Strong start in Risk to take out new 2012 highs in Equities and trying to retrace near 2012 Credit lows, too. Core EGBs cool. Bunga Square’s rug pulling scuttled all that easy living by noon, weighting on the Periphery and boosting Core EGBs. ECB gloomy. Equity – bond divergence not a flyer yet, though… US sideways and Risk Watchers back to scanning European politics. EUR falling of the carpet.
"Magic Carpet Ride" (Bunds 1,29% -6; Spain 5,46% +8; Stoxx 2605 +0,6%; EUR 1,297 -100)
November sales of U.S. American Eagle gold coins are on track to be the best in 14 years as uncertainty surrounding the U.S. fiscal cliff and the election of President Obama led to safe haven buying. Buyers timing the market also increased coin sales by buying during sharp price movements that occurred in the beginning and end of November, coin dealers noted. Bullion dealers in the U.S. report an influx of high net worth individuals that are buying gold coins in volume and taking physical possession of their bullion. Month to date 131,000 ounces of American Eagles sold, that tripled last year's November sales and is the strongest November since 1998, data from the U.S. Mint's website shows. In October, the U.S. Mint sold 59,000 vs 50,000 ounces the previous year, while November marked its 2nd successive monthly rise. Coin banks have come in to buy the stock as the mint usually ends 2012 coin production in early December so it can begin minting the 2013 coins.
As Washington hunts ill-defined al-Qaeda groups in the Middle East and Africa, and concerns itself with Iran’s eventual nuclear potential, it has a much more pressing problem at home: Its energy grid is vulnerable to anyone with basic weapons and know-how. For the past two months, the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has been tasked with creating a security strategy for the electric grid and hydrocarbon facilities through its newly created Office of Energy Infrastructure Security. So far, it’s not good news. “There are ways that a very few number of actors with very rudimentary equipment could take down large portions of our grid.” Forget about cyber warfare and highly organized terrorist attacks, a lack of basic physical security on the US power grid means that anyone with a gun could do serious damage.
Harry Reid’s publicly displayed dismay at the lack of progress in the fiscal cliff negotiations finally injected a dose of realism into the process after investors threw caution to the wind and seized on the optimism offered by the Senate Majority Leader and Speaker Boehner on November 16. We view yesterday’s sound bite as more negative than the aforementioned statement on the White House Lawn, for we now sit 11 days closer to the New Year’s deadline. Despite this asymmetry, equities suffered only moderate losses giving up just a modicum of the gains from last week. The relative lack of a response to the comments seem puzzling given the price action from the prior several days; however with month end looming, enough buyers kept stocks from selling off violently. My November 13 “Missive” outlined a game theory exercise that suggests this rancor will continue until very late into December and/or the capital markets dislocate thereby ensuring either a falling over the cliff or a band aid solution to avoid the crisis temporarily. Both parties unfortunately may assume that by agreeing to postpone the tough decisions, they will have prevented a rout in equities; however, the August, 2011 precedent of raising the debt ceiling out of desperation hints otherwise.
We remain in the throes of a secular era of disinflation. We also are in a long-term period of sub-par economic growth and below-average returns. This has become so well entrenched that U.S. pension plans now have more exposure to bonds than to stocks, as we highlighted two weeks ago. Look, this is not about being bearish, bullish or agnostic. It's about being realistic and understanding that in our role as market economists, it is necessary to provide our clients with information and analysis that will help them to navigate the portfolio through these stressful times. Our crystal ball says to stick with what works in an uncertain financial and economic climate — in other words, maintain a defensive and income-oriented investment strategy.
The S&P 500 achieved its anticipated 4-5% bounce off the recent 7-10% pullback, most of it accomplished in a very light holiday trading week. Much of the gains were attributed to overly effusive optimism over the prospects of resolving the fiscal cliff. Ironically, with Washington abandoned the past ten days for Thanksgiving, we have not heard anything substantive on the negotiations since Senator Reid and Speaker Boehner spoke jointly on the White House Lawn on November 16. The returns in equities that resulted from this perceived positive outlook has likely run its course as the blue chip index has regained the levels from the morning after the Election. Certainly, the mundane increases in open interest for the futures and the outperformance by the blue chips versus smaller capitalization names on a beta adjusted basis hint at such vacuous motivation for the upward move.
