US equities dipped after the initial ISM data (and construction spending miss) as did USDJPY but soon after things began to levitate in their new normal manner as bad news is clearly pent-up good news in the future. By the time the ISM admitted its error - the US equity markets had recovered back to unchanged from 10ET's initial print. But what was really moving - since in our new normal world, a shift in the butterfly's wings of US ISM (seasonally adjusted) causing a hurricane (or Tsunami) in stock markets across the world, Japan's Nikkei 225 swung from low to high by over 150 points as the carry-trading algo monkeys reacted to every conflicting headline (and broke BATS).
It took a precisely 0.1 beat in the Chinese Manufacturing PMI over the weekend (50.8 vs Exp. 50.7) for the USDJPY and the Nikkei to forget all about last week's abysmal Japanese economic data and to send the Nikkei soaring by 2.1% to its highest print in 5 months. Subsequent overnight weakness from Europe, where the Eurozone Final May Manufacturing PMI dropped again from 52.5 to 52.2, below the 52.5 expected, served simply to push bunds higher back over 147.00, if not do much to US equities which as usual continue their low volume "the music is still playing" melt-up completely dislocated from all newsflow and fundamentals (because just like over the past 5 years, "there is hope").
At the beginning of the year, all - as in all - of the smart money expected a rising yield environment and a recovering economy. They were all wrong. Oddly enough, they still believe pretty much the same, using seasonal scapegoats to explain away their mistakes. As for what the most selective subset of the smart money believes, here is Goldman's David Kostin with the summary: "Almost all clients have the same outlook: 3% economic growth, rising earnings, rising bond yields, and a rising equity market." Goldman's own view doesn't stray much: "Our S&P 500 targets of 1900/2100/2200 for end-2014/2015/2016 are slightly more conservative but generally in line with consensus views." And of course, when everyone expects the same, the opposite happens... even if this is one of those financial cliches we wrote about yesterday.
It is very apparent the Fed literally are making policy up as they go along and Wall Street doesn`t realize that the Fed has no exit strategy. The learning curve is going to be painful as always for Bond Holders.
May's preliminary UMich confidence print of 81.8 was the biggest miss to expectations in 8 years. In the two weeks since then, the 'economists' have ratcheted back their exuberance to an expectation of 82.5... and still it missed at 81.9. So two weeks of exuberant equity markets have done nothing to soothe the consumer. The Current conditions sub-index tumbled to its lowest since Nov 2013 (and the outlook dropped also). Stock pushers are going to need higher highs if the dream of multiple expansion is to live on....So just as reminder, against the initial expectations, May's consumer confidence missed by the most in 8 years.
Equity Blow Off Top Takes Brief Overnight Rest, Prepares For Another Session Of Low Volume LevitationSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/30/2014 07:03 -0400
Last night's docket of atrocious Japanese economic data inexplicably managed to push the Nikkei lower, not because the data was ugly but because the scorching inflation - the highest since 1991 - mostly driven by import costs, food and energy as a result of a weak yen, and certainly not in wages, has pushed back most banks' estimates of additional QE to late 2014 if not 2015 which is as we predicted would happen over a year ago. As a result the market, addicted to central bank liquidity, has had to make a modest reassessment of just how much disconnected from reality it is willing to push equities relative to expectations of central bank balance sheet growth. However, now that the night crew trading the USDJPY is replaced with the US session algo shift which does a great job of re-levitating the pair, and with it bringing the S&P 500 higher, we expect this brief flicker of red futures currently observable on trading terminals to be promptly replaced with the friendly, well-known and "confidence-boosting" green. The same goes for Treasurys which lately have been tracking every directional move in stocks not in yield but in price.
in the past year it has became very clear that the asset class where the growth of HFT has been most pronounced is not in equities but in FX - perhaps linked to the tidal departure of all carbon-based FX traders all of whom it now appears were engaging in gross "chat room" mnaipulation - and to a lesser extent, options. But one place that seemed somewhat immune from the ravages of the constant millisecond back-and-forth churn and quote stuffing known as high frequency "trading" were bonds.
The complete implosion in volume and vol, not to mention bond yields continues, and appears to have spilled over into events newsflow where overnight virtually nothing happened, or at least such is the algos' complete disregard for any real time headlines that as bond yields dropped to fresh record lows in many countries and the US 10Y sliding to a 2.3% handle, confused US equity futures have recouped almost all their losses from yesterday despite a USDJPY carry trade which has once again dropped to the 101.5 level, and are set for new record highs. Perhaps they are just waiting for today's downward revision in Q1 GDP to a negative print before blasting off on their way to Jeremy Grantham's 2,200 bubble peak after which Bernanke's Frankenstein market will finally, mercifully die.
