With the government shutdown stretching into an improbable 4th day (and with every additional day added on, the likelihood that the impasse continues even longer and hit the debt ceiling X-Date of October 17 becomes greater), today's monthly Non-Farm Payroll data has quickly become No-Farm Payroll. However, just like on day when Europe is closed we still get a ramp into the European close, expect at least several vacuum tube algos to jump the gun at 8:29:59:999 and try to generate some upward momentum ignition in stocks and downward momentum in gold. In addition to no economic data released in the US, President Obama announced last night he has cancelled his trip to Bali, Indonesia, to attend the APEC conference and instead to focus on budget negotiations back at home - which is ironic because his latest story is that he will not negotiate, so why not just not negotiate from Asia? Ah, the optics of shutdown.
Despite the president's tongue-in-cheek warning to Wall Street that this time it's different, and it that "it should be concerned", that same Wall Street continues to roundly mock his attempts to talk it lower on the third day of America's "shutdown", knowing very well that if things ever turn bad, Mr. Chairman, aka the S&P chief risk officer, will get to work, and rescue everyone from that pesky thing known as losses. Whether the offsetting optimism was driven by made up China non-manufacturing PMI rising from 53.9 to 55.4, the highest in six months, or just as made up non-core European PMI data which also beat expectations despite Germany Services PMI continuing to telegraph a weakness, dropping from 54.4 to 53.7, is unknown and once again not important. So while futures are modestly lower if only until such time as the daily 3:58pm VIX slam takes place just before market close, do not expect any major moves in stocks until either the GOP finally folds and lets Obama have his way, or bundles all shutdown legislation into the debt ceiling negotiation, and careens the US right into the debt ceiling deadline on October 17 without any legislation in place.
If yesterday was the paradoxical government shutdown "relief rally" pushed higher by a last minute VIX smashing ramp, today reality is starting to set in and global stocks and US futures are set to open lower. The FTSE MIB remains the only European bourse to trade in positive territory in today’s session, having touched upon 2 year highs as it is expected the political tumult that threatened to cause a collapse of the Italian government will be resolved today even as the latest news indicate Berlusconi's PDL will support the Bunga godfather after all. Other European equities have failed to benefit from this as market participants remain cautious ahead of the ECB rate decision today when Draghi may or may not (most likely) announce a new LTRO.
If there is one day the Fed's trading desk actually did want futures lower, if only for purely optical purposes and to at least suggest that the government, and not the Fed, is still in charge of the US, it is the day when the US government - for the first time in 17 years - has shut down. They certainly did not want the S&P to be up nearly 0.5% mere hours after Congress and the presidency confirmed to the world that in a world in which "the Chairman gets to work", a functioning government is completely irrelevant. Yet this is precisely what is going on. What is making matters worse is that on the other side of the world, Japan also finally announced the well-telegraphed sales tax increase to8%, offset by a JPY5 trillion yen "stimulus" which however Japan said, much to the Chagrin of Mrs. Watanabe and a 100 pip overnight plunge in the USDJPY, would be funded not with more new bond issuance (and thus without new "wealth effect" generating monetization). It is unclear just how it will be funded but since increasingly more global fiscal and monetary policy is based on science fiction we know better than to ask.
European equities trade negatively as political tensions on both sides of the Atlantic dampens risk appetite and a lower than expected HSBC manufacturing PMI figure from China further weighs upon investor sentiment. In the US, government is on the precipice of the first shutdown since 1996 after House Republicans refused to pass a budget unless it involved a delay to Obama’s signature healthcare reforms. If the Republicans follow through with their threat a shutdown will occur at midnight tonight. As a result a fixed income in the US and core Europe benefit with investors wary of the immediate harm a shutdown will do to confidence in the economy.
Following yesterday's modest bounce in equities punctuated by the traditional last minute spike, sentiment has reverted lower once again, driven by the uncertainty surrounding debt ceiling talks in the US, where lawmakers have until next Tuesday to agree to a spending bill, or much of the government will shut down. The Senate will vote on a spending bill later today, which will then be sent back to the House putting republicans in a quandary (Politico explains the complications surrounding the GOP's "Plan C"). It was reported that US House leaders are considering postponing action on a bill to extend the US government's borrowing power, with the leadership discussing a change of strategy to complete action on the stopgap spending bill before debating the debt-limit debate. In FX, GBP strengthened across the board this morning after BoE’s Carney said he does not see a case for more quantitative easing.
