Just as Friday ended with a last minute meltup, there continues to be nothing that can stop Bernanke's runaway liquidity train, and the overnight trading session has been one of a continuing slow melt up in risk assets, which as expected merely ape the Fed's balance sheet to their implied fair year end target of roughly 1900. The data in the past 48 hours was hot but not too hot, with China Non-mfg PMI rising from 55.4 to 56.3 a 14 month high (and entirely made up as all other China data) - hot but not too hot to concern the PBOC additionally over cutting additional liquidity - while the Eurozone Mfg PMI came as expected at 51.3 up from 51.1 prior driven by rising German PMI (up from 51.1 to 51.7 on 51.5 expected), declining French PMI (from 49.8 to 49.1, exp. 49.4), declining Italian PMI (from 50.8 to 50.7, exp. 51.0), Spain up (from 50.7 to 50.9, vs 51.0 expected), and finally the UK construction PMI up from 58.9 to 59.4.
It has been a quiet start to Quadruple Witching Friday (expiration of stock index futures, stock index options, stock options and single stock futures) but expect that to change, as erratic price action is a recurring hallmark of Quad Witches, especially with persistent low volume and markets that tend to shut down for no reason. So far stocks have traded steady in Europe this morning, credit spreads widened and Bunds traded in positive territory as market participants positioned for the much-anticipated German elections which are to be held on Sunday, with exit polls to be made available after the close of polling stations at 6pm local time. Ahead of that, and as reported here previously, Germany’s AfD Eurosceptic party could win enough support in the general election on Sunday to gain seats in the German Bundestag, an opinion poll published for a leading newspaper has forecast for the first time. Basic materials and utilities underperformed in Europe, with RWE trading sharply lower in Germany after the company announced plans to cut its dividend by half (and with the Adidas fiasco yesterday, one wonders just how bad things in Europe really are).
Despite an overnight surge in the Chinese markets, with the Shanghai Composite closing up 2.4% following reports that China will not only continue with its "liquidity tightening" operation by, paradoxically, cutting RRR for smaller banks, but launch a stimulus for several Chinese provinces and city governments "on the quiet" in the form of jumbo-sized bank loans, and GDP news in Japan that were so bad they were almost good (although not bad enough to close the Nikkei in the green) US futures continue to take on water following the second worst week of 2013 as the market now appears resigned to a Taper announcement in just over 5 weeks (as we have claimed since May). News in Europe continues to be bipolar, with the big picture confirming that only dark skies lie ahead following yesterday's news that a new Greek bailout is just around the corner, or rather just after the Merkel reelection (even though Kotthaus perpetuated the lies and said a second cut in Greek debt is not on the agenda - although maybe he is not lying: maybe only Greek deposits will be cut this time), offset by on the margin improvements in the economic headlines, even as credit creation remains not only non-existent but as the FT reports (one year after Zero Hedge), some €3.2 trillion in financial deleveraging is still on deck meaning an unprecedented contraction in all credit-driven aggregates (one of which of course is GDP).
It was shaping up to be another bloodbathed session, with the futures down 10 points around the time Shanghai started crashing for the second night in a row, and threatening to take out key SPX support levels, when the previously noted rumor of an imminent PBOC liquidity injection appeared ex machina and sent the Shanghai composite soaring by 5% to barely unchanged, but more importantly for the all important US wealth effect, the Emini moved nearly 20 points higher from the overnight lows triggering momentum ignition algos that had no idea why they are buying only knowing others are buying. The rumor was promptly squashed when the PBOC did indeed take the mic, but contrary to expectations, announced that liquidity was quite "ample" and no new measures were forthcoming. However, by then the upward momentum was all that mattered and the fact that the underlying catalyst was a lie, was promptly forgotten. End result: futures now at the highs for absolutely no reason.
