Despite the early volumeless lift, helped by USDJPY, it appears stock investors began to get the hint that the US economy (Stan Fischer), Iraq (coup), Ukraine (Russian will do it anyway), and Israel are not all fixed. Bonds rallied modestly early on ignoring the equity bounce and then as Europe closed (and a few Ukraine and Iraq headlines of reality hit), stocks leaked back off their highs. Treasuries end the day unchanged (5Y -1bps), Silver popped 0.75% back above $20, copper and oil modestly higher and gold down small to $1310. FX markets appeared quiet (USD ended practically unchanged) but EUR weakness was offset by CAD and SEK strength. S&P futures volume was 40% below average.
Since there is nothing on today's data docket, it will be all about, you guessed it, geopolitical risks, where "consensus" is best summarized by these two Bloomberg headlines:
- Stay USD Long as Geopolitical Risks Loom
- USD is mixed and world stock markets rise as concerns over geopolitical risks ease
That pretty much covers it, although in addition to the Ukraine civil war one can now add an Iraq coup to the list of geopolitical fiascoes instigated by US foreign policy.
NATO threats to Russia - storm in a teacup. ISIS and Iraq airstrikes - transitory. Israel-Hamas un-cease-fire - fuggetabaadit. This was the week to buy stocks... the riskiest, most overvalued growth-oriented stocks. GDP downgrades - no sweat. Russell 2000 surges to its best week in the last 8 (up 1.5%) while Trannies closed lower for the 2nd week in a row - the first time in 6 months. The Russell rallied perfectly up to its 50-day moving-average. S&P, Dow, and Nasdaq scrambled back to around unch on the week on the back of a tweet and a 4-day-old piece of news... bonds and FX did not. Gold closed the week up 1.3%, back over $1,310 (but silver closed down 1.8%). Oil ended modestly lower (as did copper). Treasury yields saw safe-haven buying and fell 5-7bps on the week (but well off the week's lows -15bps). "Most shorted" stocks rose 1.3% today - best in almost 4 weeks (and biggest weekly squeeze in 2 months).
Late yesterday, after Nobel peace prize-winning president Obama revealed his latest military incursion, years of pent up can-kicking almost caught up with futures, which dared to tumble by a whopping 0.7%, a move which hit Europe far more than the US, and shortly after Europe's open, the Euro Stoxx 50 Index dropped 10% from its 2014 high, marking an official correction in Europe where the Dax continues to be the key risk indicator, and which dropped as low as 8,903 before recovering to a drop of only 0.9% while German Bunds continues to print record highs day after day on fears what the escalating Russian trade war will do to the German economy, and other such "costs." US futures meanwhile have seen most of their losses recovered thanks to the usual relentless low volume USDJPY levitation, which pushed ES down to just -0.2% after a nearly four times greater drop. Still, while futures may be surging, the 10 Year has not gotten the memo and remains stuck just above 2.36% or its lowest print since June 2013, a clear indication that at least the bond market has given up all hope of a so-called US recovery for the conceivable future. What is most important however, is that at this pace, the Friday confidence effect, i.e., a green close, may be recovered: let's all just wait and see what the NY Fed trading desk decides to do, and escalating world wars aside, let's just pretend that HY didn't just sugger the biggest weekly HY outflow in history didn't just take place.
