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.
With a closing P/E ratio over 17 and a VIX under 11, Deutsche Bank's David Bianco is sticking with his cautious call for the summer. Their preferred measure of equity market emotions is the price-to-earnings ratio divided by the VIX. As of Friday's close, this sentiment measure has never been higher and is in extreme "Mania" phase. Deutsche's advice to all the summertime-'chasers' - "wait for a better entry."
It took Virtu's idiot algos some time to process that the lack of BOJ stimulus is not bullish for more BOJ stimulus - something that has been priced in since October and which sent the USDJPY up from 97.000 to 105.000 in a few months, but it finally sank in when BOJ head Kuroda explicitly stated overnight that there is "no need to add stimulus now." That, and the disappointing news from China that the middle kingdom too has no plans for a major stimulus, as we reported last night, were the final straws that forced the USDJPY to lose the tractor-beamed 103.000 "fundamental level", tripping the countless sell stops just below it, and slid 50 pips lower as of this moment to overnight lows at the 102.500 level, in turn dragging US but mostly European equity futures with it, and the Dax was last seen tripping stops below 9400.
What does the true earnings picture of companies tell us about the market? Simple: it is overvalued relative to historical averages on every single basis, and not just the much discussed recently 10 year average used in the Shiller PE which has the market now at a 25x multiple. In short: the trailing EPS of 18x GAAP and 16.3x Non-GAAP is higher than the comparable GAAP and non-GAAP multiple for the long term, 1910-2013 average (15.8x and 14.5x), and while in line with the GAAP average for the 1960-2013 period, it is overvalued relative to the 15.9x non-GAAP average. However, if one excludes the 1997-2000 tech bubble, the historical average multiples drop even more to 17.7 and 15.2.
As we have discussed previously, the "partial government shutdown" that we are experiencing right now is pretty much a non-event - especially with the un-furloughing of The Pentagon. Yeah, some national parks are shut down and some federal workers will have their checks delayed, but it is not the end of the world. In fact, only about 17% of the federal government is actually shut down at the moment. This "shutdown" could continue for many more weeks and it would not affect the global economy too much. On the other hand, if the debt ceiling deadline (approximately October 17th) passes without an agreement that would be extremely dangerous. A U.S. debt default that lasts for more than a couple of days could potentially cause a financial crash that would make 2008 look like a Sunday picnic. If a debt default were to happen before the end of this year, that would bring a tremendous amount of future economic pain into the here and now, and the consequences would likely be far greater than any of us could possibly imagine.
The central bank "reason" goal-seeked for today's US overnight ramp - because it sure wasn't fundamentals with both German exports (-2.4%, Exp. +0.1%) and Industrial Production (-1.0%, Exp. -0.5%) missing - was the weekend Spiegel story that despite the unanimous decision by the ECB last week to keep rates unchanged, ECB chief economist Peter Praet and Mario Draghi himself had insisted on a 25 bps rate cut. They were, however, stopped by seven council members from the northern euro states, including Weidmann, Knot and Asmussen. As a result, Draghi was steamrolled in the final vote. Yet somehow this is bullish for risk, pushing equity futures higher and peripheral debt spreads lower, even as the EURUSD has drifted higher. Of course, one can't have an even more dovish ECB as a risk on catalyst alongside a rising Euro, but who cares about news, fundamentals, or logic at this point. All that matters is that US futures are higher, which was especially needed following yet another rout in the Shanghai Composite which dropped 2.44% back under 2,000 following news that China's Finance Ministry has told central government agencies to cut expenditures by 5% this year, and a 1.4% drop in the PenNikkeiStock225 on a weaker USDJPY. Remember: all is well in the global economy (whose forecast is about to be cut by the IMF) if the US is generating a record number of part-time jobs.
