The attached Barron’s article appeared in December 2007 as an outlook for the year ahead, and Wall Street strategists were waxing bullish. Notwithstanding the advanced state of disarray in the housing and mortgage markets, soaring global oil prices and a domestic economic expansion cycle that was faltering and getting long in the tooth, Wall Street strategists were still hitting the “buy” key. In fact, the Great Recession had already started but they didn’t have a clue: "Against this troubling backdrop, it’s no wonder investors are worried that the bull market might end in 2008. But Wall Street’s top equity strategists are quick to dismiss such fears."
There has been little in term of tier 1 data releases to drive the price action so far in the overnight session which means participants focused on the upcoming US related risk events including the Fed, Q2 GDP and July Payrolls. This, combined with WSJ article by Fed’s Fisher who opined that the FOMC should consider tapering the reinvestment of maturing securities and begin shrinking the Fed’s balance sheet (note that Fisher’s opinion piece is written based on a speech he gave on July 16th) meant that USTs came under pressure overnight in Asia and in Europe this morning. There has been little notable equity futures action (for now: the USDJPY algo team gave it a good ramp attempt just before Europe open, and will repeat just around the US open despite Standard Chartered major cut to its USDJPY forecast from 110 to 106 overnight), although we expect that to change since today is the day when Tuesday frontrunning takes place with full force. We expect equities to completely ignore the ongoing deterioration in Ukraine and the imminent release of EU's own sanctions against Russia, as well as what is now shaping up as an Argentina default on July 30.
An overview of the major events next week within the context of the capital markets, which could be at inflection points.
If one wants to identify bubbles, one must perforce study monetary conditions. The comparison of historical data on valuations and other ancillary factors can only take one so far. The problem is that in times of strongly inflationary policy, the economy's price structure becomes thoroughly distorted, and that therefore a great many “data” can no longer be regarded as reliable... Most of the time, it's the eventual slowdown of money supply growth that brings a bubble to its knees.
A look at the price action in the major currencies, US Treasuries and the S&P 500.
Economic laws are not optional. They are like the laws of physics - inexorable!
Following yesterday's disappointing results by Visa, which is the largest DJIA component accounting for 8% of the index and which dropped nearly 3%, while AMZN's 10% tumble has weighed heavily on NASDAQ futures, it has been up to the USDJPY to push US equity futures from dropping further, which it has done admirably so far with the tried and true levitation pump taking place just as Europe opened. One thing to keep in mind: yesterday the CME quietly hiked ES and NQ margins by 6% and 11% respectively. A modest warning shot across the bow of what may be coming down the line?
Japanese CPI printed 3.6% in June, modestly down from May's 3.7% YoY, but hotter than the expected 3.5% YoY analysts predicted. If you don't eat food or use energy then inflation merely bit 2.3% of your income this year but if you did then you may have noticed that energy costs are 9.1% higher YoY, TVs +8.0%, and Food +4.1% (both showing no signs of making Japan's Misery Index any less, well, miserable). PPI also printed at 3.6% (23 year highs). So when the Japanese politicians say "Abenomics is well on its way to achieving its goals..." they must mean 'of lowering living standards for all Japanese people'.
Ever since going public, it appears that Markit's giddyness about life has spilled over into its manufacturing surveys: after a surge in recent Markit mfg exuberance in recent months in the US, it was first China's turn overnight to hit an 18 month high, slamming expectations and fixing the bitter taste in the mouth left by another month of atrocious Japan trade data (where even Goldman has thrown in the towel on Abenomics now) following which the euphoria spilled over to Europe just as the triple-dip recession warnings had started to grow ever louder and most economists have been making a strong case for ECB QE. Instead, German July mfg PMI printed at 52.9, above the 52.0 in June and above the 51.9 expected while the Composite blasted higher to 55.9, from 54.0, and above the 53.8 expected thanks to the strongest Service PMI in 37 months! End result: a blended Eurozone manufacturing PMI rising from 51.8 to 51.9, despite expectations of a modest decline while the Composite rose from 52.8 to 54.0, on expectations of an unchanged print. Curiously the soft survey data took place as Retail Sales declined both in Italy (-0.7%, Exp. +0.2%), and the UK (-0.1%, Exp. 0.3%), which incidentally was blamed on "hot weather." Perhaps Markit, now that it has IPOed successfully, can step off the gas or at least lobby to have surveys become part of GDP.
Despite yesterday's lackluster earnings the most recent market levitation on low volume was largely due to what some considered a moderation in geopolitical tensions after Europe once again showed it is completely incapable of stopping Putin from dominating Europe with his energy trump card, and is so conflicted it is even unable to impose sanctions (despite the US prodding first France with BNP and now Germany with the latest DB revelations to get their act together), as well as it being, well, Tuesday, today's moderate run-up in equity futures can likely be best attributed to momentum algos, which are also rushing to recalibrate and follow the overnight surge in the AUDJPY while ignoring any drifting USDJPY signals.
A hot CPI and better-than-expected home sales was all that was needed (aside from USDJPY and VIX pumps) to send the S&P 500 and Trannies to new all-time intraday record highs. Escalating sanctions threats and death tolls be buggered... this is going to the moon, Alice. Treasuries were less than exuberant and rallied 4bps off their high yields of the day (i.e. totally disconnecting from stocks) and even USDJPY decoupled through the middle of the day. The USD rose 0.3% (biggest jump in 3 weeks) testing up towards 5-month highs. Gold and silver were dumped, pumped, and then dumped as CPI and housing data hit to end the day mixed. Credit rallied but diverged again this afternoon and remains wider post-MH17. VIX closed back below 12. Only the Dow remains modestly red since MH17 headlines hit last week and in spite of all this exuberance The Russell 2000 remains -0.5% year-to-date.
9 minutes before CPI data hit, gold futures were slammed lower on notable volume ($390 million). Then as CPI hit and "noise" was evidently not going away, gold prices surged over $12 to $1316 obn very heavy volume... Gold is moving inversely with the USD (which is flying around) as stock rally (?) and longer-term bonds rally/flatten.
Consumer Price Inflation was 2.1% in June (as expected) remaining above the Fed's mandate levels and worryingly for all those who see the Fed as omniscient... refusing to go "noisily" down. Core CPI fell very modestly to 1.9% year-over-year but the jump in gasoline prices accounted for two-thirds of the overall rise in June CPI (seems like the Fed needs to print some more world peace to brings prices down). How many months of 'high' inflation does it take before Yellen admits it is not 'noise'?
Following the overnight ramp in various JPY crosses (dragging equity futures higher, and the Nikkei up 0.8%) it is as if the market is desperate to put all of last week's geopolitical events in the rearview mirror, and while yesterday there were no economic events of note, today's CPI and existing home prints should provide at least some distraction from the relentless barrage of one-line updates on Ukraine and Gaza. Still, that is precisely where the biggest risk remains, with an emphasis on the possibility of more Russian sanctions, this time by Europe.
This is a tricky period for asset markets, warns Citi's Steven Englander. Positioning still reflects a risk-on view but the risk-on enthusiasm is in EM, equities and Asia rather than peripheral Europe. Investors are still long risk, despite the geopolitical tensions and Fed Chair Yellen’s modest nod to the risk of faster than expected tightening, Englander cautions, concluding that investors continue to anticipate a soft landing despite all the discussion to the contrary.