Update: CHINA TO CONTINUE STABILIZING MARKET, SENTIMENT, PREVENT RISKS, CSRC SAYS
As Beijing pledges to remain supportive amid a harrowing decline in Chinese stocks, China may find itself with no exit strategy for its plunge protection program. As BofAML notes, "An 'indefinite' holding period is certainly possible – it’s how the government had dealt with the last round of bad debts in the banking system, i.e., by shifting them to bad banks and never crystalizing the losses. But even under such a scenario, there may be unintended consequences."
It all started in China, where as we noted previously, the Shanghai Composite plunged by 8.5% in closing hour, suffering its biggest one day drop since February 2007 and the second biggest in history. The Hang Seng, while spared the worst of the drubbing, was also down 3.1%. There were numerous theories about the risk off catalyst, including fears the PPT was gradually being withdrawn, a decline in industrial profits, as well as an influx in IPOs which drained liquidity from the market. At the same time, Nikkei 225 (-0.95%) and ASX 200 (-0.16%) traded in negative territory underpinned by softness in commodity prices.
"If investors want complete safety, they can't get much income, and if they aim for high income, they can't completely avoid risk. It’s much more challenging today with rates being suppressed by governments. This is one of the negative consequences of centrally administered economic decisions. People talk about the wisdom of the free market – of the invisible hand – but there’s no free market in money today. Interest rates are not natural."
After yesterday's latest drop in stocks driven by "old economy" companies such as CAT, which sent the Dow Jones back to red for the year and the S&P fractionally unchanged, today has been a glaring example of the "new" vs "old" economy contrast, with futures propped up thanks to strong tech company earnings after the close, chief among which Amazon, which gained $40 billion in after hours trading and has now surpassed Walmart as the largest US retailer. As a result Brent crude is little changed near 2-wk low after disappointing Chinese manufacturing data fueled demand concerns, adding to bearish sentiment in an oversupplied mkt. WTI up ~26c, trimming losses after yday falling to lowest since March 31 to close in bear mkt. Both Brent and WTI are set for 4th consecutive week of declines; this is the longest losing streak for Brent since Jan., for WTI since March.
Sometime this fall, the Federal Reserve will begin a new tightening cycle. Publicly, Federal Reserve officials appear to be confident that the American labor market may be overheating or that inflation may be on the way in. Is this the case? In looking at Employment, Industrial Production, Consumer Prices, Capacity Utilization, Retail Sales, and the West Texas Intermediate price of oil, there's no evidence that the Fed should raise rates. What is the Fed worried about? Probably, and almost exclusively, it's financial asset price appreciation.
A slow week devoid of virtually any macro news - last night the biggest weekly geopolitical event concluded as expected, when Greece voted to pass the bailout bill which "the government does not believe in" just so the ECB's ELA support for Greek depositors can continue - is slowly coming to a close, as is the busiest week of the second quarter earnings season which so far has been largely disappointing despite aggressive consensus estimate cuts, especially for some of the marquee names, and unlike Q1 when a quarterly drop in EPS was avoided in the last minute, this time we won't be so lucky, and the only question is on what side of -3.5% Y/Y change in EPS will the quarter end.
Once again, US equity markets are algorithmically surging as Treasury bonds are aggressively bid. It didn't end well yesterday, and we suspect won't today either...
While this week has been, and continues to be, devoid of macro updates, yesterday's flurry of mostly disappointing earnings releases both before and after the open, including some of the biggest DJIA companies as well as the current and previously biggest and most important companies in the world, AAPL and MSFT, both of which came crashing down following earnings and forecasts that were well short of market expectations, came as a jolt to a market that was artificially priced by central bank liquidity and HFT momo algos beyond perfection. Add to that yesterday's downward revision to historical industrial production which confirmed the US economy is a step away from recession, as well as last night's Crude API inventory build which is once again pressuring WTI lower and on the verge of a 49 handle, and perhaps the biggest question is why are futures not much lower.
During the Vietnam War, surveying the shelled wreckage of Ben Tre, an American officer famously remarked, “It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.” His comment came to epitomize the sort of self-defeating “victory” that undoes what it aims to achieve. Last week, China destroyed its stock market in order to save it. Faced with a crash in share prices from a bubble of its own making, the Chinese government intervened ruthlessly, and recklessly, to turn those prices around. Its heavy-handed approach seemed to work, for the moment, but only by severely damaging far more important goals and ambitions.
Due to significant retail participation and the fact that the equity mania in China has served as a distraction for a nation coping with decelerating economic growth and a bursting property bubble, some (and we were among the first) began to suggest that the broader economy and indeed, social stability, may be at risk in China if stocks continued to fall. The extent to which this suggestion represented a real concern (as opposed to the ravings of a tin foil hat fringe blog) was underscored by the extraordinary measures China adopted in a desperate attempt to stop the bleeding and, later by several sellside strategists who began to warn about possible spillovers into the real economy. Now, with Beijing still struggling to restore the stock bubble, the first signs of knock-on effects are beginning to emerge.
Would you rather have one “Share” of the S&P 500 at $2,124, or 41 barrels of crude oil, or 1.86 ounces of gold? Yes, they are all worth the same amount at the moment, but the price relationship between the three has shifted over the decades.
"Free" markets for all, but the real joke is that this comes from the Beijing Review
An "esoteric point" about China's GDP data has suddenly become a very big deal as the world looks to China for economic leadership amid a global deflationary supply glut, lackluster demand, and depressed trade.
After weeks of overnight turbulence following every twist and turn in the Greek drama, this morning has seen a scarcity of mostly gap up (or NYSE-breakding "down") moves, and S&P500 futures are unchanged as of this moment however the Nasdaq is looking set for another record high at the open after last night's better than expected GOOG results which sent the stop higher by 11% of over $40 billion in market cap. We expect this not to last very long as the traditional no volume, USDJPY-levitation driven buying of ES will surely resume once US algos wake up and launch the self-trading spoof programs. More importantly: a red close on Friday is not exactly permitted by the central planners.
Mario Draghi should remain "largely on message" in Thursday's ECB presser, with the deal struck in Brussels last weekend having spared him the inconvenience of convening a tense discussion about imminent Grexit. Expect the ECB to reiterate the central bank's commitment to implement PSPP in full and the market will no doubt be looking for any color the ECB cares to add about the event risks surrounding the implementation of a third Greek program and the recent turmoil in Chinese equity markets.