While The Russell 2000 briefly regained positive territory for 2014 (up 1.5% on the week), the Dow, S&P, and Trannies ended the shortened and low volume week practically unchanged (and the Dow -2.6% YTD). Treasury yields oscillated as bad-news-good-news played out but ended the week practcically unchanged (10Y -1bps, 5Y +1bps). The USD drifted lower today to end the week very modestly positive (+0.1%) as EUR strangeth dominated JPY and CAD weakness). VIX went higher all week (admittedly OPEX-impacted) as underlying stocks remained bid. Credit markets ended the week wider than they opened on Tuesday (despite equity strength). Depsite the USD, commodities rose on the week with Silver and WTI crude up almost 2% and gold up 0.5%. For an options-expiration day, today's volume was very weak. And 2014's best performing S&P 500 sectors... Healthcare and Utilities.
Headlines will suggest that today's rally was due to the beat in US PMI (a data item that doesn't even rank on Bloomberg's scale of economic importance) and chose to ignore the misses (macro and micro) in everything else (which must be weather-related), the facts are different - it was simply an AUDJPY-inspired almost perfect correlation levitation from the post-China-PMI miss lows - more China QE to come. Having decoupled from USDJPY overnight, today's melt-up in stocks recoupled the all-important fun-durr-mental pair and lifted the Russell 2000 back to unchanged for 2014. With OPEX tomorrow, VIX was noisy and remains bearishly divergent from stocks (though was offered today). Credit markets lifted with stocks. Treasury yields rose back to modestly higher on the week. Gold and silver rose on the day starting from the China PMI miss (as did the USD with most of the majors losing ground against it). US Macro hits fresh 6-month lows.
As we "forecast" this morning (and a month ago - if our extrapolation of the Fed's balance sheet is correct - i.e. no Taper - that the S&P 500 Fed L-A-B-I-A should be around 1800 by year-end), the Fed can be proud that they managed (remember it "costs" $3.25bn in POMO to create 1 S&P 500 point) to get the key US equity index - the S&P 500 - near the critical 1,800 level...
5Y yields rose a stunning 37% this week - the most in the 50 year record of Bloomberg data. The 38bps increase in yields is also among the worst absolute shifts over that period but off such low levels it is quite a shock. Credit markets saw hedge protection bought early on in the week and then covered as real money started to sell their bonds on the back of redemptions in the last two days. The high-yield bond ETF had its biggest weekly loss in 13 months (notably clinging to the Lehman ledge levels). Equity markets suffered too (down 3.5 to 4.0% from the FOMC) with the S&P's worst week of the year (even as it bounced off its 100DMA). Most sectors hung around the 3-4% drop but homebuilders are down over 8% since the FOMC. The USD surged over 2.1% on the week with JPY's worst week in 43 months. VIX ended the day down 1.7 vols at 18.8% but beware as OPEX and hedge unwinds into underlying covers seems prevalent. Gold's worst week in 21 months left it back under $1300.
Bond markets were slow to react to the Hilsenramp - forced by equities it seems in the short-range - but have now reversed their gains. Credit markets stopped believing about 30 minutes ago. Are equity markets, having trod water around VWAP for a while, now ready to revert back to a world absent the WSJ reporter... or primed for a melt-up into OPEX?
Given the dramatic drops in gold and oil prices over the past few trading sessions, we thought it worth examining which miners and oil producers were most 'at risk' of generating negative cash flows at current and long-term prices. Goldman Sachs looks at 40 oil producers and 25 gold mines to create a complete 'cost curve' in terms of the best indication of what it actually costs to keep operations running. It is quite apparent that ~$85 Crude and ~$1150 Gold are key to the ongoing support for these industries.
Following Europe's worst day in months, the US stock markets saw the biggest drop of 2013 today. For those shunning the brief period, aside from 12/28 swings, this is the worst drop in the S&P 500 futures since early November on a relatively high volume day. EUR's weakness was a major driver (just as it was on the way up) jawboned by various CEOs and leaders and pressured down to almost a 1.34 handle (down over 1% against the USD as JPY gained 0.6% against the USD). Treasury yields clattered lower - to Friday's lows - and credit markets remained much less exuberant (as stocks played catch-down). Gold was relatively bid even as the USD gained, testing up to $1675. Homebuilders continue to slip lower and with AAPL's ongoing demise, there was no OPEX/month-end pump to save Tech and implicitly the rest of the market. HY Bond ETFs and synthetics remain weak but selling is thin in bond-land - it seems everyone knows that the cash market can't stand a herd heading for the exit all at once. VIX jumped a considerable 1.75 vols to 14.65% - its highest close of the year.
