It is time for the centrally-planned markets to "try" for the round number trifecta of 16000, 1800 and 4000 again, although it may be a tad more difficult on a day in which there is no double POMO and just $2.75-$3.50 billion will be injected by the NY Fed into the S&P - perhaps it is Bitcoin that will hit the nice round number of $1000 first? Overnight, the Chinese Plenum news rerun finally was priced in and the SHComp closed red, as did the Nikkei 225 as the Asian euphoria based on communist promises about what may happen by 2020 fades. What's worse, the Chinese 7-day repo rate is up 140bp this morning to 6.63% amid talk of tightening domestic liquidity conditions, and back to levels seen during the June liquidity squeeze. All this is happening as China continues leaking more details and hope of what reform the mercantilist country can achieve, and how much internal consumption the export-driven country can attain: overnight there were also additional reports of interest rate liberalization and that the PBOC are to set up a floating CNY rate. Good luck with that.
NAHB sentiment dropped to its lowest since June (after hitting 8-year highs just 3 months ago). This is the 3rd miss in a row as a huge rebound in prospective buyer traffic (read hope) in the NorthEast seemed to save the data from a fate worse than death. The prior print was revised down from 57 to 54 as it appears for the 3rd time in 20 years, the exuberance in realtor confidence is shown to be a false flag...
The only numbers that matter today are 16000, 4000 and 1800: those are the Fed's closing targets for the Dow Jones, the Nasdaq and the S&P. Following last night's Chinese euphoria which saw the Shanghai Composite surge by 2.87%, or up 61.4 to just under 2,200 on renewed hopes for Chinese reform by 2020, the Fed's price targets should all be quite easily achievable. And not even the rising home prices in 69 out of 70 cities year over year, and 65 over month - the same as last month, with new nome price inflation at 0.6% overall and 0.8% for the first tier cities, was able to put a dent in the reflationary spirits in the Mainland. Additionally, news that China would join the US and Europe in "adjusting" its GDP calculation method, which would add R&D expensing into the bottom line, and as a result boost the overall number, is, well, helping things. Finally, with today's POMO a rather whopping $3-$4 billion, it is only a matter of time before all three of the previously noted psychological resistances are promptly taken out by the Fed's open markets desk.
If there is anything the market has shown in the past 16 days of government shutdown, which is set to reopen this morning in grandiose fashion following last night's 10 pm'th hour vote in the House, is that it no longer needs Washington not only to function but to ramp higher. All it needs is the Fed, which in turn needs an unlimited debt issuance capacity by the US Treasury which it can monetize indefinitely, which is why the debt ceiling was always the far more pressing issue. In other words, the good news is that the can has been kicked, and now the government workers (who will need about a week to get up to speed), can resume releasing various government data showing just how much 5 years of now-open ended QE have impaired the US economy, and why as a result, even more years of unlimited QE are in stock (because in a Keynesian world, what caused the problem is obviously what will fix it). The bad news: the whole charade will be repeated in three months. More importantly, with futures no longer having the hopium bogey on the horizon, namely the always last minute debt deal, they have finally sold off on the back of a weaker USD. It is unclear if the reason for this has more to do with climbing the wall of shorters which is now gone at least until February when the soap opera returns, or what for now, has been an absolutely abysmal Q3 earnings season. Luckily, in a centrally-planned world, plunging stocks is bullish for stocks, as it means even more Fed intervention, and so on ad inf.
While the debt ceiling fracas has done nothing to stymie the demand for high-beta equity lottery tickets, it has decimated the demand for the most leveraged trade an American tends to make... home purchases. While real data is few and far between, we thought that the cracking of yet another foundational pillar of the US economic "recovery" was worthwhile noting although it is squeezed to the back pages as the mainstream media focuses on rumor after rumor to juice equities ever higher. With the hedgies having turned from marginal buyer to marginal seller, it seems the demand for mortgages for home purchases has collapsed to its lowest level in 2013 - even as rates have dropped notably from the year's highs.