With no macro data on the docket (the NAR's self promotional "existing home sales" advertising brochure is anything but data), the market will be chasing the usual carry currency pair suspects for hints how to trade. Alas, with even more ominous economics news out of Europe, and an apparently inability of Mrs Watanabe to breach 100 on the USDJPY (hitting 99.98 for the second time in two weeks before rolling over once more), we may be rangebound, or downward boung if CAT shocks everyone with just how bad the Chinese (and global) heavy construction (and thus growth) reality truly is. One asset, however, that has outperformed and is up by well over 2% is gold, trading at $1435 at last check, over $100 from the lows posted a week ago, and rising rapidly on no particular news as the sell off appears to be over and now the snapback comes and the realization that Goldman was happily buying everything its clients were selling all along.
From the close on Dec 28th (pre-fiscal-cliff), the Dow is up over 7% (for its best January since 1994), the long bond is down 3.3% in price, gold is up marginally and the USD is down marginally. From around November 2012, the current in stocks is eerily reminiscent of the same run from November 2011's dip and co-ordinated easing. It would appear that if 2011/2 was the world normalizing to ZIRP, 2012/3 is the world's central banks fighting currency wars with their ever-expanding balance sheets (and while Europe won last year in stocks, the ECB's fading balance sheet is leading its stocks to underperform a renewed Fed expansion). Credit markets are notably not buying this risk-on move (and nor is VIX) in January but JPY-cross-based carry is leading the way, so the world better hope that no one doubts the BoJ's ability top unilaterally 'win' the currency wars. Energy and Healthcare are the month's winners as JPY loses 6.4% on the month and EUR gains 2.7% against the USD. ES clung to VWAP into the close. with a second down day in a row
The much anticipated Greek vote on "self-imposed" austerity came, saw and passed... and nothing: the EURUSD is now well lower than before the vote for one simple reason - the vote was merely a placeholder to test the resiliency of the government, which following numerous MP terminations, has seen its overall majority drop to 168 of 300, which includes the members of the Democratic Left who voted against the Troika proposal. Which means any more votes on anything split along austerity party lines and the vote will likely no longer pass. And, as expected, Germany already picked up the baton on kicking the can on funding the Greek €31.5 billion payment (due originally many months ago) when Schauble said that it will still be too early to make a Greek decision net week. Market-wise, Europe is limping into the US open, with the EUR weaker again due to a report that Spain may not seek an ECB bailout this year (as said here over and over, Spain will not seek a bailout until the 10 Year SPGB is back at or above 7%). Paradoxically, Spain also sold €4.76 billion in 2015, 2018 and 2032 debt (more than the expected €4.5 billion) at muted conditions, thereby the market continues to encourage Spain not to request a bailout, although this may not last, as promptly after the bond auction Spanish debt tailed off, the 2Y and 10Y both sold off, and the Spain-Bund spread is back to 445 bps, the widest since October, and means Spain can finally be getting back in selloff play: and probably not at the best possible time just as everything else, which was in suspended animation until the Obama reelection, also hits the tape. Today we get two key, if largely irrelevant, central bank decisions come from the BOE and ECB, both of which are expected to do nothing much. Finally, the most important event going on right now, is the Chinese Congress. For those who missed it, our previews are here: The Far More Important 'Election' Part 1: China's Political Process and The Far More Important 'Election' Part 2: China's Market Implications.
DAVID BIANCO NO LONGER WORKS AT BOFA, SPOKESWOMAN SAYS
Now, we are even more delighted to bring you the following breaking news:
BLACKROCK CHIEF EQUITY STRATEGIST BOB DOLL TO RETIRE
And then there were three...
After his ignominious departure from Bank of America in September of 2011, many were wondering if everyone's favorite permabull was lost to the world forever (speaking of, where is Jim Caron these days?). Rejoice, for we come bearing great news: last night Deutsche Bank's latest addition, who in conjunction with Joe LaVorgna and Binki Chadha, has formed the terrifying "Trinity of of Perma Bull" issued his first report. And dare we say it, Bianco appears to be almost.... bearish? "We expect a 5-10% dip this summer..." Unpossible: what have you done to the Bianco and his tender 18,000 Hz overtones we all love so dearly. Oh wait, there is a second half to the sentence: "...but a dip that most likely should be bought." Ah, that's more like it.
