started crashing for the second night in a row, and threatening to take out key SPX support levels, when the previously noted rumor of an imminent PBOC liquidity injection appeared ex machina and sent the Shanghai composite soaring by 5% to barely unchanged, but more importantly for the all important US wealth effect, the Emini moved nearly 20 points higher from the overnight lows triggering momentum ignition algos that had no idea why they are buying only knowing others are buying. The rumor was promptly squashed when the PBOC did indeed take the mic, but contrary to expectations, announced that liquidity was quite "ample" and no new measures were forthcoming. However, by then the upward momentum was all that mattered and the fact that the underlying catalyst was a lie, was promptly forgotten. End result: futures now at the highs for absolutely no reason.
- Stocks Fall With China in Bear Market as Bonds Decline (BBG)
- Russia defiant as U.S. raises pressure over Snowden (Reuters) ...
- and sure enough: Kerry Warns Hong Kong and Russia on Snowden (WSJ)
- Slow-Motion U.S. Recovery Searches for Second Gear (WSJ)
- PBOC Sees ‘Reasonable’ Liquidity in China’s Financial System (BBG)
- Italy's Berlusconi faces verdict in underage sex trial (Reuters)
- Fed Monetary Course Difficult for a Bernanke Successor to Alter (BBG)
- Another China central bank worry; companies push into lending (Reuters)
- Gold Miner Writedowns at $17 Billion After Newcrest Fallout (BBG)
- Snowden Faces Often-Posed U.S. Fugitive Question: Where to Run? (BBG)
Lots of sellside squeals this morning following the epic bloodbath in China, where in addition to what we already covered hours ago, has seen at least five companies (China Development Bank, Shanghai ShenTong Metro, China Three Gorges Corp., Doosan Infracore China Co. and Chongqing Shipping Construction Development) delay or cancel bond offerings as the PBOC's admission of capital "misallocation" is slowly but surely freezing both bond and stock markets. And while the plunge was contained first to China, then to Asia, then to Europe (where the Spanish 10 Year once again surpassed 5% as expected following the carry trade unwind), with the arrival of bleary-eyed US traders the contagion is finally coming home. In a redux of last week, 10 Year yields are shooting up, hitting as high as 2.63% a few hours ago, while equity futures are now at the lows of the session. It could turn very ugly, very fast, especially if the Hamptons crowd were to actually read the stunning BIS annual report released on Sunday, which not even Hilsenrath explaining "what the BIS really meant" will do much to change the fact that the days of monetary Koolaid are ending.
Claiming that enough time had surely passed since they last caused a global economic meltdown, top executives from the U.S. financial sector told reporters Monday that they are just about ready to completely destroy the world again. Representatives from all major banking and investment institutions cited recent increases in consumer spending, rebounding home prices, and a stabilizing unemployment rate as confirmation that the time had once again come to inflict another round of catastrophic financial losses on individuals and businesses worldwide. “It’s been about five or six years since we last crippled every major market on the planet, so it seems like the time is right for us to get back out there and start ruining the lives of billions of people again,” said Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein. “We gave it some time and let everyone get a little comfortable, and now we’re looking to get back on the old horse, shatter some consumer confidence, and flat-out kill any optimism for a stable global economy for years to come.”
- Turmoil Exposes Global Risks (WSJ)
- China Money Rates Retreat After PBOC Said to Inject Cash (BBG)
- Fed Seen by Economists Trimming QE in September, 2014 End (BBG)
- Booz Allen, the World's Most Profitable Spy Organization (BBG)
- Abe’s Arrows of Growth Dulled by Japan’s Three Principles (BBG)
- China steps back from severe cash crunch (FT)
- Smog at Hazardous as Singapore, Jakarta Spar Over Fires (BBG)
- U.S. Weighs Doubling Leverage Standard for Biggest Banks (BBG)
With markets now showing their true colors (pricing in the inevitable beginning of a taper), the next hour or so of double-speak and talking out of both sides of his mouth may well be the most important in the career of Ben Bernanke.
