Europe's leaders, we assume under pressure from Washington, appear to be making a big weather-related bet with their taxpayers' lives this winter. As they unleash funding sanctions on Russia's big energy producers, Europe has pumped a record volume of natural gas into underground inventories in an effort to 'outlast' Russia and mitigate any Napoleonic "Winter War" scenario. The plan appears to be to starve Russian energy firms of cashflow - as flows to Europe are already plunging - and remove their funding ability, potentially forcing severe hardship on Russia's key economic drivers. There appears to be 3 potential problems with this plan...
- Scotland split jitters send sterling to 10-month low (Reuters)
- S&P 500 Beating World Most Since 1969 Doesn’t Spark Flows (BBG)
- Happy ending guaranteed: Vietnam building deterrent against China in disputed seas with submarines (Reuters)
- China Posts Record Surplus as Exports-Imports Diverge (Bloomberg)
- Russia, U.S. to hold talks on 1987 arms accord (Reuters)
- Halcon’s Wilson Drills More Debt Than Oil in Shale Bet (BBG)
- Deadly Disappointment Awaits at Ebola Clinics Due to Lack of Space (WSJ)
- Latinos furious at Obama on immigration delay, vow more pressure (Reuters)
- Japan GDP Shrinks at Fastest Pace in More Than Five Years (WSJ)
After being solidly ignored for weeks, suddenly the Scottish independence referendum is all anyone can talk about, manifesting itself in a plunge in the GBPUSD which ha slide over 100 pips in the past 24 hours, adding to the slide over the past week, and is now just above 1.61, the lowest since November 2013. In fact, the collapse of the unionist momentum has managed to push back overnight news from Ukraine, major Russian sanction escalations, Japan GDP as well as global trade data on the back burner. Speaking of global trade, with both China and Germany reporting a record trade surplus overnight, with the US trade deficit declining recently, and with not a single country in the past several month reporting of an increase in imports, one wonders just which planet in the solar system (or beyond) the world, which once again finds itself in a magical global trade surplus position, is exporting to?
- Euro left reeling after ECB's liquidity splurge (Reuters)
- Coalition Emerges to Battle Islamic State Militants (WSJ)
- Ukraine Gas Chief Takes on Gazprom in Race With Winter (BBG)
- Nato leaders fail to agree spending targets (FT)
- JPMorgan Had Exodus of Tech Talent Before Hacker Breach (BBG)
- Mercedes-Benz Sales Rise Despite Weak German Demand (WSJ)
- Secret Network Connects Harvard Money to Payday Loans (BBG)
- ICE looks to crack financial data market (FT)
It has been an odd session: after yesterday's unexpected late day swoon despite the ECB launch of "Private QE", late night trading saw a major reversal in USDJPY trading which soared relentlessly until it rose to fresh 6 year highs, briefly printing at 105.70, a level not seen since October 2008, before giving back all gains in overnight trading. It is unclear if it was this drop, or some capital reallocation from the US into Europe, but for whatever reason while Europe has seen a stable - if fading in recent hours - risk bid, and European bonds once again rising and Irish and Italian yields both dropping to record low yield, US equity futures have slumped and are now trading at the lows of the session ahead of a US nonfarm payroll print which is expected to rise and print for the 7th consecutive time above 200K, at 230K to be precise, up from 209K in July (down from 288K in June). It is unclear if the market is in a good news is bad news mood today, but for now the algos are not taking any chances and have exited risky positions, with the ES at the low end of the range the market has been trading in for the past week centered aroun S&P 2000.
After several months of disappointing trade data which dragged on GDP for the past two quarters, the July trade balance finally was a welcome beat of already low expectations, printing at a deficit of $40.5, better than the $42.4 billion expected, and an improvement from the downward revised deficit of $40.8 billion in July. The deficit declined as exports increased more than imports. The goods deficit decreased $0.2 billion from June to $60.2 billion in July; the services surplus was nearly unchanged from June at $19.6 billion. And yet, even as the deficit contracted, the trade balance excluding the shale revolution, has almost never been worse.
Even as the NATO summit began hours ago in Wales, conveniently enough (for Obama) at the venue of the 2010 Ryder Cup, so far today geopolitics has taken a backseat to the biggest event of the day - the ECB's much hyped and anticipated announcement. So anticipated in fact that even as it has been priced in for the past month, especially by BlackRock which is already calculating the Christmas bonus on its "consultancy" in implementing the ECB's ABS purchasing program and manifesting itself in record low yields across Europe's bond market, Reuters decided to milk it some more moments ago with the following blast: "Plans to launch an asset-backed securities (ABS) and covered bond purchase programme worth up to 500 billion euros are on the table at Thursday's European Central Bank policy meeting..." The notable being the size of the program, which at €500 billion, is precisely what Deutsche Bank said a week ago the size of the ABS program would be. Almost as if the bank with the world's biggest derivative exposure is helping coordinate the "Private QE"...
Andy Hall - known as the God of Crude Oil Trading to some of his peers - has, according to Bloomberg, built his success on a simple creed: Everyone who disagrees with him is wrong. He was one of the few traders who anticipated both the run-up in and the eventual crash of oil prices in 2008. Hall has made billions for the companies for which he’s traded by placing one aggressive bet after another; and now, he is all-in again. Hall is going all in on a bet that the shale-oil boom will play out far sooner than many analysts expect, resulting in a steady increase in prices to as much as $150 a barrel in five years or less. As one industry CEO warned, "anybody who bets against Andy Hall might be making a poor bet."
