US equity prices and US Treasury yields are tumbling after the disappointingly narrative-destroying retail sales data for 'gas tax cut'-based December. The Dow is now down almost 600 points from yesterday's highs At 2.39%, 30Y Yields have never been lower...ever! US stock indices are down 3% year-to-date, testing the lows of the year. Crude is rolling back over, gold is surging, and the USDollar is fading...
- U.S. Index Futures Decline on Commodities Slump, Growth Concerns (BBG)
- Al Qaeda claims French attack, derides Paris rally (Reuters)
- Charlie Hebdo With Muhammad Cover on Sale With Heavy Security Precautions (BBG)
- How an Obscure Tax Loophole Brought Down Obama's Treasury Nominee (BBG)
- ECB’s bond plan is legal ‘in principle’ (FT)
- Charlie Hebdo fallout: Specter of fascist past haunts European nationalism (Reuters)
- DRW to acquire smaller rival Chopper Trading (FT)
- Oil fall could lead to capex collapse: DoubleLine's Gundlach (Reuters)
'After two days of sharp intraday and vicious reversals, the BTFD algos are suspiciously missing overnight, when as reported earlier, a bout of margin calls and stop loss selling meant not crude but copper would crash in today's episode of "guess the crashing commodity", on what Goldman dubbed a Chinese demand collapse which for those confused is different than an OPEC supply glut, and is also the reason why the entire commodity complex is trading at a decade plus low. As a result copper plunged to a five and a half year low, in the process halting the market due to the severity of the plunge. But the big event overnight was the farcical announcement by the European top court, which as everyone expected, rejected the German rejection of the OMT as illegal, stating it was not only legal (with certain conditions) but greenlighting the way for the ECB's QE in one week, a move which sent the EURUSD crashing to a fresh 9 year low!
By now, it is no secret that the one state that conventional wisdom expects to suffer the most as a result of the crude collapse is the one state that through the Great Recession was the primary provider of (well-paying) job creation, the same state which is now expected to enter into a full-blown recession. But is it really Texas that will be impacted the most? The answer, at least according to a recent Pew report, is a resounding no.
COMEX Copper crashed to as low as $242.35 (from $261.70 before China's open). The catalyst for the move is unclear but between technical level breaks at $250 (and support at 2010 lows), World Bank global growth forecast cuts, and capitulation on CCFD rehypothecation deal hedges... massive volume is pushing through futures markets... LME prices are as low as $5,500/mt... Crude prices are also tumbling (WTI back below $46)
When 90-year-old Saudi King Abdullah was hospitalized two weeks ago, the local stock markets crashed and oil volatility expectations surged as we noted at the time, a new king could do almost anything he wants (including changing oil policy). As Reuters' Mohammad Bazzi explains, Abdullah's 79-year-old half-brother has his own health issues and leaves larger questions over the line of succession in one of the world’s most important oil producers remain unanswered.
We see far too much complacency out there when it comes to interest rates, in the same manner that we’ve seen it concerning oil prices. We live in a new world, not a continuation of the old one. That old world died with Fed QE. Just check the price of oil. There have been tectonic shifts since over, let’s say, the holidays, and we wouldn’t wait for the ‘experts’ to catch up with live events. Being 7 weeks or two months late is a lot of time. And they will be late, again. It’s inherent in what they do. And what they represent.
This wasn't how it was supposed to be? Collapsing crude oil prices - according to the mainstream (Fed-spoonfed) narrative means lower costs for business and 'massive' tax cuts for consumers enabling disposable income to surge. But, American Airlines just announced a 3.4 percentage point plunge in its load factor (ability to fill its planes) in December and while Southwest saw traffic rise, its load factor also fell as passenger revenue per seat tumbled 4-5%. So no extra spending... and now United reports it is looking to outsource 2,000 jobs in a cost-cutting effort (which seems odd given the total collapse of the fuel cost overhead?). Oh well, just keep repeating - crashing oil prices are unambiguously good.
Over the past 30 days sell side analysts that cover the Energy sector have been busy cutting their earnings estimates to reflect plummeting crude prices. They’ve snipped an average 3% from their Q4 2014 numbers for the 10 largest cap names, and slashed 19% off their 2015 whole-year estimates. Common wisdom has it that these reductions should shift over to the both Consumer sectors – Staples and Discretionary – driving estimated there higher. That isn’t happening. Over the same 30 day period, the analysts that follow the largest names in these groups haven’t moved their estimates for either Q4 or 2015 by even 1%.
For all those who have forgotten that the I in the GDP equation stands for Investment, here is a reminder courtesy of the latest crude collapse victim, Suncor, which moments ago announced it is not only cutting its 2015 CapEx by $1 billion (as in I, directly and adversely impacting US GDP by the same amount) but that it would also cut "operating expenses" by up to $800 million, and, drumroll, implementing "a series of workforce initiatives that will reduce total workforce numbers in 2015 by approximately 1000 people, primarily through its contract workforce, in addition to reducing employee positions. There will also be an overall hiring freeze for roles that are not critical to operations and safety." Or as Joe LaVorgna and all the other mainstay CNBC "analysts" would call it, "unambiguously good."
The Russian Ruble is re-crashing again today (higher by 3 handles and back above 66 RUB to the USD) as crude oil continues to plumb new depths. Having found some strength - via intervention amid 'stability' in crude prices in late December - the selloff since Christmas has been dramatic in both the Ruble and Crude. However, the contagious impact of this massive Ruble devaluation is, as Bloomberg reports, making life tougher for India's steelmakers. "In the past month or so, deals have been struck for steel imports from Russia," notes one steel industry executive, adding that such purchases "will only increase," as lower Russian prices "will be a threat to Indian steel mills."
The touts have it backwards. This isn’t about greeters at Wal-Mart handing out tax cuts to hard-pressed American consumers. Its about the coming liquidation of the massive malinvestments and bloated economies that have been enabled by rampant central bank money printing and the resulting madcap expansion of unrepayable debt. Buying-the-dip was always a strategy that would work until it didn’t. The “oil tax cut” tale is designed to ensure that Wall Street’s Muppets will be the last to get the word.
In a globalized and financialized world, financial disruption, which is what a “rising” dollar signifies, is not an independent paradigm. The more prices trend exactly opposite of how “stimulus” is supposed to work, the less these convolutions will hold up whereby, eventually, reality sets in. The significance of the action in December is that there are no more lines in the sand left to defend the “honor” of monetarism; copper isn’t anywhere near $3 anymore and the long-predicted crude oil bounce to $70 is instead $45 and falling. Only equities remain, and at these valuations they signify nothing but the folly of the artificial economy. The more this goes on, the more it looks like 1937 lives again.
Now that even the pundit brigade has confessed that crashing crude may not be the "unambiguously good" event all of them had sworn as recently as a month ago it surely would be, and stocks are finally comprehending that plunging oil may well be rather "unambiguously bad" because without EPS growth (energy is well over 10% of S&P EPS), without multiple expansion (rumor has it the Fed will hike this year), without a jump in stock buybacks (energy companies account for 30% of the buyback growth in 2015 according to Goldman) and without a boost to GDP (energy capex plans are imploding), the only way is down. But there was one key element missing from the "bad" scenario: impaired banks. At least until now, because as Reuters reports, Asia-focused bank Standard Chartered is the first (of many) bank facing billions in losses resulting from the crude crash.