While the bond market is still reeling from Friday's shocking Bill Gross departure, and PIMCO has already started to bleed tens of billions in redemptions (see "Billions Fly Out the Door at Pimco About $10 Billion Is Withdrawn After Departure of Gross"), stocks which may have been hoping for a peaceful weekend after Friday's ridiculous no volume ramp in the last two hours of trading, got hit by a double whammy of first Catalan independence fears rising up again after Catalan President Mas signed a decree committing Catalonia to a referendum bid on November 9th, leading to a move wider in Spanish bond yields, and second the sharpest surge in Hong Kong violence in decades, which led to a 2% drop in the Hang Seng, are now solidly lower across the board, with the DAX dropping below its 50 DMA, while US equity futures are printing about 9 points lower from Friday's close despite another epic ramp in the USDJPY which flited with 110 briefly before retracing to 109.50, and also threaten to push below the key technical support level unless the NY Fed's "Markets group" emerges out of its new Chicago digs and buys up enough E-minis to restore confidence in a rigged market.
It has been a relatively subdued session, with not much action in either stocks or bonds - European stocks rise for the second day on US market momentum from yesterday; Asian stocks are mixed advance while metals decline with Brent, WTI crude, U.S. equity index futures. The biggest highlight in overnight action, however, was once again the Dollar whick climbed to a fresh 4-year high, on pace to strengthen for 2 straight months for first time since March. The reason: ongoing sentiment that there will be a major dispersion between central banks, with the USD tightening just as other central banks join the liquidity fray. To wit, ECB data showed that lending decline in Europe slowed to -1.5% y/y in Aug. vs -1.6% in July and the latest statement from Draghi who said in Lithuania that economic reform possible without devaluing currency.
If yesterday the bombardment, no pun intended, of bad news from around the globe was too much even for Mahwah's vacuum tubes to spin as bullish - for stocks - news, then tonight's macro economic updates have so far been hardly as bombastic, with the only real news of the day has Germany's IFO Business Climate reading, which dropped from 106.3 to 105.8, declining for the 5th month in a row, missing expectations, and printing at the lowest level of since April 2013! (More from Goldman below) Net result: Bunds yields were once again pushed in the sub-1% category, even if stocks today are higher because the European data is "so bad it means the ECB has no choice but to do (public instead of just private) QE" blah blah blah.
While some were wondering if last night's sudden, commodity-liquidation driven selloff would last, most were not, expecting that the perfectly predictable levitation in the USDJPY around a round "tractor beam" number would provide a floor under the market .Sure enough, starting around midnight eastern, the USDJPY BTFDers emerged, oblivious to comments from former BOJ deputy governor Iwata who late last night said the obvious, and what we have been saying since January 2013, namely that a weak yen puts Japan at recession risk, and that a USDJPY in the 90-100 range reflects Japan fundamentals. And, as expected, the 109 level is where the algos have hone in today as a strange FX attractor, which also means that ES has reverse sharper overnight losses and was down just 7 points at last check even as the poundage in the commodity sector continues over rising fears of a sharp Chinese slowdown driven by its imploding housing sector (most recently observed here) without an offsetting stimulus program, following several comments by high-ranked Chinese individuals who poured cold water on any hopes of an imminent Chinese mega-QE or even modest rate cut.
Yesterday's market reaction to Yellen's commentary was curious: there was none, because when all was said and done the S&P and DJIA traded precisely where they traded just before the show began. Which, of course, was unacceptable, because one way or another the hawkish for the USD - the USDJPY just traded at the highest since 2008 - statement and conference had to be promptly interpreted for the algos as dovish for stocks - Futures are again just why of record highs - if not so much for the Fed-hated bonds, and sure enough, European equities traded in the green from the get-go even as RanSquawk notes, "there has been no major fundamental catalyst behind the spike higher seen in the morning, although do note that the move comes in the backdrop of the positive close on Wall Street which saw the S&P 500 (+0.13%) touch record highs before paring a large portion of the gains." In other words, the upside volatility in the intraday move is now a bullish catalyst, closing print notwithstanding. And what did US equity futures do? Why they followed Europe higher, with the ES now +8, on what is "explained" as a European move to intraday US futures previously. That, ladies and gentlemen, means we may have finally achieved perpetual motion, because all that would take to send the market higher is... for the market to go higher, etc, ad inf.
While today's key news event will likely be the preannounced latest, third, round of anti-Russian sanctions and the Russian retaliation, the reality as DB notes, is that the market seems to be seeing "some fatigue" in this story with the ECB, Scotland and next week's Fed meeting taking center stage. As a result, and ahead of expectations of change in Fed language which should carry a more hawkish tone, the dollar has been bid up some more overnight, leading to fresh multi-year highs in the USDJPY, and the now-paired TSY trade, with 10Y yields up to 2.57%, although this may now be in short-term oversold territory. The latest Scottish poll appears to have dented some of the "Yes" momentum, with 52% of the polled saying they would vote No in the referendum, although right now neither side has a clear majority when factoring in the undecideds: which means it will come down to the wire next week, with clear implications for Europe's secessionist movements if the Yes vote still manages to prevail, not to mention massive ramifications for the UK.
Following yesterday's confusing exuberance, which saw the sluggish market rise in the last hours of trading as the latest Scottish poll showed a reverse of the "Yes" momentum (and fading Gartman's latest reco of course), overnight European jitters have re-emerged once more following a speech by Catalonia's Artur Mas, who has long pushed for independence of the region, and who said that while there are different ways Catalonia can vote, the important issue is that Catalans vote somehow. Mas says Spanish govt will likely try to block Catalan vote "the reasons why the central government is blocking the vote are political not legal", which in turn has once again brought attention to Europe's artificial, unstable and temporary political and monetary union, which threatens a reversion of the nightmare days from 2012 when Mario Draghi was promising he would do everything in his power to send the EUR higher (as opposed to now).