After three days of unexpected market weakness without an apparent cause, especially since after 7 years of conditioning, the algos have been habituated to buy on both good and bad news, overnight futures are getting weary, and futures are barely up, at least before this morning's transitory FX-driven stop hunt higher. Whether this is due to the previously noted "blackout period" for stock buybacks which started a few days ago and continues until the first week of May is unclear, but should the recent "dramatic" stock weakness persist, expect Bullard to once again flip flop and suggesting it is clearly time to hike rates, as long as the S&P does not drop more than 5%. In that case, QE4 is clearly warranted.
Following the first YoY deflation since 2009 in January, February's CPI YoY data managed to scrape its way back to unchanged (very modestly better than the 0.1% drop expected). Consumer prices rose 0.2% MoM - the most since May 2014 with gas prices up MoM for the first time since June. So what is the narrative now: if tumbling gas prices didn't get consumers to spend, rising gas costs will? Ex food and energy, prices rose 0.2% MoM (slightly hotter than the 0.1% rise expected) led by the shelter index (which increased 0.2 percent) accounting for about two-thirds of the monthly increase. The rent continues to be too damn high for most, and finally the BLS is starting to realize this.
Last December, traditionally permabullish energy trader Andy Hall shocked the world when he became the first casualty of the oil crash after Phibro, his 113 year old employer then owned by Occidental Petroleum after its sale by Citigroup, would liquidate in the US after it failed to buy a buyer. He wouldn't be the last. Overnight, Nexen Energy, a wholly owned subsidiary of China's CNOOC Ltd, reported it too would close its crude oil trading division following a round of job cuts announced last week, four market sources said on Monday.
Spending cuts for oil-directed drilling have dominated first quarter 2015 energy news but rig counts for shale gas drilling are too high. Investors should pay attention to this growing problem. Bank of America fears sub-$2 gas prices now that winter heating worries are over. Low natural gas prices affect the economics for gas-rich oil production in the Eagle Ford Shale and Permian basin plays as well as for the shale gas plays. Meanwhile, an orgy of over-production is taking place in the Marcellus Shale... Investors should carefully examine why shale gas players have not reduced rig counts more. Continued drilling in the Marcellus will crush natural gas prices further.
We often hear various Fed officials described as hawks or doves but Janet Yellen’s Fed brings to mind another avian metaphor. They are afraid to raise rates for fear that doing so would upset the asset market inflation process and derail what is left of their theory. In her press conference last week Yellen said that stock market valuations were on the high side of historical norms, an appellation that only works if one includes the stock bubble of the late 90s. It seems that she and the other members of the FOMC have decided that another epic stock market bubble is better than admitting they were wrong. This FOMC doesn’t have any hawks or doves, only chickens.
As previously observed (skeptically), a main reason for the surge in the DAX, and thus the S&P, on Friday was premature hope that the Greek talks earlier were a long-overdue precursor to a Greek resolution, and as we further noted yesterday, subsequent bickering and lack of any clarity as we go into today's critical "final ultimatum" meeting between Merkel and Tsipras, is also why the Dax was lower by 1.1% at last check, even if the EURUSD continues to trade like an illiquid, B-grade currency pair whose only HFT purpose is to slam all stops within 100 pips of whatever the current price may be.
NATO is in the midst of conducting large scale military maneuvers along the Russian border in a move Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says encourages “Kiev to pursue a military solution.” Over the course of 10 days, NATO will parade 120 combat vehicles across the region in an effort to prove how quickly the West can confront perceived Russian aggression.
In the first part of this series we discussed Greece and its ongoing negotiations with the European Union – particularly with Germany – and how the complicated history between these two countries makes it exceedingly difficult for the Greek people to accept the terms on offer from the EU. This time we will turn our attention north, to a different kind of conflict. This one has also wrought economic devastation to a European country, but of a much higher intensity. It is the first civil war that the European continent has seen since the Balkan Wars of the 1990s, when the regional superpower of Yugoslavia was ultimately broken up amidst a series of separatist and independence movements. Today’s conflict will almost certainly result in a similar outcome for its host country. I’m talking, of course, about Ukraine. Let’s take a closer look.
“I don’t think there is much space left to fill.”
"An eclipse blocks the sun in just a few minutes, though, leading to a potential sudden drop of up to 35,000 megawatts of generation capacity. That is the equivalent of about 20 large coal-fired power plants coming off the grid at the same time. Conventional electricity suppliers will have to seamlessly substitute power to prevent blackouts, and then they must shut down capacity as solar power rebounds," WSJ notes, as some parts of Europe witness a total solar eclipse.
Quad-witching days are volatile on normal days, so in an environment of virtually zero liquidity, in which the market careens from one extreme to another simply based on whether the Fed utters one single word, in which volatility across asset classes is soaring, and in which it is all about igniting algo momentum, today's quadruple withicng should be memorable, which is good since there is virtually no macro data today to speak of.
John Kerry speaks out about allegations of new chemical weapons attacks in Syria and says the US may have to hold someone (Assad) "accountable."
Utilities have always been attractive yield plays for conservative investors, but natural gas prices are low and margins are not that great for the industry.
"The boom years of the past decade and a half were the exception and not the rule. Australia and Canada will have a bit of rough patch in the years to come, but will manage through as they always do. The much touted growth prospects of many of the BRICs will prove to be nothing more than a commodity-boom-fuelled mirage."