RBS

Frontrunning: February 27

  • European Bonds Surge on Slowing German Inflation, Ukraine Tumult  (BBG)
  • Ukraine tensions hit shares (Reuters)
  • Debating Geithner’s Appearances in 2008 Transcripts  (Hilsenrath)
  • Tensions in Asia Stoke Rising Nationalism in Japan (WSJ)
  • GM Investigated Over Ignition Recall Linked to 13 Deaths (BBG)
  • Smartphone wars shift from gadgetry to price (Reuters)
  • Some Companies Alter the Bonus Playbook (WSJ)
  • London’s Subterranean Luxury Manors Lure New Breed of Lenders (BBG)
  • Japan No Country for Old Farmers as 7-Eleven Takes Plow (BBG)
  • Dream of U.S. Oil Independence Slams Against Shale Costs (BBG)

Futures Sell Off As Ukraine Situation Re-Escalates

Three unlucky attempts in a row to retake the S&P 500 all time high may have been all we get, at least for now, because the fourth one is shaping up to be rather problematic following events out of the Crimean in the past three hours where the Ukraine situation has gone from bad to worse, and have dragged the all important risk indicator, the USDJPY, below 102.000 once again. As a result, global stock futures have fallen from the European open this morning, with the DAX future well below 9600 to mark levels not seen since last Thursday. Escalated tensions in the Ukraine have raised concerns of the spillover effects to Western Europe and Russia, as a Russian flag is lifted by occupying gunmen in the Crimean (Southern Ukrainian peninsula) parliament, prompting an emergency session of Crimean lawmakers to discuss the fate of the region. This, allied with reports of the mobilisation of Russian jets on the Western border has weighed on risk sentiment, sending the German 10yr yield to July 2013 lows.

Frontrunning: February 26

  • California couple finds $10 million in buried treasure while walking dog (Reuters) ... not bitcoin?
  • Dimon Says Threats to JPMorgan Span Google to China Banks (BBG)
  • Stocks So Many Love to Hate Buoyed by Fed’s Jobs Priority (BBG)
  • White House Weighs Four Options for Revamping NSA Phone Surveillance (WSJ) ... to pick the fifth one
  • Credit Suisse Executives Weren’t Aware of U.S. Tax Dodges (BBG)
  • Militias Hunt Kiev Looters From Central Bank to Bling Palace (BBG)
  • Crisis Gauge Rises to Record High as Swaps Avoided (BBG)
  • Obama to Propose Highway-Repair Program (WSJ)
  • Ukraine Pledges to Protect Deposits as Kiev Rally Called (BBG)

Frontrunning: February 25

  • Turkish PM says tapes of talk with son a fabrication (Reuters) but opposition confirms authenticity, and national TV carriers cut parliament when played live
  • Inside the Showdown Atop Pimco, the World's Biggest Bond Firm (WSJ)
  • Ex-Jefferies Trader’s Customers Say Lies Common Tactic (BBG)
  • Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox disappears in blow to virtual currency (Reuters)
  • The messenger mania is spreading: SoftBank Said to Seek Stake in Naver’s Line Messaging Unit (BBG)
  • Ukraine Replaces Central Bank Head (BBG)
  • Yup, an actual headline: Harsh weather tests optimism over U.S. economy (Reuters)
  • Hiring of Law Grads Improves for Some (BBG)
  • Easy Currency Bet Gets Harder as the Chinese Yuan Tumbles (WSJ)
  • In Ukraine turbulence, a lad from Lviv becomes the toast of Kiev (Reuters)

Chinese Housing Weakness Unable To Keep USDJPY-Driven Futures Lower

Asian equities are trading lower across the board on the back of some negative credit stories from China. Shanghai Securities News noted that ICBC and some other banks have curbed loans to developers in sectors such as steel and cement. Slower gains in home property prices in China’s tier 1 cities are also not helping sentiment. Beijing and Shenzhen prices rose 0.4% in January, which looks to be the slowest monthly gain since October 2012 according to Bloomberg. Elsewhere there are reports that a property developer in Hangzhou (Tier 2 city in China) is reducing its unit prices by 19%. Our property analysts noted that given the strong gains seen in Tier-1 and some bigger Tier-2 cities in 2013, a slowdown or negative trends in price growth should not be a surprise. Nevertheless, it has been a very weak day for Chinese and HK markets with the Shanghai Composite and the Hang Seng indices down -2.0% and -1.2% lower as we type. Across the region, bourses in Japan and Korea are down -1.0% and -0.6%, respectively.

Frontrunning: February 21

  • RBS plans dramatic scaling back, to fire 30,000 of its 120,000 workers (FT)
  • Zuckerberg’s Data Stance Faces Privacy Backlash in Europe (BBG)
  • WhatsApp Shows How Phone Carriers Lost Out on $33 Billion (BBG)
  • Markets flooded with cash, should Fed prep to stamp out risk? (Reuters)
  • Venezuela threatens to expel CNN over protest coverage (BBC)
  • Firm Stops Giving High-Speed Traders Direct Access to Releases (WSJ)
  • Obama Budget to Delete Proposal to Limit Social Security (BBG)
  • Energy Holdings Prepares for a Breakup (WSJ)
  • EU Struggles to Streamline Bank-Failure Plan for Weekends (BBG)
  • Madoff said JPMorgan executives knew of his fraud (Reuters), and JPM admitted as much when it settled with the DOJ

