What's the opposite of bloodbath? Italian and Spanish stock markets are surging today - after lying S&P-like for a few days - with IBEX up over 2% and FTSEMIB up almost 1.5%, both back up to four-month highs. Now up 9% and 12% respectively since the EU Summit, they appear to be reconnecting with post-EU Summit strength from the rest of core-Europe and breaking resistance at the early July highs. Will this mark the top of the range? Who knows. Swiss 2Y rates are still negative - but well off their lowest levels - but what is most interesting is that on a day when these two nations no-short-selling-allowed equity markets are pushing to multi-month highs, their sovereign bonds (which for all intent and purpose represent the critical fulcrum security in the world) are leaking back higher in yield and not enjoying all that enthusiasm. Just as in the US, equity trading volumes have stagnated in Europe as these markets have levitated and bonds stagnated - and the bullish curve moves have retraced more than 40% of their gains post-Draghi.
Last Friday we presented the dismal performance (and major divergence with broad equity markets) of recent IPOs and reflected on what this meant for the millions of retail investors who were 'suckered' into these must-win dot-com-renaissance names. Again and again one name keeps coming up with regard to the worst-performing and most-1999-dot-com #fail-like names - Morgan Stanley. Since November of 2011, Morgan Stanley has 'successfully' brought three of the biggest disasters of Silicon Valley to market - GRPN, ZNGA, and of course, most recently, FB. What is stunning is that since the GRPN IPO on 11/3/11, investors in these three 'new' normal names have lost an incredible $58 billion in market cap with GRPN and ZNGA now down 70% from their IPO price and FB down 44%. Perhaps more intriguing is that IPOs keep coming as there appears to be a 'muppet' born every day.
It is just getting stupid. Europe officially enters recession, Japan GDP declines nominally, China admits to food inflation which locks the PBOC out of easing for months, UK inflation is again rising faster than expected which will soon force the BOE to reevaluate its latest easing episode, Brent is once again rising on supply fears and middle east war fears to a 3 month high, corporate revenues have never been worse in this recession cycle and what happens? Futures spike following a very visible invisible finger pushing ES higher by 0.5% at 9 pm Eastern and setting the scene for trading throughout the night. And since the market has reverted back to full retard mode full of hope of an absolution from the Fed, this time at the August 31 Jackson Hole meeting, which will be very disappointing as Ben will say absolutely nothing yet again, why not take the S&P to new 2012 highs? After all well over 100% of QE3 is now priced in. Finally, expect the ES to surge by 10 points should advance retail sales miss wildly the consensus of a +0.3% print. After all, inverted is the NKI.
Since hope re-blossomed at the start of June and was reignited by Mario's musings, the equity markets of the US and Europe have surged in an outpouring of faith in central bank excess and policy-maker's abilities to 'fix' everything (despite decades of truth that points in the exact opposite direction). But while the market levitates on ever-increasing multiples (as earnings current and forward are dragged lower by the economic reality of a debt-deleveraging world), the true picture of what is driving stocks become clear. For the first time since the BTFD rally began in March of 2009, cyclical stocks (or economically-sensitive firms) are underperforming notably - implying notably lower expectations for a levered recovery by the consumer. As Bloomberg's Chart of the day notes, either the economy will hockey-stick back to a significant rebound or broad equity market indices will fall back to a more defensive reality - given the non-economy-helping nature of LTRO/QE, we suspect the latter. Do you believe in miracles?
After declining to an overnight session low of 1.2260 following very disappointing Japanese GDP news, which saw another Q/Q drop in nominal terms and missed every economist expectation, the market leading indicator - the highly leveraged EURUSD pair which is a proxy for risk when it is rising, and ignored when dropping (because the ECB will lower rates, or so thinking goes) was boosted higher starting at 5 am eastern time. What happened then? Greek Q2 GDP was announced, and instead of declining from -6.5% to -7.0% annualized, the number declined at "only" a 6.2% annualized run rate. Apparently that was the only catalyst needed to launch today's risk on phase, sending the EURUSD 70 pips higher, and futures back to green. So to summarize: the world's 3rd largest economy grew far less than expected despite 30 years of central planning, while Europe's worst economy imploded by just that much less than the worst case expected, and this is "good enough." What's worse is that this may well be the high point of the day as there is nothing else left on the docket.
