With another day of little otherwise completely irrelevant macro news (because following last night's abysmal Australian jobs data one would think the AUD would be weaker; one would be wrong), market participants - all 3 of them - and algos (which have finally uncovered where Iraq is on google maps) are finally turning their attention to the latest conflict in Iraq (because they obviously no longer care about the martial law in Thailand or the civil war in Ukraine), where the Al Qaeda spin off ISIS overnight seized at least 310K B/D in refinery capacity in northern Iraq according to the Police, and what is more concerning, is now less than a 100 kilometers away from Baghdad. Will ISIS dare to venture further south? Keep an eye on crude for the answer.
Overnight saw China spook its markets by weakening the CNY (and breaking the trend again) and suffering a failed bond auction and that led on to weakness across Europe as USDJPY toyed with 102 and dragged stocks and peripheral bonds down. The US opened weak, saw the usual buying spree jerked higher by JPY then as the budge deficit hit (reducing room for monetization money) stocks tumbled to the session's lows and red fo rthe week. Of course that will never do and at around 330ET, as usual, the buying panic began (though in a tiny range). US cash equity markets saw a double dump-and-pump but were unable to scramble back to the green by the close. The USD closed unchanged as EUR tested once again down to Draghi spike lows. Gold and silver closed unch (with a midday dump of $175 million notional in gold futs); oil flatlined (iraq vs world bank) and copper slid (China). Treasury yields closed 2bps lower with the belly outperforming. VIX was slammed at 330 but stocks could not hold their gaisn as The Dow had its worst day in 3 weeks.
There is much hope that after a dismal Q1 GDP report of -1% annualized growth in the domestic economy, that Q2 will see a sharp rebound of between 3-4% according to the bulk of economists. The Federal Reserve is predicting that the U.S. economy will grow as strongly as 2.8% in real terms for the entirety of 2014. The achievement of the Fed's rather lofty goal would require a real 4% annualized growth in each of the next three quarters. The problem with this assumption is that the last time that the U.S. economy grew at 4% or more, over three consecutive quarters, was in 1983.
It appears the PBOC is hell-bent on destroying any trend idea for carry traders to jump on. After 4 days of strengthening the CNY... and sell-side strategists already jumping on the new trend bandwagon with trade recommendations, the PBOC surprised last night and weakened the currency fixing. It is clear from this action that the PBOC is serious about stopping the hot flows... the problem is, it has consequences. Last night saw China unable to sell its entire 1 year bond offering (even at a rate of 3.32% - dramatically higher than European or US short-dated debt). Copper prices have stumbled, USDJPY is fading and US equities doing the same for now as carry unwind butterflies flapping their wings in onshore CNY can cause hurricanes in global liquidity fed capital markets.
"Treasury-selling" Tuesday came and went and for the 2nd week in a row, bond yields rose (+2-3bps) following the 7th losing Monday in a row. Equity markets languished amid dismal volumes but were rangebound all day apart form AUDJPY and VIX-driven pumps to try and close green and keep the Tuesday dream alive (and the running count of new all-time highs). The USD jumped once again as EUR tested lower (near Draghi spike lows). Gold and silver saw a squeeze higher at the open this morning and maintained gains (as fears of CCFD unwinds spread) but copper rose as WTI crude touched 9-month highs then reversed sharply lower. As we forecast this morning, a mid-day VIX plunge and late-day JPY tumble (and another VIX plunge) sparked just enough exuberant buying panic among the machines to manipulate stocks to a green close and save the Tuesday plan. Stocks have fallen only 2 days in the last 3 weeks...
The biggest news in the sage surrounding Chinese evaporated collateral troubles at Qingdao, which as noted is merely the 3rd largest Chinese port, is that this scandal has now spread to a second Chinese port: Penglai, which is also located in the Shandong province. Putting some size numbers for context: Qingdao's copper inventory is about 50,000 tons, compared to 800,000 tons in Shanghai, analysts say. There's "little evidence" for now that traders in Shanghai fraudulently have pledged collateral to banks, said Sijin Cheng, an analyst with Barclays Research in Singapore. Little evidence will become "lots" in the coming days when we expect more "discoveries" at all other bonded warehouses as the relentless inflow of commodities finally reverses and the beneficiaries finally demand possession. As everyone who has followed even the simplest Ponzi schemes knows, this is the part of the lifecycle when many tears are shed by most.
"Step 4: Repeat Step 1-Step 3 as many times as possible, during the period of LC (usually 6 months, with range of 3-12 months). This could be 10-30 times over the course of the 6 month LC, with the limitation being the amount of time it takes to clear the paperwork. In this way, the total notional LCs issued over a particular tonne of bonded or inbound copper over the course of a year would be 10-30 times the value of the physical copper involved, depending on the LC duration."
