For the first half an hour after China opened, things looked bleak: after opening down 5%, the Shanghai Composite staged a quick relief rally, then tumbled again. And then, just around 10pm Eastern, we saw a coordinated central bank intervention stepping in to give the flailing PBOC a helping hand, driven by the BOJ but also involving NY Fed members, that sent the USDJPY soaring which in turn dragged ES and most risk assets up with it. And while Shanghai did end up closing down -1.7%, with Shenzhen 2.2% lower at the close, the final outcome was far better than what could have been, with the result being that S&P futures have gone back to doing their thing, and have wiped out all of yesterday's losses in the levitating, zero volume, overnight session which has long become a favorite setting for central banks buying E-Minis.
“China’s market is so distorted, you can’t sell short very confidently and you can’t buy up very confidently either," warns one Hong Kong-based asset manager as despite massive "measures" and manipulation, Chinese stocks extend yesterday's stunning losses (CSI-300 -5% at the open, Shanghai -4.1%). As Bloomberg reports, investors “are concerned and lost," although government officials tried to claim the situation by explaining they will "continue efforts to stabilize market and investor sentiment, and prevent systemic risk." As stocks continued to fall, the market is summed up by the opposing views of one broker noting "China won't tolerate a worsening stock market, so those state-backed financial institutions may start buying," and another who warned "it's hard to start a new up move after a bubble bursts... I don't think they are able to prevent it falling."
This was not supposed to happen.
"Public statements, media reports and market data reveal that Beijing unleashed 5 trillion yuan in funds - equivalent to nearly 10 percent of China's GDP in 2014 and greater than the 4 trillion yuan it committed in response to the global financial crisis - to calm a savage share sell-off. Beijing has thus produced the equivalent of around 1 index point gain for every $1 billion committed," Reuters reports.
Chinese Gold reserves jump 604 tons from 1,054 tons last reported in 2009 to 1,658 tons. Many gold observers ask: "Is that it"? Since 2009 China has mined over 2,000 tons of gold and imported over 3,300 tons of gold through Hong Kong*. Where did it all go?
"The European Central Bank has introduced secret credit lines to Bulgaria and Romania as part of a broader effort to convince foreign regulators not to pull the plug on the local subsidiaries of Greek banks," FT reports.
Chinese markets bounced last night following drastic intervention by the state when it banned large players from selling their shares in listed companies – arresting the over 30% decline of the past four weeks.
The ECB is moving to backstop Bulgaria's banking sector in an effort to get ahead of a Greek contagion."The ECB would provide access to its refinancing operations, offering euros to the banking system against eligible collateral," Bloomberg reports, citing unnamed sources.
"Millions of people in ex-Communist Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Serbia and Romania have deposits in banks owned by Greek lenders, putting this corner of south-eastern Europe in the frontline if there is contagion from the Greek crisis."
"Japanese day traders, colloquially and collectively known as 'Mrs Watanabe', are buying the yen as it nears eight-year lows," Nikkei reports. For their part, private equity firms are cashing out at what they figure may be the top for Japanese stocks.
There’s no question that the general level of stock investor sentiment is at historically high levels at this time. However, what has largely been absent, though, despite the elevated sentiment are examples of veritable investor euphoria. We did see traces of it over the past 2 years, especially in early 2013, but nothing consistent. Yesterday, however, we did see a possible example of this type of euphoria from the International Securities Exchange.
Q: How do you make a small fortune on Wall Street?
A: Start with a large fortune.
~ old investing adage
For 6 months, investors have been buying the idea - pitched by any and every status-quo-sustaining talking head, politician, and central banker - that low oil prices are unequivocally good for America. This has manifested itself in retail stocks handily outperforming the S&P. However, as Bloomberg notes, the last few weeks has seen that reverse dramatically as it appears investors, losing faith in the big-takers, have realized that "consumers aren't spending as much of the money saved from lower gasoline prices."
In 2014, all but a few argued that the path of interest rates was certainly higher. Despite a steady decline beginning on January 1st of 2014 and continuing today, everyone still insists strenuously that interest rates simply have to go up. What if all the arguments about growth in the US economy and much anticipated rate hikes by the Federal Reserve hinged upon a decision-making premise that is flawed? What if instead of the standard and variety of factors informing the consensus perspective about the direction of interest rates it is actually interest rates themselves that are sending signals that should inform our perspective about all other things?