After drifting unchanged for much of the overnight session, US futures exploded higher shortly after the previously noted SNB's NIRP announcement, which took place at 2 am eastern, which made it explicit that yet another banks will herd the bouncing dead cats right into new all time stock market highs, and following the European open, were carried even higher as the global "risk-on" momentum ignition algos woke up, spiking all recently depressed assets higher, including energy as Brent rose almost 3% despite Saudi Arabia’s oil minister Ali al-Naimi once again saying "it is difficult if not impossible" for OPEC and his kingdom to reduce output.
Great news: The prices consumers pay dropped 0.3% MoM in November - the biggest deflation since Dec 2008. Of course, The Fed will be in "considerable" panic mode at this data and may choose to crush the hope of so many that rate hikes are coming in mid-2015 as definitive evidence that the US economy is well on the road to recovery. Ex-Food-and-Energy, prices rose 1.7% YoY - slightly missing expectations of +1.8%. Of course, a big driver of this 'transitory' disinflation is a 10.5% YoY drop in Gasoline and 6.6% MoM drop in November. Despite this huge drop, and thge promises of various talking heads, airfares rose 1.36% in November (after also rising 2.39% in October) - so much for the benefits to the consumer.
If the world's fifth largest trader of commodities has chosen to outright not trade gold, and thus not generate value for its shareholders over risks and fears that another, or two, or three, or a countless number of other prior "owners" may come knocking one day and demanding delivery of gold whose origin could not be documented by its trading intermediaries, and whose ownership link Gunvor is unable to trace, then just what on earth is really going on with the world's physical gold inventory (here's looking at you, Chinese gold-backed Commodity Funding Deals), and just what is the catalyst that will unleash what is essentially the infamous US mortgage robosigning scandal onto the gold arena, at which point owners of gold realize the gold they thought they owned, even if held safely in a deposit box deep in a gold vault in a safe offshore location, in reality "belongs" to someone else?
For those wondering if the CBR's intervention in the Russian FX market with its shocking emergency rate hike to 17% overnight calmed things, the answer is yes... for about two minutes. The USDRUB indeed tumbled nearly 10% to 59 and then promptly blew right back out, the Ruble crashing in panic selling and seemingly without any CBR market interventions, and at last check was freefalling through 72 74 76, and sending the Russian stock market plummeting by over 15%.
As hard as it is to believe - given the strength of the "Russia-is-doomed" meme - Crude oil prices for Russia (in Rubles) are unchanged since February... This is important as all costs are Ruble denominated while revenues are USD denominated, leaving Russian oil companies’ margins insulated despite the dollar decline in price. In addition, the Russian government is easing the export taxes which further improve the profitability of Russian oil. So as US Shale Oil sector is destroyed by its USD costs, it appears Putin's core energy industry is somewhat insulated... and America's late-80s "defeat The Soviet Union" playbook is failing.
Slowing the rebalancing and creating further downside risk is a very strong consensus view that this pull back is temporary and that oil prices will quickly rebound as they did in 2009. According to a recent Bloomberg survey, the median WTI forecast for 2016 is $86/bbl (even we forecast it going back to $80/bbl). All of these forecasts are based upon now outdated cost data that is shifting as fast as the price. It is precisely this strong view for a rebound in prices and the behavior it creates, that not only suggests that oil prices can go lower for longer, but also that the new normal is far lower than we thought just one month ago. Instead of optimizing against a lower price environment, many oil producers are trying to position themselves for the rebound in prices
While the market, and America's media, was focusing over the passage of the Cromnibus, and whether Wall Street would dump a few hundred trillion in derivatives on the laps of US taxpayers once again (it did), quietly and unanimously both houses passed The Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014, which authorizes providing lethal assistance to Ukraine’s military as well as sweeping sanctions on Russia’s energy sector. And as has happened for the entire duration of the second Cold War, any action by the US was promptly met with a just as provocative reaction by Russia. In this case, a leftist member of the Russian Duma said the US Senate’s decision to arm the Kiev regime should prompt ‘adequate measures’ from Russia, such as deploying military force on Ukrainian territory before the threat becomes too high. "It is quite possible that we should return to the decision by our Upper House and give the Russian president an opportunity to use military force on Ukrainian territory preemptively. We should not wait until Ukraine is armed and becomes really dangerous."
