A.M. Kitco Metals Roundup: Gold Drops Below $1,700 Following another Mysterious Price Drop in Asian Trading
Gold set for dramatic correction: hedge fund manager
The following chart is perhaps the best glimpse of the excessively optimistic 'hope' relative to the rest of the world that US equity markets (and their extrapolators analysts) currently possess. Since the start of 2012, analysts, guided by both macro uncertainty and company expectations, have crushed 2013 EPS expectations across all global markets - well nearly all...
No one wants to mention that the Fed Chairman has changed the rules of the game in the middle of the game but there you are; a backsliding Federal Reserve Bank whose statements are only crafted for the moment and future moments may be brief; we just don’t know. Apparently we have transitioned to a “whatever is convenient” policy at the Fed and we all should bear that in mind when assessing probable actions. When money talks, nobody pays any attention to the grammar. The Treasury issues, the Fed prints money and buys, the cost of financing for the country is incredibly low and the yields for investors are paltry. In the risk markets there will now be a demand as instigated by the Fed, that overwhelms the supply of new issuance. Between the coupons paid and the maturities for 2013 the figure is about $1 trillion in excess demand more than estimated forthcoming supply. Given the 36% loss in wealth that took place in America during the 2008/2009 period the odds of an asset allocation shift out of bonds and into equities is de minimis in my opinion and so the “Great Compression” will continue.
Within a few minutes of the day-session open, US equity markets decided today was the day to test the Election highs and QE3-announcement lows. Starting with a little jog, the chatter gathered pace as weak data was dismissed, eyes kept focused on the prize of running the stops above the Election highs leveraging the pre-FOMC 'habit' and hope of a fiscal cliff resolution. This was not to be. VIX was the leverage tool of the day early and led (beta-adjusted) stocks higher until the explosion of volume at the highs with shorts giving up amid a plethora of big blocks suggesting pros selling into that auctioned strength. The straw to break the rally-camel's back was Harry Reid's comments and sure enough we rotated all the way back down to the day-session open's levels. While all this excitement was occurring, risk-assets twiddled their thumbs in general, snickering the impetuous youth of the exuberant equity market and the pundits admiration that 'well, the market knows that a deal will be done'. Into the close, S&P futures ramped up to VWAP settling their at the day-session - only to extend a little after the close.
Equity markets have pulled away from the rest of risk in a wonderfully dramatic manner this morning as they set their sights on the pre-election highs and the running of the stops. We are now back at Bernanke QE3 spike levels - which we are sure makes perfect sense to someone - anyone, Bueller? For now, it seems like we auctioned up to clear out any last remaining weak hand shorts given the lack of support for this from any other market.
Some indication of progress on US fiscal talks, anticipation that the Fed extends QE3+ tomorrow, speculation of a cut in China’s required reserve, healthy Spanish T-bill auctions and a much stronger than expected German ZEW survey is encouraging risk-on plays, with the dollar and yen laggards, peripheral bonds firmer, and emerging equity markets extending recent gains. European shares are advancing for the seventh consecutive session.
News of greater political uncertainty in Italy and poor European data is spurring risk-off moves, with the dollar and yen firmer, emerging market currencies mostly softer, global equity markets lower and core bonds a bit firmer.
Following much weaker than expected German industrial production figures last week has been followed in kind by disappointing French and Italian output figures today. Italy reported a 1.1% decline. The consensus was for a 0.2% decline and the Sept series was revised lower. French output fell 0.7%. The consensus was for a 0.3% increase. Yet it is really the Italian political scene that is the key driver today with the benchmark 10-year yield up more than 30 bp, dragging up peripheral yields generally. Italian shares have been particularly hard hit and a couple of banks were limit down and stopped trading.
This week is the last before the holiday mood sets in. We identify ten considerations that will drive the capital markets.
The US dollar extended yesterday's gains and remain bid ahead of the November jobs report. The deterioration of the economic and political situation in the euro area appears to be the single biggest factor behind the greenback's sharp recovery. The dollar is little changed against the yen as the market grapples with the implication of the earthquake and tsunami.
Asian equity markets were mostly higher with the MSCI Asia-Pacific Index was up about 0.25% and,. of note, the Shanghai Composite extended this week's recovery, gaining 1.6% to bring the weekly advance to 4.1%. European bourses are bit heavier. Spanish and Italian bonds remain under pressures, while Greek bond yields continue to fall as a the bond buy back offer expires today and the market anticipates a successful conclusion.
We share five observations today.
