THIS is the fate that awaits the European banking system. Every single EU bank has leveraged itself based on financial models that consider sovereign bonds to be “risk free.” Moreover, EVERY EU bank is leverage to the hilt based on its OWN in-?house assessment of the riskiness of its loan portfolio.
- Japan has 54 nuclear reactors, but as of Saturday, not one of them will be in operation (Guardian)
- US Readies Proposal to Clamp Down on Fracking (Reuters)
- California pension fund (CALSTRS) sues Wal-Mart, alleges bribery (Reuters)
- New Ripples for Gupta Case: Goldman Share Price, Volume Began Climbing Even Before Rajaratnam Trades (WSJ)
- China says blind dissident can apply to study abroad (Reuters)
- China paper calls Chen a U.S. pawn; envoy is a "troublemaker" (Reuters)
- Samsung’s New Galaxy S Phone Raises Heat on Apple Iphone (Bloomberg)
- Draghi predicts 2012 eurozone recovery (FT)
- Tumbling Home Ownership Marks a Return to Normal (Bloomberg)
- Zuckerberg Facebook IPO to Make Him Richer Than Ballmer (Bloomberg)
- SEC probes Chesapeake and its chief (FT)
European equities are seen making modest gains at the midpoint of the European session; however underperformance is observed in the FTSE 100, with the UK economy falling back into a technical recession with an advanced Q1 GDP reading of -0.2%. Data from the ONS has shown that the UK’s weak construction sector weighed down upon the relative strength in services and manufacturing, pushing the economy into contraction during the first three months of the year. Following the UK GDP release, GBP/USD spiked lower by around 40 pips and the Gilt moved around 30 ticks higher, with GBP remaining weak as the US comes to market. Elsewhere, the Bundesbank held a technically uncovered 30-yr Bund auction, with the German Debt Agency commenting that the results reflect volatile and uncertain market conditions. Following the results, the Bund printed session lows and remains in negative territory. Looking ahead in the session, participants look forward to the FOMC rate decision, and the Fed’s projections release.
- With a 2 Year delay, both FT and WSJ start covering the shadow banking system. For our ongoing coverage for the past 2.5 years see here.
- Trouble in shipping turns ocean into scrapheap (Telegraph)
- First-Quarter Home Prices Down 20.7% in Capital (China Daily)
- Bernanke Says Banks Need Bigger Capital Buffer (Reuters)
- Monti’s Overhaul Can’t Stop Pain From Spain: Euro Credit (Bloomberg)
- Spain Confronts Crisis Threat as Rajoy Seeks Deficit Cuts (Bloomberg)
- Japan’s Noda Announces Anti-Deflation Talks as BOJ Sets Policy (Bloomberg)
- White House makes case for Buffett Rule (CNN)
- Cameron to Make Historic Myanmar Trip (FT)
- 'Time for Closer Ties' With India (China Daily)
- China's Central Banker to Fed: Act Responsibly (WSJ)
- Spain's debt to jump to 78 percent of GDP: De Guindos (Reuters)
- Rajoy Needs All the Luck He Can Get (WSJ)
- Spain Faces Risks in Budget Refit (WSJ)
- Top JP Morgan banker resigns to fight abuse fine (Reuters)
- Reinhart-Rogoff See No Quick U.S. Recovery Even as Data Improve (Bloomberg)
- Program to help spur spending in domestic sector (China Daily)
- Barnier hits out at lobbying ‘rearguard’ (FT)
- U.S. CEOs' take-home pay climbs on stock awards (Reuters)
- Greece's Fringe Parties Surge Amid Bailout Ire (WSJ)
- ECB fails to stem reduction in lending (FT)
- More Twists for Spanish Banks (WSJ)
- Banks use ECB cash to buy bonds, lend less to firms (IFR)
- UK still long way off pre-crisis growth – King (Reuters)
- Dublin confident of ECB deal to defer payment (FT)
- Goldman's European derivatives revenue soars (Reuters)
- Japan Faces Tax Battle as DPJ Finishes Plan on Sales Levy (Bloomberg)
- Insurance Mandate Splits US Court (FT)
Although not quite there yet, it will soon be time to go shopping...
All you need to read and some more.
As we head into the US open, European cash equities are seen in positive territory with strong performance observed earlier in the session from the FTSE MIB. This follows reports from the Italian press regarding commentary from the Chinese President Hu Jintao who promised to encourage Chinese industry to look towards Italy with confidence, in a conversation with the Italian PM Monti on the sidelines of the nuclear safety summit in Seoul. Markets have also been reacting to an article from Der Spiegel, citing economists who have warned that the German central bank could be facing hidden liabilities of up to EUR 500bln should there be a break up in the Eurozone. This has prompted some risk-averse flows into the Bund which has seen fluctuating trade so far in the session but remains in positive territory as North America comes to market. In individual equities news, following overnight reports from Abu Dhabi concerning buying a stake in RBS, company shares were seen up 6%. Source comments from earlier in the session regarding the sale speculated that the stake could be up to a third of RBS. Looking ahead in the session, the market awaits US Consumer Confidence data due at 1500BST.
