If the last three days all started with a rout in futures before the US market open only to ramp higher all day, today it may well be the opposite, when shortly after Europe opened it was the ECB's turn to talk stocks higher, when literally within minutes of the European market's open, ECB's Coeure said that:
- COEURE SAYS ECB WILL START WITHIN DAYS TO BUY ASSETS
Which was today's code word for all is clear, and within minutes US futures, which until that moment had languished unchanged, soared by 25 points. So will today be more of the same and whatever early action was directed by the central bankers will be faded into a weekend in which only more bad news can come out of Ebola-land?
Surprise! Having been fooled twice before in the last housing bubble by the NAHB's persistent optimism in the face of dismal realities, it appears October was the beginning of a breaking point in realtor confidence. The headline sentiment index dropped to 54, missing extrapolated expectations of 59, led by a collapse in prospective buyers traffic (from 47 to 41). The headline 54 level is below the lowest estimate of 56 from 52 economists surveyed. Both present and future sales sub-indices also dropped but have no fear, as the NAHB notes, "while there was a dip this month, builders are still positive about the housing market," as cheaper borrowing costs may help draw more prospectiev buyers into the market (umm yeah that hasn't worked).
Yesterday afternoon's "recovery" has come and gone, because just like that, in a matter of minutes, stuff just broke once again courtsy of a USDJPY which has been a one way liquidation street since hitting 106.30 just before Europe open to 105.6 as of this writing: U.S. 10-YEAR TREASURY YIELD DROPS 15 BASIS POINTS TO 1.99%; S&P FUTURES PLUNGE 23PTS, OR 1.2%, AS EU STOCKS DROP 2.54%.
Only this time Europe is once again broken with periphery yields exploding, after Spain earlier failed to sell the maximum target of €3.5 billion in bonds, instead unloading only €3.2 billion, and leading to this: PORTUGAL 10-YR BONDS EXTEND DROP; YIELD CLIMBS 30 BPS TO 3.58%; IRISH 10-YEAR BONDS EXTEND DECLINE; YIELD RISES 20 BPS TO 1.90%; SPANISH 10-YEAR BONDS EXTEND DROP; YIELD JUMPS 29 BPS TO 2.40%.
And the punchline, as usual, is Greece, whose 10 Year is now wider by over 1% on the session(!), to just about 9%.
Today US activity will be very light given the Columbus Day holiday. As DB summarizes, we have a relatively quiet day for data watchers today but the calendar will pick up tomorrow and beyond with a big focus on inflation numbers amongst other things. Indeed tomorrow will see the release of Germany’s ZEW survey alongside CPI prints from the UK, France and Spain. Wednesday’s data highlights will include the US retail sales for September, the Fed’s Beige Book, CPI readings from China and Germany, US PPI, and the NY Fed Empire State survey. Draghi will speak twice on Wednesday which could also be a source for headlines. On Thursday, we will get Industrial Production stats and the Philly Fed Survey from the US on top of the usual weekly jobless claims. European CPI will also be released on Wednesday. We have the first reading of October’s UofM Consumer Sentiment on Friday along with US building permits/housing starts. Yellen’s speech at the Boston Fed Conference on Friday (entitled “Inequality of Economic Opportunity”) will also be closely followed.
After 4 straight months of bounce-back exuberance that 'confirms' the hope that NAHB sentiment appears to present, existing home sales dropped 1.1% in August (against expectations of a 1.0% rise) and previous growth was revised lower. This is the biggest miss since November 2013. The South and West saw the biggest drops as inventory fell. First-time homebuyers remain sidelined with only 29% of total sales. The National Association of Realtors blames the drop on "investors stepping away from the market," and notes distressed sales are the lowest since October 2008.
One look at the August housing starts and permits data, and one will wonder just how is it possible that yesterday NAHB homebuilder confidence rose to a 9 year high, when according to the US Department of Commerce both Housing Start and Permits tumbled in the past month, with the housing "leading indicator" that is Permits sliding 5.6% from 1040K to 998K, and declining sequentially in every region of the US, with double digit drops in the Northeast and the Midwest, while Housing Starts tumbled by 14.4% from 1117K, to only 956K, wildly missing Wall Street expectations of "only" a 5.2% drop to 1037K.
Yesterday's market reaction to Yellen's commentary was curious: there was none, because when all was said and done the S&P and DJIA traded precisely where they traded just before the show began. Which, of course, was unacceptable, because one way or another the hawkish for the USD - the USDJPY just traded at the highest since 2008 - statement and conference had to be promptly interpreted for the algos as dovish for stocks - Futures are again just why of record highs - if not so much for the Fed-hated bonds, and sure enough, European equities traded in the green from the get-go even as RanSquawk notes, "there has been no major fundamental catalyst behind the spike higher seen in the morning, although do note that the move comes in the backdrop of the positive close on Wall Street which saw the S&P 500 (+0.13%) touch record highs before paring a large portion of the gains." In other words, the upside volatility in the intraday move is now a bullish catalyst, closing print notwithstanding. And what did US equity futures do? Why they followed Europe higher, with the ES now +8, on what is "explained" as a European move to intraday US futures previously. That, ladies and gentlemen, means we may have finally achieved perpetual motion, because all that would take to send the market higher is... for the market to go higher, etc, ad inf.
