Consumer Confidence

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Silver Surges 4.5% To Over $37/Oz On "Massive Fund Buying"





Silver as ever outperformed gold yesterday and traders attributed the surge to “massive fund buying” and to “panic” short covering. Some of the bullion banks with large concentrated short positions covered short positions after the technical level of $35.50/oz was breached easily. Massive liquidity injections and ultra loose monetary policies make silver increasingly attractive for hedge funds, institutions and investors. This time last year (February 28th 2011) silver was at $36.67/oz. Two months later on April 28th it had risen to $48.44/oz for a gain of 32% in 2 months. There then came a very sharp correction and a period of consolidation in recent months. Silver’s fundamentals remain as bullish as ever and the technicals look increasingly bullish with strong gains seen in January and February.

 
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Frontrunning: Leap Year Edition





  • Euro-Area Banks Tap ECB for Record Amount of Three-Year Cash (Bloomberg)
  • Papademos Gets Backing for $4.3B of Cuts (Bloomberg)
  • China February Bank Lending Remains Weak (Reuters)
  • Romney Regains Momentum (WSJ)
  • Shanghai Raises Minimum Wage 13% as China Seeks to Boost Demand (Bloomberg)
  • Fiscal Stability Key To Economic Competitiveness - SNB's Jordan (WSJ)
  • Bank's Tucker Says Cannot Relax Bank Requirements (Reuters)
  • Life as a Landlord (NYT)
 
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Sheer Mirror Image Insanity: S&P Hits New Multi Year Highs As 10 Year Bond Slides Below 1.90%





There no longer are any words left to explain what is going on in this centrally planned market (technically "enantiomeric" may be a word, but nobody would get it). It is sheer and utter bipolar insanity, when the S&P can hit multi-year highs even as the 10 year drops below 1.90%, something which in the pre-New Normal would be completely impossible. We wish luck to anyone "trading" a market (read trading alongside Central Bank X, with momentum escalated courtesy of Algo Y, regulated by the SEC no less) which is now pricing in extreme deflation and inflation at the same time, or, simply said, much more QE from the Chairman, record EUR Brent be damned. Oh, and with crude (in USD) back on track to surpass $110, we can't wait for the Department of Truth to tell us how February consumer confidence is literally off the charts.

 
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Silver Passes 30% YTD As Catch 22 Economic "Updates" Becomes Blurry





The economic data keeps coming fast and furious, with Consumer Confidence just printing at a blistering 70.3 on expectations of 63.0, up from 61.5? Why? Because crude is approaching records and gas is $5? No - because the market is up of course on trillions in liquidity. So confidence is up because the market is higher, and the second the higher than expected confidence number prints, the market is higher on that alone. Catch 22 FTW, and it is not alone - every other confidence-based indicator in the past 3 months has beat! Because human beings, indoctrinated to only care about nominal gains, really are that dumb - something well known and appreciated by the central bankers. In other news, we joked before it printed that the Richmond Fed would come several standard deviations above the consensus. Sure enough, the actual print came at 20, naturally far higher than the average estimate of 14, and in fact above the highest estimate of 17. The good news: silver has just hit a 30% YTD return.

 
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No Housing Recovery - Case Shiller Shows 8th Consecutive Month Of House Price Declines





Little that can be added here. The December Case Shiller came, saw, and shut up all those who keep calling for a home price recovery. The Index printed at 136.71 on expectations of 137.11, with the prior revised to 138.24. The top 20 City composite was down -0.5% on expectations of a 0.35% drop. 18 out of 20 MSAs saw monthly declines in December over November, with just the worst of the worst - Miami and Phoenix - posting a dead cat bounce, rising 0.2% and 0.8% respectively. And granted the data is delayed, but the fact that we have now had 8 consecutive months of home price declines even with mortgage rates persistently at record lows, and the double dip in housing more than obvious, can we finally shut up about a housing bottom? Because as Case Shiller's David Blitzer says: "If anything it looks like we might have reentered a period of decline as we begin 2012.” QED

 
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So Greece 'Defaults' And Europe Moves On...





