Oil prices tumbling 'was' great news for Americans - all those juicy tax cuts to spend on stuff that is not gas (in an entirely zero-sum game of economic value added).. but then prices started to rise. A new meme was created... rising oil prices are great news for Americans - they get to keep their high-paying drilling jobs and gas prices are cheap-ish... Following yesterday's misunderstood statement from the Saudis (that demand for their oil will rise - because US Shale is hosed), the IEA warned this morning that another big build in inventory is likely due to a "dramatic" gain in US stockpiles. That has sent WTI back into the $50 handle range and creates a rather ominous double-top in the crude complex... Perhaps it's time for Energy stocks to fall back from hope-ville heights of 28x multiples.
So far it has been largely a repeat of the previous overnight session, where absent significant macro drivers, the attention again remains focused both on China, which reported some truly ugly inflation (with 0.8% Y/Y CPI the lowest since Lehman, just call it deflation net of the "goalseeking") data (which as usually is "good for stocks" pushing the SHCOMP 1.5% higher as it means even more easing), and on Greece, which has not made any major headlines in the past 24 hours as patience on both sides is growing thin ahead of the final "bluff" showdown between Greece and the Eurozone is imminent. The question as usual is who will have just a fraction more leverage in the final assessment - Greece has made its ask known, and it comes in the form of 10 billion euros in short-term "bridge" financing consisting of €8 billion increase in Bills issuance and €1.9 billion in ECB profits, as it tries to stave off a funding crunch, a proposal which will be presented on the Wednesday meeting of euro area finance ministers in Brussels. The question remains what Europe's countrbid, if any, will be. For the answer: stay tuned in 24 hours.
The recent rally in crude prices looks more like a head-fake than a sustainable turning point, suggests Citi's Ed Morse, noting that short-term market factors are more bearish, pointing to more price pressure for the next couple of months and beyond. While the shape of the oil price recovery is unlikely to be 'L'-shaped in their view (more likely 'U', 'V', or 'W'-shaped recovery), Citi warns the oil market should bottom sometime between the end of Q1 and beginning of Q2 at a significantly lower price level in the $40 range (perhaps as low as the $20 range for a while) - after which markets should start to balance, first with an end to inventory builds and later on with a period of sustained inventory draws.
Perhaps, as in 2008, commodities are a very large canary in a very crowded coalmine. I am highly confident Mr. Stockman's prediction about North Dakota is going to come all too true.
- Greek Risk Draws Global Concern on Lehman Echo Warnings (BBG)
- Merkel to urge caution in U.S. as pressure builds to arm Ukraine forces (Reuters)
- West Races to Defuse Ukraine Crisis (WSJ)
- German-French Push Yields Ukraine Summit Plan With Putin (BBG)
- Swiss Leaks lifts the veil on a secretive banking system (ICIJ)
- Italy Lenders Seen Cleansing Books Amid Bad-Bank Plans (BBG)
- G-20 Finance Chiefs Face Tough Test in Istanbul (WSJ)
- Demand for OPEC Crude Will Rise This Year, Says Group (WSJ)... or rather prays
- U.S. Banks Say Soaring Dollar Puts Them at Disadvantage (WSJ)
In the absence of any notable developments overnight, the market remains focused on the rapidly moving situation in Greece, which as detailed over the weekend, responded to Europe's Friday ultimatum very vocally and belligerently, crushing any speculation that Syriza would back down or compromise, and with just days left until the emergency Eurogroup meeting in three days, whispers that a Grexit is imminent grow louder. The only outstanding item is what happens to the EUR and to risk assets: do they rise when the Eurozone kicks out its weakest member, or will they tumble as UBS suggested this morning when it said that "the escalation of tensions between the Greek government and its creditors is so far being shrugged off by investors, an attitude which is overly simplistic and ignores the risk of market dislocations" while Morgan Stanley adds that a Grexit would likely lead to the EURUSD sliding near its all time lows of about 0.90.
Much of what's been 'sold' to us about the US shale oil revolution is massively over-hyped. The amount of commercially-recoverable shale oil is much less than touted, returns much less net energy than the petroleum our economy was built around, and is extremely unprofitable to extract for most drillers at today's lower oil price. To separate the hype from reality, Arthur Berman explains the recent US oil production boost from shale drilling as short-lived and somewhat desperate; a kind of last hurrah before the lights get turned out...
Overview of the investment climate
It took a while, but three months after we wrote "How The Petrodollar Quietly Died, And Nobody Noticed", someone finally noticed.
If it’s not one geopolitical concern these days it’s invariably another. The number of world conflicts to total world events is at its highest level in seven years and the number of protests to total world events has spiked of late after falling precipitously since the good old days of the Arab Spring and 7% periphery 10-year yields.
Put on the a tin foil hat if you must, but US dollar's rally is resuming after short consolidation phase. I think the rally is only about 1/3 of where it is eventually going.
"This is further evidence that they are hellbent on protecting their market share in China," warns one strategist as just when US talking-heads thought things were 'stabilizing' Saudi Aramco slashes its official selling price for Arab Light crude by 90 cents to $2.30 a barrel less than Middle East benchmarks - the biggest discount in 14 years. As Bloomberg reports, the desert kingdom is continuing to fight for market share, and using the oil weapon by "trying to stay competitive in what is the biggest area of growth," as Middle Eastern producers are increasingly competing with cargoes from Latin America, Africa and Russia for buyers in Asia.