It appears today's weakness in stocks (most notably high-beta momo) and bonds (HY credit weakness) was triggered by two "ma"s - grandma Yellen and grand-poohbah BABA's Ma. Hawkish FOMC concerns took the shine off HY credit (and stocks) but Treasury bonds rallied modestly (5Y -3bps, 10Y -2bps). However, high-beta momo stocks dragged Nasdaq and Russell lower as 'smart money' proclaimed this was making room for the Alibaba IPO (which raises the question - if there is so much pent-up demand money on the sidelines just dying to be lost in the stock market, then why were so many high-beta, high-growth, momo names being sold today, theoretically in order to make room for the BABA IPO?) The USDollar ended marginally higher (GBP weakness, EUR strength) but most commodities gained on the day (Copper down on China) with WTI back to $93. Stocks did have a mini-melt-up on absolutely no news whatsoever into the last hour but gave most back. The Russell 2000 is -0.5% in 2014.
With the S&P 500 hitting fresh record highs day after day (apart from last week), everything must be great, right? Wrong! As we have noted previously, the leadership in this market is becoming more and more narrowly focused as stunningly 47% of Nasdaq Composite stocks are down at least 20% from their highs with the average stock in the index in a bear market (down 24%). The same is true for the Russell 2000, with over 40% of stocks in bear market and an average drop from recent highs of 22%. By contrast only 31 names in the S&P 500 have seen drops of 20% or more this year. It appears, just as there has been an up-in-quality rotation in credit markets, so stock investors appear to have rotated into momentum winners, chasing returns in an ever-more narrow group of extreme beta stocks.
- Snow is coming: OECD Cuts Economic Growth Forecasts (WSJ)
- World waits for white smoke from U.S. Fed (Reuters) - Understandable error: they meant "green"
- Scots Breakaway at 45% Odds as Economists Warn of Capital Flight (BBG)
- Ukraine President Poroshenko Faces Backlash Over EU Trade Deal Delay (WSJ)
- German Anti-Euro Party Advances in Merkel Homeland Voting (BBG)
- Clinton Hints at 2016 Run as Super-PAC Packs Iowa Steak Fry (BBG)
- Air France, Lufthansa Hit by Strikes in Fight for Future (BBG)
- U.S. sees Middle East help fighting IS, Britain cautious after beheading (Reuters)
- Ex-Billionaire Charged by Brazil With Financial Crimes (BBG)
For the 3rd day in a row, the USDollar flatlined as JPY & AUD weakness offset GBP & EUR strength (following Kuroda's speech this morning). Stocks dipped-and-ripped once again - as they always do into and after the EU close - with the S&P managing to scramble back into the green (but not 2,000 for 3rd day in a row) in a late-day buying panic (after some Draghi headlines saying nothing new). Not everyone was drinking the same bounce-back juice as stocks with HY credit, and JPY-carry not supportive at all. Stocks seemed to track WTI crude most closely today as oil jumped higher (abov $93) compressing the Brent-WTI spread to $5. Gold, silver, and copper slipped lower once again. The Treasury curve continued to bear flatten led by 5Y weakness.
- Obama orders U.S. airstrikes in Syria against Islamic State (Reuters)
- Obama Relying on Mideast Allies to Counter Islamic State (BBG)
- Scotland Nationalists Claim U.K. Oil in 40-Year Campaign (BBG)
- Scottish Polls Embolden Catalans Pushing Rajoy for Vote (BBG)
- Royal Bank of Scotland: RBS will leave Scotland if voters back independence (Guardian)
- Most Hedge-Fund Managers Are Overpaid, Unigestion Says (BBG)
- China Inflation Softens to Four-Month Low (WSJ)
- Munger Hosts Groupies, Mocks Wall Street, Praises Buffett (BBG)
Following yesterday's confusing exuberance, which saw the sluggish market rise in the last hours of trading as the latest Scottish poll showed a reverse of the "Yes" momentum (and fading Gartman's latest reco of course), overnight European jitters have re-emerged once more following a speech by Catalonia's Artur Mas, who has long pushed for independence of the region, and who said that while there are different ways Catalonia can vote, the important issue is that Catalans vote somehow. Mas says Spanish govt will likely try to block Catalan vote "the reasons why the central government is blocking the vote are political not legal", which in turn has once again brought attention to Europe's artificial, unstable and temporary political and monetary union, which threatens a reversion of the nightmare days from 2012 when Mario Draghi was promising he would do everything in his power to send the EUR higher (as opposed to now).
Today's v-shaped recovery in US equities was brought to you by the number 107 (USDJPY target) and the words "Scottish poll" which showed a majority of "no"s this afternoon. Early weakness in stocks (but not in Treasuries) reversed almost perfectly as Europe closed and JPY started to ramp towards the next logical stop run at 107.00. Nasdaq led the way (as AAPLites swept back in) and pushed into the green for the week (while the rest are still red). Treasury yields rose on the day, led by the long-end (30Y +3bps) stalling some of yesterday's flattening (5Y +9bps on the week). GBP rallied notably after the "no" poll which kept pressure on the USD (closing practically unch on the day). Gold, silver, and oil slipped lower as US woke up then stabilized. Credit spreads compressed on the day but not as exuberantly as stocks even as VIX dropped back under 13 again. For the 2nd day in a row, the S&P 500 closed below 2,000 - turmoil?
