Another day where the taken for granted overnight futures levitation is missing (despite a rather rampy USDJPY), indicates that algos are likely waiting for guidance from today's NFP data (buy if beat, buy more if miss) before committing monopoly money. The consensus for today's NFP is 218K, (up from 192K), although as Goldman notes the whisper number is as high as 240K. As DB says, the honest truth is that markets are in one giant holding pattern at the moment with volatility and conviction low. One evidence of this is the AAII weekly sentiment indicator which shows the % bullish, bearish or neutral on the US stock market for the next six months. This week the neutral indicator (40.78) is at its highest level for 9 years. No wonder volumes and volatility are low if investors are lacking a directional bias. Yesterday’s reaction to the ISM manufacturing was interesting. Though the headline number came in firmer than expected (54.9 vs 54.3 expected) and more than 1pt higher than last month’s reading of 53.7, the UST and equity reaction suggested that the data had actually surprised to the downside.
If you don’t like how things work in a free market, just change the rules and financial engineer whatever the results you would like to achieve. And so, since 1995 we have been going from boom to bust from one bubble to the next as we try to navigate the financial markets that have been turned into a circus act.
We could yarn on for hundreds of words discussing the ins and outs of falling volumes and record-er highs in US equity markets as Treasury bond yields collapse, macro- and micro-fundamental data slumps, and the total nonsense with regard to 'cash on the balance sheets' when it is all levered to the max. But when it comes to showing just who is buying the hope... and who is selling the hype, the following chart from BofAML sums it all up... institutional clients sold the most since January and the 4th most on record in the last week as retail clients continued their buying streak.
You can't keep a rigged market down... despite weak GDP, weak jobs data, weaker PMI sub-indices, and weak construction spending, US equity markets are making new highs led by the ever-squeezable Nasdaq playing catch-up (and the Trannies). All of this stands in stark contrast to the continuing collapse in bond yields as macro fundamentals are reflected in only one side of the capital markets. 30Y yields - at 4.42% - are near their lowest in 10 months, and the rest of the complex hovers near 2014 lows.
It is May Day, which means half the world - the half where welfare contributions to one's standard of living are off the charts - celebrate labor, or rather the lack thereof, by taking a day off. Which means virtually all of Europe is closed, as are Eurex and Euronext futures, and most European markets expect the UK. In light of the non-existent volume, futures are relatively unchanged despite the latest Chinese Mfg PMI disappointment (50.4, below the 50.5, expected but just above the prior print of 50.3), and of course yesterday's US GDP debacle which helped push the DJIA to a record high. The good news is that with volume even more miserable than usual, the few momentum ignition algos that are operating will have a field day with the now standard low-volume levitation that happens like clockwork if the news is bad, and also happens just in case if the news is bad.
Despite explaining that the Apple debt offering would be of similar size as last year's epic $17 billion bond issue, the seven-part offering only managed to issue $12 billion. While still considerable in the world of corporate bond issuance, this is a notable drop for a firm that was so adamant about releveraging to turnover its cash to shareholders...
- *APPLE TOTAL DEBT OFFERING SIZE $12B
The deal's longer-dated bonds came a little cheaper than last year's also at 10Y +77bps and 30Y +100bps and only 29% of the issue was long-dated (as opposed to 50% last year). We remind readers that following last year's huge deal, equity markets weakened notably in the weeks after (and it seems the rate-locks on today's issue are already being lifted in Treasury markets as rates fall).
Since the headlines hit this morning of further escalation in Ukraine, no troop withdrawals and more building takeovers, gold and oil prices have surged higher as it is clear that any hope for de-escalation is just that - hope. Treasury yields remain up but notably less than equity markets would imply by their move as safe haven demand is confused with rate-locks for the massive AAPL new issue (and are misread by stocks as being bullish). Equity markets, of course, don't care, JPY leads the way and there are stops to run and it's Tuesday...
If one needed a flurry of "worse than expected" macro data to "explain" why European bourses and US futures are up, one got them: first with UK Q1 GDP printing at 0.8%, below the expected 0.9%, then German consumer prices falling 0.1% in April, and finally with Spanish unemployment actually rising from a revised 25.73% to 25.93%, above the 25.85% expected. All of this was "good enough" to allow Italy to price its latest batch of 10 Year paper at a yield of 3.22%, the lowest yield on record! Either way, something else had to catalyze what is shaping up as another 0.5% move higher in US stocks and that something is the old standby, the USDJPY, which ramped higher just before the European open and then ramped some more when European stocks opened for trading. Look for at least one or two more USDJPY momentum ignition moments at specific intervals before US stocks open for trading. But all of that is moot. Remember - the biggest catalyst of what promises to be the latest buying panic rampathon is simple: it's Tuesday (oh, and the $2-$2.5 billion POMO won't hurt).
