On a day with no macro data and more warmongering, it only makes sense that stocks should continue to levitate. Aside from The Dow (troubled by weakness in Boeing dragging 20 points off the index), US equity markets rose with the S&P 500 breaking to new all-time record highs just shy of 1990 (2000 tomorrow?) Treasuries were very quiet, trading in a 2bps range and ending basically unch. Gold and silver limped lower (but were also quiet) as the USD pushed modestly higher (with AUD strength on the inflation print overnight the big story). Oil prices recovered yesterday's losses closing back above $103. Biotechs were a notable mover (on M&A hopes) as they retraced all Yellen's warning losses. This is the 3rd day in a row that "most shorted" stocks were snap-squeezed higher at the open.
For a centrally-planned market that has long since lost the ability to discount the future, and certainly respond appropriately to geopolitical events, yesterday was a rough wake up call with a two punch stunner of not only the MH 17 crash pushing the Ukraine escalation into overdrive, but Israel's just as shocking land invasion of Gaza officially marking the start of a ground war, finally dragging global stocks out of their hypnotized slumber and pushing risk broadly lower across the globe, even if the now traditional USDJPY and AUDJPY ramp algos have woken up in the past few minutes and will be eager to pretend as if nothing ever happened.
It has been a mixed overnight session, following data out of China first showing that any hopes of ongoing PBOC tapering are dead and buried, following the June report showing money and loan creation (1.08 trillion Yuan up from 871 billion in May and above the 980 billion expected) in China soared, slamming expectations and indicating that Beijing is once again set on masking slowing growth with a surge in money creation. Should the Chinese not so secret any more money laundering channel be plugged this means local inflation may be set to surge in the coming months. More worrying was the release of a big drop in the German ZEW Survey expectations print at 27.1, down from 29.8 and below the expected 28.2. The low print has prompted several banks to warn that Europe's growth spurt has finally ended and there may be substantial downside surprises ahead, and certainly even more cuts to the IMF "forecast" for European growth. Finally, the Portuguese situation may be out of sight, but it is certainly not out of mind as the stock of BES continues to tumble and now the contagion has finally moved over to Espirito Santo Financial Group whose shares dropped to the lowest since 1993. Keep a close eye on this "not so lonely" cockroach.
Another round of overnight risk on exuberance helped Europe forget all about last week's Banco Espirito Santo worries, which earlier today announced a new CEO and executive team, concurrently with the announcement by the Espirito Santo family of a sale of 4.99% of the company to an unknown party, withe the proceeds used to repay a margin loan, issued during the bank's capital increase in May. This initially sent the stock of BES surging only to see it tumble promptly thereafter even despite the continuation of a short selling bank in BES shares this morning. Far more impotantly to macro risk, it was that 2013 staple, the European open surge in the USDJPY that has reset risk levels higher, while pushing gold lower by over 1% following the usual dump through the entire bid stack in overnight low volume trading. Clearly nothing has been fixed in Portugal, although at least for now, the investing community appears to have convinced itself that the slow motion wreck of Portugal's largest bank even after on Sunday, Portugal’s prime minister said taxpayers would not be called on to bail out failing banks, making clear there would be no state support for BES.
Risk assets have started the week off on a slightly softer footing but overall volumes are fairly low given the quiet Friday session last week and with the lack of any major weekend headlines. Equity bourses are down between 25-50bp on the day paced by the Nikkei (-0.4%). In China, a number of railway construction stocks are up 3-4% after reports that China Railway Corp will buy around 300 sets of high speed trains and may potentially launch 14 news railway construction projects soon as part of national investment plans.
According to a paper by economists at UC Northwestern University and UC Berkeley, Anna Cieslak and Adair Morse and Annette Vissing-Jørgensen, another, even more surprising trading pattern using FOMC announcement has emerged. Specifically, anyone who engaged in the simple "even" strategy of buying the stocks of the S&P 500 on the day before a Fed policy announcement, selling them a week later, then buying them again the following week and sticking with the pattern until the subsequent Fed meeting generated a whopping 650% return since 1994, far outperforming the inverse "odd" strategy which shocking had a negative return over the past two decades years, and jsut as surprisingly, outperforming the market's own 505% return during this period.
Once again, US equity futures are roughly unchanged (while Treasurys have seen a surprising overnight bid coming out of Asia) ahead of an avalanche of macroeconomic news both in Europe, where the ECB will deliver its monthly message, and in the US where we will shortly get jobless claims, ISM non-manufacturing, trade balance, nonfarm payrolls, unemployment, average earnings, Markit U.S. composite PMI, Markit U.S. services PMI due later. Of course the most important number is the June NFP payrolls and to a lesser extent the unemployment rate, which consensus expects at 215K and 6.3%, although the whisper number is about 30K higher following yesterday's massive ADP outlier. Nonetheless, keep in mind that a) ADP is a horrible predictor of NFP, with a 40K average absolute error rate and b) in December the initial ADP print was 151K higher than the nonfarms. Those watching inflation will be far more focused on hourly earnings, expected to rise 0.2% M/M and 1.9% Y/Y. Should wages continue to stagnate and decline on a real basis, expect to hear the "stagflation" word much more often in the coming weeks.
