Just as Goldman has predicted (and the market had seemingly hoped would not happen), Janet Yellen, in her first speech as new Fed chair "stayed the course" on the Taper:
YELLEN SAYS FOMC LIKELY TO CONTINUE QE TAPER IN MEASURED STEPS
1YELLEN SAYS RECOVERY IN LABOR MARKET IS `FAR FROM COMPLETE'
YELLEN SAY FED TO `CONTINUE TO MONITOR FOR EMERGING RISKS'
Of course, the Q&A (and hawkish follow-up panel) may well be the "common knowledge" setting moment for today but for now, the Taper is on and forward-guidance
Pre-Yellen: S&P Futs 1801, Gold $1285, 10Y 2.68%, USDJPY 102.3
- Frustrated by Karzai, U.S. Shifts Afghanistan Exit Plans (WSJ)
- Yellen Testimony Guide From Payrolls Report to Emerging Markets (BBG)
- Gold hits three-month high, shares up ahead of Yellen (Reuters)
- Tightfisted New Owners Put Heinz on Diet (WSJ)
- Senator describes "gruesome" bin Laden photos (Reuters)
- More reasons for the ongoing economic contraction: U.S. Winter Storm Seen Spreading Snow, Sleet Across South (BBG)
- Barclays Cuts Up to 12,000 Jobs as Quarterly Profit Falls (BBG)
- Boeing Considering 787-Size Medium-Range Jetliners (WSJ)
- AOL Chief Apologizes for ‘Distressed Babies’ Comment (BBG)
A sneaky overnight levitation pushed the Spoos above 1800 thanks to a modest USDJPY run (as we had forecast) despite, or maybe due to, the lack of any newsflow, although today's first official Humphrey Hawkins conference by the new Fed chairman, Janet Yellen, before the House and followed by the first post-mortem to her testimony where several prominent hawks will speak and comprising of John B. Taylor, Mark A. Calabria, Abby M. McCloskey, and Donald Kohn, could promptly put an end to this modest euphoria. Also, keep in mind both today, and Thursday, when Yellens' testimoeny before the Senate takes place, are POMO-free days. So things may get exciting quick, especially since as Goldman's Jan Hatzius opined overnight, the third tapering - down to $55 billion per month - is on deck.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen will deliver her inaugural monetary policy testimony on February 11 and 13. Her prepared remarks will be released at 8:30amET and the testimony will begin at 10amET. Goldman, unlike the market of the last 3 days, believes that Ms. Yellen is likely to "stick to the script" in her first public remarks since taking over from Bernanke but they look for additional color on the following issues: (1) the recent patch of softer data; (2) the Fed's thinking on EM weakness; (3) the hurdle for stopping the taper; (4) the amount of slack in the labor market; and (5) the future of forward guidance.
"Equities are set to top and roll over," and BofAML's Macneil Curry remains bullish US Treasuries despite today's stability (so far) from recent stock gains. He remains negative on risk assets and believes US equities are posied for another leg lower (with perhaps tomorrow's Yellen testimony the un-taper punchbowl removal catalyst) and warns bond bears that a break below 2.657% on the 10Y would indicate the downtrend in yields has resumed. Elsewhere Curry adds "gold is coming to life."
US equity markets traded in a narrow range ahead of tomorrow's Yellen testimony with Trannies underperforming and Nasdaq outperforming. Cross-asset-class correlations picked up from their negligible levels on Friday as JPY (and increasingly 5Y bonds) are linked at the hip with stocks. The S&P cash tested almost up to 1,800 (but failed at 1799.94) then faded. Notably from the European close, equity handily outperformed credit markets - which ended closing near their wides of the day. Treasuries ended the day modestly bid (30y -2bps) but T-Bill yields are starting to reflect debt-ceiling concerns. The USD closed unch - drifting lower from overnight strength - but gold and silver rallied on the day (though faded of early highs). Late-day ramp efforts got the S&P green but failed to cross 1,800... and VIX decoupled on the ramp.
