It's the last Friday of 2013. Here is what happened overnight.
The latest overnight meltup which has pushed the DJIA and S&P to new implied record opens has been driven by, what else, the falling Yen, which after tumbling to fresh new 5 year lows following the release of the BOJ minutes (which said nothing new), has sent both the Nikkei higher by 1%, to post-2008 highs of 16,174, while the S&P, up about 5 points just shy of 1840, and has only three trading days in which it should close the gap to the central banks' price target of 1900 as we first showed in April. In the absence of any actual newsflow (we now live in a world in which both good and bad news are P/E multiple beneficial, just continue keeping an eye on the EURJPY and the USDJPY - these are the only two signals tht matter for the market.
From the first headline to the last, the following brief month-by-month summary of the year shows just how far markets and global happenings have come...
- Edward Snowden, after months of NSA revelations, says his mission’s accomplished (WaPo)
- Japan’s Nikkei 225 Extends Six-Year High on U.S. Data (BBG)
- Retailers blend stores, e-commerce to snag holiday stragglers (Reuters)
- Storm wreaks havoc in Britain, France ahead of Christmas (Reuters)
- Big Rally to Pump Up Wall Street Bonuses (WSJ)
- Obamacare Sign-Up Extended as Record 1 Million Use Site (BBG)
- Merkel Hits Wall With Europe Fix (WSJ)
- Boaz Weinstein Loses for Second Year as European Bet Sours (BBG)
- UniCredit has reached an agreement to sell almost €1 billion in nonperforming loans to Cerberus (WSJ)
- U.S. mortgage applications fall as refinance hits five-year low (Reuters)
- Cohen Said to Have Warned Friend About Possible Federal Investigation (NYT)
- ‘Duck Dynasty’ Dad Risks $500 Million With Gay-Sin Remark (BBG)
While shortened Christmas Eve trading is traditionally the lowest volume day of the year, based on recent trends it may be difficult for today's action to stand out from the landscape thanks to an ongoing volume collapse, which however should make the even more traditional low-volume melt up that much easier. Sure enough, futures are modestly higher driven by their favorite signal, the EURJPY. Not surprisingly there has been particularly light newsflow with market closures in Germany, Italy and Switzerland in addition to early market closures for UK, France, Netherlands and Spain. Those markets that are open are trading in positive territory with the FTSE 100 being supported by BSkyB following an upbeat pre-market report for the company and their customer base, whilst the IBEX 35 is being supported by the financial sector. Overnight in China there was news of an injection of CNY 29bln via a 7-day reverse repo, although market commentators have said that this is more of a gesture than any meaningful intervention given the size of the country's banking market. Fixed income markets are particularly light with there being no trade in the bund future given the Eurex closure, with other trading products relatively flat given the lack of newsflow. However, the short-sterling curve has bear-steepened and thus continuing the trend seen since the end of last week as a result of both UK unemployment and UK GDP coming in better than expected.
New 52-week highs reached 2-month highs (and lows at 1-month lows) as stocks ruged to new record-er highs once again today. Aided by AAPL, the NASDAQ outperformed but the ridiculousness was not limited as TWTR continues its exponential rise (up over 59% in the last 2 weeks). Today's range was small in stocks (except for a strange - likely rebalancing related - 6% rise in the Russell at the open) and volume barely above the lowest of the year. Bonds sold off modestly with 7s and 10s worse at +3.5bps following ths morning's un-fat-finger idiocy in Treasury Futures markets. VIX was banged lower (with a late flourish) to 1-month lows. The USD slipped modestly lower on the day but rallied from the US open but correlations to JPY crossesd were not great for stocks once again. Commodities were quiet with Silver up and gold down (back under $1200).
Global monetary conditions remain easy and despite the Fed's decision to taper, peak monetary accommodation is not here yet.
Overnight one of the main stories is that the European Union has been downgraded to AA+ from AAA by S&P. While the market digests the impact of the downgrade, all eyes remain on the US treasury market. As Deutsche Bank notes, treasuries are increasingly being viewed as a potential sign of the success or not of the Fed taper in early 2014. From the lows in the immediate aftermath of Wednesday’s FOMC, 10yr UST yields have added more than 10bp. Yields continue to leak this morning (-2bp to 2.95%) though we’re still hovering at levels last seen in early September just before the Fed surprised markets with its non-taper. Despite this, US equities and credit were both reasonably well supported yesterday. However the combination of higher UST yields and a stronger dollar resulted in a fairly difficult day for EM. In EMFX, the Brazilian Real fell 1.1% against the USD, underperforming most other EM currencies. The move was exacerbated by the announcement from the BCB that it would wind back its intervention in the currency market, following the initial positive reaction to tapering on Wednesday. Other EM currencies also struggled including the TRY (-0.7%), MXN (-0.7%) and IDR (-0.3%). A number of EM equity markets struggled including in Poland (-0.7%) and Turkey (-3.5%).