We could focus on whatever events took place in the overnight session or the seasonally-adjusted economic data avalanche that will dominate US newsflow over the next two days (ADP, ISM New York, Factory Orders, Services ISM, Yellen Speaking, and of course Nonfarm payrolls tomorrow), or we could ignore all of that as it is absolutely meaningless and all very much bullish, and use a phrase from Standard Chartered which said that "the dollars Yellen is removing could be compensated for by cheap euros from the ECB; result may be enough cash sloshing around to underpin this year’s run-up in risk assets even if the Fed begins mulling higher interest rates too." In other words, the bubble will go on, as the Fed passes the baton to the ECB, if not so much the BOJ which is drowning in its own imported inflation. Case in point: two of the three HY deals priced yesterday were PIK, and the $1 billion in proceeds was quickly used to pay back equity sponsors. The credit bubble has never been bigger.
When we reported yesterday's record reverse-repo surge, driven entirely by collateral-strapped financial entities scrambling to "window dress" their balance sheets with rented Fed-owned Treasurys for regulatory purposes, we said "Expect total reverse repo usage tomorrow to plunge by at least $150 billion as the banks will have fooled their regulator, which also happens to be the Fed, that they are safe and sound. Rinse, repeat, until the entire financial system collapses once again and people will ask "how anyone could have possibly foreseen this." Moments ago the Fed reported the daily reverse repo use. It turns out we were optimistic: it wasn't $150 billion, it was $189 billion. Following yesterday's $339 billion allottment, today this number tumbled to just $151 billion, meaing nearly $200 billion in fungible cash had to quick find a new home away from the Fed.
Treasury yields are up 1-2bps; the USD is flat; gold and silver are up modestly; but stocks are screaming higher to all-time highs in the Trannies and S&P. All of this is occurring as PMI and ISM missed expectations this morning and the US Macro Surprise index in the US (worst of all nations year to date) is at 2-month lows. What's behind it? FOMO, POMO, YOLO? All we can say is the S&P has never been this far above the Fed balance sheet (over 50 points rich) since QE began.
In June there were no POMOs on Friday. In July, when as was revealed yesterday the Fed's monthly POMO operations will add only $19 billion in net liquidity injections (below the $20 billion scheduled due to an extra $1 billion POMOed in June) the lowest since 2012, there are no POMOs on Friday and there is just one Wednesday POMO. The days of the Fed market rigging, or as the BIS called it over the weekend, the "fairy dust of illusionary riches" are coming to an end... at least until the market crashes as it did after the end of QE1 and QE2, and the Fed scrambles right back in to buy it all up again.
BTFATH! That was the motto overnight, when despite a plethora of mixed final manufacturing data across the globe (weaker Japan, Europe; stronger China, UK) the USDJPY carry-trade has been a one-way street up and to the right, and saw its first overnight buying scramble in weeks (as opposed to the US daytime trading session, when the JPY is sold off to push carry-driven stocks higher). Low volumes have only facilitated the now usual buying at the all time highs: The last trading day of 1H14 failed to bring with it any volatility associated with month-end and half-end portfolio rebalancing - yesterday’s S&P 500 volumes were about half that compared to the last trading day of 1H13.
It is the last day of not only the month but also the quarter, not to mention the halfway point of 2014, which means that window dressing by hedge funds will be rampant, as they scramble to catch up some of the ground lost to the S&P 500 so far in 2014. Most likely this means that once again the most shorted names will ramp in everyone's face and the short side of the hedgie book will soar, further pushing hedged P&L into the red, because remember: in a market in which all the risk is borne by the Fed there is no need to hedge.
Abe's honeymoon is over. Following nearly two years of having free reign to crush the Japanese economy with his idiotic monetary and fiscal policies - but, but the Nikkei is up - the market may have finally pulled its head out of its, well, sand, and after last night's abysmal economic data from Japan which saw not only the highest (cost-push) inflation rate since 1982, in everything but wages (hence, zero demand-pull) - after wages dropped for 23 consecutive months, disposable income imploded - but a total collapse in household spending, the USDJPY appears to have finally been dislodged from its rigged resting place just around 102. As a result the 50 pip overnight drop to 101.4 was the biggest drop in over a month. And since the Nikkei is nothing but the USDJPY (same for the S&P), Japan stocks tumbled 1.4%, their biggest drop in weeks, as suddenly the days of the grand Keynesian ninja out of Tokyo appear numbered. Unless Nomura manages to stabilize USDJPY and push it higher, look for the USDJPY to slide back to double digits in the coming weeks.
The typically more dovish Jim Bullard unleashed a torrent of "markets are wrong" this morning and along with dismal macro data sent stock reeling out of the gate - catching down to Treasury yields divergence since the Fed last week. Stocks stabilized as the hevay volume dump dried up and staggered sideways after POMO and Europe's close. Then USA went 1-0 down against Germany and VIX was dumped and stocks pumped and then double-pumped again to almost back to unchanged in the last hour. During all this excitment, bond yields slid lower (to 3-week lows); gold and silver pushed higher (though gold ended modestly lower on the day after China gold loans news); and credit entirely ignored the exuberant bounce...VIX closed unch along with stocks as indices were rescued from a notable red day via an epic AUDJPY lift and VIX slam on negligible volume.