If yesterday's selloff catalysts were largely obvious, if long overdue, in the form of the record collapse of Espirito Santo coupled with the Argentina default, German companies warning vocally about Russian exposure, the ongoing geopolitical escalations, and topped off by a labor costs rising and concerns this can accelerate a hiking cycle, overnight's latest dump, which started in Europe and has carried over into US futures is less easily explained although yet another weak European PMI print across the board probably didn't help. However, one can hardly blame largely unreliable "soft data" for what is rapidly becoming the biggest selloff in months and in reality what the market may be worried about is today's payroll number, due out in 90 minutes, which could lead to big Treasury jitters if it comes above the 230K expected: in fact, today is one of those days when horrible news would surely be great news for the momentum algos. Still, with futures down 0.6% at last check, it is worth noting that Treasurys are barely changed, as the great unrotation from stocks into bonds picks up and hence the great irony of any rate initiated sell off: should rates spike on growth/inflation concern, the concurrent equity selloff will once again push rates lower, and so on ad inf. Ain't central planning grand?
It has been a deja vu session of that day nearly a month ago when the Banco Espirito Santo (BES) problems were first revealed, sending European stocks and US futures, however briefly, plunging. Since then things have only gotten worse for the insolvent Portuguese megabank, and overnight BES, all three of its holdco now bankrupt, reported an epic loss despite which it will not get a bailout but instead must raise capital on its own. The result has been a record drop in both the bonds (down some 20 points earlier) and the stock (despite a shorting ban instituted last night), which crashed as much as 40% before stabilizing at new all time lows around €0.25, in the process wiping out recent investments by such "smart money" as Baupost, Goldman and DE Shaw. The result is a European financial sector that is struggling in the red, while adding to its pain are some large cap names such as Adidas which also tumbled after issuing a profit warning relating to "developments" in Russia. Then there was European inflation which printed at 0.4%, below the expected 0.5%, and the lowest in pretty much ever, and certainly since the ECB commenced its latest fight with "deflation", which so far is not going well. The European cherry on top was Greece, whose dead cat bounce is now over, after May retail sales crashed 8.5%, after rising 3.8% in April.
"More of the same," should summarize today's FOMC statement. There will be no press conference or refresh of the 'dot plot' economic projections. The Fed is expected to continue to taper by $10 billion with confirmation that the "growth meme" is playing out just as they projected (especially after today's GDP print). Goldman believes the focus will be on the jobs 'dashboard' and recent inflation data enables the dovish Fed to argue recent moves were noise and stay easier for longer. The downside risk (for markets) may be that Fed hawks will likely have little luck in altering the way forward guidance is employed by the Fed (and chatter over a Fisher dissent is possible).
This week's US data onslaught begins today, with the ADP private payroll report first on deck (Exp. 230K, down from 281K), followed by the number of the day, Q2 GDP, which after Q1's abysmal -2.9%, is expected to increase 3%. Anything less and in the first half the US economy will have contracted, something the purists could claim is equivalent to a recession. The whisper numbers are to the downside since consumption and trade never caught up and the only variable is inventory as well as Obamacare, whose impact was $40 billion "contribution" in Q1 was entirely eliminated and instead led to a deduction, something we expect will be reversed into Q2. Following the backward looking GDP (which will be ignored by the sellside penguins if it is bad and praised if good) at 2:00 pm Yellen Capital LLC comes out with a correction on her call to short social networking stocks, as well as admit once again that the "data-driven" Fed really has no idea what it is doing and how it will tighten, but that tightening is imminent and another $10 billion taper to QE will take place ahead of a full phase out in October. Joking aside, the Fed is expected not to do much if anything, which may be just the right time for Yellen to inject an aggressively hawkish note considering her inflation "noise" refuses to go away.
