The overnight session was relatively quiet as precious metals trod water while equity markets tumbled. However, as the US equity cash session looms, silver and gold are coming under renewed selling pressure (and the USD bid) in a seeming effort to provide some rotational bid to stocks into the open (just like yesterday). This is the lowest for Gold ($1218) and Silver ($19.01) since July.
Retirement is still on for now. Late-minute desperation (in EURJPY) dragged the Dow just back over 16,000 and the S&P limped above 1,800. Bonds were sold (though less aggressively than gold and silver) and the USD rallied as early exuberance gave way to an uglier realization that good-news-is-really-bad-news after all following today's data. Volume was average as VIX continued to rise to 14.3% - its highest close since mid-October as we see the 4th session in a row with selling into the close. Today was the worst frst-day-of-month for the S&P since May.
There was more irregular price action in trading yesterday between 1800 and 1830 GMT. Gold had trended slightly higher in the afternoon and was trading at $1,244/oz prior to a sharp but very brief spike to $1,254/oz and then sharp concentrated selling saw gold fall by more than $20 to $1,231/oz before bouncing higher and recovering to the $1,245/oz level again.
The trading was unusual as foreign exhange markets saw no price movements of note, nor did the silver, platinum and palladium markets.
Volumes - expectedly - were extremely light and so, we all know what that means: a dash for trash meltup. NASDAQ keeps powering ahead as the S&P and Dow recover from yesterday afternoon's cliff dive. Trannies now up 13.3% off the debt-ceiling lows 5 weeks ago... sure, why not. "Most shorted" names outperformed once again but it seems investors, while not wanting to sell, are happy to bid for protection as VIX diverges. Credit markets also diverged bearishly today. Stocks disconnected (a la yesterday) from JPY carry briefly but rapidly caught up in the low volume churn. Bonds leaked higher in yield (unch on the week now); the USD pushed higher after Europe's close (back to unch on the week); but inventories and USD strength weighed on oil prices and precious metals limped modestly lower.
The correlation between stock prices and margin debt continues to rise (to new records of exuberant "Fed's got our backs" hope) as NYSE member margin balances surge to new record highs. Relative to the NYSE Composite, this is the most "leveraged' investors have been since the absolute peak in Feb 2000. What is more worrisome, or perhaps not, is the ongoing collapse in investor net worth - defined as total free credit in margin accounts less total margin debt - which has hit what appears to be all-time lows (i.e. there's less left than ever before) which as we noted previously raised a "red flag" with Deutsche Bank. Relative to the 'economy' margin debt has only been higher at the very peak in 2000 and 2007 and was never sustained at this level for more than 2 months. Sounds like a perfect time to BTFATH...
Energized by a lower crude oil price - and collapsing JPY - equity markets hit their highs shortly after 8pmET on Sunday night, trod water thorugh the Asian and European markets and started more aggressive selling once US cash markets opened. Coincidentally (or not) when Obama started speaking around 1445ET, US equities took a dramatic dive - catching down to an already weaker signaling VIX rally. EURJPY stayed in sync through all of this priming ignition pumps right into the close as NASDAQ 4,000 close was desperately needed (but the dot-com darlings were all hit). Gold and Silver's early monkey-hammering was met with buyers which lifted then up 0.5% and 0.8% respectively on the day (and 2% off their lows). WTI crude recovered more than half of its losses (-0.6% on the day) but Brent not so much as the spread broke to new 8 month highs. VIX closed higher and Treasury yields trended lower all day from the overnight open to close practically unchanged as the USD lost half its early gains to end +0.25%.
Most people – certainly most governments and economists – define inflation as a general rise in prices. But this is wrong. Inflation is an increase in the money supply, of which a rising general price level is just one possible result – and not the most common one. More often, excessive money creation shows up as asset bubbles, where the new money, instead of flowing equally to all the products that are for sale at a given time, flow disproportionately into the ‘hottest’ asset classes. In each case, mainstream economists and government officials pointed to modest consumer price inflation as a sign that things were fine. And in each case they were simply looking in the wrong place and completely missing the destabilizing effects of an inflating money supply. Now we’re at it again, with economists, legislators and central bankers using low consumer price inflation as a rationale for even easier money, while ignoring epic bubbles in sovereign bonds, equities, high-end real estate and collectibles around the world. A chart tracking the tangible asset classes of the super-rich would show all lines going parabolic - except one, gold - for now.
