European Central Bank
In this brave New Normal world, a Chinese contraction is somehow expected to be offset by a rebound in Europe's worst economies, because following China's latest PMI miss, overnight we were told of beats in the Service PMI in Spain (56.5, vs Exp. 54.0, a 7 year high sending the Spanish 10 Year to fresh sub 3% lows), Italy at 51.1, vs Exp. 50.5, also pushing Italian yields to record lows, and France 50.4 (Exp. 50.3). We would speculate that macro events such as these, as fabricated as they may be, are relevant or even market-moving, but they aren't - all that matters is what the JPY and VIX traders at the NY Fed do in a low volume tape, usually in the last 30 minutes of the trading day. And since the trading day today happens to be a Tuesday, and nothing ever goes down on a Tuesday, the outcome is pretty much clear, and not even the absolutely abysmal Barclays earnings report has any chance of denting the latest rigged and manufactured low-volume levitation.
This week, markets are likely to focus on US ISM Nonmanufacturing, services and composite PMIs in the Euro area (expect increases), ECB’s Monetary Policy Decision (expect no change in policy until further ahead), and Congressional testimony by Fed’s Yellen.
With Japan out and Europe quiet, markets are without their normal random Nikkei headline or ECB quote of the day to juice JPY (unable to break back above 102) and stocks (for now)... and of course, it's not Tuesday. Treasury yields are lower for the 5th day in a row with 10Y breaking below 2.57% (Feb lows) to its lowest in 7 months; 30Y continues to tumble to fresh 11-month lows (below 3.35%). Gold remains bid, now pressing up to $1315 (and well above its 200-day-moving-average) and silver is rallying. Stock futures are weak having lost the post-China PMI lows as Ukraine fear continues to rise. As far as "costs", Russian stocks are down for the 2nd day in a row (around the same as US stocks for now) but the Ruble is modestly stronger even as Russian bonds weaken slightly to 9.43% yields.
After months of ignoring events in Ukraine, HFT algos suddenly, if one for the time being, have re-discovered just where the former USSR country is on the map, and together with the latest economic disappointment out of China in the form of its official manufacturing PMI which missed expectations for the sixth month in a row, futures are oddly non-green at this moment now that talk of a Ukraine civil war is the new black (after two months of ignoring the elephant in the room... or rather bear in the room). Lighter volumes, courtesy of holidays in Japan and UK, have not helped the market breadth and stocks in Europe are broadly lower with the DAX (-1.33%) and CAC (-1.19%) weighed upon by risk off sentiment and market positioning for the eagerly anticipated ECB policy meeting especially after the EU cuts its Euro-Area 2014 inflation forecast from 1.0% to 0.8%. But what's bad for stocks continues to be good for equities, and moments ago the 10Y dropped to a paltry 2.57%, the lowest since February... and continuing to maul treasury shorts left and right.
Of the economic reports and events in the week ahead, we identify four potential drivers and emphasize one--the ECB meeting.
Some thoughts about the price action, or lack thereof, in the foreign exchange market.
Oil prices have increased recently as tension in Ukraine has escalated and raised concerns about the risks of disruption in Russian energy exports. There is a risk that the security situation in the east Ukraine will worsen even further ahead of the 25 May elections. As Nordea notes, Russia is as important an oil exporter to Europe (of both crude and refined products) as it is a gas exporter, and the consequences of a cut in Russian oil supplies could be as grave since the global oil market has little back-up capacity to lean on. As a result, a halt in the oil deliveries from Russia to Europe will spark a sharp spike in oil prices (potentially to $150/bbl) and in a worst case scenario an oil crisis and European recession (and major slowdown in global growth) and US shale oil or an SPR release will prevent the spike.
Italy’s central bank, the Banca d’Italia, has recently published an important document detailing the storage locations and composition of the country’s gold reserves. The document confirms that Italy’s gold is held across four vault locations, three of which are outside Italy. This is a significant announcement given that the Banca d’Italia is the world’s third largest official holder of gold after the U.S. and Germany. Italy officially holds 2,451.8 tonnes of gold, worth more than €72 billion (US$ 100 billion) at current market prices. In the detailed three page report focusing exclusively on its gold reserves (and only published in Italian), the Banca d’Italia reveals that 1,199.4 tonnes, or nearly half the total, is held in the Bank’s own vaults under its Palazzo Koch headquarters on Via Nazionale in Rome, while most of the other half is stored in the Federal Reserve Bank gold vault in New York. The report also states that smaller amounts are stored at the Bank of England in London, and at the vaults of the Swiss National Bank in Bern, Switzerland.