Equities closed the day-session near the highs of the day as OPEX shenanigans were evident everywhere. Early and ugly macro data was swept under the proverbial carpet (as it is transitory Sandy effects?), the ubiquitous European-close trend reversal started us higher, and then platitudes from D.C., and a late-day Fed-Head jawbone did the rest on a day when AAPL saw its largest volume in 8 months and pinned between 520 and 530 VWAPs. Risk assets did not follow the path of most exuberance that stocks did on the day (surprise). Credit tracked with stocks today in general but remains an underperformer on the week. Oil was the week's big beta winner with the USD (despite underlying dispersion in EUR and JPY) and Treasuries rather dull. Gold sagged but by the close today the S&P 500 had recoupled with the barbarous relic on a beta basis. VIX compressed (exciting some that are incapable of comprehending a term structure) as put overlays were unwound into OPEX (and given the VWAP/volume moves it would seem AAPL saw hedges taken down and exposure reduced). Red week as stocks continue to catch down to bond's new normal.
Each day we wake and look to the markets for guidance. Typically that guidance means - which easily-leveragable asset class can be pulled (or pushed) to move the US equity markets (in their algo-correlated manner) in which ever direction we need (up as much as possible obviously since the status quo requires it). Sometimes, it's EURUSD, other times it's PMs; today, it is oil's turn! There has been no real escalation in tensions in Israel in the last hour, no news of significance; and yet WTI has popped 1.5% and in an almost perfectly correlated manner, S&P futures have chugged along to the highs of the day to run those stops before the US day-session open. Efficient Markets... Pin Risk... OPEX...
Equity indices end the day marginally red as the machines tried every trick in the book to get markets up...(levering FX carry, spiking PMs, running HYG, spiking vol) to enable more selling - especially at the close when we saw notable size blocks being traded into that ramp to try and get green. VWAP was the anchor all day for S&P 500 futures (and since the synthetics are where the liquidity is - everything else followed) as stocks trend-reversed as normal on the EU close. In general volatility and high-yield credit had a significantly weak day but into the close managed to rise a little as risk-assets broadly recoupled with equity markets to close. Despite a lot of noise and chop stocks lost a little, Treasuries gained a little (-2bps on the week!), Silver scrambled back from its flash crash (but gold didn't do as well), and the USD ended today up a remarkably unchanged 0.04% (with EUR up 0.5% and JPY down 2.2% on the week). VIX ended back above 18% as AAPL just keeps falling with its 300DMA now in play.
Leveraging EUR strength (USD weakness) in the US-open-to-EU-close to ramp stocks to highs was rapidly followed by a collapse back to reality in US equities from EU-close-to-US-close. Just remarkable. Treasuries and FX markets were much less exuberant over the entire lack of news that drive the S&P up over 20 points from open to EU close and sure enough - helped by the obvious desperation of a 'failed' Yellen-threat - equities retraced it all; ending the day back near the recent lows. Stocks once again tested the bottom of Draghi's Dream and rejected it; commodities were mixed and very dispersed with Copper and Silver swinging wildly (up on the day) even as the USD ended the day practically unchanged. Tech and financials are the losers still on the week as AAPL clawed its way back to marginally green by the close with the magical $545 level now critical four days in a row.
Presented with little comment - for any comment would simply end in ridicule and exasperation - but it seems quite clear that more than a few algos feel the need to keep S&P 500 futures above 1400 into the month-end and OPEX. S&P futures closed at 1411.25 (+3.75 from Friday's close).
UPDATE: CAT is sliding AH after noting higher chance of recession and cuts 2015 EPS guidance from $15-20 to $12-18 - Slide attached
Following Friday's two-year high volume levels on the NYSE - as OPEX and rebalancing dominated - today saw reversion to the dismal mean in both cash and futures market volumes. It seems sell-the-news was the meme today as builders (LEN earnings exuberance) and AAPL (less than whisper sales) sold off and broadly speaking we saw the month/quarter's winners lagging as safety and stability lead the way.
With the combination of a strong quarter (week or two) for stocks, futures rolls (and CDS yesterday) and the OPEX / index re-weighting it seems we had a modest case of small doors, large crowds into the close today (S&P futures end 1pt above FOMC-day close). Volume picked up dramatically (NYSE highest in a year) as the Dow closed lower on a Friday for the first time in nine weeks! Treasuries outperformed - ending near the low yields of the week (having retraced all the post-QE move - down 10-15bps on the week) but Gold remained relatively bid ($1775) and Oil also rose in the last couple of days. VIX was unch but noisy thanks to OPEX (and remember it's still at a high premium to realized vol - not entirely complacent). Credit underperformed as risk-assets in general led stocks lower. On the quarter, Silver was the big winner (up ~26%) followed by Gold (up ~11%) both beating all the major US equity indices.
UPDATE: Denial: *WHITE HOUSE'S CARNEY SAYS `NO CHANGE' ON OIL RESERVES
Dismissing the ridiculous ignorance of calling the market action in the last few minutes a 'fat finger', it is clear that between no/low volume, 'banging the close in the pit', futures roll and ETF interactions, Oil's OPEX, SPR release rumors, and correlated vaccuum tubes, the reactions between US equities, oil (WTI and Brent), USD (and all major crosses), and the PMs are extremely volatile. No one knows what the 'news' is but one thing is for sure, its priced in - whatever it is. We just remind those 'trading' that with QEternity, all the good news 'help' is now out there - so what's left - jawboning Oil down. Treasuries are a littel jiggy but nothing remarkable.