Q2 earnings seasons is now (with 93% of firms reporting) over, and it is time for post mortem. The bottom line for those strapped for time is the following: In order to salvage the 2012 earnings consensus for the S&P, the sell side crew and asset managers, as wrong but hopeful as ever, are now expecting Q4 2012 earnings to grow 15% versus 4Q 2011, which is more than twice as fast as any other quarter. Indicatively, Q2 2012 earnings rose at a rate of 3% compared to Q2 2011. Elsewhere, revenues came 2% lower than consensus estimates at the start of the earnings season. In other words, the entire year is now a Hail Mary bet that in Q4, the time when the presidential election, its aftermath, as well as the debt ceiling and fiscal cliff acrimony will hit a peak, a Deus Ex Machine will arrive and lead to a 15% rise in earnings. Why? Because global central bankers will have no choice but to step in and thus lead to a surge in EPS multiples even if the underlying earnings are collapsing. With the presidential election around the corner making Fed QE before 2013 now virtually impossible, with Spain (and Italy) refusing to be bailed out and cede sovereignty thus precluding ECB intervention, and with China spooked by what may be a surge in food costs, this intervention, and any hope that the Hail Mary pass will connect, all look quite impossible.
It's been six weeks since the EU Summit that apparently laid the foundation for all that is good in Europe to evolve. Between the EU Summit's euphoria-to-dysphoria flip-flop and Draghi's believe-to-deceive-to-promise roller-coaster, bond prices/yields and stock prices have had a wild ride - but there is a very clear disconnect now. Since 6/28, Spanish and Italian 10Y spreads are unchanged - yes the very instrument that is supposed to benefit from all this chin-wagging and jawboning has done nothing! Meanwhile - the previously synced at the hip equity markets of these two nations have soared - both now above immediate knee-jerk highs of the EU Summit. This leaves Italy's FTSEMIB almost 7% over-valued relative to its credit risk and Spain's IBEX around 6%; whether this is due to the short-sale ban or simply an irrational willful ignorance of fact over hope - we suggest the convergence offers some better hope (especially as Rajoy sees his party support waning).
Six weeks ago we detailed how watching intra- and inter-asset-class correlations can tell investors a lot about what is behind market movements and as Nick Colas, of ConvergEx, highlights in his monthly review of asset price correlations - it reveals a key feature of the "Mystery Rally of Summer 2012." The move from the early June lows for U.S. stocks has come with increasing correlations across a wide array of asset types and industry sectors. That's unusual, because rising markets over the past three years more commonly bring lower correlations. For example, the rally from January to early April of this year saw industry correlations within the S&P 500 drop from +95% to 75-80% as the index went from 1270 to 1420 (a 12% return). Conversely, the move from 1278 to 1400 (early June to present day) has come with increasing industry correlations – 82% in May to 86% currently. To us, that's an important "Tell" about what's been taking us higher – hopes for further Federal Reserve liquidity at the next FOMC meeting in September and ECB liquidity to support the euro. The rest of August will likely feature the kind of light-volume tape that loves to drift higher, but increasing correlations represent a flashing yellow light signifying the need for caution in trading over the balance of the month.
Another day, another low volume, low range, VWAP-reverting, must-close-green move in S&P 500 e-mini futures and stocks in general. The last 4 days have been the lowest volume for a non-Xmas holiday week since 2007 in futures and NYSE volumes are just remarkably bad compared to even normal cyclical seasonal dips. The range-compression in equity markets is very reminiscent of last April/May's top but the magic 1400 level was held and maintained by an entirely VWAP-clinging afternoon of trading. HYG dipped intraday and recovered to unch (underperforming once again). VIX ended just in the red at 15.28% - and also had a very narrow range day. Gold led stocks higher even as the USD rose notably (with EUR weakness the main factor) and Treasuries with by far the greatest relative range - thanks to the 30Y auction tail (which was bid like crazy after to end unchanged). The USD is now 0.36% up on the week - but Gold/Silver/Copper/Oil are all up from 1%-2.5% on the week. Broad risk-assets and ETFs all ended the day in sync with stocks as Materials and Energy outperformed while Consumer sectors underperformed (along with financials). Another odd day to say the least.
