In the early hours of the European session, continental markets opened higher, reacting to yesterday’s positive performance in the US. Sentiment quickly turned as continental Europe released its respective Manufacturing PMI figures, with even the core European nations recording declines in the sector and lower-than-expected readings. Despite the poor data, some major cash markets are clinging on to positive territory, as the CAC and DAX indices both trade higher. The Spanish and Italian markets, however, tell a different story. With both their respective PMIs recording significant declines, both now trade lower by around 2% apiece. Against the flow of bad Eurozone news, the UK has released an expectation-beating Construction PMI figure, going somewhat against last week’s breakdown of the official GDP statistics. Markit research cites strength in commercial work and new orders as the main driver for the growth. The downbeat data from Europe has taken its toll on EUR/USD, currently trading lower by over 90 pips, but the pair has come off the lows in recent trade. GBP/USD has mirrored the moves in the EUR and trades lower by over 40 pips, however some support has been gained from the strong Construction PMI.
With a Labour Day market holiday across the continent, focus turns to the FTSE-100. The UK market is trading modestly higher with some strong earnings reports overnight lifting the index. Lloyds Group posted stronger than expected profits and reported confidence in the delivery of their financial guidance. The report has boosted Lloyds shares to become one of the top gainers of the day. Despite this, the financials sector is being held back from outperforming as Man Group fail to deliver on their sales figures, pushing their shares lower throughout the session. The only notable data release of the European session was UK Manufacturing PMI, coming in below expectations with a reading of 50.5 as manufacturing output was dampened across April by Eurozone weakness and contracting new orders. Following the release, GBP weakness was observed, with GBP/USD touching upon session lows. Pre-market, the RBA cut their cash target rate by 50BPS, a larger cut than expected. The board cited skittish market conditions and below trend output growth as the triggers for the rate cut. As such, AUD weakness is observed across the board and AUD/USD stops just short of breaking through 1.0300 to the downside. Looking ahead in the session, participants look toward US ISM Manufacturing for March due at 1500BST/0900CDT as the next key data release.
All major European bourses are trading lower with the exception of the DAX, which holds just above the open by a modest margin. Adidas ranks among the top performers in the German index, following the report of a strong set of sales figures, contributing to the positive trade. Spanish concerns continue to build up as Standard & Poor’s took ratings action on 16 of the country’s banks, downgrading the notable names of Banco Santander and BBVA. Although the move was not a surprise as this is the usual procedure following a sovereign downgrade, both Santander and BBVA, along with the IBEX are in negative territory. The Bund is seen higher amid a generally risk-off theme to markets this morning. Volumes have been relatively light, however a slight pick-up has been observed in recent trade, grinding the security upwards in the last hour or so. EUR/USD continues to experience weakness and now trades close to a touted option expiry of 1.3200, as traders seek the safety of the USD across a number of currency crosses.
Trading in Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s gold ETF in India surged almost 11 fold, leading an advance in gold securities, as investors bought gold to mark the auspicious Hindu festival of Akshaya Tritiya. Volumes in GS Gold BeEs, India’s biggest exchange-traded fund backed by gold, was 937,816 units on the National Stock Exchange of India Ltd. at 4:54 p.m. in Mumbai, up from 85,376 units yesterday and more than the 101,914 average daily volumes in the last six months through yesterday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. This is significant volume. Each unit represents about 1 gram of physical gold and therefore 937,816 units is the equivalent of some 29,170 ounces of gold which at today’s prices is some $47 million of daily volume for just one gold ETF in India. The Goldman Sachs India gold ETF is just one of many new ETFs in India. Trading in Kotak Gold ETF jumped more than eightfold to 226,032 units. Gold demand in India, the world’s biggest importer, may climb as much as 25% to 15 metric tons on Akshaya this year, according to Rajesh Exports Ltd., the country’s biggest gold-jewelry exporter. Assets held by local gold funds reached a record 98.9 billion rupees ($1.87 billion) at the end of March, according to the Association of Mutual Funds in India. GS Gold BeEs had assets worth 29.6 billion rupees (some $563 million (USD)) as of March 31, data from the association showed. Trading in UTI-Gold Exchange Traded Fund climbed more than fivefold, while volumes in Reliance Gold ETF, the second-biggest fund, was up more than sixfold, data shows.
It appears that when it comes to mocking consensus groupthink emanating from lazy career 'financiers' who seek protection from their lack of imagination and original thought, 'creation' of negative alpha and general underperformance (not to mention reliance on rating agencies, only to jump at the first opportunity to demonize the clueless raters), in the sheer herds of other D-grade asset "managers" (for much more read Jeremy Grantham explaining this and much more here), David Rosenberg enjoys even more linguistic flexibility than even us. Case in point, his just released trashing of the latest Barron's permabull groupthink effort titled "Outlook: Mostly Sunny." And just as it so often happens, no sooner did those words hit the cover of that particular rag, that it started raining, generously providing material for the latest "Roasting with Rosie."
European stocks are trading lower as North America enters the market with participants coming to terms with the political events of the weekend. The collapse of the Dutch government has clouded the future for fiscal harmonisation in the Eurozone and the outperformance of the far-right in the French Presidential elections has highlighted the discontent of the populous with mainstream politics. As such, all European bourses are trading significantly lower, with the Bund seen trading higher by around 70 ticks. European government bond yield spreads against the German 10-yr reflect the caution, with the Dutch/German spread widening by over 10BPS and the Spanish yield holding above 6% for most of the session.
