Following yesterday's Yen surge in the aftermath of the disappointing BOJ announcement, the pain for USDJPY long continued, with the key carry pair tumbling as low as 106, the lowest level since October 2014 before stabilizing around 107, and is now headed for its biggest weekly gain since 2008, which in turn has pushed the US dollar to to its lowest close in almost a year as signs of slowing growth in the U.S. dimmed prospects for a Federal Reserve interest-rate increase. As a result, global stocks fell and commodities extended gains in their best month since 2010.
Less than one week after the BOJ floated a trial balloon using Bloomberg, that it would reduce the rate it charged some banks which set off the biggest USDJPY rally since October 2014, we are back where we started following last night's "completely unexpected" (for everyone else: we wrote "What If The BOJ Disappoints Tonight: How To Trade It" hours before said "shock") shocking announcement out of the BOJ which did absolutely... nothing. "It’s a total shock,” Nader Naeimi, Sydney- based head of dynamic markets at AMP Capital Investors told Bloomberg. "From currencies to equities to everything -- you can see the reaction in the markets. I can’t believe this. It’s very disappointing."
For those who thought that the world's biggest company losing over $40 billion in market cap in an instant on disappointing Apple earnings, would have been sufficient to put a dent in US equity futures, we have some disappointing news: with just over 7 hours until the FOMC reveals its April statement, futures are practically unchanged, even though the Nasdaq appears set for an early bruising in the aftermath of what is becoming a disturbing quarter for tech companies. Instead of tech leading, however, the upside has once again come from the energy complex where moments ago WTI rose above $45 a barrel for the first time since November after yesterday's unexpected 1.07 million barrel API inventory drawdown.
With the Fed decision just one day away, followed the very next day by the increasingly more irrational BOJ, stocks had no desire to make significant moves and overnight's boring session was the result, as European stocks and U.S. index futures rose modestly but mostly hugged the flatline while Asian declined 0.2% for a third day as raw-material shares declined and Tokyo equities slumped before central bank meetings in the U.S. and Japan this week. China’s stocks rose the most in almost two weeks, up 0.6% but failed to rise above 3000 on the Shanghai Composite, in thin trading.
The April FOMC gathering headlines a crowded economic events calendar this week. The post-meeting statement, released Wednesday afternoon, should continue to strike a cautious tone. There will be no press conference and updated economic and financial forecasts will not be released. Few expect the FOMC to add the “balance of risks” sentence back into its communiqué at this point. Doing so would be quite bearish for risk assets as it would definitely open the door for a June rate hike.
Futures are currently unchanged, but the E-mini was down as much as 12 points less than two hours earlier after the European open when this time it was up to the PBOC to intervene in global markets by pushing the Yuan higher (selling USDCNY via intermediary banks) sending global stocks sharply higher off session lows and leaving the S&P futures virtually unchanged. As Bloomberg reported, there has been increasing USD/CNY selling in afternoon session as Dollar Index edged lower. This is the PBOC entering the building and levitating stocks.
One day after stocks were this close from hitting new all time highs on what have been either ok earnings, if looking at non-GAAP data, or atrocious earnings, based on GAAP, and where any oil headline is now immediately translated as bullish by the oil algos, so far futures are relatively flat, while European stocks were at their moments ago in anticipation of the latest ECB announcement due out in just one hour. However, unlike last month's "quad-bazooka", this time the market expects far less from Draghi. “Having pulled put the monetary bazooka in March, the market is sensibly expecting no further policy measures from the ECB,”
The biggest catalyst for overnight markets, first reported on this site, was the announcement by Kuwait that its oil workers had ended their strike which disrupted oil production in the 4th largest OPEC producer for 3 days cutting it by as much as 1.7 mmb/d, and had served to offset the negative news from the Doha debacle. Kuwait Petroleum also added that it would boost output to 3m b/d within 3 days, which in turn has pressured the price of oil overnight, and the May WTI contract was back to just over $40 at last check, sliding 2%. Not helping things was a very dejected Venezuela oil minister Eulogio Del Pino who said at a conference in Moscow that he sees oil prices returning to lows in 3-4 weeks if oil producers can't make a deal. For now the algos - and central banks - disagree.
