A dispassionate look at the drivers of the investment climate in the week ahead.
Unlike yesterday's vertigo-inducing overnight session, today has been a smooth sea by comparison even if one which has flowed from the top left to the bottom right for now, with futures erasing all of the last minute surge which was HFT programmed to sticksave the S&P just green for the year and then some. It is difficult to pinpoint the catalyst that will be today's market narrative although with NFP in just over 24 hours, falling on a holiday which will allow S&P futures just 45 minutes of trading after the BLS report hits before closing for the day, and with the weak ADP not to mention the 0.0% GDP, the "whisper" expectation is for a NFP print that will be well below consensus, somewhere in the mid-100,000s if not worse now that the bartender hiring spree is over. The fact that March payrolls have missed on 6 of the last 7 reports probably adds to the dollar weakness, even if a huge miss tomorrow may just be the catalyst Yellen needs to launch the QE4 trial balloon.
After last week's initial jobless claims drop - which nevertheless held the 4-wk average above 300k - this week saw the number drop once more. Against expectations of 290k, claims printed 282k, leaving the 4-week average at 297k, conveniently below the 300k mark. This means that since the end of QE3, initial jobless claims are unchanged as the trend of improvement has clearly stalled.
In a somewhat surprising turn of events, this morning's futures reaction to last night's shocking start of a completely unexpected Yemen proxy war, which has seen an alliance of Gulf State launch an air, and soon land, war against Yemen's Houthi rebels, is what one would expect: down, and down big. This is surprising, because on previous occasions one would expect the NY Fed, or its pet hedge fund, Citadel, or the BOJ or ECB (via the CME's "Central Bank Incentive Program") to aggressively buy ES to prevent a slide, something has changed, and for the BTFDers, that something may be very fatal with the e-Mini rapidly approaching a 1-handle yet again. The offset to tumbling stocks, as previously observed, is oil, with WTI soaring over 6% in a delayed algo response to the Qatar headlines.
If it was the Fed's intention to slow down the relentless surge in the dollar with yesterday's "impatient" removal which blamed the dollar strength on the "strength" in the US economy, it promptly failed after algos and a few carbon-based traders looked at the Atlanta Fed and realized that a 0.3% Q1 GDP print is anything but "strong." As a result the EURUSD, after soaring by nearly 400 pips yesterday in a market reminiscent of a third-world FX pair's liquidity especially following the previously noted USD flash crash, the dollar has recoupped nearly all losses, and the DXY is once again on the way up and eyeing the resistance area of 100.
This week's main event will be the FOMC announcement on Wednesday at 2:00 pm and the subsequent press conference, the conclusion of the March 2-day Fed meeting, in which it is widely expected that Yellen will announce the end of the Fed's "Patience" with an economy in which resurgent waiters and bartenders continue to skew the job market even if it means consistently declining wages for 80% of the US labor force. Here is a summary of what else to expect this week.
Despite a 36k drop week-over-week, the less noisy four-week average initial jobless claims remains above 300k for the 2nd week in a row - something we have not seen since in 6 months. At 289k, initial claims beat expectations of 304k but continuing claims printed higher than expected at 2.418 million. Shale state claims remain below the peak levels of January but well above average. The trend remains 'changed' from the QE3 regime.
FX Volatility Spikes As More Countries Enter Currency Wars; Euro Surges On Furious Squeeze After Touching 1.04Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/12/2015 06:57 -0400
The global currency wars are getting ever more violent, following yesterday's unexpected entry of Thailand and South Korea, whose central banks were #23 and #24 to ease monetary conditions in 2015, confirming the threat of a global USD margin call is clear and present (see "The Global Dollar Funding Shortage Is Back With A Vengeance And "This Time It's Different"). But the one currency everyone continues to watch is the Euro, which the closer it gets to parity with the USD, the more volatile it becomes, and moments after touching a 1.04-handle coupled with the DXY rising above 100 for the first time in 12 years, the EURUSD saw a huge short squeeze which sent it nearly 150 pips higher to 1.0643, before the selling resumed.
Following this morning's dire Challenger Job Cuts data, it appears the hard reality that lower oil prices are not unambiguously good for America is setting in. Initial Jobless Claims surged last week (after a big jump the week before) to 320k (far worse than the 295k expectation) to the highest since May 2014. Continuing Claims also rose. Since the end of QE3 and the end of the government's fiscal year, the trend of improvment has clearly ended and a new regime of weakening labor markets has begun.
It has been a while since we have seen the USDJPY rampathon push US equities higher, so in a day dominated by central banks (first the BOE momentarily), and then the ECB's much anticipated announcement of the actual QE launch at the Draghi press conference at 1:30pm CET (taking place, ironically enough, in the place that was the blueprint for the Eurozone's capital controls, Cyprus), it only makes sense that after weeks of stage fright, the USDJPY algos reminded the world they are alive and well, and proceeded to ramp the key FX pair above 120, even though the currency that everyone will be talking about today is the Euro, hugging 1.10 as of this moment, but the real question is what happens after Draghi gives the asset buying green light: has all of Q€ been priced in already in FX, and will the EURUSD resume its surge higher, or is parity next stop?
After last week's holiday-shortened exuberance over initial jobless claims, this week's slam back to reality is quite a shock to the "everything is awesome" crowd. Initial jobless claims jumped 31,000 to 313,000 - the biggest percentage rise since December 2013. Continuing claims dropped modestly but remain up around 3.5% over the last quarter - near the worst since 2009.
Following a quiet overnight session in which the main event appears to be a statement by Chinese premier Li for more active fiscal policy, which has pushed the metals complex higher, although technically every other asset class as well, with US equity futures set to open in fresh record high territory, even as 10Y yields around the world continue to decline, attention today will fall on the CPI print due out shortly, because if consensus is correct, January will be the first month this decade when US inflation posts a negative print, mostly due to the delayed effect of sliding commodity prices. As Deutsche recaps, the most important number today is the headline CPI where the headline YoY rate is predicted to be negative by the market (-0.1%) for the first time since 2009. Over this period the YoY rate stayed negative for 8 months. However before this we hadn't seen a full year decline since August 1955. In other words, a few months before what may be the first US rate hike for a new generation of traders, the US is set to print its first annual deflation since Lehman, transitory or not.
For the 9th week in a row, the smoothed average of initial jobless claims in Texas surged (Other Shale States - PA, ND, and CO also saw a notable rise in claims). While Tennessee's levels were estimated, the broad levels of claims send a mixed message. Initial claims beat expectations, fell from 304k to 283k with the trend now clearly flat since September. However, Continuing Claims jumped 58k to 2.425 million - the biggest jump in 2015, notably missing expectations. The trend of employmenmt has clearly changed...
After yesterday's FOMC Minutes, despite a huge dovish reversal by the Fed - one which increasingly puts its "credibility" and reputation at risk - stocks were unable to close green, or even above 2100, for one simple reason: uncertainty with the fate of Greece. Overnight there has not been much more clarity, when as previously reported Greece submitted a 6 month extension request to its master loan agreement but not to its bailout extension, a nuance lost in the annals of diplomacy. But is this the much-awaited Greek capitulation? Or will the Eurogroup reject this too? The answer may be available in a few hours after an emergency Eurogroup meeting due later today. However, as usual stocks are ready to "price in" yet another Greek conflict resolution, and after futures were lower by 7 points overnight, were up 4 points at last check: a rebound which will not correct if the latest Greek "compromise" fails to deliver.