It's Tuesday but not everyone had fun... Having been told by the Fed that small-caps were stretched, investors bid Trannies and Industrials into the green (well the Fed never said they were rich?) Russell and Nasdaq were sold (but only dropped around 1% as every trick in the book was found to "fight the Fed"). VIX slams, JPY ramps, Gold slams... but amid all the furore of the "Sell" momo stocks signal from the Fed, bond markets shrugged (admittedly with some noise) closing flat in 10Y (and modestly higher in yields in the short-end). Gold was monkey-hammered once again, smashed back below $1300 (but remains above June FOMC levels) with its worst 2-day drop in 10 months (breaking its 20, 50, and 100DMA). Biotechs closed worst among Yellen's shorts and Russell 2000 ends -0.65% for 2014.
Everyone knows that you "don't fight the Fed" - and sure enough, traders are selling momo, social media, and biotech stocks, sending the Russell 2000 ands Nasdaq to the lows of the day. Despite the best efforts of USDJPY momentum igniters - which has now shifted to tracking Treasury yields, pushing them modestly hgher. No bounce at all in broad US equity markets (though we expect the spin to be a rotation from growth to value once again very soon). Gold jumped on the dovishness but fell back to unch as did the USD. The S&P 500 is now in the red post-payrolls. Summing it all up - saying that these sectors are 'stretched' but the market is within 'norms' just won't cut it... Yellen is losing control and this level of specificity (and honesty) implies some degree of panic at the Fed.
The central banks of the world are massively and insouciantly pursuing financial instability. That’s the inherent result of the 68 straight months of zero money market rates that have been forced into the global financial system by the Fed and its confederates at the BOJ, ECB and BOE. ZIRP fuels endless carry trades and the harvesting of every manner of profit spread between negligible “funding” costs and positive yields and returns on a wide spectrum of risk assets. Stated differently, ZIRP systematically dismantles the market’s natural stability mechanisms.
On the heels of Friday's late melt-up, futures opened quietly on Sunday before ramping dramatically higher as Europe opened (which also saw Gold monkey-hammered lower) and then one again as US opened (along with another gold smackdown). In both cases, USDJPY was the 'igniter' of momentum. After last week's best (worst) week for "most shorted" stocks, the US open saw them instantly ramped higher and then again another squeeze pump into the EU close. Notably, the Russell dropped over 0.5% from its opening print as it appears all the buying power occurred in that early short squeeze pump. Shortly after 3ET, AAPL started to fade and then VIX pushed higher (as "most shorted" stocks started accelerating lower). By the close the Dow had lost its record highs, Russell was down 2.65% for July, Gold (and silver) were whacked 2.4% (worst in 2014), oil closed up modestly, USD unch (JPY -0.25%), and Treasury yields only +2-3bps. S&P futures volume ended 30% below average.
A look at key events and data in the week ahead.
The Russell 2000 closed down almost 4% from last Thursday's early close - its worst week in 3 months (and in the red year-to-date). The Nasdaq miraculously scrambled back to unchanged from Payrolls but all major indices closed red for the week. Away from stocks, the USD closed unchanged (with notable CAD weakness and JPY strength). Treasury yields tumbled 13bps on the week - the most in 4 months. Gold and silver rose 1.3% on the week to new 4-month highs (6th green week in a row) as WTI Crude slumped back under $101 (-3.3% on the week). VIX rose around 2 vols back above 12 as "most shorted" stocks plunged over 5% - the biggest weekly drop in 25 months! VIX was slammed lower late-on to give the impression of confidence in stocks into the weekend but credit was notably not buying it at all.
European markets were ugly going in: Portugal's largest bank on the ropes and macro data weak. US earnings calls confirmed no Q2 bounce back and macro data piled on (along with various GDP downgrades). Equity markets opened gap down with a big flush of "most shorted" longs and Russell 2000 dipped into the red for 2014. Then the rally-monkey turned up, slamming VIX and lifting USDJPY to squeeze shorts and drag stocks "off the lows." Once shorts reache dunch, stocks limped lower "off the highs." Away from the v-shaped recovery in stocks, Gold broke above $1340 (4-month highs) and silver gained. Oil turned around early losses closing up for 1st time in 9 sessions ($103). The USD rose (on EUR weakness) but remains lower on the week. VIX ened 0.8 vols higher at 12.5 (well off its intraday highs though). The day ended with Carl Icahn warning that "it's time be cautious about US markets." VIX pushed higher into the close as investors remember Europe opens in 8 hours.
But, but, but everyone said growth was back...
