Another POMO, another dip bought, another all-time high in the S&P 500 but we are sure there is some disappointment that the '1600' caps have to go back in the closet for one more day. The S&P's best day in over a week was greeted with an almost perfect 'unchanged' for Treasuries and while stocks went out near their highs, Treasuries closed at the low yields of the day (2-3bps lower than the highs). Of course, the 'most shorted' names were smashed higher (at the open and at 1515ET) providing today's ammo. The USD started weak but Draghi's -ve rates comment sparked a USD surge (up 0.3% on the week) but stocks didn't care. WTI jumped back above $94 with its best day in six months (though little talk from the 'heads' of the removal of the implicit tax?). Gold and Silver also jumped (as did Copper) all ending the day up around 0.75%. Homebuilders banged over 2% higher on the day (as Lumber was limit down at 5 month lows) and while the Dow and S&P closed the previous all-time high, the Trannies remain -1.4% from Tuesday's close.
The overnight macroeconomic news started early with China where the second, HSBC Manufacturing PMI declined from 51.6 to 50.4, below estimates of 50.5, yet another signal of a slowdown in the country (where one can argue the collapse in copper prices is having a far greater impact), and where the Composite closed down 0.17% after its Mayday holiday. China wasn't the only one: India dropped to 51.0 from 52.0 in March, and Taiwan dipped to 50.7 from 51.2, offset however by the bounce in South Korean PMI from 52.0 to 52.6, the best in two years (a number set to tumble as Abenomics steal SK's export thunder). The focus then shifted to Europe, where virtually everyone was once again in contraction mode, as German Mfg PMI declined from 49.0 to 48.1, the lowest since December, if a slight beat to expectations (while VDMA industry body said March Machine orders dropped 15% Y/Y so little optimism on the horizon), France rose modestly to 44.4 from already depressed levels of 44.0, Spain PMI also rose from 44.2 to 44.7, Italy PMI at 45.5 from 44.5, Poland at 46.9 from 48.0, a 45-month low. At least Greece seems to be doing "better" with the Mfg PMI "rising" to 45.0 from 42.1. Across the reports, the biggest decline was in input prices following the recent clobbering in commodities, which in turn is translating into price deflation.
Downward revisions to previously 'hopeful' levels for Goldman's Global Leading Indicator (GLI) suggest a significantly softer patch for global activity consistent with subdued growth in the near-term. The GLI has now been in 'slowdown' phase for four consecutive months and while it has not reached the 'contraction' phase yet, empirical results show this phase far less supportive of risk-assets than the current exuberance suggests. With Korean Exports, Global PMIs, and Industrial Metals all disappointing, the most concerning aspect is Goldman's three-key-risks (US growth, Euro 'risk', and China growth) have all upticked significantly in recent weeks after consistently falling all year. As the Swirlogram below indicates, the 'Slowdown' is deepening.
“… current policies come with a cost even as they act to magically float asset prices higher…, a bond and equity investor can choose to play with historically high risk to principal or quit the game and earn nothing." Bill Gross, PIMCO
Today was a non-POMO day; a day when the Federal Reserve did not actively inject a couple billion dollars into bank reserves. The last 7 POMO days have been wonderfully green for the cash equity session. Today, no POMO, no MOMO, no new highs. What was different? Europe was closed (so we didn;t get the ubiquitous surge post EU close), we had poor data (bad has been good for weeks now), bonds outperformed (equities haven't cared at all for weeks), and the USD weakness 'should' have been equity positive (if correlations held). But it didn't. Trannies were monkey-hammered with their second-biggest drop in almost six months but the S&P, Dow, and Nasdaq are clung together down around 1% (biggest drop in 2 weeks). FX markets were 'sporadic' with periods of silence punctuated by chaos (around the FOMC) - JPY's last 5 days now equal the biggest rally in two years as it tested up to 97 and pulled back. The worst first-day-of-the-month since June of last year for stocks seems to signify a Great Un-rotation as Treasuries were well bid (yields down 4-5bps to new 2013 lows).
For the first 15 minutes or so after the Fed's statement, the market was largely unimpressed. EURUSD saw some squirliness but it was silver (and gold and oil) that was moving higher quickest. Bonds sold off modestly and stocks rose a point.That trend persisted into the T+30 minute mark but since then bonds and stocks are basically unchanged while Oil, Gold, Silver, and Copper are rising. EURUSD remains very gappy. VIX is modestly lower as pre-FOMC hedges are lofted but that is not supporting buying for now.
T+45: ES 1583 +1, 10Y 1.63% +1bps, Gold $1456 +$6, WTI $91.12 +$0.45, EUR 1.3208 +8
While it is the labor day holiday in most of the world, and as a result volumes will be more subdued than ever (meaning at least a 10 point algorithmic levitation on no volume for the S&P), let's not forget that Benny and the Inkjets are doing their best to make everyone into a professional day trader (the only "wealth effect" transmission mechanism left) so markets being open seems somewhat counterproductive. That said, futures are already up on the usual atrocious economic data out of Asia this time. First China's official manufacturing PMI slipped 0.3pt to 50.6, coming below expectations, suggesting weak momentum going into Q2. Meanwhile, Korea trade data indicated weaker momentum in exports than expected, rising 0.4% on expectations of a 2% bounce courtesy of Abenomics, and hence a lower trade surplus, while inflation defied median expectations of a rise and slowed yet further. Finally, Australia PMI was an absolute disaster printing even worse than the Chicago PMI, plunging from 44.4 to 36.7, meaning that the RBA is about to join the global "reflation effort." Given that most markets in Asia are closed today, there is no market reaction worth mentioning, aside from the fact that the yen which was logically weaker overnight then ramped up into the European open and US pre-trading as it is, after all, the primary source of "beta" for the global stock markets. Finally, while some are dreading the start of "sell in May and go away" season, what most have forgotten is that never before has May been accompanied by $160 billion per month in central bank de novo liquidity (a number which will only go up- you know, for the wealth effect). Which is why our redefinition of this infamous phrase is "buy in May and buy every day."