So far there are no dramatic consequences of the Greek default.  The ECB did say they couldn’t accept it as collateral, but national central banks (including Greece’s somehow solvent NCB) can, so no real change.  We will likely get a Credit Event prior to March 20th once CAC’s are used to get the deal fully done.  Will the market respond much to that?  Probably not, though there is a higher risk of unforeseen consequences from that, than there was from the S&P downgrade. It just strikes us that Europe wasted a year or more, and has created a less stable system than it had before. Tomorrow’s LTRO is definitely interesting.  It seems like every outcome is now bullish – big take up is bullish because of the “carry” trade.  Low take up is bullish because “banks are okay”. Any weak bank looking to borrow from the LTRO to buy sovereign debt would be insane to buy bonds longer than 3 years and take the roll risk, but on the other hand, the weakest and most insolvent, got there by doing insane things in the first place.

 
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Daily US Opening News And Market Re-Cap: February 28





Stocks advanced as market participants looked forward to tomorrow’s 3yr LTRO by the ECB where the street expects EU banks to borrow around EUR 400-500bln. All ten sectors traded in positive territory for much of the session, however less than impressive demand for the latest Italian government paper saw equity indices lose some of the upside traction. Of note, the ECB allotted EUR 29.469bln in 7-day operation, as well as EUR 134bln for 1-day in bridge to 3yr loans. In other new, although Portugal's finance minister announced the country has passed its 3rd bailout review by the EU/IMF, this did not stop S&P's Kraemer saying that if there is a probability of default, it is higher in Portugal than in any other Euro-Zone country.

 
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Chatham House: Gold Standard Impractical But Gold Hedge Against Declining Values of Key Fiat Currencies





While the gold standard may no longer exist, nations and international organizations still have 30,877 metric tons of bullion reserves, valued at about $1.77 trillion. The dollar has been the world’s reserve currency since the U.S. and allies agreed at the 1944 Bretton Woods conference to peg it to a rate of $35 per ounce of gold. It remained the most- traded legal tender after global currencies began freely floating in the early 1970s. The greenback dropped 12 percent against a basket of six major currencies since March 2009. The U.K. suspended the gold standard in 1931, Chatham House said. “Greater discipline on financial markets might have been helpful in inhibiting the reckless banking and excessive debt accumulation of the past decade,” the task force said. “However, with the onset of the global crisis, had gold had a more formal role to play, the rigidity it imposes might also have been a handicap when a more flexible policy response was required.” “For gold to play a more formal role in the international monetary system, it would be imperative for it neither to hamper the system’s performance nor to create unacceptable constraints on national economic policies,” the task force said.  Gold may “continue playing a significant role in the international monetary system, serving as a valuable hedge and safe haven, particularly in times when tail risks predominate.”

 
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Key Events In The Week Ahead - US Growth Focus And Oil Price Trends





Last week saw dramatic dispersion among the major FX pairs as global and local influences caused significant moves in most of the key crosses. Goldman takes a look back at the key drivers of that volatility and then focuses on the week ahead as the EU Summit at the latter end is the main event risk while ongoing macro developments will be focused on the incessant rise in Crude oil prices and whether we start seeing knock-on impacts in the real economy.

 
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EUR Decouples: The Other Way





As the Greek 'deal' is being finalized and we anxiously await next week's LTRO, it would appear that the market is now pricing in a very different way forward. EURUSD is soaring and decoupling (the other way) from risk assets as market participants begin to anticipate potential rate hikes in Europe to combat soaring energy prices, and furthermore that following the second LTRO, any and all easing expectations (and the pump to keep global asset prices afloat) will be squarely on the shoulders of the somewhat ambivalent Fed as the rest of the world already pumped about $2 trillion of cash into the market.

