Another day, another epic ramp. Any "investor" watching the last two days of totally manic market behavior must be open-mouthed at the total lack of fundamental sanity behind any of the moves. Even the mainstream media is stunned by the moves embarrased into mere commentary and afraid to opine on any reason. The reason for today's rip - an economic assessment downgrade for Japan which smahed USDJPY higher and through magic of carry, lifted US equities. There was no let-up in Ukraine, no data to confirm growth hype, no US news... but the Russell and Nasdaq managed a 2.5% bounce in a stright line after the Japan headline. Away from the idiocy in stocks, precious metals were rammed lower early on but leaked back higher all day. The USD pushed higher but FX was relatively quiet aside from the idiotic moves in JPY. Treasuries rallied at the long-end on the day (despite the surge in stocks). "unrigged"
It is perhaps worth reflecting on the smorgasbord of free advice given out by the talking-heads after last night's closing ramp proclaiming the dip to be bought and that everything was fixed once again. It was not. Stocks are making fresh cycle lows and the Nasdaq and Russell 2000 are both now below the 200-day moving-average and appraoching the 10% (correction) from their highs. 10Y is back under 2.6% and the 30Y yield is back at 10-month lows... which perhaps explains why "growth" stocks are back at 7-month lows versus "value" stocks...
For the first time since Novemeber 2012 (when QE4EVA was kicked off in style), the Russell 2000 - that long-heralded indication that everything is great in the US economy and the indicator that stocks are great at discounting the future that is undoubtedly rosy - has broken back below its 200-day moving-average. In the meantime, an oddly dominant algorithm is swamping options markets with millions of fake orders..."rigged?"
Despite the best efforts of the straight-line panic buying algos on a Tuesday, it seems flashing red headlines of dreadful escalations in Ukraine (more deaths), from Bloomberg:
11 REPORTED DEAD DURING UKRAINIAN OPERATION IN KRAMATORSK: RT
UKRAINE GOVT: RUSSIAN 45TH AIRBORNE IN SLOVYANSK, KRAMATORSK
...and USDJPY tagging 102 again (of course) were enough to spark the manic idiocy of markets from buy-buy-buy to sell-it-all-Mortimer... So much for yesterday's "see it's all good now" ripfest... The Russell 2000 is back at yesterday's lows and NASDAQ is back under 4000.
I am sure those who were buying the "Kool-aid" at the market highs feel that way, but the numbers tell a different story.
The Dow, S&P, and Russell 2000 just pushed to fresh lows for the day after some dead-cat-bouncing hope intraday. Weakness in stocks is worse than FX carry for now but more in line with bond strength as Treasury yields push to new cycle lows. WTI Crude is up and gold is holding gains as the USD is stable.
UPDATE: Nasdaq negative year-to-date; Biotechs 3-month lows. AMZN, FB, TWTR, NFLX, P all in Bear market territory
Shortly after 946amET, the stock of The Nasdaq OMX Group suddenly dropped in a mini-flash-crash from from 35.98 to 35.00 in just over 2 seconds on approximately 100,000 shares. As Nanex notes, this is what high-frequency-trading liquidity looks like. But now, an hour or so later, the Nasdaq index and most especialy its Biotech and high-growth names are being crushed. Biotechs are near 3-month lows, Momos are down 16 to 18% since FOMC, and Nasdaq is about to go negative for the year.
“At some point in time the chickens are going to come home to roost on the HFT game,” said one Goldman insider.
Howard Marks once wrote that being a "contrarian" is a lonely profession. However, as investors, it is the downside that is far more damaging to our financial health than potentially missing out on a short term opportunity. Opportunities come and go, but replacing lost capital is a difficult and time consuming proposition. So, the question that we will "ponder" this weekend is whether the current consolidation is another in a long series of "buy the dip" opportunities, or does "something wicked this way come?" Here are some "words of caution" worth considering in trying to answer that question.
30Y yields are now over 10bps below post-Yellen spike highs as growth-hope-driven US equities were monkey-hammered in another pump-and-dump deja vu day - with one difference - no late-day bounce to provide solace for the bulls. The Nasdaq and Russell 2000 are down over 3.5% from Yellen; Biotechs broke to new lows (down over 14% and below the 100DMA); momo names were slammed (FB) as King IPO's and lost over 15% on the day. The Nasdaq and Russell have joined the Dow in the red year-to-date, S&P and Trannies barely positive. The USD lost ground on the day after early strength. Gold, silver, and copper fell notably. VIX jumped from 2-month lows to back over 15%. USDJPY was sin charge all day - and broke below the key 102 level into the close.
Not only is it deja vu all over again (again) but our warning this morning of reality of a virtual reality world coming unglued is all too real. Biotechs and Momos are at the lows of the day; Nasdaq and Russell 2000 are now down 3% post-Yellen and all major indices (including the IBM-sponsored Dow) are now in negative territory post-Yellen. Financials, ahead of tonight's CCAR, are also fading fast (catching down to their credit counterparts). Of course, it's all about USDJPY... (oh sorry - fun-durr-mentals)
In the land of the free and the home of the entitled, the sad (but true) nature of income inequality's inexorable rise in the past few years has a somewhat more startling impact on the future. With work being punished for the marginal employee and the wealth effect concentrated in the hands of the great and good, the following two charts show clearly the sad fact that those who need to save for the future the most don't (and likely can't) and those with all the income save the most (and thus 'spend' the least). As we noted previously, the rich have the assets and the poor have the debt (and debt is not wealth).
Once European markets closed, US equity markets gave up any correlation with JPY crosses and began to fade. After bouncing off early Nasdaq-Biotech-driven lows, a ramp of AUDJPY saved the European close but that was it. There does not appear to be any news catalyst to drive this dump as Quad-witching pumps are unwound. The S&P 500 and Russell 2000 jooin the Trannies and Nasdaq in the red from the FOMC statement.
The Fed and the other major central banks have been planting time bombs all over the global financial system for years, but especially since their post-crisis money printing spree incepted in the fall of 2008. Now comes a new leader to the Eccles Building who is not only bubble-blind like her two predecessors, but is also apparently bubble-mute. Janet Yellen is pleased to speak of financial bubbles as a “misalignment of asset prices,” and professes not to espy any on the horizon. Actually, the Fed’s bubble blindness stems from even worse than servility. The problem is an irredeemably flawed monetary doctrine that tracks, targets and aims to goose Keynesian GDP flows using the crude tools of central banking. Not surprisingly, therefore, our monetary central planners are always, well, surprised, when financial fire storms break-out. Even now, after more than a half-dozen collapses since the Greenspan era of Bubble Finance incepted in 1987, they don’t recognize that it is they who are carrying what amounts to monetary gas cans.
With 40% of the portfolio in cash and having returned $4 billion to clients at year-end, Seth Klarman's Baupost Group has "drawn the line in the sand" as they reflect on the diminished opportunities in the so-called "Truman Show" market we see today. In the face of mixed economic data and at a critical inflection point in Federal Reserve policy, Klarman notes, the stock market, heading into 2014, resembles a Rorschach test - "what investors see in the inkblots says considerably more about them than it does about the market." From "born bulls" to "worry genes" and from Bitcoin to flash-mob-speculation, "there is a growing gap between the financial markets and the real economy...and the overall picture is one of growing risk and inadequate potential return almost everywhere one looks... as every 'Truman' under Bernanke’s dome knows the environment is phony."