DB's Jim Reid today writes that "Markets are crying out for a circuit breaker at the moment." There is just one problem: nobody knows what this circuit breaks would and should be, or if it would even work.
Following a week of crazy volatility, overnight exhausted markets took a breather.
While algos patiently await the only thing that matters for US stocks today which is Janet Yellen's testimony before Congress. expected to be released at 8:30 am (and previewed here), the rest of the world this morning is a hot mess of schizophrenic highs and lows.
With China offline for the rest of the week, global markets have found a new Asian bogeyman in the face of Japan which as reported last night saw its markets crash, and the Yen soar, showing that less than 2 weeks after the BOJ unveiled NIRP, yet another central bank has lost control.
With China celebrating the Lunar New Year and offline until next weekend, and with the US in the usual post-payrolls macro newsflow lull, the markets will have more than enough time to stew in the latest source of contagion fears, namely Europe, the same Europe which until recently was fixed but is broken all over again.
Everything went from bad to worse once Europe opened, and things started going "bump in the morning" across the European banking sector, where not only has it been more of the same with CDS spreads for major banks - most notably Deutsche Bank - continuing their surge wider, but also EM spreads to Bunds all following, with the Portugal-Germany Yield spread blowing out above 300 bps for the first time since 2014, and other peripheral nations following.
US futures were largely unchanged overnight, with a modest bounce after the European close driven by a feeble attempt to push oil higher, faded quickly and as of this moment the E-mini was hugging the flatline ahead of today's main event - the January payrolls, expected to print at 190K and 5.0% unemployment, however the whisper number - that required to push stocks higher - is well lower, at 150K (according to DB), as only a bad (in fact very bad) jobs number today will cement the Fed's relent and assure no more rate hikes in 2016 as the market now largely expects.
In the fourth quarter, lending standards tightened for the second consecutive quarter. This is problematic because as DB's Jim Reid writes, two consecutive quarters of tightening standards "has never happened before without it signalling an eventual move into recession and a notable default cycle. Once we have 2 such quarters lending standards don't net loosen again until the start of the next cycle."
After yesterday's torrid, chaotic moves in the market, where an initial drop in stocks was quickly pared and led to a surge into the close after a weaker dollar on the heels of even more disappointing US data and Bill Dudley's "serious consequences" speech sent oil soaring and put the "Fed Relent" scenario squarely back on the table, overnight we have seen more global equity strength on the back of a weaker dollar, even if said weakness hurt Kuroda's post-NIRP world and the Nikkei erased virtually all losses since last Friday's surprising negative rate announcement. Oil and metals also rose piggybacking on the continued dollar weakness as the word's most crowded trade was suddenly shaken out.
While the biggest news of the night had nothing to do with either oil or China, all that mattered to US equity futures trading also was oil and China, and since WTI managed to rebound modestly from their biggest 2-day drop in years, rising back over $30, and with China falling only 0.4% overnight after the National Team made a rare, for 2016, appearance and pushed stocks to close at the day's high, US E-minis were able to rebound from overnight lows in the mid-1880s, and levitate above 1900. Whether they sustain this level remains to be seen.
As a result of the rush to global NIRP, which now sees central banks and their sovereigns accounting for over 25% of global GDP, amounting to around $6 trillion in government bonds, trading with negative yields, a question has emerged: when will corporate bonds follow this govvie juggernaut and how soon until investors pay not government but companies to borrow? That is the focal piece in today's note by our favorite DB credit strategist Jim Reid who muses as follows.
It certainly does feel like groundhog day today because while last week's near record oil surge is long forgotten, and one can debate the impact the result of last night's Iowa primary which saw Trump disappoint to an ascendant Ted Cruz while Hillary and Bernie were practically tied, one thing is certain: today's continued decline in crude, which has seen Brent and WTI both tumble by over 3% has once again pushed global stocks and US equity futures lower, offsetting the euphoria from last night's earnings beat by Google which made Alphabet the largest company in the world by market cap.
As DB's Jim Reid points out, it was definitely not the easiest start to the year with many global equity markets suffering from their worst January in a post-Lehman world.
It didn't take much to fizzle Friday's Japan NIRP-driven euphoria, when first ugly Chinese manufacturing (and service) PMI data reminded the world just what the bull in the China shop is leading to a 1.8% Shanghai drop on the first day of February. Then it was about oil once more when Goldman itself said not to expect any crude production cuts in the near future. Finally throw in some very cautious words by the sellside what Japan's act of NIRP desperation means, and it becomes clear why stocks on both sides of the pond are down, why crude is not far behind, and why gold continues to rise.