Another day, another carry currency-driven futures melt-up to daily record highs (the all important EURJPY soared overnight on the return of the now standard overnight Japanese jawboning of the JPY which sent the EURJPY just shy of a new 4 year high of 138 overnight), and another attempt by the ECB to have its record high market cake, and eat a lower Euro too (recall DB's said the "pain threshold" for the EUR/USD exchange rate - the level at which further appreciation impairs competitiveness and economic recovery - is $1.79 for Germany, $1.24 for France, and $1.17 for Italy) this time with ECB's Hansson repeating the generic talking point that the ECB is technically ready for negative deposit rates. However, with the halflife on such "threats" now measured in the minutes, and soon seconds, the European central bank will have to come up with something more original and creative soon, especially since the EURJPY can't really rise much more without really crushing European trade further.
"We, the German Fuhrer and Chancellor, and the British Prime Minister, have had a further meeting today and are agreed in recognizing that the question of Anglo-German relations is of the first importance for our two countries and for Europe. We regard the agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again. We are resolved that the method of consultation shall be the method adopted to deal with any other questions that may concern our two countries, and we are determined to continue our efforts to remove possible sources of difference, and thus to contribute to assure the peace of Europe. My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honor. I believe it is "peace for our time." Go home and get a nice quiet sleep." - Neville Chamberlain, September 30, 1938
The White House has released their (lengthy) fact sheet...
"During the six-month initial phase, the P5+1 will negotiate the contours of a comprehensive solution... Over the next six months, we will determine whether there is a solution that gives us sufficient confidence that the Iranian program is peaceful. If Iran cannot address our concerns, we are prepared to increase sanctions and pressure.
Suspend certain sanctions on gold and precious metals, Iran’s auto sector, and Iran’s petrochemical exports, potentially providing Iran approximately $1.5 billion in revenue
Israelis, Saudis, and Republicans are already questioning the decision...
The S&P 500 has now managed the longest weekly winning streak (7 weeks) since May 2007 (when it managed a 9% gain). Off the recent lows, the current run is an impressive 9.6% (for the S&P) with Trannies up 12.5% in the same period. (we hesitate to mention that May 2007's run-up was halted by the first of the structured credit funds imploding) On the week, Trannies and NASDAQ ended back practically unch, Russell 2000 outperformed but the afternoon melt-up in stocks (on the back of more shorts being squeezed) held the S&P above 1,800 close for the first time ever. Bonds rallied (recovering a lot of their mid-week losses), the USD was offered in general (led by EUR strength) but AUD's 2% loss was notable. VIX was manhandled to 12.25% into the close to maintain the headline-grabbing 1,800 as gold and silver clung to their lows.
And yet gold still seems to be stuck in a downtrend. This week's sell off may have been due to trading shenanigans on the COMEX and many, including the UK Financial Regulator are asking questions as to whether gold price rigging is taking place.
Supported by economic weakness overnight in Asia and a weak Philly Fed print (bad news is good news) along with hope from more QE out of the BoJ, JPY weakness floated all boats today as homebuilders and financials surged lifting stocks tick for tick with carry. Yellen's nomination provided yet another lift. Treasuries rallied (though the long-end remains +10bps on the week). Precious metals were monkey-hammered early then dead for the rest of the day (-4% on the week) as oil prices surged higher ( +1.6% on the week). The USD Index glitched lower on no neg rates chatter early from Europe but the quietness in the index hid major dispersion as AUD was craushed (now 1.6% lower on the week). Credit markets rallied (but remain well off stocks) and VIX was compressed as low volumes meant a slow lift higher (and Trannies best day in almost 5 weeks). Shorts suffered the most until POMO ended - tripling market performance.
The confusion reigns. The USD (aside from against the EUR) is bid and Treasuries are being sold along with precious metals in a continuation of yesterday's taper-tantrum. However, stocks (and crude oil) are surging. As JPY's implosion of moar QE from Japan expectations lift carry traders back from the grave.
Jim Rogers hope-driven wish is that the politicians were smart enough at some point to say (to the central bankers), "we've got to stop this, this is going to be bad." He adds, on the incoming QEeen, "she’s not going to stop it, first of all she doesn't believe in stopping it, she thinks printing money is good." However, Rogers warns in this excellent interview with Birch Gold, "eventually the markets will just say, "We're not going to play this game anymore", and we'll have a serious collapse." The world is blinded by central bank liquidity, and as Rogers somewhat mockingly notes "if everybody says the sky is blue, I urge you to look out the window and see if it's blue because I have found that most people won't even bother to look out the window..." Rogers concludes, "everybody should own some precious metals as an insurance policy," because as he ominously warns, when 'it' collapses, "there will be big change.