Up until the last day of July, everything was going great: stocks were solidly up for the month, the DJIA was on the verge of 17,000, and the wealth effect was flourishing, if not the economy. Then yesterday happened, and everything changed: not only did the S&P turn red for the month, but the DJIA slid to red for 2014. So what is the best performing asset class in July? With the PBOC now openly unleashing QE in its economy, no surprise that it was the Shanghai Composite, which returned over 8%, if virtually nothing since 2009. However, don't expect this to last: for China real estate is orders of magnitude more important than the stock market to boost the wealth effect. As for the best returning assets class in 2014 YTD: don't laugh - it's still Spain and Italy. Expect the day of reckoning for Europe's periphery to be fast, unexpected and very brutal.
Quietly, and without the drama associated with The Fed and ECB, China unveiled what looks like QE recently (as we discussed in detail here). Whether this is a stealth creation of a 'fannie-mae' structure to support housing or merely another channel for the PBOC to shovel out hole-filling liquidity is unclear. However, one thing is very clear, demand for CNY is surging (even as the PBOC weakens its fixing) and the Shanghai Composite is surging as hot money chases free money once again...
As every 'real' corporate bond manager knows (as opposed to playing one on television), forecasting from historical defaults is a fool's errand as the process is entirely cyclical and non-stationary. The fact that default rates have been low for 4 years (thanks to an overwhelming flood of liquidity-driven demand for yield) is of absolutely no use when pricing discounted cashflows into the future. However, as Fitch warns, a jump in US high-yield default rates looms. There have been 10 LBO related bond defaults thus far in 2014, compared with nine for all of 2013. While most sectors remain relatively clam, the utilities and chemicals sectors are seeing huge spikes in defaults... which explains why the market is starting to price that in.
It has been a deja vu session of that day nearly a month ago when the Banco Espirito Santo (BES) problems were first revealed, sending European stocks and US futures, however briefly, plunging. Since then things have only gotten worse for the insolvent Portuguese megabank, and overnight BES, all three of its holdco now bankrupt, reported an epic loss despite which it will not get a bailout but instead must raise capital on its own. The result has been a record drop in both the bonds (down some 20 points earlier) and the stock (despite a shorting ban instituted last night), which crashed as much as 40% before stabilizing at new all time lows around €0.25, in the process wiping out recent investments by such "smart money" as Baupost, Goldman and DE Shaw. The result is a European financial sector that is struggling in the red, while adding to its pain are some large cap names such as Adidas which also tumbled after issuing a profit warning relating to "developments" in Russia. Then there was European inflation which printed at 0.4%, below the expected 0.5%, and the lowest in pretty much ever, and certainly since the ECB commenced its latest fight with "deflation", which so far is not going well. The European cherry on top was Greece, whose dead cat bounce is now over, after May retail sales crashed 8.5%, after rising 3.8% in April.
Having waited until after the US equity markets closed, Portugal's troubled Banco Espirito Santo unveiled an enormous EUR 3.577 Billion loss - that is 15 times larger than the loss the bank suffered a year earlier. The data - to end-June, before the crisis really got going - already shows notable deposit flight, a 73.1% plunge in banking income, and a EUR 3 billion collapse in repoable assets (i.e. liquidity). On the heels of this Portugal's securities regulator has enforced a short-selling ban on BES... we suspect they would not have done that if all was systemically well in Portugal.
While equity markets were in focus for the mainstream, the big moves today occurred in Treasuries and oil prices. From the GDP release this morning, Treasury yields surged higher, rallied briefly after FOMC, before closing near the high-yields of the day (up around 10bps or the most in 9 months). Oil prices started to tumble at around 1030ET, flushed again on EU close, tumbled early afternoon on sanctions headlines, then pumped-and-dumped after FOMC to close at near 3-month lows (below $100). Equity markets surged on GDP, dumped on sanctions, pumped-and-dumped on FOMC, then lifted to the close. Only the Nasdaq ends the day above pre-GDP data levels. On the day, only the Dow closed the day red. Gold and silver chopped around in a narrow range as the USD index roundtripped from early GDP gains after FOMC. VIX closed modestly higher on the day. The Russell 2000 is -4.2% for July, its worst month in 2 years.
