Stocks - for now - are ambivalent to the highest core CPI in 5 months; but the grown-up markets in bonds and FX are taking notice. The Dollar has surged (led by EUR weakness) and long-bond yields are up 5bps (back to unchanged on the week).
Following February's big bounce back MoM, Consumer Prices in March rose 0.2% MoM (less than the expected 0.3% rise) but it is YoY that is the great news for Americans. CPI fell 0.1% YoY in March (below expectations of unch) which means Consumer Prices haven't risen YoY in 3 months. However, while this clear disinflationary signal is peersisrtent, Core CPI continued to rise 1.8% from last year (above the 1.7% consensus) driven by big jumps in the cost of shelter (thank you Fed) and healthcare (thank you Govt); which should send shivers through the risk-bulls as The Fed may be forced to pull rate hikes forward.
Judging by the recent action in equity futures, the continuously rangebound US market since the end of QE may be entering its latest downphase, catalyzed to a big extent by the recent strength in the JPY (the EURJPY traded down to 2 year lows overnight), especially following yesterday's not one but two statements by Abe advisor Harada saying a USDJPY at 125 isn't "justified" and a 105 level would be appropriate. A level, incidentally, which would push the Nikkei lower by about 20% and crush Japanese pensions which are now mostly invested in stocks. Not helping matters was the pause in the Chinese and Hang Seng stock bubbles, with the former barely rising 0.3%, while the former actually seeing its first 1.6% decline after many days of torrid, relentless rises.
A look ahead into next week's macro forces.
Is the BoJ's back against the wall? We certainly think so as the evidence increasingly supports the notion that the central bank is bumping up against the limits of accommodative monetary policy and may soon be headed — as we've variously predicted —for "failed nation" status.
A look ahead at the major drivers in the days ahead.
A five sigma event signifies extreme conditions, or an extremely rare occurrence. To bring this discussion from sports and weather to the financial world, we can relate a 5 sigma event to the stock market. Since 1975 the largest annual S&P 500 gain and loss were 34% and -38% respectively. A 5 sigma move would equate to an annual gain or loss of 91%. With a grasp of the rarity of a 5 sigma occurrence, let us now consider the yield spread, or difference, in bond yields between Germany and The United States. As shown in graph #1 below German ten year bunds yield 0.19% (19 one-hundredths of one percent) and the U.S. ten year note yields 1.92%, resulting in a 1.73% yield spread. This is the widest that spread has been in 30 years.
"The Fed is a reluctant Dollar bull," explains Goldman Sachs, noting that Yellen inadvertently revealed the FOMC's expectation that coming policy changes will boost the greenback. Broadly speaking the rest of the sell-side has herded along into the strong US Dollar camp with only Unicredit (rate shift may slow recent very strong USD momentum) and Morgan Stanley (suggesting USD corrective activity) backing away from full dollar bull though most suggest adding to dollar longs on any dip as the most crowded trade in the world gets crowded-er. Then Stan Fischer added... "DOLLAR WON'T KEEP RISING FOREVER."
This week's main event will be the FOMC announcement on Wednesday at 2:00 pm and the subsequent press conference, the conclusion of the March 2-day Fed meeting, in which it is widely expected that Yellen will announce the end of the Fed's "Patience" with an economy in which resurgent waiters and bartenders continue to skew the job market even if it means consistently declining wages for 80% of the US labor force. Here is a summary of what else to expect this week.
Closing out another whirlwind week, which has seen the biggest S&P 500 intraday plunge and surge in months, futures are taking a breath (if not so much the Nikkei which closed over 19,000 for the first time since 2000 - one wonders how many direct equity interventions it took the BOJ to achieve that artificial "price discovery"). In lieu of any notable macro news, the most significant update hit less than an hour ago when Goldman piled on the EUR pressure, when it released a note in which it further revised down its EURUSD forecast.
"If inflation expectations remain muted, then the amount available for purchase by the BoJ is liable to be largely exhausted during the next 1.5 to 2 years, at which point supply/demand may tighten to unprecedented proportions," Morgan Stanley writes. Meanwhile, a BoJ "liquidity auction" intended to allay concerns around JGB availability attracts tepid demand a day after a dealer survey revealed concerns about the health of the market.
The fact that Walmart raised wages in the manner that it did ought to have alerted the Fed that something is going on in the underlying employment dynamics of the labor market that they aren`t addressing with their current ZIRP stance.
As previewed earlier today, January CPI data was historic in that, 6 years after Lehman, the US just reported its first negative headline CPI print, with overall inflation, or rather deflation, in January coming at -0.1%, in line with expectations, and down from the 0.8% in December. On a monthly basis, CPI tumbled by 0.7% from December, driven almost entirely by collapsing energy prices. Excluding the Great financial crisis, one has to go back a few years to find the last time the US posted annual headline deflation.... all the way back to August 1955, or just about the time Marty McFly was trying not to dance with his mother.
and more news moving the markets
Following a quiet overnight session in which the main event appears to be a statement by Chinese premier Li for more active fiscal policy, which has pushed the metals complex higher, although technically every other asset class as well, with US equity futures set to open in fresh record high territory, even as 10Y yields around the world continue to decline, attention today will fall on the CPI print due out shortly, because if consensus is correct, January will be the first month this decade when US inflation posts a negative print, mostly due to the delayed effect of sliding commodity prices. As Deutsche recaps, the most important number today is the headline CPI where the headline YoY rate is predicted to be negative by the market (-0.1%) for the first time since 2009. Over this period the YoY rate stayed negative for 8 months. However before this we hadn't seen a full year decline since August 1955. In other words, a few months before what may be the first US rate hike for a new generation of traders, the US is set to print its first annual deflation since Lehman, transitory or not.