"Commodity pricing is vastly more important than most people actually realize," explains former CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton, warning that "beginning around 2007 the rise of computer driven trading algorithms changed the rules, and the markets have not been the same since." Chilton is sympathetic to the perception many frustrated and bruised investors have about the manipulation of the precious metals markets - on record saying that the large short position concentrations have been outrageous. Why not the CFTC directly? Sadly, the former CFTC boss notes, "regulators by and large aren't listening to average people."
The question stands: how much longer will the Fed allow the ECB to export its recession to the US on the back of the soaring dollar, and how much longer will the market be deluded that "decoupling" is still possible despite a dramatic bout of weakness in recent US data. Look for the answer in today's BLS report, which - if the Fed is getting secound thoughts about its rate hike strategy in just 3 months - has to print well below 200,000 to send a very important message to the market about just how much weaker the US economy is than generally perceived. For now, however, the ECB is getting its way, and the question of just how much European QE is priced in, remains open, with peripheral bond yields dropping to new all time lows for yet another day, while the EURUSD has plunged to fresh 11 year lows, sliding below 1.094, and making every US corporation with European operations scream in terror. Looking at markets, US equities are just barely in the red, coiled to move either way when the seasonally-adjusted jobs data hits.
It has been a while since we have seen the USDJPY rampathon push US equities higher, so in a day dominated by central banks (first the BOE momentarily), and then the ECB's much anticipated announcement of the actual QE launch at the Draghi press conference at 1:30pm CET (taking place, ironically enough, in the place that was the blueprint for the Eurozone's capital controls, Cyprus), it only makes sense that after weeks of stage fright, the USDJPY algos reminded the world they are alive and well, and proceeded to ramp the key FX pair above 120, even though the currency that everyone will be talking about today is the Euro, hugging 1.10 as of this moment, but the real question is what happens after Draghi gives the asset buying green light: has all of Q€ been priced in already in FX, and will the EURUSD resume its surge higher, or is parity next stop?
Overview of the major events in the week ahead.
If there isone thing that is virtually certain about today's trading (aside from the post Rig Count surge in oil because if there is one thing algos are, it is predictable) is that despite S&P futures being a touch red right now, everything will be forgotten in a few minutes and yet another uSDJPY momentum ignition ramp will proceed, which will push the S&P forward multiple to 18.0x on two things i) it's Friday, and an implicit rule of thumb of central planning is the market can't close in confidenece-sapping red territory ahead of spending heavy weekends and ii) the Nasdaq will finally recapture 5000 following a final push from Apple's bondholders whose recent use of stock buyback proceeds will be converted into recorder highs for the stock, and thus the Nasdaq's crossing into 5,000 territory because in the New Normal, the more expensive something is, the more people, or rather algos, want to buy it.
Following a quiet overnight session in which the main event appears to be a statement by Chinese premier Li for more active fiscal policy, which has pushed the metals complex higher, although technically every other asset class as well, with US equity futures set to open in fresh record high territory, even as 10Y yields around the world continue to decline, attention today will fall on the CPI print due out shortly, because if consensus is correct, January will be the first month this decade when US inflation posts a negative print, mostly due to the delayed effect of sliding commodity prices. As Deutsche recaps, the most important number today is the headline CPI where the headline YoY rate is predicted to be negative by the market (-0.1%) for the first time since 2009. Over this period the YoY rate stayed negative for 8 months. However before this we hadn't seen a full year decline since August 1955. In other words, a few months before what may be the first US rate hike for a new generation of traders, the US is set to print its first annual deflation since Lehman, transitory or not.
Stocks In Holding Pattern Following Blow-Off Top, Oblivious Of Fed's Warning Of "Stretched" ValuationsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/25/2015 08:00 -0400
Following the first of two Janet Yellen testimonies to Congress, the market read between the lines of what the Fed Chairman said when she hinted that "the Fed needs confidence on recovery and inflation before beginning to raise rates" and realized that the case of a June rate hike is suddenly far less realistic than previously expected, as a result not only did we see another blowoff top in stocks to fresh all time highs, a move which sent the USD lower, has pushed the median EV/EBITDA multiple to the mid 11x (!) range and the forward PE to just shy of 18x ironically coming on a day when the Fed itself warned about "stretched" equity valuations, and led to brisk buying of global Treasurys across the board, pushing the 10 Year in the US back under 2%, and due to the global convergence trade (because if the Fed returns to QE, it will be forced to buy up Treasuries not just in the US but around the globe, since net issuance including CBs globally is now negative) and leading to today's German 5 Year bond auction pricing at a negative yield for the first time ever.
