Yesterday, the FT triumphantly proclaimed: "Beijing abandons large-scale share purchases", and that instead of manipulating stocks directly as China did last week on Thursday and Friday, China would instead focus on punishing sellers, shorters, and various other entities. We snickered, especially after the Shanghai Composite opened down 2% and dropped as low as 4% overnight. Just a few hours later we found out that our cynical skepticism was again spot on: the moment the afternoon trading session opened, the "National Team's" favorite plunge protection trade, the SSE 50 index of biggest companies, went super-bid and ramped from a low of 2071 to close 140 points higher, ending trading with a last minute government-facilitated surge, and pushing the Composite just 0.8% lower after trading down as much as -4.0%.
After July's disappointing drop in UMich Consumer Confidence, August did not help. Printing 91.9, below expectations of 93.0, UMich is hovering at the 2015 lows. Both current and future sub-indices dropped with hope falling to its lowest since 2014 (biggest 7mo decline in 2 years). Income growth expectations dropped and business expectations dropped to lowest since Sept 2014. This follows the highest conference board confidence in 2015 and lowest Gallup confidence in a year. Bill Dudley will be disappointed after proclaiming this a key driver of The Fed's rate hike call (more important than jobs).
Overnight's start attraction was as usual China's stock market, where trading was generally less dramatic than Thursday's furious last hour engineered ramp, as stocks rose modestly off the open only to see a bout of buying throughout the entire afternoon session, closing 4.8% higher, and bringing the gain over the last two days to over 10%. This happens as China dumped a boatload of US paper to push the CNY higher the most since March, strengthening from 6.4053 to 6.3986, even as Chinese industrial profits tumbled 2.9% from last year: this in a country that still represents its GDP is rising by 7%. Expect much more Yuan devaluation in the coming weeks.
"We conclude that, under current circumstances, it is only a matter of time until Brazil loses its investment grade status."
We warned on Friday, after last week's China rout, that the market is getting ahead of itself with its expectation of a RRR-cut by China as large as 100 bps. "The risk is that there isn't one." We were spot on, because not only was there no RRR cut, but Chinese stocks plunged, with the composite tumbling as much a 9% at one point, the most since 1996 when it dropped 9.4% in a single session. The session, as profile overnight was brutal, with about 2000 stocks trading by the -10% limit down, and other markets not doing any better: CSI 300 -8.8%, ChiNext -8.1%, Shenzhen Composite -7.7%. This was the biggest Chinese rout since 2007.
It was a relatively quiet weekend out of China, where FX warfare has taken a back seat to evaluating the full damage from the Tianjin explosion which as we reported on Saturday has prompted the evacuation of a 3 km radius around the blast zone, and instead it was Japan that featured prominently in Sunday's headlines after its Q2 GDP tumbled by 1.6% (a number which would have been far worse had Japan used a correct deflator), and is now halfway to its fifth recession in the past 6 year, underscoring Abenomics complete success in desrtoying Japan's economy just to get a few rich people richer. Of course, economic disintegration is great news for stocks, and courtesy of the latest Yen collapse driven by the bad GDP data which has raised the likelihood of even more Japanese QE, the Nikkei closed 100 points, or 0.5% higher.
It appears the US Consumer is losing faith. August preliminary UMich Consumer Sentiment slipped from July's 93.1 and missed expectations. This is the 2nd weakest print since November. Longer-term inflation expectations fell back to 2.7% and expectations for household income growth slipped to just 1.6%, but the collapse in business expectations to 11-month lows is the most crucial aspect.
After a week of relentless FX volatility, spilling over out of China and into all other countries, and asset products, it was as if the market decided to take a time-out overnight, assisted by the PBOC which after three days of record devaluations finally revalued the Yuan stronger fractionally by 0.05% to 6.3975. And then, as a parting gift perhaps, just as the market was about to close again, the Chinese central bank intervened sending the Onshore Yuan, spiking to a level of 6.3912 as of this writing, notably stronger than the official fixing for the second day in a row. In fact the biggest news out of China overnight is that contrary to expectations, the PBOC once again "added" to its gold holdings, boosting its official gold by 610,000 ounces, or 19 tons, to 1,677 tones.
Following last week's economic data tempest, capped with the disappointing US nonfarm payrolls, which has provided virtually no clarity on just what the "(Dow Jones) data-driven" Fed will do in a world in which not only is the US economy rolling over, but China is imploding, commodity deflation is raging, and global stock markets are propped up by a handful of stocks, the coming week will be far less exciting (which is just how the Hamptons crowd wants it).
Following last week's bad news for the economy (terrible ADP private payrolls, confirmed by a miss in the NFP) which also resulted in bad news for the market which suffered its worst week in years, many were focused on how the market would react to the latest battery of terrible economic news out of China which as we observed over the weekend reported abysmal trade data, and the worst plunge in Chinese factory prices in 6 years. We now know: the Shanghai Composite soared by 5%, rising to 3,928 and approaching the key 4000 level because the ongoing economic collapse led Pavlov's dog to believe that much more easing is coming from the country which as we showed last night has literally thrown the kitchen sink at stabilizing the plunge in stocks.
"Fleet deliveries in July were down 20 percent year over year, as the company continues to execute its plan to reduce sales to rental customers and grow commercial and government deliveries. Government sales were up 38 percent, with deliveries to state and local governments up 59 percent."
Because nothing says "sell vol with both hands and feet" and buy Biotechs like a collapse in the wage growth meme and consumer sentiment...
It appears Chicago businesses are immune to the vaguaries of the worst quarterly wage growth in US history. Following significant weakness earlier in the year, Chicago PMI surged to 54.7, the second highest in 2015, smashing expectations of a 50.8 print. Having flashed its recessionary warning lights, while 7 underlying factors improved led by increased production and new orders (and prices paid), employment continued to fall (though at a slower pace). After missing in July's preliminary print (93.3 vs 94.0), UMich consumer sentiment final print for July dropped even further to 93.1, heading back towards the lows of the year as hope plunged from 87.8 to 84.1 - the lowest since Nov 2014.
In a repeat of Thursday's action, Chinese stocks which had opened about 1% lower, remained underwater for most of the session before attempting a feeble bounce which took the Shanghai Composite fractionally into the green, before the now traditional last hour action which this time failed to maintain the upward momentum and the last day of the month saw a surge in volume which dragged the market to its lows before closing roughly where it opened, -1.13% lower. This caps the worst month for Chinese stocks since since August 2009, as the government struggles to rekindle investor interest amid a $3.5 trillion rout, one which has sent the Shanghai market lower by 15% - the biggest loss among 93 global benchmark gauges tracked by Bloomberg.
On a day when market participants will care about only one thing - how hawkish (or dovish) the FOMC sounds at 2:00 pm (no Yellen press conference today) - Chinese stocks provided the usual dramatic sideshow and traded unchanged or modestly negative for most of the day despite the latest $100 billion injection, the close of trading on Wednesday was a mirror image of what happened in the last hour on Monday, as various Chinese "plunge-protection" mechanism went into a furious buying frenzy and government-backed funds rushed to buy anything that trades in the last 60 minutes of trading in what may be the most glaring example of banging the close yet.