Everything went from bad to worse once Europe opened, and things started going "bump in the morning" across the European banking sector, where not only has it been more of the same with CDS spreads for major banks - most notably Deutsche Bank - continuing their surge wider, but also EM spreads to Bunds all following, with the Portugal-Germany Yield spread blowing out above 300 bps for the first time since 2014, and other peripheral nations following.
US futures were largely unchanged overnight, with a modest bounce after the European close driven by a feeble attempt to push oil higher, faded quickly and as of this moment the E-mini was hugging the flatline ahead of today's main event - the January payrolls, expected to print at 190K and 5.0% unemployment, however the whisper number - that required to push stocks higher - is well lower, at 150K (according to DB), as only a bad (in fact very bad) jobs number today will cement the Fed's relent and assure no more rate hikes in 2016 as the market now largely expects.
The Bank of Japan’s unexpected rate cuts to negative are a desperate attempt to help out The Fed and to support the dollar at the expense of the aging Japanese population.
After last week's relatively quiet, on macro data if not central bank news, week the newsflow picks up with the usual global PMI survey to start, and end the week with the US January payrolls report.
It is safe to say that nobody expected the BOJ stunner announced last night, when Kuroda announced that Japan would become the latest country to unleash negative interest rates, for one simple reason: Kuroda himself said Japan would not adopt negative rates just one week ago! However, a few BIS conference calls since then clearly changed the Japanese central banker's mind and as we wrote, and as those who are just waking up are shocked to learn, negative rates are now a reality in Japan. The immediate reaction was to send the USDJPY surging by nearly 200 pips, back to levels seen... well, about a month ago.
“Soros’s war on the renminbi and the Hong Kong dollar cannot possibly succeed — about this there can be no doubt. Reckless speculations and vicious shorting will face higher trading costs and possibly severe legal consequences. And just as proved in the yuan exchange rate case, the Chinese government has sufficient resources and policy tools to keep the overall economic situation under control and cope with any external challenges.”
Following a rerun of September 2015, when Draghi sent market expectations about ECB action sky-high only to massively disappoint in December (we will have to wait until March to see if it is deja vu all over again) last week, this week is just as big for central bank jawboning with the FOMC (Wednesday) and the BoJ meeting on Friday, with hopes that they will at least hint of more easing if not actually do much.
After the biggest two-day surge in oil in seven years, early in the overnight session both Brent and WTI continued their run for a third day, entering a bull market, 20% up from recent lows hit just last week (still 15% down on the year) when Saudi Arabia spoiled the momentum party after the world’s biggest crude exporter said it’s keeping up investments in energy projects while diesel consumption in China dropped for a fourth consecutive month, signaling an industrial slowdown. And thanks to the near record correlation between equities and oil, global stocks and US equity index futures initially rose only to slide following the Saudi comments.
After two months of sharp currency devaluation, the market was carefully watching last night's China trade data to see if the Yuan debasement had led to a positive trade outcome to the world's second largest economy, and as reported last night, it was not disappointed when China reported a December trade surplus of $60.09 billion from $54.1 billion in November, as a result of exports beating expectations and rising 2.3%, the first increase since June, while imports declined by just 4%, the smallest drop since 2014 despite China importing a record amount of oil, or 33.2 million tons, in December.
Mission Accomplished? It's a modern monetary miracle - China's trade surplus surged to CNY382bn (from 434bn), dramaticlaly higher than the expected drop to 338bn thanks to better than expected data for imports and exports. Imports dropped 4.0% (less than the 7.9% drop expected) and the smallest decline since December 2014 but it was exports that "proved" China's policymakers are large and in charge. For the first time since February 2015, China exports rose year-over-year (by 2.3%) dramatically better than the 4.1% plunge expected. So - no need for more policy support... despite earlier comments from officials of export policy support?
The following three charts make last week’s market turmoil easier to understand. Falling trade means lower corporate profits, which, if history is still a valid guide, means less valuable equities. So it could be that the markets are simply figuring this out and revaluing assets accordingly.
Once China set the Yuan fixing some 0.5% lower, the biggest drop since the August devaluation, all hell broke loose and unleashed a global selling panic after China's stock market was promptly shut down less than 30 minutes into trading, then European shares dropped the most in more than 4 months as Asian equities plunges, as did US stock futures, the dollar weakened against the euro and the yen; crude plunged to fresh 12 year lows. Gold rose.
Before we go into details of the overnight carnage, this is where we stand currently: S&P futures now down 33 points or 1.63% while 2Y Treasury rallies pushing its yield back below 1% as EU stocks extend their drop after China weakened its currency, North Korea says it tested a hydrogen bomb; Brent crude falls to lowest level since 2004.
Santa Claus is cutting it close: after stocks closed down yesterday, and just fractionally red for the year, the jolly old gift-giver (who now has activist investors breathing down his neck) has just three trading days to push if not stocks then the market into the green for the year. And so far, so good, with US equity futures rising by 8 points or 0.4%, on the back of some modest renewed Dollar strength but mostly on oil, which after yesterday's big slide, has managed to stem the decline and is up fractionally, just under $37, along with other commodities if not copper, which falls for second day.
A terrible deterioration.