Japanese Finance Minister said an IMF funding increase to USD 400bln is "coming into sight", and that he expects the BRIC nations to offer funds to the IMF at the appropriate time. The finance minister sees funding figures to be released as early as tomorrow. (Sources) The IMF looks set to reach or pass that target, with USD 320bln secured yesterday and many of the largest emerging economies still to contribute. ECB’s Knot and EU’s Rehn have said IMF commitments may have to be up to USD 500bln, and expects China to boost resources. Brazil’s finance minister has said his country is still not ready to give numbers on their IMF contribution. The Indian finance minister has said he will take time to provide an answer to the funding question for the IMF. China also remains undecided on an increased IMF contribution.
Central Banks Favour Gold As IMF Warns of “Collapse of Euro” and “Full Blown Panic in Financial Markets”Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/18/2012 07:40 -0400
The Eurozone could break up and trigger a “full-blown panic in financial markets and depositor flight” and a global economic slump to rival the Great Depression, the IMF warned yesterday. In its World Economic Outlook report, the International Monetary Fund said the collapse of the crisis-torn single currency could not be ruled out. It warned that a disorderly exit of one member country would have untold knock-on effects. "The potential consequences of a disorderly default and exit by a euro area member are unpredictable... If such an event occurs, it is possible that other euro area economies perceived to have similar risk characteristics would come under severe pressure as well, with full-blown panic in financial markets and depositor flight from several banking systems," said the report. "Under these circumstances, a break-up of the euro area could not be ruled out." “This could cause major political shocks that could aggravate economic stress to levels well above those after the Lehman collapse," said the report. The risks outlined by the IMF are real and are being taken seriously by central banks who are becoming more favourable towards diversifying foreign exchange reserves into gold. Central bank reserve managers responsible for trillions of dollars of investments are shunning euro assets and questioning the currency’s haven status because of the region’s sovereign debt crisis, research has found, according to the FT.... Elsewhere, gold demand in India, the world’s biggest importer, may climb as much as 25 percent during a Hindu festival next week, according to Rajesh Exports Ltd., reviving jewelry buying that was curtailed by a nationwide shutdown.
Based on supply, demand and even after taking into account the geopolitical factor, we believe oil could experience a correction later this year and in the next three years or so.
Gold bullion remains supported, mostly due to a pickup in physical Indian and Chinese gold demand this week. There are expectations of sustained Indian consumption next week in the lead up to the Akshaya Tritiya festival later this month. Western physical buying remains unusually anaemic - for now. In recent years, April and May have been positive months for gold in terms of returns (see table above). April has returned 1.4% per annum in the course of the current bull market since 2000. May has returned 1.75% per annum in the course of the current bull market since 2000. Interestingly, the last month of Q1 and Q2, March and June, have been negative in terms of returns. March in particular has seen the poorest returns for any month in the last 11 years with average falls of 0.6%. Therefore the very poor performance of gold in March 2012 (-6.4%) may represent another buying opportunity as it did last year (see chart below) and in previous years.
UK and EU markets played catch up at the open this morning following Friday’s miss in the US non-farm payroll report. This coupled with on-going concerns over Spain has resulted in further aggressive widening in the 10yr government bond yield spreads in Europe with the Spanish 10yr yield edging ever closer to the 6% level. As a result the USD has strengthened in the FX market in a moderate flight to quality with EUR/USD trading back firmly below the 1.3100 and cable falling toward the 1.5800 mark. There was some unconfirmed market talk this morning about an imminent press conference from the SNB which raised a few eyebrows given the recent move in EUR/CHF below the well publicised floor at 1.2000, however, further colour suggested an announcement would be linked to the naming of Jordan as the full-time head of the central bank when they hold their regular weekly meeting this Wednesday. Elsewhere it’s worth noting that the BoJ refrained from any additional monetary easing overnight voting unanimously to keep rates on hold as widely expected. Meanwhile, over in China the latest trade balance data recorded a USD 5.35bln surplus in March as import growth eased back from a 13-month peak.
More pain in Spain has been the theme so far in the European morning as poor auction results across three lines has resulted in significant widening in the 10-yr government bond yield spreads over benchmark bunds with the Spanish 10yr yield up some 24bps on the day. In combination with this the latest Germany Factory orders also fell short of analysts’ expectations and as such the lower open in bund futures following yesterday’s less than dovish FOMC minutes has been completed retracted and we now sit above last Friday’s high at 138.58.
For every semi-positive data point the bulls have emphasized since the market rally began, there's a counter-point that makes us question what all the fuss is about. The bulls will cite expanding US GDP in late 2011, while the bears can cite US food stamp participation reaching an all-time record of 46,514,238 in December 2011, up 227,922 participantsfrom the month before, and up 6% year-over-year. The bulls can praise February's 15.7% year-over-year increase in US auto sales, while the bears can cite Europe's 9.7% year-over-year decrease in auto sales, led by a 20.2% slump in France. The bulls can exclaim somewhat firmer housing starts in February (as if the US needs more new houses), while the bears can cite the unexpected 100bp drop in the March consumer confidence index five consecutive months of manufacturing contraction in China, and more recently, a 0.9% drop in US February existing home sales. Give us a half-baked bullish indicator and we can provide at least two bearish indicators of equal or greater significance. It has become fairly evident over the past several months that most new jobs created in the US tend to be low-paying, while the jobs lost are generally higher-paying. This seems to be confirmed by the monthly US Treasury Tax Receipts, which are lower so far this year despite the seeming improvement in unemployment. Take February 2012, for example, where the Treasury reported $103.4 billion in tax receipts, versus $110.6 billion in February 2011. BLS had unemployment running at 9% in February 2011, versus 8.3% in February 2012. Barring some major tax break we've missed, the only way these numbers balance out is if the new jobs created produce less income to tax, because they're lower paying, OR, if the unemployment numbers are wrong. The bulls won't dwell on these details, but they cannot be ignored.