"The current levels of investor complacency are more usually associated with late stage bull markets rather than the beginning of new ones. Of course, if you think about it, this only makes sense if you refer back to the investor psychology chart above. The point here is simple. The combined levels of bullish optimism, lack of concern about a possible market correction (don't worry the Fed has the markets back), and rising levels of leverage in markets provide the "ingredients" for a more severe market correction. However, it is important to understand that these ingredients by themselves are inert. It is because they are inert that they are quickly dismissed under the guise that 'this time is different.' Like a thermite reaction, when these relatively inert ingredients are ignited by a catalyst they will burn extremely hot. Unfortunately, there is no way to know exactly what that catalyst will be or when it will occur. The problem for individuals is that they are trapped by the combustion an unable to extract themselves in time."
Equity markets opened down hard, bounced into Europe's close, and then pushed to new cycle lows into the last hour of the day. The Nasdaq hit 4,000 for the first timein over 2 months and closed at its lowest close in 4 months. Around 3pm we saw the standard ramp attempt but it was weak and faded back towards the lows by the close. EURJPY ran the show this afternoon. This is the Nasdaq's worst week since June 2012 (with Nasdaq and Russell -3.5% from the FOMC Minutes alone). All major US equity indices closed red for 2014 (first time in over 2 months). Biotechs fell for the 7th week in a row (the longest losing streak since 1998) in a bear-market -21%. Away from the bloodbath in stocks, bond yields tumbled 8-11bps on the week (with the short-end modestly outperforming)... with 30Y yields (3.47%) at their lowest in 10 months. CAD and EUR weakness today supported modest USD buying but USD Index is -1.3% on the week (biggest weekly drop in 9 months).Commodites were flat today (despite a pump-and-dump in copper early and WTI later) with gold ending the week +1% at $1318.
For the first time in over two months, all the major US equity indices are negative year-to-date (as Trannies finally succumb to the selling pressure). Russell and Nasdaq are down 4% YTD.
"We can't help thinking that as it becomes ever clearer that the Fed is pretty much fixed in its determination to stop QE late this year, the oxygen that has fuelled the 5 year bull market is slowly draining out of the market. Clearly the Fed is still buying a significant amount of bonds and thus providing a lot of liquidity but clearly only for a few more months."
- Deutsche Bank
Overnight weakness in Asia spilled into Europe and the bloodbath is continuing - especially in the peripheral markets which have until now been invincible in the face of deteriorating fundamentals. Just like US hyper-growth hope, Portugal, Spain, and Italy stock markets have soared this year - among the world's best performers - but are getting monkey-hammered in the last 2 days (down over 5%). Despite more chatter of ECB QE, peripheral bond spreads are also jumping higher (+7bps) as German Bund yields are slumping back below 1.5% - the lowest in 10 months. US futures are ugly too.
After a selloff as violent as that of last night, usually the overnight liftathon crew does a great job of recovering a substantial portion of the losses. Not this time, which coupled with the sudden and quite furious breakdown on market structure, leads us to believe that something has changed rather dramatically if preserving investor confidence is not the paramount issue on the mind of the NY Fed trading desk. Nikkei 225 (-2.38%) suffered its worst week since March'11 amid broad based risk off sentiment following on from a lower close on Wall St. where the Nasdaq Biotech index suffered its largest intra-day decline since August 2011. Negative sentiment carried over into European session, with stocks lower across the board (Eurostoxx50 -1.17%) and tech under performing in a continuation of the recent sector weakness seen in the US. JP Morgan (JPM) due to report earnings at 7:00AM EDT and Wells Fargo (WFC) at 8:00Am EDT.
Last week BTFD failed for the Nasdaq and that class of talking-heads that we like to call asset-gatherers promulgated that there was no need to worry... this is a small segment of the market dragging down a high-beta index, rotate to bigger caps. The S&P has not failed the BTFD brigade since QE4EVA began... until today. For the first time, the S&P 500 cash index was unable to make a new high after bouncing off the 50DMA (in fact making a new cycle low)... now what?
