Things are escalating... Energy credit markets are pushing back towards record high spreads, copper is pushing back to the overnight lows and gold and silver are flat. US equity markets are the big movers with The Dow down well over 300 points today (and nearly 700 points in the last 27 hours) and the S&P now down almost 5% from its highs. Treasury yields are 8-10bps lower on the day with 30Y yields at record lows and 10Y close.
"I am concerned that a sizable equity market correction looms. In order to justify general equity market over-weights, either risk premiums needs to fall further, or the economy and financial markets need to have reached a level of ‘escape velocity’ powerful enough to push them forward, even in the face of Fed rate hikes. I find such a ‘soft landing’ scenario improbable at best."
Looks like the Jefferies earnings harbinger were right, because with another quarter down, and here is another painful report by JPM, which just launched the Q4 earnings season for financials with a miss on both the top and bottom line, reporting $1.19 in EPS, well below the $1.32 consensus, and just barely above the lower estimate of $1.16. This was a decline from both the previous quarter (by 17 cents) and from a year ago (by 11 cents). Revenues missed as well, with JPM reporting $23.552 billion in top line, a decline of $560 million from a year ago ($1.6 billion lower than Q3), and below the $24.0 billion consensus. And while JPM's latest recurring, non-one time "one-time, non-recurring" charge came as a surprise to most (although how over $30 billion in legal charges can be considered one-time is beyond us), at the same time JPM once again resorted to the oldest trick in the book, taking the benefit of some $704 million in loan loss reserve releases, nearly offsetting the entire negative impact of the legal charge.
'After two days of sharp intraday and vicious reversals, the BTFD algos are suspiciously missing overnight, when as reported earlier, a bout of margin calls and stop loss selling meant not crude but copper would crash in today's episode of "guess the crashing commodity", on what Goldman dubbed a Chinese demand collapse which for those confused is different than an OPEC supply glut, and is also the reason why the entire commodity complex is trading at a decade plus low. As a result copper plunged to a five and a half year low, in the process halting the market due to the severity of the plunge. But the big event overnight was the farcical announcement by the European top court, which as everyone expected, rejected the German rejection of the OMT as illegal, stating it was not only legal (with certain conditions) but greenlighting the way for the ECB's QE in one week, a move which sent the EURUSD crashing to a fresh 9 year low!
A week ago, we were surprised to learn that one of the most prominent critics of HFT, Joseph Stiglitz, had been barred from an SEC Panel that will "advise regulators on issues facing U.S. equity markets." Today, a day after the SEC busted DirectEdge for failing to "accurately describe the order types being used on the exchanges" namely the infamous Hide not Slide, even after said order had repeatedly made the front page of the WSJ, the SEC finally announced the full list of members of the "New Equity Market Structure Advisory Committee" which will focus on the structure and operations of the U.S. equities markets. Alas most of the committee members are, sadly, placeholding figureheads. Because there is only one person on the list whose participation matters, and whose presence is not at all surprising...
Sure... why not. US equity markets went vertical in the pre-open and followed through as cash indices opened. This ramp drags stocks back to unchanged from the pre-payrolls level on Friday... It should not surprise anyoine that the ramp coincided with a USDJPY liftathon and yet another bounce in crude oil prices...
So far today has been a replica of yesterday, with the crude rout continuing and pushing WTI under $45, but largely ignored by the FX carry pairs, and thus equity futures, which have seen some positive momentum from overnight trade data out of China where exports jumped 9.7% beating the 6% expectation, while imports fell 2.4% compared to a projected 6.2% decline as the trade surplus narrowed from November’s record $54.4 billion. For the full year, however, Chinese trade grew at just 3.4%, missing the government’s target of 7.5% growth for the third year in a row as the government quick to blame the slowing global economy. In any event, the USDJPY is well off the overnight lows which means the EuroStoxx is up some 0.8% which, just like yesterday, the E-mini is up some 9 points and rising. It remains to be seen if, just like yesterday, US equities will crash at a precipitous pace after the open, once algos realize that nothing at all has changed.
