Always happy to look to the silver lining in markets, amid the total and utter carnage across global FX, commodity, and equity markets, there are a few markets benefiting from the scramble for a safe-haven. Gold (and Silver) prices, after dropping yesterday, has retraced all those losses and is up over $20 to $1215. Even more impressively, 10Y Treasury yields traded with a 2.00% handle (down 8-9bps today alone). Notably ultra-short-term US T-Bill yields have collapsed to zero with the Feb 2015s trading -0.5bps. Bunds are also bid (down 5bps) at fresh record-low yields of 56.6bps! While not a 'safe-haven" per se, JPY is aggressively bid also as leverage and risk unwinds carry trades and squeezes USDJPY lower (briefly touching 115.50).
The Russian Ruble has collapsed this morning. Despite a modest dead-cat-bounce-like rally in crude oil, the Ruble is down almost 3 handles smashing through the 61/USD level for the first time ever. Minutes after flash-crashing to 61.46/USD, officials, according to Reuters, halted trading in certain instruments to “prevent possible manipulation of equity futures market." Russia's 5Y CDS has broken above 500bps for the first time since 2009 (+21bps today), the RTS stock market is down over 6%, and 5Y bond yields are pushing towards 13%. It seems Putin is increasingly being put under pressure to do something...
After the worst week for stocks in years, and following a significantly oversold condition, it will hardly come as a surprise that the mean reversion algos (if only to the upside), as well as the markets themselves (derivative trading on the NYSE Euronext decided to break early this morning just to give some more comfort that excessive selling would not be tolerated) are doing all they can to ramp equities around the globe, and futures in the US as high as possible on as little as possible volume. And sure enough, having traded with a modestly bullish bias overnight and rising back over 2000, the E-Mini has seen the now traditional low volume spike in the last few minutes, pushing it up over 15 points with the expectation being that the generic algo ramp in USDJPY ahead of the US open should allow futures to begin today's regular session solidly in the green, even if it is unclear if the modest rebound in the dollar and crude will sustain, or - like on every day in the past week - roll over quickly after the open. Also, we hope someone at Liberty 33 tells the 10Y that futures are soaring: at 2.13% the 10Y is pricing in nothing but bad economic news as far as the eye can see.
The fundamental issue confronting investors is about supply and demand. In recent weeks, as energy prices and other industrial commodity prices fell, investors focused on supply. The stimulative effect of the fall in prices, and the likely policy response by some major central banks, such as the ECB, and possibly the BOJ. This was good for equity markets and weighed on the euro and yen.
Anyone who was hoping the market would rebound on last-minute news that the US government has gotten funding for another 9 months, will be disappointed this morning, when futures are finally starting to notice the relentless decline in crude, and with Brent down another 1% as of this writing following yet another cut in the forecast of Global oil demand by the IEA (the 4th in the last 5 months) and with Chinese industrial production also missing estimates (recall that the Chinese slow-motion hard landing has been said by many to be the primary catalyst for the crude collapse) which however pushed Chinese stocks higher on hopes of even more stimulus, the S&P is trading lower by some 14 points, the 10 Year is in the red zone at 2.12%, and the USDJPY is close to session lows. In short: Kevin Henry's "ETF" desk at the NY Fed will have its work cut out to generate one of the now traditional pre-weekend feel good, boost confidence stock market ramps.
The central banks are now out of dry powder - impaled on the zero-bound. That means any resort to a massive new round of money printing can not be disguised as an effort to “stimulate” the macro-economy by temporarily driving interest rates to “extraordinarily” low levels. They are already there. Instead, a Bernanke style balance sheet explosion like that which stopped the financial meltdown in the fall and winter of 2008-2009 will be seen for exactly what it is—-an exercise in pure monetary desperation and quackery. So duck and cover. This storm could be a monster.
