With key economic data either behind us (with the downward revised GDP), or ahead of us (the February payrolls on deck), and the Greek situation currently shelved if only for a few days/weeks until the IMF payment comes due and the farce begins anew, stocks are focuing on the widely telegraphed 25 bps Chinese rate cut over the weekend, which however has so far failed to inspire a broad based rally either in Asia (where the SHCOMP closed up 0.8% after first dipping in the red) or across developed markets. In fact, as of this moment futures are hugging the unchanged line as the USDJPY attempted another breakout of 120.000 but with numerous option barrier expiration stop at that level, it has since retracted all the overnight gains and is back to the Sundey lows, even as the EURUSD has seen a powerful breakout from overnight lows and is currently at the highest level since the US GDP print, following the release of the final European February PMI data, as a result of USD weakness since the European open.
- Central Banks With Negative Rates Spur Question of How Low to Go (BBG)
- DHS to keep running: Congress edges toward domestic security funding patch (Reuters)
- Setbacks for Tsipras Stir Discord in Greek Ruling Party (BBG)
- Greece’s Challenge: Appeasing Its Creditors and Its Population (WSJ)
- Buffett, a cheerleader for America, takes his checkbook abroad (Reuters)
- Oil’s Big Swings Are the New Normal: Market has rarely been more volatile (WSJ)
- Ukraine Left Behind as Russian Stock Gains Are Unmatched (BBG)
- Brent rises to $61, set for first monthly gain since July (Reuters)
If there isone thing that is virtually certain about today's trading (aside from the post Rig Count surge in oil because if there is one thing algos are, it is predictable) is that despite S&P futures being a touch red right now, everything will be forgotten in a few minutes and yet another uSDJPY momentum ignition ramp will proceed, which will push the S&P forward multiple to 18.0x on two things i) it's Friday, and an implicit rule of thumb of central planning is the market can't close in confidenece-sapping red territory ahead of spending heavy weekends and ii) the Nasdaq will finally recapture 5000 following a final push from Apple's bondholders whose recent use of stock buyback proceeds will be converted into recorder highs for the stock, and thus the Nasdaq's crossing into 5,000 territory because in the New Normal, the more expensive something is, the more people, or rather algos, want to buy it.
As the market anxiously await Janet Yellen's Humphrey-Hawkins testimony this morning, hanging on every word and intonation, ConvergEx's Nick Colas is reminded of Harry Truman’s famous request: “Give me a one-handed economist!” The U.S. central bank clearly feels challenged by the cross currents of the global economy even as it reiterates confidence in domestic growth prospects. In an effort to help clear things up, Colas brings some 21st century data to the Fed’s distinctly old-school toolset and looks at the historical popularity of 10 Google search terms with a decidedly economic twist. Bottom line: the Google data is clear. The Fed needs to wait a while longer before raising interest rates.
With Greece moving to the, ahem, periphery if only for a few days/hours, this week the US calendar returns to the forefront with Fed Chair Yellen’s semi-annual monetary policy testimony before the Senate Banking Committee tomorrow night and the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday, which the market will be paying very close attention to for the reconciliation of how the Fed plans to continue on its rate-hiking path despite rapidly deteriorating US macro data that has started 2015 at the worst pace (in terms of downside surprises) since Lehman.
If you thought the Greek tragicomedy is over, you ain't seen nothing yet, because despite the so-called Friday agreement, the immediate next step is for Greece to submit its list of reform measures to the Troika, which will almost certainly result in an immediate revulsion in Germany's finance ministry, and lead to another protracted back and forth between the Troika and Greece, which may once again well end with a Grexit, especially if the Greek liquidity situation, where bash is bleeding from both the banks and the state at a record pace, remains unhalted. It is therefore not surprising that the ongoing decline in the EURUSD since the inking of the agreement, and the fact that the pair briefly dipped below 1.13 this morning - over 100 pips below the euphoric rip on Friday - is a clear indication that the market is starting to realize that absolutely nothing is either fixed, or set in stone.
After spending the past year deteriorating with each passing month, as global acceleration dipped decidedly in the negative camp, the only thing that kept the Goldman Global Leading Indicator "swirlogram" somewhat buoyant was that "Growth" measured in absolute terms had remained slightly positive. Not any more: according to Goldman's latest global economic read, the world is now officially in contraction, following a sharp plunge in both acceleration and growth in February.
