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Frontrunning: July 31





  • Moscow fights back after sanctions; battle rages near Ukraine crash site (Reuters)
  • On Hold: Merkel Gives Putin a Blunt Message (WSJ)
  • Argentina’s Default Clock Runs Out as Debt Talks Collapse (BBG)
  • Argentina braces for market reaction to second default in 12 years (Reuters)
  • Banco Espirito Santo Plunges After Posting 3.6 Billion-Euro Loss (BBG)
  • Adidas Plunges After Cutting Forecast on Russia, Golf (BBG)
  • GOP Says Lerner Emails Show Bias Against Conservatives (WSJ)
  • Londoners Cashing in Flee to Suburbs as Home Rally Wanes (BBG)
  • BNP Paribas Reports Record $5.79 Billion Quarterly Loss (WSJ)
  • Swiss Banks Send U.S. Client Data Before Cascade of Settlements (BBG)
  • Putin Sows Doubt Among Stock Bears Burned by 29% Rebound (BBG)
 
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Futures Tumble On Espirito Santo Loss, European Deflation, Argentina Default





It has been a deja vu session of that day nearly a month ago when the Banco Espirito Santo (BES) problems were first revealed, sending European stocks and US futures, however briefly, plunging. Since then things have only gotten worse for the insolvent Portuguese megabank, and overnight BES, all three of its holdco now bankrupt, reported an epic loss despite which it will not get a bailout but instead must raise capital on its own. The result has been a record drop in both the bonds (down some 20 points earlier) and the stock (despite a shorting ban instituted last night), which crashed as much as 40% before stabilizing at new all time lows around €0.25, in the process wiping out recent investments by such "smart money" as Baupost, Goldman and DE Shaw. The result is a European financial sector that is struggling in the red, while adding to its pain are some large cap names such as Adidas which also tumbled after issuing a profit warning relating to "developments" in Russia. Then there was European inflation which printed at 0.4%, below the expected 0.5%, and the lowest in pretty much ever, and certainly since the ECB commenced its latest fight with "deflation", which so far is not going well. The European cherry on top was Greece, whose dead cat bounce is now over, after May retail sales crashed 8.5%, after rising 3.8% in April.

 
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Frontrunning: July 30





  • Fed Decision-Day Guide: QE Tapering to Inflation Debate (BBG)
  • Obama says strains over Ukraine not leading to new Cold War with Russia (Reuters)
  • Siemens to BP Prepare for Downward Russia Business Spiral (BBG)
  • Paying Ransoms, Europe Bankrolls Qaeda Terror (NYT)
  • Argentina Banks Preparing Bid to Help Argentina Avoid Default (WSJ)
  • Obama Weighs Fewer Deportations of Illegal Immigrants Living in U.S. (WSJ)
  • India Warships Off Japan Show Rising Lure as China Counterweight (BBG)
  • Hong Kong Popping Housing Bubbles London Can’t Handle (BBG)
  • Carnage at U.N. school as Israel pounds Gaza refugee camp (Reuters)
 
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Futures Push Higher Ahead Of Data Deluge, Yellen Capital Statement





This week's US data onslaught begins today, with the ADP private payroll report first on deck (Exp. 230K, down from 281K), followed by the number of the day, Q2 GDP, which after Q1's abysmal -2.9%, is expected to increase 3%. Anything less and in the first half the US economy will have contracted, something the purists could claim is equivalent to a recession. The whisper numbers are to the downside since consumption and trade never caught up and the only variable is inventory as well as Obamacare, whose impact was $40 billion "contribution" in Q1 was entirely eliminated and instead led to a deduction, something we expect will be reversed into Q2. Following the backward looking GDP (which will be ignored by the sellside penguins if it is bad and praised if good) at 2:00 pm Yellen Capital LLC comes out with a correction on her call to short social networking stocks, as well as admit once again that the "data-driven" Fed really has no idea what it is doing and how it will tighten, but that tightening is imminent and another $10 billion taper to QE will take place ahead of a full phase out in October. Joking aside, the Fed is expected not to do much if anything, which may be just the right time for Yellen to inject an aggressively hawkish note considering her inflation "noise" refuses to go away.

 
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Futures Levitate As FOMC Begins Two-Day Meeting





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.

 
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US Equities Flat While China Surges On More Stimulus And Bailout Hopes





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.

 
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Futures Dragged Down By Visa, Amazon Despite USDJPY Levitation





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?

 
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Bonds & Bullion Tumble As Stocks Stumble On Macro Weakness





Treasury yields pushed 4-5bps higher on the day - the worst in 3 weeks - as yesterday's test of 2014 lows saw some reactive bond-selling. Asian and EU PMIs sent stocks to record-er highs but absymal US PMI and housing data took the shine off the exuberance early on (despite the best efforts at a 5th short-squeeze ramp at the open in a row). AUDJPY was in charge of stocks once again helping the S&P desperatly cling to unchanged. Espirito Santo bankruptcy headlines stumbled stocks at around 1300ET (but that dip was bought). The USD rose modestly (now up almost 0.5% on the week) led by GBP and EUR weakness but that was nothing compared to the dumpfest in precious metals. Silver's worst day in 6 months and a big drop in gold retraced them to near June FOMC levels. Credit markets continue to diverge bearishly from stocks (now 30bps wider than the tights as stocks rally to new highs). Despite the ubiquitous late-day ramp, stocks ended the day mixed around unchanged (and VIX higher on the day). By the close the S&P 500 closed +0.045% to a new all-time-record high.