Three gentle 'over-complacent' reminders from the world of implied distributions of returns - i.e. the equity options market. Implied vol is its lowest relative to realized vol in six months - implying market participants are banking on a relatively well behaved market going forward relative to the last few weeks. The short-term volatility term structure is its steepest in seven months - implying that investors are as confident in short-term market calmness (and positive bias) as they have been alsmot all year. The implied skewness of options prices is at almost its lowest in five years - implying downside risk in distributions is near record high levels of complacency. Other than that, fill your boots.
Since the European Summit a mere six weeks ago, Crude oil prices have surged over 20%. It seems, if one looks at stock prices, that between Monti's 'bluff', Rajoy's 'threats', and Draghi's 'promise' that everything has been fixed in Europe and all-is-well in the world as Europe's stocks swing to a year-to-date gain of 5% (with Spain and Italy up 10-15% since the summit alone). However, if one considers for one moment what exactly they are supposed to have 'fixed' then it seems one of these markets is not like the others... 10Y Spanish spreads are 10bps wider than pre-summit, Italian 10Y is only 10bps tighter, Portugal 10Y is unchanged and the Bund has outperformed Treasuries by 15bps. European corporate and financial credit has rallied but has dramatically underperformed - especially post-Draghi - as it is clear that investor hope for more unsterilized Fed/ECB 'aid' is more than priced into equity markets and has had the aforementioned unintended consequence of spilling out into energy markets - with all the negative feedback implications that come with that.
It's happening again. The euphoria is fading in the critical fulcrum security markets but stocks remain oblivious in their momentum-heavy liquidity-less way. Spanish and Italian sovereign bonds ended weaker - quite notably weaker in the case of Spain with the curve flattening significantly as the much-heralded front-end started to give some back and 10Y spain leaked back up towards 7% yields. Compared to post Draghi-'believe' (and post-Draghi 'reality') the Spanish and Italian stock markets are cock-a-hoop - massively outperforming. European equity markets in general are now the Usain Bolt compared with the Derek Redmond of European credit markets as once again stock holders are either last to get the joke or first to be ignorant enough to play the ECB's game of chicken. Spain's IBEX is now +13% from Thursday's close, followed by Italy +10% - but Italy and Spain 10Y bonds are still wide of the pre-Draghi 'reality' trough in spreads. German and Swiss rates increased modestly today but the latter remains negative out to 6Y.
TD Ameritrade Resumes Trading With Knight Hours Before Credit Line Expires; $440 MM Cash Outflow LoomsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/03/2012 14:33 -0400
Knight's credit line expires in 90 minutes. All day it has been a dark box, with virtually no trades coming in or leaving. The company is scrambling, so what happens: some much needed good news finally hits the tape following a TD Ameritrade announcement it has resumed trading with KCG. Will others piggyback as the credit lifeline that is keeping Knight alive expires at the end of the day, and the liquidity runs out, or will firms who explicitly are Knight's competitors in a market which has ever less volume leave it out to hang in hopes of picking up its business on the cheap. A 90 minute difference between life and death for a firm in desperate need of many more such press releases.
Spanish sovereign bond spreads blew almost 60bps wider today - that is the single-largest absolute move in spreads on record. Almost the entire gain in bonds post-Draghi 'Believe' speech from last week has been retraced in a mere few hours and while the front-end of the Italian and Spanish curves has outperformed, the sad fact is that in promising to maintain that end, then the entire rest of the curve becomes subordinated and therefore is sold as hope fades. Swiss, German, and Dutch short-dated bond yields all dropped to new record low rates. EURUSD has retraced its entire gain from Draghi-'believe', back to 1.2150 - despite his call not to short the EUR. Equity markets in Europe has dumped across the board today - with Italy and Spain -7% from pre-Draghi this morning - though notably still full of some hope from last week. It would seem that perhaps Mr. Draghi should keep his arrogant mouth shut a little more as we thought price stability was his mandate? The largest rise in EGB yields in a decade - all on the back of his misguided and over-confident egotistical attempt to jawbone markets to his reality. All mouth; no trousers.