In a strangely familiar case of deja vu all over again, stocks surged (alone in the cross-asset class world of economic reality) on the day before an FOMC statement. The Russell 2000 has had its best 10-day run in 3 years, best day of the year, and managed to scramble back to its 100- & 200-day moving-average. Dow 17,000 was another key technical level that was achieved. S&P 500 was levitated on volume around 40% below average into the green for October. VIX was banged under 15 and tracked stocks. Away from the equity-vol complex, asset-classes were unimpressed - HY credit, bonds, JPY, and the USD all diverged from stocks. USD weakened slightly, and commodities all gained on the day. TSY yields were up 2-3bps and HY closed practically unchanged. "Most shorted" stocks rose almost 3% - the biggest squeeze since Dec 2011 - smashing the Russell 2000 higher.
Ebola in NYC, no problem. Crappy housing data, all good. School shooting in WA, buying opportunity... and that is how the S&P 500 broke back above its 100-day-moving-average (proving the world is fixed again), and had its biggest low-to-high swing since Dec 2011. It wasn't all great BTFD news today though as small caps underperformed - though still green (just like last Friday), and only Trannies and Russell are green in October. Despite equity exuberance, Treasuries rallied modestly today (ending the week up 8-9bps on the week). HY credit slightly underperformed stocks but compressed 27bps - the biggest weekly drop in spreads since July 2013. The USD rose for the first time in 3 weeks led by JPY and EUR weakness. Oil fell once again, copper rose (since China data), gold and silver mirrored USD's gains. VIX closed down 5 from last week's close just above 16, but like small cap, and JPY carry, decoupled this afternoon. The last 2 weeks were the biggest squeeze of "most shorted" stocks since July 2013.
While VIX pumped-and-dumped (in a manner never seen before in its history), 'real' volatility of the day to day moves across the major stock indices remains extremely elevated. For the Nasdaq and Dow Transports, the average true range over the last few weeks is the highest since the post-Lehman collapse...
The last few days have seen stocks explode higher, led by Dow Transports (up 10.3%) following Bullard's QE4 jawboning. The Dow Industrials is back in the green for 2014. While the catalyst may have been Bullard (and/or Williams and Gartman), the "tool" is the "most shorted" stocks - which have seen their best run (biggest squeeze) in 3 years...
In the past few years the stock market has always recovered from corrections to make new highs, and we cannot be sure if the party is indeed over. However, both from a fundamental and technical perspective, the probability that it is over seems quite high. Should market internals and trend uniformity to the upside improve again, this assessment would obviously have to be revised. However, there are surely more than enough warning signs extant now and every financial asset bubble must end at some point.
UPDATE: A little early to call yet but Fed's Rosengren quoted in FT "QE will end in October unless something dramatic happens" has knocked USDJPY and S&P lower...
More incoherent chatter from Japan about raising Japan's GPIF allocation to "more than 20%, or around 25%" on the basis of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's 'expert views' have sent USDJPY higher out of the gate and thus S&P 500 futures are tracking - just as they did Friday afternoon - higher. Treasury futures prices are 6 ticks lower (+2.5bps yield) - retraced all the bond-short capitulation gains from Wednesday. S&P futures are 9pts higher - retracing 50% of last week's losses.
For those curious why the Russell 2000 has completely ignored this week's broader market rout and is in fact higher now than last Friday, the answer comes from a recent technical note from Bank of America which says that as of the first week of the month, the "Russell net short positioning largest since 2008 after fifth consecutive week of selling."
In a secular rally, pullbacks will inevitably arise. Market participants, though, should not view all drops in the same light. In addition to the differences in the depth of the collapse, the magnitude of the changes of critical investor sentiment statistics may differ greatly. Assessing the current retracement is a difficult prospect as we may have yet to reach its terminus. Based on the initial sentiment statistics, the current decline has more similarity to the most significant historic collapses.
Just when you think the selloff couldn’t get any scarier, it did. The last hour of trading took over 1% out of the S&P 500 in rapid fashion, reportedly on fears of an Ebola check at a major U.S. airport. Today we offer up a “Top 10” list of specific markets and indicators to watch for signs of a near term market bottom. They include the CBOE VIX Index (key levels at 26 and 32), the action in small cap stocks and crude oil, and the dollar. Less quantifiable issues – but important nonetheless – are headlines related to Ebola (probably getting worse before better), 10-year Treasury bond yields (2.0% and 1.5% possible here), and European policymakers addressing a host of difficult monetary and fiscal policy issues. Bottom line: this is unlikely to be a dramatic “V-bottom” low given the range of issues of concern to investors. Look for the majority of our “Top 10” to stop going down before calling a bottom.
With the cash bond market closed today, we get our cues from an admittedly thin Treasury futures market. Prices are up across the board with 10Y yield down 3bps at 2.25%, 30Y back under 3%, and 5Y down 4bps at 1.49%. The rates market, once again is leading stocks lower - not getting as exuberant as stocks out of the gate... The Russell 2000 is at one-year lows (Oct 9th 2013 to be exact)
Whether it is the lack of any favorable news out of China (in fact, quite the contrary), which the BTFDers on Friday were praying for, or the worsening of the global Ebola pandemic with not only a second confirmed case hitting Texas but panicky reports of Ebola infections from Boston all the way to Los Angeles, or simply the lack of any words of encouragement from the Fed, the Friday rout has continued into the early Sunday night trading, and as of moments ago, the December E-mini future dropped to 1880.5 taking out the August lows, and sliding to levels last seen in May.
"Present conditions create an urgency to examine all risk exposures. Once overvalued, overbought, overbullish extremes are joined by deterioration in market internals and trend-uniformity, one finds a narrow set comprising less than 5% of history that contains little but abrupt air-pockets, free-falls, and crashes."
One would think that after last week's market rout, the worst in years, that Goldman clients would have just one question: why just a month after you, chief Goldman strategist David Kostin said to "Buy Stocks Because Hedge Funds Suck; Also Chase Momentum And Beta", are stocks crashing? No really: this is literally what Kostin said in the first days of September: "investors should buy stocks which should benefit from a combination of beta, momentum, and popularity as funds attempt to remedy their weak YTD performance heading into late 2014." Turns out frontrunning the world's most overpaid money losers wasn't such a great strategy after all. In any event, that is not what Goldman's clients are asking. Instead as David Kostin informs us in his weekly letter to Jim Hanson's beloved creations, "every client inquiry focused on the same four topics: global growth, FX, oil, and small-caps."