"The time to liquidate a given position is now seven times as long as in 2008, reflecting much smaller trade sizes in fixed income markets. In part the current liquidity illusion is a product of the risk asymmetries implied by the zero lower bound on interest rates, excess reserves in the system, and perceived central bank reaction functions. However, interest rates in advanced economies won’t remain this low forever. Once the process of normalization begins, or perhaps if market perceptions shift, and it is expected to begin, a re-pricing can be expected. The orderliness of that transition is an open question."
Never in the history of US equity markets has the S&P 500 closed above its 5-day moving average for 28 days in a row... until today. While most indices tracked sideways in a very narrow range today, Trannies outperformed (helped by weaker oil, but even when oil rallied intraday Trannies rallied too). VIX tracked back below 12.5 with an inverted term structure for the 5th day in a row. The USD lost ground for the 2nd day in a row, driven by EUR strength (with notable AUD weakness extending). Silver rallied as gold flatlined and copper tumbled after US GDP beat. However, the two big themes today were the collapse in oil prices (as rumors/news ahead of OPEC sent volatility soaring) to a $73 handle - the lowest close since 2010; and the plunge in Treasury yields (with a very stroing 5Y auction and big block trade in TLT suggesting short-covering). Finally, AAPL broke above a $700 billion market cap briefly today but was unable to hold it.
The last few weeks have been the strongest and most consistent rallies in US equity market history. US equity markets have traded above their 5-day moving average for 27 days - the longest such streak since March 1928 (h/t MKM's John Krinsky) and all amid GDP downgrades, missed PMIs, and downward earnings outlook revisions. Given the holiday week, it is hardly surprising volume was weak today. Stocks were very mixed today with Russell 2000 and Nasdaq leading the way (along with Trannies) as Dow and S&P showed very small gains - to record highs though. Bonds were also bid with a strong 2Y auction extending the drops in yields (0-2bps) led by 7Y. The USDollar fell 0.4% - led by EUR strength - as JPY, CAD, and AUD all weakened. Despite USD weakness, oil (big drop intraday), copper, and gold also dropped on the day with silver ending +0.25%. VIX dropped to 12.66 - its lowest close in over 2 months.
Looking for answers to both financial safety as well as financial freedom in the same light or viewpoint where it seems one only needs to “think like a billionaire” or “tweak” or “slightly modify” perceptions on how one approaches these financial markets today – will hurt more than it will help. The Wall Street everyone believes they are dealing with today is just in name and memory. What made sense just 6 years ago not only doesn’t but rather if you try to apply any sense that resembles “common sense” you might as well be asking the Cheshire cat for a more straight answer. "How exactly are you handling the stresses and strains having to basically push sound fundamental theories or market underpinnings aside and now trade and position money at risk based solely on what some Central Bank will do next?" This is the avenue I wish Tony had driven or sought.
Despite the knee-trembling awesomeness of a double-whammy promise of liquidity, US equity markets ended the week on a decidedly down note. The realization that Draghi's all talk (no impact on US stocks) and PBOC's move is not a liquidity surge and has limited impact on the economy left stocks tumbling once the opening OPEX levels had printed. The USD rose notably on the day after EUR plunged under 1.24 on Draghi (USD +0.9% on the week). Despite USD strength, gold rose 1% (as did Silver) on the week, rising for the 3rd week in a row for the first time in 4 months (and the 3rd Friday surge in a row). Oil rose 1% on the week, breaking an 8-week losing streak but Copper prices fell around 0.3% on the week, having given back the kneejerk gains post-PBOC today. Treasury yields dropped after kneejerking higher on PBOC. 30Y at 3.01% had its 2nd lowest weekly close since May 2013. VIX melted down into the close to 13.01. Late-day buying panic lifts stocks off their lows leaving Dow & S&P at all-time recordest highs of all-time ever in history (as small caps closed red).
Following the October swoon, stocks have vaulted to all-time highs. As we discussed previously in "Sentiment Is Off The Charts Bullish," there have only been few occasions where investors have felt so "giddy" about the financial markets. Such periods of exuberance have never ended well for investors as they were deluded by near-term "greed" which blinded them to the building risks. One of the things that we pay attention to is the ratio of the S&P 500 compared to longer duration bonds.
For the 25th day in a row (one short of an all-time record), the S&P closed above its 5-day moving-average. Despite dismal Asian, European, and US PMIs, US equity markets sreaked higher at the US Open, tagging yesterday's highs, then stalling when Europe closed. Small Caps led the day as shorts were squeezed once again but Trannies and Russell 2000 remain negative on the week. US Treasury yields dropped notably after European and ended the day 2-3bps lower (with 30Y unch on the week). The USD rose very modestly close-to-cvlose but traded lower thru the EU and US sessions (AUDJPY was in charge of stocks today). Copper dropped on China growth fears but oil, silver, and gold rose on the day (leaving gold +0.5% on the week). HY credit slammed tighter with stocks early then decoupled after EU closed. Dow & S&P close at record highs.