Final Demand Producer Prices fell 0.2% in November, more than the expected 0.1% drop, for the largest deflation since October 2011. This leads to a 1.4% YoY PPI, the weakest since March and has fallen for 7 straight months. The driver - unsurprisingly - Energy prices fell 3.1% MoM (5th monthly drop in a row) with fuels & lubricants plunging 7.7% MoM and there is more good news - alcohol fell 0.1% YoY for the 2nd month. Beef/Veal prices continue to surge (+28.6% YoY). Core PPI was unchanged on the month, also missing expectations. Prices for finished goods moved down 0.7 percent in November, the largest decrease since a 1.2-percent drop in July 2009.
Anyone who was hoping the market would rebound on last-minute news that the US government has gotten funding for another 9 months, will be disappointed this morning, when futures are finally starting to notice the relentless decline in crude, and with Brent down another 1% as of this writing following yet another cut in the forecast of Global oil demand by the IEA (the 4th in the last 5 months) and with Chinese industrial production also missing estimates (recall that the Chinese slow-motion hard landing has been said by many to be the primary catalyst for the crude collapse) which however pushed Chinese stocks higher on hopes of even more stimulus, the S&P is trading lower by some 14 points, the 10 Year is in the red zone at 2.12%, and the USDJPY is close to session lows. In short: Kevin Henry's "ETF" desk at the NY Fed will have its work cut out to generate one of the now traditional pre-weekend feel good, boost confidence stock market ramps.
The Shale Revolution may not really end up being a revolution after all. A new study in Nature finds that the estimates for shale gas production could be vastly overblown, and production could peak within the next decade.
- New Normal headlines: Global stocks up on hopes of China policy easing (Reuters)
- China inflation eases to five-year low (BBC)
- U.S. Lawmakers Agree on $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill (WSJ)
- U.S. Braced for Blowback as CIA Report Lays Bare Abuses (BBG)
- CIA tortured, misled, U.S. report finds, drawing calls for action (Reuters)
- CIA Made False Claims Torture Prevented Heathrow Attacks (BBG)
- Oil Resumes Drop as Iran Sees $40 If There’s OPEC Discord (BBG)
- OPEC Says 2015 Demand for Its Crude Will Be Weakest in 12 Years (BBG)
- Greek yield curve inverted as politics raise default fears (Reuters)
On the wall of George Orwell's Ministry of Truth from his novel 1984 there were three slogans: "WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH" It occurred to us that these apply just a little bit too well to the way the Washington, DC establishment operates. But there is a fourth slogan they need to add to the wall of Washington's Ministry of Truth. It is this: DEFEAT IS VICTORY!
Worried about money-printing in China... don't! As China.org reports, an electricity generation plant in China's troubled Henan province is burning banknotes in what appears to be an effort to raise efficiency and reduce toxic emissions. One ton of scrapped banknotes can generate about 660 kWh of electricity, which means around 4,000 tonnes of coal can be saved in the province every year by using this process. Perhaps that is the solution to higher natural gas prices in winter for the US NorthEast... just transfer some banknotes up from The Eccles Building and heat the nation...
Not long ago, we wrote Ten Reasons Why High Oil Prices are a Problem. If high oil prices can be a problem, how can low oil prices also be a problem? In particular, how can the steep drop in oil prices we have recently been experiencing also be a problem? In our view, a rapid drop in oil prices is likely a symptom that we are approaching a debt-related collapse. Underlying this debt-related collapse is the fact that we seem to be reaching the limits of a finite world. There is a growing mismatch between what workers in oil importing countries can afford, and the rising real costs of extraction, including associated governmental costs. This has been covered up to date by rising debt, but at some point, it will not be possible to keep increasing the debt sufficiently. At some point the debt situation will eventually reach a breaking point.
Lower oil prices have killed off major plans for liquefied natural gas exports from Canada’s west coast. Although low oil prices may have been the icing on the cake, Canadian LNG projects were facing serious obstacles before oil prices plummeted.