Last month's sudden plunge (and biggest miss since Jan 2012) in Conference Board consumer confidence merely enabled an even bigger bounce this month. Consumer confidence surged to 94.5, its highest since October 2007, beating by the most since April 2013 (amid Ebola outbreaks). While the current situation was relatively flat, the surge in the headline data was purely due to a huge spike in future expectations from 83.7 to 95.0 - the highest since Feb 2011. Oddly, fewer people are likely to buy a car, major appliance, or house in the next 6 months but survey respondents expect a surge in incomes?
- CDC says returning Ebola medical workers should not be quarantined (Reuters)
- Sweden’s central bank cuts rates to zero (FT)
- Hacking Trail Leads to Russia, Experts Say (WSJ)
- Discount-Hunting Shoppers Threaten Stores’ Holiday Cheer (BBG)
- Apple CEO fires back as retailers block Pay (Reuters)
- Repeat after us: all China data is fake - China Fake Invoice Evidence Mounts as HK Figures Diverge (BBG)
- FX Traders’ Facebook Chats Said to Be Sought in EU Probe (BBG)
- Euro Outflows at Record Pace as ECB Promotes Exodus (BBG)
- Apple boosts R&D spending in new product hunt (FT)
If yesterday's markets closed broadly unchanged following all the excitement from the latest "buy the rumor, sell the news" European stress test coupled with a quadruple whammy of macroeconomic misses across the globe, then today's overnight trading session has been far more muted with no major reports, and if the highlight was Kuroda's broken, and erroneous, record then the catalyst that pushed the Nikkei lower by 0.4% was a Bloomberg article this morning mentioning that lower oil prices could mean the BoJ is forced to "tone down or abandon its outlook for inflation." This comes before the Bank of Japan meeting on Friday where the focus will likely be on whether Kuroda says he is fully committed to keeping current monetary policy open ended and whether or not he outlines a target for the BoJ’s asset balance by the end of 2015; some such as Morgan Stanely even believe the BOJ may announce an expansion of its QE program even if most don't, considering the soaring import cost inflation that is ravaging the nation and is pushing Abe's rating dangerously low. Ironically it was the USDJPY levitation after the Japanese session, which launched just as Europe opened, moving the USDJPY from 107.80 to 108.10, that has managed to push equity futures up 0.5% on the usual: nothing.
This week we will find out the answer to whether the Federal Reserve will end its current quantitative easing program or not. Today was the last open market operation of the current program, and our bet is that it will be the last, for now. Here are three reasons why we believe this to be the case.
And just like that, the Ebola panic is back front and center, because after one week of the west African pandemic gradually disappearing from front page coverage and dropping out of sight and out of mind, suddenly Ebola has struck at global ground zero. While the consequences are unpredictable at this point, and a "follow through" infection will only set the fear level back to orange, we applaud whichever central bank has been buying futures (and the USDJPY) because they clearly are betting that despite the first ever case of Ebola in New York, that this will not result in a surge in Ebola scare stories, which as we showed a few days ago, may well have been the primary catalyst for the market freakout in the past month.
Following last month's exuberant catch-up to the Conference Board confidence, UMich confidence surged to cycle highs (helped by Ebola panic and the worst stock maket turmoil in years). At 86.4, handily beating the 84.0 expectations - this is the highest confidence since July 2007. This is the biggest beat of expectations since April 2013 as current conditions were flat but the outlook for the future (hope) surged to 78.4 - highest in 2 years.
If the last three days all started with a rout in futures before the US market open only to ramp higher all day, today it may well be the opposite, when shortly after Europe opened it was the ECB's turn to talk stocks higher, when literally within minutes of the European market's open, ECB's Coeure said that:
- COEURE SAYS ECB WILL START WITHIN DAYS TO BUY ASSETS
Which was today's code word for all is clear, and within minutes US futures, which until that moment had languished unchanged, soared by 25 points. So will today be more of the same and whatever early action was directed by the central bankers will be faded into a weekend in which only more bad news can come out of Ebola-land?