 
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Today's Events: Consumer Confidence in Manipulated Markets, New Home Sales, Fed Speeches





Bunch of irrelevant and reflexive (stock market is up so confidence - in what? manipulated markets? - is higher, so stock market is up so confidence is higher etc) stuff today, as the world central banks prepare to pump another $600-$1000 billion into the consolidated balance sheet and send input costs into the stratosphere. Somehow this is bullish for stocks. Luckily, it will finally break the EURUSD - ES linkage.

 
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Frontrunning: February 24





  • U.S. Postal Service to Cut 35,000 Jobs as Plants Are Shut (BBG) -Expect one whopper of a seasonal adjustment to compensate
  • European Banks May Tap ECB for $629 Billion Cash (Bloomberg) - EURUSD surging as all ECB easing now priced in; Fed is next
  • Madrid presses EU to ease deficit targets (FT)
  • Greek Parliament Approves Debt Write-Down (WSJ)
  • Mentor of Central Bankers Fischer Rues Complacency as Economy Accelerates (Bloomberg)
  • Draghi Takes Tough Line on Austerity (WSJ)
  • European Banks Hit by Losses (WSJ)
  • Moody's: won't take ratings action on Japan on Friday (Reuters)
  • Athens told to change spending and taxes (FT)
 
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Frontrunning: February 23





  • IMF Official: 'Huge' Greek Program Implementation Risks In Next Few Days (WSJ)
  • European Banks Take Greek Hit After Deal (Bloomberg)
  • Obama Urged to Resist Calls to Use Oil Reserves Amid Iran Risks (Bloomberg)
  • Hungary hits at Brussels funds threat (FT)
  • Bank Lobby Widened Volcker Rule Before Inciting Foreign Outrage (Bloomberg)
  • Germany fights eurozone firewall moves (FT)
  • New York Federal Reserve Said to Plan Sale of AIG-Linked Mortgage Bonds (Bloomberg)
  • G-20 Asks Europe to Beef Up Funds (WSJ)
  • New Push for Reform in China (WSJ)
 
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NAR Continues Tradition Of Making Mockery Of Itself, Revises December Home Sales From +5% to -0.5%





And here is yet another reason why we will permanently ignore the pathologically lying real estate syndicate known as the NAR (link): December data was just revised from +5% to -0.5% (from 4.61 million to 4.38 million). Since December market expectations were for a +5.2% print, imagine the sheer horror the algos would have been faced with had the real number been reported on time. Needless to say, if this number had been unrevised, the January +4.3% increase would have been a decline. This way the aglos focused only on the immediate moment get two months of beats in a row. Huzzah. Anyone who trades anything based on this borderline criminal self-reporting enterprise needs to have their head checked. In other news, when will the LIBOR investigation finally target the NAR?

 
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Sentiment Weaker Following Euroarea PMI Contraction, Refutation Of "Technical Recession"





January's hopium catchphrase of the month was that Europe's recession would be "technical" which is simply a euphemism for our Fed's beloved word - "transitory." Based on the just released Euroarea PMI, we can scratch this Euro-accented "transitory" addition to the lexicon, because contrary to expectations that the Euroarea composite PMI would show expansion at 50.5, instead it came out at 49.7 - the manufacturing PMI was 49.0 on Exp of 49.4, while the Services PMI was 49.4, on hopes of expansion at 50.6, which as Reuters notes suggests that firms are still cutting prices to drum up business and reducing workforces to cut costs. This was accompanied by a overnight contraction in China, where the flash manufacturing PMI rose modestly from 48.8, but was again in contraction at 49.7. We would not be surprised if this is merely the sacrifice the weakest lamb in the pack in an attempt to get crude prices lower. So far this has failed to dent WTI much if at all following rapidly escalating Iran tensions. What is curious is that Germany and France continue to do far better than the rest of the Eurozone - just as America has decoupled from Europe, so apparently have Germany and France. This too is surely "sustainable."

 
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