Greece? Sorry, what’s with Greece? French downgrade. Unexpected, but then again not that much. So what? Fiscal Cliff? As no one speaks about it, it can be ignored. Risk? If it doesn’t fall, it has to rise.
"Rise To The Occasion" (Bunds 1,43% +2; Spain 5,7% -9; Stoxx 2518 +0,4%; EUR 1,282 +10)
Uh… Very uncomfortable French downgrade. Not surprising per se, but uncomfortable. Ask the EFSF… Brings back the question of “Who’s Next”? European Risk (Equities & Credit), however, oblivious and taking rising yields as a sure sign for Risk On. I’d see the risk of France (and everyone else) starting to count contingent costs.
"A Tout Le Monde" (Bunds 1,41% +6; Spain 5,79% -9; Stoxx 2509 +0,6%; EUR 1,281 unch)
Spoiled little investors feeling good today.
European equities ripping and squeezed after Friday’s dismal close. Credit the same and, as more often than not lately, overdoing the equity move. EGBs rather muted with the Core pretty much where it stood throughout last week – with exception of Friday afternoon. Spain back on the radar. Europe still under US influence. Huge relief. From what and why exactly still needs to be seen. In the meantime: Rip & Tear!
"Rip And Tear" (Bunds 1,35% +3; Spain 5,88% +2; Stoxx 2495 +2,7%; EUR 1,281 +110)
The yellow metal soared 4.9% in euros in one week from the 11 week low set November 2nd and has since fallen 1.3%. The rebound from the November dip means prices should recover to reach the all-time euro high set last month, before rising to the point-and-figure target at 1,395 euros, said the bank’s research. Point and figure charts estimate trends in prices without showing time. Gold may then reach a Fibonacci level of about 1,421, the 61.8% extension of the May-to-October rally, projected from the November low, Commerzbank wrote in its report on November 13th which was picked up by Bloomberg. Fibonacci analysis is based on the theory that prices climb or drop by certain percentages after reaching a high or low. “What we are seeing is a correction lower, nothing more,” Axel Rudolph, a technical analyst at Commerzbank in London, said by e-mail Nov. 16, referring to the drop since November 9th. Rudolph remains bullish as long as prices hold above the November low at about 1,303 euros. Technical analysts study charts of trading patterns and prices to predict changes in a security, commodity, currency or index.
While the prior week was marked by some kind of awakening, this week was more about finding a direction. Eventually mostly downwards, but always in jumps, marked by tentative rebounds. Europe mostly lost, so unused not to be the focal point anymore, waiting for US input. If it wasn’t for the Fiscal Cliff, and in absence of further news out of the Periphery, we seem to have
"No Direction" (Bunds 1,32% -2; Spain 5,86% +5; Stoxx 2429% -2,1%; EUR 1,27 -10)
Europe mostly boring. Several inconclusive downside tests in European equities. Static bonds, unwilling to tighten further. More US equity weakness, more downside. Way is shown by US equity dump. Periphery? What Periphery? What problem? Credit, EGBs, most commodities just watching. Dismal close.
"That's the Way (I Like It)" (Bunds 1,32% -2; Spain 5,86% -3; Stoxx 2429 -1,2%; EUR 1,27 -90)
Secession: Exploding Movement, Tempest In a Teapot … Or Something Else?
The US crashing close yesterday was cushioned in Europe by better than expected (backward-looking) GDP figures in Germany and France. EZ in recession nevertheless. Limited fall-out, albeit lower (equity) levels tested. Periphery okay’ish, then good on better Italian GDP. Spain tag along with limited own dynamics, mainly trailing Risk assessment. EGBs difficult to move lower from here. Watching the US. Someone. Please. Show the way.
"Are You Gonna Go My Way? " (Bunds 1,34% +0; Spain 5,89% -3; Stoxx 2459% -0,6%; EUR 1,279 +50)