Overnight Futures Track USDJPY Tick For Tick, As Usual

This was one of the all too real Bloomberg headlines posted overnight: "Asian Shares Rally as U.S. Manufacturing Data Beats Estimates." Odd: are they refering to the crashing Philly Fed, or the just as crashing Empire Fed data? Wait, it was the C-grade MarkIt PMI that nobody ever looks at, except to confirm that where everyone else sees snow, the PMI saw sunshine and growth. Remember: if the data is weak, it's the snow; if it's strong, it's the recovery. Odder still: one would think Asian shares care about manufacturing data of, say, China. Which happens to be in Asia, and which two nights ago crashed to the lowest in months. Or maybe that only impact the SHCOMP which dropped 1.2% while all other regional markets simply do what the US and Japan do - follow the USDJPY, which at one point overnight rose as high as 102.600, and brought futures to within inches of their all time closing high. Sadly, it is this that passes for "fundamental" analysis in this broken market new normal...

Frontrunning: February 19

  • Ukraine leader denounces coup bid, West weighs sanctions (Reuters)
  • Time to buy Imodium calls: Kuroda Easing Doomed as Yen Seen Missing 120 Level (BBG)
  • Teens Disappear From U.S. Workforce (BBG)
  • Fed Sets Rules for Foreign Banks (WSJ)
  • Quant Funds Feel Investor Bite After Underperforming (BBG)
  • China Probes Qualcomm, InterDigital Over Monopoly Concerns (WSJ)
  • Capital One says it can show up at cardholders' homes, workplaces  (LATimes)
  • SEC Gains Power to Take Profit Made From Insider Trading (BBG)

Frontrunning: February 13

  • Comcast Agrees to Buy Time Warner Cable for $45.2 Billion (BBG)
  • Italian leadership squabble weighs as shares halt hot run (Reuters)
  • Russia says Syria aid draft could open door to military action (Reuters)
  • China trust assets rise 46% in 2013  (WSJ), China Trust Assets Surge to $1.8 Trillion Amid Default Risks  (BBG)
  • Australian Unemployment Jumps to 10-Year High (BBG)
  • Tea Party Scorns Republicans as House Lifts Debt Ceiling (BBG)
  • Peso plunge forces Argentine soya hoarding (FT)
  • BNP Paribas Net Falls After $1.1 Billion U.S. Legal Charge (BBG)
  • Hacking Joins Curriculum as Businesses Seek Cyber Skills (BBG)
  • Android's 'Open' System Has Limits (WSJ)
  • Blackstone-Fueled Single-Family Home Boom Lifts Chicago (BBG)

When Forward Guidance Fails

While The White House crows of the falling unemployment rate (which everyone now knows is entirely useless as an indicator of anything), the rapid-drop in this indicator is a major headache for the Fed. While forward-guidance is crucial in replacing the "common knowledge" that the Fed remains easier-for-longer as bond-buying is tapered, despite it's dismissal by vice-chair Stan Fischer and BoE's Carney (and even an almost admission of its weakness by Bernanke), Yellen faces a market that is betting massively (actually in record size) that short-term rates will rise and Fed heads like Lacker shift to "more qualitative ways" of maintaining the punchbowl.

Quiet Markets As Algos Quiver In Anticipation Of The Flashing Jobs Headline

It's that time again, when a largely random, statistically-sampled, weather-impacted, seasonally-adjusted, and finally goalseeked number, sets the mood in the market for the next month: we are talking of course about the "most important ever" once again non-farm payroll print, and to a lesser extent the unemployment rate which even the Fed has admitted is meaningless in a time when the participation rate is crashing (for the "philosophy" of why it is all the context that matters in reading the jobs report, see here). Adding to the confusion, or hilarity, or both, is that while everyone knows it snowed in December and January, Goldman now warns that... it may have been too hot! To wit: "We expect a weather-related boost to January payroll job growth because weather during the survey week itself - which we find is most relevant to a given month's payroll number - was unusually mild." In other words, if the number is abnormally good - don't assume more tapering, just blame it on the warm weather!

Frontrunning: February 6

  • Draghi as ECB Master of Suspense Keeps Investors on Edge (BBG)
  • Abe lays out detailed plan for expanding defense powers (Nikkei)
  • Inflation Fuels Crises in Two Latin Nations (WSJ)
  • Obama walks into crossfire of Asian tensions (FT)
  • Harvard Makes Professor Disclose More After Blinkx Slides (BBG)
  • Hedge Funds Rework Currency Positions in Market Drop (BBG)
  • Canada, U.S. Strike Tax-Information Sharing Deal (WSJ)
  • Indonesia calls for greater clarity from Fed on tapering (FT)
  • Sony to cut 5,000 jobs, split off PC, TV operations (Reuters)

Equities Supported By Optimism Of Positive ECB Surprise

Today the lingering problems of the "emerging" world and concerns about the Fed's tapering take a back seat to what the European Central Bank may do, which ranges from nothing, to a rate cut (which sends deposit rates negative), to outright, unsterilized QE - we will find out shortly: with 61 out of the 66 economists polled by Bloomberg looking for no rate changes from the ECB today it virtually assures a surprise . However, despite - or perhaps in spite of - various disappointing news overnight, most notably German factory orders which missed -0.5% on expectations of a +0.2% print, down from 2.4%, the USDJPY has been supported which as everyone knows by now, is all that matters, even if it was unable to push the Nikkei 225 higher for the second day in a row and the Japanese correction persists.