- Must defend against Chinese colonial expansion and get the Nigerian oil: U. S. Boosts War Role in Africa (WSJ)
- BOJ nominee Kuroda sets out aggressive policy ideas (Reuters)
- China becomes world’s top oil importer (FT)
- Baby Cured of HIV for the First Time, Researchers Say (WSJ)
- Obama to nominate Walmart's Burwell as White House budget chief (Reuters)
- Wal-Mart Anxious to Combat Amazon’s Lead in Web Vendors (BBG)
- Nasdaq executing trades at a loss (FT)
- Spending cut debate casts pall over Obama's second-term agenda (Reuters)
- Russell Indexes to Reclassify Greece as Emerging Market (BBG)
- Bond Bears Collide With Swaps Showing Low Rates (BBG)
- Buffett Deputies Leaving Billionaire in the Dust Get More Funds (BBG)
- Brazil's leftist president fights to win back business (Reuters)
- U.S. Special Forces train Syrian Rebels in Jordan (Le Figaro)
- Carlos Slim Risks Losing World’s Richest Person Title as Troubles Mount (BBG)
Though a gold bull, I called for a correction late last year and believe more downside is likely from here.
It looks like the Dow Jones Industrial Average will be the first major U.S. equity benchmark to breach new highs, so ConvergEx's Nick Colas breaks down this closely watched measure of domestic stock prices noting that the Dow is a quirky “Index” – price weighted (not market capitalization), compact (30 names) and fundamentally global (lots of brand-name multinationals). Change just one name in the index, and the outcomes vary considerably. If Google had been added at the end of last year, we’d be at 14,330 – well over the old high of 14,165. But if the Dow committee had added Apple instead, the index would have closed at 13,475 yesterday, up less than 3% on the year. And if Netflix had been the lucky company added for 2013, well… We’d be saying hello to Dow 15,000, and then some. The point here is that the notion of a “New High” for the Dow is a little arbitrary, by virtue of the price weighting function and stock selection process.
Hedge fund icon Stanley Druckenmiller sat down with Bloomberg TV's Stephanie Ruhle, saying that he’s decided to speak out now because he sees "a storm coming, maybe bigger than the storm we had in 2008, 2010." His fear is that the ballooning costs of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid (which with unfunded liabilities are as high as $211 trillion) will bankrupt the nation's youth an pose a much greater danger than the debt currently being debated in Congress. He said, "While everybody is focusing on the here and now, there's a much, much bigger storm that's about to hit... I am not against seniors. What I am against is current seniors stealing from future seniors." While not exactly Maxine Waters' sequestration-based 170 million job loss, this concerning interview is must-see for his clarity and forthrightness from who is to blame, to the consequences of gridlock, our society's short-term thinking, and the concerning demographics the US faces.
Stocks surged their most in 2013 today on slightly above-average volume as the Dow pushed towards its all-time closing highs and Transports went vertical (up 3.5% in Feb). While it no longer matters, it is worth noting that Treasuries and FX markets were not partaking as a broad basket of risk-assets suggests the S&P going out 20 points rich to reality. Materials are stil -1.5% on the month and Staples are leading +2.4%. In the last hour, the S&P even left behind its main driver - VIX - as the 'fear' index could not break below 14.5%. Of most notice today was the fact that equities have retraced all of their losses from the Italian election headlines and recoupled with gold on the week. The high-yield bond ETF HYG rose along with stocks but also notably the underlying HY bond market actually saw selling pressure as HYG's intrinsic value dropped markedly. Late on, trade size rose notably as S&P futures touched the under-side of the 3-month up-trend channel.
Equities dead-cat-bounced today on minimal upside volume (and low average trade size) to get the S&P back to unchanged for the month. Broadly speaking risk-assets stayed well correlated with stocks though bonds and the USD looked somewhat dead trading in a very small range given recent shenanigans. Gold and Silver had their best day of the year so far as the former broke back over $1600 (and has now seen the best 4-day jump in 6 months). It seems Bernanke's relative dovishness is losing its equity appeal (as gap prices continue to rise) but precious metals (post China new year) have rediscovered some central bank balance sheet reality. Homebuilders, buoyed by the craziest seasonal adjustments ever to sales, swung from worst-to-first on the week. Equities tracked spot VIX most of the day but even VIX did not fully partake of the exuberance in the last hour or so. AAPL's rumor-driven tom-foolery pushed it handily up to yesterday's closing VWAP +1.4% and supported the broad equity market (just as HD did in the Dow). Despite the best efforts of the media, putting lipstick on this pig day after yesterday is a push in our view.
