While we already documented the crash in Japanese stocks earlier, the biggest market development overnight is the plunge in crude, with both Brent and WTI plunging, the latter sliding under $90 for the first time in 17 months, extending yesterday's selloff after Saudi Aramco cut Arab Light OSP in Asia to 2008 levels. Brent drops to lowest since June 2012. This also confirms that the global slowdown whose can is kicked every so often in a new bout of money printing, is arriving fast. That, and the imminent crackdown on today's Hong Kong protest will likely be the biggest stories of the day, even as the spread of Ebola to the US is sure to keep everhone on edge.
A quick anecdote that should quickly confirm just how broken everything is: earlier today MarkIt reported European manufacturing data that was atrocious, with both German and European PMIs tumbling to levels not seen since mid-2013, and with Europe's growth dynamo now in a contraction phase clearly signalling what has been long overdue: a European triple dip recession. So what happens? Moments later Germany sells €4.1 billion in 10 Year paper at a record low yield below 1%.... even as the Bundesbank had to retain a whopping 17.84% of the auction, the highest since June, with only €4.663 Bn in bids for the €5 Bn target, the first miss since May 21. So hurray for the central banks, boo for the economy, and as for that mythical creature, once known as bond vigilantes, our condolences: good luck figuring out what the hell just happened, and good luck recalling what a free market is.
It has been a night of relentless and pervasive disappointing economic data from just about every point on the globe: first the Chinese HSBC manufacturing data was well short of expectations (50.2 vs. Exp. 50.5), which was promptly spun as bullish and a reason for more stimulus by the PBOC even though the central bank has been constantly repeating it will not engage in western-style shotgun easing. Then Japanese wages, household spending and industrial production came in far below expectations - in fact at levels which suggest Japan is once again in a recession - which once again was spun as bullish, because the BOJ has no choice but to do more of the same failed policies that have made Abenomics the laughing stock of the world. Finally, moments ago Europe reported the lowest inflation data in 5 years, as well as core CPI sliding to just 0.7%, and which was, wait for it, immediately spun as bullish for risk as once again the local central bank would have "no choice but to ease." In other words, thank god for horrible news: because how else will the rich get even richer?
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.