Next week’s calendar is packed with important events and releases, aside of course from the biggest event of the week which are the Italian elections. In fact we already got the first one in the form of China's disappointing HSBC flash PMI which consensus expectations would print stable yet which dropped to a 4 month low. On Friday, the ISM is expected to come out mildly softer vs last month’s strong 53.1 print and consensus at 52.5. Chicago PMI will also be followed by markets on Thursday. On the central bank front markets will be primarily looking for further news on the BOJ leadership succession front. From the perspective of Fed speakers, Chairman Bernanke’s testimony ahead of the Senate Banking Committee will also be followed as markets continue to track the Fed’s assessment of the economic recovery. In the global currency warfare front, the Bank of Israel is expected to cut policy rates by 25bps on Monday, as well as the National Bank of Hungary on Tuesday.
Following last night's very disappointing China HSBC PMI numbers, one would think that the traditional EURUSD, and thus ES, overnight ramp would be missing or at least delayed, especially ahead of a very possible risk off day such as Italian election day. One would be wrong. Because some time after midnight eastern, in what can only be seen as a celebration of Argo's choice as a best picture, the EURUSD resumed its upward ramp on absolutely no news, pushing the pair higher by nearly 100 pips in a smooth diagonal line, and dragging US futures up with it as usual. The catalyst apparently is that with Italian exit polls mere hours away (due out at 2pm GMT), market talk is that Berlusconi's resurgent chances have been hobbled due to a low turnout in the pro-Berlusconi northern states (recall that Lombardia is the key state for the elections) following a quick read of a Reuters recap article. What is ignored is that the referenced Reuters article also notes the "surge in protests votes being cast" in the first day of voting, which means less votes on an absolute and relative basis for Bersani and Monti, even if Berlusconi ends up getting less of the Northern vote. Of course, nobody actually has any clue what the exit polls look like. In fact, with a hung parliament a distinct possibility even assuming a Bersani-Monti coalition, both Goldman and JPM have said a 50-100 pip widening across the Italian curve is possible should a Hung Parliament develop (for more read here). But for now hope dominates and is both squeezing the shorts and causing yet another algorithmic stop hunt in FX, and thus every other asset class. Don't be surprised all of overnight's gains, and much more to be wiped out minutes after 9 am eastern when the first Italian exit polls emerge.
- China drains cash to curb liquidity (FT) - no longer just a New Year issue...
- Hilesnrath speaks (but nobody cares anymore) - Fed Split Over How Long To Keep Cash Spigot Open (WSJ)
- Chasm opening between weak French and strong German economies (Reuters)
- JPMorgan Said to Seek First Sale of Mortgage Bonds Since Crisis (BBG)
- China's Bo Xilai not cooperating on probe, been on hunger strike (Reuters)
- Fed minutes send warning on durability of bond buying (Reuters)
- Sony Seeks an Extra Life in New PlayStation 4 (BBG)
- Rajoy pledges fresh round of reforms (FT) - and by reforms he means kickbacks?
- Doubts loom over eurozone recovery (BBG)
- China Extending Zhou Stay Seen as Aid to Financial Overhaul (BBG)
- King Pulls Out Stops to Energize Economy in Carney Handover (BBG)
- Central Banks Discussed Nominal GDP Targets at G-20 (Businessweek)
- Grand Central Owner Opposes IPO of Empire State Building (BBG)
- Here comes the replay of 2011 as China starts the counter-reflation moves: China Central Bank Reverses Cash Pump (WSJ)
- Security group suspects Chinese military is behind hacking attacks (Reuters)
- Iceland Foreshadows Death of Currencies Lost in Crisis (BBG)
- China Allows More Firms to Sell Mutual Funds to Bolster Market (BBG)
- Uncertainty looms for Italians (FT)
- Forget the big comeback; Detroit focuses on what can be saved (Reuters)
- SAC’s Cohen May Face SEC Suit as Deposition Hurts Case (BBG)
- Hollande wrestles with austerity demands (FT)
- Obama Golf With Woods in Florida Risks Muddling Messsage (BBG)
- Simpson and Bowles to Offer Up Deficit (WSJ)
- Aso Says Japanese Government Not Planning Foreign Bond Buys (BBG) - ... until it changes its tune once more
- Abe to Decide on Bank of Japan Governor Nomination Next Week (BBG)
We recently introduced the four main candidates in the 'how easy can we be' glamor parade that is the BoJ Governor race. With Abe potentially set to name his nomination as early as this week, the rhetoric is heating up. Citi grades the BoJ governor candidates on a scale of 1 to 5 from the perspective of JPY bullish/bearish. Mr.Kazumasa Iwata will be the most JPY bearish candidate as he is a proponent of the BoJ’s foreign bond purchase. On the other hand, Mr.Toshiro Muto is the most JPY bullish candidate among the big three but he would still be far more dovish on monetary policy (and JPY negative) compared with Shirakawa, the current governor. The third candidate Kuroda will be middle between Iwata and Muto. Also, we need to pay attention to who shall be the deputy governors with USDJPY projections from 90 to 100 depending on the combination.