The weakness in economic data (not to be confused with the centrally-planned anachronism known as the "markets") started overnight when despite a surge in Japanese consumer spending (up 5.2% on expectations of 1.6%, the most in nine years) by those with access to the stock market and mostly of the "richer" variety, did not quite jive with a miss in retail sales, which actually missed estimates of dropping "only" -0.8%, instead declining -1.4%. As the FT reported what we said five months ago, "Four-fifths of Japanese households have never held any securities, and 88 per cent have never invested in a mutual fund, according to a survey last year by the Japan Securities Dealers Association." In other words any transient strength will be on the back of the Japanese "1%" - those where the "wealth effect" has had an impact and whose stock gains have offset the impact of non-core inflation. In other words, once the Yen's impact on the Nikkei225 tapers off (which means the USDJPY stops soaring), that will be it for even the transitory effects of Abenomics. Confirming this was Japanese Industrial production which also missed, rising by only 0.2%, on expectations of a 0.4% increase. But the biggest news of the night was European inflation data: the April Eurozone CPI reading at 1.2% on expectations of a 1.6% number, and down from 1.7%, which has now pretty much convinced all the analysts that a 25 bps cut in the ECB refi rate, if not deposit, is now merely a formality and will be announced following a unanimous decision.
- Gold Bears Defy Rally as Goldman Closes Short Wager (BBG)
- Still stuck on central-bank life support (Reuters)
- Ebbing Inflation Means More Easy Money (BBG)
- So much for socialist wealth redistribution then? François Hollande to woo French business with tax cut (FT)
- Billionaires Flee Havens as Trillions Pursued Offshore (BBG)
- Companies Feel Pinch on Sales in Europe (WSJ)
- Brussels plan will ‘kill off’ money funds (FT)
- Danes as Most-Indebted in World Resist Credit (BBG)
- Syria says prime minister survives Damascus bomb attack (Reuters)
- Syria: Al-Qaeda's battle for control of Assad's chemical weapons plant (Telegraph)
- Nokia Betting on $20 Handset as It Loses Ground on IPhone (BBG)
- Rapid rise of chat apps slims texting cash cow for mobile groups (FT)
- Calgary bitcoin exchange fighting bank backlash in Canada (Calgary Herald)
With China and Japan markets closed overnight, activity has been just above zero especially in the critical USDJPY carry, so it was up to Europe to provide this morning's opening salvo. Which naturally meant to ignore the traditionally ugly European economic news such as the April Eurozone Economic Confidence which tumbled from a revised 90.1 to 88.6, missing expectations of 89.3, coupled with a miss in the Business Climate Indicator (-0.93, vs Exp. -0.91), Industrial Confidence (-13.8, Exp. -13.5), and Services Confidence (-11.1, Exp. -7.1), or that the Euroarea household savings rates dropped to a record low 12.2%, as Europeans and Americans race who can be completely savings free first, and focus on what has already been largely priced in such as the new pseudo-technocrat coalition government led by Letta. The result of the latter was a €6 billion 5 and 10 year bond auction in Italy, pricing at 2.84% and 3.94% respectively, both coming in the lowest since October 2010. More frightening is that the Italian 10 year is now just 60 bps away from its all time lows as the ongoing central bank liquidity tsunami lifts all yielding pieces of paper, and the global carry trade goes more ballistic than ever.
The Kreuzberg area of Berlin has the highest density of businesses accepting Bitcoin in the world. The clip below is fascinating as it becomes readily apparent how excited both the merchants and the customers are about using this free market currency. As the owner of a bar called Room 77, Joerg Platzer, quite interestingly commented: “Every day we do not start using a free currency like Bitcoin, we actually actively vote for the current system to continue.”
Overview of the price action in foreign exchange and outlook for the week ahead.
This more than anything else shows that the claims that QE and Central Bank money printing generate real economic growth are false.
While the main, if completely irrelevant, macroeconomic news of the day will be the first estimate of US Q1 GDP due out later today, perhaps the best testament of just how meaningless fundamental data has become was the scheduled BOJ announcement overnight in which Kuroda's merry men simply stated what was expected by everyone: the Japanese central bank merely repeated its pledge to double the monetary base in two years. The lack of any incremental easing, is what pushed both the USDJPY as low as 98.20 overnight (98.60 at last check), over 100 pips from the highs, and has pressured the Nikkei into its first red close in days, and shows just how habituated with the constant cranking up of the liqudity spigot the G-7 market has truly become.
The S&P cash got within a point or two of its closing high but between FSOC concerns about US financial stability, German court concerns over Draghi's OMT and ESM, and a large (likely CBOE-shutdown-inspired) imbalance into the close, stocks tumbled off those highs with the Dow almost back to unchanged before a small ramp into the close. While equities were on most media headlines, today was 'epic' for commodities. The biggest jumps in gold, silver, and oil prices in between five and nine months despite significant USD strength in the US day session. JPY carry was in charge early (and late as we sold off) with EUR ran the show in the middle of the day. With CBOE down for much of the morning, once it reopened it traded down with stocks up but gradually leaked higher all afternoon to end the day very slightly green. Treasuries rallied into the close to end unchanged. Another low volume day that saw the Dow unable to close above pre-Boston levels. So stocks mixed (Russell +0.6%, TRAN unch), VIX unch, Treasuries unch, EURUSD and JPYUSD unch, Oil/Copper/Gold/Silver up 2.5 to 5%!