Empire State Manufacturing
The overnight global scramble to buy stocks, any stocks, anywhere, continued, with the Nikkei soaring higher by 2% as the USDJPY rose firmly over 100, to levels not seen since May as the previously reported speculation that more QE from the BOJ is just around the corner takes a firm hold. Sentiment that the liquidity bonanza would accelerate around the world (with possibly more QE from the ECB) was undented by news of a surge in Chinese short-term money market rates or the Moody's one-notch downgrade of four TBTF banks on Federal support review. The release of more market-friendly promises from China only added fuel to the fire and as a result S&P futures are now just shy of 1800, a level which will almost certainly be taken out today as the multiple expansion ramp continues unabated. At this point absolutely nobody is even remotely considering standing in front of the centrally-planned liquidity juggernaut that has made "market" down days a thing of the past.
Big picture and dispassionate discussion.
Trifecta Of CPI, Initial Claims And Empire Manufacturing All In Line, And All Pushing The Market LowerSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/15/2013 07:46 -0500
If there was one thing the bulls did not want this morning, it was a goldilocks report in the trifecta of economic data, which included CPI, Initial Claims and the Empire Fed. Sadly, Goldilocks is precisely what they got with CPI printing just as expected, up 0.2% from June, and up 2.0% from a year ago (ex food and energy also in line at 0.2%), claims coming modestly better than expected at 320K vs Expectations of 335K, and finally the Empire Fed offsetting the sligh claims beat by printing at 8.24 on expectations of 10.00, down from 9.46 in July. As a reminder, only a big economic shock could have derailed the Fed's September taper intentions. So far it is not coming, which means only the August NFP report is left.
Fed chairman Ben Bernanke’s testimony to Congress will be important in setting the tone for the markets (particularly the dollar, equities and US treasuries), as traders hunt for clues on when the Fed is likely to ease its rate of asset purchases.
One of these days we might just get a positive economic print, of the kind that the meandering Tepper was saying is visible everywhere now. Just not yet. Moments ago we got the releases of the May PPI and the Empire Fed, the first of which dropped -0.7%, on expectations of a -0.6% drop, the lowest MoM PPI since July 2009. Technically, this is bullish for the E-Trade baby as it gives the Fed carte blanche to continue QEternity as long as needed. But it was the Empire Fed index that was even more disappointing, as it crushed hopes for an increase from 3.05 to 4.00 in May, instead posting the first contractionary print since January, printing at -1.43. It gets worse when one digs through the data: New Orders dropped from 2.20 to -1.17, Shipments also slid into negative from 0.75 to -0.02, Unfilled Orders deteriorated even more from -3.41 to -6.82, Inventories contracted from -4.55 to -7.95, Prices Paid and Received both contracted, but worst of all, the Average Employee Workweek dropped from 5.68 to -1.14, meaning the collapse in the average workweek persists, and even if the BLS reports a positive print for May, the report will once again mask the declining aggregate end demand for labor.
After the January Empire Manufacturing data came at the worst level in years, it was only logical that the February print would post a massive surge of some 18 point, from -7.78 to 10.04, the highest since May 2012, the first positive print since August, and above the highest expectations whose consensus saw a rise to -2.00. The driver: a surge in the New Orders number which soared from -7.18 to 13.31, indicating that the recent northeast snowfall did little to impact manufacturing unlike various other series, whose miss was blamed on snow in the winter. And while there were increases in all subindices, the divergence between prices received, which dropped, and prices paid, which rose, implies corporate margins will continue to suffer. But in this new dot com/housing/credit bubble, who cares about such trivial things as profitability.
The quiet overnight session was started by comments from Buba's Weidmann, whose statement, among others, that the ECB will not cut interest rates just to weaken the EUR together with the assertion that the EUR is not seriously overvalued, sent the EURUSD briefly higher in pre-European open trading. Of secondary importance was his "hope" that the ECB will not have to buy bonds (it will once the market gets tired of Draghi open-ended verbal intervention), something he himself admitted when he said the ECB "may be forced to show its hand on OMT." The stronger EUR did not last long, and in a peculiar reversal from prior weeks when the European open led to a spike in the cross, saw the EURUSD dip to three week lows, touching on 1.3310, before modestly rebounding. This validity of the drop was confirmed two hours later when in the first key economic datapoint, it was revealed the Euroearea exports fell 1.8% in December, the most in five months. As SocGen said "the monthly trade data rounded off what has undoubtedly been a pretty dismal quarter for the euro area. Overall euro area exports fell by 1.8% m/m in December although this was offset by a even bigger 3% decline in imports - which itself reflects the weakness of domestic demand in some euro area countries. Maybe of more interest is the latest data on the destination of euro exports. These continue to show a pronounced weakness in global demand (albeit for November). This indicates that weakness in Q4 is not solely a domestic affair but also reflects a wider slowdown in the global economy."
At a time in the year when the market should be at a standstill, and when all trading should be over, the tension in the S&P is unprecedented, driven by two main factors: the ongoing Fiscall Cliff confrontation, which now appears set to not be resolved by Christmas, and very likely to persist into the new year, and what happens with hotel AAPLfornia, as suddenly it has become a liability to show LPs any holdings of the fruit in the year end statement. The two events combined will likely see furious market volatility persist well through the year end, and since volumes will further die down, we may well see massive stock moves on odd lots. And while AAPL is trading under $500 for the first time since February following last night's Citi downgrade, the confusion over the Fiscal Cliff persists, with The Hill first reporting that Boehner is willing to cave on the debt ceiling extension, even as Boehner himself subsequently tweeted that "Any increase in the debt limit will require a greater amount in spending cuts and reforms." So back to square one, with a red herring proposal that Boehner can say we offered to the president and the president turned down. Japan continues to attract a lot of attention with the ADHD market desperate to hope that the coming of Abe 2.0 will be much better than that of 1.0, when in one year he achieved nothing and then resigned due to diarrhea. Judging by the action in the USDJPY, we may be a few short hours away from closing the gap that sent the pair to 84.30 first thing, and proceeding to unwind the near record JPY commitment of traders short position as the JPY realizes this time will not be different. Quiet calendar in the US, with the Empire State Manufacturing Index expected to print at -0.5 at 8:30 am Eastern, TIC data to show China's ongoing TSY boycott at 9 am, and a hawkish Jeff "Mutiny on the Eccles" Lacker speech at 1 pm.