It's gotten beyond silly: with less than a day to go until the first X-Date, beyond which if Jack Lew is correct (he isn't) all hell will break loose if the US doesn't have a debt deal in place, stocks couldn't care less, Bills continue to sell off, carry traders only care how big the central banks' balance sheets are, all news are generally shunned and yet stocks have soared 600 DJIA points on Harry Reid's relentless optimism a deal will get done, even though so far none has. Today, as we observed on Monday, we expect more of the same: stocks and futures will ignore the reality that the midnight hour will come and go with no deal in place, but will continue to explode higher as Harry Reid's latest set of "optimism" headlines hits the tape in low volume trading. We expect the first big hope rally around POMO time, then shortly after Senate comes back in Session, around noon. Then for good measure, another one just before market close. Why not: it's not like the "market" even pretend to be one anymore. Keep an eye on today's 4-Week bill auction before noon. It should be a far bigger doozy than yesterday's longer-dated bills.
In a world devoid for the past two weeks and certainly for foreseeable future of most US economic data (this week we get no CPI, Industrial Production and New Home Sales among others), markets are now reliant on China for an indication of how the economy is doing, which is why this weekend's weaker than expected Chinese exports (ignoring the fact that China trade data is largely made up) and higher than expected consumer price inflation (driven by higher vegetable prices), even as new yuan loans soared to CNY787 billion, well above the CNY675 billion estimate despite broader M2 slowing from 14.7% in August to 14.2% in September, means the Chinese economy is once again in a vice and following the summer's liquidity driven boost, is set to roll over. Which in turn means that once again the PBOC is flying blind: unable to inject more liquidity without risking broader inflation, while most indicators are already rolling over. In short, ugly and certainly rolling over Chinese economic indicators for the market to mull over on Columbus day, even though all this will be promptly forgotten once the Washington debt ceiling song and dance resumes and the now traditional 10:30 am surge grips the algotrons as the latest set of "imminent deal" rumors is unleashed.
Overnight trading started with Asian markets continuing where yesterday's S&P 500 fizzle ended, wishing Summers could withdraw from Fed running again, as both the Nikkei and SHCOMP were well lower by the close. Perhaps all the easy multiple-expanding, headline-driven money is made, or perhaps economic fundamentals will finally start having to justify a 17x multiple on the S&P (a good is good regime for those who may be too young, or old, to remember), but overnight US futures were dull, and no doubt anticipating today's start of the "Most important FOMC meeting ever", which concludes tomorrow with an announcement by the Fed of what and how much (if any) tapering it will commence with an eye toward halting QE next summer, although more realistically what will happen is an Untaper being announced before then. While the start of the FOMC meeting is the main event, today we get CPI, TIC flows and the NAHB housing market index. Today's POMO is another modest $1.25-$1.75 billion in the long-end sector.
While the only market moving event of note had nothing to do with the economy (as usual), and everything to do with the Fed's potential propensity to print even more dollars and inject even more reserves into the stock market (now that Summers the wrongly perceived "hawk" is out) some other notable events did take place in the Monday trading session. Of note: while India's August inflation soared far higher than the expected 5.7%, rising to 6.1% from 5.79% (making life for the RBI even more miserable, as it is fighting inflation on one hand, and a lack of liquidity on the other), in Europe inflation decelerated to 1.3% from 1.6% in July driven by a drop in energy prices, while core inflation was a tiny 1.1%. In a continent with record negative loan growth this is to be expected. Additionally, as also reported, Merkel appears to be positioned stronger ahead of this weekend's Federal election following stronger results for her CDU/CSU, if weaker for her broader coalition. In Libya, oil protesters said they would continue stoppages at oil terminals until their demands are met in yet another startling outcome for US foreign intervention. Finally, some headline on Syria noted a Kerry statement "will not tolerate avoidance of a Syria deal", while Lavrov observed that it may be time to "force Syria opposition to peace talks." And one quote of the day so far: "Don't want market to become excessively exuberant" from the ECB's Mersch- just modestly so?
