While the situation between Israel and Gaza continues to escalate, pulling the markets' attention away from the recent developments in Iraq (as for the Ukraine civil war, forget it), the big news overnight came out of Chine which reported another contraction in consumer prices, which both declined to 2.3% and missed expectations of a 2.4% print (down from 2.5%). Producer Prices had another negative print, the 28th in a row, and have remained negative since 2012. This led to the Hang Seng Index falling at the fastest rate since late June to erase all YTD gains. However, as has now become the norm, macro news hardly impacted US equity futures, which are driven exclusively by the Yen carry trade, which unlike yesterday's pounding, has traded rangebound between 101.6-101.7 keeping US equity futures just barely in the green. We expect the momentum ignition algo to kick in at some point, for absolute no fundamental reason beside the NY Fed trading desk issuing a green light, sending the USDJPY surging, taking the Spoos with them, and helping stocks forget all about the weak Asian session.
For a brief month of "we've been down so long, everything looks up", the NFIB Small Business survey suggested the 'recovery' was real and so serial extrapolators (throwing out the 'and small business is the engine of job growth' meme) jumped on it as 'proof' that stocks are cheap and bonds should be sold... then comes June data today (and it's a disaster). 6 of the NFIB's 10 indicators decreased, with about half of the decline in the overall index due to less confidence in future business conditions, the report said, with only 2 indicators improving. CapEx dropped, Sales expectations dropped, 'good time to expand' dropped, actual sales dropped with only hiring plans rising (which seems odd in the face of all the negativity in the rest of the survey) - we will see.
- Headline of the day: Complacency Breeds $2 Trillion of Junk as Sewage Funded (BBG)
- Israel intensifies Gaza offensive after surge in rocket fire (Reuters)
- Profits plunge at Vatican bank (FT)
- Investors Are Buying Troubled Golf Courses and Giving Them Makeovers (NYT)
- Pimco Dissidents Challenge Bill Gross in ‘Happy Kingdom (BBG)
- That's a new one: Marks and Spencer blames new website for sales drop (Reuters)
- Iran's Supreme Leader calls for more enrichment capacity (Reuters)
- Boeing Faces Long-Term Credit Risk if Ex-Im Bank Closed, S&P Says (WSJ) not to mention the collapse risk to US durable goods orders
- U.K. Manufacturing Unexpectedly Slumps Most in 16 Months (BBG)
- Some Still Lack Coverage Under Health Law (WSJ)
There is much hope that after a dismal Q1 GDP report of -1% annualized growth in the domestic economy, that Q2 will see a sharp rebound of between 3-4% according to the bulk of economists. The Federal Reserve is predicting that the U.S. economy will grow as strongly as 2.8% in real terms for the entirety of 2014. The achievement of the Fed's rather lofty goal would require a real 4% annualized growth in each of the next three quarters. The problem with this assumption is that the last time that the U.S. economy grew at 4% or more, over three consecutive quarters, was in 1983.
Yesterday's market action was perfectly predictable, and as we forecast, it followed the move of the USDJPY almost to a tick, which with the help of a last minute VIX smash (just when will the CFTC finally look at the "banging the close" in the VIX by the NY Fed?) pushed the DJIA to a new record high, courtesy of the overnight USDJPY selling which in turn allowed all day buying of the key carry pair. Fast forward to today when once again we have a replica of the set up: a big overnight dump in USDJPY has sent the dollar-yen to just over 102.000. And since Nomura has a green light by the BOJ to lift every USDJPY offer south of 102.000 we expect the USDJPY to once again rebound and push what right now is a weak equity futures session (-8) well above current levels. Unless, of course, central banks finally are starting to shift their policy, realizing that they may have lost control to the upside since algos no longer care about warnings that "volatility is too low", knowing full well the same Fed will come and bail them out on even the tiniest downtick. Which begs the question: is a big Fed-mandated shakeout coming? Could the coming FOMC announcement be just the right time and place for the Fed to surprise the market out of its "complacency" and whip out an unexpected hawk out of its sleeve?
- Ukraine, Russia Fail to Reach Deal in Natural-Gas Talks (WSJ)
- Boko Haram Kidnaps More Girls in Nigeria (WSJ)
- Déjà vu: echoes of pre-crisis world mount (FT)
- Money market rates hit new low as ECB moves gain traction (Reuters)
- 'Dark Pools' Face New SEC Probe (WSJ)
- Buffett Ready to Double $15 Billion Solar, Wind Bet (BBG)
- White House-Congress rift over Bergdahl deal deepens (Reuters)
- Taxpayers Face Big Medicare Tab for Unusual Doctor Billings (WSJ)
- Lean Retirement Faces U.S. Generation X as Wealth Trails (BBG)
- Employers’ skills gap claim does not show up in US wage data (FT)
- He is holding out for the Zuckerberg overbid: Donald Sterling says LA Clippers not for sale (WSJ)
Has there been an economic recovery? The statistical data clearly shows that this has been the case. However, the 100 million Americans that currently depend on some sort of social assistance to "make ends meet" are likely to disagree with that view.