There was an expectation that today's receipt by the Troika of the revised Greek "reform proposal" would send risk and the EUR higher, which is probably precisely why nothing has happened so far, and US equity futures are unchanged ahead of what the HFT algos' new attention focus is today, namely Yellen's semi-annual testimony to Congress. As a result, the only thing that has seen notable strength this morning is the USD, which has surged to 119.50 against the Yen, and briefly pushed the EURUSD under 1.1300. which also means that WTI has also gone nowhere overnight and remains under $50. One wonders just what OPEC "rumor" those long crude will leak today.
"The economy is booming, according to recent data. GDP grew by 2.6% annualized in the last quarter. And yet oil prices have dropped faster than they did in the crisis of 2008. The US dollar is at record strength. And the gold price has spiked in many currencies ... Something’s not right here." So says Eric Sprott in his latest report observing what may lie in store for oil and gold in the near future.
If you thought the Greek tragicomedy is over, you ain't seen nothing yet, because despite the so-called Friday agreement, the immediate next step is for Greece to submit its list of reform measures to the Troika, which will almost certainly result in an immediate revulsion in Germany's finance ministry, and lead to another protracted back and forth between the Troika and Greece, which may once again well end with a Grexit, especially if the Greek liquidity situation, where bash is bleeding from both the banks and the state at a record pace, remains unhalted. It is therefore not surprising that the ongoing decline in the EURUSD since the inking of the agreement, and the fact that the pair briefly dipped below 1.13 this morning - over 100 pips below the euphoric rip on Friday - is a clear indication that the market is starting to realize that absolutely nothing is either fixed, or set in stone.
After yesterday's FOMC Minutes, despite a huge dovish reversal by the Fed - one which increasingly puts its "credibility" and reputation at risk - stocks were unable to close green, or even above 2100, for one simple reason: uncertainty with the fate of Greece. Overnight there has not been much more clarity, when as previously reported Greece submitted a 6 month extension request to its master loan agreement but not to its bailout extension, a nuance lost in the annals of diplomacy. But is this the much-awaited Greek capitulation? Or will the Eurogroup reject this too? The answer may be available in a few hours after an emergency Eurogroup meeting due later today. However, as usual stocks are ready to "price in" yet another Greek conflict resolution, and after futures were lower by 7 points overnight, were up 4 points at last check: a rebound which will not correct if the latest Greek "compromise" fails to deliver.
The final and ultimate round of the Crisis that begin in 2008 will occur when faith is lost in the Central Banks.
Futures Rebound On Collapse In Greek Negotiations, After Europe's Largest Derivatives Exchange BreaksSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/17/2015 07:43 -0400
There was a brief period this morning when market prices were almost determined by non-central banks. Almost. Because shortly before the European market open, a technical failure on the Eurex exchange prevented trading in euro-area bond futures the day after Greek debt talks collapsed. And sure enough, after initially seeing significant downward pressure, which nobody could capitalize on of course courtesy of the broken Eurex, risk both in Europe and the US has since rebounded courtesy of the ECB, SNB and BIS, led by the EURUSD (because a Grexit threat which according to Commerzbank has been raised from 25% to 50% is bullish for the artificial currency), which is now at the level last seen just before yesterday's negotiations broke down, and US futures are about to go green.
Who would have thought all it takes for Eurozone Q4 GDP to print above expectations, even if by the smallest of possible margins - one which even the Chinese goalseek-o-tron bows its head down to in respect - which at 0.3% Q/Q was above the 0.2% expected and above Q3's 0.2%, was for Europe to admit it has finally succumbed to deflation. Oh, and for the ECB to admit the situation has never been more serious by launching Q€. Oh, and add the "estimated contribution" to GDP from hookers and drugs. Put all that together and on an annualized basis, the European economy grew by 1.4%. Whatever the reason, Q4 GDP was the best print since Q1, even as Germany blew not only consensus of 0.3%, but the highest GDP estimate of 0.6% out of the water when it reported that courtesy of a spike in spending, its economy grew by 0.7% in the fourth quarter, up from the near-recessionary 0.1% in Q3. That, together with QE and ZIRP now raging across the continent, was enough to push the DAX above 11,000 for the first time ever.
So far it has been largely a repeat of the previous overnight session, where absent significant macro drivers, the attention again remains focused both on China, which reported some truly ugly inflation (with 0.8% Y/Y CPI the lowest since Lehman, just call it deflation net of the "goalseeking") data (which as usually is "good for stocks" pushing the SHCOMP 1.5% higher as it means even more easing), and on Greece, which has not made any major headlines in the past 24 hours as patience on both sides is growing thin ahead of the final "bluff" showdown between Greece and the Eurozone is imminent. The question as usual is who will have just a fraction more leverage in the final assessment - Greece has made its ask known, and it comes in the form of 10 billion euros in short-term "bridge" financing consisting of €8 billion increase in Bills issuance and €1.9 billion in ECB profits, as it tries to stave off a funding crunch, a proposal which will be presented on the Wednesday meeting of euro area finance ministers in Brussels. The question remains what Europe's countrbid, if any, will be. For the answer: stay tuned in 24 hours.