While yesterday most markets were closed and unable to express their concerns at the very strong showing of "anti-austerity" parties in Spain's municipal election from Sunday, then today they have free reign to do just that, and as a result European stocks are broadly lower, alongside the EURUSD which dripped under 1.09 earlier today, with Spanish banks among the worst performers: Shares of Banco Sabadell, Bankia, Caixabank and Popular were down 1.8 to 2.3% earlier this morning, and while the stronger dollar was a gift to both the Nikkei and Europe in early trading, after opening in the green, Spain's IBEX has since slid into the red on concerns of what happens if the Greek anti-status quo contagion finally shifts to the Pyrenees.
The revelation from an internal US intelligence document that the very US-led coalition supposedly fighting ‘Islamic State’ today, knowingly created ISIS in the first place, raises troubling questions about recent government efforts to justify the expansion of state anti-terror powers.
China is building the world’s greatest economic development and construction project ever undertaken: The New Silk Road. The project aims at no less than a revolutionary change in the economic map of the world. It is also seen by many as the first shot in a battle between east and west for dominance in Eurasia. For the world at large, its decisions about the Road are nothing less than momentous. The massive project holds the potential for a new renaissance in commerce, industry, discovery, thought, invention, and culture that could well rival the original Silk Road. It is also becoming clearer by the day that geopolitical conflicts over the project could lead to a new cold war between East and West for dominance in Eurasia.
The US is now considering the possibility of sending so-called "spotters" to Iraq, a move ostensibly aimed at making airstrikes against ISIS more effective. Meanwhile, the militant group has claimed responsibility for Friday's suicide bombing in Saudi Arabi that killed 21.
The State Department has released 850 pages of e-mails from Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail address. Clinton has been under fire for using a private e-mail server (as opposed to an official government account) to discuss potentially sensitive matters of national security and foreign policy during her tenure as the nation’s top diplomat. Specifically, there are big questions about who knew what and when about an attack on US outposts in Benghazi that killed US ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
Murray Energy, the third-largest coal producer in the US, will layoff 21% of its employees with the majority of the cuts coming in West Virginia, which is staring down a $195 million budget gap thanks to the slide in coal prices. Meanwhile, CEO and founder Robert Murray is buying more coal mines.
- U.S. vows to continue patrols after China warns spy plane (Reuters)
- Bank of Japan Chief Cheers On Tokyo’s Surging Stocks (WSJ)
- Merkel Stamps Out Optimism on Greece After Tsipras Talks (BBG)
- Greece sees reforms deal with lenders in next 10 days (Reuters)
- Why Greece’s Syriza party is not sticking to the script on an IMF deal (Channel4)
- Why Does Putin Care Who Runs a Tiny Balkan Nation? Gas Pipelines (BBG)
- U.S. Stock-Index Futures Are Little Changed Before Yellen Speech (BBG)
- German Business Confidence Declines as Risks Cloud Outlook (BBG)
On the heels of pledging $46 billion in infrastructure aid to Pakistan, China is set to invest as much as $50 billion in Brazil including $10 billion on a cross-mountain railway that will connect Latin America's largest economy with Peru's ports in what Premier Li calls "a new road to Asia." The move is a dramatic example of China's growing foothold in what is ostensibly Washington's strongest sphere of influence.
In a move that could shake up the dynamics of the global oil and gas industry, the desert Kingdom is restructuring its national oil company, Saudi Aramco.
Less than a week ago, fresh from the aftermath of the recent dramatic six-sigma move in German Bunds, one of Europe's largest banks openly lamented that so far the ECB's QE had done absolutely nothing: "two months of QE for nothing." And lo and behold, as if on demand, overnight the ECB confirmed it had heard SocGen's lament when just before the European market open, ECB executive board member Benoit Coeure delivered a speech at the Brevan Howard Centre for Financial Analysis (appropriately named after a hedge fund) at Imperial College Business School (not to be confused with the July 26, 2012 Mario Draghi "whatever it takes" speech which also took place in London) in which he said that the ECB intends to "frontload" i.e., increase, its purchases of euro-area assets in May and June ahead of an expected low-liquidity period in the summer.
Ten Members of the U.S. Congress – along with 32 of their staff members – received secret payments from Azerbaijan’s state-owned oil company to travel to Baku in 2013, to cover the cost of travel, including souvenirs of “silk scarves, crystal tea sets and Azerbaijani rugs.”
With equities having long ago stopped reflecting fundamentals, and certainly the Eurozone's ever more dire newsflow where any day could be Greece's last in the doomed monetary union, it was up to gold to reflect that headlines out of Athens are going from bad to worse, with Bloomberg reporting that not only are Greek banks running low on collateral, both for ELA and any other purposes, that Greece would have no choice but to leave the Euro upon a default and that, as reported previously, Greece would not have made its May 12 payment had it not been for using the IMF's own reserves as a source of funding and that the IMF now sees June 5 as Greece's ever more fluid D-day. As a result gold jumped above $1230 overnight, a level last seen in February even as the Dollar index was higher by 0.5% at last check thanks to a drop in the EUR and the JPY.
"Mr. Hamm is very upset at some of the earthquake reporting to the point that he would like to see select OGS staff dismissed."
Yesterday, the FT reported that Saudi Arabia gloated in declaring victory over US shale. “There is no doubt about it, the price fall of the last several months has deterred investors away from expensive oil including US shale, deep offshore and heavy oils,” a Saudi official told the Financial Times in Riyadh, giving a rare insight into the kingdom’s thinking on oil strategy. Which is great, but there are two problems. First, any time someone say "there is no doubt about it", or "unambiguously this or that", it is a lie. Second, Saudi Arabia is dead wrong.
Something funny happened on the way to the global reflation (telegraphed so loudly by the recent surge in 10Y yields to the highest level of 2015): PPI just crumbled by a sequential 0.4% in the month of April, despite expectations it would rise by 0.1% and continue the 0.2% monthly increase seen in March. This was a -1.3% drop in PPI - the fastest fall in 5 years. Worse, the annual decline in final demand goods was -5.2% Y/Y, the biggest drop in the revised series in record!