We have now done the math and compiled the Q2 earnings for the S&P 500 and we can indeed confirm that (at least in the second quarter) the buyback part is not only over but has ended with a thud, with the total notional amount of buybacks completed in Q2 plunging by 27% in Q2 to "only" $117 billion - the lowest since Q1 of 2013!
US equity markets are sliding this morning on the back of AUDJPY fun-durr-mentals as the USDollar pushes to new 15-month highs (AUD at 6-month lows). This has pressed Nasdaq red for September (joining the Dow, S&P, and Russell). Treasury yields are modestly higher but commodities are sliding with copper the worst... makes us wonder if this is follow-through from China's huge adjustment to CNY overnight.
While overnight US equity futures have done nothing notable, what everyone's attention has been fixed on, in addition to the GBP and the read-through to all things UK-ish ahead of the Scotland independence referendum, is the sudden flare up in USDJPY trading and volatility, which exploded by some 100 pips in the past 24 hours hitting fresh post-2008 highs, on what appears to be a major capital reallocation move (it surely is not driven by any news) and/or forced squeeze. What is more perplexing is the change in correlations signals, because while until recently the USDJPY was synonymous with the E-Mini, and thus the S&P, as of late the USDJPY pair has moved tick for tick with the 10Year yield: almost as if the NY Fed's favorite HFT trading shop was instructed to change its vast array of signal inputs away from the S&P and to force a gentle levitation in the 10Y.
Today some very significant moves across asset-classes - despite the apparent close-to-close 'blahness' of stocks (Dow, S&P, Trannies small red, Nasdaq green) and bonds (30Y unch, 5Y +2bps) from Friday's close. The USD surged to fresh 15-month highs, ripping another 0.6% higher as GBP, EUR (1.28xx), and JPY (106.xx) all faded dramatically. US equity markets entirely decoupled from JPY (in fact became negatively correlated) and US Treasury yields ripped higher - tick for tick with USDJPY's rise. Gold and silver slipped 1% on the day, copper limped higher (after an early plunge) and oil rebounded to close with a small loss near $93 (Brent under $100 for first time in 14 months). Late-day news of 'delayed' sanctions sparked the standard post-EU-close buying panic, regained S&P 2,000 (and Futs hit VWAP), and ensured Friday's bad-news-is-good-news jobs meme stands.
Turmoil! S&P 500 loses 2,000 and EURUSD breaks to 14-month lows with a 1.28 handle
US equity markets are volatile this morning but appear to have now entirely decoupled from USDJPY as it careens headlong to new 5-year highs running stops to 106.00. US Treasury yields are tracking the collapse of JPY closely since the US open. EURUSD is also plunging (as did GBP this morning). Abe will be happy as JPY collapses so Nikkei futures surge... is this 'great rotation' from every asset in the world into the Alibaba IPO?
Just 2 months ago, the illustrious muppet catchers at Goldman Sachs stated that both stocks were 30-45% overvalued but lifted its year-end target in what we subjectively described as 'moronic drivel'. Then, 2 short weeks after that 'upgrade', the same thought-provoking sell-side strategist downgraded stocks on the basis that a 'sell-off in bonds could lead to short-term weakness in stocks'. Now, with the S&P 500 closing at new record highs on the worst employment data of the year, Goldman is at it again - upgrading equities to overweight for the next 3 months, rolling index targets forward, and piling investors into high-yield credit. Welcome to muppetville...
Things are getting a bit hotter for the Federal Reserve regarding the tradeoff between growth and inflation, according to JPMorgan CIO Michael Cembalest. For the last few years, he notes, a zero rate policy was put on autopilot given excess labor and industrial capacity. Both are shrinking now, and when looking at a broad range of variables, some are clearly mid-cycle. If so, in a few months Fed governors will have to jump out of the 0% interest rate pot and remove some of the liquidity that it has infused into the US economy; and, Cembalest warns, despite today's jobs print, they may have to do so at a quicker pace than what markets are pricing in.
It's lights-out for the world-renowned Dennis Gartman...
Some believe that actions today were jointly agreed to by the Fed and ECB to allow the stimulus baton to be passed from one major central bank to another. Could this be to help ease the risk-off fallout that is likely to ensue in anticipation of the first Fed hike? Maybe the price action in US equity markets today should serve as an early warning signal.
Who could have seen this coming? Well, credit markets for one. US equity markets have slipped into the red for the week, catching down to High-Yield credit's early warnings. The S&P 500 cash index is back at the magical 2,000 (so expect a magic bid). Treasury yields remain at the highs of the week (+12bps) but are beginning to limp lower. EURUSD is holding near its lows under 1.2950.
Encouraging and supporting asset bubbles is essentially the only force remaining to keep the system intact as we know it.
Even as the NATO summit began hours ago in Wales, conveniently enough (for Obama) at the venue of the 2010 Ryder Cup, so far today geopolitics has taken a backseat to the biggest event of the day - the ECB's much hyped and anticipated announcement. So anticipated in fact that even as it has been priced in for the past month, especially by BlackRock which is already calculating the Christmas bonus on its "consultancy" in implementing the ECB's ABS purchasing program and manifesting itself in record low yields across Europe's bond market, Reuters decided to milk it some more moments ago with the following blast: "Plans to launch an asset-backed securities (ABS) and covered bond purchase programme worth up to 500 billion euros are on the table at Thursday's European Central Bank policy meeting..." The notable being the size of the program, which at €500 billion, is precisely what Deutsche Bank said a week ago the size of the ABS program would be. Almost as if the bank with the world's biggest derivative exposure is helping coordinate the "Private QE"...
Icahn, Soros, Druckenmiller, And Now Zell: The Billionaires Are All Quietly Preparing For The PlungeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/03/2014 23:03 -0400
"The stock market is at an all-time, but economic activity is not at an all-time," explains billionaire investor Sam Zell adding that "I don't remember any time in my career where there have been as many wildcards floating out there that have the potential to be very significant and alter people's thinking." Zell concludes that "this is the first time I ever remember where having cash isn't such a terrible thing." Zell's calls should not be shocking following Soros. Druckenmiller, and Icahn's warnings that there is trouble ahead.
The chance of EURCHF breaking the peg at 1.2000 have increased from 10% to 25-30% based on European Central Bank monetary policy, geopolitical risk and a lack of policy choices for the Swiss National Bank. This means that being long EURCHF no longer is a safe bet and although the 70% chance of the floor being both defended and protected is still high, the tail-risk involved is becoming too concerning.
Just when we thought centrally-planned markets could no longer surprise us, here comes last night's superspike in the USDJPY which has moved nearly 100 pips higher in the past few trading days and moments ago crossed 105.000. The reason for the surprise is that while there was no economic news that would justify such a move: certainly not an improving Japanese economy, nor, for that matter, a new and improved collapse, what the move was attributed to was news that Yasuhisa Shiozaki, who has been advocating for the GPIF to reduce allocation to domestic bonds, may be appointed the Health Minister when Abe announces his new cabinet tomorrow: a reshuffle driven by the fact that the failure of Abenomics is starting to anger Japan's voters. In other words, the GPIF continues to be the "forward guidance" gift that keeps on giving, even if the vast majority of its capital reallocation into equities has already long since taken place. As a result of the USDJPY surge, driven by a rumor of a minister appointment, the Nikkei is up+1.2%, which in turned has pushed both Europe and Asia to overnight highs and US equity futures to fresh record highs, with the S&P500 cash now just 40 points away, or about 4-8 trading sessions away from Goldman's revised 2014 year end closing target.