Guess who was responsible for Wednesday's magical levitation that allowed U.S. stocks to stage the biggest turnaround in three years?
Something tells us the "CNBC Oil Outlook Survey" was not exactly scientific. Or perhaps it was double scientifically-adjusted.
Late in June, BofAML noted that during the previous week "sales [of US stocks] were the largest since January 2008, led by institutional clients [whose] net sales were the largest in data history." Whether that particular bout of smart money dumping was simply an effort to get out ahead of what threatened to be a rather ugly conclusion to six months of bailout negotiations between Greece and creditors we can't say, but what we do know is that not only is the smart money (still) selling, but now even the dumb money has joined the party.
One senior UK bank director said: “The problem with Martin was that he made so many enemies, partly for good reason because banks did rightly need firm treatment after the crisis. But he seemed to have a mindset that all bankers were evil.”
According to BofA's Jill Hall, "BofAML clients were big net sellers of US stocks in the amount of $4.1bn, following four weeks of net buying. Net sales were the largest since January 2008 and led by institutional clients—after three weeks of net buying, institutional clients’ net sales last week were the largest in our data history."
There has been an odd trend of late in stock sentiment readings. Despite major averages that are near all-time highs, sentiment has dropped considerably across many of the measures we track. One such example comes from options trading on the VIX. The interesting thing about present conditions in VIX options is that the Put/Call Ratio (using a 21-day average) is at the lowest level since the summer of 2008. That means that there are more bets on a rising VIX versus bets on a falling VIX than we have seen in 7 years. And again, a rising VIX is associated with bad markets. Contrarians would say this is extremely bullish but history shows it is anything but...
U.S. companies announced $141 billion of new stock buyback programs last month and $243 billion of new M&A deals. Both figures are all-time records, and according to bubblevision are further evidence that CEOs are bullish on their companies and the economic outlook. You might say that. Then, again, it might put you in mind of swarming moths heading for a light bulb. The baleful truth is this. In its arrogant and misbegotten seizure of all financial power, the nation’s central bank has turned the C-suite of corporate America into a destructive agent of bubble finance. That’s ‘dumb money’ with a vengeance.
Successive rounds of government bond monetization have worked to destroy the Treasury, JGB, and EU core markets while the post-crisis regulatory regime has seen dealers back away from providing liquity in the secondary market for corporate credit just as the very same monetary policy that broke government bond markets has led to an explosion of new issuance from corporate borrowers, creating the potential for a self-feeding catastrophe in the event of selloff in corporate bonds.
With HFT algos now firmly entrenched in FX markets we weren't surprised to learn that volatility is rising, bid-ask spreads are blowing out, and liquidity is vanishing. Expect things like last October's algo-driven, Fed-assisted Treasury flash crash to become par for the course in FX markets as well, with harrowing USD, EUR, JPY, [fill in the blank] ramps and flash crashs becoming the norm and leaving panicked central bankers desperately trying to figure out what happened after the fact.
It appears a slew of dismally disappointing economic data has finally broken the back of the camel... WTI Crude - on the heels of Saudi proclamations that they are winning the fight against US Shale - has tumbled back to the key $59.50 level...
Today, Virtu released its first public financials since going public, and our speculation has been proven correct: FX is now the largest revenue generator for VIRT, amounting to 28.4% of revenues in the quarter ended March 31, at $42.2 million, well above the $29.1 million generated from trading America Equities and the $34.7 million from global commodities. In fact, as the chart below shows, on an LTM basis, FX is now not only the biggest revenue item for the world's dominant HFT firm at $131.1 million, but is also the fastest growing source of profit, rising 103% on a year over year basis!
Einhorn just found his next target: U.S. onshore E&Ps or the oil fracking companies.
The question on everyone's lips: which asset class was responsible for Virtu's trading perfection for yet another year. It wasn't stocks because adding across the firm's America, EMEA and APAX equity product lines, Virtu revenues actually declined, from $201 million in 2013 to $195 million in 2014. It also wasn't commodities, where revenue dropped by almost $2 million in 2014 to $93.1 million.The answer is...
With the rest of the developed world's central banks waiting for the Fed to admit defeat for one more year and delay its proposed rate hike (or launch NIRP/QE4 outright) it was all about China (the same China which a month ago we said would launch QE sooner or later) and hope that its central bank would boost asset prices, when over the weekend the PBoC governor hinted that more easing is imminent to offset the accelerating drag after he admitted that the nation’s growth rate has tumbled "a bit" too much and that policy makers have scope to respond. How much scope it really has now that its bad debt is rising exponentially is a different question. It got so bad, Shanghai Securities News leaked a false rumor earlier forcing many to believe China would announce an unexpected rate cut as soon as today, in the process sending the Shanghai Composite soaring by 2.6%.