The holiday shortened, and very busy, week includes the following highlights: [on Monday] US Chicago PMI; [on Tuesday] US ISM Manufacturing, Construction Spending, and Vehicle Sales, in addition to a host of PMI Manufacturing in various countries; [on Wednesday] US ADP Employment, Factory Orders; [on Thursday] US Non-farm Payrolls and Unemployment, MP Decisions by ECB and Riksbank, in addition to various Services and Composite PMIs; [on Friday] US holiday, Germany Factory Orders and Sweden IP.
It is the last day of not only the month but also the quarter, not to mention the halfway point of 2014, which means that window dressing by hedge funds will be rampant, as they scramble to catch up some of the ground lost to the S&P 500 so far in 2014. Most likely this means that once again the most shorted names will ramp in everyone's face and the short side of the hedgie book will soar, further pushing hedged P&L into the red, because remember: in a market in which all the risk is borne by the Fed there is no need to hedge.
One hundred years ago today the world was shook loose of its moorings. Every school boy knows that the assassination of the archduke of Austria at Sarajevo was the trigger that incited the bloody, destructive conflagration of the world’s nations known as the Great War. But this senseless eruption of unprecedented industrial state violence did not end with the armistice four years later. In fact, 1914 is the fulcrum of modern history. It is the year the Fed opened-up for business just as the carnage in northern France closed-down the prior magnificent half-century era of liberal internationalism and honest gold-backed money. So it was the Great War’s terrible aftermath - a century of drift toward statism, militarism and fiat money - that was actually triggered by the events at Sarajevo.
Before 330ET, the Nasdaq was the lone survivor in the green this week despite every effort to spark short squeezes and ramps day after day - but that all changed as the ubiquitous late-Friday buying panic occurred of course - lifting stock green for the day (and desperately searching for green on the week). There was a sudden heavy volume dump at 1315ET with no news catalyst amking many wonder if a dark pool puked its orders? A glance at the week's market moves would suggest 'volatility' is anything but low - yet we always manage to close day-to-day calmly. Wondering what provides the ammo for Nasdaq's rise? "Most shorted" stocks are up for the 7th week in a row. Despite all that idiocy, bond yields tumbled the most in 6 weeks and USDJPY fell the most in 14 weeks. Oil slipped on the week but copper, gold, and silver all gained. With the Rusell rebalance, volume was extreme today (but only at the close and that 1315ET dump).
Abe's honeymoon is over. Following nearly two years of having free reign to crush the Japanese economy with his idiotic monetary and fiscal policies - but, but the Nikkei is up - the market may have finally pulled its head out of its, well, sand, and after last night's abysmal economic data from Japan which saw not only the highest (cost-push) inflation rate since 1982, in everything but wages (hence, zero demand-pull) - after wages dropped for 23 consecutive months, disposable income imploded - but a total collapse in household spending, the USDJPY appears to have finally been dislodged from its rigged resting place just around 102. As a result the 50 pip overnight drop to 101.4 was the biggest drop in over a month. And since the Nikkei is nothing but the USDJPY (same for the S&P), Japan stocks tumbled 1.4%, their biggest drop in weeks, as suddenly the days of the grand Keynesian ninja out of Tokyo appear numbered. Unless Nomura manages to stabilize USDJPY and push it higher, look for the USDJPY to slide back to double digits in the coming weeks.
As the probe into alleged fraud at Qingdao continues to escalate (with liquidity needs growing more and more evident as Chinese money-market rates surge), Bloomberg reports that China’s chief auditor discovered 94.4 billion yuan ($15.2 billion) of loans backed by falsified gold transactions, in "the first official confirmation of what many people have suspected for a long time - that gold is widely used in Chinese commodity financing deals." As much as 1,000 tons of gold may have been used in lending and leasing deals in China and Goldman reports that up to $80 billion false-loans may involve gold. As one analyst noted, this was unlikely to have a significant impact on the underlying demand for gold in China and as we have pointed out before, any unwind of the Gold CFDs would lead to buying back of 'paper' gold hedges and implicitly a rise in prices.
Following yesterday's S&P surge on the worst hard economic data (not some fluffy survey conducted by a conflicted firm whose parent just IPOed and is thus in desperate need to perpetuate the market euphoria) in five years, there is little one can comment on how "markets" react to news. Good news, bad news... whatever - as long as it is flashing red, the HFT algos will send momentum higher. The only hope of some normalization is that following the latest revelation of just how rigged the market is due to various HFT firms, something will finally change. Alas, as we have said since the flash crash, there won't be any real attempts at fixing the broken market structure until the next, and far more vicious flash crash - one from which not even the NY Fed-Citadel PPT JV will be able to recover. For now, keep an eye on the USDJPY - as has been the case lately, the overnight USDJPY trading team has taken it lower ahead of the traditional US day session rebound which also pushes the S&P higher with it. For now the surge is missing but it won't be for longer - expect the traditional USDJPY ramp just before or as US stocks open for trading.