The early session risk on trade, which materialized after the Pfizer confirmation it was seeking to buy AstraZeneca, and which sent the GBPUSD to its highest level since 2009, and also sent the EURUSD and EURJPY soaring in the process lifting US equity futures, has started to fizzle on the most recent news out of Ukraine, where the pro-Russian mayor of Ukraine's second largest city of Kharkiv was shot in the back in an apparent assassination attempt, which happened hours before the US is set to announce more sanctions against the Kremlin and its closest financial oligarchs. As a result, futures have pared gaisn modestly, especially since AstraZeneca made it clear with its initial reponse it has no interest in Pfizer's offer in its current format.
After a few days of exuberant dead-cat-bounce, that credit and treasury markets largely chose to ignore, Russian headlines sent USDJPY (and therefore US equities) dumping hard into the red for the week (and the month). Tuesday was the week's big short-squeeze winning day (as one would expect) and then it was all downhill. Away from stocks, the USD ended the week modestly lower (-0.15%); treasury yields were mixed with some more notable flattening (5Y ~unch, 30Y -8bps); and commodities were very volatile. Copper had its 2nd best week in 7 months, oil its 2nd worst week of the year as gold and silver beat stocks and the latter remains the year's winner. A late-day buying panic (because why wouldn't you ahead of potential WWIII!) was led by a VIX ramming which managed to get the S&P briefly green for the week but it faded quickly into the close.
In a rhetorical self-QE released by its strategist Peter Oppenheimer, discussing recent changes to long-running market trends, among which the crash in momo stocks, and the EM to DM inversion, the punchline was the most important. To wit: "We see less scope for this peripheral index... Peripheral spreads may narrow further, but more now via higher bund yields. After all, 5-year Spanish and Italian bond yields have converged to the same levels as the US. We still like selected parts of the peripheral markets, particularly the banks, but would prefer to express this via single names than via index overweights... the drivers of returns may have shifted away from some areas such as US growth and European periphery towards more of a cyclical bias across markets, with a particular focus on exposure to a DM macro recovery." In other words, while the momentum bubble may have popped (if still has a loooooong way to go before it deflates) the European peripheral bubble is about to go pop as well. For all those who just bought Spanish 10 Years at a record low yield (yes, record low) yesterday, our condolences. Then again, it's only other people's money.
Bonds, Gold, and JPY are bid this morning as US equity futures are fading fast. The Dow and S&P futures are now back below pre-AAPL/FB levels and Nasdaq futures falling fast. Gold is back above $1300 (up over $30 from yesterday's pre-Putin lows). Treasuries, led by the long-end, are rallying as safe-haven bids appear across the whole complex. 30Y yields are down to 3.53 - the lowest since July. JPY is bid once again as USDJPY tests back to the crucial 102 level.
On the subject of High Frequency Trading, our respondents are thus far unimpressed with the argument that HFT helps U.S. equity market participants. Fully half answered that it is “Harmful” or “Very Harmful”. Only 19% said it was “Helpful” or “Very Helpful” to participants. ... In short, the survey seems to tell a very clear story. Most professional investors and institutional brokers do not feel that markets treat all participants fairly. They worry about how fragile markets might become during periods of abnormally high volume. At the same time, they are cautiously picking their way through the minefield in which they find themselves and are unsure what role regulators should play. How the landscape will change as a result of their unease is still unclear. What is certain is that change is coming.
- Ukraine forces kill up to five rebels, Putin warns of consequences (Reuters)
- Obama to Russia: More sanctions are 'teed up' (AP)
- Vienna Banks Bemoan Russia Sanctions Testing Cold War Neutrality (BBG)
- GE’s $57 Billion Cash Overseas Said to Fuel Alstom Deal (BBG)
- GM posts lower first-quarter profit after recall costs (Reuters)
- Apple Stock Split Removes Obstacle to Inclusion in Dow (BBG)
- U.S. regulators to propose new net neutrality rules in May (Reuters)
While events in Ukraine have once again broken out into lethal fighting, and in a surprise development the Chinese Yuan crossed the 6.25 line for the first time in two years threatening to accelerate the unwind of carry trades which have a 6.25-6.30 point of max pain, futures remain completely focused solely on the strong after-hours results from Apple and Facebook which have helped push Spoos overnight to near record levels once again. The biggest push was given to NASDAQ futures which are back up 1% with optimism for US tech returning with the material earnings beats from both Apple ($11.62 EPS vs Est $10.17 EPS) and Facebook ($0.34 Adj EPS vs $0.24 forecast). Shares in both companies rose in afterhours trading with Facebook up +5% and Apple up more than +7% (supported further by the announcement that the company was expanding its share buyback plan to $90bn from $60bn). Not even the Nikkei being down 1%, the SHCOMP down 0.5% and the USDJPY once again treading water could put a dent in the tech-driven euphoria, which somehow also managed to slam gold and silver to month lows.