Reuters

Saudi Arabia Imposes Naval Blockade On Red Sea Strait, Deploys 150,000 Troops As Iran Condemns Military Action

As noted earlier, the biggest significance of any Yemen conflict has little to do with its own domestic oil production, which at 133,000 bpd is negligible, but due to its location, which not only shares a border with Saudi Arabia, but more importantly due to the Bab el-Mandeb strait which connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden: it is the fourth-biggest shipping chokepoint in the world by volume (3.8 million barrels a day of oil and petroleum products flowed through it in 2013) and is just 18 miles wide at its narrowest point. It’s located between Yemen, Djibouti, and Eritrea, and connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. And since to Saudi Arabia preserving the logistics of oil supply is critical, it is hardly surprising that as Egypt's Ahram Gate reported earlier, the Saudi-led Firmness Storm coalition imposed a naval blockade on Bab El-Mandab strait earlier today. The Saudi navy's western fleet has also secured Yemen's main ports including Aden and Midi.

Frontrunning: March 26

  • Saudi Arabia, allies launch air strikes in Yemen against Houthi fighters (Reuters)
  • Pilot on Crashed Jet Was Locked Out of Cockpit, NY Times Says (BBG)
  • Why Bombing This Tiny Oil Producer Is Roiling the Energy Market (BBG)
  • U.S.-led coalition, Iraqis pound Islamic State in Tikrit (Reuters)
  • Munger Says Prepare for Harder World as Buying Power Slides (BBG),Mocks Greek ‘Idiotic Idea’ You Can Vote Yourself Rich (BBG)
  • The Central Banker Who Saved the Russian Economy From the Abyss (BBG)
  • Bank of Canada says foreign buyers complicate housing market (Reuters)
  • Investors Scoop Up Companies’ Bonds (WSJ)
  • Espirito Santo Probe Turns Mariana Mortagua Into Portuguese Star (BBG)

Frontrunning: March 25

  • ECB Tells Greek Banks Not to Boost Exposure to Athens Government’s Debt (WSJ)
  • Search teams probe wreckage of jet in French Alps (Reuters)
  • Flight Recorders Offer Best Hope of Explaining Jet’s Fatal Drop (BBG)
  • Yemen Houthi militia sweeps toward Aden in threat to president (Reuters)
  • In Nigeria, Oil Price’s Slide Deters Theft (WSJ)
  • Saudi Arabia building up military near Yemen border (Reuters)
  • Quant Who Shook the Financial World Tries More Humble Approach (BBG)
  • Executive Pensions Are Swelling at Top Companies (WSJ)

Without Buyback Back Up, Futures Fail To Find Fizzle

After three days of unexpected market weakness without an apparent cause, especially since after 7 years of conditioning, the algos have been habituated to buy on both good and bad news, overnight futures are getting weary, and futures are barely up, at least before this morning's transitory FX-driven stop hunt higher. Whether this is due to the previously noted "blackout period" for stock buybacks which started a few days ago and continues until the first week of May is unclear, but should the recent "dramatic" stock weakness persist, expect Bullard to once again flip flop and suggesting it is clearly time to hike rates, as long as the S&P does not drop more than 5%. In that case, QE4 is clearly warranted.

Short-Term Gains & Long-Term Disaster

It’s time for the Japanese to get seriously scared now. Like many other countries, Japan – and its political class – creates a false image of enduring prosperity by letting its central bank increasingly buy up ever more of its sovereign bonds. It’s a total sleight of hand, there is nothing left that’s real. There’s no there there. This is of course the same as what happens in Europe. And it’s precisely because central banks buy up all these bonds, that their yields scrape the gutter. It’s a blueprint for killing off the last bit of actual functionality in an economy.

Canada's Biggest Oil Casualty To Date: Calgary's Nexen Shutters Oil Trading Desk

Last December, traditionally permabullish energy trader Andy Hall shocked the world when he became the first casualty of the oil crash after Phibro, his 113 year old employer then owned by Occidental Petroleum after its sale by Citigroup, would liquidate in the US after it failed to buy a buyer. He wouldn't be the last. Overnight, Nexen Energy, a wholly owned subsidiary of China's CNOOC Ltd, reported it too would close its crude oil trading division following a round of job cuts announced last week, four market sources said on Monday.

Frontrunning: March 24

  • Germanwings Airbus crashes in France, 148 feared dead (Reuters)
  • Greece promises list of reforms by Monday to unlock cash (Reuters)
  • Merkel Points Tsipras Toward Deal With Greece’s Creditors (BBG)
  • Banks Shift Bond Portfolios -Move to ‘held to maturity’ category aims to guard against rising rates, shield capital  (WSJ)
  • Beijing to Shut All Major Coal Power Plants to Cut Pollution (BBG)
  • As Silence Falls on Chicago Trading Pits, a Working-Class Portal Also Closes (NYT)
  • Oil below $56 as Saudi output near record, China activity slows (Reuters)

Futures At Overnight Highs On China PMI Miss, Europe PMI Beat

It is a centrally-planned "market" and everyone is merely a bystander. Last night, following a dramatic China PMI miss, which as previously reported tumbled to the worst print since early 2014 and is flashing a "hard-landing" warning, the Shanghai Composite first dipped then spiked because all a "hard-landing" means is even more liquidity by the PBOC (which as we suggested a month ago will be the last entrant into the QE party before everyone falls apart). Then, this morning, a surprise beat by the German (and Eurozone) PMI was likewise interpreted by the algos as a catalyst to buy, and at this moment both European stock and US equity futures are their session highs. So, to summarize, for anyone confused: both good and bad data is a green light to buy stocks. In fact, all one needs is a flashing red headline to launch the momentum igniting algos into a buying spasm.

You Too Can Be A Texas Wildcatter With Crowdfunding

"Equity crowdfunding, or raising capital directly from a large group of investors, is widely used for projects from technology to fashion. Now, at least two small Texas firms are testing the concept in the oil and gas industry."