- Russia bans all U.S. food, EU fruit and vegetables in sanctions response (Reuters)
- Snowden receives three-year Russian residence permit (Reuters)
- Headline of the day: Europe's Recovery Menaced by Putin as Ukraine Crisis Bites (BBG)
- Americans worry that illegal migrants threaten way of life, economy (Reuters)
- Almost 90% of Uninsured Won't Pay Penalty Under the Affordable Care Act in 2016 (WSJ)
- Germany’s Bond Advance Sends 2-Year Note Yield Below Zero (BBG)
- Gaza War’s Critics in Crosshairs as Israelis Back Offensive (BBG)
- The 1% May Be Richer Than You Think, Research Shows (BBG)
- Bank of America Near $16 Billion to $17 Billion Settlement (WSJ)
- Deep Water Fracking Next Frontier for Offshore Drilling (BBG)
There were some minor fireworks in the overnight session following the worst Australian unemployment data in 12 years reported previously (and which sent the AUD crashing), most notably news that the Japanese Pension Fund would throw more pensioner money away by boosting the allocation to domestic stocks from 12% to 20%, while reducing holdings of JGBs from 60% to 40%. This in turn sent the USDJPY soaring (ironically, following yesterday's mini flash crash) if only briefly before it retraced much of the gains, even as the Pension asset reallocation news now appears to be entirely priced in. It may be all downhill from here for Japanese stocks. It was certainly downhill for Europe where after ugly German factory orders yesterday, it was the turn of Europe's growth dynamo to report just as ugly Industrial Production which missed expectations of a 1.2% print rising only 0.3%. Nonetheless, asset classes have not seen major moves yet, as today's main event is the ECB announcement due out in less than an hour. Consensus expects Draghi to do nothing, however with fresh cyclical lows in European inflation prints, and an economy which is clearly rolling over from Germany to the periphery, the ex-Goldmanite just may surprise watchers.
Stocks dumped (EU weakness)-and-pumped today with the majors ending marginally higher (except the Trannies down 7 of last 9 days). The Dow Transports are down over 6% from record highs - the worst slide since Feb 2014. The Russell is down over 7.5% from its peak (and the rest of the majors are playing catch-down from that turning point). The S&P bounced perfectly off its 100-day moving-average. Gold and silver jumped notably higher (gold +1% on the week) after more invasion headlines early on. Oil slipped. Treasury yields mimicked stocks, falling early to 13 month low yields and rising (selling TSYs) after Europe closed to end modestly lower ion yields on the day. The headlines though were focused on the plunge in the US Dollar (driven by a surge of JPY buying around lunchtime). Credit markets tracked stocks moestly but we note one pulled high-yield deal today (unusual). When AUDJPY quit on stocks, VIX took over, rammed back under 15.8 to ignite stocks but pushed higher after Europe closed.
At 2.43%, 10Y Treasury yields are back at June 2013 levels with the entire complex pressing low-yields of the day (down 5-6bps on the week). The USD is strengthening (now up 0.45% on the week) to new 11-month highs. Equity markets are reeling in US and Europe. All major US indices are now down almost 1% from last week's payrolls data, and the Dow and Russell 2000 remain notably red year-to-date. In Europe, it's getting ugly fast, the broad European stock market is now down for 2014 with the periphery suffering the most. For 2014, Portugal is worst but Germany's DAX is -3.5% YTD. European bonds are also hurting with Italy, Portugal, and Spain spreads up 12-22bps, with German 2Y yields at 1bps - their lowest in 13 months. Gold is up on the week, jumping above $1300 this morning as copper slides.
- So that's what Obama meant by "costs" - Italy Recession, German Orders Signal Euro-Area Struggle (BBG)
- Russia worries, weak German data weigh on Europe (Reuters)
- Hedge Funds Betting Against Banco Espírito Santo in Line for Big Gains (WSJ)
- Bankers Called Up for Ukraine War as Rolls-Royce for Sale (BBG)
- Double Punch for 'Inversion' Deals (WSJ)
- Statist Strongmen Putin-Xi See History’s Capitalism Clash (BBG)
- China bans beards, veils from Xinjiang city's buses (Reuters)
- BATS to Settle High-Speed Trading Case (WSJ)
- Second Ebola patient wheeled into Atlanta hospital for treatment (Reuters)
With everyone focused on China as the source of next systemic risk, most forgot or simply chose to ignore Europe, which through Draghi's verbal magic was said to be "fixed." Or at least everyone hoped that the rigged European bond market would preserve the "recovery" illusion a little longer giving the world some more time to reform pretend it is doing something to fix it. Turns out that was a mistake, confirmed earlier not only by the plunge in German Factory Orders which cratered -4.3%, down from 7.7% and below the 1.1% revised, and UK Industrial production which missed expectations of a 0.6% boost, rising only 0.3%, but most importantly Italy's Q2 GDP shocker, which as we reported earlier, dropped for the second consecutive quarter sending the country officially into recession. As a result, European stock markets, Stoxx600, has joined the DJIA in the red for the year while Germany's 2 Year Bund just went negative on aggressive risk aversion, the first time since 2012.