Any and all negative overnight news are now completely ignored as the scramble for risk hits the usual fever pitch following Bernanke's latest attempt to transfer cash from safe point A to ponzi point B, aka stocks. First, China's industrial firms suffered a rare annual drop in profits in the first two months of 2012 mainly in petrochemicals, metals and auto firms, the latest signs of weakness in the world's No. 2 economy and reinforcing the case for policy easing, according to Reuters. This was the first Jan-Feb profits downturn since Jan-Aug 2009. Profits fell 5.2 percent so far in 2012, according to the industrial profitability indicator, published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) every month. The last period that China reported nationwide industrial profit fall was in the first eight months of 2009. Then there was the German GfK Consumer Confidence which unlike yesterday's IFO, missed: nobody cares. Also on the negative side was an earlier auction of Spanish Bills which sold EUR 2.58 billion, just barely off the low end of a target issuance of EUR 2.5-3 billion. As noted however, neither this, nor the series of US disappointments which looks set to end March with 15 of 17 estimate misses is relevant. To wit: French consumer confidence soared to 87 on expectations of 82, as the easiest and lowest common denominator to boost risk assets is now abused everywhere, by UMich, by Germany and now by France. And why would people not be confident - stocks everywhere are higher despite fundamentals. After all if something fails, there is a central planner to fix it. Never forget - the taxpayer credit card has no limits. Net result - green across the board.
Heading into the North American open, EU stocks are seen lower across the board as market participants reacted to cautious comments from Moody’s rating agency on Spain, which noted that Spain’s fiscal outlook remains challenging despite easier targets. Still, the ratings agency further commented that easier targets do not affect Spain’s A3 government bond rating with a negative outlook. Separately to this, a BHP Billiton executive said that Chinese demand for iron ore is flattening, while according to China's state-backed auto association, China's vehicles sales this year will probably miss their growth forecasts. As a result, basic materials sector has been the worst performing sector today, while auto related stocks such as Daimler and VW also posted significant losses. The ONS reported that inflation in the UK fell to 3.4% in February, down from 3.6% in January. However, higher alcohol prices stopped the rate declining further. Going forward, the latter half of the session sees the release of the latest US housing data, as well as the weekly API report.
The Hellenic Republic Greek CDS Auction has ended, pricing at 21.5%, just slightly less compared to the Initial Market Midpoint of 21.75 of par. As explained back in January 2009, those who had bought the Cheapest to Deliver Greek bonds trading in the teens coming into the auction, made a quick buck, as these will be taken out at a nice premium to purchase price. For those who bought at par, we can only hope they have arrangements with the ECB to fund the shortfall, especially since only the ECB can "book a profit" by buying up Greek bonds at 80 cents on the euro and seeing these terminate at 21.5. Limit buy orders that were satisfied ranged from 22.75 (where there was just under 70 million in bids by accounts using JPM and DB as dealers), all the way to 21.625, where the breaking bid was courtesy of 120 million in indicated bids, spread evenly between HSBC and Barclays: these satisfied the 291.6 Million in outstanding Open Interest. Overall, there was 3,362.7 million in total limit buy orders across the stack. The laugh of the day once again comes courtesy of an account using JPM, which submitted a total of €135 million in bids between 8 cents and 1 cents (50 million at the former). If they had been hit on that it would have made quite a payday. On the offer side, the dealers showing the biggest Physical settlement requests were HSBC with €332 million, and BNP at €158 million. And the joke of the day once again comes courtesy of RBS, which as usual seems to have one of the most "entertaining" bond trading desks: the reason for the RBS "Adjustment Amount", as speculated earlier, was that the bank's Bid of 22 was above the market midpoint of 21.75: the good news is that unlike before at least they did not confuse price and discount.
With a economic calendar devoid of virtually any events, the only two events worth of note this morning are the Greek CDS auction (where RBS appears to once again be confusing price and discount), and the Apple cash announcement due in just over an hour. The result is Apple stock which in the premarket session has traded as high as a new record high og $606, even as concerns emerge that the growth phase is over as the company transitions into a MSFT-type, post-Steve Jobs existence. Details of the 9 am call can be found here. Aside from that risk is broadly flat as hungover American traders take their seats.