Portugal's PSI20 plunged over 3.4% today extending recent losses after its dead-cat-bounce, leaving the index near its lowest since October 2013. Interestingly peripheral bond spreads (and IG/HY credit spreads) compressed while equity markets all dumped across Europe amid concerns of blowback from Russia. As the sell-off accelerated into the close, credit markets also tumbled. An initial rally in financials gave way rapidly as US opened and rumors of G7 statements and Russian retaliation spread. Europe's VIX closed just shy of 18.00 - its highest close since early May. Banco Espirito Santo fell another 10% to record lows ahead of tonight's earnings.
Equity markets were lifted on a sea of USDJPY stops this morning to open higher and press to the week's highs. Once 102.00 was achieved and Europe closed, headlines started to stall stock exuberance. The initial downturn was when BES cancelled its shareholder meeting, the dip was bought, then Europe unveiled its sanctions started to take stocks down and then the US unleashed a further round of sanctions targeted at banks and that dragged stocks to the lows of the day. Trannies were worst down 4 days in a row. This move merely caught stocks down to bond's less-than-exuberant day. Treasuries rallied with yields dropping 2-3bps on the day. The USD surged to 6-month highs, ending up 0.2% from Friday. Credit markets continue to sell off notably. VIX closed back above 13 (highest in 2 weeks). The Russell is -1.65% YTD and 4.5% in July (on course for worse month in over 2 years). It appears sanctions fears trumped turbo Tuesday.
This morning makes as much sense as most mornings. US equity markets, after some weakness in the European session have been lifted wholesale towards Friday's highs on the heels of a USDJPY 102 stop-running algo. At the same time bonds are being bnought aggressively with 10Y and 30Y yields now lower on the week. The USD index is surging higher on EUR and GBP weakness and commodities are sliding.
Despite an early dump on dismal data, US equity markets (except Trannies) 'v-shape-recovery'ed back up to unchanged or better (as Europe closed and POMO ended) on the heels of an increasingly more beta-sensitive AUDJPY rampfest. Trannies never really recovered (3rd down day in a row) and Russell was less exuberant in its dead-cat-bounce but the Dow and S&P closed very modestly green. High-yield credit markets continue to widen - now at 10-week wides (up 35bps from tights) - notably divergent from stocks. Away from the shenanigans in stocks, the USD ended unchanged; Treasury yields were up 1-2bps; and gold closed very modestly lower. Oil slipped 0.5% to $101.60. VIX closed unch. Only the Nasdaq is green post MH17 Headlines on 7/17 and The Russell 2000 is -1.9% and Homebuilders -9% year-to-date.
An overview of the major events next week within the context of the capital markets, which could be at inflection points.
You can be forgiven for thinking that the world is a pretty terrible place right now, exclaims JPMorgan's Michael Cembalest. With 11.7% of the world's population currently at war (and a considerably larger percentage seemingly on the verge), it seemed an appropriate time to summarize the main geopolitical risk points in the world.
Treasury yields pushed 4-5bps higher on the day - the worst in 3 weeks - as yesterday's test of 2014 lows saw some reactive bond-selling. Asian and EU PMIs sent stocks to record-er highs but absymal US PMI and housing data took the shine off the exuberance early on (despite the best efforts at a 5th short-squeeze ramp at the open in a row). AUDJPY was in charge of stocks once again helping the S&P desperatly cling to unchanged. Espirito Santo bankruptcy headlines stumbled stocks at around 1300ET (but that dip was bought). The USD rose modestly (now up almost 0.5% on the week) led by GBP and EUR weakness but that was nothing compared to the dumpfest in precious metals. Silver's worst day in 6 months and a big drop in gold retraced them to near June FOMC levels. Credit markets continue to diverge bearishly from stocks (now 30bps wider than the tights as stocks rally to new highs). Despite the ubiquitous late-day ramp, stocks ended the day mixed around unchanged (and VIX higher on the day). By the close the S&P 500 closed +0.045% to a new all-time-record high.
For the 5th day in a row, US equity markets have been ignoted higher at the open by a sudden and extreme short squeeze among the weakest balance sheet companies. "Most Shorted" stocks have surged 3% in the last 5 days (double the S&P) but have only just managed to get back to unchanged for 2014 (against a 7.7% gain in the S&P).