There was precious little in terms of actionable news in the overnight session, which means that, like a broken record, Europe falls back to contemplating its two main question marks: Greece and Spain, with the former once again making noises about the "inevitability" of receiving the Troika's long delayed €31.5 billion rescue tranche. The chief noise emitter was Italian Finance Minister Vittorio Grilli who said he was "confident that euro-region finance chiefs will reach an agreement on aiding Greece when they meet next week." He was joined by Luxembourg Finance Minister Frieden who also "saw" a Greek solution on November 20. Naturally, what the two thing is irrelevant: when it comes to funding cash flows, only Germany matters, everything else is noise, and so far Schauble has made it clear Germany has to vote on the final Troika report so Europe continues to be in stasis when it comes to its main talking point. In fundamental European news, there was once again nothing positive to report as Euro-area exports fell in September as the region’s economy slipped into a recession for the second time in four years. Exports declined a 1.1% from August, when they gained 3.3%. Imports dropped 2.7%. The trade surplus widened to 11.3 billion euros from a revised 8.9 billion euros in the previous month. Global trade, at whose nexus Europe has always been at the apex, continues to shrink rapidly. Elsewhere, geopolitical developments between Israel and Gaza have been muted with little to report, although this will hardly remain as is. Providing some news amusement is Japan, where the LDP opposition leader Shinzo Abe continues to threaten that he will make the BOJ a formal branch of the government and will impose 2% inflation targeting, which in turn explain the ongoing move in the USDJPY higher. This too will fade when laughter takes the place of stunned silence.
As if depressing PMI data out of China overnight was not enough (it was certainly enough to send the Shanghai Composite tumbling 2.08% to 2024.8 and just off fresh 4 year lows), we then got Europe to join in the fray with a composite PMI print of 45.9, down from 46.3, and a miss to expectations of a modest rise to 46.6 (driven by a manufacturing PMI of 46.0 up from 45.1, and a Services PMI down from 47.2 to 46.0). The biggest surprise was the sheer collapse in French manufacturing data which tumbled from 46.0 to a 4 year low of 42.6 on expectations of a rise to 46.4, which sent the EURUSD firmly into sub 1.30 territory and not even several good paradoxical bond auctions from Spain (because a good auction here means no bailout, means those who bought the bonds will soon suffer big losses) have managed to dent the very poor overnight sentiment which now implies a European GDP contraction of -1% of more. Reality has also halted the global easing euphoria (the USDJPY is now 40 bps below where the BOJ announced the injection of another Y10 Trillion), and has everyone wondering, now that QEternity is priced in, what next?
There was a time when sentiment and newsflow mattered, and then Bernanke took over. If there is anything today's soaked vacuum tubes will focus on is that it is the 81st anniversary of the invasion of Manchuria by Japan, as developments in the East China Sea are starting to get decidedly deja vuish, if somewhat inverted. Also notable is the ever louder chatter that Spain will have to be destroyed (bonds plunge), for it to be saved (Rajoy submits bailout request), as we observed over a month ago. For that to happen, the central planners will need to allow the markets to take a deep breath and actually slide, which in turn may crush confidence in central planners' ability to keep markets rising in perpetuity. What's a central planner to do these days to be appreciated anyway. It also means that the days of innocence, when nothing at all matters on the fundamental side, will, just like in Q1 after the LTRO $1.3 trillion injection, be followed by days when fundamentals matter with a vengeance. Alas, we are not there yet. Instead, the best we can do is wonder just what asset will experience today's flash crash du jour following yesterday's still unexplained 5% plunge in crude in minutes. New Normal indeed.
News may come, and news may go, but the fiscal policy implementation vehicle known as the market, and now controlled by the Political Reserve don't care. For those who do, here is what has happened in the past few hours and what is on deck for the remainder of the week.
Plunging Empire Manufacturing Index Confirms Ongoing Economic Slide, Imminent Central Planner InterventionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/15/2012 07:38 -0500
Recall last month's soaring Empire Manufacturing Index which jumped far above all expectations, and was the last of the "baffle them with bullshit" series? Well no more need for baffling: we are in NEW QE mode. In June the Empire Manufacturing plunged from 17.09 to 2.29, on expectations of a 12.5 print: the lowest in 7 months. Confirming the crash in the economy, New Orders, Shipments, Unfilled Orders, Inventory, Prices Paid, Prices Received, Employees and Workweek, or all the subcomponents were lower in June than in May. Gold soars as the NEW QE becomes more and more obvious on the horizon, as there has now not been an economic indicator beat in weeks. So much for the 2012 recovery. Without the central banking CTRL-P'ing, the US, or any other country, continues to be in free-fall mode. Hopefully that can kill any debate about a "virtuous cycle" once and for all.
We bring you "baffle with bullshit" Tuesday edition, where retail Sales ex-autos miss consensus modestly, but the Empire Manufacturing beats by a mile.