Following yet another quiet overnight session, futures have surprised many walking into work today as the traditional overnight levitation is strangely missing. The reason for that may be the lack of the traditional for 2013 lift in various funding currency pairs, with both the USDJPY and the EURUSD lower. While there was no major macro news, the former may have been dragged lower by various comments from the German BDI industry federation chief who said he is worried about the devaluation race stemming from Japan's central bank policy echoing Merkel's comparable sentiment and revealing that the EURUSD may have topped out, while the latter was pushed lower following today's 7 day ECB MRO, which saw some €124.1 billion allotted at a 0.75% yield. This was largely in line with expectations, with Barclays seeing some €135.4 billion maturing, while BNP had expected modestly more, or some €150 billion. The MRO is the first such operation, with tomorrow's 3 month refinancing operation likely to give a better glimpse of the bank's post-LTRO repayment funding needs. Whether it is this, or the market finally demanding some action out of central banks which, except for the Fed, have been in constant promise mode, or just a random walk, is unknown, but for now the carry funded nominal devaluation of risk may have topped out.
For the first time this year, Brussels is awash with the opulent optimists of Europe as the finance ministers meet to decide how much of the EUR500bn ESM funds can be funneled direct to their banks and bypass the greedy governments. However, at the core is an uncomfortable reality that all is not well, one Brussels-based think-tank noted: "It’s really about signaling, the only thing that really has an impact on markets is when the word unlimited is uttered by somebody in charge, so in the end it’s not a question of how high the big number should be." The dilemma is Draghi's 'unlimited' promise, which has now been adopted by the Fed and the BoJ, has been hailed as the "breakthrough in tackling the causes of the euro-zone crises" but has instead unraveled into a combination of "complacency and political resistance" from creditor countries.
And so the consequences for Europe of accommodating the US, and the rest of the world, in having the EUR soar following ECB intervention while everyone else's currency is diluted to death, comes to the fore, following today's announcement of German 2012 GDP which came below expectations of 0.8%, printing at 0.7%, with government adding a substantial 1.0% to this number, while plant and machinery investment tumbled by a whopping -4.4%. And while the specific Q4 data was not actually broken out, a subsequent report by the German stat office indicated that Q4 GDP likely shrank by 0.5% in Q4. All that is needed is one more quarter of sub zero GDP, which will almost certainly happen in Q1 absent a massive surge in government spending which however will not happen in tapped out Germany, whose resources are focused on keeping the periphery afloat, and thus the EURUSD high, and Germany's exports weak. Confirming this was a Bild report which stated that the government now sees 2013 GDP growth of a paltry 0.4%, which assumes growth in H2. One wonders just how much longer Germany will opt for a currency regime that punishes its primary GDP-driver: net exports, at the expense of nothing beneficial but making tourist trips to Greece far more expensive than under the Drachma.
Even if you’re white, insured, educated, or in upper-income groups and live a healthy lifestyle, you’re still getting the short end of the stick
Trailing the US, as not much else to do. EGBs firming up, but mostly because they‘re supposed to do so, as Equities end a little softer, because they have to, as well. Credit likewise. So no Risk highs under the Xmas three… All because of the US. Blue.
"Blue Christmas" (Bunds 1,38% -4; Spain 5,23% +1; Stoxx 2644 -0,6%; EUR 1,318 -40)
EGBs and Equities rather a side-story today, as mainly static. EUR, too. Spain ticking in. Italian 2s on new lows (with the old reference nearing 1.5%). Good US GDP, bad Gold Dump Party (GDP, too). Worse Silver sell-out. Metal weakness? Maybe the Mayans are getting rid of their stocks before tomorrow? Another shy EStoxx high and Risk low. Don’t fight (the trend)…
"Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight)" (Bunds 1,42% unch; Spain 5,22% -3; Stoxx 2661 +0,1%; EUR 1,322 -40)
Would be easy to call this boring, given the state of the market and volumes, but undercover Risk On definitively there. Greek 10s over the moon and far away (up 500 ticks)… Strong EUR. Seems a little easy, but who wants to fight? It’s Yule Time – at least until Friday, then we’ll see what the Mayans really meant.