The tidal patterns of this market have become so well-known to even the least observant: push the USDJPY (or other JPY carry pairs) higher starting around 6am Eastern, then ramp it just before US open to launch cross-asset momentum ignition algos in FX which then carry over to spoos and the broader "market." In the meantime, overnight selling of USDJPY allows a reset before ensuing buying during the US daytime session. Rinse. Repeat. Sure enough, just after 6 pm Eastern, the same USDJPY which catalyzed yet another all time high close had been sold off, leading to a 0.85% drop in the Nikkei and US equity futures which are showing an unprecedented ungreen color. Don't worry though: the pattern is too well-known and practiced by now, and we fully expect USDJPY levitation to pick up shortly, which is the only signal ES-algos need, trampling over any kind of newsflow both good and bad, and leading to yet another all time record high which it goes without saying is completely detached from any underlying reality at this point and at any time over the past 5 years.
Over a year ago we were the first to bring the topic of China's shadow banking system's problematic rehypothecation issues to the general trading public. In "The Bronze Swan Arrives: Is The End Of Copper Financing China's "Lehman Event"?" we explained how the Chinese commodity financing deals (CCFDs) worked and how they would inevitably be a systemic event for the nation so dependent on the shadow banking system for its credit (and its "growth"). The day has arrived when the Bronze Swan is landing (and it's unlikely to be soft). As we have discussed recently, the probe into 'missing' collateral (or multiple-used collateral) at China's Qingdao warehouse is a major problem... and now Goldman confirms, the Qingdao situation likely to continue ongoing CCFD unwind and has the potential to leave foreign banks with undercollateralized loans and/or losses.
As each of the following seven towns from history around the world boomed on the back of resource-hungry bubbles, no one could have foreseen (or even believed) that it would ever end... but as the following dismal images show - end it did. Is this the future for North Dakota or Texas? or Silicon Valley? (of course not stupid... it's different this time).
After last night's tumble in copper and surge in CNY during Asia, Europe steadied the ship with more plunging yields (especially the front-end) but the US was all about USDJPY ignition at the open to blast the S&P through 1,950 comfortably and decouple stocks once again from reality. VIX was higher and credit markets were not as exuberant and by the time Europe closed and POMO was done, stocks crumbled back to unchish (apart from the Russell - lifted by another epic short squeeze from the Biotech sector this time). This is the best 4-day swing in the Russell 2000 since Jan 2013 (led by Biotechs today) Gold, silver, and copper ended almost unch as Oil surged 1.7% to over $104 (biggest day in 2 months). Treasury yields bear flattened (5Y +4bps, 30Y +1bps). The USD rose 0.3% - its best day in a month - as EUR closed at 4-month lows.
With the VIX smashing last week to levels not seen since early 2007, the S&P rising to all time highs, and European core and peripheral bond yield this morning touching historic lows, it would appear that the "market" has priced in every possible negative outcome. Which, as Goldman showed over the weekend is clearly not the case at least as investors are concerned who continued to sell stocks across the board in May even as the market broke out to record levels making many wonder who is buying stocks (for more read here)? Expect more of the same, and with some luck we will get a single digit VIX in the coming days as newsflow slows down following payrolls week and ahead of the world cup start in Brazil.
On the heels of growing contagion concerns regarding shadow banking collateral and the "rehypothecation evaporation" and this weekend's 'odd' Chinese trade data (big drop in imports, no doubt impacted by dramatic commodity invoicing swings), the PBOC has fixed the Chinese currency 0.36% in the last 2 days... the biggest strengthening in the currency since October 2012. It is unclear for now exactly what is going on but we suspect the panic button outflows as banks pull credit and unwind CCFDs are forcing China's hand to offset CNY selling pressure... and of course China does it in grand style.
While we have warned about the problem with near-infinitely rehypothecated physical/funding commodities/metals, be they gold or copper, many times in the past, and most recently here, it was only this week that China finally admitted it has a major problem involving not just the commodities participating in funding deals - in this case copper and aluminum - but specifically their infinite rehypothecation, which usually results in the actual underlying metal mysteriously "disappearing", as in it never was there to begin with. It would appear our fears of global contagion (through various transmission channels) are now coming true as WSJ reports that as many as a half-dozen banks are trying to determine whether the collateral for loans they made to commodities traders was used fraudulently by a third party to obtain other loans. As we detailed previously, it appears the day when the Commodity Funding Deals finally end is fast approaching... and as we note below, why that will certainly be a watershed event.
The US Dollar, gold, and oil closed the week unchanged... Treasury yields rose 6-8bps on the week... and the Russell 2000 had its best week in 2014... Sure, why not? VIX was crushed back to a 10-handle as managers lifted hedges and the Tepper-induced short-squeeze from yesterday followed through (+2.5% against a 1% rise in the S&P). The Dow and S&P 500 both closed at record highs (notably rich to the Fed balance sheet). Volume was 20% below average (and that was a payrolls day!). Copper tumbled over 2% - its worst week in 3 months as China's warehouse probe continues. VIX closed at its lowest close since Feb 2007 (and once again the strange shadowy figure of massive after-0hours volume spikes in VXX appeared).