- Greece requests euro zone loan extension, offers big concessions (Reuters)
- Germany Rejects Loan Request Saying Greece Must Meet Conditions (BBG)
- Did the Fed Just Enter the Currency Wars (BBG)
- French consumer prices fall for first time since 2009 (Reuters)
- Oil falls sharply after U.S. crude inventories rise (Reuters)
- High-Speed Firm Virtu Revives IPO Plans (WSJ)
- Fed Tiptoes Into Rate-Hike Debate (Hilsenrath)
- Rajoy’s Nemesis Is Back: Anti-Graft Editor Targets Vote (BBG)
It has been a quiet start to the week, with US equity futures and European stocks mostly unchanged with all eyes on what progress (if any) will be made between Greece and the Eurogroup, where the press conference is scheduled for 7:00 pm GMT (expect significant delays) in what is otherwise expected to be a relatively subdued day with the US away from market and a light macroeconomic calendar.
For some it may have been the hottest year on record (if only with the use of seasonally-adjusted, well, seasons). For Bostonians, the past 30 day stretch has just smashed all-time monthly snowfall records.
According to Kathimerini, late last night, Greek PM Tsipras chaired a meeting of his cabinet on Friday night to brief ministers on the state of talks with the eurozone. "With the possibility of the government having to make a compromise with the eurozone over the way forward in the next few days, Tsipras was eager to assess the mood of his cabinet. Some members, such as Energy Minister Panayiotis Lafazanis have been adamant that the government should stick to its pre-election pledges." Which probably suggests that Greece is if not about to fold, then certainly cave on most, if not all, of its demands. Still, Greece is hopeful that some deus ex machina will appear in the last minute, and that delaying the inevitable will give it some further leverage. Which explains why, as Kathimerini reported, "the government is not holding out much hope for a solution in Brussels on Monday.
One of the bigger asset bubbles in recent US history has nothing to do with stock, bonds or commodities, We are talking about farmland. And yet, like all other bubbles - be they the result of retail euphoria or central bank rigging - this one too must come to a close, and as the WSJ reports, the first crack in the farmland bubble are appearing, after farmland values declined in parts of the Midwest for the first time in decades last year "reflecting a cooling in the market driven by two years of bumper crops and sharply lower grain prices, according to Federal Reserve reports on Thursday." the average price of farmland in the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s district, which includes Illinois, Iowa and other big farm states, fell 3% in 2014, marking the first annual decline since 1986, which makes farmlands the only asset class that had not seen a down year in nearly three decades!
- Greece will do 'whatever it can' to reach deal with EU (Reuters)
- ECB Urges Greek Political Deal as Emergency Cash Is Tight (BBG)
- Fighting rages in run-up to Ukraine ceasefire (Reuters)
- Eurozone GDP Picks Up, Thanks to Germany (WSJ)
- Two J. P. Morgan Executives Connected to Asia Hiring Probe Pushed Out (WSJ)
- Putin's High Tolerance for Pain and Europe's Reluctance to Inflict It (BBG)
- Indigestion Hits Top U.S. Food Firms (WSJ)
- Alibaba's Jack Ma seeks to reassure employees over U.S. lawsuits (Reuters)
Who would have thought all it takes for Eurozone Q4 GDP to print above expectations, even if by the smallest of possible margins - one which even the Chinese goalseek-o-tron bows its head down to in respect - which at 0.3% Q/Q was above the 0.2% expected and above Q3's 0.2%, was for Europe to admit it has finally succumbed to deflation. Oh, and for the ECB to admit the situation has never been more serious by launching Q€. Oh, and add the "estimated contribution" to GDP from hookers and drugs. Put all that together and on an annualized basis, the European economy grew by 1.4%. Whatever the reason, Q4 GDP was the best print since Q1, even as Germany blew not only consensus of 0.3%, but the highest GDP estimate of 0.6% out of the water when it reported that courtesy of a spike in spending, its economy grew by 0.7% in the fourth quarter, up from the near-recessionary 0.1% in Q3. That, together with QE and ZIRP now raging across the continent, was enough to push the DAX above 11,000 for the first time ever.
Following last month's narrative-crushing drop in retail sales, despite all that low interest rate low gas price stimulus, January was more of the same as hopeful expectations for a modest rebound were denied. Falling 0.8% (against a 0.9% drop in Dec), missing expectations of -0.4%, this is the worst back-to-back drop in retail sales since Oct 2009. Retail sales declined in 6 of the 13 categories.