The global economy remains on shaky ground. China’s manufacturing activity contracted for its 5th straight month, the US recovery is still very early to call, and the euro zone debt crisis may not be finished. Eurozone PMI data is due later today which will show how the economy is doing after Greece averted default earlier this month. Thomson Reuters GFMS have said that gold at $2,000/oz is possible - possibly in late 2012 or early 2013. Thomson Reuters GFMS Global Head of metals analytics, Philip Klapwijk, featured on Insider this morning and advised investors to "buy this gold dip”. Gold should be bought on this correction especially if we go lower still as we may need a shake-out of "less-committed investors." Klapwijk suggested that a brief dip below $1,600 is on the cards but the global macro environment still favours investment, notably zero-to-negative real interest rates and he would not rule out further easing by either the ECB or the Fed before year end.
European cash equity markets are making heavy losses as we head into the midpoint of the European session. Markets got off to a bad start as participants reacted to overnight Chinese HSBC manufacturing PMI recording a steeper contraction than the previous month. The manufacturing outlook has gotten even worse as the session has progressed, with France, Germany and the Eurozone as a collective recording contractions in their respective manufacturing PMI numbers for March. As such, commodity linked currencies are trading lower with AUD/USD down around 85 pips. WTI and Brent crude futures are moving in tandem with other markets as they also record losses going into the US open. In other news, there were reports that the ECB were looking to pull out their covered bond asset purchase program as less than a quarter of the fund has been used so far. A Bundesbank spokesman commented that it will not pressure the ECB into withdrawing the covered bond purchase program as it is the central bank’s decision to make. Looking ahead in the session, the market awaits the weekly US jobs data due at 1230GMT.
Futures continue exhibiting a very surprising and ever brighter shade of ungreen as the morning session progresses, starting with the 5th consecutive contractionary Chinese PMI data, going through disappointing European Manufacturing and Services PMIs which came below expectations (47.7 vs Est. 49.5 for Mfg; 48.7 vs Est. 49.2 for Services), with an emphasis on French and German PMIs, both of which were bad (German Mfg PMI 48.1, Est 51, prior 50.2; Services PMI 51.8, Est. 53.1, Prior 52.8), and concluding with UK sales which printed at -0.8% on expectations of -0.5%. And just like that Europe is "unfixed", prompting economists such as IHS' Howard Archer to speculate that following "worrying and disappointing" Euro PMI data, the ECB may cut rates to 0.75%, as Europe is finding it hard to return to growth after the Q4 contraction. And with that the beneficial impact of the €1 trillion LTROs is now gone, as Spain spread over Bunds has just risen to the widest in over 5 weeks, and the beneficial market inflection point passes - prepare for LTRO 3 demands any minute now.
Canada's natural resources minister told delegates at the International Energy Forum in Kuwait that his country was on the cusp of becoming an "energy superpower." Canada ranks No. 6 in terms of global oil production, but much of its crude exists in the form of oil sands. European leaders are considering a measure that would classify oil sands as an environmental issue, prompting Canada to threaten to take the issue to the World Trade Organization. With the U.S. political system in a deadlock over Canadian crude, the Ottawa government is now working to convince the international community that the global market is in jeopardy if polices "discriminate against oil sands."
Earlier this morning, there have been some completely unfounded speculation of a Chinese coup. And this is all. To get some additional color, we go to Chinese macro expert Andy Lees, who incidentally has have left the churn factory known as UBS, and is now at AML Macro Ideas. Here is his take.
Thank you Ben Shalom Bernanke for being the singular pompous PhD idiot who can take the yeoman's credit for navigating this entire golbal ship of financial farce into the sargasso sea of pinstriped fraud.