- G20 struggles over forex, at odds over debts (Reuters)
- Alwaleed Sells Airbus A380 to Invest in Middle East Firms (BBG)
- GOP Stalls Vote on Pick for Pentagon (WSJ)
- ECB officials rebuff currency targeting as G20 meets (Reuters)
- Not good for the reflation effort: Muto leads as Japan PM close to choosing nominee for Bank of Japan chief (Reuters)
- M&A Surges as Confidence Spurs Deals in Computers to Consumer (BBG)
- JPMorgan’s head of equity prop trading Gulati to launch own fund (FT)
- Tiffany & Co. sues Costco over engagement rings labeled ‘Tiffany' (WaPo)
- JPMorgan Said to Fire Traders, Realign Pay Amid Slump (BBG)
- Broker draws Tullett into Libor scandal (FT)
- Airbus drops Lithium-Ion batteries for A350 (Reuters)
Per C-Span: "The Senate Finance Committee will hold a confirmation hearing Wednesday for Treasury Secretary nominee Jacob "Jack" Lew. If approved, he will replace Timothy Geithner. Among the topics he will address include the state of the economy, strategies for reducing the budget deficits, economic ties with China along with questions about global currency war. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement that the "We need a better understanding of his role at Citigroup, what his knowledge is of financial markets, whether he supports reforming our tax code, whether he believes in a robust trade policy and what kind of plan the Obama Administration has to confront our skyrocketing debt and our broken entitlement programs. As we move forward, I’m hopeful that Mr. Lew will answer some remaining questions that I have." According to AP, "After Wednesday's hearing, committee members will have two days to send questions to Lew to answer before they vote. The full Senate could vote on the nomination late this month."
In a surprise announcement, BoJ Governor Shirakawa announced that he will step down on 3/19 (a month ahead of schedule) and while Barclays notes that there had been talk at one point that Mr Shirakawa might step down in a bid to protect the BoJ’s independence in response to Mr Abe’s threats to revise the BoJ Act; the decision, however, appears to have been motivated by policy considerations (the desire to have the governor and deputies start together). At a time when Japan’s stockmarkets are celebrating JPY weakness, Mr Shirakawa’s move provided yet more bounce as the new BoJ leader is expected to be even more dovish. Abe's push for a new governor, however, is meeting resistance from his own cabinet and financial bureaucrats, who fear extreme measures from the central bank may trigger a damaging rise in bond yields. The tussle, which Reuters notes, is testing Abe's resolve, but lies between a slightly less dovish bureaucrat in Toshiro Muto (favored by the opposition) and a banker, Haruhiko Kuroda, who is a front-runner in Abe's camp. With Draghi's comments today, we suspect Abe will err on the side of uber-dovish to fight the currency wars alongside him.
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- Guess who doesn't believe in the "great rotation out of bonds and into stocks": Abe Aids Bernanke as Japan Seen Buying Foreign Debt (BBG)
- AIG Sues Federal Reserve Vehicle in Dispute Over Lawsuit Rights (WSJ)
- JPMorgan Said to Weigh Disclosing Whale Report Faulting Dimon (BBG)
- Ugly Choices Loom Over Debt Clash (WSJ)
- Credit Suisse to cut bonus pool by 20 percent (Reuters)
- Brazilian Bikini Waxes Make Crab Lice Endangered Species (BBG)
- EU redrafts plan for bank rescue funding (FT)
- JCPenney stock plunges after bad holiday (NY Post)
- Regulator Comments Buoy Shanghai Stocks (WSJ)
- Japan voters back PM Abe's efforts to spur growth, beat deflation (Reuters)
- Cameron averts row over Europe speech (FT)
- Swatch Buys Harry Winston Jewelry Brand for $1 Billion (BBG)
As reported previously, when Bloomberg broke the news two days ago, it now appears that the official appointment of Jack Lew as the new SecTres will take place tomorrow. From Bloomberg: "President Obama will announce tomorrow that White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew is his pick for Treasury secretary, person familiar with the matter tells Bloomberg’s Han Nichols." In other words - goodbye Timmah: best of luck writing your new book, which in the tradition of every ex-public servant who departs the government where they kept their mouths firmly shut, we assume will be all about bashing Tim Geithner.
Bloomberg is out after hours with news that was expected by many, but which was yet to be formalized, until now: namely that following today's flurry of contntious nomination by Obama, the latest and greatest is about to be unveiled - Jack Lew, Obama's current chief of staff, is likely days away from being announced as Tim Geithner's replacement as the new Treasury Secretary of the United States. In other words, Jack will be the point person whom the people who truly run the Treasury, the Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee, chaired by JPM's Matt Zames (who just happens to also now run the notorious JPM Chief Investment Office which uses excess deposits to gamble - yes, you really can't make this up) and Goldman's Ashok Varadhan, global head of dollar-rate products and FX trading for North America (recently buying a $16 million pad at 15 CPW) will demand action from.
Will the taxer-in-chief discuss the debt ceiling or will this 'personal' announcement be all Hagel/Defense and Brennan/CIA? Stay tuned...
It’s cold out, I’m just trying to turn up the heat......