If yesterday's price action in the moments following (and preceding) the FOMC announcement was just a little suspicious, with a seemingly endless supply of VIX selling originating as if from nowhere (or perhaps the 9th floor of Liberty 33) the morning after has so far been a snoozer. Perhaps this is to be expected following the third biggest one-day surge in the stock market in the year (1st = Jan 2nd, 2nd = October 10th), or perhaps the market is finally focusing on Bernanke's tongue in cheek suggestion that the taper may be lowered by $10 billion per month (we disagree as described previously). Or perhaps the creep higher in 10 Year yields, at 2.915% at last check and just shy of the 3.00% psychological level, is finally being noticed. Or perhaps the fact that China, very surprisingly, is also tapering concurrently is finally being appreciated as is the fact that despite all talk of preparedness, developing economies were hardly left unscathed following yesterday's development. Whatever the reason, the euphoria this morning has "tapered."
The S&P 500 rallied well over 40 points (and the Dow up over 350 points) off the FOMC knee-jerk lows but bonds were largely unimpressed. USDJPY surged to new 5-year highs over 104. Bonds weakened, rallied,a nd then leaked back higher in yield to close almost unchanged from the FOMC announcement. VIX was smahsed back under 14% - its biggest drop in over 2 months.
*S&P 500 RISES 1.7% TO RECORD 1,810.79 AT CLOSE
DOW AVERAGE INCREASES 1.9% TO RECORD 16,171.12 AT CLOSE
We can only imagine what would have happened if he'd tapered $20 billion?
Of the 8 "most important ever" FOMC decisions in 2013, this one is undisputedly, and without doubt, the 8th. As Jim Reid summarizes, what everyone wonders is whether today’s decision by the FOMC will have a bearing on a few last-minute Xmas presents around global financial markets. No taper and markets probably breathe a sigh of relief and the feel-good factor might turn that handheld game machine into a full-blown PS4 by Xmas day. However a taper now might just take the edge off the festivities and leave a few presents on the shelves. Given that the S&P 500 has pretty much flat-lined since early-mid November in spite of better data one would have to say that some risk of tapering has been priced in but perhaps not all of it. Alternatively if they don’t taper one would expect markets to see a pretty decent relief rally over the rest of the year. So will it be Santa or Scrooge from the Fed tonight at 2pm EST?
JPY Dumps And Nikkei Explodes As Japan's (32nd Month In A Row) Adjusted Trade Deficit Hits Record HighSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/17/2013 19:43 -0500
Just because we thought it worthwhile to keep track of how out of control things are getting in Japan, a quick summary of this evening's data. The Japanese trade balance (adjusted) shows a deficit for the 32nd month in a row and has surged to its largest (worst) level on record. It has missed expectations in 5 of the last 6 months. Imports rose more than expected again with a 10.2% MoM gain in imports from the US (and 35% YoY). This massive deficit is before the military spending unveiled last night has hit though one thing is certain, Goldman Sachs will be out with a report any second proclaiming the mythical J-curve about to arrive any moment... The reaction - JPY dumps and NKY explodes higher as bad news is good news in QQE land.
Today (like pretty much every other day), it will be all about the Fed and the start of its 2-day FOMC meeting, whose outcome will be influenced by today's 8:30 am CPI report as inflation (Exp. 0.1%) according to many is the only thing stopping the Fed from tapering in light of better than expected recent economic data as well as a clearer fiscal outlook. Or at least that's what the watercooler talk is. The hardliners now agree that since the Fed openly ignored the bond market liquidity considerations in September, that it will plough on through December with no announcement, and potentially continue into 2014 with zero chances of tapering especially now that we approach the end of the business cycle and the Fed should be adding accommodation not removing it. To that end, the consensus still is in favour of January or March for the first taper so markets are not fully set up for a move; conversely a dovish statement would probably result in yet another pre-Christmas, year end market surge, which in the lower market liquidity days of December is likely what the Fed is going for, instead of a volatile, zero liquidity sell off, despite Thursday's double POMO.
Following last night's freak central-planning accident (previously in history known as "selling") in the S&P futures, we said that "we expect Overnight Ramp Capital to arrive promptly or else confidence in central-planning may take a hit ahead of the Wednesday Taperish FOMC, and Thursday's double POMO." A few hours later, even we were surprised by how high the low volume tape managed to drag ES, which staged a dramatic 20 point comeback, on the back of a sharp reversal in FX driven higher by both a stronger Euro (helped by better than expected German and Eurozone PMIs offsetting China PMI weakness, and lack of optimism in the core Japanese Tankan) and a weaker Yen, the two key signals for E-mini directionality. Sure enough, at last check the futures we trading just why of the "independence day" 1776, after briefly breaking the 50-DMA and then being supported by 1760 in the futures. The rest is perfectly predictable central-planning history.
Just after 10pm Eastern, a big block in the S&P futures, over 10k contracts, was dumped in the very thin Sunday night tape, sending the complex lower by over 10 points, and after opening at 1768.5, ES dumped as low at 1754 in a matter of seconds, before recovering some of the losses to 1760 (1754 just happens to be perfectly the 50-day-moving average for the March 2014 futures contract). The Nikkei was hit concurrently by correlation algos impacted by the same downdraft, which also pinged the various JPY pairs lower, if leaving the EUR largely untouched. Needless to say there was no news of note to prompt this move, which appears to have been either a partial fat finger, or someone trying to exit the market in a hurry ahead of next week's FOMC festivities.