Ebola Devastates West Africa: Revenues Down; Markets Not Functioning; Projects Canceled; GDP Plunges 4%Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/27/2014 17:01 -0400
The market, in its infinitely rigged wisdom, has concluded that the worst Ebola outbreak in history is a non-event, even though it has put virtually all of western Africa on indefinite lockdown, and as Reuters reports, is "causing enormous damage to West African economies and draining budgetary resources." In fact the damage from Ebola to Africa is already so acute, it is expected that economic growth in the region will plunge by up to 4 percent as foreign businessmen leave and projects are canceled, according to the African Development Bank president said. Revenues are down, foreign exchange levels are down, markets are not functioning, airlines are not coming in, projects are being canceled, business people have left - that is very, very damaging," African Development Bank (AfDB) chief Donald Kaberuka said in an interview late on Tuesday.
The S&P 500 has tripled off the March 2009 lows and took a mere 65 days to go from 1900 to 2000 today. As WSJ notes, the S&P needed 11,208 trading days to reach 100 for the first time... Here’s a look at S&P 500 milestones throughout the decades... and how Bernanke predicted 2,000 in March 2013.
It is unclear exactly why stock futures, bonds - with European peripheral yields hitting new record lows for the second day in a row - gold, oil and pretty much everything else is up this morning but it is safe to say the central banks are behind it, as is the "de-escalation" algo as a meeting between Russia and Ukraine begins today in Belarus' capital Minsk. Belarusian and Kazakhstani leaders will also be at the summit. Hopes of a significant progress on the peace talks were dampened following Merkel’s visit to Kiev over the weekend. The German Chancellor said that a big breakthrough is unlikely at today’s meeting. Russian FM Lavrov said that the discussion will focus on economic ties, the humanitarian crisis and prospects for a political resolution. On that note Lavrov also told reporters yesterday that Russia hopes to send a second humanitarian aid convoy to Ukraine this week. What he didn't say is that he would also send a cohort of Russian troops which supposedly were captured by overnight by the Ukraine army (more shortly).
It's been one of those days. First, the CME broke for 4 hours due to what some suggested were HFT connectivity issues, then Russia announced it would send a second humanitarian convoy into Ukraine (a big risk off move the first time it was announced, now not even an algo stirred), then Germany reported that the IFO Business Confidence/Climate dropped for the fourth consecutive month to 106.3 from 108.0, below the 107.0 expected, with the IFO chief economist stating that German GDP expectations are likely to be cut to 1.5% from 2.0% later in the year, and finally the French government collapsed due to disagreement over policy between finance minister Valls and economy minister Montebourg. All in all, a typical day in Europe's slow-motion implosion. So why are Spanish and Italian bank stocks soaring and European bond yields reaching new record highs? Simple: following Draghi's speech on Friday at Jackson Hole, which at initial read was hardly as dovish as many had expected, the FT and various other media outlets promptly changed the narrative and made it seem as if the ECB head was about to unleash QE.
With the FOMC Minutes in the books, the only remaining major event for the week is the Jackson Hole conference, where Yellen is now expected to talk back any Hawkish aftertaste left from the Minutes, and which starts today but no speeches are due until tomorrow. And while the Minutes were generally seen as hawkish, stocks continue to levitate, blissfully oblivious what tighter monetary conditions would mean to an asset bubble, which according to many, is now the biggest in history. And speaking of equities, US futures climbed to a fresh record high overnight on just the right mix of bad news.
Friday's main event, Ukraine's alleged attack of a Russian military convoy, has come and gone, and as we mused on Friday has promptly faded into the memory of all other fabricated headlines released by the country engaged in a major civil war and an even more major disinformation war. To be sure, Germany's DAX has recovered virtually all losses, US futures are up about 9 points, and the 10 Year is back to 2.37%. One wonders what algo-slamming headline amusement Ukraine has in stock for us today, although anyone hoping for a quick "de-escalation" (there's that word again) will have to wait following yesterday's meeting of Russian, Ukraine, German and French ministers in Berlin where Russia's Lavrov said he saw no progress on Ukraine cease-fire, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says in Berlin, adding that a cease-fire should be unconditional.
If the global equity "markets" were in need of a sharp "horrible news is great news" boost overnight, it came courtesy of Germany's ZEW investor confidence survey, which printed at a stunning 8.6, a plunge from the 27.1 in July and far below the 17.0 expected - the lowest print since December 2012 -largely suggesting that a European triple-dip is all but assured. And if that wasn't enough, strong language from John Kerry, assured to fan the flames of geopolitical instability, came hours ago when the US SecState said even more Russian sanctions may be coming. And just to make sure the NY Fed trading desk has to come up with a new narrative is the latest development in the Russian "humanitarian convoy" saga, which as we reported last night, has departed Russia but which Ukraine is now refusing to allow into its country. All in all, it's is setting up to be another super bullish day in the rigged markets for which all that matters is... Tuesday.
