It's almost as if the manic-depressive market has gotten exhausted with the script of surging overnight volatility, and following a week of breathless global "taper tantrumed" trading, tonight's gentle ramp seems modest by comparison to recent violent swings. With no incremental news out of China, the Shanghai composite ended just modestly lower, the Nikkei rushed higher to catch up to the USDJPY implied value, Europe has been largely muted despite better than expected news out of Germany on the unemployment front. This however was offset by a decline in Europe's May M3 (from 3.2% to 2.9%) while bank lending to NFCs and households simply imploded, confirming that there is no hope for a Keynesian, insolvent Europe in which there isn't any credit creation either by commercial banks or by the central bank (and in fact there is ongoing deleveraging across the board). US futures are rangebound with ES just shy of 1,500. We will need some truly ugly data in today's economic docket which includes claims, personal income/spending and pending home sales to push stocks that next leg higher. To think the S&P could have been higher by triple digits yesterday if the final Q1 GDP has just printed red. Failing that, the Fed's doves jawboning may be sufficient for a 100+ DJIA points today with Dudley, Lockhart and Powell all set to speak later today.
The Japanese stereotype of excessive courtesy is being confirmed by the actions of prime minster Shinzo Abe who is giving the world a free and timely lesson on the dangers of overly accommodative monetary policy. Whether or not we benefit from the tutorial (Japan will surely not) depends on our ability to understand what is currently happening there. This time around investors in the Japanese market were similarly deluded by fairy tales. Leading economists told them that Japan could cheapen its currency to improve trade, use inflation to create real growth, increase prices to encourage spending, and drastically increase inflation without raising interest rates. In short, monetary policy was seen as substitute for an actual economy.
UPDATE: Nikkei 225 -360 from US day-session close
Whether some major fund just got another tap on the shoulder or the liquidity cracks are showing up in all asset classes is unclear but just as we saw last night around the China open, gold and Japanese stocks are taking a tumble... while JGBs are relatively calm and JPY is modestly stronger. Chinese stocks, having read the actual report from the PBOC (as opposed to US media who merely guessed that it meant the stick-save was in), are selling off - though only down around 1% for now. Why? Simply put, if the PBOC promises to selectively save banks, how do you know which ones? So sell them all first... US futures are testing down towards day-session lows but not moving as aggressivley as Japan.
Reuters reports that Japan's public pension fund, the world's largest with a pool of $1.1 trillion, and which until recently was the mystery buyer ex machina that was supposed to buy up the Nikkei past 16,000 and on its way to 20,000, 30,000 and more (a dream that fizzled as quickly as it appeared following our explanation that buying stocks means selling bonds), may start buying real estate to boost returns in a move that could involve tens of billions pouring into cities such as London and Paris. Or New York.
Jean-Claude Trichet, the former head of the European Central Bank, in an interview with CNBC stated that there was only so much that central banks could do to save the economic situation at the present time.
It was shaping up to be another bloodbathed session, with the futures down 10 points around the time Shanghai started crashing for the second night in a row, and threatening to take out key SPX support levels, when the previously noted rumor of an imminent PBOC liquidity injection appeared ex machina and sent the Shanghai composite soaring by 5% to barely unchanged, but more importantly for the all important US wealth effect, the Emini moved nearly 20 points higher from the overnight lows triggering momentum ignition algos that had no idea why they are buying only knowing others are buying. The rumor was promptly squashed when the PBOC did indeed take the mic, but contrary to expectations, announced that liquidity was quite "ample" and no new measures were forthcoming. However, by then the upward momentum was all that mattered and the fact that the underlying catalyst was a lie, was promptly forgotten. End result: futures now at the highs for absolutely no reason.
Things are getting a little out of hand in Asia once again. China's Shanghai Composite is down 3.7% at the break for its biggest 2-day drop in almost 4 years (-8.9%) and Japan's Nikkei 225, after staging a solid come-back has collapsed 450 points from its highs of the early session smashing below the US day-session lows. Chinese repo is very noisy but 7-day is around 160bps higher for now at 9.2% (having traded at 17% at one point - suggesting 'specific' injections have been made). The carry unwinds continue as USDJPY and Nikkei track each other tick for tick. S&P futures are not going unpunished (-4.5 from the close and -12 from after-hours highs). What's Chinese for 'Dallas Fed's Fisher' or Japanese for 'Hilsenrath'?
China’s central bank issued a statement that the Chinese banking system had liquidity levels that were “reasonable” today. There by hangs a tale. ‘Reasonable’ is that which may fairy and properly be required of an individual (a case of prudent action observed under a set of given circumstances).
