For the first half an hour after China opened, things looked bleak: after opening down 5%, the Shanghai Composite staged a quick relief rally, then tumbled again. And then, just around 10pm Eastern, we saw a coordinated central bank intervention stepping in to give the flailing PBOC a helping hand, driven by the BOJ but also involving NY Fed members, that sent the USDJPY soaring which in turn dragged ES and most risk assets up with it. And while Shanghai did end up closing down -1.7%, with Shenzhen 2.2% lower at the close, the final outcome was far better than what could have been, with the result being that S&P futures have gone back to doing their thing, and have wiped out all of yesterday's losses in the levitating, zero volume, overnight session which has long become a favorite setting for central banks buying E-Minis.
Having gazed ominously at the extreme monetary policy smoke-and-mirrors intervention in bond markets, and previously explained that "the stock market is to important to leave to the vagaries of an actual market." While the rest of the world's central banks' direct (BoJ) and indirect (Fed, ECB) manipulation of equity markets, nobody bats an eyelid; but when PBOC steps on market volatility's throat (like a bull in a China bear store), people start complaining... finally. There is no difference - none! And no lesser Asian expert than Stephen Roach warns that we should be afraid, very afraid as he states, the great irony of manipulation, he explains, is that "the more we depend on markets, the less we trust them."
This was not supposed to happen.
It all started in China, where as we noted previously, the Shanghai Composite plunged by 8.5% in closing hour, suffering its biggest one day drop since February 2007 and the second biggest in history. The Hang Seng, while spared the worst of the drubbing, was also down 3.1%. There were numerous theories about the risk off catalyst, including fears the PPT was gradually being withdrawn, a decline in industrial profits, as well as an influx in IPOs which drained liquidity from the market. At the same time, Nikkei 225 (-0.95%) and ASX 200 (-0.16%) traded in negative territory underpinned by softness in commodity prices.
Late last month, we suggested that the pressure on Chinese equities - which at that point had only begun to build - was at least partially attributable to an unwind in the country’s CNY1 trillion backdoor margin lending edifice. Precisely measuring the amount of shadow financing that helped drive Chinese stocks to nosebleed levels is virtually impossible, as is determining how much of that leverage has been unwound and how much remains or has been restored, but BofAML is out with a valiant attempt to not only identify each shadow lending channel, but to quantify just how much leverage may be built into the Chinese market. The figures will shock you.
Deflation is back on the front burner and it's going to destroy all of the careful central planning and related market manipulation of the past 6 years. Clear signs from the periphery indicate that a destructive deflationary pulse has been unleashed. After years of suppression, the forces of reality are threatening to overwhelm our managed global ""markets"'. And it's about damn time.
The Central Planners who thought that buying shares to prop up the stock bubble was an excellent fix are about to find out the true meaning of toil and trouble.
If you are looking for a “canary in a coal mine” type of warning for the entire global economy, you have a whole bunch to pick from right now.
After yesterday's latest drop in stocks driven by "old economy" companies such as CAT, which sent the Dow Jones back to red for the year and the S&P fractionally unchanged, today has been a glaring example of the "new" vs "old" economy contrast, with futures propped up thanks to strong tech company earnings after the close, chief among which Amazon, which gained $40 billion in after hours trading and has now surpassed Walmart as the largest US retailer. As a result Brent crude is little changed near 2-wk low after disappointing Chinese manufacturing data fueled demand concerns, adding to bearish sentiment in an oversupplied mkt. WTI up ~26c, trimming losses after yday falling to lowest since March 31 to close in bear mkt. Both Brent and WTI are set for 4th consecutive week of declines; this is the longest losing streak for Brent since Jan., for WTI since March.
There could be trouble ahead....
"Public statements, media reports and market data reveal that Beijing unleashed 5 trillion yuan in funds - equivalent to nearly 10 percent of China's GDP in 2014 and greater than the 4 trillion yuan it committed in response to the global financial crisis - to calm a savage share sell-off. Beijing has thus produced the equivalent of around 1 index point gain for every $1 billion committed," Reuters reports.
According to China Daily, the "recent overweighting to stem A-share plunge has made China Securities Finance Corp (CSF), central bank-backed refinancing institution, among top 10 shareholders of many listed-firms, reported Securities Times on Wednesday."
While this week has been, and continues to be, devoid of macro updates, yesterday's flurry of mostly disappointing earnings releases both before and after the open, including some of the biggest DJIA companies as well as the current and previously biggest and most important companies in the world, AAPL and MSFT, both of which came crashing down following earnings and forecasts that were well short of market expectations, came as a jolt to a market that was artificially priced by central bank liquidity and HFT momo algos beyond perfection. Add to that yesterday's downward revision to historical industrial production which confirmed the US economy is a step away from recession, as well as last night's Crude API inventory build which is once again pressuring WTI lower and on the verge of a 49 handle, and perhaps the biggest question is why are futures not much lower.
If yesterday's market action was boring, today has been a virtual carbon copy which started with the usual early Chinese selloff levitating into a mildly positive close, with the SHCOMP closing just above the psychological 4,000 level: the next big hurdle will be 4058, the 38.2% Fib correction of the recent fall. In the US equity futures are currently unchanged ahead of a day in which there is no macro economic data but lots of corporate earnings led by Microsoft, Verizon, UTX and of course Apple. Most importantly, some modest USD weakness overnight (DXY -0.1%) has helped the commodity complex, with gold rebounding from overnight lows, while crude has at least stopped the recent carnage which sent WTI below $50.
Today's action is so far an exact replica of Friday's zero-volume ES overnight levitation higher (even if Europe's derivatives market, the EUREX exchange, did break at the open for good measure leading to a delayed market open just to make sure nobody sells) with the "catalyst" today being the official Greek repayment to both the ECB and the IMF which will use up €6.8 billion of the €7.2 billion bridge loan the EU just handed over Athens so it can immediately repay its creditors. In other words, Greek creditors including the ECB, just repaid themselves once again. One thing which is not "one-time" or "non-recurring" is the total collapse in commodities, which after last night's precious metals flash crash has sent the Bloomberg commodity complex to a 13 year low.