In a historic first, three days ago, South Africa's Rand Merchant Bank, a division of FirstRand Bank Limited, announced it would issue the FirstRand Gold Bond, or a bond denominated in South African Krugerrand gold coins. In other words, for the first time "holding" gold will pay a dividend (or in this case, interest). Sound odd? Maybe because it is.
The July FOMC minutes generally had a slightly hawkish tone, warns Goldman's Jan Hatzius, emphasizing that labor market slack had improved faster than expected and that the labor market was now closer to what might be considered normal in the longer run. Overall, these remarks suggest that the change in the labor market language found in the July FOMC statement - shifting focus to broader labor market indicators rather than the unemployment rate specifically - was not intended to be a dovish change, as some commentators thought at the time. Finally, some participants noted some evidence of stretched valuations in specific markets.
These are the minutes from when the Fed toned down deflation fears and raised concerns over labor slack, and expectations going in were for a slightly more hawkish tone from the minutes (and perhaps commentary on financial stability - bubbles - and exit strategies). This is what we got:
- *MANY FED OFFICIALS SAID JOB GAINS MIGHT BRING RATE RISE SOONER
- *FOMC AGREED BALANCE SHEET SHOULD BE CUT GRADUALLY, PREDICTABLY
- *SOME FOMC PARTICIPANTS MORE UNCOMFORTABLE WITH FORWARD GUIDANCE
Sounds pretty hawkish to us...
Pre-FOMC Minutes: S&P Futs 1982.5, 10Y 2.4175%, Gold $1294 , USDJPY 103.40, Oil $95.40
Obviously, this weekend's reading list is focused on what to do now. Is this just another "dip" that investors should buy into? OR, is this the beginning of the long overdue intermediate term correction or a "mean reverting" process?
This represents a tectonic shift in the financial markets. It does not mean that Central Banks will never engage in QE again. But it does show that they are increasingly aware that QE is no longer the “be all, end all” for monetary policy.
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- Russia worries, weak German data weigh on Europe (Reuters)
- Hedge Funds Betting Against Banco Espírito Santo in Line for Big Gains (WSJ)
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- China bans beards, veils from Xinjiang city's buses (Reuters)
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- Second Ebola patient wheeled into Atlanta hospital for treatment (Reuters)
US Services PMI fell from June's 61.0 level to 60.8 (slightly below the flash print of 61.0 suggesting modest weakness in the latter end of the month) ending a two-month streak of post-weather exuberance as new orders and jobs data slowed, and Markit warns "growth may have peaked." Factory Orders rose 1.1% for the biggest beat in 9 months. ISM Services smashed expectations and surged to Nov 2005 highs (from 4-year lows just 4 months ago - volatile?) with most sub-indices improving except new export orders fell to 4-month lows.
"By all measures, the U.S. stock market is currently frothy," warns Paul Singer, founder of $24.8 billion hedge fund firm Elliott Management, ominously concluding, "The apparent stability of the world financial system is superficial – financial asset prices are not real, the equilibrium is temporary, the lack of volatility is a trap, and when the whole thing goes haywire, there will truly be hell to pay."
As always, for the best take of what the Fed was thinking, skip Hilsenrath and go straight to the people who provide it with its talking points. Here is Goldman's Jan Hatzius with hos post-mortem of the just released FOMC minutes.
As expected, The FOMC continued its taper pace at $10bn but what was supposed to be a 'steady as she goes' statement had a few surprises:
- *PLOSSER DISSENTS ON DECISION, CITING GUIDANCE ON RATE OUTLOOK
- *FOMC SEES SIGNIFICANT UNDERUTILIZATION OF LABOR RESOURCES
- *FOMC: ODDS OF PERSISTENT SUB-2% INFLATION `DIMINISHED SOMEWHAT'
More of the same but some modestly hawkish sentiment sneaking in regarding improving labor markets. Oddly - no trade recommendations from Yellen. Full redline below...
Pre-FOMC: S&P Futs 1961.5, 10Y 2.55%, JPY 102.90, Gold $1294
This week's US data onslaught begins today, with the ADP private payroll report first on deck (Exp. 230K, down from 281K), followed by the number of the day, Q2 GDP, which after Q1's abysmal -2.9%, is expected to increase 3%. Anything less and in the first half the US economy will have contracted, something the purists could claim is equivalent to a recession. The whisper numbers are to the downside since consumption and trade never caught up and the only variable is inventory as well as Obamacare, whose impact was $40 billion "contribution" in Q1 was entirely eliminated and instead led to a deduction, something we expect will be reversed into Q2. Following the backward looking GDP (which will be ignored by the sellside penguins if it is bad and praised if good) at 2:00 pm Yellen Capital LLC comes out with a correction on her call to short social networking stocks, as well as admit once again that the "data-driven" Fed really has no idea what it is doing and how it will tighten, but that tightening is imminent and another $10 billion taper to QE will take place ahead of a full phase out in October. Joking aside, the Fed is expected not to do much if anything, which may be just the right time for Yellen to inject an aggressively hawkish note considering her inflation "noise" refuses to go away.