Obviously, today's market was all about the Fed. some brief stop-running early on took out yesterday's highs only to fall back before Yellen... then the fireworks began. The initial kneejerk reaction was to sell stocks, sell bonds, and buy USDs. Then came the re-reaction - VIX was slammed below 12, the S&P 500 surged to near intraday record highs, bond yields accelerated higher, EUR and JPY weakness sparked USD bid, and PMs slipped lower as Yellen meandered uncomfortably through a two-faced press conference. By the close, the USD had hit fresh 4-year highs (USDJPY over 108), stocks had roundtripped to unchanged from FOMC, Treasury yields were notably higher, VIX back over 12.5, Trannies surged.
- -0.07%: Germany Secures Record Low Funding Cost at Bond Auction (WSJ)
- Pentagon Sees Possible Role for U.S. Ground Forces Against Islamic State Militants (WSJ)
- China Joins ECB in Adding Stimulus as Fed Scales Back (BBG)
- Stealthy or Normal? Analysts Diverge on PBOC’s Action (BBG)
- Sony Forecasts Massive $2B Loss as Smartphones Lag (AP)
- Islamic State campaign tests Obama's commitment to Mideast allies (Reuters)
- Brent Crude Rebounds as Libya’s Sharara Oilfield Shut (BBG)
- Market calm over Scottish vote at odds with disaster warnings (Reuters)
It has been a story of central banks, as overnight Asian stocks reversed nearly two weeks of consecutive declines - the longest stretch since 2001 - and closed higher as the same catalysts that drove US equities higher buoyed the global tide: a combination of Chinese liquidity injection (for the paltry amount of just under $90 billion; "paltry" considering Chinese banks create over $1 trillion in inside money/loans every quarter) and Hilsenrath leaking that despite all the "recovery" rhetoric, the Fed will not be turning hawkish and there will be no change in the Fed language today (perhaps not on the redline but Yellen's news conference at 2:30pm will certainly be interesting), pushed risk higher, if not benefiting US equities much which remains largely unchanged.
US Industrial Production and the NY Fed Empire State Manufacturing survey are the two main releases for the US. In Europe, the euro area trade balance will be the notable print. Beyond today, US PPI, German ZEW and UK CPI are the main economic reports tomorrow. Wednesday will see the release of BOE’s meeting minutes, the US CPI, and the Euro area inflation report. On Thursday, President Obama will host Poroshenko and on the data front we have Philly Fed, initial claims, and building permits to watch out for, but the biggest market moving event will surely be the Scottish independence referendum. German PPI will be the key release on what will otherwise be a relatively quiet Friday.
Context is king. Week-in, week-out, we are reassured by whoever the next talking-head is that the recovery-meme is alive-and-well (despite consensus GDP expectations continued to slide for 2014), and that housing is back. The fact that mortage applications inched 0.2% higher on the week (as mortgage rates briefly dropped below 4% for a day - back at 4.20% now) is extrapolated into full recovery when the following chart perhaps provides a little clearer picture of just what has happened in this 'recovery'.
A quick reminder of how geopolitics governs markets: on Friday, the market plunged 0.005% over fears Ukraine and Russia may be about to go at it all out after a fake report Ukraine shelled a Russian military convoy. On Monday, the same "market" soared just under 1% as the news that had caused the "crash" was refuted. That has been the dominant rinse, repeat theme for the past month and will continue to be well after Yellen's Friday speech at Jackson Hole (although one does wonder why she is not speaking on Wednesday when the symposium begins). Not surprisingly, with only modest re-escalation news overnight (that Russia is preparing further retaliatory sanctions against the West), which is simply "pent up de-escalation" in the eyes of Keynesian algos, futures are again up a solid 0.2% and rising, and the way the rampy USDJPY is being manipulated before its pre-market blast off, we may well see the S&P hit 1980, if not a new all time high before 9:30am, let alone during today's cash session. In any event, whatever you do, don't you dare suggest that algos should care one bit about Ferguson and its implications for US society.
Despite almost record-low mortgage apps and plunging sales, homebuilders remain as optimistic as ever that no matter what is ahead - stagnant wages, rising rates, or FNMA's outlook deteriorating - everything will be fine in housing.NAHB sentiment printed 55, beating 53 expectations on the back of an explosion of hope in the Midwest to record highs (as South and West tumbled). The 'outlook' - the real hope - surged to its highest in a year - just short of this cycle's highs in hope.
The main event of the week will be Yellen's long awaited speech at the Jackson Hole 3-day symposium taking place August 21-23. The theme of this year's symposium is entitled "Re-Evaluating Labour Market Dynamics" and Yellen is expected to deliver her keynote address on Friday morning US time. Consensus is that she will likely highlight that the alternative measures of labour market slack in evaluating the ongoing significant under-utilisation of labour resources (eg, duration of employment, quit rate in JOLTS data) have yet to normalise relative to 2002-2007 levels. Any sound bite that touches on the debate of cyclical versus structural drivers of labour force participation will also be closely followed. Unlike some of the previous Jackson Hole symposiums, this is probably not one that will serve as a precursor of any monetary policy changes but the tone of Yellen's speech may still have a market impact and set the mood for busier times ahead in September.