Just imagine how strong the rally would have been if US GDP had contracted by 5%? The early weakness in US equities was instantly dismissed the moment US stock markets opened for trading to the general algo public (and POMO began to be disseminated). The S&P retraced a perfect Fib 61.8% of its losses of yesterday's highs and absolutely decoupled from the reality of FX (USDJPY for example) and bond (Treasury) markets suggesting today's low-volume levitation (after big volume pre-open plunge) is nothing but a dead cat bounce. Of course, the ammo for the magical ramp was a short-squeeze and a "VIX-Smash" but even that could not keep pace with the idiocy in stocks. Gold, silver, copper, and oil all rose along with stocks. Late-day VIX-slam lifted the S&P to unch on the week (same as "most shorted" stocks) but was unable to extend. As we 'joked' before the open, "If the complete collapse of the US economy doesn't send the S&P to new all time highs, nothing will."
Ahead of tomorrow's make-or-break FIFA World Cup game against Portugal, the Ghana "Black Stars" are not happy. Amid controversy over match-fixing, the players have demanded that the World Cup appearance fees they are owed be paid; and as Bloomberg reports, "The players insisted that they will want physical cash." The Ghanaian government has chartered a plane and the dollars are on their way to Brazil. Perhaps the players want to invest it in the latest grand idea - Ghana's first hedge fund has just been launched (prepare for more emails).
While news of high-ranking financial executive suicides in the west have become week to week news, the troubling trend has spread to Asia. A string of Chinese officials have killed themselves in recent months, with speculation linking many to a crackdown on graft. However, as SCMP reports, this weekend saw the head of China's largest copper producer 'fell to this death' from a hotel owned by his company with a state-run newspaper claiming the 52-year-old committed suicide (due to work pressures) following corruption allegations. The timing of Wei Jianghong, chairman of state-owned Tongling Nonferrous Metals Group, suicide appears catalyzed by the growing anxiety over the widespread implications of China's rehypothecation commodity-finance scandal. That leaves one question - what did he know that markets remain ignorant of for now?
It appears the sad reality that a consistently tapering Fed won't be able to support this fairy castle with words (forward guidance) alone as - rather unusually -this morning's double whammy of bad news has been taken as "bad news" by the market. Thanks to decisive break below 102 in USDJPY, stocks are dropping and bonds are rallying. Gold and silver are well bid (as copper and oil slide) and the USD is fading fast.
The S&P500 has now gone 47 days without a gain or loss of more than 1% - a feat unmatched since 1995, according to AP. Overnight markets are having a weaker session across the board (except the US of course). Even the Nikkei is trading with a weak tone (-0.7%) seemingly unimpressed by the Third Arrow reform announcements from Prime Minister Abe yesterday (and considering in Japan the market is entirely dictated by the BOJ, perhaps they could have at least coordinated a "happy" reception of the revised Abe plan). Either that or they have largely been priced in following the sizable rally in Japanese stocks over the past month or so. Abe outlined about a dozen reforms yesterday including changes to the GPIF investment allocations and a reduction in the corporate tax rate to below 30% from the current level of 35%+. Separately, the Hang Seng Index (-0.06%) and the Shanghai Composite (-0.41%) 98closed lower as traders cited dilutive IPOs as a concern for future equity gains.
Quietly behind the scenes, amid all the chaos of the Qingdao probe's contagion, copper has rallied modestly in the last seven days. That streak ended last night as the warehousing concerns we noted spreading to the entire sector, combined with a collapse in Chinese copper imports (down 17% in May), and yet another default (China Ting holdings said said two borrowers defaulted on entrusted loans). So it seems that not only are the commodities missing, but so is the money...as the slow motion train wreck gathers pace (no matter what PMIs or minis stimulus do to evade the tightening) as China's money-market rates (at 5 month highs) suggest liquidity demand is very high (and desperate).
Judging by the surprising reversal in futures overnight, which certainly can not be attributed to the latest data miss out of Europe in the form of the June German IFO Business Climate report (print 109.7, Exp. 110.3, Last 110.4) as it would be naive to assume that centrally-planned markets have finally started to respond as they should to macro data, it appears that algos, with their usual 24 hour delay, have finally discovered Dubai on the map. The same Dubai, which as we showed yesterday had just entered a bear market in a few short weeks after going turbo parabolic in early 2014. It is this Dubai which crashed another 8% just today, as fears that leveraged traders are liquidating positions, have surfaced and are spreading, adversely (because in the new normal this needs to be clarified) to other risk assets, while at the same time pushing gold and silver to breakout highs. Recall that it was Dubai where the global sovereign crisis started in the fall of 2009 - will Dubai also be the place where the first domino of the global credit bubble topples and takes down the best laid plans of central-planners and men?
Overnight exuberance on China PMI (which was entirely opposite China's Beige Book results) sent stocks to record-er highs but Europe's dismal PMIs corrected that into the US open. Better-than-expected US data (which under the surface looked anything but) did absolutely nothing to spur exuberance in stocks and aside from a little weakness early, it appeared stocks and bonds forgot the weekend was over as they traded in extremely narrow ranges all day. Trannies were weak (biggest drop in 10 days). The USD ended down 0.15% (with modest JPY strength and AUD gains). Treasury yields closed +1-2bps (in a 3bps range). VIX rose for the 2nd day (back to 11). Gold and silver flatlined as copper popped and oil slipped. Of course, why waste a perfectly good Tuesday by closing green today...