Lots of sellside squeals this morning following the epic bloodbath in China, where in addition to what we already covered hours ago, has seen at least five companies (China Development Bank, Shanghai ShenTong Metro, China Three Gorges Corp., Doosan Infracore China Co. and Chongqing Shipping Construction Development) delay or cancel bond offerings as the PBOC's admission of capital "misallocation" is slowly but surely freezing both bond and stock markets. And while the plunge was contained first to China, then to Asia, then to Europe (where the Spanish 10 Year once again surpassed 5% as expected following the carry trade unwind), with the arrival of bleary-eyed US traders the contagion is finally coming home. In a redux of last week, 10 Year yields are shooting up, hitting as high as 2.63% a few hours ago, while equity futures are now at the lows of the session. It could turn very ugly, very fast, especially if the Hamptons crowd were to actually read the stunning BIS annual report released on Sunday, which not even Hilsenrath explaining "what the BIS really meant" will do much to change the fact that the days of monetary Koolaid are ending.
Until now, we have refrained from trying to explain Fedspeak to the masses. The truth is it's not opaque. It's not indecipherable. It's simple. Or at least you can choose to believe it is, as we have. At last week’s press conference, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke fielded questions from reporters employed by some of the world's most esteemed news organizations. Here is a summary, translated from Fedspeak into ordinary American English and heavily condensed for easy tweeting.
After Thursday night's global liquidation fireworks, the overnight trading session was positively tame by comparison. After opening lower, the Nikkei ended up 1.7% driven by a modest jump in the USDJPY. China too noted a drop in its ultra-short term repo and SHIBOR rate, however not due to a broad liquidity injection but because as we reported previously the PBOC did a targeted bail out of one or more banks with a CNY 50 billion injection. Overnight, the PBOC added some more color telling banks to not expect the liquidity will always be plentiful as the well-known transition to a slower growth frame continues. The PBOC also reaffirmed that monetary policy will remain prudential, ordered commercial banks to enhance liquidity management, told big banks that they should play a role in keeping markets stable, and most importantly that banks can't rely on an expansionary policy to solve economic problems. Had the Fed uttered the last statement, the ES would be halted limit down right about now. For now, however, communist China continues to act as the most capitalist country, even if it means the Shanghai Composite is now down 11% for the month of June.
But, but, but... the rally was all about earnings and fundamentals... not the Fed, right?
The global liquidation wave started with Bernanke's statement yesterday, which was interpreted far more hawkishly than any of his previous public appearances, even though the Fed had been warning for months about the taper. Still, markets were shocked, shocked. Then it moved to Japan, where for the first time in months, the USDJPY and the Nikkei diverged, and despite the strong dollar, the Nikkei slumped 1.74%. Then, China was swept under, following the weakest HSBC flash manufacturing PMI print even as the PBOC continued to not help a liquidity-starved banking sector, leading to the overnight repo rate briefly touching on an unprecedented 25%, and locking up the entire interbank market, sending the Shanghai Composite down nearly 3% as China is on its way to going red for the year. Then, India got hit, with the rupee plunging to a record low against the dollar and the bond market briefly being halted limit down. Then moving to Europe, market after market opened and promptly slid deep into the red, despite a services and mfg PMI which both beat expectations modestly (48.6 vs 47.5 exp., 48.9 vs 48.1 exp) while German manufacturing weakened. This didn't matter to either stocks or bond markets, as peripheral bond yields promptly soared as the unwind of the carry trade is facing complacent bond fund managers in the face. And of course, the selling has now shifted to the US-premarket session where equity futures have seen better days. In short: a bloodbath.
Things are escalating quickly... with US Treasuries beginning to look a lot like JGBs: the 5Y soared +18bps to the highest since August 2011, the 10Y +13.5bps touches 2.32% widest since March 2012, 30Y +8bps, and credit markets are getting monkey-hammered. There is no joy in Newport Beachville.
While all eyes and ears will conveniently and expectedly be on the Fed announcement and press conference in a few hours, the real action continues to take place in China, where the liquidity crunch is becoming unbearable for the local banks (and will only get worse the longer Bernanke and Kuroda keep their hot money policies). The CNY benchmark money-market one-week repo rate was 138bp higher overnight to a 2 year high of 8.15%. The 7 day Interest-Rate swap rose for a record 13th day in a row jumping +10 bps to 4.08%, the highest since September 2011. China sold 10 Year bonds at a 3.50% yield, above the 3.47% expected, and at a bid to cover of 1.43 which was the lowest since August 2012. Moody’s commented that local government financing vehicles (LGFVs) pose significant risks to Chinese banks. LGFVs accounted for 14% of loan portfolios at end-2012 according to Moody’s.