Regardless of which side of the low labor force participation rate argument you stand on, it is hard to argue that it is simply a function of retiring "baby boomers." While political arguments are great for debate, it is the economics that ultimately drive employment. While the Fed has inflated asset prices to the satisfaction of Wall Street, it has done little for the middle class. It is ultimately fiscal policy that will help business create employment, the problem is that businesses need less of it while government officials keep piling on more. In the meantime, stop blaming "baby boomers" for not retiring - they simply can't afford to.
If, in the New Normal, newsflow and facts mattered, facts such as the German Zew Investor Expectations index crashing from 43.2 to 33.1, smashing expectations of a 40.0 print to the downside and down to the lowest since January 2013 nearly half the 7 year half reported as recently as December confirming Germany can no longer be Europe's growth dynamo courtesy of a still nosebleed high EURUSD, or facts such as overnight Chinese data missed in every category with industrial output up 8.7% y/y in April vs an estimated 8.9%, retail sales up 11.9% below the estimated 12.2% rise and ; Jan.-April fixed-asset investment growing 17.3% vs est. 17.7%, then futures may just posted a downtick. However, since it is a Tuesday, with a ~$1 billion POMO, one can ignore the fundamentals and proceed straight to buying anything and everything with indiscriminate abandon. The only question is whether the NY Fed orders Citadel to slam the VIX under 11 to start off the morning S&P rampage which should push the broad market index above Goldman's 1900 price target for the end of the 2014.
This week markets are likely to focus on a few important data prints in DMs, including Philly Fed in the US (expect solid expansionary territory) and 1Q GDP releases in the Euro area (with upside risks). In DMs, the highlights of the week include [on Monday] Japan’s trade balance data and Australia business conditions; [on Tuesday] US retail sales, CPI in Italy and Sweden; [on Wednesday] US PPI, Euro area IP, CPI in France, Germany and Spain; [on Thursday] US Philly Fed, CPI, capacity utilization, Euro area and Japan GDP; and [on Friday] US Univ. of Michigan Confidence. In the US, we expect Philly Fed to print in solidly expansionary territory (at 14, similar to consensus) and to inaugurate what we call the active data period of the month. We also expect CPI inflation to print at 0.3% mom (similar to consensus), and core CPI inflation at 0.18% mom (slightly above consensus).
Having hit their most hopeful levels in seven years in January, small business hiring plans have collapsed at the fastest rate since Lehman in the ensuring 2 months. Despite the headlines proclaiming the modest rise and beat in the headline NFIB data, capex spending plans dropped and hiring expectations dropped to lows seen 11 months ago. We can only assume the small businesses are expecting more winter storms through the spring...
It took Virtu's idiot algos some time to process that the lack of BOJ stimulus is not bullish for more BOJ stimulus - something that has been priced in since October and which sent the USDJPY up from 97.000 to 105.000 in a few months, but it finally sank in when BOJ head Kuroda explicitly stated overnight that there is "no need to add stimulus now." That, and the disappointing news from China that the middle kingdom too has no plans for a major stimulus, as we reported last night, were the final straws that forced the USDJPY to lose the tractor-beamed 103.000 "fundamental level", tripping the countless sell stops just below it, and slid 50 pips lower as of this moment to overnight lows at the 102.500 level, in turn dragging US but mostly European equity futures with it, and the Dax was last seen tripping stops below 9400.
There is a reasonably quiet start to the week before we head into the highlights of the week including the start of US reporting season tomorrow, FOMC minutes on Wednesday and IMF meetings in Washington on Friday. On the schedule for today central bank officials from the ECB including Mersch, Weidmann and Constancio will be speaking. The Fed’s Bullard speaks today, and no doubt there will be interest in his comments from last week suggesting that the Fed will hike rates in early 2015.
Blaming the weather for the sullen state of corporate or economic affairs has become a daily occurrence by analysts, pundits and corporate chieftains. However, Bloomberg's Rich Yamarone notes that while there has undoubtedly been a larger-than-normal impact this year, some sub-components of headline indicators suggest underlying weakness without the influence of snowstorms. Sinking economic activity cannot be blamed solely on poor weather, he adds, noting one client's comment that, "If we adjusted for weather, Napoleon would have taken Russia in 1812."
While the Fed's interventions have certainly bolstered asset prices by driving a "carry trade," these programs do not address the central issue necessary in a consumer driven economy which is "employment." In an economy that is nearly 70% driven by consumption, production comes first in the economic order. Without a job, through which an individual produces a good or service in exchange for payment, there is no income to consume with. With the Federal Reserve now effectively removing the "patient" from life support, we will see if the economy can sustain itself. If this recent Bloomberg poll is correct, then we are likely to get an answer very shortly, and it may very well be disappointment.