With Bono's words still hanging in the air, the market's response to Apple's unveiling is simple: "we still haven't found what we're looking for." Some argue the weakness is AAPL-related, others point to AUDJPY fun-durr-mentals, but the bottom-line is the Fed hinted at more hawkishness, short-term bonds are weakening (long-end rally with notable flattening), VIX is rising and inverted (to 1-mo highs), and HY credit is getting ugly once again as it seems stocks are indeed catching on to the fact that the Fed will really be removing the punchbowl... S&P fell to 3-week lows as AUD collapsed (but EUR strength sent the USD lower on the day) and lost the crucial 2,000 level by the most since it was first breached.
US equity markets are sliding this morning on the back of AUDJPY fun-durr-mentals as the USDollar pushes to new 15-month highs (AUD at 6-month lows). This has pressed Nasdaq red for September (joining the Dow, S&P, and Russell). Treasury yields are modestly higher but commodities are sliding with copper the worst... makes us wonder if this is follow-through from China's huge adjustment to CNY overnight.
Today some very significant moves across asset-classes - despite the apparent close-to-close 'blahness' of stocks (Dow, S&P, Trannies small red, Nasdaq green) and bonds (30Y unch, 5Y +2bps) from Friday's close. The USD surged to fresh 15-month highs, ripping another 0.6% higher as GBP, EUR (1.28xx), and JPY (106.xx) all faded dramatically. US equity markets entirely decoupled from JPY (in fact became negatively correlated) and US Treasury yields ripped higher - tick for tick with USDJPY's rise. Gold and silver slipped 1% on the day, copper limped higher (after an early plunge) and oil rebounded to close with a small loss near $93 (Brent under $100 for first time in 14 months). Late-day news of 'delayed' sanctions sparked the standard post-EU-close buying panic, regained S&P 2,000 (and Futs hit VWAP), and ensured Friday's bad-news-is-good-news jobs meme stands.
Worst jobs data of the year? BTFATH. For the 9th day in a row, S&P 2,000 was all that mattered. Thanks to the standard Friday v-shaped recovery, the Dow scrambled back to green on the week and S&P 500 hit its Maginot 'retirement on' line - all on the back of USDJPY 105.00 pinning. Trannies and S&P hit new record highs and S&P had its best day in 2 weeks (led by exuberant growthy Staples & Utilities this week). Russell ended the week red as the late-day buying-panic sent Nasdaq just green with Dow and S&P. But, away from stocks, US Treasuries had their worst week in a year with 30Y +16bps (but 2Y only +2bps). The US dollar rose to new 14-month highs with its biggest week in 10 months. Despite the USD strength, Copper manage to close marginally higher even as PMs dropped 1.6% and oil plunged almost 3% (WTI under $93) in a very volatile week. High-yield credit markets closed with their worst week in the last 5. Bad news is great news still - just six years into the 'recovery'.
Even as the NATO summit began hours ago in Wales, conveniently enough (for Obama) at the venue of the 2010 Ryder Cup, so far today geopolitics has taken a backseat to the biggest event of the day - the ECB's much hyped and anticipated announcement. So anticipated in fact that even as it has been priced in for the past month, especially by BlackRock which is already calculating the Christmas bonus on its "consultancy" in implementing the ECB's ABS purchasing program and manifesting itself in record low yields across Europe's bond market, Reuters decided to milk it some more moments ago with the following blast: "Plans to launch an asset-backed securities (ABS) and covered bond purchase programme worth up to 500 billion euros are on the table at Thursday's European Central Bank policy meeting..." The notable being the size of the program, which at €500 billion, is precisely what Deutsche Bank said a week ago the size of the ABS program would be. Almost as if the bank with the world's biggest derivative exposure is helping coordinate the "Private QE"...
Treasuries closed practically unchanged today after yields spiked higher on 'ceasefire' news then rallied lower all day long (30Y -2bps 2Y unch). Credit markets surged tighter on the news then collapsed wider to the lows of the week by the close (diverging from stocks). The USDollar slipped lower on the day, led by EUR strength. Gold ($1,270) and silver limped higher all day but WTI crude took off, gaining back all the flush losses from yesterday (above $95). In stock-land, the cease-fire sparked exuberance to new record-highs. That strength began to fade as soon as the US opened with notable selling in the holiest-of-holies - AAPL. This wesighed on Nasdaq heavily (to red on the week) and Russell high-beta stocks tumbled. Despite the standard late-day VWAP ramp, stocks were unable to recover as USDJPY was no help after breaking back below 105.00 and ended with the worst day in 5 weeks. And finally, of course, the S&P 500 closed with a 2,000 handle - so crucial to maintain the dream.
Consolidating? Or Topping Out? But Ceasefire... But ECB... but Jobs data...
As regular readers are well aware, when it comes to "more than arms length" equity market intervention in New Normal markets, the New York Fed's preferred "intermediary" of choice to, how should one say, boost investor sentiment aka "protect from a plunge", is none other than Chicago HFT powerhouse, Citadel. Recently we discovered that the true culprit behind the May 2010 Flash Crash was not Waddell & Reed, but quote stuffing. The most recent revelation for Citadel is that quote stuffing is not just some byproduct of some "innocuous" HFT strategy, as none other than the Nasdaq has now stated on the record, that the most leveraged hedge fund (at 9x regulatory to net assets), and the third largest after Bridgewater and Millennium, used quote stuffing as a "trading strategy." The following 2 clips give a sense of what goes on from day to day inside the firm that trades more volume than the NYSE every day...