There has been little in term of tier 1 data releases to drive the price action so far in the overnight session which means participants focused on the upcoming US related risk events including the Fed, Q2 GDP and July Payrolls. This, combined with WSJ article by Fed’s Fisher who opined that the FOMC should consider tapering the reinvestment of maturing securities and begin shrinking the Fed’s balance sheet (note that Fisher’s opinion piece is written based on a speech he gave on July 16th) meant that USTs came under pressure overnight in Asia and in Europe this morning. There has been little notable equity futures action (for now: the USDJPY algo team gave it a good ramp attempt just before Europe open, and will repeat just around the US open despite Standard Chartered major cut to its USDJPY forecast from 110 to 106 overnight), although we expect that to change since today is the day when Tuesday frontrunning takes place with full force. We expect equities to completely ignore the ongoing deterioration in Ukraine and the imminent release of EU's own sanctions against Russia, as well as what is now shaping up as an Argentina default on July 30.
Notice the “icicles” dripping all over the place? They occur at different times of the day. What are they? Each one is a brief but dramatic price drop.
A look at the price action in the major currencies, US Treasuries and the S&P 500.
Following yesterday's disappointing results by Visa, which is the largest DJIA component accounting for 8% of the index and which dropped nearly 3%, while AMZN's 10% tumble has weighed heavily on NASDAQ futures, it has been up to the USDJPY to push US equity futures from dropping further, which it has done admirably so far with the tried and true levitation pump taking place just as Europe opened. One thing to keep in mind: yesterday the CME quietly hiked ES and NQ margins by 6% and 11% respectively. A modest warning shot across the bow of what may be coming down the line?
Ever since going public, it appears that Markit's giddyness about life has spilled over into its manufacturing surveys: after a surge in recent Markit mfg exuberance in recent months in the US, it was first China's turn overnight to hit an 18 month high, slamming expectations and fixing the bitter taste in the mouth left by another month of atrocious Japan trade data (where even Goldman has thrown in the towel on Abenomics now) following which the euphoria spilled over to Europe just as the triple-dip recession warnings had started to grow ever louder and most economists have been making a strong case for ECB QE. Instead, German July mfg PMI printed at 52.9, above the 52.0 in June and above the 51.9 expected while the Composite blasted higher to 55.9, from 54.0, and above the 53.8 expected thanks to the strongest Service PMI in 37 months! End result: a blended Eurozone manufacturing PMI rising from 51.8 to 51.9, despite expectations of a modest decline while the Composite rose from 52.8 to 54.0, on expectations of an unchanged print. Curiously the soft survey data took place as Retail Sales declined both in Italy (-0.7%, Exp. +0.2%), and the UK (-0.1%, Exp. 0.3%), which incidentally was blamed on "hot weather." Perhaps Markit, now that it has IPOed successfully, can step off the gas or at least lobby to have surveys become part of GDP.
Despite yesterday's lackluster earnings the most recent market levitation on low volume was largely due to what some considered a moderation in geopolitical tensions after Europe once again showed it is completely incapable of stopping Putin from dominating Europe with his energy trump card, and is so conflicted it is even unable to impose sanctions (despite the US prodding first France with BNP and now Germany with the latest DB revelations to get their act together), as well as it being, well, Tuesday, today's moderate run-up in equity futures can likely be best attributed to momentum algos, which are also rushing to recalibrate and follow the overnight surge in the AUDJPY while ignoring any drifting USDJPY signals.
Following the overnight ramp in various JPY crosses (dragging equity futures higher, and the Nikkei up 0.8%) it is as if the market is desperate to put all of last week's geopolitical events in the rearview mirror, and while yesterday there were no economic events of note, today's CPI and existing home prints should provide at least some distraction from the relentless barrage of one-line updates on Ukraine and Gaza. Still, that is precisely where the biggest risk remains, with an emphasis on the possibility of more Russian sanctions, this time by Europe.
A look at key events and data in the week ahead.
Overview of the price action in the forward exchange market and a look ahead.
It’s time to think like a contrarian. Why? Because capital markets seem as bulletproof as one of those up-armored military personnel carriers you see in war zones. So what could really rattle stock, bond and commodity markets over the next 3-6 months? The go-to answer, steeped in history, is geopolitical crisis, where the logical hedges are precious metals, volatility plays, and possibly crude oil. Look deeper, however, and other answers emerge.
A look at the investment climate through the currency market and upcoming events and data.