- *BERNANKE: FOMC MAY `MODERATE' PACE OF PURCHASES LATER IN 2013
- *BERNANKE SAYS FED MAY END PURCHASES AROUND MID-YEAR 2014
- *BERNANKE SAYS FED WILL EASE QE PACE IF ECONOMY IMPROVES
- *BERNANKE SAYS PURCHASE REDUCTION REPRESENTS FOMC CONSENSUS
While all eyes and ears will conveniently and expectedly be on the Fed announcement and press conference in a few hours, the real action continues to take place in China, where the liquidity crunch is becoming unbearable for the local banks (and will only get worse the longer Bernanke and Kuroda keep their hot money policies). The CNY benchmark money-market one-week repo rate was 138bp higher overnight to a 2 year high of 8.15%. The 7 day Interest-Rate swap rose for a record 13th day in a row jumping +10 bps to 4.08%, the highest since September 2011. China sold 10 Year bonds at a 3.50% yield, above the 3.47% expected, and at a bid to cover of 1.43 which was the lowest since August 2012. Moody’s commented that local government financing vehicles (LGFVs) pose significant risks to Chinese banks. LGFVs accounted for 14% of loan portfolios at end-2012 according to Moody’s.
"Recent bouts of positive correlation between equities, bonds and commodities suggest that the Fed’s stimulus inflated prices of financial assets, and removal of the stimulus could create a tail event in which prices of most of assets could go down. To reduce this risk, investors could diversify ‘safe haven’ assets away from treasuries and into other assets that are at lower risk in case of tapering. For instance, investors could increase allocations to equity index put options.... we think that the quick increase of net margin debt, and high ratio of margin debt to S&P 500 do point to an increased probability of a market correction and volatility increase in the second half of the year." - JPMorgan
Not so long ago, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said it expected the U.S. government to register a budget deficit in the current fiscal year of $642 billion. But hold on a minute... The budget deficit so far (as of May 31, 2013) has already hit $626.3 billion, and we still have four more months to go in the government’s current fiscal year! The U.S. has been the family that spends more than it earns for many years now. In the short term, spending more than one takes in can work (especially if the Fed just prints new money and gives it to the government to pay its bills). But in the long term, if fundamental changes are not made to the government’s spending habits, financial chaos just starts all over again. Posting a budget deficit year after year is not sustainable. The debt-infested eurozone nations did very much the same; they borrowed to spend. Look where they are now.
In the week ahead, we get the usual middle-of-the-month batch of early business surveys, including the New York Empire, Philly Fed and Eurozone Flash PMIs. The second key focus will be a number of important monetary policy meetings, including the FOMC, as well as the Swiss, Norwegian Turkish and Indian policy decisions. The latter two are particularly interesting in the light of the recent EM weakness. The main event this weak will be the FOMC meeting after the recent market focus on the timing of tapering of the QE3 program. Swings in bond markets related to the FOMC meeting could be the primary source of FX volatility this week.
Thursdays may be the new Tuesdays (if only this week), but so far Fridays are still just Fridays, and no mysterious overnight levitation is here to open the market 0.5% higher. The Nikkei 225 retraced a fraction of Thursday’s losses overnight as the positive close on Wall Street and a dovish interpretation of Hilsenrath’s WSJ piece yesterday allowed the Japanese indices to recover from the worst levels of the week. USD/JPY has pared Thursday’s bounce and trades lower as the Bank of Japan’s minutes showed one member of the board proposing the advantages of limiting the bank’s QQE program to just two years in order to avoid financial imbalances. Overnight in China, as we warned yesterday, the liquidity situation got even worse, when the PBOC's attempt to drain liquidity failed to sell some 30% of the planned 15 billion yuan in 273-day bills (more on this shortly), leaving the banks screaming Uncle and on the verge of a full-blown liquidity crisis: we expect rumors, and news, of more banks failing to roll over overnight liquidity to hit the tape shortly.