- Obama, Cameron discussed tapping oil reserves (Reuters)
- Greek Bonds Signal $2.6 Billion Payout on Credit-Default Swaps (Bloomberg)
- China leader's ouster roils succession plans (Reuters)
- China’s Foreign Direct Investment Falls for Fourth Month (Bloomberg)
- Greek Restructuring Delay Helps Banks as Risks Shift (Bloomberg)
- Concerns Rise Over Eurozone Fiscal Treaty (FT)
- Home default notices rise in February: RealtyTrac (Reuters)
- China PBOC Drains Net CNY57 Bln (WSJ)
Nic Colas, of ConvergEx, waxes nostalgic at the dreadful deja-vu he sees in his monthly review of the Street’s revenue expectations for the companies of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Finding that while markets may be in rally mode, analysts are still fretful about near term sales momentum at these large multinationals. Currently, they expect the average Dow company to post only a 3.6% sales “Comp” in Q1 2012 versus last year, or 5.0% for the non-financial companies in the index. That is the lowest expected growth rate for the current quarter since we started keeping tabs on what the analysts had in their models a year ago. They don’t have to bump numbers to pound the table on their favorite names. The current rally has been more about valuation than revenue and earnings momentum – our revenue expectation data is all the proof you need on that score. So why raise numbers if your “Buy” rated names are rallying without the need to put yourself on that limb? All of this sets up market psychology on a razor’s edge for Q1 earnings reports. And what about ‘Sell in May and go away?' Only 31 trading days left until May 1st.
While WTI hovers around $105.5 (slightly underperforming USD strength), Brent has notably outperformed with the Brent-WTI spread now edging towards $20 (from under $15 two weeks ago). Given the increasing tension, we thought it useful to get a grasp of just what an oil-supply shock means. BNP points out that in all but one of the historical oil price shocks of the last 40 years, equities have notably underperformed oil (understandably) but the higher the oil price rise, the higher the chance of negative absolute returns for stocks. We also note that oil prices tend to rise in anticipation of the crisis and then explode (so arguing that we are discounting an event is proved moot) and the impact (in lost supply) from closing the Straits of Hormuz is an order of magnitude larger than the next five largest events. Regionally, positioning favors the middle-eastern oil producers obviously with Asian EM nations set to suffer dramatically worse than DMs.
In the Spring of 2011, when Libyan oil production -- over 1 million barrels a day (mpd) -- was suddenly taken offline, the world received its first real-time test of the global pricing system for oil since the crash lows of 2009. Oil prices, already at the $85 level for WTIC, bolted above $100, and eventually hit a high near $115 over the following two months. More importantly, however, is that -- save for a brief eight week period in the autumn -- oil prices have stubbornly remained over the $85 pre-Libya level ever since. Even as the debt crisis in Europe has flared. As usual, the mainstream view on the world’s ability to make up for the loss has been wrong. How could the removal of “only” 1.3% of total global production affect the oil price in any prolonged way?, was the universal view of “experts.” Answering that question requires that we modernize, effectively, our understanding of how oil's numerous price discovery mechanisms now operate. The past decade has seen a number of enormous shifts, not only in supply and demand, but in market perceptions about spare capacity. All these were very much at play last year. And, they are at play right now as oil prices rise once again as the global economy tries to strengthen.
While US equity futures continue to do their thing as the DJIA 13K ceiling comes into play again (two weeks ago Dow 13K was crossed nearly 80 times), ahead of today's 2:15pm Bernanke statement which will make the case for the NEW QE even more remote, none of the traditional correlation drivers are in active mode, with the EURUSD now at LOD levels, following headlines such as the following: "Euro Pares Losses vs Dollar as Germany’s ZEW Beats Ests" and 20 minutes later "EUR Weakens After German Zew Rises for 4th Month." As can be surmised, a consumer confidence circular and reflexive indicator is the basis for this Schrodinger (alive and dead) euro, and sure enough sentiment, aka the stock market, aka the ECB's balance sheet expansion of $1.3 trillion, is "improved" despite renewed concern over Spain’s fiscal outlook after better than expected German ZEW per Bloomberg. Next, investors await U.S. retail sales, which have come in consistently weaker in the past 3 month, and unless a pick up here is noted, one can scratch Q1 GDP. None of which will have any impact on the S&P 500 policy indicator whatsoever: in an election year, not even Brian Sack can push the stock market into the red.
Today, almost every financial journalist that is published in the mainstream media prefers to be steered by their controlling interests into being a “cleaner”, scrubbing clean the facts and hard evidence of every financial crime scene and of inherent risks that lurk everywhere, and instead, opting to present a rosy, unrealistic, fantasy outlook of stock markets and the global economy.