ADP "beat" sent stocks and USD up, bonds and gold down. GDP "miss" sent stocks and USD down, bonds and gold up... and now the Fed's emergency meeting has sent all asset classes into a Tapering-the-taper frenzy as chaos hits markets sending stocks up to highs of day (less Taper), Bond yields to lows of day (low growth less taper), USD tumbling (less taper, moar QE vs ECB), and Gold jumping higher (less taper, more QE)... correlation is crumbling everywhere as the Fed's calming communications cause chaos...
Since it's not Tuesday (the only day that matters for stocks, of course), call it opposite, or rather stop hunt take out, day. First, it was the BOJ which, as we warned previously, would disappoint and not boost QE (sorry SocGen which had expected an increase in monetization today, and now expects nothing more from the BOJ until year end), which sent the USDJPY sliding, only to see the pair make up all the BOJ announcement losses and then some; and then it was Europe, where first German retail sales cratered, printing at -1.9%, down from 2.0% and on expectations of a 1.7% print, and then Eurozone inflation once again missed estimates, and while rising from the abysmal 0.5% in March printed at only 0.7% - hardly the runaway inflation stuff Draghi is praying for. What happened then: EURUSD tumbled then promptly rebounded a la the flash crash, and at last check was trading near the high of the day.
On a closing price basis, the trading range for the US 10 year note since January 24th has been 22 basis points which is the narrowest in that length of time in over 30 years. Often times, narrow trading ranges act like coiled springs. The longer markets stay in those ranges the greater the pressure builds. Tight ranges over longer time periods cause ever-more-powerful movements once the ranges break. Over the next two weeks, there are multitudes of events and economic data which could set the tone of trading for the next several months and potentially provide the catalyst necessary for markets to break out of ranges.
Earlier today the EBA published its common methodology and scenario for the 2014 EUwide bank stress test. The adverse scenario covers the period 2014 to 2016 and at least on the surface is generally tougher than the adverse scenarios in previous similar exercises, resulting in a severe negative deviation of EU GDP growth of 7% from its baseline level by 2016. So far so good. But where the whole thing disintegrates into yet another sham spectacle confirming just how insolvent European banking truly is, is one simple observation: not even under the adverse scenario does the ECB contemplate the possibility of deflation!
If one needed a flurry of "worse than expected" macro data to "explain" why European bourses and US futures are up, one got them: first with UK Q1 GDP printing at 0.8%, below the expected 0.9%, then German consumer prices falling 0.1% in April, and finally with Spanish unemployment actually rising from a revised 25.73% to 25.93%, above the 25.85% expected. All of this was "good enough" to allow Italy to price its latest batch of 10 Year paper at a yield of 3.22%, the lowest yield on record! Either way, something else had to catalyze what is shaping up as another 0.5% move higher in US stocks and that something is the old standby, the USDJPY, which ramped higher just before the European open and then ramped some more when European stocks opened for trading. Look for at least one or two more USDJPY momentum ignition moments at specific intervals before US stocks open for trading. But all of that is moot. Remember - the biggest catalyst of what promises to be the latest buying panic rampathon is simple: it's Tuesday (oh, and the $2-$2.5 billion POMO won't hurt).
A lack of volatility in the markets is dangerous, according to Saxo Bank's Chief Economist Steen Jakobsen, who says we need to know why the danger will be with us for some time. In this brief clip he warns, "...the world seems to think there is a stable permanent equilibrium which doesn't make sense if you think about it, unemployment is still rising, debt to GDPs are still rising, the Crimea situation is increasing in tension, not decreasing, The US still has a lot of stuff to do on social security and welfare spending…for two or three years down the road, with no activity, the world will fall into not only deflation, but also a recession." Jakobsen predicts that, year on year, world growth will actually be "a big fat zero" and therefore the markets are drifting into dangerous territory.
The Elephant In The Room: Deutsche Bank's $75 Trillion In Derivatives Is 20 Times Greater Than German GDPSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/28/2014 14:56 -0400
Presenting: the proverbial elephant in the room.