Despite the constant clamor of money-on-the-sidelines (which Cliff Asness has summarily dismissed as being idiotic) and strength in US equity markets being 'the most unloved rally of all time', the following two charts suggest people are anything but unimpressed by it. Citi's Panic/Euphoria sentiment model has hovered in the clearly "euphoric" levels for a month and now the AAII Bull/Bear split is back near exuberant highs. Of course, as we noted yesterday, the real strength behind stocks is the incessant non-economic irrational and indiscriminate mystery buyer - corporate buybacks - that are creating their own mal-investment signaling exuberance in the always efficient stock 'markets'.
It has gotten beyond ridiculous: a few short hours ago the yield on the 10 Year bond tumbled to a fresh low of 2.49% (and currently just off the lows at 2.50%), wiping out all of yesterday's "jump" on better than expected Durables and leading to renewed concerns about the terminal rate, deflation and how slow the US economy will truly grow. Amusingly, this happened just as US equity futures printed overnight highs. Doubly amusing: this also happened roughly at the same time as Spanish 10 Year yields dropped to a record low of 2.827%, or about 30 bps wider than the US (moments after Spain announced that loan creation in the country has once again resumed its downward trajectory and a tumble in retail deposits to levels not seen since 2008). Triply amusing: this also happened just about when Germany had yet another technically uncovered 30 Year Bund issuance, aka failed auction. So yes: nothing makes sense anymore which is precisely what one would expect in broken, rigged and centrally-planned markets (incidentally those scrambling to explain with events in bond world where one appears to buy bonds to hedge long equity exposure, are directed to the minute of the Japanese GPIF pension fund which announced it would buy junk-rated bonds to boost returns - good luck to Japanese pensioners).
"Of course, what that does imply is that when the skies finally do begin to darken, the winds could rapidly wind themselves up into an F5-scale twister. Low and declining volatility, lengthening durations, compressed spreads, high multiples, little FX movement – each feeding on the other – is it too far beyond the bounds of reason to suggest that once that virtuous cycle reaches its culmination, the torsional forces involved in its unwind could be remarkably violent?"
The melt up is accelerating and with the momentum tailwind back, newsflow is once again irrelevant: any news that are even remotely good are trumpeted, and any bad news - such as Europe's right storm rising in the northern states, and left storm surge in the states that demand more handouts from the northern states or China sinking a Vietnamese boat, the most serious bilateral incident since 2007 - are once again (and as usual) nothing more than a catalyst for even more liquidity injections. End result: the S&P futures this morning are 5 points above Goldman's year end target of 1900 and 45 points away from its June 30, 2015 target. Can this breakneck scramble on zero volume continue until Grantham's bubble peak level of 2,200 is hit? Well of course: after all anything goes in the centrally-planned new normal. To be sure, this is an equity only phenomenon: moments ago the Bund future hit its highest level since May 19, while the 10 Year remains unchanged at 2.53% as it continues to price in the new "deflationary" (and Japanese) normal. And as has been the case during all such divergences of late, either bonds or equities are making a horrible mistake: the question remains: who? Since all equities are doing is tracking FX pairs to the pip and have completely forgotten all about fundamentals, we have a pretty good idea what the answer is.
We are witnessing implied volatility on all asset classes simply collapse to the lowest levels witnessed in 20 years, or at least the lowest levels achieved prior to the GFC in early 2007.
Another day, another melt-up on the lowest volume of the year and VIX collapse. The Dow and the Nasdaq almost made it back to unchanged for the year; The Dow almost made it back to unchanged for May; but as the S&P surged towards its record highs once again, "most shorted" stocks led the way with a massive squeeze (almost 4% in the last 2 days). VIX broke back below 12 once again trading at its lowest in 14 months. Equity markets decoupled notably once again from bonds. Treasury yields rose once again at the long-end (30Y +8bps on the week, 5Y -1bps) but the steepening trend stalled today. The USD rose today (+0.2% on the week) led JPY weakness. USDJPY was in charge of stocks with a correlation over 90% once again. Commodities all closed higher with WTI testing $104 again. HP's 'early' release of earnings appeared to take the shine off things into the close as VIX gapped higher back above 12 to close...
The key news overnight were global manufacturing PMIs which can be summarized as follows: Japan contraction; China contraction, but less than expected (as reported before); and most recently, Europe which expanded but dropped and missed, at 52.5, down from 53.4 and below the consensus estimate of 53.2. The weakness was fully driven by France which has moved back into a contraction phase in both manufacturing and services, which were 49.3 and 49.2, down from 51.2 and 50.4, respectively (although with the recent surge in train station remodelling, the mfg aspect may soon be boosted). The market soaked up the Chinese numbers with fervor, sending the algo-controlled USDJPY into a buying frenzy which in turn pushed up US equity futures, only to see a gradual fade of the Chinese euphoria when the European data hit.