With the VIX smashing last week to levels not seen since early 2007, the S&P rising to all time highs, and European core and peripheral bond yield this morning touching historic lows, it would appear that the "market" has priced in every possible negative outcome. Which, as Goldman showed over the weekend is clearly not the case at least as investors are concerned who continued to sell stocks across the board in May even as the market broke out to record levels making many wonder who is buying stocks (for more read here)? Expect more of the same, and with some luck we will get a single digit VIX in the coming days as newsflow slows down following payrolls week and ahead of the world cup start in Brazil.
Thumbnail sketch of an overview of next week.
A look at the technical condition of the foreign exchange market.
The positive momentum in equities slowed in Asian trading with losses seen on the Nikkei (-0.4%), and HSCEI , the SCHOMP unchanged and EM indices such as the Nifty (-
0.1%). In Australia, a disappointing December employment report saw a 23k fall in jobs for the month against consensus expectations of rise of 10k. The 10yr Australian government bond has rallied 5bp and the front end is outperforming as a number of investors expect the RBA to continue its easing bias over 2014. AUDUSD has sold off -1.1% to a three year low of 0.881. The ASX200 closed up 1.2% however, boosted by mining-giant Rio Tinto (+2%) who reported better than anticipated Q4 production. Amid recent fears of a Chinese growth deceleration, Rio Tinto reported record levels of production of iron-ore, coal and bauxite. In FX, USDJPY is finding further support in Asia, adding 0.1% to yesterday’s 0.38% gain to trade not too far from the 105 level. Which is also why the S&P futures are trading modestly lower: without a major breakout in the Yen carry, there can't be a sustained ramp in the US stock market which is driven entirely by the value of the Yen, which in turn is a reflection of the expectations of future BOJ easing.
While the generic overnight futures meltup is present this morning, it is nothing compared to what the epic surge in the EURJPY early in the overnight session suggested it would be, and in fact the levitation in US equities driven as usual by Yen carry trades (just what is the P/E or PEG on the USDJPY, or the EURUSD for that matter?) is far more muted than seen in recent days. The main reason for the easing of the carry-risk signal pair is the increasing confusion over what may happen next week when increasingly more are convinced Bernanke will announce a Taper, and since everyone remembers the summer very vividly, the last thing anyone wants is to be the last Kool-aid drinker at the centrally-planned party.
An overview of recent developments, include the political developments in the US Senate, that may weigh on the dollar in the days ahead.
The US dollar looks vulnerable to additional losses next week. While we had correctly anticipated the greenback's losses last week, we had expected it to begin recovering ahead of the weekend. This did not materialize and, leaving aside the yen, the dollar finished the week near its lows. Generally speaking, the technical outlook for the greenback has soured and, in fact, warn of some risk accelerated losses in the period ahead.
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."