There was non-Fed news in the overnight market. Such as Nikkei reporting that Germany's Angela Merkel was the first G-8 member to be openly critical of Japan's credit-easing policy "that has led to the yen's weakening against major currencies" in what was the first shot across the bow between the two export-heavy countries. Not helping risk in Asia was also news that China May new home prices rose in 69 cities over the past year, compared to 68 the prior month, thus keeping the PBOC's hands tied even as the liquidity shortage in traditional liquidity conduits continues to cripple the banking system and forcing the Agricultural Development Bank of China to scale back the size of two bond offerings today by 31% "as the worst cash crunch in at least seven years curbs demand for the securities." Rounding up Asia were the latest RBA meeting minutes which noted the possibility of further weakness in AUD over time, adding downside pressure on the currency and pressuring all AUD linked equity pairs lower. Still, the USDJPY caught a late bid pushing it above 95 on some comments by the economy minister Amari who said that the government would not be swayed by day-to-day market moves and the BOJ "should continue making efforts to convey its thinking to markets" adding the government was not making policy to pander to markets, confirming that Japan is making policy solely to pander to markets.
Japan goes to bed with another absolutely ridiculously volatile session in the books following a 5%, or 637 point move higher in the PenNIKKEIstock Market closing at over 13514, which if taking the futures action going heading to Sunday night into account was nearly 1000 points. With volatility like this who needs a central bank with price stability as its primary mandate. The driver, as usual, was the USDJPY, which moved several hundred pips on delayed reaction from Friday's NFP data as well as on a variety of upward historical revisions to Japanece economic data, but not the trade deficit, which came at the third highest and which continues to elude Abenomics. Fear not: one day soon consumers will just say no to Samsung TVs and buy Sony, or so the thinking goes. erhaps the most interesting news out of Asia was the spreading of FX vol tremors to a new participant India, which is the latest entrant into the currency wars, even if involuntarily, where the Rupee plunged to 58, the lowest ever against the dollar.
Like an infectious disease without a cure, the contagion within Europe widens its grasp…
While it is the labor day holiday in most of the world, and as a result volumes will be more subdued than ever (meaning at least a 10 point algorithmic levitation on no volume for the S&P), let's not forget that Benny and the Inkjets are doing their best to make everyone into a professional day trader (the only "wealth effect" transmission mechanism left) so markets being open seems somewhat counterproductive. That said, futures are already up on the usual atrocious economic data out of Asia this time. First China's official manufacturing PMI slipped 0.3pt to 50.6, coming below expectations, suggesting weak momentum going into Q2. Meanwhile, Korea trade data indicated weaker momentum in exports than expected, rising 0.4% on expectations of a 2% bounce courtesy of Abenomics, and hence a lower trade surplus, while inflation defied median expectations of a rise and slowed yet further. Finally, Australia PMI was an absolute disaster printing even worse than the Chicago PMI, plunging from 44.4 to 36.7, meaning that the RBA is about to join the global "reflation effort." Given that most markets in Asia are closed today, there is no market reaction worth mentioning, aside from the fact that the yen which was logically weaker overnight then ramped up into the European open and US pre-trading as it is, after all, the primary source of "beta" for the global stock markets. Finally, while some are dreading the start of "sell in May and go away" season, what most have forgotten is that never before has May been accompanied by $160 billion per month in central bank de novo liquidity (a number which will only go up- you know, for the wealth effect). Which is why our redefinition of this infamous phrase is "buy in May and buy every day."
The big driver of market declines Friday was led by the Non-Farm Payrolls report. The jobs data was a dreadful miss which leads to the major “disconnect” we’ve been seeing between stock prices and overall economic data which we posted just last week. This is the nagging and confounding reality of the QE and ZIRP grand experiment for many investors.
A review of the implications of the new deal struck on Cyprus. We think three of the worst pitfalls have ultimately been avoided--small depositors protected, orthodox seniority of claims respected, and extensive capital controls averted. The political will to preserve EMU has once again triumphed over ideological purity. We review the economic calendar for the week ahead.
