Despite the knee-trembling awesomeness of a double-whammy promise of liquidity, US equity markets ended the week on a decidedly down note. The realization that Draghi's all talk (no impact on US stocks) and PBOC's move is not a liquidity surge and has limited impact on the economy left stocks tumbling once the opening OPEX levels had printed. The USD rose notably on the day after EUR plunged under 1.24 on Draghi (USD +0.9% on the week). Despite USD strength, gold rose 1% (as did Silver) on the week, rising for the 3rd week in a row for the first time in 4 months (and the 3rd Friday surge in a row). Oil rose 1% on the week, breaking an 8-week losing streak but Copper prices fell around 0.3% on the week, having given back the kneejerk gains post-PBOC today. Treasury yields dropped after kneejerking higher on PBOC. 30Y at 3.01% had its 2nd lowest weekly close since May 2013. VIX melted down into the close to 13.01. Late-day buying panic lifts stocks off their lows leaving Dow & S&P at all-time recordest highs of all-time ever in history (as small caps closed red).
Russia finds itself in familiar territory after a controversial half-year, highlighted by the bloody and still unresolved situation in Ukraine. Nonetheless, the prospect of further sanctions looms low and Russia’s stores of oil and gas remain high. Shortsighted? Maybe, but Russia has proven before – the 2008 financial crisis for example– that it can ride its resource rents through a prolonged economic slump. Higher oil price volatility and sanctions separate the current downturn from that of 2008, but Russia’s economic fundamentals remain the same – bolstered by low government debt and a large amount of foreign reserves.
While the biggest news of the day will certainly be China's rate cut (and the Dutch secret gold repatriation but more on the shortly), here is a list of all the other central-banking/planning events which have moved markets overnight, because in the new normal it no longer is about any news or fundamentals, it is all about the destruction of the value of money and the matched increase in nominal asset values.
Halliburton’s takeover of Baker Hughes is setting out to be the oil and gas merger of the year. One of the largest such deals in years, it has not, however, met with unanimous approval. From antitrust concerns to management frictions and negative market forces, this has not been a smooth ride. And with a $3.5 billion break-up fee promised to Baker Hughes by Halliburton should the merger fall through, failure would come at a hefty price. Here are five reasons why the deal might still capsize.
Once again all eyes are on the carry-trade driving Yen, whose avalance into oblivion is picking up speed, and where the formerly unimaginable USDJPY level of 120 as presented here in September, is now looking like this week's business, with the only question how long until Albert Edwards' next target of 145 is hit leading to nuclear currency warfare between Japan, Korea, China and ultimately, the US and Europe. Unfortunately, for Japan, at this point the terminal currency collapse will do nothing to incrementally boost exports or its economy, and the former Japan finmin was on the tape warning again that the Japanese recession will persist as USDJPY over 115 is now hurting Japan, something which should by now have been clear to most.
After weeks of relentless flashing red headline barrage whose only purpose was to force snap algo buying of the USDJPY pair time after time after time, Japan is once again out of FX algo danging carrots after moments ago Abe confirmed what everyone had known already: he called a snap election to seek a mandate for his decision to delay by 18 months a further sales-tax increase that had been planned for next year; he also said he would dissolve the lower house of parliament on Nov. 21 in preparation for an election in December, without specifying a date. Cited by the WSJ, Abe said "To ensure the success of Abenomics, I’ve concluded that it shouldn’t be carried out next October and instead be postponed by 18 months,” the prime minister told a nationally televised news conference, stressing that the additional tax burden would risk putting the economy back into deflation. “I will seek the people’s judgment over our economic policy."
- Scuttled deals worth $580 billion put hedge funds on back foot (Reuters)
- Mounting Pressure on OPEC Spurs More Wagers on Oil Rally (BBG)
- It's not just US real estate: Chinese Students at U.S. Universities Jump 75% in Three Years (BBG)
- Frankfurt Open for Yuan Clearing as Liquidity Rises (BBG)
- Obama defends healthcare law after adviser criticism (Reuters)
- Michael Hasenstab Bets Big in Controversial Places (WSJ)
- Facebook seeks foothold in your office (FT)
- Russia Seen as Greatest Threat in Poll as Oil Erodes Putin Power (BBG)
- Falling Oil Prices Test OPEC Unity (WSJ)
Perhaps the biggest shock following last night's completely expected and very predictable (previewed here over a month ago) Japanese slide into triple- (actually make that quadruple) dip recession, is that it took the BTFTripleDip recession algos as long as they did to recover most of the overnight futures losses. Because after surging to 107 on a confused short squeeze kneejerk reaction, the USDJPY subsequently tumbled 150 pips to 105.50 as rationality briefly emerged, and the market wondered for a few brief hours if rewaring the destruction of one's economy is actually a prudent thing. Then, however, when European traders started walking into work, the now default USDJPY levitation on no volume came right back, and with that the correlation algo buying of E-mini futures, no doubt helped by the Bank of Japan itself taking advantage of the CME's ES liquidity rebate program. Because without confidence as expressed by the lowest and only common denominator left - global equities - there is nothing else.
