In what has been another quiet overnight session, which unlike the past two days has not seen steep, illiquid gaps higher in US equity futures (the E-mini was up 3 points and accelerating to the upside as of this writing so there is still ample time for the momentum algos to go berserk), the main event was the price of Brent rising above $50 for the first time since November with WTI rising as high as $49.97.
If yesterday's selloff had a specific catalyst, namely some of the worst consumer retail earnings seen in years, it merely undid the Tuesday rally which levitated global risk with no fundamental driver, aside for a 200 pip spike in the USDJPY. Some central bankers may even say it was a "magical" levitation. Fast forward to the overnight session when following a muted Asian session, it was once again up to the "magical" USDJPY to send stocks well into the green without any actual catalyst whatsoever, but what merely appears to have been another "magical" intervention session by the BOJ.
In the traditional post payrolls data lull, we’re kicking off what’s set to be a much quieter week for data this week with nothing of note due to be released in the US on Monday, however the week picks up with notable economic dataon NFIB small business cofidence, Import prices, PPI and culminates with Friday's retail sales report, UMichigan sentiment and business inventories.
One day after stocks were this close from hitting new all time highs on what have been either ok earnings, if looking at non-GAAP data, or atrocious earnings, based on GAAP, and where any oil headline is now immediately translated as bullish by the oil algos, so far futures are relatively flat, while European stocks were at their moments ago in anticipation of the latest ECB announcement due out in just one hour. However, unlike last month's "quad-bazooka", this time the market expects far less from Draghi. “Having pulled put the monetary bazooka in March, the market is sensibly expecting no further policy measures from the ECB,”
In another quiet overnight session, the biggest - and unexpected - macro news was the surprise monetary easing by Singapore which as previously reported moved to a 2008 crisis policy response when it adopted a "zero currency appreciation" stance as a result of its trade-based economy grinding to a halt. As Richard Breslow accurately put it, "If you need yet another stark example of the fantasy storytelling we amuse ourselves with, juxtapose today’s Monetary Authority of Singapore policy statement with the storyline that the Asian stock market rally intensified on renewed optimism over the global economy. Singapore is a proxy for trade and economic growth ground to a halt last quarter." The Singapore announcement led to a sharp round of regional currency weakness just as the dollar appears to have bottomed and is rapidly rising.
Following three consecutive weeks of increases in initial jobless claims, which pushed the series to its highest level since the start of February, according to the BLS the last week saw a 9K decline in the number of claimants which dropped from 276K to 267K. This was fractionally below the 270K expected print, and suggests that recent concerns about an inflection point in job trends may have been premature.
Two days after stocks slid in a coordinated risk-off session, and one day after a DOE estimate of US oil inventories sent US stocks surging while the failed Allergan-Pfizer deal unleashed torrential hopes of a biotech M&A spree leading to the single best day for the sector in 5 years, sentiment has again shifted, this time due to a violent surge in the Yen as the market keeps testing the resolve of the Japanese central bank to keep its currency weak, and so far finding it to be nonexistent.
PREVIEW: MARCH US NONFARM PAYROLLS
On the last day of an extremely volatile first quarter, following the latest torrid push higher in risk assets over the past two days following Yellen's dovish Tuesday comments, today has seen a modest pull back in risk, whether because the market is massively overbought, because someone finally looked at what record multiple expansion that has taken place in Q1 as earnings are set to collapse by nearly 10%, or simply due to fears that tomorrow's payrolls number will show an abnormal amount of minimum wage waiters and bartenders added.
Still hovering near 43 year lows, initial jobless claims printed a better than expected 265k against expectations of 269k. Continuing claims also dropped from 2.218m to 2.179m - also back near 43 year lows. So, the mystery is - why is the ISM's composite manufacturing and services employment index collapsing to 6 year lows?
Following yesterday's dollar spike which, which topped the longest rally in the greenback in one month, the prevailing trade overnight has been more of the same, and in the last session of this holiday shortened week we have seen the USD rise for the fifth consecutive day on concerns the suddenly hawkish Fed (at least as long as the S&P is above 2000) may hike sooner than expected, which in turn has pressured WTI below $39 earlier in the session, and leading to weakness across virtually all global risk assets.
In the aftermath of the Fed's surprising dovish announcement, overnight there has been a rather sudden repricing of risk, which has seen European stocks and US equity futures stumble to roughly where they were when the Fed unveiled its dovish surprise, while the dollar collapse has continued, sparking deflationary fears resulting in treasury yields plunging even as gold soars, all hinting at another Fed policy error. So was that it for the Fed's latest intervention "halflife"? We don't know, but we expect much confusion today over whether even the Fed has now run out of dovish ammunition.
Global stocks and U.S. equity futures are fractionally higher (unchanged really) this morning (despite China's historic NPL debt-for-equity proposal) as traders await the main event of the day: the ECB's 1:45pm CET announcement, more importantly what Mario Draghi will announce during the 2:30pm CET press conference, and most importantly, whether he will disappoint as he did in December or finally unleash the bazooka that the market has been desperately demanding.
While Asian stocks continued their longest rally since August overnight, led higher for the third consecutive day on the back of Japan (+1.3%), Australia (+1.2%) and China (+0.4%) strength, European stocks have as of this moment halted their longest rally since October (Stoxx -0.1%) and U.S. index futures are little changed. Oil slipped from an eight-week high despite yesterday's massive rise in US oil inventories on hopes Saudi Arabia may be forced to cut production as its budget strains grow actue and the kingdom is forced to seek a $10 billion loan, its first material borrowing in a decade.
In recent weeks Chinese stocks remained relatively resilient, levitating quietly day after day. That all changed overnight when the Shanghai Composite plunged by 6.4% with the drop accelerating into the close. This was the biggest drop in over a month and was big enough to almost wipe out the entire 10% rebound from the January lows in one session.