New Normal

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This Is "Why" Caterpillar Is Trading At Two-Year Highs





Moments ago CAT stock touched 52 week highs, or a level not seen since April 2012. Why? The chart below which shows Caterpillar dealer retail sales by region surely has something to do with it. With global sales sliding again now that the third consecutive dead cat bounce is over, and dumping the most since February of 2013 or 12% from a year ago, when sales had in turned dropped 11% from 2012, driven by a collapse in Asian-Pacific, Latin American and EMEA sales, all of which crashed by more than 20%, we can only assume the company is well on its way to an epic collapse in its top and bottom lines as well.

 
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Retail Store Closures Soar In 2014: At Highest Pace Since Lehman Collapse





What a better way to celebrate the rigged markets that are telegraphing a "durable" recovery, than with a Credit Suisse report showing, beyond a reasonable doubt, that when it comes to traditional bricks and mortar retailers, who have now closed more stores, or over 2,400 units, so far in 2014 and well double the total amount of storefront closures in 2013, this year has been the worst year for conventional discretionary spending since the start of the great financial crisis!

 
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"Holy Grail" HFT Firm Virtu Questioned By NY AG





Having the trade record of Bernie Madoff and the braggadocio of a WWF wrestler was just too much for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to ignore. Rigged Market HFT Poster-child, and recent-delayed IPO, Virtu Financial has received a letter of inquiry from the AG's office requesting information about its business. As Bloomberg reports, a person with knowledge of the matter said this week that six high-frequency trading firms have received subpoenas as part of Schneiderman’s investigation and Virtu was asked for similar information in a letter of inquiry which could be escalated to a subpoena if the company doesn’t comply voluntarily.

 
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The Great Stock Buyback Craze Is Finally Ending





As we reported last night, whether as a result of Snowden revelations and NSA blowback by BRIC nations, or simply because the global economy is contracting far faster than rigged and manipulated markets worldwide will admit, IBM's Q1 revenues not only missed consensus earnings, but dropped to their lowest level since 2009. And yet, IBM stock is just shy off its all time highs and earnings per share have been flat if not rising during this period, leading even such acclaimed investors who never invest in tech companies as Warren Buffett to give IBM the seal of approval. How is that possible? Simple: all that investment grade companies like IBM have done in the New Normal in order to preserve the illusion of growth, is to use cash from operations, or incremental zero-cost leverage, to fund stock buybacks. In essence a balance sheet for income statement tradeoff. However, that "great stock buyback gimmick" as we call it, is finally coming to an end.

 
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HFT Firm CEO Seeks Taxpayer Dollars To Save His Hockey Team





The Florida Panthers finished this season with the 2nd lowest points total in the NHL and drew the 2nd lowest average attendance of 14,200 fans per home game. The team is losing $25 million annually. All of this is the exact opposite situation of the team's owner - Vincent Viola of HFT firm Virtu Financial infamy. As Bloomberg reports, Viola, whose high-frequency trading firm plans to raise millions in an initial public offering next month, is seeking tax dollars to help cover the bills for the hockey team he bought six months ago. Viola asked lawmakers in South Florida’s Broward County to use $64 million in taxpayer funds for arena bond payments owed by the team. In addition to taking over bond payments, which would be made over the next 14 years, the team wants concessions that would cost county taxpayers another $14 million in the same period.

 
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Gold Futures Halted Again On Latest Furious Slamdown





It seems the two words "fiduciary duty" are strangely missing from the dictionary of the new normal's asset management community. This morning, shortly before 8:27am ET, someone decide that it was the perfect time to dump thousands of Gold futures contracts worth over half a billion dollars notional. This smashed Gold futures down over $12 instantaneously, breaking below the 200DMA and triggered the futures exchange to halt trading in the precious metal for 10-seconds. Palladium also got clobbered and was also halted. This is gold's worst since Bernanke 'tapered' in December.

 
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Citi Mortgage Originations Drop To Record Low





What was worst, and naturally will not be discussed at all by the peanut gallery, about Citi's just announced results is that the amount of Citigroup mortgage originations - that key aspect of the trumpeted "housing market recovery" - did what it has done at every other bank. It plunged. Only at Citigroup, it plunged so badly, it just reached a new record low which at $5.2 billion is a 71% drop from a year ago! Long live the housing recovery... in which nobody seems to be participating.

 
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JPM Misses Top And Bottom Line, Slammed By Collapse In Mortgage Origination, Slide In Fixed Income Trading





So much for the infallible Mr. Dimon.

Moments ago, JPM reported Q1 earnings which missed across the board, driven by the now traditional double whammy of collapsing mortgage revenues - the lifeblood of any old normal bank - and fixed income trading revenues  - the lifeblood of new normal banks. Specifically, JPM reported revenues of $23.9 billion, well below the expected $24.5 billion, matched by a reported earnings miss of $1.28, down from $1.59 a quarter ago (and down $0.02 from Q4, 2014), also missing consensus estimates of $1.38. The breakdown was as follows.

 
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It's On: Gazprom Prepares "Symbolic" Bond Issue In Chinese Yuan





Curious what the fate of the petrodollar is? Look no farther than this Interfax update blasted moments ago by Bloomberg: "Gazprom Considers 'Symbolic' Yuan Bond Issue, Interfax Says."

 
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Greece To Issue First 5Y Bond Since Bailout At Lowest Yields Since 2009





For the first time since the bailout/restructuring, Greece will issue long-term debt to the public markets. These 5 year-term English Law bonds (which is entirely unsurprising given the total lack of protection local-law bonds suffered during the last restructuring) are expected to yield between 5 and 5.25%. That is modestly higher than Russia, below Mexico, and one-sixth of the yield investors demanded when the crisis was exploding. The secondary market has rallied to this entirely liquidity-fueled level leaving onlookers stunned (and likely Draghi et al. also). Greece must be 'fixed' right? Just don't look at the chart below...

 
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When Even "Erudite" Economists And Journalists Blast QE





Are you saying it took the highbrow economist cadre five years to figure out and agree with what we first said in 2009, and for which we received endless ridicule, abuse and accusations of fringe insanity? Yes. We are saying that.

 
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Lewis On Top: The High Freaks Storm To First Place Of Amazon's Bestseller List





First HFTs took over capital markets courtesy of "legal" orderflow frontrunning which is, for the sixth years in a row, confused with "providing liquidity", and which has allowed such pending IPOs as Virtu to boast 1237 profitable trading days out of 1238 while making their owners multi-billionaires. And now, courtesy of Michael Lewis, the high freaks have also taken over the Amazon bestselling books list.

 
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$4 Trillion In "Fake" Euro Bonds Seized At Vatican Bank





In 2009, two Japanese individuals were arrested trying to smuggle $134 billion in US bonds into Switzerland from Italy. In 2012, Italian authorities seized $6 trillion in allegedly fake US bonds from safe-deposit boxes in Zurich (which were purportedly to be used to buy plutonium from Nigerian sources). And now, in 2014, The BBC reports, Italian police have arrested two men who were allegedly trying to deposit trillions of euros in fake bonds in the Vatican bank.

 
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For Stocks, April Is The Least Cruel Month





Both the entire month of March, and its last full week, particularly for biotech investors and especially hedge funds, is a time that many would rather forget and continue pretending that the saying "as January goes, so goes the year" is no longer applicable. Luckily, for all those bulls who have forgotten that in a normal market there is both return and risk, at least in pre-New Normal times, there may be some good news. As Bank of America's chief technician MacNeil Curry reminds us, April is the least cruel month for stocks, posting the highest monthly average return since 1950, returning just over 2.0%.

 
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