"Oh Come All Ye Faithful" (Bunds 1,42% +0; Spain 5,25% -4; Stoxx 2658 +0,4%; EUR 1,326 +40)
Another boring session, worsened by year end inactivity… Good close. Fiscal Cliff haggling on-going with a positive spin this time and Risk riding high.Spain catching up and paring yesterday’s soft patch, as is Italy. ESToxx at the highest since Aug 2011. Credit very squeezed. EUR strong. Merry Mood!
"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus " (Bunds 1,42% +5; Spain 5,29% -12; Stoxx 2647 +0,7%; EUR 1,322 +50)
Utterly boring Monday session, worsened by year-end inactivity… Won’t get any better going forward, probably. Fiscal Cliff a cliff-hanger (I know, cheap)… Spain on the heavier side with contingent funding holes still popping up here and there.
"Jingle Bell Rock" (Bunds 1,37% +2; Spain 5,41% +4; Stoxx 2628 unch; EUR 1,317 +30)
Bingo Bongo, Good News hailing, Sleepily digesting in the South to end Stuck… What an uninspiring week… Felt slow as a Sunday Afternoon– for 5 days in a row… The only thing that wasn’t lazy and laid back was the EUR.
Utterly boring Friday session, worsened by year end inactivity… PMI figures, which were actually needed on the more positive side to justify the latest levels in Risk were just so so in Europe. But, who cares? Periphery recovering further with Spain actually the best performer on the week (outside the bailed-out gang). US stuck despite better figures.
"Stuck in the Middle with You" (Bunds 1,35% unch; Spain 5,37% -1; Stoxx 2628 +0,2%; EUR 1,314 +60)
Markets getting back to some normality with the Periphery still recovering, although less today after the auctions, Bunds 5 wider on the week, Italy 10, but Spain 7 tighter across the curve from last Friday. Equities and Risk oblivious to that anyway and synching with the US. Getting difficult to find something crisp out there with reduced news flow and volatility. Excitement to be found in the US on FC developments, now that Greece, Spain and Italy are seemingly off the table and that the FED has moved to QE4.
"When It's Sleepy Time Down South" (Bunds 1,35% +1; Spain 5,38% +4; Stoxx 2622 -0,2%; EUR 1,308 +40)
The most commonly forwarded arguments against the implementation of a true 100% gold-backed sound money system can easily be disproven and thoroughly debunked with a small dose of history and another dose of logic.
Today is probably the first day in a while in which minute-by-minute rumors on the Fiscal Cliff will not be on the frontburner (with yet another late day rumor yesterday of an imminent deal turning out to be a dud, when it was reported that Obama's latest grand compromise was to lower his initial tax hike demand from $1.6 to $1.4 trillion, or still $600 billion more than last summer's negotiated number), with Ben Bernanke and QE4 taking center stage instead. By now it is a foregone conclusion that Ben will proceed with extending Twist as first predicted here, into an unsterilized bond buying operation, in effect confirming that there has been zero improvement in the economy, as another $1 trillion is about to be injected until the end of 2013, and more trillions after that. The good thing is that all pretense that the Fed cares about anything but the market is now gone. The bad thing is that the Fed will continue to take over the capital markets until it and the other central banks are the only traders remaining. The only question is whether the market, now well into massively overbought territory, will fizzle and snap back after Bernanke's news announcement, and will QE4EVA (as we believe QE3+1, aka QEternity-er, should be called) have been fully priced in by the time it was announced?
Markets recovering quite nicely from the Italian shock. Add some better outlook figures and we’re all friends again. The Spanish bill auction was less punishing than could have been feared. US opening stronger. Everything else is all good again. Greek bonds stellar.
"(Ain't That) Good News" (Bunds 1,32% +2; Spain 5,45% -9; Stoxx 2623 +1,0%; EUR 1,299 +60)