Have the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average seen their highs for the year? At this point in 2014, it’s probably a coin toss. There are several factors in favor of a further rally, to be sure. Corporate profits are still robust, revenue expectations are modest, and long term interest rates remain equity-friendly. On the flip side of the U.S. equity market coin: long term valuations are toppy, plenty of other markets (commodities, bonds) seem to signal an impending global recession, and a host of geopolitical concerns now seem to be hitting a full boil. Also, let’s not forget that the Russell 2000 peaked in, oh, March (1209) and July (1208) and is down 8.8% from that last high. By that measure, equities are already rolling over. It is true that markets climb a wall of worry. Until it falls on them.
Heavy volume and volatile price action early in stocks and high-yield credit markets subsided later in the day as despite several big stocks in the red, the indices jammed higher in the last hour desparate to get positive (on terrible volume) but failed. Treasury yields fell 3-4bps early on and stuck near the lows of the day (ignoring equity's exuberance). High-yield credit rallied back off early spike wides at 380bps (with desks noting heavy demand for protection) but remains worse than stocks. VIX tested above 17 and crashed back below 15.5. The USD ended the day unchanged (AUD weakness notable) but gold and silver slipped lower with oil (back over $93) and copper up on the day. Camera-on-a-stick smashed over 11% higher to $91.50 as the 41% float short continues to get squeezed out.
The key question now is “Can the U.S./global economy handle a meaningful downturn in financial asset prices?” The short answer is that it may not have a choice. The Federal Reserve has done what it can to juice the American economy and has the balance sheet to prove it. Central banks, for all their power, do not control long term capital allocation or corporate hiring practices. Fed Funds have been below 2% for six years. If the U.S. economy can’t continue to grow in 2015 as the Federal Reserve inches rates higher, there are clearly larger issues at play. And those private sector problems will need private sector solutions.
Simple review of technical condition of the capital markets. Light on polemical zeal, and heavy on technical analysis.
Some believe that actions today were jointly agreed to by the Fed and ECB to allow the stimulus baton to be passed from one major central bank to another. Could this be to help ease the risk-off fallout that is likely to ensue in anticipation of the first Fed hike? Maybe the price action in US equity markets today should serve as an early warning signal.
Even as the NATO summit began hours ago in Wales, conveniently enough (for Obama) at the venue of the 2010 Ryder Cup, so far today geopolitics has taken a backseat to the biggest event of the day - the ECB's much hyped and anticipated announcement. So anticipated in fact that even as it has been priced in for the past month, especially by BlackRock which is already calculating the Christmas bonus on its "consultancy" in implementing the ECB's ABS purchasing program and manifesting itself in record low yields across Europe's bond market, Reuters decided to milk it some more moments ago with the following blast: "Plans to launch an asset-backed securities (ABS) and covered bond purchase programme worth up to 500 billion euros are on the table at Thursday's European Central Bank policy meeting..." The notable being the size of the program, which at €500 billion, is precisely what Deutsche Bank said a week ago the size of the ABS program would be. Almost as if the bank with the world's biggest derivative exposure is helping coordinate the "Private QE"...
Heading into the North American open, the bulk of the morning’s price action has been provided by news that Ukrainian President Poroshenko said that he reached an agreement with Russia's Putin on a "permanent cease fire" in Eastern Ukraine's Donbass region. This saw an immediate spike higher in European equities with the DAX future rallying and breaking above its 100DMA seen at 9644.50, thus extending earlier gains that stemmed from the strong performance in Asia-Pacific equities, while the e-mini S&P once again printed a fresh record high. However, these moves staged a partial reversal amid comments from Russia’s Putin that he denied that such an agreement had been reached as Russia is not a party to the Ukraine conflict. In stock specific news, Russian exposed Raiffeisen Bank outperforms Europe (+7%) in reaction to the geopolitical developments, while Hugo Boss have underperformed throughout the session following a share placement which came in at the lower end (-5.3%).
Dispassionate overview of the week ahead, with thoughts about September.
While today's key events were supposed to be the Jackson speeches first by Janet Yellen at 10:00am Eastern and then by Mario Draghi at 2:30 pm, Ukraine quickly managed to steal the spotlight yet again when moments after the first Russian humanitarian aid convoys entered Ukraine allegedly without permission, Kiev first accused Russia of staging a direct invasion, even if moments later it changed its tune and said it had allowed the convoy in to "avoid provocations." In other words, your daily dose of Ukraine disinformation, which initially managed to push futures down some 0.3% before futs regained virtually all losses on the subsequent clarifications. Expect much more conflicting, confusing and very provocative headlines out of Kiev as the local government and the CIA try to get their story straight.
Brent crude is rising this morning up from an earlier dip to $101.75. That is not the case for WTI crude which has been in freefall since this morning's CPI data print. Brent-WTI has soared from below $5 to over $6.50 in the last few hours as WTI drops to a $95 handle at its lowest since mid-January.
Non-ideologically laden overview of the key issues shaping the investment climate in the week ahead.
Overview of the technical conditions of the major markets.
Here Comes The European Triple-Dip: Negative German GDP Sends Bunds Under 1% For The First Time EverSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/14/2014 07:11 -0400
The hammer finally hit for Europe when overnight both Germany and France reported Q2 GDP prints that missed expectations, the first actually contracting at a 0.2% rate with consensus looking for -0.1%, while France remained flat vs expectations for a tiny 0.1% rise. As a reminder, this GDP is the revised one, which already includes the estimated contribution of drugs and prostitution, suggesting the actual underlying economic growth is far worse than even reported. Then again, this is hardly surprising considering all the abysmal data out of Europe and the rest of the world in recent weeks, and with the Russian trade war sure to trim even more growth, look for all of Europe to join Italy in its first upcoming triple-dip recession in history.
Physical gold is migrating to the East (Russia, China) and, with it, power and influence. We see it with China and Russia progressively imposing their will, building consensus with a great many countries that wish to end American domination made possible by their capacity (privilege) of issuing the world reserve currency. The saying, “He who holds the (physical) gold makes the rules”, is truer than ever. The announcement of the creation of the BRICs development bank is just the first cornerstone in the new international monetary edifice. All we have to wait for is the first official announcement from the East of a new means of settlement of commercial trade based on one or more tangible assets, with gold. Afterwards, logically, an announcement of the convertibility of certain currencies into gold, or even the creation of a new currency that would be convertible to gold, should be made.
Any Bond Idiot Can Buy into Fear, but they are Forced to Sell into ‘Good Times’!