It is unclear how much of this morning's momentum-busting weakness in futures is the result of China's horrendous Service PMI, which as we reported last night dropped to the lowest print on record at the contraction borderline, but whatever low volume levitation was launched by the market after Europe's close yesterday may have fizzled out if only until Europe close (there is no POMO today). Still, futures may have been helped by yet another batch of worse than expected European data, namely the final Eurozone PMI prints, which in turn sent the EURUSD to day lows and the offsetting carry favorite USDJPY to highs, helping offset futures weakness. Because in the New Normal there is nothing like a little bad macro data to goose the BTFATH algos...
Despite European weakness, US equity investors decided bailing out BES with taxpayer money means BTFD. As soon as Europe closed, VIX was monkey-hammered lower and stocks took off, first running today's stops, then Friday's highs, then pressing all major indices into the green for August. Notably, "most shorted" stocks were sold hard early on and that provided the ammo for the bounce. VIX was clubbed over 2 vols lower back under 15 as EURJPY became all the fun-durr-mentals stocks needed to surge. Treasury yields rose as stocks rose but 10Y ended the day -0.5bps (30Y +1.5bps). The USD flatlined as modest EUR weakness was offset by GBP/AUD strength. PMs slipped lower as oil and copper gained. Credit markets rallied along with VIX. The Dow closed unch for 2014.
Following a ghastly week for stocks, the momentum algos were desperate for something, anything to ignite some upward momentum and stop the collapse which last week pushed the DJIA into the red for the year: they got it overnight with the previously reported bailout of Portugal's Banco Espirito Santo, where the foreplay finally ended and after the Portuguese Central Bank finally realized that the bank is insolvent and that no more private investors will "recapitalize" it further, finally bailed it out, sticking the stock and the subs into a bad bank runoff entity, while preserving the senior bonds. So much for Europe's much vaunted bail in regime and spreading of pain across asset classes. At least the depositors did not get Cyprused, for now.
The numbers have been 'adjusted' and all is well in the world. Never mind Chicago PMI, or US PMI, the ISM Manufacturing index for July printed 57.1 - the highest since April 2011 - well above expectations and last month's 55.3. Employment rose notably (the opposite of US PMI) and inventories contracted. That's the great news. Then there's the meh news - consumer confidence slipped lower in July. Then there's the horrible news - construction spending collapsed at 1.8% MoM - its biggest drop since Jan 2011. Take your pick which will define your bias.
If yesterday's selloff catalysts were largely obvious, if long overdue, in the form of the record collapse of Espirito Santo coupled with the Argentina default, German companies warning vocally about Russian exposure, the ongoing geopolitical escalations, and topped off by a labor costs rising and concerns this can accelerate a hiking cycle, overnight's latest dump, which started in Europe and has carried over into US futures is less easily explained although yet another weak European PMI print across the board probably didn't help. However, one can hardly blame largely unreliable "soft data" for what is rapidly becoming the biggest selloff in months and in reality what the market may be worried about is today's payroll number, due out in 90 minutes, which could lead to big Treasury jitters if it comes above the 230K expected: in fact, today is one of those days when horrible news would surely be great news for the momentum algos. Still, with futures down 0.6% at last check, it is worth noting that Treasurys are barely changed, as the great unrotation from stocks into bonds picks up and hence the great irony of any rate initiated sell off: should rates spike on growth/inflation concern, the concurrent equity selloff will once again push rates lower, and so on ad inf. Ain't central planning grand?