Equities suffer their biggest single day loss on the year with financials performing the worst. Treasuries rallied sharply on the day in line with the broader risk off move. 10s rallied nearly 10bp on the day though flows were skewed towards better selling – hedge funds selling in the belly in both cash and swaps as accounts looked to fade the rally. Later in the day flows shifted as tactical shorts looked to cover. Gold finished up $11.60 to 1593.50 on a day characterized by broad based liquidation in the macro markets.
JPY saw a massive correction today - gaining 3% against the USD - its biggest single-day gain since May 2010 - dragging all the carry traders with it. S&P 500 futures volume exploded to its highest since the rally began in November as it broke its uptrend and slumped 40 points from its intraday highs. VIX's term structure collapsed to its flattest in 18 months as spot surged above 19% (no - everyone wasn't hedged). The Dow, S&P, and Nasdaq are all red for the month and even the Trannies are almost unch. Treasuries soared with 10Y ending -10bps (after being +4bps at its worst of the day). Gold and Silver surged (with the latter testing near $1600 again) as WTI dropped 1%. Homebuilders (not helped by lumber's price collapse) dropped 3.5% but every sector was ugly today and closed at its lows. Risk assets led this downswing all day long and cross-asset-class correlation surged as the slump accelerated.
The one-stop, comprehensive summary of the key positive and negative news and events in the past week.
Despite a late-day surge on chatter from Fed's Williams, equities could not catch a bid. VIX was plundered for protection, surging to the highs of the year (above 16%) as S&P futures saw the biggest volume of the year as they held below the lowest uptrend-channel from the November lows. The Dow and the S&P bounced off unchanged for the month of Feb but the Nasdaq remains red - Materials are down over 3% as Staples are up 3% on the month (Tech/Disc/Energy unch). Gold and Silver managed solid gains on the day even as the USD pushed higher (up over 1.1% on the week even as JPY strengthens) and Oil and Copper had notable down days. Treasury yields slipped lower (-3bps) and credit markets underperformed stocks. The S&P is back at its 2011 highs in terms of Gold, and rolled over today. Cross-asset-class correlations rose all day as broad risk-off was very evident. We suspect the drop in the VIX into the close was short-term protection unwinds along with actual exposure reduction (which we saw at VWAP).
JPY dumping early as G-20 showed they were as much use as a chocolate fireguard. Precious metals (then the rest of the commodity complex) cracked lower in the pre-open and USD strength but vol-crushing was not taking a day off and VIX-compression led S&P futures to test new highs (actually a tick off the week's highs) on dismal volume. Treasury yields pushed higher (though we note the 2s10s30s butterfly was the main carry driver). Correlations in general drifted lower as stocks slipped gently off their highs on mixed ECO data. As Europe closed, selling began but we noticed an odd thing - the selling continued - it was a non-POMO day! Then the WMT news broke and there was no POMO ammo to soak up the selling as the stock chipped away chunks of the Dow... but sure enough, the huge volume surge into the downturn was tickled all the way back up (as stocks tried to recouple with their more exuberant VIX neighbor) and touched VWAP into the last few minutes. VIX selling pressure into a long-weekend is not unusual but to new multi-year lows is becoming farcical. Gold -3.5%, Silver -5%, 10Y +6bps, USD +0.3%, Oil Unch, S&P +3pts, VIX -0.5vols. Quite a week of volumeless lethargy as the S&P 500 closed 1518, 1517, 1519, 1520, 1521, 1518.
