To some (mostly those in the 1-10% wealth bucket) the main event today is the iWatch unveiling. To others (mostly those not in the 1-10% wealth bucket) it is the Eurogroup meeting in which the fate of Greece will be discussed and perhaps decided. One thing is certain: virtually nobody will care when the Fed's Mester and Kocherlakota speak later today as the Fed is now - supposedly - set to hike no matter what. Here is what the other main events are for the balance of the week.
It was not all smiles and jokes as Mario Draghi's European QE officially launched in Europe, with Greece leaving the proverbial turd in the monetary punch bowl.
"The relationship of U.S. net worth to GDP appears to have reached unsustainable heights," warns NFIB Chief Economist William Dunkelberg, adding that a massive decline in the value of assets is "more likely" than a massive increase in GDP. Logically this seems unavoidable, unless you believe that we are truly wealthier now, even with an economy that is delivering a rather poor performance (historically weak output and sales growth) in real terms. It would seem not to be 'whether' we will adjust but when.
The only question on traders' minds today, with the lack of any macro news out of the US (except for the DOE crude oil inventory update at 10:30am Eastern expecting a build of 3.5MM, down from 6.33MM last week, and the 10 Year bond auction at 1pm) is which Greek trip abroad is more important: that of FinMin Varoufakis to Belgium where he will enter the lion's den of Eurogroup finance ministers at 3:30pm GMT, or that of the foreign minister Kotzias who has already arrived in Moscow, and where we already got such blockbuster statements as:
LAVROV: RUSSIA WILL CONSIDER AID REQUESTS, IF GREECE MAKES THEM; KOTZIAS: GREECE IS WILLING TO MEDIATE BETWEEN EU, RUSSIA
Or perhaps both are critical, as what happens in Brussels will surely impact the outcome of the Greek trip to Russia?
But the shadow of crisis has passed... it appears the engine of job growth in America is sputtering as NFIB Small Business optimism dropped from 100.4 to 97.9 (against an extrapolated 101.0 expectation - the biggest miss since Nov 2012). Across the board the data was disappointing with the percentage of firms expecting a better economy falling to 0%, and the number of employers anticipating job creation drops to just 14%.
- Greek defense minister says Greece has Plan B if EU rigid on deal (Reuters)
- Germany rejects Greek claim for World War Two reparations (Reuters)
- Greece to Seek $11.3 Billion in Financing to Avoid Funding Crunch (BBG)
- Lazard Sees $113 Billion Greek Debt Cut as ‘Reasonable’ (BBG)
- U.S. Navy Considers Setting Up Ship Base in Australia (BBG)
- Dalio’s Bridgewater Fund Said to Rise 8.3% in January (BBG)
- As U.S. Exits, China Takes On Afghanistan Role (WSJ)
- EU money funds cut exposure to bank debt (FT)
- China Inflation Drops to Five-Year Low in January (WSJ)
- Oil-Price Rebound Predicted (WSJ)
So far it has been largely a repeat of the previous overnight session, where absent significant macro drivers, the attention again remains focused both on China, which reported some truly ugly inflation (with 0.8% Y/Y CPI the lowest since Lehman, just call it deflation net of the "goalseeking") data (which as usually is "good for stocks" pushing the SHCOMP 1.5% higher as it means even more easing), and on Greece, which has not made any major headlines in the past 24 hours as patience on both sides is growing thin ahead of the final "bluff" showdown between Greece and the Eurozone is imminent. The question as usual is who will have just a fraction more leverage in the final assessment - Greece has made its ask known, and it comes in the form of 10 billion euros in short-term "bridge" financing consisting of €8 billion increase in Bills issuance and €1.9 billion in ECB profits, as it tries to stave off a funding crunch, a proposal which will be presented on the Wednesday meeting of euro area finance ministers in Brussels. The question remains what Europe's countrbid, if any, will be. For the answer: stay tuned in 24 hours.
'After two days of sharp intraday and vicious reversals, the BTFD algos are suspiciously missing overnight, when as reported earlier, a bout of margin calls and stop loss selling meant not crude but copper would crash in today's episode of "guess the crashing commodity", on what Goldman dubbed a Chinese demand collapse which for those confused is different than an OPEC supply glut, and is also the reason why the entire commodity complex is trading at a decade plus low. As a result copper plunged to a five and a half year low, in the process halting the market due to the severity of the plunge. But the big event overnight was the farcical announcement by the European top court, which as everyone expected, rejected the German rejection of the OMT as illegal, stating it was not only legal (with certain conditions) but greenlighting the way for the ECB's QE in one week, a move which sent the EURUSD crashing to a fresh 9 year low!