 
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Overnight Manufacturing PMI Euphoria Boosts Futures To Fresh Record Highs





Ever since going public, it appears that Markit's giddyness about life has spilled over into its manufacturing surveys: after a surge in recent Markit mfg exuberance in recent months in the US, it was first China's turn overnight to hit an 18 month high, slamming expectations and fixing the bitter taste in the mouth left by another month of atrocious Japan trade data (where even Goldman has thrown in the towel on Abenomics now) following which the euphoria spilled over to Europe just as the triple-dip recession warnings had started to grow ever louder and most economists have been making a strong case for ECB QE. Instead, German July mfg PMI printed at 52.9, above the 52.0 in June and above the 51.9 expected while the Composite blasted higher to 55.9, from 54.0, and above the 53.8 expected thanks to the strongest Service PMI in 37 months! End result: a blended Eurozone manufacturing PMI rising from 51.8 to 51.9, despite expectations of a modest decline while the Composite rose from 52.8 to 54.0, on expectations of an unchanged print. Curiously the soft survey data took place as Retail Sales declined both in Italy (-0.7%, Exp. +0.2%), and the UK (-0.1%, Exp. 0.3%), which incidentally was blamed on "hot weather." Perhaps Markit, now that it has IPOed successfully, can step off the gas or at least lobby to have surveys become part of GDP.

 
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Goldman Goes Schizo On Gold: Boosts Price Target To $1200 Even As It Is "Selling It With Conviction"





With less than 6 months to go until the end of the year, with various gold ETFs suddenly seeing the biggest buying in years, and with gold continuing to outperform most asset classes YTD, what is Goldman to do? Why follow the trend of course, and just like David Kostin had no choice but to boost his S&P 500 price target using the idiotic Fed model as a basis, so earlier today Goldman just upgraded its gold price target from $1,066 to $1,200. Probably this means that after accumulating it for the first half of the year, Goldman is finally preparing to sell the precious metal. Not so fast: because while Goldman did just raised its price target, it continues to have a Conviction Sell rating on Gold, which is its second most hated commodity after iron ore. Go figure.

 
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Overnight Futures Levitation Mode Engaged But Subdued





Despite yesterday's lackluster earnings the most recent market levitation on low volume was largely due to what some considered a moderation in geopolitical tensions after Europe once again showed it is completely incapable of stopping Putin from dominating Europe with his energy trump card, and is so conflicted it is even unable to impose sanctions (despite the US prodding first France with BNP and now Germany with the latest DB revelations to get their act together), as well as it being, well, Tuesday, today's moderate run-up in equity futures can likely be best attributed to momentum algos, which are also rushing to recalibrate and follow the overnight surge in the AUDJPY while ignoring any drifting USDJPY signals.

 
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Frontrunning: July 22





  • EU Works to Punish Russia as MH17 Bodies Leave Rebel Area (BBG)
  • Bodies From Malaysia Airlines Flight Begin Long Trip to Netherlands (WSJ)
  • Israel pounds Gaza as Kerry arrives (Reuters)
  • U.S. judge dismisses Republican lawsuit over Obamacare subsidy for Congress (Reuters)
  • Israel Soldier Missing Amid Assault on Hamas in Gaza (WSJ)
  • Detroit Retirees Vote in Favor of Pension Cuts (WSJ)
  • Russia Axes 1st Bond Sale in 3 Months as Ukraine Drives Up Yield  (BBG)
  • Wall Street Cut From Guest List for Jackson Hole Fed Meeting (BBG)
  • Credit Suisse to Exit Commodities, Posts Big Quarter Loss (BBG)
  • Draghi Cedes Euro Control to Yellen on Fed Rate Wagers (BBG)
 
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Stocks Desperate To Put Ukraine In Rearview Mirror But More Russian Sanctions Loom





Following the overnight ramp in various JPY crosses (dragging equity futures higher, and the Nikkei up 0.8%) it is as if the market is desperate to put all of last week's geopolitical events in the rearview mirror, and while yesterday there were no economic events of note, today's CPI and existing home prints should provide at least some distraction from the relentless barrage of one-line updates on Ukraine and Gaza. Still, that is precisely where the biggest risk remains, with an emphasis on the possibility of more Russian sanctions, this time by Europe.

 
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Oil Jumps As Stocks Dump-And-Pump But Close Lower





Equity prices tumbled early on - giving up all Friday's gains - before rampaging phoenix-like (thanks to an AUDJPY driven short squeeze) back to 'unch' after rumors of ceasefire discussions in Israel rolled around trading desks. Oil - it appears - was looking at the death-toll (and the fact that Hamas can only accept a deal that denies Israel's existence) and soared back towards $105 (its 2nd biggest day in over a month) notably divergent from stocks. The Russell 2000 was the laggard all day (ramped the most of the lows on the squeeze) and Trannies the leader. Since the MH17 headlines hit, the Nasdaq is the only index green, Treasury yields are -4bps, and oil up almost $4. The USD ended the day unch, 30Y Yield -2.5bps, gold, silver, and copper up modestly, and VIX up 0.5 vols at 12.7. Stocks closed on the weak side.

 
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Quiet Economic Calendar Means All Attention Focused On Ukraine And Gaza





In the absence of any major economic events, it will be another day tracking geopolitical headlines out of Ukraine (lots of accusations, propaganda and fingerpointing on both sides, zero actual evidence and facts - expect more European sanctions to be announced today to match last week's latest US-led round ) and Israel (where the death toll has now risen over 500, almost entirely on the Gaza side), and then promptly spinning any bad news as great news. For now, however, futures are modestly lower from the Friday close pushed down by the AUDJPY which has rebased around 95.00. We expect the momentum ignition correlation algos will promptly take of that as soon as the US market opens, a market which has now been described as bubbly by the BIS, the Fed and the IMF.

 
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