There are two approaches to being a sell-side, talking-head, strategist when it comes to China. If China is rising, then hey, global growth is recovering and China's transition is going well - so buy US equities levered to China. If, however, China is falling (or out of favor) then US equity markets are the cleanest dirty shirt and decoupling is the new normal. Thus, no matter what, being long US equities is your staple investment advice - heck it's worked for a few decades, why not? Well the truth is that, empirically, the correlation between US Machinery or Tech Hardware stocks and the Chinese market has risen for six years straight. In other words, there is no decoupling (ever); as goes China, so goes US equities - and that sensitivity has never been higher.
Citi's Robert Buckland explains: If policymakers really do want to encourage stronger economic growth (and especially higher employment) then we would suggest that they take a closer look at the equity market's part in driving corporate behaviour. Despite high profitability, strong balance sheets and ultra-low interest rates, any stock market observer can see daily evidence of why the listed sector is unlikely to kick-start a meaningful acceleration in the global economy. A recent Reuters headline says it all: "P&G Plans to Cut More Jobs, Repurchasing More Shares". If anything, low interest rates are increasingly part of the problem rather than the solution. Perversely, they may be turning the world's largest companies into capital distributors rather than investors.
I recently received the following question from a friend of mine and wanted to share my thoughts with my market pals, and throw this out for feedback. I would be particularly interested in hearing from my derivatives friends who are much more technically informed than I am on the subject.
“I was looking at something today that I thought you would probably have some comment on: have you noticed how wide the out months on the VIX are versus the one or two month? How are you interpreting this?”
From my viewpoint this has been a key debate/driver in the equity derivatives world for a good while now (I started having this discussion in early 2011 with some market pals and the situation has only grown more extreme since then).
If you want to send a roomful of 100 wealth managers into an icy chill, have Russell Napier address them. Napier’s presentation, “Deflation in an Age of Fiat Currency,” is thought-provoking, and the precise polar opposite of investing as usual. US stock markets aren’t cheap, not by a long chalk. Napier, like us, favors the 10-year cyclically adjusted price / earnings ratio, or CAPE, as the best metric to assess the affordability of the market. At around 21, the US market’s CAPE is near the top end of its historic range. The S&P 500 stock index currently trades at a level of around 1400. Napier believes it will reach its bear market nadir at around 450, driven by a loss of faith in US Treasury bonds, and in the dollar, by foreigners.
US equities tried to escape the draw of a strong Treasury market and weak gold market all day but kept being dragged back to reality (with a late-day dive on decent volume making the most interesting moment of the day). The day-session range was relatively low but volumes were ok as we leaked lower on the day. NASDAQ was the weakest (thanks to AAPL's push back towards it 'generational low') and TRANS outperformed - but the latter was playing catch up to the rest from yesterday's weakness (still lagging on the week). S&P futures clung to VWAP most of the afternoon in a rather uneventful day even as VIX pushed 0.5 vols higher to close above 17% for the first time in three weeks - notably divergent from stocks. EUR strength (+0.8% this week!), while modestly supportive, has largely decoupled from equity movements this week as correlations across risk assets have dropped notably.
Many people, and erroneously, think that all of the purchasing by the Fed will go to both markets in equal amounts but this is not the case. More money for the stock markets would have to come from asset reallocations by money management firms, insurance companies, pension funds and the like and this is not going to happen anytime soon given the 2008/2009 experience. Consequently the greatest flows generated by the Fed’s recent and forward actions will affect the bond markets much more than the equity markets. Between the MBS purchases and the next upcoming stimulus push, the Fed would account for 90% of all new debt issuance and leading to a demand imbalance between $400 billion to almost $2 Trillion depending upon the actual Fed announcements. The Fed currently holds about 18% of the U.S. GDP on its books and it could bulge to 23-28% a few years out. This all works, by the way, only because all of the world’s central banks are working in concert so that there is no imbalance and money cannot be invested off-world. Yields will not make sense empirically because of the actions of the Fed but it will make no difference, because their intentions and goals are vastly different from investors.
Confused by the recent surge of capital into Europe (which somehow is supposed to indicate that all is well because local stock and bond markets are faring better)? Don't be: it is merely the latest and greatest manifestation of that most prevalent of New Normal investment strategies: hope. Hope that this time it is different, and that the latest injection of capital from the Fed via QE3 coupled with the OMT perpetual backstop of liquidity via the ECB (still merely at the beta stage: expansion to actual gold/production phase TBD) will kick start the European economies. Alas, it won't, at least not until Europe actually undergoes the inevitable internal devaluation which we described over the weekend (since an external one is impossible) and crushes local wages of the PIIGS, which in turn would lead to revolution, and thus will never happen. That, or somehow discharges about 40% of consolidated Eurozone debt/GDP, which it also won't as it would wipe out the global banking system. So what does this mean? Well, as Deutsche Bank explains looking simply at manufacturing output in the developed world, global markets are now overvalued anywhere between 15% and 35%. This is the hope premium now embedded in stock prices.