it is suddenly not fun being a Fed president (or Chairmanwoman) these days: with yesterday's 2.1% CPI print, the YoY rate has now increased for four consecutive months and is above the Fed's target. Concurrently, the unemployment rate has also dipped well below the Fed’s previous 6.5% threshold guidance, in other words the Fed has now met both its mandates as set down previously. There have also been fairly unambiguous comments from the Fed’s Bullard suggesting that this is the closest the Fed has been to fulfilling its mandates in many years. Finally, adding to the "concerns" that the Fed may surprise everyone were BOE Carney’s comments last week that a hike “could happen sooner than the market currently expect." In short: continued QE here, without a taper acceleration, merely affirms that all the Fed is after is reflating the stock market, and such trivial considerations as employment and inflation are merely secondary to the Fed. Which, of course, we know - all is secondary to the wealth effect, i.e., making the rich, richer. But it is one thing for tinfoil hat sites to expose the truth, it is something else entirely when it is revealed to the entire world.
Copper, Iron Ore, Rebar, Rubber, and now Cotton are all at multi-year lows as the Qingdao CCFD ponzi probe continues to broaden to all the commodities we warned about previously. As CottonCN reports, the probe's increased uncertainty and scrutiny of shipments may hurt imports of of cotton in the form of consignment sales, as international traders delay shipments or deliveries to wait for clear policies as authorities continues their investigation. Even soybeans and palm oil have been on a notably downswing since the probe intothe collateral evaporation started. Then comes the news that Chinese commodities trading firm CITIC admission that over half of its 220,000 tonnes of alumina are missing. This is far from over...
Another Tuesday, another sell-off in bonds and rally in stocks. The hawkish inflation data this morning sparked stock weakness and bond weakness but while the latter saw yields keep pushing higher, the former rallied back extravagantly ignoring the dismal housing data - well why not, its Tuesday today and FOMC tomorrow. The Russell 2000 was the winner once again as traders embrace high beta as alpha (and financials outperformed (2s30s steepened for once). 10Y Treasuries saw yields jump the 2nd most in 2 months (with 7Y the worst performer +6.5bps). Gold, silver, and copper all rose notably after the inflation data but oil prices decided to waterfall lower having briefly reached unch for the week (as soon as POMO ended). "Most shorted" stocks were smashed higher today (+2%) enabling the early ramp and while a late-day selling scramble nearly rescued failure from success, VIX pressure was enough to save stocks' green track record.
"In retrospect, the spark might seem as ominous as a financial crash, as ordinary as a national election, or as trivial as a Tea Party. The catalyst will unfold according to a basic Crisis dynamic that underlies all of these scenarios: An initial spark will trigger a chain reaction of unyielding responses and further emergencies. The core elements of these scenarios (debt, civic decay, global disorder) will matter more than the details, which the catalyst will juxtapose and connect in some unknowable way. At home and abroad, these events will reflect the tearing of the civic fabric at points of extreme vulnerability – problem areas where America will have neglected, denied, or delayed needed action.” - The Fourth Turning - Strauss & Howe – 1997
It's one of those days: despite the Iraq conflict spilling out of control and about to involve US drones and warplanes, despite China's naval conflict with Vietnam over an oil rig in disputed territory set to go "kinetic" at any moment, despite the Ukraine civil war having its deadliest day yet this weekend and adding insult to injury Russia halting gas supplies to Ukraine (letting Kiev and Berlin fight for the scraps), despite crude prices rising ever higher and about to unleash a "discretionary income" shockwave on America's summertime motorists, despite yet another massive tax inversion M&A deal in which the buyer has made abundantly clear its stock is overvalued and will be used as the purchasing currency, stocks are inexplicably not at all time highs this morning.
It's official - everyone's involved! According to the 21st Century Business Herald, at least 17 financial institutions involved in copper, aluminum and other nonferrous metals financing business face losses of almost 15 billion Yuan (not including the contagious rehypothecated collateral chains involved) due to the over-invoicing of the Qingdao port. Crucially, it appears that the evaporation of collateral (i.e. multiple loans secured by the same collateral) has been confirmed officially and banks such as Standard Chartered have already ceased any new business via this supposedly secured channel.
Best week for WTI crude in 6 months (to 9 month highs). Worst week for the Dow Transports in 2 months (3rd worst in 10 months)... and while 5s30s flattened to its equal lowest since January 2009, 10Y Treasury yields ended the week just 1bp higher in yield. Late day VIX smashing was trumped by rumors of the death of Iraq's PM Maliki (which was later denied and sent VIX reeling lower again). The USD ended the week modestly higher (+0.2%) with GBP strength and EUR weakness the main theme. Silver and gold were bid (safety and CCFD unwinds) with the best week in 3 months. Copper and iron ore were down for the 3rd week in a row. "Most shorted" stocks rose for the 5th week in a row (notably decoupling from the broad markets's weakness in the last few days). So it seems that the market does not trade on bad news; it trades on fake rumors.
Anxiety over the Qingdao port and warehouse probe is slowly but surely creeping through all the commodities that were used in China's commoditty-financing-deals (as we noted here). With Copper hurting (and gold picking up), Iron Ore prices have tumbled to 21-month lows (near the lowest since 2009) as 'real' demand slows as the economy slows and 'financial' demand is crushed as "banks are more vigilant about iron ore financing." As Bloomberg reports, investigators are trying to determine if individual batches of commodities were used multiple times to secure loans. This is making banks nervous (shadow and non-shadow) and while iron ore inventory is falling, prices are adjusting lower rapidly as traders anticipate "financing problems forcing traders to dump ore."
Believe it or not, the main driver of risk overnight had nothing to do with Iraq, with the global economy or even with hopes for more liquidity, and everything to do with a largely meaningless component of Japan's future tax policy, namely whether or not Abe (who at this pace of soaring imported inflation and plunging wages won't have to worry much about 2015 as he won't be PM then) should cut the corporate tax rate in 2015. As Bloomberg reported, Abe, speaking to reporters in Tokyo today after a meeting with Finance Minister Taro Aso and Economy Minister Akira Amari, said the plan would bring the rate under 30 percent in a few years. He said alternative revenue will be secured for the move, which requires approval from the Diet.
It seems blood on Iraq streets and infringements near oil reserves is enough to pop crude oil price, break the airlines bubble, stall the Trannies unstoppable surge, and spark volume selling through the US equity markets. We will be reassured that this is a buying opportunity and that 'nothing fundamental has changed' and the US is 'the cleanest dirty shirt' but when the Chinese are tamping down carry with flip-flopping CNY fixes, the ECB has shot his mini-bazooka, and we know the Fed ain't un-tapering anytime soon (as they are fearsome of complacency and financial fragility), it makes one wonder if the corporate buyback machine can overwhelm the geopolitical-risk selling pressure of the rest of the world. Trannies dropped to their worst day in 4 months as all major US equities reversed any Draghi gains. Treasuries were well bid (-6bps and lower in yield on the week) as gold also benefited from safe haven status rising up to $1275. Copper slipped further south. Oil was the big news, spiking up to $106.70 (9 month highs). It's not Tuesday - what did you expect? (and remember there are no Friday POMOs in June).
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...