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...
A dispassionate discussion of the technical condition of the dollar.
Once Europe closed, US equity markets rolled over on what is a new 'lowest-volume-day-of-the-year' led by recent winner Russell 2000. The Dow is now red on the week and the Nasdaq up 11 days in a row. Today was not about stocks though (aside from the close). While CAD saw its best gain in over 2 years, it was US Treasuries (as EUR weakened and Bund yields plunged) that made the flashing red headlines with 30Y back at 15-month lows (at 3.10%) and 10Y -3.5bps at 2.36% as the yield curve flattened even further. 2s30s dropped below 260bps - its flattest since Dec 2012. Un-de-escalation concerns evident in TSYs and credit finally started to bleed into VIX and stocks. Gold, silver, and oil limped higher as US weakened (and copper fell). A desperate buying panic into the close smashing S&P futures to VWAP magically enabled the S&P to close at the confidence-inspiring centrally-planned 'wealth effect' level of 2000.07!!
For 39 minutes today, as we noted earlier, the US stock "market" broke. As Nanex details, a total of 1,384 symbols were affected as 100s of stocks trade with crossed NBBOs, practically eliminating any chance for retail traders to transact. Options market were frantic, volatility swung around like a Ukrainian border-patrol agent, and yet the US equity indices limped ever higher. For those who fear 'the big one', for those who understand market liquidity, for those who got a glimpse of what happens when large crowds meet small doors in the high-yield credit market, today's "broken" market was a cold hard lesson that few 'moms and pops' would have noticed... but from the perspective of 'ability to trade' - today's market was worse than the Nasdaq Blackout and the Flash Crash... Hedge accordingly.
For the last 2 weeks, the US Dollar has surged - hitting new 13-month highs today amid JPY and EUR weakness - and for the last 2 weeks, US stock and bond markets have rallied (leaving 30Y yields implying the S&P is 130 points rich or yields are 25bps too low). S&P tops 2,000, Nasdaq closed up for 10th day in a row, Russell outperformed on major short-squeeze, Trannies slid red for the week. Today saw modest Treasury weakness (30Y +2bps, 2Y -1bps) but still lower on the week; gold ($1285), silver ($19.50), and oil ($94) gained on the day - despite USD strength - as copper dropped 1%. Credit markets remain unimpressed by record-er highs in stocks. VIX decoupled from equity strength today as NASDAQ options feeds broke. Volume was an utter disaster... that is all.
As we noted early on, by the time the cash markets opened this morning, the narrative of compliant Kuroda and drug-peddling Draghi had been painted as worth more than a yellowing Yellen's hawkish comments. And so it was that stocks, despite weak macro data this morning in the US - bad news is great news - surged as cash markets opened and tagged S&P 2,000 for the first time ever. However, once Europe closed, that exuberance faded in stocks. Treasuries rallied (30Y closed -2bps) with the front-end weakening very modestly. USD strength (on notable EUR weakness) sent oil and precious metals modestly lower on the day but Copper had a good day (+0.6%). Today was the lowest S&P futures (non-holiday) trading of the year as the Nasdaq rose for the 9th day in a row.
- Jackson Hole Theme: Labor Markets Can’t Take Higher Rates (BBG), or anything else for that matter
- Kidnappers free American missing in Syria since 2012 (Reuters)
- More unpatriots: Burger King in merger talks with Canada's Tim Hortons (Reuters)
- California Quake to Cost Insurers Up to $1 Billion, Eqecat Says (BBG)
- Congo declares Ebola outbreak in northern Equateur province (Reuters)
- Missouri Governor Defends Ferguson Prosecutor (BBG)
- Kuroda Douses Japan Stimulus Expectations (WSJ)
- London Jihadi Call Vies With Banks in Canary Wharf Shadow (BBG)
- Netanyahu Signals Expansion of Air Attacks in Gaza (WSJ)
- Libya's Islamist Militias Claim Control of Tripoli (WSJ)
The first half of the year has been relatively quiet for the markets, but the coming months might bring more turbulence...
US equity markets were led by the stodgy old low-beta Dow this week - not the high-flying muppetry of the Russell or Nasdaq - as stocks enjoyed the best week in 4 months amidst escalation of geopolitical time-bombs in Israel, Iraq, and Ukraine. Dow and Trannies gained 2% by the close as today's disappointment in Yellen and Draghi took the exuberant shine off an otherwise bottom-left-to-top-right Birinyi ruler-based market. The USDollar gained 1.1% on the week - its best week since November - closing at one-year highs. Gold was slapped almost 2% lower (worst week in almost 3 months) as did WTI (back at $1280 and $93.50 respectively). Copper surged 3.2% on the week (2nd best week in a year) on China restocking chatter. Treasuries were a mixed bag with dramatic flattening on the week (30Y +2bps, 5Y +12bps) to 2009 flat. Credit markets cratered on the day - ignoring equity's relative shrug.
“Here’s when US equity and bond markets will change direction: when investors come to fear the next Fed-talk.”
Was it ever in doubt? Bad news is great news for China and Europe and good new is great news for US because no matter what Yellen will go full dovetard tomorrow - at least that appears to be the total consensus view as the S&P hit record highs and bond yields plunge. Volume went from dismal to well dismal-er (we've run out of adjectives) to the lowest non-holiday of the year as we note Trannies (-0.25%) and Nasdaq lagged today. Credit markets snapped higher (tighter) today but remain less exuberant than stocks on the week. Gold staggered lower (-2% on the week) back under $1280 even as The USD rolled over notably on the day led by EUR strength. Treasuries rallied (30Y -3bps and 10Y <2.40%) in the face of equity strength. VIX flash-smashed early on from 11.5 to over 13 (cracking stocks lower) but that was a great buying opportunity into J-Hole...
The algos and chart traders are making another run at 2000 on the S&P 500, attempting to convince the wary investor one more time that buying on the dips is a no brainer. And in that proposition they are, ironically, correct. To buy this utterly manipulated market at these nosebleed valuation levels is about as brainless of an undertaking as is imaginable.
While everyone's (algorithmic) attention will be focused on today's minutes from the July 29-30 FOMC meeting for views on remaining slack in U.S. economy following recent changes in the labor market (especially a particularly solid JOLTS report which indicates that at least on the openings front, there is no more) and any signal of policy change by the Fed ahead of Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s speech in Jackson Hole on Aug. 22, a curious thing happened overnight when a few hours ago the BoE's own minutes show the first vote split since 2011, as Weale and McCafferty argue for a 0.75% bank rate. Then again, if the Russians are finally bailing on London real estate, the inflationary pressures at the top of UK housing may finally be easing. In any event, every FOMC "minute" will be overanalyzed for hints of what Yellen's speech on Friday morning will say, even if stocks just shy of all time highs know quite well she won't dare say anything to tip the boat despite her warnings of a biotech and social network bubble.