The vast majority of investors are ignoring a major warning that this bounce is not to be trusted.
The word "volatile" comes to mind when reflecting on today's cross-asset class action. US equities dumped into and beyond the US open, decoupling entirely from JPY carry, only to reverse perfectly at the European close and recover all the way back to USDJPY right as the FOMC minutes hit. A kneejerk sent stocks higher but that quickly decoupled also and stocks fell. Small Caps underperformed and are back in the negative year-to-date. Treasury yields were volatile, ramping higher into the US open, rallying post, then whipsawing on FOMC minutes to close 3-4bps higher on the day.The USD was flat on the day despite the surge in USDJPY back above 118. Commodities were a mess with a big dump on Swiss Gold polls, rip higher on Russian buying rumors and dropped again on FOMC (oil and copper followed suit). HY Credit was "bidless" and continues to decouple from stocks (along with VIX).
From its lowest 5-day range in history and near-longest streak of closes above its short-term average, the S&P 500 broke to new record highs today (as did the Dow) above 2,050, leaving every other asset class in the dust (besides USDJPY of course). The incessant push for the stops above 117.00 dragged the S&P higher on no catalyst whatsoever. Treasury yields traded 2-3bps lower on the day (and HY credit spreads widened) in the face of equity exuberance. The USD faded on the day back to unchanged on the week on the back of EUR strength (post-Germany). Gold rallied to $1195 (+0.5% on the week) and silver rose modestly but the USD weakness did nothing for the rest of the commodity complex. Copper was whacked (after China housing data) but the big story is WTI Crude plunged again (-2% on the week) closing just shy of 4-year lows. Russell 2000 and Trannies close in the red for the week. In summary: Stocks Up, Gold Up, Bonds Up... USD Down, Oil Down, Copper Down ahead of Fed Minutes tomorrow (credit and stocks protected).
Overnight weakness from Japan (NKY -3%) and USDJPY slowly leaked away as Europe was bid - bouncing higher on Draghi's SovQE "whatever it takes" comments (and multiple broken markets), but once he stopped speaking stocks faded to the lows of the day at the European Close. Once it was just the American algos playing, the S&P and Dow ripped back to green. However, Small Caps, Nasdaq and Trannies were not playing along, nor was VIX or HY Credit. The USD surged 0.45% (on EUR weakness) which stalled the bounce in commodities. Gold flatlined through the US session (-0.25%) with Silver -1% (bouncing this afternoon). Oil prices slipped 0.5% again (but above Friday's lows) at $75.50. Treasury yields rose 1-2bps on the day (but 5-6bps off the overnight lows as Europe opened) but flatlined during US session. Most notably, it seems many feel like Carl Icahn that a major correction is coming and hedging via VIX and HY credit was significant.
A rubber band can remain stretched for some time, but it takes some force to keep it stretched. In this case, the force is the daily VIX body-slam and the resulting pop up in equities. This has worked to keep RUT and its cousins aloft for several weeks of going nowhere, but the chart suggests all the kiddies who are supremely confident that Santa will deliver more equity gains might find their complacency is not rewarded.
Russell 2000 rolls over red...
As one would expect with half the market away, US equity volumes were terrible (but fiunnily enough not much worse than yesterday) with most major indices trading in a very tight range around unchanged. Overnight strength in stocks on the back of USDJPY's momo ignition after Reuters headlines on Japan tax delays. Trannies, however, surged out of the gate, stalled into the European close, tumbled on oil weakness, then rallied back in the last hour - amid now news. Treasury futures were very quiet and went nowhere. The real story of the day was in the FX markets, which saw notable USD weakness led by EUR and AUD strength, and a late day rally in JPY (USDJPY tagged 116.00 stops then faded... that's 8 handles in 9 days). The USD weakness - which started around the European close - sparked a rally in copper, gold, and silver (and gold miners surged). Oil prices tested cycle lows before also bouncing back in a v-shaped recovery to close higher. Despite early intraday record highs in Dow and S&P futures, they ended practically unchanged as VIX was notably divergent. Late-day panic-buying lifted the Dow (+0.007%), S&P, and Russell 2000 green.
Stocks end the week on a weaker note roundtripping off premature exuberance into the European close after jobs data that missed expectations (or did they). Of course the kneejerk response took the S&P and Dow to record highs before the weakness set in. Thanks to a late day panic-buying rip though, Nasdaq and Russell 2000 close the week unch - no need to call Mr. Bullard. Treasury yields collapsed today, ending the week down around 3-4bps. The USD sold off today to close the week up 0.6% with JPY and AUD the weakest against the greenback on the week. Gold (and silver) rallied to close the week almost unchanged. Interestingly, despite VIX's best efforts (almost breaking under 13), stocks rolled over this afternoon (then ripped). Oil prices pushed modestly higher early on and ended the day around $78.50. The ubiquitous Friday late-day buying panic ripped everything higher - on absolutely no news - "proving" that the jobs data was great (expect, why were safe haven bond and bullion so heavily bid?)