Since there is nothing on today's data docket, it will be all about, you guessed it, geopolitical risks, where "consensus" is best summarized by these two Bloomberg headlines:
- Stay USD Long as Geopolitical Risks Loom
- USD is mixed and world stock markets rise as concerns over geopolitical risks ease
That pretty much covers it, although in addition to the Ukraine civil war one can now add an Iraq coup to the list of geopolitical fiascoes instigated by US foreign policy.
Considering all central bank money is created out of thin air, without actual collateral (unlike money created by commercial banks) and just has the backing of the (diluted) "full faith and credit" of the issuer, the only real use for such money is to be "embezzled" either legally - by banks where it ends up as reserves and is then used to push risk assets higher and make the merely uber richer uberest rich... or illegally. It is the latter shortcut that numerous employees of the central bank of Albania decided to pursue when the central bank discovered that around 713 million lek, or $6.7 million, in cash had been stolen two weeks ago.
There were some minor fireworks in the overnight session following the worst Australian unemployment data in 12 years reported previously (and which sent the AUD crashing), most notably news that the Japanese Pension Fund would throw more pensioner money away by boosting the allocation to domestic stocks from 12% to 20%, while reducing holdings of JGBs from 60% to 40%. This in turn sent the USDJPY soaring (ironically, following yesterday's mini flash crash) if only briefly before it retraced much of the gains, even as the Pension asset reallocation news now appears to be entirely priced in. It may be all downhill from here for Japanese stocks. It was certainly downhill for Europe where after ugly German factory orders yesterday, it was the turn of Europe's growth dynamo to report just as ugly Industrial Production which missed expectations of a 1.2% print rising only 0.3%. Nonetheless, asset classes have not seen major moves yet, as today's main event is the ECB announcement due out in less than an hour. Consensus expects Draghi to do nothing, however with fresh cyclical lows in European inflation prints, and an economy which is clearly rolling over from Germany to the periphery, the ex-Goldmanite just may surprise watchers.
It is unclear how much of this morning's momentum-busting weakness in futures is the result of China's horrendous Service PMI, which as we reported last night dropped to the lowest print on record at the contraction borderline, but whatever low volume levitation was launched by the market after Europe's close yesterday may have fizzled out if only until Europe close (there is no POMO today). Still, futures may have been helped by yet another batch of worse than expected European data, namely the final Eurozone PMI prints, which in turn sent the EURUSD to day lows and the offsetting carry favorite USDJPY to highs, helping offset futures weakness. Because in the New Normal there is nothing like a little bad macro data to goose the BTFATH algos...
Following a ghastly week for stocks, the momentum algos were desperate for something, anything to ignite some upward momentum and stop the collapse which last week pushed the DJIA into the red for the year: they got it overnight with the previously reported bailout of Portugal's Banco Espirito Santo, where the foreplay finally ended and after the Portuguese Central Bank finally realized that the bank is insolvent and that no more private investors will "recapitalize" it further, finally bailed it out, sticking the stock and the subs into a bad bank runoff entity, while preserving the senior bonds. So much for Europe's much vaunted bail in regime and spreading of pain across asset classes. At least the depositors did not get Cyprused, for now.
Overnight markets have been a continuation of the relative peace observed yesterday before the onslaught of key data later in the week, with the biggest mover standing out as the USDJPY, which briefly touched 102 before sliding lower then recouping losses. This sent the Nikkei 225 up 0.57% despite absolutely atrocious Japanese household spending data, coupled with a major deterioration in employment: at this rate if Abenomics doesn't fix the economy it just may destroy it. Aside from that the last 24 hours could be summed as having a lot of noise but not a lot of excitement. This was best illustrated by the S&P500’s (+0.03%) performance which was the second smallest gain YTD. And while the SHCOMP is starting to fade its recent euphoria and China was up only 0.24%, Europe continues to cower in the shade of Russian sanctions as both German Bund yields rose to record highs, and Portugal's BES tumbled by 10% once again to 1 week lows. Today Europe is expected to formally reveal its latest Russian sanctions, which should in turn push Europe's already teetering economy back over the edge.
Despite an early dump on dismal data, US equity markets (except Trannies) 'v-shape-recovery'ed back up to unchanged or better (as Europe closed and POMO ended) on the heels of an increasingly more beta-sensitive AUDJPY rampfest. Trannies never really recovered (3rd down day in a row) and Russell was less exuberant in its dead-cat-bounce but the Dow and S&P closed very modestly green. High-yield credit markets continue to widen - now at 10-week wides (up 35bps from tights) - notably divergent from stocks. Away from the shenanigans in stocks, the USD ended unchanged; Treasury yields were up 1-2bps; and gold closed very modestly lower. Oil slipped 0.5% to $101.60. VIX closed unch. Only the Nasdaq is green post MH17 Headlines on 7/17 and The Russell 2000 is -1.9% and Homebuilders -9% year-to-date.
SSDD: Big dump at the open, then the usual low volume levitation higher as the BTFD algos engage. But why? While the economic news today was bad it wasn't so horrible to merit a new all time high in the "market", while geopolitical developments continue to deteriorate, however at the usual "better than expected" pace. So what might have been the reason for today's latest surge higher which just brought the "market" back into the green? This note from Dennis Gartman may well have been the catalyst.