Overnight markets have been a continuation of the relative peace observed yesterday before the onslaught of key data later in the week, with the biggest mover standing out as the USDJPY, which briefly touched 102 before sliding lower then recouping losses. This sent the Nikkei 225 up 0.57% despite absolutely atrocious Japanese household spending data, coupled with a major deterioration in employment: at this rate if Abenomics doesn't fix the economy it just may destroy it. Aside from that the last 24 hours could be summed as having a lot of noise but not a lot of excitement. This was best illustrated by the S&P500’s (+0.03%) performance which was the second smallest gain YTD. And while the SHCOMP is starting to fade its recent euphoria and China was up only 0.24%, Europe continues to cower in the shade of Russian sanctions as both German Bund yields rose to record highs, and Portugal's BES tumbled by 10% once again to 1 week lows. Today Europe is expected to formally reveal its latest Russian sanctions, which should in turn push Europe's already teetering economy back over the edge.
There has been little in term of tier 1 data releases to drive the price action so far in the overnight session which means participants focused on the upcoming US related risk events including the Fed, Q2 GDP and July Payrolls. This, combined with WSJ article by Fed’s Fisher who opined that the FOMC should consider tapering the reinvestment of maturing securities and begin shrinking the Fed’s balance sheet (note that Fisher’s opinion piece is written based on a speech he gave on July 16th) meant that USTs came under pressure overnight in Asia and in Europe this morning. There has been little notable equity futures action (for now: the USDJPY algo team gave it a good ramp attempt just before Europe open, and will repeat just around the US open despite Standard Chartered major cut to its USDJPY forecast from 110 to 106 overnight), although we expect that to change since today is the day when Tuesday frontrunning takes place with full force. We expect equities to completely ignore the ongoing deterioration in Ukraine and the imminent release of EU's own sanctions against Russia, as well as what is now shaping up as an Argentina default on July 30.
Following yesterday's disappointing results by Visa, which is the largest DJIA component accounting for 8% of the index and which dropped nearly 3%, while AMZN's 10% tumble has weighed heavily on NASDAQ futures, it has been up to the USDJPY to push US equity futures from dropping further, which it has done admirably so far with the tried and true levitation pump taking place just as Europe opened. One thing to keep in mind: yesterday the CME quietly hiked ES and NQ margins by 6% and 11% respectively. A modest warning shot across the bow of what may be coming down the line?
IMF Cuts US GDP From 2.0% To 1.7% As US Retail Sales Forecast Slashed From 4.1% To 3.6%: Winter BlamedSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/23/2014 11:05 -0500
This is what happens when a priced to perfection global economy (and well beyond perfection based on the S&P 500) runs into the utterly and completely unpredictable and unforseeable "harsh winter weather."
It is quite clear that Bernanke achieved his goal of inflating asset prices by expanding the Federal Reserve's balance sheet by 371.64% since the end of the financial crisis. However, was he as successful in fulfilling his other objectives? The following charts perform the same cost/benefit analysis on real economic health... Did the Fed's monetary intervention programs keep the economy from sliding into a much deeper recession? Probably. Have the programs been effective in achieving Bernanke's stated goals? Not really.
This won't help the animal-spirity, growth-is-here, stocks-are-at-all-time-highs-so-that-must-mean-we're-doing-awesome meme that is so often propagandized to the world. UMich consumer confidence for July tumbled to 81.3 (missing expectations of a resurgent 82.9 by the most since Dec 2012) - its lowest since March. Current conditions improved modestly but more worrying is the 3rd month in a row of dropping hope for the future. The Fed may be particularly concerned as 1-year ahead inflation expectations are hovering at highs since Aug 2012.
- Ukraine Says Malaysian Airliner Shot Down Near Russian Border (BBG)
- Downing of airliner seen as pivotal moment in Ukraine crisis (Reuters)
- Malaysian Air Flight Took Route Avoided by Qantas, Asiana (BBG)
- Russian-Made Missile Hit Malaysia Jet, U.S. Officials Say (BBG)
- Netanyahu Orders Military to Ready Wider Gaza Incursion (BBG)
- Silvio Berlusconi Underage Sex Conviction Overturned (WSJ)
- But... but... "economic patriotism" - AbbVie to Buy Shire for $54.8 Billion as Drug Deals Surge (BBG)
- SEC targets 10 firms in high frequency trading probe - SEC document (Reuters)
- Art bubble pop: Sotheby's to Lay Off 'Modest' Number of Employees (WSJ)
- Moar Abenomics: Hermes Sales Trail Estimates as Japanese Revenue Declines (BBG)
The holiday shortened, and very busy, week includes the following highlights: [on Monday] US Chicago PMI; [on Tuesday] US ISM Manufacturing, Construction Spending, and Vehicle Sales, in addition to a host of PMI Manufacturing in various countries; [on Wednesday] US ADP Employment, Factory Orders; [on Thursday] US Non-farm Payrolls and Unemployment, MP Decisions by ECB and Riksbank, in addition to various Services and Composite PMIs; [on Friday] US holiday, Germany Factory Orders and Sweden IP.
