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?)
The Slaughter Continues: Hedge Funds Tumble In October, Turn Negative For 2014 Despite Central Bank SticksaveSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/03/2014 14:19 -0400
Another month, and year, another confirmation that under a centrally-planned Central Banking put regime, there is simply no need for the 2 and 20 industry.
Not everyone's buying it...
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."