While BTFATH has caught on as the new normal meme, Cti's Tobias Levkovich has another that is just as critical to comprehending the current euphoria: LMNOP = "Liquidity, Momentum, Not Operating Performance." In essence, Levkovich notes that the recent sharp move has come about as liquidity concerns have shifted to the sidelines; upward momentum for stock prices following the shutdown ending is just pulling in more short covering while long-only investors also have been buyers given the need to meet alpha generation or benchmark requirements; but operating performance by companies is simply not there in the manner that is perceived. As he concludes, "we have not seen this kind of deviation before and it is troublesome to us... we must admit to being a bit worried that investors might be facing some near term volatility."
The last two weeks have seen US equity markets on a one-way path to the moon, breaking multi-year records in terms of rate of change and soaring to new all-time highs. However, away from the mainstream media's glare, another 'market' has been soaring - but this time it is not good news. Chinese overnight repo rates - the harbinger of ultimate liquidity crisis - have exploded from 6-month lows (at 2.5%) to 4-month highs (6.7% today). The PBOC even added liquidity for the first time in months yesterday (via Reverse Repo - at much higher than normal rates) but clearly, that was not enough and the banks are running scared once again that the re-ignition of the housing bubble in China will mean more than 'selective' liquidity restrictions.
SSDD. Collapsing confidence, check. Housing Recovery meme toast, check. Volume at 2013 lows, check. BTFATH and send Trannies up for 13th of last 15 days (+10.4%), Dow near all-time highs again (thank you IBM buybacks), and S&P to new all-time highs... but don't tell Treasuries (which stand +/-1bps on the week). VIX wasn't drinking the kool-aid but the NASDARK session enabled futures to drag us back to higher before limping lower into the closer. The USD oscilatted around Nowotny comments and POMO ending the day up a rather notable 0.5% from Friday's close and that pressured commodities in general lower (gold hovering at $1345). Credit, Treasuries, VIX, and volume are all diverging from equity exuberance. The last 2 minutes saw stocks scream higher on their own as the world was terrified it would miss out on something (but no other market moved) and all the major indices managed new highs.
Following the lowest UMich confidence print in 2013, Gallup's economic confidence collapse, and Bloomberg's index of consumer comfort signaling major concerns among rich and poor in this country (in spite of record highs in stocks), today's Conference Board Consumer Confidence data continues to confirm a problem for all those 'hoping' for moar multiple expansion. From 80.2 in September, confidence collapsed to 71.2 (the largest MoM drop in 2 years) to its lowest in six months, and notably below expectations. As we have noted in the past a 10 point drop in confidence has historically led to a 2x multiple compression in stocks (which suggests the Fed will need to un-Taper some more to keep the dream alive). Hope for the future dropped to 7-month lows but what is perhaps most intriguiging, just as with the Bloomberg surveys, we are seeing the wealthiest cohorts confidence plunging (even as stocks soar to new highs). It would appear the Fed has lost its wealth effect inpiration.
Just as it is easy being a weatherman in San Diego ("the weather will be... nice. Back to you"), so the same inductive analysis can be applied to another week of stocks in Bernanke's centrally planned market: "stocks will be... up." Sure enough, as we enter October's last week where the key events will be the conclusion of the S&P earnings season and the October FOMC announcement (not much prop bets on a surprise tapering announcement this time), overnight futures have experienced the latest off the gates, JPY momentum ignition driven melt up.
Following record UMich misses, Gallup's economic confidence collapse, the slump in the conference board's measure of confidence, and Bloomberg's index of consumer comfort signaling major concerns among rich and poor in this country (in spite of record highs in stocks), today's Consumer Confidence data from UMich continues to confirm a problem for all those 'hoping' for moar multiple expansion. Falling for the 3rd month in a row, and missing expectations for the 2nd month in a row, this is the lowest confidence print in 2013. Perhaps even more worrisome for the 'hope and change' crowd is that the 12-month economic outlook has collapsed to its lowest since Nov 2011. It would seem that all that free money flooding our 'markets' has reached peak efficacy in terms of confidence inspiration, and as Citi notes, when this cycle has played out in the past, equity market corrections are often quick to follow...
A lot is riding on the answer...
With the Dow Transports leading the way (now up for the 10th of the last 11 days and 9.7% off its debt-ceiling-debacle lows), US equity markets are engorged on the euphoria of this "can't lose" scenario that offers free lunches (and ponies) for everyone. On the heels of SocGen's call (eerily reminiscent of Schiff's and Faber's prophecy of rising QE no matter what), it's 315pm, have you greatly rotated your money on the sidelines to BTFATH yet?
There was some hilarious news overnight: such that supposedly Spain's GDP rose 0.1% in Q3 thus ending a 2+ year recession. There is no point to even comment on this "recovery" - we will merely remind that starving your economy of imports for the sake of generating a GDP-boosting trade surplus, while consumption declines, solves nothing and point readers to charts of Spanish non-performing loans, housing prices, and unemployment, oh and the massive Bad Bank of course, and leave it at that. In terms of real news, futures are lower following a drubbing in Asia over the previously discussed concerns over tighter Chinese monetary policy. Amusingly, as Reuters notes, this has hit global shares still high on hopes of extended U.S. stimulus on Wednesday, when the dollar tentatively steadied at an eight-month low after its latest slide. The immediate casualty is the USDJPY, which continues to slide and is approaching the 200SMA. In short: fears that China may have resumed tapering have offset yesterday's hope that "horrible" job numbers mean no Fed tapering until mid-2014.... New Normal fundamentals.