With the world so obviously gripped in currency war even the hotdog guy has moved away from saying how technically undervalued AAPL stock is to opining on who is leading the global race to debase, it was only a matter of time before the G-7 confirmed the only strategy left is FX devaluation by denying it. Sure enough, a preliminary statement from the G-7 came earlier, in which the leading "developed" nations said, well, absolutely nothing:
We, the G7 Ministers and Governors, reaffirm our longstanding commitment to market determined exchange rates and to consult closely in regard to actions in foreign exchange markets. We reaffirm that our fiscal and monetary policies have been and will remain oriented towards meeting our respective domestic objectives using domestic instruments, and that we will not target exchange rates. We are agreed that excessive volatility and disorderly movements in exchange rates can have adverse implications for economic and financial stability. We will continue to consult closely on exchange markets and cooperate as appropriate.
This follows a statement by the US Treasury's Lael Branaird yesterday in which she said that she is supportive of the effort in Japan to end deflation and “reinvigorate growth”. Lastly, the SNB's Jordan also confirmed that the Swiss National Bank will continue to do everything to crush its own currency, and will the 1.20 EURCHF floor, stating that Japan is merely doing the right thing to stimulate growth (i.e., doing what "we" are doing). In other words, let the FX wars continue and may the biggest balance sheet win, all the while everyone pretends nothing is happening.
The underlying trends seen this year have continued, but after strong follow through in Asia, a more subdued tone has been seen in Europe. The US dollar is generally softer, except against the yen and sterling. Japanese markets were closed for holiday, but the MSCI Asia-Pacific Index rose almost 0.3%, lifted by more than a 3% rally in China on speculation that there may be a sharp increase in the cap on foreign investors' ability to invest in Chinese equities. In Europe, the Dow Jones Stoxx 600 is hp about 0.4%, led by a rise in financials. Spanish stock market is at its highest level in almost a year (Feb 2012) and Italy's market is at its best August 2011, though their bond markets are seeing some profit-taking today. With a light economic calendar in North America today, Bernanke's speech in Michigan after the markets close may be the highlight. We identify six key factors shaping the investment climate.
The slow data (and holiday) week will likely keep eyes focused on the 'fiscal cliff' supplying a stiff headwind to stocks as it only reminds investors of the peril which looms directly in front of them. One suggestion I could offer both sides of this debate to avoid any further damage is just to be quiet. Stop making stump speeches. We all know your views. We all know how stridently you will defend them, but your incessant reminders that you have dug in your heels does no good regardless of the negotiating tactic. Instead, hold a joint press conference and admit there are ideological differences, but announce that both parties will do their best to hammer out a deal palatable enough for everyone. Alas, this is wishful thinking. As a result, anytime they open of their mouths, most notably Mr. Obama’s, the words they spew will cause damage to share prices. Unfortunately, the President’s drawing a line in the sand on Friday has guaranteed that a countless number of E-Mini bandits will short the futures in front of his speaking which will erode the conviction among managers trying to put money to work. Ironically, it may take an equity market in free fall that ultimately forces compromise.
A weekend article from Der Spiegel has been the centre of must attention this morning amid a light economic calendar on both sides of the pond. The article reported that the ECB would set limits to the yields of periphery country debt and intervene should these limits be breached. This weighed on the German Bund from the Eurex open and saw the Spanish curve trade lower by 25bps to 35b ps, as well as buoying the EUR currency and riskier assets in early trade. Risk-on moves in EUR and DAX futures were retraced as the ECB denied these reports, saying that it was misleading to report on decisions not yet taken, though it will act within its mandate. A German finance ministry spokesman also denied all knowledge of the reports a short while before hand. Furthermore, the latest monthly bulletin from the Bundesbank that once again reiterated the disapproving German stance toward the ECB's controversial bond-buying programme also dampened the mood.
The initial boost given to European equities following weaker than expected overnight data from China, which renewed speculation of more stimulus measures, has faded throughout the morning. The major European bourses are now trading in negative territory at the North American crossover. The DAX is underperforming, weighed down by the likes of Commerzbank and Deutsche Telekom who both failed to impress markets with their earnings reports pre-market. However, thin summer volumes and another light economic calendar have once again been the theme for the morning, with only the UK Trade Balance for June gaining some market attention. Despite the larger than expected deficit, the ONS said that the figure is likely distorted by the extra public holidays.