The avuncular Art Cashin opines on the roller-coaster of unreality that has been the equity markets for the last few days as outcomes become increasingly binary and investors increasingly herded from one direction to another. His sage advice - as if spoken by the most-interesting-person-in-the-world - "Stay nimble", my friends.
Just as expected, with the June FOMC coming in fast and furious, the data better start coming in bad to quite bad. Sure enough, here is consumer confidence (not from UMich, but from the Confidence Board, because we need at least two indicators for every economic data point to maintain the Schrodingerian Baffle With Bullshit illusion long and strong) setting us off on the right, er, wrong path, with a 3 sigma miss to expectations of 69.6, dropping precipitously from 69.2 to 64.9, the lowest since January, the third miss in a row, and undoing all the "gains" from the recent bipolar UMichigan consumer confidence which in turn soared for no reason whatsoever. Finally, 12 month inflation expectations drop from 5.8% to 5.6% - not good for a central bank hoping to get consumers to spend or gamble. This is either good or bad for stocks.
A push by the ECB for the euro zone to stand behind banks suffering from bank runs is slowly gaining traction but the bloc has yet to build backstops to prevent, or cope with, a sudden collapse of confidence in banks and mass deposit withdrawals. Last week, European leaders discussed pan European means of supporting banks, measures the ECB hopes will include a bank resolution fund to deal with the fallout from the wind up or restructuring of a failing bank. But a wave of withdrawals by depositors - either for fear that their government is too weak to stand behind its banks or that their country will exit the euro and forcibly convert their savings into a vastly devalued national currency - would represent a crisis of completely new proportions. Greece’s exit and reversion to their national currency, the drachma, could precipitate electronic bank runs in other periphery nations. The risk is that even savers who may trust their bank as being safe, come to the conclusion that there is a risk that their euro deposits may, in the event of a sovereign crisis, be forcibly converted to drachmas, pesetas, liras, punts and escudos.
Despite closed US stock markets today, FaceBook stock still managed to decline, while Europe dipped yet once again on all the same fears: Greece, Spain, bank runs, contagion, etc. Shortly Europe will reopen, this time to be followed by the US stock market as well. While in turn will direct market participants' attention to a shortened week full of economic data, which as Goldman says, will likely shape the direction of markets for the near future. US payrolls and global PMI/ISM numbers are expected to show a mixed picture with some additional weakness already fully anticipated outside the US. On the other hand, consensus does expect a moderate improvement in most US numbers in the upcoming week, including labour market data and business surveys. As a reminder, should the Fed wish to ease policy at its regular June meeting, this Friday's NFP print will be the last chance for an aggressive data-driven push for more QE. As such to Zero Hedge it is far more likely that we will see a big disappointment in this week's consensus NFP print of +150,000. Otherwise the Fed and other central banks will have to scramble with an impromptu multi-trillion coordinated intervention a la November 30, 2011 as things in Europe spiral out of control over the next several weeks. Either way, risk volatility is most likely to spike in the coming days.
European stock futures saw a jump higher at the cash equity open as the Eurostoxx broke through yesterday’s high of 2160. Comments from the Italian PM from late yesterday, who said that the majority of ministers are in favour of Euro bonds was noted but the move was largely technically driven with stops tripped on the ascent. In reaction to this the European bond yield spreads in the 10yr part of the curve tightened aggressively with OAT’s outperforming once again edging back toward the psychological 100bps level. Meanwhile in the FX market the USD weakened in early trade on the renewed risk appetite which bolstered the gains in EUR/USD alongside touted option defence by a Swiss name at the 1.2500 level. Commodity linked currencies such as the AUD was the main benefactor of a moderate move higher in crude futures and precious metals but has been capped so far by offers at 0.9800. Into the North American open prices have pared, with European equities in the cash and futures both slipping into the red, excepting the DAX. A distinctly light calendar from the US with only the May final Michigan report due, coupled with an early closure in the Treasury pit today, ahead of the Memorial day holiday, means that volumes will likely decline into the latter stages of the US session today.
With US markets already checked out ahead of the holiday day weekend, and Europe acting abnormally stupid (PIIGS bond spreads plunging, then soaring right back), there is little newsflow to report overnight, except for a key report that China loan growth is plunging in what is a major risk flag proudly ignored by all algos (but not the SHCOMP which dropped 0.7%). Futures have followed the now traditional inverse pattern of selling off early in the Asian session, then ramping following the European opening on nothing but vapors of hope. All that needs to happen today is a drop early in regular trading, following by a major squeeze on the third consecutive baseless rumor for the week to be complete, and for stocks to actually post an increase even as the EUR crashes and burns. Unless of course we get a rumor that Europe will be open on Monday even as the US is not there to bail out risk assets.
- This is the solution? - Germany Writing Six-Point Plan for Europe Growth, Spiegel Says (Bloomberg)
- JPMorgan Gave Risk Oversight to Museum Head Who Sat on AIG Board (Bloomberg)
- Vatican bank president Gotti Tedeschi ousted -statement (Reuters)
- Bribery, crime and stupidity pays. From this: SEC Staff Ends Probe of Lehman Without Finding Fraud (Bloomberg)
- To this: Lehman to buy remaining Archstone stake for $1.58 billion (Reuters)
- Governments must restore faith in debt sustainability: ECB's Praet (Reuters) - by issuing more debt
- IMF Helping EU Explore Alternatives to Euro Bonds (WSJ)... such as US-funded bailout bonds?
- China Banks May Miss Loan Target for 2012, Officials Say (Bloomberg)
- Facebook market makers' losses total at least $100 million (Reuters)
- World Bank’s Sri Mulyani Says Asean Is Resilient to Europe Woes (Bloomberg)
- Time to flip "The Scream" - Tiffany Cuts Full-Year Profit Forecast (Bloomberg)
- Definitely Maybe: Italy's Monti says Greece will probably keep euro (Reuters)
PIMCO vs GARY SHILLING - ROUND 1
- Rajoy to ask for ECB assistance, according to reports (Sharecast)
- Bundesbank Suggests Greek Exit From Euro Would Be Manageable (Bloomberg)
- Unemployed Burn as Fed Fiddles in Debate Over Natural Rate (Bloomberg)
- Regulators, investors turn up heat over Facebook IPO (Reuters)
- China to boost private energy investment to bolster economy (Reuters)
- OECD fears euro woe to snap brittle world recovery (Reuters)
- China slowdown threatens Australia - World Bank (Herald Sun)
- Guessing game begins over next Treasury chief (Reuters)
- Italians spurn main parties in local polls (FT)
- A fragile Europe must change fast (FT)
- Spain to outline Bankia plan, may announce bailout size (Reuters)
- China Should Adjust Policy Early - Government Researcher (WSJ)
A panel of the Swiss parliament is discussing the introduction of the parallel ‘Gold franc’ currency. Bloomberg has picked up on the news which was reported by Neue Luzerner Zeitung. The Swiss parliament panel will discuss a proposal aimed at introducing a new currency, or a so-called gold franc. Under the proposal, which will be debated in the lower house’s economic panel in Bern today, one coin in gold would be worth about 5 Swiss francs ($5.30), the Swiss newspaper reported. The Swiss franc would remain the official currency, the paper said. The proposal may lead to a wider debate about the Swiss franc and the role gold might again play to protect the Swiss franc from currency debasement. The initiative is part of the “Healthy Currency” campaign which is being promoted by the country’s biggest party – the conservative Swiss People’s Party (SVP).