A look at key events and data in the week ahead.
It’s time to think like a contrarian. Why? Because capital markets seem as bulletproof as one of those up-armored military personnel carriers you see in war zones. So what could really rattle stock, bond and commodity markets over the next 3-6 months? The go-to answer, steeped in history, is geopolitical crisis, where the logical hedges are precious metals, volatility plays, and possibly crude oil. Look deeper, however, and other answers emerge.
The Russell 2000 closed down almost 4% from last Thursday's early close - its worst week in 3 months (and in the red year-to-date). The Nasdaq miraculously scrambled back to unchanged from Payrolls but all major indices closed red for the week. Away from stocks, the USD closed unchanged (with notable CAD weakness and JPY strength). Treasury yields tumbled 13bps on the week - the most in 4 months. Gold and silver rose 1.3% on the week to new 4-month highs (6th green week in a row) as WTI Crude slumped back under $101 (-3.3% on the week). VIX rose around 2 vols back above 12 as "most shorted" stocks plunged over 5% - the biggest weekly drop in 25 months! VIX was slammed lower late-on to give the impression of confidence in stocks into the weekend but credit was notably not buying it at all.
Economic analysts are torn as to how important Saudi Arabia will prove to the global economy in years ahead. In the first half of 2014, the US surpassed Saudi Arabia to become the world’s foremost oil producer. This sparked widespread predictions that the US would soon become an oil exporter, reducing its dependency on Riyadh and harming Saudi Arabia’s leading role in the Middle-East. However, the ISIS invasion of Iraq and Syria, the Boko Haram insurgency and continued oil theft in Nigeria, unrest in Venezuela and ongoing violence in Sudan and South Sudan have changed the deal.
Worried about tensions in Kuwait, Jordan, and Iraq... the 'market' is not. With the spec positioning significantly net long, it appears 'they' have found another pain trade... as WTI Crude loses $101 and drops to 2-month lows...
This clown parade of clueless opinions (did we mention Goldman had BES at a buy until this morning?), stretched all the way to the very top with Bank of Portugal itself issuing the following pearl:
- BANK OF PORTUGAL SAYS BES DEPOSITORS CAN STAY CALM
Uhhh, what else would the Portugal central bank say? Panic and withdraw your deposits from a bank whose exposures to insolvent entities have been largely unknown until today (and even now).
Day in, day out, China 'bulls' (which implies 'everything' bulls as China is the ultimate fall-back save of growth in the world) will use the government-provided PMIs (at 2014 highs) as an indication that everything is tip-top and all those concerns about China's shadow-banking system, CCFD unwinds, guarantor bankruptcies, money-market rate surges on liquidity demand, and tumbling house prices are storms in a teacup to be ignored. Well in the interests of 'beating' a dead horse (and remembering just how bad soft-survey-based PMI data is at predicting future growth), we show below 11 examples that suggest China is anything but healthy.
But... but... the VIX said everything is ok, and European rates were the lowest they have been in centuries... How can something possibly go wrong?
It just did.
- Espirito Santo Financial Suspends Shares, Bonds on ESI Exposure (BBG)
- Europe Stocks Drop for Fifth Day as Espirito Santo Sinks (BBG)
- Espirito Santo Creditors Doubt Containment on Missed Payment (BBG)
- French Stocks Seen Extending Losses on Economy Concern (BBG)
- Stocks Slide With Portugal Bonds as Yen Gains; Oil Drops (BBG)
- U.S. Probes Hacking of Government Computers at Personnel Agency (WSJ)... finds terabytes of porn
- It's Congress' fault: Obama rejects criticism over border crisis (Reuters)
- Israel Mobilizes 20,000 Troops for Possible Gaza Invasion (BBG)
- Chinese hackers pursue key data on U.S. workers (NYT)
- Donetsk Primed for Siege as Ukraine Army Hems In Rebels (BBG)
- Xi Says China Conflict With U.S. Would Be Disaster (BBG)
- Short selling drops to lowest level since Lehman (FT)
- Scoping the new subprime as watchdogs cry 'bubble' (Reuters)
- Carlos Slim to break up América Móvil empire (FT)
- Jury Acquits Rengan Rajaratnam in Insider-Trading Case (WSJ)
- Hamas rockets land deep in Israel as it bombards Gaza Strip (Reuters)
- Hong Kong Buyers Queue for New Homes After Prices Plunge (BBG)
- Rebel Stronghold in Ukraine Braces for Its Showdown (WSJ)
- Tiny Houses Big With U.S. Owners Seeking Economic Freedom (BBG)
- Chinese Cash-Bearing Buyers Drive U.S. Foreign Sales Jump (BBG)
While the situation between Israel and Gaza continues to escalate, pulling the markets' attention away from the recent developments in Iraq (as for the Ukraine civil war, forget it), the big news overnight came out of Chine which reported another contraction in consumer prices, which both declined to 2.3% and missed expectations of a 2.4% print (down from 2.5%). Producer Prices had another negative print, the 28th in a row, and have remained negative since 2012. This led to the Hang Seng Index falling at the fastest rate since late June to erase all YTD gains. However, as has now become the norm, macro news hardly impacted US equity futures, which are driven exclusively by the Yen carry trade, which unlike yesterday's pounding, has traded rangebound between 101.6-101.7 keeping US equity futures just barely in the green. We expect the momentum ignition algo to kick in at some point, for absolute no fundamental reason beside the NY Fed trading desk issuing a green light, sending the USDJPY surging, taking the Spoos with them, and helping stocks forget all about the weak Asian session.
Many seem to believe that if we worked our way out of debt problems in the past, we can do the same thing again. The same assets may have new owners, but everything will work together in the long run. Businesses will continue operating, and people will continue to have jobs. We may have to adjust monetary policy, or perhaps regulation of financial institutions, but that is about all. I think this is where the story goes wrong. The situation we have now is very different, and far worse, than what happened in the past. We live in a much more tightly networked economy. This time, our problems are tied to the need for cheap, high quality energy products. The comfort we get from everything eventually working out in the past is false comfort.
Poor algos: after they got no love on Monday from the overnight USDJPY selling team which took the all important pair back to the 200 DMA, today, inexplicably (it is a Tuesday after all, and if one can't frontrun a rigged market surging higher on Turbo Tuesday may as well throw in the towel on free money and learn about fundamental analysis) the same overnight USDJPY selling team has pushed the key carry pair to below the 200 DMA, and has dragged US equity futures lower with it for the second day in a row.
A recent study from Cornell University finds a probable link between drilling activity and an increased frequency of earthquakes in Oklahoma. Published in the journal Science, the study indicates that the practice of injecting millions of gallons of wastewater underground after a well is hydraulically fractured may increase the occurrence of earthquakes. Between 1967 and 2000, there was an average of 21 earthquakes of a magnitude greater than 3.0 – considered strong enough to be noticed - in Oklahoma. Last year there were over a hundred, and this year there have been more than 200.
Risk assets have started the week off on a slightly softer footing but overall volumes are fairly low given the quiet Friday session last week and with the lack of any major weekend headlines. Equity bourses are down between 25-50bp on the day paced by the Nikkei (-0.4%). In China, a number of railway construction stocks are up 3-4% after reports that China Railway Corp will buy around 300 sets of high speed trains and may potentially launch 14 news railway construction projects soon as part of national investment plans.