- G20 struggles over forex, at odds over debts (Reuters)
- Alwaleed Sells Airbus A380 to Invest in Middle East Firms (BBG)
- GOP Stalls Vote on Pick for Pentagon (WSJ)
- ECB officials rebuff currency targeting as G20 meets (Reuters)
- Not good for the reflation effort: Muto leads as Japan PM close to choosing nominee for Bank of Japan chief (Reuters)
- M&A Surges as Confidence Spurs Deals in Computers to Consumer (BBG)
- JPMorgan’s head of equity prop trading Gulati to launch own fund (FT)
- Tiffany & Co. sues Costco over engagement rings labeled ‘Tiffany' (WaPo)
- JPMorgan Said to Fire Traders, Realign Pay Amid Slump (BBG)
- Broker draws Tullett into Libor scandal (FT)
- Airbus drops Lithium-Ion batteries for A350 (Reuters)
The quiet overnight session was started by comments from Buba's Weidmann, whose statement, among others, that the ECB will not cut interest rates just to weaken the EUR together with the assertion that the EUR is not seriously overvalued, sent the EURUSD briefly higher in pre-European open trading. Of secondary importance was his "hope" that the ECB will not have to buy bonds (it will once the market gets tired of Draghi open-ended verbal intervention), something he himself admitted when he said the ECB "may be forced to show its hand on OMT." The stronger EUR did not last long, and in a peculiar reversal from prior weeks when the European open led to a spike in the cross, saw the EURUSD dip to three week lows, touching on 1.3310, before modestly rebounding. This validity of the drop was confirmed two hours later when in the first key economic datapoint, it was revealed the Euroearea exports fell 1.8% in December, the most in five months. As SocGen said "the monthly trade data rounded off what has undoubtedly been a pretty dismal quarter for the euro area. Overall euro area exports fell by 1.8% m/m in December although this was offset by a even bigger 3% decline in imports - which itself reflects the weakness of domestic demand in some euro area countries. Maybe of more interest is the latest data on the destination of euro exports. These continue to show a pronounced weakness in global demand (albeit for November). This indicates that weakness in Q4 is not solely a domestic affair but also reflects a wider slowdown in the global economy."
Another low volume, low range, low average trade size day in stocks as recent high (stops) were run again with FX markets ruling the day in terms of volatility. The G-7's initial statement fell on deaf ears , after Draghi's early comments (on a higher EUR implying a stable Europe) pushed the USD lower against EUR, then the restatement rallied JPY and that USD weakness provided further support for US equities. New highs in the S&P (though not in the Nasdaq as AAPL slumped 2.5% because Tim Cook didn't unload all his cash into shareholders high beta pockets). Homebuilders saw their biggest gain in almost 8 months before pulling back a little in the afternoon. Oil prices continue to rise and Treasury yields bled higher (though 10Y remained below 2.00%). Gold and silver limped higher (along with the USD) after Europe's close. Credit markets (CDX) jumped tighter today (especially IG) after dislocating for the last few days - and HYG outperformed - as we suspect the credit-equity arb has become too tempting. Will SOTU be a catalyst for a pullback - VIX sure didn't think so as it dropped 0.3 vols to 12.6 - its lowest close in 3 weeks.
- The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden... Is Screwed (Esquire)
- G7 fires currency warning shot, Japan sanguine (Reuters)
- North Korea Confirms It Conducted 3rd Nuclear Test (NYT)
- Italian Police Arrest Finmeccanica CEO (WSJ)
- Legacy, political calendar frame Obama's State of the Union address (Reuters)
- China joins U.S., Japan, EU in condemning North Korea nuclear test (Reuters)
- Wall Street Fading as Emerging-Market Banks Gain Share (BBG)
- Berlin Conference 2.0: Drugmakers eye Africa's middle classes as next growth market (Reuters)
- Barclays to Cut 3,700 Jobs After Full-Year Loss (BBG)
- US Treasury comment triggers fall in yen (FT)
- ECB Ready to Offset Banks’ Accelerated LTRO Payback (BBG)
- Fed's Yellen Supports Stimulus to Spur Jobs (WSJ)
- Libor Scrutiny Turns to Middlemen (WSJ)
- Samsung Girds for Life After Apple in Disruption Devotion (BBG)