"The Chinese, among others, seem to be responding to the lower oil price with additional demand," notes one tanker executive as Bloomberg reports the number of supertankers sailing toward China’s ports matched a record on Oct. 17 and is still close to that level now. The plunge in price has enabled China to add 35 million barrels to its inventories in the past three months as the nation fills its strategic petroleum reserves, OPEC said yesterday. Furthermore, though the oil slide is hurting nations from Venezuela to Iran - that depend on energy for revenues - ship owners serving the industry’s benchmark Middle East-to-Asia trade routes are reaping the best returns from charters in years as the slump drives down the industry’s single biggest expense. As one analyst notes, "we've seen the Chinese buying a lot from the Middle East and that’s really let rates cook." So it appears the Chinese, in the face of the worst growth and economy in years, are rational enough to buy more at lower prices (as opposed to the buy-more-because-stocks-are-at-all-time-highs Western investors).
The key event overnight was the release of European Q3 GDP data, which saw Germany averting a recession by the narrowest of margins when following a -0.2% drop in Q2 economic growth, Germany grew by the smallest amount possible in Q3, or 0.1%, in line with expectations, thus averting two consecutive quarters of decline, the technical definition of a recession. The French economy likewise posted a modest increase in Q3, although one wonders how aggressively the data had to be fudged for a country whose PMIs all indicate a -1% or greater contraction. Italy however was less creative with its use of "hookers and blow", and continued its recession with a 3rd negative print, contracting at -0.1% as expected, while Portugal also missed third quarter growth estimates.
WTI Crude oil prices tumbled to a $75 handle this morning as Saudi oil minister al-Naimi dismissed claims of a price-war as having "no basis in reality" noting that "Saudi oil policy has remained constant for the past few decades and it has not change today," suggesting expectations of a supply cut at the looming OPEC meetings are overdone. This comment comes after Qatar said it "may" cut output by 500k barrels/day.
While talking heads proclaim - incorrectly - that low oil prices are unequivocally good for the US economy, it is very much not the case for oil producers around the world. Most notably, Venezuela - which 'needs' oil prices above $100 to maintain its socialist utopia - and currently ranks at a lowly 100th on the world's prosperity index, is in grave trouble if this trend continues. Venezuelan bonds plunged to new record lows today as oil prices hit fresh cycle lows, strongly suggesting default or currency devaluation is imminent. However, as is usual (think Mexico) Finance Minister Rodolfo Marco Torres ruled out devaluation even as oil price drop exacerbates country’s finances. As one analyst noted, "there's broad understanding that in the absence of any corrective policy measures that these guys are going to be in serious trouble." It appears they already are. The Maduro government desperately needs a rise in oil prices, but Saudi Arabia has so far rebuffed calls for an emergency meeting as it pursues a strategy of waiting out higher cost competitors. OPEC does not plan on meeting until Nov. 27. That is still an eternity for a country that is beginning to unravel.
- Moar central banks! Asian Stocks Rise Amid Stimulus Speculation; Topix Jumps (BBG)
- Syria rebels in south emerge as West's last hope as moderates crushed elsewhere (Reuters)
- Bufett's Berkshire to Buy Duracell Business From Procter & Gamble in $3B Deal (AP)
- Weak Demand, Real-Estate Slump Signal Headwinds for China (WSJ)
- China Slowdown Deepens as Leaders Said to Mull Cutting Target (BBG)
- Saudis Reject Talk of OPEC Market Share War as Oil Slides (BBG)
- Oil Tankers Stream Toward China as Price Drop Sparks Boom (BBG)
The relentless regurgitation of the only two rumors that have moved markets this week, namely the Japanese sales tax delay and the "surprise" cabinet snap elections, was once again all over the newswires last night in yet another iteration, and as a result the headline scanning algos took the Nikkei another 1.1% higher to nearly 17,400 which means at this rate the Nikkei will surpass the Dow Jones by the end of the week helped by further reports that Japan will reveal more stimulus measures on November 19, although with US equity futures rising another 7 points overnight and now just shy of 2050 which happens to be Goldman's revised year-end target, the US will hardly complain. And speaking of stimulus, the reason European equities are drifting higher following the latest ECB professional forecast release which saw the panel slash their GDP and inflation forecasts for the entire period from 2014 to 2016. In other words bad news most certainly continues to be good news for stocks, which in the US are about to hit another record high (with the bulk of the upside action once again concentrated between 11:00 and 11:30am).
With the USDJPY repeatedly hitting 116.00 as a result of the same pair of headlines hitting either Reuters, the Nikkei or Sankei every 6 or so hours for the past 3 days, namely that Japan will delay its sales tax hike by almost two years, and that Abe is preparing early elections, perhaps the algos realized they were pricing in the same event about 4 times in one day, and unable to break the 7-year-high resistance level, slid dropping nearly 100 pips to just over 115 at least check, which may well be today's "tractor" level, which in turn has also dragged down both European stocks and US futures. But the thing that made the vacuum tubes really spark is that at a press conference yesterday in Beijing, Abe was quoted as saying that he "has never made any reference to the dissolution of parliament", this came after the chief cabinet secretary Suga saying that the decision on whether or not to go to the polls would be Abe’s only.