The recent public outcry over high frequency trading is pointless. Solutions exist. Virtually every comparable market in the world uses them already. But, some electronic exchanges may not willingly adopt them. Doing so may disrupt their current business model. The incentives are misaligned, and competitors or regulators may need to force the issue to see change. Luckily, the issue to be forced is far simpler than most think. It’s time to add quality to the matching process.
The US and UK markets may be closed for holiday today but that doesn't mean that US equity futures can't spin this weekend's resurrection of anti-EU sentiment in Europe, coupled with the just confirmed resumption of the "anti-terrorist" operation in Ukraine (more on that shortly) following its anticlimatic presidential elections in a positive light. They can and they have, and even though the USDJPY low volume ramp is oddly missing overnight, and 10 Years appear bid, spoos are set for another record high, and are already trading up 0.2% at 1901.3, above 1900 for the first time ever. European shares remain higher with the autos and bank sectors outperforming and food & beverage, basic resources underperforming. The Italian and German markets are the best-performing larger bourses. The euro is little changed against the dollar. Greek 10yr bond yields fall; Italian yields decline.
The near-term outlook for the US dollar appears to be improving. Here is why.
Not much going on tonight, except for the non-coupy martial law announcement in Thailand where the government is said to still be in charge of everything except for martial law decisions taken by the army of course, which in turn is in charge of everything else apparently including the central bank which intervened so extensively in the market, the Baht was barely changed at one point. There was also news of explosions and clashes in Benghazi but as everyone knows, what difference does Libya make at this, or any other, point. Additionally overnight there were reports that the cities of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk in east Ukraine were being shelled by the Ukraine army but that too barely registered as bullish for the USDJPY (which in now traditional fashion ramped during the US day session then sold off during Asia hours).
When it comes to stocks - "everyone" knows the "Tuesday effect". When it comes to volatility - "everyone" knows the "just sell you idiot" effect. But, as Citigroup's Richard Cochinos explains (and Bloomberg annotates in charts so simple a 5th grader can get it), there is now an FX trade for dummies...
A look at the technical condition of the foreign exchange market.
The combination of deteriorating European assets (topping European bank stocks and vulnerable peripheral debt) and poor price action (the impulsive break of 6m wedge support at 1.3685) augurs for further EURUSD weakness, warns BofAML's Macneil Curry, but it is Italian bond futures that broke a long-term uptrend and "it's time to sell the bounce in BTPs." While 30Y and 10Y US Treasuries are in medium term bull trends, he warns they are approaching a 'basing zone' - bond bulls ("if there are any" he jokes) beware.
The perfectly expected if completely irrational overnight ramp in various Yen carry pairs tried, and failed, and both the USDJPY and EURJPY were tumbling to overnight lows as we go to print. This is happening despite a rout in India in which Narendra Modi's opposition block is poised for the biggest Indian election win in 30 years, with his BJP party currently leading in 332 of 543 seat - an outcome that is seen as very pro business (and seemingly pro asset bubbles: the INR soared and the Sensex was up as much as 6% in intraday trading before paring virtually all gains following what many say was RBI intervention). And while the Nikkei (down 200 points) did not help the mood this move was mostly in response to yesterday's US selling, which means as usual the culprit for lack of algo risk-taking overnight has been the Yen carry, which moments ago hit intraday lows, and is increasingly flirting with the 101 level (after which double digits, and Abe's second resignation, come very quickly).
That greatest contrarian indicator in the history of finance, Tom Stolper (arguably even better than Dennis Gartman), may no longer be at Goldman but his muppet-crushing spirit lives on. With Bund (and Treasury) yields tumbling to lows not seen since mid 2013, adding insult to injury, and accelerating the short squeeze, here is Goldman's Francesco Garzarelli with "Trade Update: Close Trade recommendation selling short Euro Bund June 14 futures (RXM4), for a potential loss of 2%."
Forget what you may think about stocks, for good or for bad. This is a trader’s market. By that, Nick Colas notes, we are in a condition where very specific old-school rules govern price action. No, none of these aphorisms will ever win a Pulitzer, but in a world where near-term sentiment clearly rules the roost these rules clearly matter. After all, "The bank doesn't ask how smart you are when they cash your bonus check."
Headlines were made earlier today as Ireland’s ten year borrowing costs dropped below the UK’s for the first time in six years. Given that it only recently exited a bailout programme and not long ago was mired in the worst crisis in a generation, this is a pretty astonishing turnaround. Nor is Ireland alone. Spain and Italy can now borrow at similar rates to the USA on ten year debt. More broadly, in the past year peripheral countries borrowing costs have plummeted to levels seen before the crisis, or below, as countries begin exiting bailouts and returning to the markets. There are three key factors driving this 'bubble" and five major problems stemming from this seeming nirvana.
If, in the New Normal, newsflow and facts mattered, facts such as the German Zew Investor Expectations index crashing from 43.2 to 33.1, smashing expectations of a 40.0 print to the downside and down to the lowest since January 2013 nearly half the 7 year half reported as recently as December confirming Germany can no longer be Europe's growth dynamo courtesy of a still nosebleed high EURUSD, or facts such as overnight Chinese data missed in every category with industrial output up 8.7% y/y in April vs an estimated 8.9%, retail sales up 11.9% below the estimated 12.2% rise and ; Jan.-April fixed-asset investment growing 17.3% vs est. 17.7%, then futures may just posted a downtick. However, since it is a Tuesday, with a ~$1 billion POMO, one can ignore the fundamentals and proceed straight to buying anything and everything with indiscriminate abandon. The only question is whether the NY Fed orders Citadel to slam the VIX under 11 to start off the morning S&P rampage which should push the broad market index above Goldman's 1900 price target for the end of the 2014.
"Notwithstanding the view that we may see S&P get up to 1950 (+/- a little) over the next fortnight or so, over the rest of Q2 and Q3 we could see a decent correction of up to 20% in the risk-on trade. Low 1700s in the S&P attracts, and thereafter, depending on weekly closes, low 1600s/mid-1500s S&P could be in play. For now, however, the key level to the upside is 2000 as a weekly close on the S&P – if achieved then I would have to revisit my bearish bias for the belly of 2014. To the downside a weekly close below 1770 would, I feel, easily put a 1700 S&P within reach. Beyond that I would need to assess data and price action at the time before highlighting the next set of levels, but I would not be surprised to see policymakers again attempt to boost markets later this year - there should be no surprise if this happens because the reaction function of central bankers has become depressingly predictable."
East Ukraine may be independent in a result which the Kremlin said it "respects" and hopes for a "civilized implementation" of the referendum results, and which assures further military escalation in the proxy war of east versus west, but stocks are happy to ignore it all again. The reason: a positive close over in Asia (ex-Japan) after China’s State Council pledged to reform markets buoyed demand for risk, although it really is just a follow through to the furious VIX slam in the last hour of US Friday trading, which said otherwise, means buying of US equities was the reason to buy US equities. More importantly and adding to the early spoo euphoria were comments by ECB's Nowotny who said that interest rate cut alone would likely be too little to combat low inflation - suggesting a European QE is coming - also acted as a catalyst for the latest uptick in stocks: when trapped like the ECB and when "guiding" to future activity, if unable to actually execute it, may as well go all the way. End result, Spoos up nearly 0.5% because, well, others are buying spoos.
Dispassionate discussion of the near-term forces at work in the foreign exchange market.