As individuals, it is entirely acceptable to be "optimistic" about the future. However, "optimism" and "pessimism" are emotional biases that tend to obfuscate the critical thinking required to effectively assess the "risks". The current "hope" that Q1 was simply a "weather related" anomaly is also an emotionally driven skew. The underlying data suggests that while "weather" did play a role in the sluggishness of the economy, it was also just a reflection of the continued "boom bust" cycle that has existed since the end of the financial crisis. The current downturn in real final sales suggests that the underlying strength in the economy remains extremely fragile. More importantly, with final sales below levels normally associated with the onset of recessions, it suggests that the current rebound in activity from the sharp decline in Q1 could be transient.
Despite exuberant Services and Manufacturing PMIs, Bloomberg's index of CEO sentiment remains stagnant near 2014 lows as April's hope for Q2 has faded into 'more of the same' by June. As Bloomberg's Rich Yamarone points out, in reality (in spite of all the hope), the second quarter is drawing to a close and it was a rough one for corporate America, with CEOs citing "slower growth in household income overall", "the recovery remains fragile, especially for customers on a budget", and perhaps most concerning, "whether or not this softness in store traffic is representative of a permanent sea change in customer behavior or a temporary phenomenon is hard to tell at this stage."
Following June's initial largest miss in 18 months, UMich consumer confidence 'final' print inched higher to 82.5, modestly beating expectations - but well below April's peak. In case you were confused at whether you should be exuberant (conference board confidence at highest since 2008) or dysphoric (Gallup survey at lowest in 2014), we don't blame you. What is most worrisome about the UMich data, aside from the non-confirmation of exuberance offered by the government survey, is the tumble in the "outlook' index to 3 month lows.
Following yesterday's S&P surge on the worst hard economic data (not some fluffy survey conducted by a conflicted firm whose parent just IPOed and is thus in desperate need to perpetuate the market euphoria) in five years, there is little one can comment on how "markets" react to news. Good news, bad news... whatever - as long as it is flashing red, the HFT algos will send momentum higher. The only hope of some normalization is that following the latest revelation of just how rigged the market is due to various HFT firms, something will finally change. Alas, as we have said since the flash crash, there won't be any real attempts at fixing the broken market structure until the next, and far more vicious flash crash - one from which not even the NY Fed-Citadel PPT JV will be able to recover. For now, keep an eye on the USDJPY - as has been the case lately, the overnight USDJPY trading team has taken it lower ahead of the traditional US day session rebound which also pushes the S&P higher with it. For now the surge is missing but it won't be for longer - expect the traditional USDJPY ramp just before or as US stocks open for trading.
The S&P500 has now gone 47 days without a gain or loss of more than 1% - a feat unmatched since 1995, according to AP. Overnight markets are having a weaker session across the board (except the US of course). Even the Nikkei is trading with a weak tone (-0.7%) seemingly unimpressed by the Third Arrow reform announcements from Prime Minister Abe yesterday (and considering in Japan the market is entirely dictated by the BOJ, perhaps they could have at least coordinated a "happy" reception of the revised Abe plan). Either that or they have largely been priced in following the sizable rally in Japanese stocks over the past month or so. Abe outlined about a dozen reforms yesterday including changes to the GPIF investment allocations and a reduction in the corporate tax rate to below 30% from the current level of 35%+. Separately, the Hang Seng Index (-0.06%) and the Shanghai Composite (-0.41%) 98closed lower as traders cited dilutive IPOs as a concern for future equity gains.
The American consumer has not been as confident as this since January 2008... can you feel the confidence? The reaching for credit, the spending beyond your means; what could go wrong? Oddly, despite the exuberance, fewer people expect an increase in income (borrow or charge we assume?). The biggest driver of this confidence appears to be the spike from 79.7 to 99.5 in the Pacific region's confidence... but plunged in the Mountain and Central regions. Only 26.7% believe stocks can fall from here - near the lowest since 2009. Furthermore, those aged under-35 saw confidence plunge to 2014 lows.
- The Kerry Konfusion Kontinues: Kerry urges Kurds to save Iraq from collapse (Reuters)
- Abe Unveils Japan’s New Growth Strategy (WSJ)
- Because the recovery: Avon to Cut 600 Jobs as CEO McCoy Seeks to Trim Expenses (BBG)
- Iraqi Parties Pressure Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to Step Down (WSJ)
- Ukraine Rebels Call Cease-Fire to Match Government Truce (BBG)
- IRS accused of obstruction over lost emails in Tea Party affair (Reuters)
- IRS chief scorched as 'liar' (WND)
- Big Investors Missed Stock Rally (WSJ)
- U.K. Jury Finds Coulson Guilty of Conspiracy to Intercept Phone Voice-Mail Messages (WSJ)
- HSBC to halve countries served by private bank, sells assets (Reuters)
- Bond Market Has $900 Billion Mom-and-Pop Problem When Rates Rise (BBG)