Succinctly summarizing the positive and negative news, data, and market events of the week...
New Home Sales Crater To Lowest Since October; Biggest Drop Since May 2010; Median Home Price At 6 Month LowSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/23/2013 09:18 -0500
And so the housing "recovery" comes to a screeching halt, which is not surprising as there never was a recovery to begin with. Moments ago cheerleaders of the second housing bubble were shocked to learn that in July a tiny 35K new houses were sold (with just 3K sold in the Northeast, and just 19K in the otherwise strong South), of which 13K houses were not even started. This translated into a puny 394K seasonally adjusted annualized sales, missing expectations of 487K by nearly a record 100K, and in addition the June print was revised much lower from 497K to 455K (which back in July beat expectations of 484K and was trumpeted as the highest print since 2008 - so much for that). Yet one thing that did not change is that the median home sale price decline continued, and in July dropped to $257.2K down from $258.5. And now time to spin this ugly news as great because it means that maybe the Fed will delay the September taper (it won't).
While it appears to be increasingly likely (odds) that the Fed will Sept-Taper (desperate to use economic data to cover the fact that they are cornered due to deficits, sentiment, and technicals), in the lead-up to the next FOMC meeting on September 17-18, as Stone McCarthy notes, there are some significant developments regarding the outlook for the Fed and monetary policy between then and and now that everyone should be paying attention to...
That Housing Starts and Permits both missed expectations modestly is not a surprise: after all, NAHB hopium confidence aside, the builders have realized which way the interest-rate wind blows and grasp very well that in a rising rate environment demand for housing will go the inverse of up. Sure enough, housing starts rose from an upwardly revised 846K to 896K, missing expectations of a 900K print, while Permits rose from 918K to 943K, also missing the expected 945K print. Both misses were neglibile and largely covered by seasonal adjustments. However what really captures the dynamic behind the housing situation is the read-through into single (family) and multi-unit (investment rental properties). It is here that the divergence was most profound and tells a tale of one housing bubble which has popped, and another which is still going strong, if tapering.
Starting with the Asian markets this morning, it appear the roller coaster ride for markets continued overnight. Asian equities started the day trading weaker but shortly after the open though, all of Asia bounced off the lows following the previously noted surge in Chinese A-shares soaring more than 5% in a matter of minutes in what was initially described as a potential “fat finger” incident. As DB notes, alternative explanations ranged from a potential restructuring of the government’s holdings in some listed companies, to market buying ahead of a rate cut this coming weekend. All indications point toward a fat finger. The A-share spike has managed to drag other indices along with it though some gains have been pared. Yet for all the drama the Shanghai Composite soared... and then closed red. The region’s underperformer is the Nikkei (-0.75%). Elsewhere, the NZDUSD dropped 0.5% after a magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck the city of Wellington this morning. Looking at the US S&P500 futures are trading modestly higher at 1660. Looking ahead to today there is very little in the way of Tier 1 data to be expected. Housing starts/permits from the US and the preliminary UofM Consumer Sentiment reading for August are the main reports. The moves in rates and perhaps oil will probably offer some markets some directional cues.
In a session that has been painfully boring so far (yet which should pick up with CPI, jobless claims, industrial production and the NY Empire Fed on deck, as well as Wal-Mart earnings which will no doubt reflect the continuing disappointing retail plight) perhaps the only notable news was that Japan - the nation that brought you "Fukushima is contained" - was caught in yet another lie. Recall that the upside catalyst (and source of Yen weakness) two days ago was what we classified then as "paradoxical news" that Japan would cut corporate taxes in a move that somehow would offset the upcoming consumption tax hike. Turns out that, as our gut sense indicated, this was merely yet another BS trial balloon out of Japan, which admitted overnight that the entire report was a lie.