Not quite as many fireworks overnight, in another session dominated by central banks. First it was revealed that China had injected CNY400 billion into the banking system to add liquidity as the economy slows, which is ironic because on the other hand China is also seemingly doing everything in its power to crash its nascent stock market bubble mania, following the latest news that China’s CSRC approved 12 IPOs ahead of schedule which is seen as a pre-emptive step to tighten interbank liquidity amid the recent rise in margin trading. Another central bank that was busy overnight was Russia's, which proceeded with its 5th rate hike of the year, pushing the central rate up by 100 bps to 10.50% as expected. Elsewhere, the Bank of England wants to move to a Fed-style decision schedule and start releasing immediate minutes as Governor Mark Carney overhauls the framework set up more than 17 years ago. The Swiss National Bank predicted consumer prices will drop next year and said the risk of deflation has increased as it vowed to defend its cap on the franc. Finally Norway’s central bank cut its main interest rate for the first time in more than two years and signaled it may ease again next year as plunging oil prices threaten growth in western Europe’s biggest crude exporter.
The attention being brought to bear upon Greece highlights once again the hollow nature of the “recovery” in Greece, Europe and the western world. The crisis is far from resolved - merely to use the very true cliche - kicked down the road. Well we appear to be coming towards the end of the road in Greece and this could set the stage for the next stage of the Eurozone debt crisis.
At the latest ECB press conference Draghi said that. “The monetary policy team had this week discussed buying all assets except gold”; qualifying a claim by fellow member Yves Mersch two weeks ago that gold bullion could be included.” If central bankers truly believed in sound monetary policy the headline would have said “We’ll buy all your gold”. That would have propelled both gold and the European equity markets upwards. As it is markets on the continent get cheaper as the good doctor fiddles.
Now that China is on the same boat as the rest of the world, and its stock market is a direct reflection of hopes for constant liquidity injections by the central banks, nothing could be better for stocks than bad news, which is precisely what it got. After the biggest crash in the Shanghai Composite in 5 years, what China got just the bad economic update it needed, when it reported a PPI of PPI (-2.7%, Exp. -2.4%), the 33rd consecutive decline and a CPI (1.4%, Exp. 1.6%), lowest since November 2009, when the big banks’ RRR rate stood at 15.5% vs. current 20%. And so hope of yet more PBOC interventions to halt China's deflation promptly reversed SHCOMP losses of over 4% on the session (at which point it was just shy of correction territory from recent highs hit just this week), and stocks surged to close up almost 3%, erasing half of yesterday's losses. This spike came despite reports Chinese regulators may limit brokerages' interbank borrowing.
The rather amusing and broadly cited economic fact is that US growth has become more robust and we should only expect a “tailwind” from lower gas prices that will put more dollars in the US consumers’ pockets , but 3 charts might indicate a less optimistic outcome.
- China’s Stocks Sink Most Since 2009 as Turnover Jumps to Record (BBG)
- Greek Stocks, Bonds Tumble (WSJ)
- China tightens LGFV funding screws (BBG)
- Crude Rebounds From Five-Year Low Amid Shale-Oil Spending Curbs (BBG)
- Sexual threats, other CIA methods detailed in Senate report (Reuters)
- U.S. Takes Security Precautions Overseas Ahead of CIA Report (WSJ)
- Light-Speed Treasury Trading Governed by Rules Dating to 1998 (BBG)
- Delhi to ban all internet taxi firms after Uber rape claim (Reuters)
- Supreme Group Fined $389 Million for Overcharging Pentagon (WSJ)
It wasn't just China's long overdue crash last night. In addition to the Shanghai Composite suffering its biggest plunge since August 2009, there has been a sharp slide in the USDJPY which has broken its uptrend to +∞ (and hyperinflation), and around the time Chinese gamblers were panicking, the FX pair tumbled under 120, although since then the 120 tractor beam has been activated. Elsewhere, the Athens stock exchange is also crashing by over 10% this morning on the heels of news that the Greek government has accelerated the process to elect the next president and possibly, a rerun of the drama from the summer of 2012 when the Eurozone was hanging by a thread when Tsipras almost won the presidential vote and killed the world's most artificial and insolvent monetary union. And finally, the crude plunge appears to have finally caught up with ground zero, with ADX General Index in Abu Dhabi plunging 3.5%, also poised for the biggest drop since 2009. In fact the only thing that isn't crashing (at least not this moment), is Brent, which did drop to new 5 year lows earlier under $66, but has since staged a feeble rebound.