As goes oil... so goes US equities...
Manufacturing PMI - Miss/Drop. Existing Home Sales - Miss/Drop. Philly Fed - Miss/Drop. Economic Confidence - Miss/Drop. Buy Stocks...
After a very modest bounce in April, Philly Fed fell again in May, printing a disappointing 6.7 (against 8.0 expectations). Philly Fed has now missed 5 of the last 6 (and 7 of the last 9) months. While new orders picked up, prices paid plunged at recessionary pace, inventories tumbled, and the average workweek slumped. Hope also tumbled as future expectations dropped.
As the economic calendar slowly picks up following the NFP lull, we are looking at a busy week both globally and in the US, where an army of Fed speakers culminates with a Yellen speech on Friday at 1pm in Rhode Island.
The last two months have been nothing if not a lesson in the disater that is the economic-forecasters of the world. With a 3-sigma beat followed by a 5-sigma miss, hope abounds that April will be the 'goldilocks' print - just cold enough to leave the Fed on hold and just hot enough to 'prove' growth remains. Goldman expects nonfarm payroll job growth of 230k in April, in line with consensus expectations. While labor market indicators were mixed in April, the employment components of service sector surveys were strong and better weather conditions should provide a boost. In addition, they see some upside risk to the forecast from a calendar effect, and expect the unemployment rate to decline by one-tenth to 5.4% and average hourly earnings to rise 0.2%.
Sentiment in general remains poor and all the focus is on gold's weakness in dollar terms, despite gold's strong gains in euro terms in 2014 and so far in 2015. Poor sentiment is of course bullish from a contrarian perspective and suggests all the froth has been washed out of the gold market.
After crashing from November to January (oh that's just weather), the Philly Fed factory index has failed to do anything but limp higher in the last 3 months. Printing at 7.5 in April (slightly better than the expected 6.0, Philly Fed continues to hover around 1 year lows. The post-weather rebound is entirely missing as New Orders plunged to 2 year lows (though employment surged) with more firms reporting price decreases than reporting price increases.
While today's macro calendar is empty with no central bank speakers or economic news (just the monthly budget (deficit) statement this afternoon), it’s a fairly busy calendar for us to look forward to this week as earnings season kicks up a gear in the US as mentioned while Greece headlines and the G20 finance ministers meeting on Thursday mark the non-data related highlights.
We often hear various Fed officials described as hawks or doves but Janet Yellen’s Fed brings to mind another avian metaphor. They are afraid to raise rates for fear that doing so would upset the asset market inflation process and derail what is left of their theory. In her press conference last week Yellen said that stock market valuations were on the high side of historical norms, an appellation that only works if one includes the stock bubble of the late 90s. It seems that she and the other members of the FOMC have decided that another epic stock market bubble is better than admitting they were wrong. This FOMC doesn’t have any hawks or doves, only chickens.
With markets pricing in nothing but a "permanent plateau of margins," it appears the Philly Fed is about to ruin that meme too... Thanks to the collapse of the Prices Received (and Prices Paid) indices, margins are now implicitly the lowest since Lehman. The last 2 times "margins" were this low, the US entered recession.
Philly Fed hasn't missed for 4 months in a row since Feb 2012. Printing at 5 (against expectations of 7) the March Philly Fed data is the weakest since Feb 2014. Under the covers it was even uglier... Employees, Average Workweek, New Orders, Prices Received, and Shipments all plunged. Great news for the stock market bulls... yet another dismally bad data item to keep The Fed from hiking.
This week's main event will be the FOMC announcement on Wednesday at 2:00 pm and the subsequent press conference, the conclusion of the March 2-day Fed meeting, in which it is widely expected that Yellen will announce the end of the Fed's "Patience" with an economy in which resurgent waiters and bartenders continue to skew the job market even if it means consistently declining wages for 80% of the US labor force. Here is a summary of what else to expect this week.
With Philly Fed's 10th president, Charles Plosser retiring effective March 1, 2015, algos were wondering if he would be replaced with another former Goldman partner, or if his seat would be filled with yet another academic. The answer, as the Pgilly Fed reported moments ago, is the latter. Meet the new president of the Philly Fed: Patrick T. Harker, 56, currently president of the University of Delaware, former dean of the Wharton School at UPenn, and a member of the Philadelphia Fed's board of directors. His career academic background: Harker has a Ph.D. in civil and urban engineering, a master's degree in economics, and an M.S.E. and B.S.E. in civil engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. Wait, so no econ PhD? There may be some hope yet...