Equity markets have traded with moderate volatility so far today as peripheral news concerning Spain and Italy continues to be keenly watched by market participants. Overnight the Italian PM Mario Monti said he does not see any need for a bailout either now or in the future with the Italian and Spanish 10yr yields seen off their highs yesterday, lower by 9.8bps and 7.6bps respectively. On a sector breakdown tobacco stocks saw some slight support after US firm Philip Morris announced a new USD 18bln 3yr share buyback program, however, industrials have lagged as a whole following a profit warning from Swedish firm SKF. In terms of fixed income, the bund has continued yesterday's slide with the Bundesbank coming to market with a July 2022 tap. In initial reaction to the results, bunds saw a 20 tick spike higher, off session lows, following what was perceived to have been a "smooth" auction despite some concerns about the eventual credit worthiness of Germany given the recent bailout of the peripheral nations. Meanwhile, the long end of the EUR curve steepened in early trade as reports from the Danish government who have agreed to change the discount rate that pension funds estimate liabilities being noted. In FX, EUR/USD trades higher into the N.American cross-over with an Asian sovereign name being a touted buyer this morning. In other news the AUD also caught a bid shortly after comments from the German central bank who said that they are considering buying the antipodean currency.
European equities in both the futures and the cash markets are making significant gains after a mornings’ trade, with financials, particularly in the periphery, leading the way higher following the weekend reports of the Eurogroup confirming aid for the Spanish banking sector. With data remaining light throughout the day, its likely investors will remain focused on the macro-picture, seeing some relief as the Spanish financials look to be recapitalized. At the open, risk sentiment was clear, with EUR/USD opening in the mid-1.2600’s, and peripheral government bond yield spreads against the German bund significantly tighter. In the past few hours, these positions have unwound somewhat, with EUR/USD breaking comfortably back below 1.2600 and the Spanish 10-yr yield spread moving through unchanged and on a widening trend across the last hour or so against its German counterpart, and the yield failing to break below the 6% mark.
After hitting overnight highs of 1.2670, the EURUSD has wiped out nearly all of its gains following the Spanish "bailout", and was last trading just +40 pips higher compared to the Friday close. Same thing with Spanish bonds: these reacted favorably initially, but slowly the bondholder realization that they just got primed has settled in, and with sovereign CDS still a questionable hedge courtesy of ISDA, the only real hedge is selling, and have now drifted wider on the day, as have Italian bonds following a Bloomberg piece which notes the patently obvious: Italy Moves Into Debt-Crisis Crosshairs After Spain. Expect US stocks, always last to get the memo, to realize that Europe has not only faded the entire move, but is now appreciating it for what it is: a confirmation of failure.
That economic data out of Europe was disappointing overnight should come as no surprise to anyone. That Spain is broke, and there is no money to bail it out under the existing framework (and that Germany is unwilling to come up with a new bailout scheme), should also be no surprise. And yet they somehow manage to stun the market... each and every day. Which is why overnight action has now boiled down to a simple algorithmic exercise: is there a short covering squeeze: if yes, then rip, aka Risk On. If not, then Risk Off. So far, the squeeze has not been initiated which is also to be expected, following the biggest short covering squeeze in up to two years. This too may change if repo desks decide to pull borrow as they tend to do during regular hours, to give the impression that the latest and greatest bailout plan is "working." And in other news, which is completely irrelevant, here is the actual news.
Well, risk is on. Not so much because of the ECB, or BOE, both of which did nothing, but because everyone is hoping and praying that in two weeks the Princeton professor will unleash the 4th round of quantitative easing in the US (yes, Twist was a flow-shifting operation and thus QE3). And the reminder that China is not immune, and did its first rate cut since 2008 only validated the realization "that they have every idea just how bad it is", as Cramer would say. Sure enough, risk is ripping, although considering the world's 2nd largest economy just joined the monetary easing pants party, the 10 point ES response is oddly subdued. Where the reaction is yet to manifest itself is in gold: we expect the PBOC will take a little longer before it announces its meager 1000 tons of gold holdings have at least doubled following 100 ton/month gold imports as recently announced. But announce it will. In the meantime, China's aggressive step likely means that unless we get a global coordinated intervention at 9 am today, as was the case on November 30 after the last notable move by the PBOC, which was the first reserve cut also since 2008, there will be none this time around and Bernanke will be on his own. God save the markets if he does not deliver, either today at the JEC testimony at 10 am or at 2:15 pm on June 20, as the S&P has now priced in at least 75 points of NEW QE intervention.
Fed Vice Chair Yellen Says Scope Remains For Further Policy Accommodation Through Additional Balance Sheet ActionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/06/2012 20:08 -0400
That former San Fran Fed chairman Janet Yellen would demand more easing is no surprise: she used to do it all the time. That Fed Vice Chairman, and Bernanke's second in command, Janet Yellen just hinted that she is "convinced that scope remains for the FOMC to provide further policy accommodation either through its forward guidance or through additional balance-sheet actions", and that "while my modal outlook calls for only a gradual reduction in labor market slack and a stable pace of inflation near the FOMC's longer-run objective of 2 percent, I see substantial risks to this outlook, particularly to the downside" is certainly very notable, and confirms everyone's worst dream (or greatest hope assuming they have a Schwab trading platform or Bloomberg terminal) - more cue-EEE is coming to town.