A recent article at the BBC discusses the findings of a report by EU Home Affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem on corruption in the EU. According to the report, the cost of corruption in the EU amounts to €120 billion annually. We would submit that it is likely far more than that (in fact, even Ms. Malmstroem herself concurs with this assessment). This is of course what one gets when one installs vast, byzantine bureaucracies and issues a veritable flood of rules and regulations every year. More and more people are needed to administer this unwieldy nightmare of red tape, and naturally the quality of the hires declines over time due to the sheer numbers required. And that is merely what they actually know about...One gets an inkling of how big the problem may really be when considering the case of Greece.
The flow of gold from west to east is confirmed as China reports huge increase in recorded imports.
The most notable event in this traditionally quiet post-payrolls week is Janet Yellen's Humphrey Hawkins testimony before Congress set for mid-week. In terms of economic data releases, the US retail sales (Exp. 0.05%) is on Thursday and consumer sentiment survey is on Friday (consensus 80.5). We also have IP numbers from Euro Area countries and the US. Most recent external account statistics are released from Japan, China, India and Turkey. It is also interesting to track CPI data in Germany, Spain and India, given the ECB and RBI currently face diverging inflation challenges and may be forced into further action. Finally, we have Q4 GDP data from the Euro Area economies (Friday).
After Friday's surge fest on weaker than expected news - perhaps expecting a tapering of the taper despite everyone screaming from the rooftops the Fed will never adjust monetary policy based on snowfall levels - overnight the carry trade drifted lower and pulled the correlated US equity markets down with it. Why? Who knows - after Friday's choreographed performance it is once again clear there is no connection between newsflow, fundamentals and what various algos decide to do. So (lack of) reasons aside, following a mainly positive close in Asia which was simply catching up to the US exuberance from Friday, European equities have followed suit and traded higher from the get-go with the consumer goods sector leading the way after being boosted by Nestle and L'Oreal shares who were seen higher after reports that Nestle is looking at ways to reduce its USD 30bln stake in L'Oreal. The tech sector is also seeing outperformance following reports that Nokia and HTC have signed a patent and technology pact; all patent litigation between companies is dismissed. Elsewhere, the utilities sector is being put under pressure after reports that UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey urged industry watchdog Ofgem to examine the profits being made by the big six energy companies through supplying gas, saying that Centrica's British Gas arm is too profitable.
Although there are no policy making meetings, central banks will still dominate the agenda in the week ahead.
This is an important jobs report. Not because it matters in the least whether the US economy added 170,000 new jobs or 185,000 new jobs. Not because it matters a whit whether the unemployment rate goes up or down 1/10th of 1 percent. No, the importance of this jobs report rests in two related linguistic games. Here's how to translate the lingo.... and then how to trade it.
Moments ago, the Senate Banking Committee started a hearing on the topic of "Financial Stability And Data Security." We assume the topic discussed will be financial stability, the highly diluted final version of the Volcker Rule, Dodd Drank, the London Whale, and other things legislators have no understanding of. As such it will be a complete waste of time, and the only thing that can possibly force anyone to fix the broken system is the next systemic crash, one which the central banks, already all in with their bailout efforts, will be unable to resolve.
The biggest fear the market currently has is not the ongoing crisis in the Emerging Markets, not the suddenly slowing economy, not even China's credit bubble popping: it is that Bernanke's successor may have suddenly reverted to the "Old Normal" - a regime in which the Fed is not there to provide the training wheels should the S&P suffer a 5%, 10% or 20% (or more) drop. Whether such fears are warranted will be tested as soon as there is indeed a bear market plunge in stocks - the first in nearly three years (incidentally the topic of the Fed's lack of vacalty was covered in a recent Reuters article). So, assuming that indeed the most dramatic change in market dynamics in the past five years has taken place, how does one trade this new world which is so unfamiliar to so many of today's "younger" (and forgotten by many of the older) traders? And, more importantly, how does one look for the signs of a bottom: an Old Normal bottom that is. Courtesy of Convergex' Nicholas Colas, here is a reminder of what to look forward to, for those who are so inclined, to time the next market inflection point.