At the start of September last year, as stocks began to ramp aggressively off the Black Monday crash lows, we unveiled a rather discomforting "decoupling" that suggested strongly "don't believe the hype." Four months later, and able to remain strongly convicted of the trade, the inverse VIX ETF (XIV) and the S&P 500 ETF (SPY) have recoupled back at the lows from August 24th. We await the recoupling of equity exuberance to credit curmudgeon-ness...
Overnight weakness on the back of 8-month highs in Chinese crude inventory (combined with the recent plunge in super-tanker rates - i.e. China is no longer refilling its SPR) sent WTI Crude towards the critical $44 level (which has acted as support for 2 months). The China rate cut weakened crude further as PBOC admitted it was needed because of the state of the economy. And then Baker Hughes reported a total rig count unchanged 787 (lowest since April 2002) and an oil rig count decline of just 1 to 594 (the 8th weekly drop in a row). WTI slipped on the news.
For the first time since October 2010, VIX has fallen for 10 straight days (crashing from over 28 to under 17). The collapse in the 'fear' index has also broken it back below its 200-day moving-average for the first time since breaking above on August 19th.
A sudden plunge in EURUSD - bashing it down towards the 1.04 handle (which would be the lowest since Jan 2003) has sparked a recoupling of equity fantasy down to everything else's reality. Given its weight in EUR, The USD Index has surged to 100.00 - highest since March 2003. EURUSD is now down 35 handles since Draghi started jawboning... when does this "good" collapse morph into "capital flight" concerns?
The real "dynamo" of global growth since the Lehman crisis is about to go dark.
Just 3 short days ago, energy stocks were surging and oil was - according to the mainstream media - "stabilizing." Today, we plumb new cycle lows, with WTI back below $53 as every rally is to be sold for now... While no one can resist the temptation to call the bottom in oil, the recoupling of oil-dependent energy stocks from oil appears to the no-brainer trade of January... Here are 3 potential reasons for today's drop.
Today was a significant day for many markets. For the 7th time in the last 8 months, US Treasuries opened the month with weakness (30Y up 8.5bps, 2Y +3bps from Friday). Significant JPY and GBP weakness pushed the USD Index to fresh 14-month highs (+0.25% on the week). USD strength smacked gold (-$20 to $1265), silver, and crude oil significantly lower (WTI under $93 and Brent testing towards $100, both down over $3). US equities decoupled (lower) from VIX and JPY-carry around the European close after hitting new all-time highs in the early session (over 2,006 for S&P Futs). Volume was better (but then it was a down day). Despite oil weakness, Trannies took off leading the day (with Dow and S&P closing lower from Friday). Credit traded with stocks for most of the day but ignored the late-day VWAP ramp in the S&P, closing at its wides. The ubiquitous late-day buying panic saved S&P 2,000... because it can.
It's Tuesday - so bonds are red, idiot. Trannies (-0.9%), rather unusually, underperformed and on the back of yesterday's Russell 2000 weakness suggests beta-chasing muppets are less engaged. After yesterday's USDJPY recoupling, Treasury yields pushed higher once again and almost recoupled with stocks strength from last week. 10Y yields are up 12bps in the last 2 days - the worst 2 days in almost 7 months. The USD leaked modestly lower led by EUR strength. Copper gave back all its gains from the weekend's exuberant China PMI and oil, gold, and silver flatlined. VIX remains total decoupled from this last few days' exuberance. Volume was average - fed by the early plunge but faded rapidly as we levitated. With regard to the red close for stocks on a Tuesday: it is rumored that a wrong seasonal adjustment factor was applied to today: it was really a Wednesday.
Despite a late-day (very sudden) shellacking in silver, commodities rallied with gold pressing up towards Sept 2013 levels (over $1340). Treasury bonds rallied all day to end near the low yields of the day (-3 to 4bps from Friday). The USD's early losses were unwound as the US day-session continued to leave the greenback modestly lower on the week. And that leaves us with stocks... in almost the exact same pattern as yesterday (except with an overall downward bias) the US open sparked some JPY selling which sent stocks careening to highs only for the European close to smash that hope to smithereens and send stocks limping lacklustrously lower into the close (recoupling with JPY and Credit). All indices closed red with Trannies underperforming and the S&P (yet again) unable to hold a green year-to-date close.
So far the overnight session has been a replica of yesterday, with the all important carry trade once again fizzling overnight during Japan trading hours, and dipping as low at 101.60 before staging a modest rebound to the 101.8 level. We expect the "invisible" 102.000 USDJPY tractor beam to be again engaged shortly and provide market support and/or levitate stocks higher as the now standard selling in Japan, buying in the US trade pattern repeats. On the other hand, US equity futures appear to have decoupled from the pure carry trade, and instead latched on to USD weakness and EUR strength following European Q4 GDP data, which came at 0.3% on expectations of 0.2%, up from 0.1%. Considering the constant adjustments to the European definition of GDP, at this point Mongolia would have been able to demonstrate growth if it was in Europe (but apparently not Greece which once again missed GDP expectations with Q4 GDP of -2.6% vs Exp. -2.0%). Expect ES and USDJPY to recouple shortly, as they always do - the only question if the recoupling will take place lower or higher.
UPDATE: Nikkei 225 Futures back under 14,000 - down 15% from Dec 31st high; USDJPY back under 101.00
Despite the hope-driven exuberance exhibited immediately post the Abe/Kuroda show, the USDJPY-pumping stock-momentum fest has ended - abruptly. Japan's Nikkei 225 has lost all its gains and is now trading below US day-session lows (3-month lows) but it is the broader TOPIX index (more akin to the S&P 500) that is collapsing. Down almost 5% on the day (its biggest drop since the May collapse), the TOPIX is at 4-month lows. The TOPIX Real Estate index just hit a bear-market - down 20% from Dec 31st highs. Japanese sell-side shops are in full panic desparation mode as "suggestions" that a sub-14,000 Nikkei will prompt an acceleration of Japan's QQE money-printing idiocy. This is getting ugly fast.