The best summary of what has (not) been going on in the downward drifting equity markets comes from DB's Jim Reid, quoting: "Markets are in non-panicky limbo at the moment ahead of the upcoming US budget debate. US equities fell for the 5th day in row (S&P 500 -0.27%) and although this is the worst run since the Christmas/New Year’s Eve period of 2012 (due to the fiscal cliff debacle), the cumulative fall is only -1.9% over this decline. Meanwhile Treasuries hit a 7-week low in yield as they recorded their 12th decline in the last 14 days." As has been the case over the past week, stocks in Asia have generally traded lower with the exception of the Nikkei225 which day after day continues to do its insane penny stock thing, first dropping -1.5% only to close up 1.2% on absolutely no news, but some chatter the Abe administration would raise the sales tax on October 1, only to offset the fiscal benefit by lowering corporate tax. How this has any net impact is beyond us. Proceeding to Europe, stocks failed to sustain the initial higher open and moved into negative territory, with Italian asset classes underperforming, as market participants digested reports citing Italian MP Gasparri saying that PdL lawmakers are ready to quit if Berlusconi is ousted. This in turn saw a number of Italian banking stocks come under intense selling pressure, with the Italian/German yield spread widening in spite of supportive reinvestment flows that are due this week.
Early weakness in Asia driven by US-follow thru selling and ongoing concerns about the us fiscal showdowns as well as the debt ceiling, if not by actual news, resulted in a red close in both the Nikkei and SHCOMP, as well as other regional indices such as the Sensex. This then shifted to Europe, where however stocks reversed the initial move lower and are seen broadly flat, with Bunds remaining bid on the back of month-end, as well as coupon and redemption related flows. However the move higher in stocks was led by telecommunications and health care sectors, which indicates that further upside will require another positive catalyst. There was little in terms of fresh EU related macroeconomic commentary, but according to a report published by the European Banking Authority, the EU’s biggest 42 banks cut their aggregate capital shortfall with respect to the “fully loaded” 2019 Basel III requirements to €70.4bln as of December 2012. This is amusing since not one European bank has actually raised capital, but merely redefined what constitutes capital courtesy of a liberal expansion of RWA, Tier 1 and various other meaningless definition which works until such time as the perilous European balance kept together by the non-existent OMT, is tipped over.
Everything was proceeding according to central-plan with a gradual rise in risk and a decline in the USD until 4 am Eastern, when the German IFO Business Climate data was released and missed across the board (107.7 vs Exp. 108.0; Current assessment 111.4 vs Exp. 112.5; Expectations 104.2 Exp.104.0), reminding everyone now that Merkel is cemented for the near future, the immediate prerogative for Europe is to get the EUR lower, one way or another. A returning bid to the dollar also has pushed 10 Year yields under 2.70%, while once again sending various EM currencies sliding, and bringing back cross asset volatility to a world whose Sharpe ratio over the past several months has plummeted into negative territory. Increasing concerns about a government shutdown (misplaced) will likely prevent a solid bid from developing under markets.
The German elections came and went, with Merkel initially said to have an absolute majority, but in the end being forced to design a Grand Coalition. Still, the punditry has been tripping over each other desperate to make that result (or any other result) positive for Europe , which despite now paving the way for policy continuity, together with the latest round of less than impressive Eurozone PMIs (following the strongest China HSBC PMI in 6 months) failed to inspire appetite for risk in Europe this morning where stocks have traded mixed. What is amusing is that everyone expected, the second Merkel gets reelected things in Europe would start going pump in the night - sure enough, the Italian FTSE-MIB is underperforming in early trade amid reports that Italy's economy minister Saccomanni threatened to step down if the country does not stick to its pledges it made to the European Commission. However to a certain degree, the negative sentiment towards Italy was offset by €4.8bln of coupon payments and €24.1bln of redemptions from Italy which is eligible for reinvestment this week. With a second Greek 2-day strike in one week scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, look for Europe's catalytic event to unclog, now that the German political picture is set, culminating with the 3rd (and 4th) Greek bailouts and probably more: after all Europe now needs a lower EURUSD (recall Adidas' warning), and that usually means a localized crisis.