For the first time since July 2009, the European equity markets have risen for 8 days straight. The 4.73% rise is the best run in 3 months and took Bloomberg's European 500 index (akin to the S&P 500 in the US) to a perfect 61.8% retracement of the 2007/9 collapse. Greece and Spain are outperforming (the former +7% in the last 3 days alone). Away fdrom stocks, bonds are quiet, sovereign spreads are hardly moving as liquidity evaporates and while the EUR strengthened early on, as the US day session opened, the EUR sold off back to unchanged by the close of Europe. In the meantime, Europe's VIX dropped to 9 month lows (below 16%) today. Oh - and by the way - European Macro data has collapsed to 3-month lows.
Last week, the main area of focus was the political situation in the US where Democrats and Republicans finally agreed upon a short term fix to reopen the government and extend the debt ceiling. The conclusion of this saw equity markets rally to all time highs in Europe and the US, with the USD continuing to slide as markets turn their attention to the Fed’s QE programme and push back expectations of when the central bank will begin to pull back on asset purchases. With the government now reopen, attention will turn to the numerous data releases that were delayed but will now take place over the next two weeks, including the jobs report which is due on Tuesday. The release of this report will once again be used to help predict when the Fed will begin to taper QE however, recent comments from Fed members have suggested that October is likely to be too soon trim bond buying due to the lack of key macroeconomic data and the unknown economic impact as a result of the government closing for 16 days.
It's gotten beyond silly: with less than a day to go until the first X-Date, beyond which if Jack Lew is correct (he isn't) all hell will break loose if the US doesn't have a debt deal in place, stocks couldn't care less, Bills continue to sell off, carry traders only care how big the central banks' balance sheets are, all news are generally shunned and yet stocks have soared 600 DJIA points on Harry Reid's relentless optimism a deal will get done, even though so far none has. Today, as we observed on Monday, we expect more of the same: stocks and futures will ignore the reality that the midnight hour will come and go with no deal in place, but will continue to explode higher as Harry Reid's latest set of "optimism" headlines hits the tape in low volume trading. We expect the first big hope rally around POMO time, then shortly after Senate comes back in Session, around noon. Then for good measure, another one just before market close. Why not: it's not like the "market" even pretend to be one anymore. Keep an eye on today's 4-Week bill auction before noon. It should be a far bigger doozy than yesterday's longer-dated bills.
The only thing exceptional about the USA is "its the largest debtor nation in the history of the world" is how Jim Rogers begins this brief interview with RT and he doesnt back away from the rhetoric. The sad truth, he notes, is that the US "has been kicking the can down the road for years..." how do you think we got so much debt, he chides. "Every year that goes by we go deeper and deeper into debt," adding, rather ominously, that it "will be solved one way or another." They will kick the can once more; then next week, we will be told that the problem is fixed and compromise is here. However, Rogers warns, eventually the market is going to turn away; "this is going to end badly... and the rest of the world knows it."
At 53.5bps, the 10/31/13 T-Bills are now at Debt-Ceiling-Debacle 2013 highs having pushed higher in yield once again this evening. This may come as a surprise to those staring incredulously at the 14 point rampapalooza in S&P 500 futures on the back of Harry Reid's "optimism". Of course, what really matters is what the JPY crosses are doing since that is the key driver of risk-on at the margin (and is for all intents and purpose inseparable from equity markets for the last 4 days). The initial momentum ignition, however, is beginning to fade as equity investors the world over glimpse over their shoulders at the ghost of debt-ceiling future that T-Bills are reflecting...
It is becoming clear that the House is splitting off from the Senate negotiations (especially after Rep.Paul Ryan's comments that the "Senate Plan is not enough" and as Robert Costa reports, there is a bill emerging that has a little (maybe not enough) for everyone - "CR + DL + med device + income verification + Vitter language." Obama appears to be demanding more concessions in his "unconditional surrender or default" strategy as tells McConnell that Treasury needs flexibility (i.e. as we approach the next debt ceiling deadline - assuming this one is passed - the Treasury should be allowed to tinker with things to keep the ball rolling). Equity markets are growing more nervous - especially in light of the fact that being this close to the edge, a well-meaning politician looking to make a name for him- or her-self could filibuster the US past the X-date with nothing to be done about it. The biggest issue is that with much negotiation and debate obviously left on the table, there is a hard limit in just over 36 hours, a timeframe that is becoming increasingly unfeasible and which implies a breach of the X-Date - if even briefly - is very much possible. What is worse, is that since nothing immediately bad would happen on October 17 with no deal, that the GOP can further protract negotiations in an attempt to force Obama's hand to yield some additional compromise.