If you, like the BIS, are sick and tired of central bankers, and in this case the ECB's endless jawboning and now daily QE threats, determining the level of stocks, well then today is a good day as any to take your blood pressure medication. Because first it was ECB Governing Council member Ignazio Visco who told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag that the risk of deflation in the euro zone should not be underestimated and urged the bank to buy government debt, and then, yet another regurgitated story, came from CNBC whose "sources" reported that the ECB QE would be based on contributions from national central banks and paid in capital. And while otherwise the cross-correlation trades would have at least pushed the crude complex modestly higher, today it was Goldman's energy analyst Jeffrey Currie finally throwing up all over oil, with a report in which he said that "because shale can rebound quickly once capital investments return, we now believe WTI needs to trade near $40/bbl for most of 1H15 to keep capital sidelined."
The last session in China on Friday provided an epic roller-coaster as exuberant retail BTFD'ers met their match with fading inflation and surging default risk concerns. The Monday session has opened to more of the same - with the Shanghai Composite opening down another 1.3% and erasing all the year's gains. As Shanghaio Daily reports, the Chinese property developer Kaisa Group Holdings (that we have discussed in detail here and who's next here) failed to repay a US$26 million bond coupon, making it the first Chinese property firm to default on dollar bonds.
Assume the news for next week has not already been written, What should investors, or those monitoring the international political economy be watching? Here is my list.
Let’s focus on what happened in the lead up to the summer of 2011, right before the markets cratered on the back of everything that was going on in Europe and the downgrade of the US' credit rating by S&P. The leveraged loans index peaked at the start of the year and traded sideways up until that eventful August. This was a sign that something was not right in the credit markets; and equities pretty much followed the same pattern. If we fast forward to today, we can see that the leveraged loans index peaked in July 2014, indicated by the red line in the graph, and has noticeably declined since; at the same time equities continued to move higher, a divergence which is a novelty in this bull market. Is this telling us something? We believe so - it is a red flag for equities.
"Is the recent bout in volatility yet another ‘buy-the-dip’ opportunity or a sign of worse to come? Investors struggle to both keep up with the markets while protecting themselves against a severe correction. By taking a step back, investors might be able to see the forest for the trees to gauge whether their portfolio is ready for what lies ahead." What we find most interesting is that there is very little concern that something could negatively impact the markets. In fact, if anything would actually happen, it will just be a mild 10-15% correction. The problem is that historically, such outcomes have only been found in "rarified air."
- Deutsche Bank 200K
- HSBC 211K
- Citigroup 220K
- Goldman Sachs 230K
- Morgan Stanley 240K
- JP Morgan 240K
- Credit Suisse 250K
- UBS 270K
While the trading world, or at least the kneejerk reaction algos, is focused on today's US nonfarm payrolls due out in just 2 hours (consensus expects 240K, with unemployment declining from 5.8% to 5.7%) the key event overnight came out of China, (where inflation printed at just 1.5% while PPI has imploded from -1.8% in September to -2.2% in October to -2.7% in November to a whopping -3.3% in December because as per BofA "soft domestic demand over-capacity issue have kept inflation pressures low") and Europe, after a Bloomberg report that as recently as Wednesday, ECB staff "presented policy makers with models for buying as much as 500 billion euros ($591 billion) of investment-grade assets... options included buying only AAA-rated debt or bonds rated at least BBB-, the euro-area central bank official said. Governors took no decision on the design or implementation of any package after the presentation." In other words less than two weeks before the fateful ECB meeting and Mario Draghi not only still hasn't decided on which of three public QE version he will adopt, but the ECB has reverted back to a private QE plan. Not surprisingly the EURUSD jumped back over 1.18 on the news (and USDJPY and stock markets dropped) on the news that Europe still is completely unsure how to proceed with QE despite the endless jawboning.
For now, they've failed............but the fact that this watering-down was even considered is something I find sickening.