From early October of last year (Grand Plan and Global CB intervention) until the start of the LTRO program in Europe, Gold and Stocks (and Treasuries and the USD) all traded in sync with one another. Since the LTRO program, the equity market has generally been on its own in terms of belief. While growth hope, Europe's recovery, and the Bernanke Put (as well as a short-squeeze of epic proportions) were at play, it seems to us that the Fed's Twist program has been ignored by the money-printing crowd (since Twist was sterilized and did not expand the monetary base (excess reserves) - which gold reacts to; but did provide flow - helping stocks - as the Fed's DV01 increased; implicitly devaluing the currency even though Fed's efforts to dissuade have worked) while the ECB's LTRO provided a liquidity overhang that at-first-glance removed one short-term structural risk from US markets (the Europe contagion). Since we made clear that LTRO is in fact an encumbrance and not 'clean' debt monetization (which fits with gold not moving as much), equity markets in Europe have retraced all of those gains - leaving US still elevated. The last few days, gold and stocks have surged together as hope for LTRO3 (seemingly gone now) and Fed QE3/4 (not sterilized; with ES -7.75% from its highs?) has become imminent. However, Gold and stocks remain very far apart in the medium-term and Rick Bensignor sees trendline support and DeMark TD Setups providing an excellent risk-reward for a Short Stocks, Long Gold trade from here.
10 Minutes to go until the ECB.... very likely disappoints again. As it usually does. There is simply too much pent up hope in what Mario Draghi will say or do, as always happens at critical junctions for the insolvent continent. Recall the same happened in November, only for the world to have to bail out Europe following a non-announcement by the ECB as Europe was imploding. Finally, why should the ECB do anything, when the public debate has already started about the US bailing out Europe: why should Draghi further infurtiate Germany's taxpayers when it has a free put option on Bernanke doing what he does best in two weeks. But for now: RISK ON. For at least a few more minutes.
As we look forward to tomorrow's scorched-earth policy-fest from Draghi-et-al., Jefferies' David Zervos, in his typically understated manner, notes "I love the smell of napalm in the morning. We are back in the kill zone - Apocalypse Europe." There will be no more strategizing, no more war games, no more speeches imploring the politicians to act. This is the real deal - a full scale European led global financial crisis that requires immediate and aggressive response from the only entities with the authority to act in the world financial "theatre". We should all keep in mind that the Europeans have not been able to generate an effective response to their debt/deflation crisis as of yet, and of course it is having global consequences. This is why we are here again looking into the deflationary abyss. The ECB was only set up with a price stability mandate, and its leaders are hence much more constrained than Federal Reserve officials. Simply put, the European armies were not set up with effective weapons.
All you need to read and some more.
DAVID BIANCO NO LONGER WORKS AT BOFA, SPOKESWOMAN SAYS
Now, we are even more delighted to bring you the following breaking news:
BLACKROCK CHIEF EQUITY STRATEGIST BOB DOLL TO RETIRE
And then there were three...
With Europe's credit traders on vacation, volumes overall were muted today in Europe but average in the US. The lack of discipline that normally occurs when the credit boys leave the room helped lift sovereign credit in Europe and implicitly US equity futures (ES) into the open today, which marked the top for the day (back in the green after an ugly Sunday night) as dismal macro data dragged debt and and equity markets back down to overnight lows. Credit and equity moved in sync in general but across broad risk-assets, correlations were loose at best as Gold was very stable holding gains from Friday while Silver exhibited its high beta ebullience and Copper and Oil followed stock's path down and back up. Treasuries leaked higher in yield with a steepening in the curve (though 10Y and 30Y outperformed 7Y as the Twist pivot maturity seemed most active). EUR strength was sustained from early morning in Europe with JPY weakness providing some support for stocks but it seemed both VWAP and the 200DMA were the key levels today and despite two stop-runs in the afternoon, we flushed down at the last minute (off near day's highs - thanks to Egan-Jones' UK downgrade news) to close red for ES (2nd day in a row below 200DMA). Financials (which are close to red for the year and about to cross below Healthcare and Staples) did not participate in the swings as much with JPM and MS worst today -3% (with the latter now 25% lower than the March 2009 market trough levels) and the other TBTFs around -1.9%. VIX oscillated rather like ES today - as usual but popped back above 26% to close marginally lower on the day. While correlations did drift today, stocks remain a little too full of hope still against overall risk markets but with UK closed again tomorrow, we may have to wait for Wednesday to see how Europe (and implicitly the rest of the world) feels.
One word explains the overnight action: confusion. After opening down 10 points just shy of unchanged for the year following fearful Asian trade, futures have rebounded and are now almost unchanged courtesy of a UK-market which is offline for the next two days, letting Europe take advantage of another day of impotent rumor-mongering and wolf-crying, this time focusing on a 7pm press conference in which Merkel will say more of the same vis-a-vis Europe's non-existence Banking Union, but at least Europe will have closed at the highs. Not much on today's docket so expect more kneejerk reactions to rumors, which have a positive half-life measured in the minutes.
In his latest note, Jefferies' David Zervos observes something that has been troubling us for the past few weeks as well: namely, whether the relentless plunge in the EURUSD, now down nearly 600 pips from when we said the next EURUSD target could be 1.20, coupled with a far tamer drop in various US equity risk indicators, such as the S&P, means that the EURUSD/SPOO correlation, so well known to most traders, has finally broken down. We doubt it. In fact, we believe that being LONG EURUSD (potentially with an offseting SPOO short for a less balance sheet intensive pair trade) which will easily rip 400-500 pips in the current environment, could well be the ABX trade of 2012 for some lucky trader. There is just the minor matter of timing...
Excuse a rant...