If asking traders where stocks and oil would be trading one day after a weekend in which the Doha OPEC meeting resulted in a spectacular failure, few if any would have said the S&P would be over 2,100, WTI would be back over $40 and the VIX would be about to drop to 12 and yet that is precisely where the the S&P500 is set to open today, hitting Goldman's year end target 8 months early, and oblivious of the latest batch of poor earnings news, this time from Intel and Netflix, both of which are sharply lower. We expect that after taking out any 2,100 stops, the S&P will then make a solid effort to take out all time highs, now just over 1% away.
Following yesterday's OPEC "production freeze" meeting in Doha which ended in total failure, where in a seemingly last minute change of heart Saudi Arabia and specifically its deputy crown prince bin Salman revised the terms of the agreement demanding Iran participate in the freeze after all knowing well it won't, oil crashed and with it so did the strategy of jawboning for the past 2 months had been exposed for what it was: a desperate attempt to keep oil prices stable and "crush shorts" while global demand slowly picked up. And whether it is central banks, or chronic BTFDers, just 12 hours after oil opened for trading with a loud crash, the commodity has nearly wiped out all losses, and both brent and WTI were down barely 2%, leading to both European stocks and US equity futures virtually unchanged on the session.
Good news is still bad news after all. After last night's China 6.7% GDP print which while the lowest since Q1 2009, was in line with expectations, coupled with beats in IP, Fixed Asset Investment and Retail Sales (on the back of $1 trillion in total financing in Q1) the sentiment this morning is that China has turned the corner (if only for the time being). And that's the problem, because while China was a good excuse for the Fed to interrupt its rate hike cycle as the biggest "global" threat, that is no longer the case if China has indeed resumed growing. As such Yellen no longer has a ready excuse to delay. This is precisely why futures are lower as of this moment, because suddenly the "scapegoat" narrative has evaporated.
In another quiet overnight session, the biggest - and unexpected - macro news was the surprise monetary easing by Singapore which as previously reported moved to a 2008 crisis policy response when it adopted a "zero currency appreciation" stance as a result of its trade-based economy grinding to a halt. As Richard Breslow accurately put it, "If you need yet another stark example of the fantasy storytelling we amuse ourselves with, juxtapose today’s Monetary Authority of Singapore policy statement with the storyline that the Asian stock market rally intensified on renewed optimism over the global economy. Singapore is a proxy for trade and economic growth ground to a halt last quarter." The Singapore announcement led to a sharp round of regional currency weakness just as the dollar appears to have bottomed and is rapidly rising.
With oil losing some of its euphoric oomph overnight, following the API report of a surge in US oil inventories, and a subsequent report that Iran's oil minister would skip the Doha OPEC meeting altogether, the global stock rally needed another catalyst to maintain the levitation. It got that courtesy of the return of USDJPY levitation, which has pushed the pair back above 109, the highest in over a week, as well as a boost in sentiment from the previously reported Chinese trade data where exports rose the most in over a year, however much of the bounce was due to a favorable base effect from last year's decline. Additionally, as RBC reported, the 116.5% y/y increase in China’s reported March imports from HK likely reflects the growing trend of "over-invoicing", which is merely another form of capital outflow.
In recent days, we have observed a distinct trading pattern: a ramp early in the US morning, usually triggered by some aggressive momentum ignition, such as today's unexplained pump then dump in the EURUSD with stocks rising after the European open, rising throughout the US open, then peaking around the time the US closed at which point it is all downhill for the illiquid market. So far today, the pattern has held, and after trading flat for most of the overnight session, with Europe initially in the red perhaps on disappointment about the Italy bank bailout fund, a bout of early Europe-open associated buying pushed US futures up, following the first rebound in the USDJPY after 7 days of declines which also helped the Nikkei close 1.1% higher.
"We continue to live in a low default world for now though. Even though defaults picked up in 2015, B/BB default rates were still comfortably below their long-term average which they have been for well over a decade now with 2009 being the only exception. Indeed last year’s default rate for global Bs (up from 0.9% to 2.7%) was still lower than all of the first two decades of the modern era of leveraged finance up to 2003. So in spite of all the challenges we face this era has been characterized by astonishingly low default rates. There are clear signs the cycle is turning though, especially in the US."