European Central Bank
There is an odd feeling of Deja QEu this morning, when with two hours to go until the February payrolls, global stocks are modestly higher, US equity futures are likewise slightly higher on the back of a weaker dollar (or perhaps stronger Euro following a Market News report according to which the ECB may disappoint, more on that shortly), but it is gold that is breaking out, and after entering a bull market yesterday when it rallied 20% from its December lows gold has continued to surge, rising as high as @1,274 in early trading a price last seen in January 2015.
While Asian stocks continued their longest rally since August overnight, led higher for the third consecutive day on the back of Japan (+1.3%), Australia (+1.2%) and China (+0.4%) strength, European stocks have as of this moment halted their longest rally since October (Stoxx -0.1%) and U.S. index futures are little changed. Oil slipped from an eight-week high despite yesterday's massive rise in US oil inventories on hopes Saudi Arabia may be forced to cut production as its budget strains grow actue and the kingdom is forced to seek a $10 billion loan, its first material borrowing in a decade.
Market discounting ECB to intervene boldly, via a combination of increased QE, LTRO, depo rate cut, without collateral damage caused on banks by deeply negative interest rates. As banks performed strongly in recent days, market may think the recent complaining about negative rates by top banks’ executives across Europe has been heard. On the contrary, we believe deeply negative rates are coming, and are an inescapable negative for the banking sector, leading to overall weak equity markets post ECB.
Following yesterday's torrid 2.4% March opening rally, which resulted in the biggest S&P gain since January and the best first day of March in history on what was initially seen as very bad news, and then reinterpreted as great news, overnight futures have taken a breather, and erased a modest overnight continuation rally to track the price of oil lower.
- Trump, Clinton poised for big wins on Super Tuesday (Reuters)
- U.S. Index Futures Signal Equities to Rebound After Monthly Drop (BBG)
- Barclays Plummets as Bank Slashes Dividend in Plan to Shrink (BBG)
- Glencore Tumbles to Loss, Promises Accelerated Debt Reduction (WSJ)
- The Angry Americans: Trump, Sanders and the Aftershocks of 2008 (BBG)
With markets happy to put February in the history books because it marked the fourth consecutive monthly decline in global stocks, we move on to March 1st, which doubles down as 'Super Tuesday' in the US when Trump's presidential candidacy will almost certainly be sealed and a day in which stocks decided to join the super fun by super surging overnight on nothing but bad global macro and economic which however was promptly ignored and instead the focus was on ongoing central bank intervention and even more jawboning.
Today's deflationary report, the worst since the start of Europe's QE, virtually assures another substantial round of policy easing from the European Central Bank on March 10. The question is what the ECB will reveal. Here are the options.
A little under one year after the ECB launched its own QE of €60 Billion/month in bond purchases in early March 2015, a process which has resulted in the ECB monetizing over €670 billion in European - mostly German - sovereign paper, moments ago Eurostat reported European February inflation (even though the month is not over yet), and it was a shock, with headline inflation tumbling form +0.3% Y/Y in January to a depressing -0.2% in February, the worst print since January 2015. It was expected to drop to "only" 0.0%.
Fearful of a renewed rise in the US dollar, Saxo's chief economist Steen Jakobsen expects a "nasty March" as this will kill commodity stabilization as well as the ability of emerging markets to live up to their expectations to revitalize the global economy. Despite The Bank of Japan's clear "example of how not to do things," Jakobsen warns other central banks will follow Kuroda's cue and, as he explains below, is "shorting everything" as he sees two major canaries in the coalmine.
Today's current inflation data dump from across the European nations appears to confirm forward inflation expectations trend (plumbing new record lows). With a considerably bigger than expected decline in prices , pushing Germany, Spain, and France back into deflation, pressure is mounting on Mr.Draghi. As one EU economist exclaimed, "the data send a clear message to the ECB and the only question that remains now is how bold action would be." Save us Mario from spending less on the things we need...
The real pity is that the busts and crackups could all have been avoided if central bankers recognized that falling prices eventually create the conditions for a normal economic revival. Deflation is not a death spiral as the Keynesians believe. Nevertheless, expect more central banks to follow the early leaders — Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, and even the European Central Bank itself — into negative interest rate territory. The crying shame is that it will not work and will cause great harm to hundreds of millions of people.
In recent weeks Chinese stocks remained relatively resilient, levitating quietly day after day. That all changed overnight when the Shanghai Composite plunged by 6.4% with the drop accelerating into the close. This was the biggest drop in over a month and was big enough to almost wipe out the entire 10% rebound from the January lows in one session.
According to Morgan Stanley the biggest threat to the profibatility, viability and outright existence of the most leveraged commercial bank in the world, is none other than ECB president Mario Draghi.
“It’s a big club and you ain’t in it!”
"Central banks around the world, reacting to the same recessionary fears, are likely to cause long rates to sink materially lower than where we are today. I see the 10-year Treasury note falling to 1 percent, perhaps even lower, before year-end. According to technical analysis, the current target bottom for the 10-year Treasury note is 28 basis points!"