- Oil Drops Below $45; U.S. Stockpiles May Speed Collapse (BBG)
- Pound Drops as Traders Write Off Higher Rates on Inflation Slump (BBG)
- Oil prices down again as UAE defends holding production (Reuters)
- The Politics Behind the ECB's Threat to Cut Greece Funding (BBG)
- France dispatched thousands of police and military personnel to protect synagogues and Jewish schools, as the government warned of continued terror threats after three days of deadly violence (WSJ)
- Chinese Car Dealers Find Days of ‘Printing Money’ Ending (BBG)
- Gold Rises to Highest Since October as U.S. Rate Outlook Weighed (BBG)
- Divers retrieve crashed AirAsia jet's cockpit voice recorder (Reuters)
So far today has been a replica of yesterday, with the crude rout continuing and pushing WTI under $45, but largely ignored by the FX carry pairs, and thus equity futures, which have seen some positive momentum from overnight trade data out of China where exports jumped 9.7% beating the 6% expectation, while imports fell 2.4% compared to a projected 6.2% decline as the trade surplus narrowed from November’s record $54.4 billion. For the full year, however, Chinese trade grew at just 3.4%, missing the government’s target of 7.5% growth for the third year in a row as the government quick to blame the slowing global economy. In any event, the USDJPY is well off the overnight lows which means the EuroStoxx is up some 0.8% which, just like yesterday, the E-mini is up some 9 points and rising. It remains to be seen if, just like yesterday, US equities will crash at a precipitous pace after the open, once algos realize that nothing at all has changed.
If you, like the BIS, are sick and tired of central bankers, and in this case the ECB's endless jawboning and now daily QE threats, determining the level of stocks, well then today is a good day as any to take your blood pressure medication. Because first it was ECB Governing Council member Ignazio Visco who told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag that the risk of deflation in the euro zone should not be underestimated and urged the bank to buy government debt, and then, yet another regurgitated story, came from CNBC whose "sources" reported that the ECB QE would be based on contributions from national central banks and paid in capital. And while otherwise the cross-correlation trades would have at least pushed the crude complex modestly higher, today it was Goldman's energy analyst Jeffrey Currie finally throwing up all over oil, with a report in which he said that "because shale can rebound quickly once capital investments return, we now believe WTI needs to trade near $40/bbl for most of 1H15 to keep capital sidelined."
Now that China is on the same boat as the rest of the world, and its stock market is a direct reflection of hopes for constant liquidity injections by the central banks, nothing could be better for stocks than bad news, which is precisely what it got. After the biggest crash in the Shanghai Composite in 5 years, what China got just the bad economic update it needed, when it reported a PPI of PPI (-2.7%, Exp. -2.4%), the 33rd consecutive decline and a CPI (1.4%, Exp. 1.6%), lowest since November 2009, when the big banks’ RRR rate stood at 15.5% vs. current 20%. And so hope of yet more PBOC interventions to halt China's deflation promptly reversed SHCOMP losses of over 4% on the session (at which point it was just shy of correction territory from recent highs hit just this week), and stocks surged to close up almost 3%, erasing half of yesterday's losses. This spike came despite reports Chinese regulators may limit brokerages' interbank borrowing.
- China’s Stocks Sink Most Since 2009 as Turnover Jumps to Record (BBG)
- Greek Stocks, Bonds Tumble (WSJ)
- China tightens LGFV funding screws (BBG)
- Crude Rebounds From Five-Year Low Amid Shale-Oil Spending Curbs (BBG)
- Sexual threats, other CIA methods detailed in Senate report (Reuters)
- U.S. Takes Security Precautions Overseas Ahead of CIA Report (WSJ)
- Light-Speed Treasury Trading Governed by Rules Dating to 1998 (BBG)
- Delhi to ban all internet taxi firms after Uber rape claim (Reuters)
- Supreme Group Fined $389 Million for Overcharging Pentagon (WSJ)
It wasn't just China's long overdue crash last night. In addition to the Shanghai Composite suffering its biggest plunge since August 2009, there has been a sharp slide in the USDJPY which has broken its uptrend to +∞ (and hyperinflation), and around the time Chinese gamblers were panicking, the FX pair tumbled under 120, although since then the 120 tractor beam has been activated. Elsewhere, the Athens stock exchange is also crashing by over 10% this morning on the heels of news that the Greek government has accelerated the process to elect the next president and possibly, a rerun of the drama from the summer of 2012 when the Eurozone was hanging by a thread when Tsipras almost won the presidential vote and killed the world's most artificial and insolvent monetary union. And finally, the crude plunge appears to have finally caught up with ground zero, with ADX General Index in Abu Dhabi plunging 3.5%, also poised for the biggest drop since 2009. In fact the only thing that isn't crashing (at least not this moment), is Brent, which did drop to new 5 year lows earlier under $66, but has since staged a feeble rebound.
Despite the utter exuberance at Friday's payrolls data -which 'everyone' saw as nothing but indicative of escape velocity and utopia in America's near future - the Fed's new multifactor model of the US jobs market shows growth sliding to just 2.9% MoM. This is the almost the slowest growth since Aug 2012.