As if to rub salt into the wounds of Europe's death by a thousand-downgrades, Goldman Sachs followed up Germany's decision to drastically cut its growth outlook for 2014 (+1.2% from +1.8%) and 2015 (+1.3% from +2.0%) by slashing its forecast for Europe in Q3 to a triple-dip recessionary -0.15% GDP growth. This is dramatically below an "over-optimistic" consensus of +0.35% as incoming data is notably weaker than expected. The DAX remains well below the crucial 9,000 level (having plunged early in the European session) and bund yields have collapsed to new record lows.
Today US activity will be very light given the Columbus Day holiday. As DB summarizes, we have a relatively quiet day for data watchers today but the calendar will pick up tomorrow and beyond with a big focus on inflation numbers amongst other things. Indeed tomorrow will see the release of Germany’s ZEW survey alongside CPI prints from the UK, France and Spain. Wednesday’s data highlights will include the US retail sales for September, the Fed’s Beige Book, CPI readings from China and Germany, US PPI, and the NY Fed Empire State survey. Draghi will speak twice on Wednesday which could also be a source for headlines. On Thursday, we will get Industrial Production stats and the Philly Fed Survey from the US on top of the usual weekly jobless claims. European CPI will also be released on Wednesday. We have the first reading of October’s UofM Consumer Sentiment on Friday along with US building permits/housing starts. Yellen’s speech at the Boston Fed Conference on Friday (entitled “Inequality of Economic Opportunity”) will also be closely followed.
Global economic growth remains weak and vulnerable and the global financial system remains very fragile. The ebola virus has the potential to be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back.
Stocks and commodities fell globally today due to concerns about the spread of Ebola and declining economic growth. Precious metals bounced from near multi month lows.
Every quarter we take a break from all the standard economic indicators to look at a range of alternative data. The purpose here is to pose the question: “Does the consensus view of the U.S. economy square with what real people do in their day to day lives?” Overall, the news from “Off the Grid” challenges the notion that the U.S. economy is on solid ground and accelerating. Inching forward, yes... But not much more.
The decline followed reports of one confirmed ebola case in Texas. That case has started to make people nervous; additional reports of Ebola cases could create an environment where the travel and hospitality industries would once again see weaker performance.
Despite Mark Zandi's promises that all is well in the US economy, ADP had dropped (and missed) two months in a row prior to today's print but a very small rise and beat this month (213k vs 205k expected and 205k previous) shows some stability. Of note is that this print is no better than the average ADP job change over the last four years. On the bright side small businesses add the most jobs while medium-sized businesses added the least. Of potential note to this somewhat 'meh' jobs data, yesterday's Consumer Confidence data showed a disappointing plunge in Jobs-Plentiful vs Jobs-Not-Plentiful which suggests Friday's all-important payrolls print may not be as exuberant as expected.
A quick anecdote that should quickly confirm just how broken everything is: earlier today MarkIt reported European manufacturing data that was atrocious, with both German and European PMIs tumbling to levels not seen since mid-2013, and with Europe's growth dynamo now in a contraction phase clearly signalling what has been long overdue: a European triple dip recession. So what happens? Moments later Germany sells €4.1 billion in 10 Year paper at a record low yield below 1%.... even as the Bundesbank had to retain a whopping 17.84% of the auction, the highest since June, with only €4.663 Bn in bids for the €5 Bn target, the first miss since May 21. So hurray for the central banks, boo for the economy, and as for that mythical creature, once known as bond vigilantes, our condolences: good luck figuring out what the hell just happened, and good luck recalling what a free market is.
If the European triple-dip alert was barely glowing a muted red until this morning, then following the latest German PMI data, which tumbled to 49.9 from 50.3, below the 50.3 consensus, and is the first contractionary print in 15 months, then they are now screaming a bright burgundy. And while the European recession has now clearly made its way to the core, it wasn't just Germany: French PMI continued to be solidly in a contracting phase, at 48.8, unchanged from the previous month, the overall European Manufacturing PMI also missed and declined, dropping from a flash reading 50.5 to only 50.3, which was a 14 month low, with the average PMI reading for Q3 the lowest since a year ago, and as MarkIt summarized, "Eurozone manufacturing edges closer to stagnation." Have no fear, though, Mario Draghi and his monetization of Greek Junk Bonds will fix everything!