Three unlucky attempts in a row to retake the S&P 500 all time high may have been all we get, at least for now, because the fourth one is shaping up to be rather problematic following events out of the Crimean in the past three hours where the Ukraine situation has gone from bad to worse, and have dragged the all important risk indicator, the USDJPY, below 102.000 once again. As a result, global stock futures have fallen from the European open this morning, with the DAX future well below 9600 to mark levels not seen since last Thursday. Escalated tensions in the Ukraine have raised concerns of the spillover effects to Western Europe and Russia, as a Russian flag is lifted by occupying gunmen in the Crimean (Southern Ukrainian peninsula) parliament, prompting an emergency session of Crimean lawmakers to discuss the fate of the region. This, allied with reports of the mobilisation of Russian jets on the Western border has weighed on risk sentiment, sending the German 10yr yield to July 2013 lows.
How the volatility of the market can be seen every day! Yesterday, the London financiers were out there celebrating on their 14-year high and backing that the ‘only way was up’. Then today they woke up too late after hitting the bottle too much and now that high has dropped as China’s economy is causing greater concerns for the rest of the financial world.
The developments are bullish for gold prices as various bitcoin exchanges had captured capital flows from investors and speculators who are skeptical of the current financial and monetary system and many of whom would have previously have bought gold and silver. Some of this capital is more likely to flow into gold in the coming months.
For the second night in a row, China, and specifically its currency rate which saw the Yuan weaken once more, preoccupied investors - and certainly those who had bet on endless strenghtening of the Chinese currency - however this time it appeared more "priced in, and after trading as low as 2000, the SHCOMP managed to close modestly green, which however is more than can be said about the Nikkei which ended the session down 0.5%. Still, the USDJPY was firmly supported by the 102.00 "fundamental" fair value barrier and as a result equity futures, which had to reallign from tracking the AUDUSD to the old faithful Yen carry, have been propped up once more and are set to open at all time highs. If equities fail to breach the record barrier for the third time in a row and a selloff ensues after the open in deja vu trading, it will be time to watch out below if only purely for technical reasons.
Despite fresh record highs for stocks, previously exuberant Conference Board consumer confidence was unable to make new highs and instead tumbled by the most in 4 months, missing expectations by the most since October. This catches down to Bloomberg's less confident consumer and suggests the hopes and dreams of a nation looking for moar multiple expansion may be drifting away...
- Turkish PM says tapes of talk with son a fabrication (Reuters) but opposition confirms authenticity, and national TV carriers cut parliament when played live
- Inside the Showdown Atop Pimco, the World's Biggest Bond Firm (WSJ)
- Ex-Jefferies Trader’s Customers Say Lies Common Tactic (BBG)
- Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox disappears in blow to virtual currency (Reuters)
- The messenger mania is spreading: SoftBank Said to Seek Stake in Naver’s Line Messaging Unit (BBG)
- Ukraine Replaces Central Bank Head (BBG)
- Yup, an actual headline: Harsh weather tests optimism over U.S. economy (Reuters)
- Hiring of Law Grads Improves for Some (BBG)
- Easy Currency Bet Gets Harder as the Chinese Yuan Tumbles (WSJ)
- In Ukraine turbulence, a lad from Lviv becomes the toast of Kiev (Reuters)
All eyes were on China overnight, where first the PBOC drained a quite substantial CNY 100 billion in liquidity via 14 day repos in the month following the biggest credit injection on record, pushing those worried about China's credit schizophrenia to the edge, and then things got even more bizarre when in an act of clear PBOC intervention, the CNY dropped to the lowest since August 2013 as concerns about the global carry trade's impact on China (as noted here previously) start to reverberate. We will have more to say about China's Yuan intervention, but what should be noted is that the Shanghai Composite has tumbled nearly 10% in the past week, and was down another 2% overnight and is once again just barely above 2000, a level it can't seem to get away from for years (which is fine: recall that the real bubble in China is not the stock but the housing market). Chinese property stocks dropped to 8-month lows as concern continues about bank's withdrawing some liquidity for the asset class.The USDJPY drifted along and after rising to a resistance level of about 102.600 has since slide just shy of its 102.20 support area which means US equity futures are now in the red, and concerns that the S&P 500 may not close at a new record high are start to worry the technicians.