Treasuries closed practically unchanged today after yields spiked higher on 'ceasefire' news then rallied lower all day long (30Y -2bps 2Y unch). Credit markets surged tighter on the news then collapsed wider to the lows of the week by the close (diverging from stocks). The USDollar slipped lower on the day, led by EUR strength. Gold ($1,270) and silver limped higher all day but WTI crude took off, gaining back all the flush losses from yesterday (above $95). In stock-land, the cease-fire sparked exuberance to new record-highs. That strength began to fade as soon as the US opened with notable selling in the holiest-of-holies - AAPL. This wesighed on Nasdaq heavily (to red on the week) and Russell high-beta stocks tumbled. Despite the standard late-day VWAP ramp, stocks were unable to recover as USDJPY was no help after breaking back below 105.00 and ended with the worst day in 5 weeks. And finally, of course, the S&P 500 closed with a 2,000 handle - so crucial to maintain the dream.
Heading into the North American open, the bulk of the morning’s price action has been provided by news that Ukrainian President Poroshenko said that he reached an agreement with Russia's Putin on a "permanent cease fire" in Eastern Ukraine's Donbass region. This saw an immediate spike higher in European equities with the DAX future rallying and breaking above its 100DMA seen at 9644.50, thus extending earlier gains that stemmed from the strong performance in Asia-Pacific equities, while the e-mini S&P once again printed a fresh record high. However, these moves staged a partial reversal amid comments from Russia’s Putin that he denied that such an agreement had been reached as Russia is not a party to the Ukraine conflict. In stock specific news, Russian exposed Raiffeisen Bank outperforms Europe (+7%) in reaction to the geopolitical developments, while Hugo Boss have underperformed throughout the session following a share placement which came in at the lower end (-5.3%).
Today was a significant day for many markets. For the 7th time in the last 8 months, US Treasuries opened the month with weakness (30Y up 8.5bps, 2Y +3bps from Friday). Significant JPY and GBP weakness pushed the USD Index to fresh 14-month highs (+0.25% on the week). USD strength smacked gold (-$20 to $1265), silver, and crude oil significantly lower (WTI under $93 and Brent testing towards $100, both down over $3). US equities decoupled (lower) from VIX and JPY-carry around the European close after hitting new all-time highs in the early session (over 2,006 for S&P Futs). Volume was better (but then it was a down day). Despite oil weakness, Trannies took off leading the day (with Dow and S&P closing lower from Friday). Credit traded with stocks for most of the day but ignored the late-day VWAP ramp in the S&P, closing at its wides. The ubiquitous late-day buying panic saved S&P 2,000... because it can.
Just when we thought centrally-planned markets could no longer surprise us, here comes last night's superspike in the USDJPY which has moved nearly 100 pips higher in the past few trading days and moments ago crossed 105.000. The reason for the surprise is that while there was no economic news that would justify such a move: certainly not an improving Japanese economy, nor, for that matter, a new and improved collapse, what the move was attributed to was news that Yasuhisa Shiozaki, who has been advocating for the GPIF to reduce allocation to domestic bonds, may be appointed the Health Minister when Abe announces his new cabinet tomorrow: a reshuffle driven by the fact that the failure of Abenomics is starting to anger Japan's voters. In other words, the GPIF continues to be the "forward guidance" gift that keeps on giving, even if the vast majority of its capital reallocation into equities has already long since taken place. As a result of the USDJPY surge, driven by a rumor of a minister appointment, the Nikkei is up+1.2%, which in turned has pushed both Europe and Asia to overnight highs and US equity futures to fresh record highs, with the S&P500 cash now just 40 points away, or about 4-8 trading sessions away from Goldman's revised 2014 year end closing target.
If last week's disappointing global economic data, that saw Brazil added to the list of countries returning to outright recession as Europe Hamletically debates whether to be or not to be in a triple-dip, was enough to push the S&P solidly above 2000, even if on a few hundreds ES contracts (traded almost exclusively between central banks), then the overnight massacre of global manufacturing PMIs - when not one but both Chinese PMIs missed spurring calls for "more easing" and pushing the SHCOMP up 0.83% to 2,235.5 - should see the S&P cross Goldman's revised year end target of 2050 (up from 1900) sometime by Thursday (on another few hundreds ES contracts).
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S&P Futures Surge Over 2000, At Record High, On Collapsing Japanese, European Economic Data, Ukraine EscalationsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/29/2014 07:07 -0400
Following Wednesday's laughable tape painting close where an algo, supposedly that of Citadel under the usual instructions of the NY Fed, ramped futures just over 2,000 to preserve faith in central planning, yesterday everyone was expecting a comparable rigged move... and got it, only this time milliseconds after the close, when futures moved from solidly in the red, to a fresh record high in seconds on no news - although some speculate that Obama not announcing Syrian air strikes yesterday was somehow the bullish catalyst - and purely on another bout of algo buying whose only purpose was to preserve the overnight momentum. Sure enough, this morning we find that even as bond yields around the world continue to probe 2014 lows, and with the Ruble sinking to fresh record lows as the Ukraine situation has deteriorated to unprecedented lows, so US equity futures have once, driven by the now generic USDJPY spike just after the European open, again soared overnight, well above 2000 and are now at all time highs, driven likely by the ongoing deflationary collapse in Europe where August inflation printed 0.3%, the lowest since 2009 while the unemployment remained close to record high, while the Japanese economic abemination is now fully featured for every Keynesian professor to see, with the latest Japanese data basically continuing the pattern of sheer horror as we reported yesterday.