RBS

Goodbye Blythe Masters: JPM Sells Its Physical Commodities Business To Mercuria For $3.5 Billion

While it has been public for a long time that i) JPM is eager to sell its physical commodities business and ii) the most likely buyer was little known Swiss-based Mercuria, there was nothing definitive released by JPM. Until moments ago, when Jamie Dimon formally announced that JPM is officially parting ways with the physical commodities business. But while contrary to previous expectations, following the sale JPM will still provide commercial gold vaulting operations around the world, it almost certainly means farewell to Blythe Masters.

Frontrunning: March 17

Putin Is No Mad Man to Russians as Power Play Trumps Economy (BBG)
Alibaba picks U.S. for IPO; in talks with six banks for lead roles (Reuters)
Russia hearts selling German energy: Billionaire Fridman’s L1 Buys RWE Unit for $7.1 Billion (Bloomberg)
Malaysia plane search straddles continent as police focus on crew (Reuters)
Saudi Crown Prince’s visit to China set to bolster investment (Al-Awsat)
Bugatti-Driving 26-Year-Old Tied to Penny-Stock Website (BBG)
Vodafone agrees $10 billion deal to buy Spain's Ono (Reuters)
The Hidden Rot in the Jobs Numbers (WSJ)
SocGen Ex-Trader Kerviel Walks to Forget Loss as Judgment Looms (BBG)
U.S. Banks’ $75 Billion Payout at Stake in Fed Tests (BBG)

Frontrunning: March 14

  • Ukraine anxiety triggers flight to safety, stocks tumble (Reuters)
  • Woodrow Wilson’s Ukraine Failure Foreshadows West’s Dilemmas (BBG)
  • Fortress Executives Join Peers Selling Stock After Rally (BBG)
  • 303 Deaths Seen in G.M. Cars With Failed Air Bags (NYT)
  • Putin Deports Executives for Speeding as Sanctions Loom (BBG)
  • Russia blocks internet sites of Putin critics (Reuters)
  • China Bond Risk Exceeds Ireland as Defaults Unavoidable (BBG)
  • China H-Shares Post Biggest Weekly Drop Since October (BBG)
  • Surge in Rail Shipments of Oil Sidetracks Other Industries (WSJ)
  • Blackstone’s Home Buying Binge Ends as Prices Surge (BBG)

Meet The Mysterious Firm That Is About To Leave Blythe Masters Without A Job

It was about a month ago when it was revealed that the infamous JPMorgan physical commodities group, plagued by both perpetual accusations of precious metal manipulation and legal charges most recently with FERC for $410 million that it had manipulated electricity markets, was in exclusive talks to be sold to Geneva-based Marcuria Group. It was also revealed that Blythe Masters, JPMorgan’s commodities chief, "probably won’t join Mercuria as part of the deal." Of course, we all learned the very next day that Ms. Masters - an affirmed commodities market manipulator - and soon to be out of a job, had shockingly intended to join the CFTC trading commission as an advisor, a decisions which was promptly reversed following an epic outcry on the internet. This is all great news, but one thing remained unclear: just who is this mysterious Swiss-based company that is about to leave Blythe without a job? Today, courtesy of Bloomberg we have the answer.

Frontrunning: March 7

  • Putin rebuffs Obama as Ukraine crisis escalates (Reuters)
  • Behind the $100 Billion Commodity Empire That Few Know (BBG)
  • Initial Public Offerings Hit Pace Not Seen in Years (WSJ)
  • Russian Parliament Will Back Crimea Split From Ukraine (WSJ)
  • Nakamoto Named as Bitcoin Father Denies Involvement, Flees Press (BBG)
  • Chaori Can’t Make Payment in China’s First Onshore Default (BBG)
  • Zombies Spreading Shows Chaori Default Just Start (BBG)
  • Pimco's Gross declares El-Erian is 'trying to undermine me' (Reuters)
  • U.S. Fighters Circle Baltics as Putin Fans Fear of Russia (BBG)

Frontrunning: March 3

  • Russian markets hit as Putin tightens grip on Crimea (Reuters)
  • Ukraine Sees More Russian Incursions as Standoff Worsens (BBG)
  • Ukraine Crisis Roils Global Markets (WSJ)
  • Cold War Ghosts Haunt East Europe in Moves for Crimea (BBG)
  • How Moscow Orchestrated Events in Crimea (WSJ)
  • Russia Gas Threat Shows Putin Using Pipes to Press Ukraine (BBG)
  • Euro-zone PMI slowed less sharply than estimated (MW)
  • Two top Microsoft execs to leave in reshuffle (Reuters)
  • Soaring Luxury-Goods Prices Test Wealthy's Will to Pay (WSJ)
  • IQ-Boosting Drugs Aim to Help Down Syndrome Kids Learn (BBG)

Frontrunning: February 28

  • Yuan suffers biggest weekly loss as PBOC punishes speculators (Reuters)
  • Euro Gains as Bonds Decline With Stocks on Inflation Data (BBG)
  • Biggest Sovereign Fund Forced to Sell Stocks as Mandate Breached (BBG)
  • Because we don't already have enough fried foods.. (Reuters)
  • Putin: Russia to Consider Aid to Ukraine (AP)
  • Wall Street Hates JPMorgan Fee for $1 Trillion Junk Loans (BBG)
  • Yellen Sticks to Plan Amid Weather Doubts (WSJ)
  • U.S. Retail Chains See First Profit Decline Since Recession (BBG)

Futures Tread Record Territory Water Following Overnight China, Ukraine Fireworks

In addition to the already noted fireworks out of China, where the Yuan saw the biggest daily plunge since 2008 and the ongoing and very rapid newsflow out of the Ukraine, focus this morning was very much of the latest Eurozone CPI data, which despite matching previous low levels, came in above expectations and in turn resulted in an aggressive unwind of short-EUR bets as market participants were forced to re-asses the likelihood of more easing by the ECB. Still, even though the Euribor curve bear steepened and Bunds came under significant selling pressure, the EONIA forward curve remained inverted, signifying that there is still a degree of apprehension over what is unarguably very low inflation data.

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...