Despite record low yields on sovereign bonds, record high stock prices, and a political elite proclaiming it's all shits and giggles from here... it seems record unemployment, record suicide rates, record bad loans, and record low credit creation were finally enough to trump the 'wealth effect' exuberance that European consumer confidence has envisaged in recent months. This is the biggest drop in confidence in 18 months and the biggest miss since Aug 2011. This is a 3 sigma miss from expectations and below all 25 "economist" guesses. How's the weather in Europe?
So Venezuela is collapsing, Thailand is crumbling, and Ukraine is for all intent and purpose under martial law, US macro data is dreadful (and no, it's not all the frigging weather), and German consumer confidence dumped again; and US stocks soar (8th day in a row for Nasdaq for first time since July) on the back of a BoJ move that was fully expected (and entirely under-utlized) but sprung USDJPY back above 102. S&P futures volume was 35% below average as the day-session range was extremely small. The Russell 2000 almost reached unchanged for 2014. The un-taper, QE balls-to-the-wall trade continues it would appear - Gold (and even more so silver - longest win-streak in 46 years) continue to surge; Treasury yields continue to slide; the USD slips lower (led by EUR strength); and of course, high-beta equities jump higher (as stodgy big caps underperform). Unfortunately, the EM crisis is far from over - as EM FX tumbled today. VIX also rose notably, disconnecting from stocks; and credit markets are wider today than Friday's close.
Take your pick of which "confidence" measure you choose to watch to confirm your previous "common knowledge" meme. Unsurprisingly, the government's own Conference Board indicator provides the highest level of confidence relative to recent months but today's beat by UMich (81.2 flat from last month but above 80.2 expectations) is the highest overall level among the indices. It seems not even the weather can dampen the enthusiasm of the US consumer (who is retail spending at a dismally low level?) Hardly surprising is the fact that the tumble in the current conditions index was entirely dissolved by the hope for the economic outlook which stands at 6 month highs! Short-dated inflation expectations also ticked up. Of course what really matters is keeping the dream alive that multiple-expanding confidence will cover up any and all missed expectations in macro and micro data.
Despite the yeah-meh-bleh nature of consumer confidence measures, Gallup's more broadly surveyed, and seemingly consistent with the reality of the American workforce, index of economic confidence remains lackluster at best and dismal at worst. However, there is one bright shining beacon of light across the "United" States of America... one state stands proud as the lone state that is economically confident... that state is... drum roll please... D.C.
The most notable event in this traditionally quiet post-payrolls week is Janet Yellen's Humphrey Hawkins testimony before Congress set for mid-week. In terms of economic data releases, the US retail sales (Exp. 0.05%) is on Thursday and consumer sentiment survey is on Friday (consensus 80.5). We also have IP numbers from Euro Area countries and the US. Most recent external account statistics are released from Japan, China, India and Turkey. It is also interesting to track CPI data in Germany, Spain and India, given the ECB and RBI currently face diverging inflation challenges and may be forced into further action. Finally, we have Q4 GDP data from the Euro Area economies (Friday).
It is remarkable that, Marc Faber begins, despite the growth the US has enjoyed since the 1960s, the poverty rate has barely changed. Faber believes there are far more “poor” people today as a percentage of the population than there were in the 1960s, because lower middle-class and middle-class people have moved into the ranks of the poor. In his opinion, the increase in poverty rests on four pillars: cultural and social factors, educational issues, excessive debt, and government handouts, which encourage people not to work. Other factors include: international competition, which keeps wages down; and monetary policies, which create bubbles and impoverish the majority... “It’s pretty hard to tell what does bring happiness; poverty and wealth have both failed.”
Previous month's epic miss and hurriedly revised expectations from UMich confidence was 'baffled with schizophrenic bullshit' when the Conference Board printed at near record post-crisis highs earlier in the week. It is perhaps not unexpected that despite a drop MoM, following the huge miss last month that UMich confidence would very modestly beat expectations. As in the last 2 cycles, we saw an echo surge in confidence and that has now (just as in the last two cycles of confidence) begun to fade. Both current conditions and economic outlook fell MoM.