There was a time when Bank of America's archoptimist David Bianco would take any economic data point, no matter how fecal mattery, and convert it into 24-carat gold. Then, in late 2011 Bianco was fired because the bank realized that its only chance to persevere was if the Fed proceeded with another round of QE, (and another, and another, ad inf) and as such economic reporting would have to lose its upward bias and be reporting in its natural ugly habitat. And while many other banks have in recent days become content with every other central bank in the world easing but not the Fed in an election year due to the risks of record gas prices, BAC's push for QE has not abated and in fact has gotten louder and louder. So exposes us to some oddities. Such as the firm's 29 year old senior economist Michelle Meyer literally demolishing any myth that yesterday's job number was "good." Needless to say, this will not come as a surprise to Zero Hedge readers. Nor to TrimTabs, whose opinion on the BLS BS we have attached as exhibit B as to the sheer economic data propaganda happening in an election year. Yet it is quite shocking that such former stalwarts of the bullish doctrine are now finally exposing the truth for what it is. Presenting Bank of America as we have never seen it before - throwing up all over the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
It seems like it was only yesterday [technically it was September] that David Bianco "departed" his latest employee, Bank of America, where he landed following his "departure" from UBS back in 2007. Today, courtesy of Business Insider we learn that following an extended garden leave, or just a rather choppy job market, Bianco his finally found a new happy place: right in the cave of joy and happiness, also known as Deutsche Bank (aka the bank whose assets are about 80% of German GDP and which recently 'magically' recapitalized itself). Here he will be joined by the two other pillars of perspicacity - Binky Chadha and Joe LaVorgna. What to expect? Who knows - but lots of twisted humor is certainly in store. For the sake of simplicity we present some of the salient soundbites from Bianco and his colleagues over the past 5 years.
Just when one thought Wall Street could not become more full retard, here comes David "Kermit" Bianco who, perfectly oblivious of the world ending one broke European country at a time, has just released the following: "S&P 500 2011 year-end target remains 1400, 12-month target raised to 1450 from 1400 12-month target raised on time value and conviction in 2012 EPS being ~$100 barring recession." Barring recession? Has this "strategist" even looked at a TV in the past three months, let alone exited the island of lunatic asylum that is Manhattan? But wait, the humor continues, although we are 100% confident this joke of a snake oil salesman will be on CNBC any minute. As a reminder, Bianco had an S&P price target of 1650 until October 6, 2008, or after the Lehman bankruptcy. He would end up being off by only well over 100%.
One again, the seemingly immortal David Bianco, who for some odd reason constantly evokes allusions to the green sock puppet from the Muppets, is once again forced to be sacrificed at the altar of credibility, having just released a report hiking his S&P500 estimates. To wit: "We raise our 2011 and 2012 S&P 500 EPS estimates to $97 and $104 from $95 and $102 respectively. Despite a moderation in overall US GDP growth, S&P 1Q EPS is coming in significantly higher than expected on stronger manufacturing activity and business spending, higher foreign profits and commodity prices,and a weaker dollar. Half of the increase in our 2011 EPS is from higher 1Q EPS, which we expect to come in at $23.50 (Table 2). Mid-$90s annualized EPS in the seasonally light 1Q supports a more robust EPS outlook." This comes just in time for the economy to take a confirmed dip lower following recent consistently lower economic releases capped with today's Services ISM. And why Immortal? We hearken back to the following Bloomberg article from November 2007: "None of that swayed Cohen, Trennert and Bianco. They say low equity valuations, overseas growth and the prospect that the Federal Reserve will cut its interest rate target for overnight loans between banks can lift the S&P 500 to a record 1,600 this year." This never happened, and in fact Bianco top ticked the market to the dot. How he still has a job is beyond anyone with half a working frontal lobe.