But the pretty people on TV said the Fed Minutes proved they were the most dovish ever and initial claims hit recovery lows... What a total disaster - Equity markets peaked within a few minutes of the open and never looked back - yesterday's "Fed Cat Bounce" gave way to Really Red Thursday... with the Nasdaq and Russell 6.5% from their recent highs (and the S&P 3.5% off), we suspect a "markets in turmoil" special on business media any moment...
Someone was in a hurry - paging Waddell & Reed? The volume surge occurred right as VIX broke above 16 and the Biotech Index (-6.25% today) has hit bear market territory. The Nasdaq is getting slayed- down over 3% and all but Trannies are red YTD.
Yesterday's "best day in a year" was the ultimate Fed cat bounce as Nadaq Biotech stocks are collapsing today - approaching the crucial 20% bear market drop. With a loss of over 5.5%, this is the biggest drop since August 2011 and has the index very close to the critical 200-day moving-average support. The Biotechs are now down 2% year-to-date at new 4-month lows.
It appears yesterday's "Fed Cat Bounce" was exactly that. While the momos are making headlines, selling pressure is broad-based now and the S&P has just joined the Russell, Nasdaq, and Dow in the red year-to-date... "Growth" stocks are at the lows of the year relative to "Value"
There's an all-out Global currency war being waged and yesterday the Dollar was the clear winner.
Investors, or perhaps algos, it appears are shocked that the Fed is just as dovish as it has always been (despite endless speeches since Yellen's six month comment - but will not tapering the taper) and today's minutes sparked a short-squeeze loaded VIX-slamming jerk higher to get the Dow back to unchanged from the FOMC statement (S&P back to unch on the month and Nasdaq back to unch on the year). Bond yields ripped lower (the best FOMC minutes day since the Fed announced QE3 expectations) with the short-end outperforming (unwinding only 50% of the flattening post-FOMC) and long-end selling off. Gold and silver had been fading early but rallied on the FOMC minutes (back above $1310). Oil pushed on to $103.50 and copper rallied back to unch (supported by PBOC buying rumors). Credit markets were diverging notably before the FOMC jerk but remain wider on the week. Just as the initial squeeze euphoria ("most shorted" stocks had their best day in 2 months) was fading, the 330 Ramp in JPY occurred and lifted stocks to the highs of the day.
While the Nasdaq was unable to get back above its crucial 100DMA, it outperformed today (Biotechs went nowhere) as the S&P 500 dipped-and-ripped off its 50DMA (and the crucial 1840 level for bulls). The problem with all this "the correction is over" chatter... nothing else is buying it... Treasury bond yields slumped lower (7Y -15 bps from Friday highs and back to FOMC levels) with 10Y < 2.70% again. Credit spreads on high-yield debt made new swing cycle wides (did not hold teh dead cat bounce gains). Gold jumped back above $1310 (and on a separate note oil prices surged as "tanks" hit the headlines once again in Ukraine). But perhaps the most notable 'negative' for this being anything but a dead-cat-bounce was the collapse in JPY carry - USDJPY's biggest drop in 8 months. VIX was pegged to the S&P 500 all day - but even there we saw notable steepening (as hedgers termed out protection). S&P 500 futures close perfectly at yesterday's closing VWAP.
It took Virtu's idiot algos some time to process that the lack of BOJ stimulus is not bullish for more BOJ stimulus - something that has been priced in since October and which sent the USDJPY up from 97.000 to 105.000 in a few months, but it finally sank in when BOJ head Kuroda explicitly stated overnight that there is "no need to add stimulus now." That, and the disappointing news from China that the middle kingdom too has no plans for a major stimulus, as we reported last night, were the final straws that forced the USDJPY to lose the tractor-beamed 103.000 "fundamental level", tripping the countless sell stops just below it, and slid 50 pips lower as of this moment to overnight lows at the 102.500 level, in turn dragging US but mostly European equity futures with it, and the Dax was last seen tripping stops below 9400.