With little newsflow out of Europe, and just as little on deck out of the US (just NY ISM and auto sales later today), the main overnight events were out of Asia where first the RBA decided to leave rates unchanged but not before the announcement was leaked up to a minute early. In China, the rate-cut euphoria lasted just one day, and after a feeble 0.8% bounce on Monday, the SHCOMP was down 2.2% this morning over fears the PBOC is doing too little, too late to halt what is now perceived by many as a massive "tightening" capital flight out of China. Finally, Japan made the newsflow, after it JGBs continued to slide following a weak auction, fears that the BOJ is done easing after Abe advisor Etsuro Honda warned against overheating, and after the biggest jump in base pay in over a decade led some to think the BOJ may soon have to halt easing altogether, especially if real wages proceed to rise
Crude oil prices are once again following the path of least deja vu resistance this morning. Having spiked into NYMEX close on Friday (exactly as they did following the rig count data the previous week), WTI is back to a $48 handle this morning following news that Saudi Arabia has increased production to its higest level since 2013. Iraq (another OPEC nation) stirred the pot further by forecasting increased supplies in the next month. This comes as US production hits record highs and vital Oklahoma storage tanks will fill up even sooner than expected, driving the "JK" spread above $2.50 (April delivery drastically cheaper than May). As on analysts noted, as "Cushing continues to fill massively, we could see a '3' handle on WTI."
With key economic data either behind us (with the downward revised GDP), or ahead of us (the February payrolls on deck), and the Greek situation currently shelved if only for a few days/weeks until the IMF payment comes due and the farce begins anew, stocks are focuing on the widely telegraphed 25 bps Chinese rate cut over the weekend, which however has so far failed to inspire a broad based rally either in Asia (where the SHCOMP closed up 0.8% after first dipping in the red) or across developed markets. In fact, as of this moment futures are hugging the unchanged line as the USDJPY attempted another breakout of 120.000 but with numerous option barrier expiration stop at that level, it has since retracted all the overnight gains and is back to the Sundey lows, even as the EURUSD has seen a powerful breakout from overnight lows and is currently at the highest level since the US GDP print, following the release of the final European February PMI data, as a result of USD weakness since the European open.
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.
RANsquawk Preview: Fed Chair Yellen's semi-annual testimony to Congress - 24th to 25th of February 2015Submitted by RANSquawk Video on 02/23/2015 15:03 -0500
Fed Chair Yellen's semi-annual testimony to Congress - 24th to 25th of February 2015
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.
There was much confusion yesterday when algos went into a buying frenzy on news that Greece would submit a request for a 6 month loan extension, believing this means Greece has caved and will agree to a bailout programme extension as well. Nothing could have been further from the truth as we explained first moments after the headline struck, and also as Reuters validated moments ago when it said that "Greece will submit a request to the euro zone on Wednesday to extend a "loan agreement" for up to six months but EU paymaster Germany says no such deal is on offer and Athens must stick to the terms of its existing international bailout." But since the political nuances of diplomacy are lost on the math Ph.Ds who program the market-moving algos, the S&P did manage to roar above 2100 on what was another headfake and then forgot to sell off on the reality.
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.
As noted earlier, the key macro event on today's calendar, and one which will likely be the origin of significant volatility, is the Eurogroup meeting to decide Greece's fate starting in a few hours where Yanis Varoufakis and his European Finance Minister peers will attempt to resolve two diametrically opposite and seemingly uncompromisable positions. Here is what to expect.
The only question on traders' minds today, with the lack of any macro news out of the US (except for the DOE crude oil inventory update at 10:30am Eastern expecting a build of 3.5MM, down from 6.33MM last week, and the 10 Year bond auction at 1pm) is which Greek trip abroad is more important: that of FinMin Varoufakis to Belgium where he will enter the lion's den of Eurogroup finance ministers at 3:30pm GMT, or that of the foreign minister Kotzias who has already arrived in Moscow, and where we already got such blockbuster statements as:
LAVROV: RUSSIA WILL CONSIDER AID REQUESTS, IF GREECE MAKES THEM; KOTZIAS: GREECE IS WILLING TO MEDIATE BETWEEN EU, RUSSIA
Or perhaps both are critical, as what happens in Brussels will surely impact the outcome of the Greek trip to Russia?