The Russell 2000 had its worst day in almost 3 months. The S&P retraced all of its gains from the 'great' jobs report (on heavy volume). The Dow desparately clung to that critical indicator of economic wealth/health - 17,000 & Treasury yields slipped further - back below Thursday's lows. So every headline-writing muppet that correlated equity strength with a belief in the headline jobs data is now shown up as once again - as we noted on Thursday, it appeared bond traders read the jobs report and stock traders read the headlines. Is good news, bad news - or are equities actually comprehending that the jobs report was actually bad news away from the propaganda. Gold rallied back close to unchanged, silver dropped. The USD sold of early gains back to unch. TWTR dropped for the 3rd day in a row as camera-on-a-stick bounced 5% as options started trading. "Most shorted" stocks dropped their most in 3 months. VIX rose over 1 vol to 11.5 (its highest close since June and biggest %age gain in 3 months).
Just when you thought that nothing could be worse than bubble blindness of Greenspan and Bernanke - along comes the Yellen doctrine of “resilience”. Its dangerous Keynesian blather, and far worse than Greenspan’s feigned agnosticism which held that the Fed does not have the capacity to recognize financial bubbles in the making and should therefore mop them up after they burst. The Maestro never did say exactly what caused the massive and destructive dot-com and housing bubbles which occurred on his watch - except that Chinese factory girls stacked 12-to-a-dorm-room apparently saved way too much RMB. By contrast, Yellen’s primitive Keynesian mind knows exactly what causes financial bubbles. She has now militantly asserted that bubbles are entirely an irrational impulse in the private market and that the price of money and debt has absolutely nothing to do with financial stability.
The last six months have not run according to anyone’s plan. Who would have thought that equity market structure would yield a best-selling book, after all? As ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes, on the fundamental side of things, interest rates across the developed world are lower, not higher – counter to the consensus view just 180 days ago. Mutual fund investors first bought U.S. equities earlier in the year, then in the last 6 weeks have begun to liquidate in earnest. Exchange Traded Fund investors are buying more fixed income products than those dedicated to U.S. stocks. Large cap stocks are trouncing small caps in terms of performance. And as for volatility – well, Elvis has clearly left the building on that one. So which of these surprises has staying power into the back half of 2014?
For the 5th month in a row, US treasury bonds started with a 2-day sell-off as yields rose arond 6bps today (back to unch from FOMC). Gold, silver, and copper all gained notably (despite a knee-jerk lower on the ADP data). The US Dollar jumped instantly on the ADP print then flatlined for the rest of the day but USDJPY pushed higher. However, stocks chose to ignore their ubiquitous drivers - VIX was slammed lower (stocks ignored it) and USDJPY surged (stocks ignored it) as early weakness in Trannies was overtaken by Russell 2000 losses as the S&P and Dow flatlined in a very narrow range. Shortly after the US markets opened, credit markets diverged notably from equity markets (but caught up into the close). VIX closed lower. The Dow had its narrowest range since Dec - funny what happens when there's no $190 billion repo injection, eh? The S&P and Dow closed marginally green at new record highs. (and Camera-on-a-stick tumbles 17% from its highs)
VIX was monkey-hammered lower once again today, lifting stocks vertically to Russell 2000 record highs and The Dow within a point of 17,000. The question is who (or what) is doing it. Nanex seems to have found out who... It appears the un-visible hand of VIX manipulation (that we have shown previously) has been forced into the open public markets as Barclays goes dark. Simply put, massive bursts of 1-lot TVIX orders flood and delay the markets enabling HFTs to manipulate the tail that inevitably wags the market (via VXX, SPX options hedges and leverage) and now that the dark pools are disappearing, we see it all in real-time.
The USD is unchanged; Commodities are unchanged; and Treasury yields are up only 2-3bps... but that didn;t stop July 1st from being a banner day for US equity markets (on the back of missed PMI and ISM data). The Dow, Russell 2000, and S&P closed at record highs but sadly the Dow missed out on 17,000 by a mere 1.5 points (despite the best VIX and AUDJPY manipulation $189 billion of repo liquidity free money can buy). Stocks got their start with yet another epic short squeeze at the open then ramped higher thanks to carry to record-er highs; stalling when it seemed Dow 17,000 was elusive. VIX traded with a 10-handle once again.
Despite 2014 consensus GDP now languishing at 2.2% (below its 2.9% hope in March, and gas prices near record highs for the time of year; it seems the Q1 growth scare that saw small caps, momos, biotechs, and half the Russell 2000 collapse has been all but forgotten as the favorite index of short-squeezes and algorithmic ignition has just recovered all its losses and regained its all-time record highs from March. Mission accomplished? Bear in mind that over 600 of the Russell 2000 names are still 20% below their 52-week highs.