The stock market continues to flirt with new record highs, but the signs that we could be on the precipice of the next major financial crisis continue to mount. There are multiple warning signs that have popped up repeatedly just prior to previous financial crashes, and many of those same warning signs are now appearing once again.
The only question on traders' minds today, with the lack of any macro news out of the US (except for the DOE crude oil inventory update at 10:30am Eastern expecting a build of 3.5MM, down from 6.33MM last week, and the 10 Year bond auction at 1pm) is which Greek trip abroad is more important: that of FinMin Varoufakis to Belgium where he will enter the lion's den of Eurogroup finance ministers at 3:30pm GMT, or that of the foreign minister Kotzias who has already arrived in Moscow, and where we already got such blockbuster statements as:
LAVROV: RUSSIA WILL CONSIDER AID REQUESTS, IF GREECE MAKES THEM; KOTZIAS: GREECE IS WILLING TO MEDIATE BETWEEN EU, RUSSIA
Or perhaps both are critical, as what happens in Brussels will surely impact the outcome of the Greek trip to Russia?
So far it has been largely a repeat of the previous overnight session, where absent significant macro drivers, the attention again remains focused both on China, which reported some truly ugly inflation (with 0.8% Y/Y CPI the lowest since Lehman, just call it deflation net of the "goalseeking") data (which as usually is "good for stocks" pushing the SHCOMP 1.5% higher as it means even more easing), and on Greece, which has not made any major headlines in the past 24 hours as patience on both sides is growing thin ahead of the final "bluff" showdown between Greece and the Eurozone is imminent. The question as usual is who will have just a fraction more leverage in the final assessment - Greece has made its ask known, and it comes in the form of 10 billion euros in short-term "bridge" financing consisting of €8 billion increase in Bills issuance and €1.9 billion in ECB profits, as it tries to stave off a funding crunch, a proposal which will be presented on the Wednesday meeting of euro area finance ministers in Brussels. The question remains what Europe's countrbid, if any, will be. For the answer: stay tuned in 24 hours.
In the absence of any notable developments overnight, the market remains focused on the rapidly moving situation in Greece, which as detailed over the weekend, responded to Europe's Friday ultimatum very vocally and belligerently, crushing any speculation that Syriza would back down or compromise, and with just days left until the emergency Eurogroup meeting in three days, whispers that a Grexit is imminent grow louder. The only outstanding item is what happens to the EUR and to risk assets: do they rise when the Eurozone kicks out its weakest member, or will they tumble as UBS suggested this morning when it said that "the escalation of tensions between the Greek government and its creditors is so far being shrugged off by investors, an attitude which is overly simplistic and ignores the risk of market dislocations" while Morgan Stanley adds that a Grexit would likely lead to the EURUSD sliding near its all time lows of about 0.90.
While the trading world, or at least the kneejerk reaction algos, is focused on today's US nonfarm payrolls due out in just 2 hours (consensus expects 240K, with unemployment declining from 5.8% to 5.7%) the key event overnight came out of China, (where inflation printed at just 1.5% while PPI has imploded from -1.8% in September to -2.2% in October to -2.7% in November to a whopping -3.3% in December because as per BofA "soft domestic demand over-capacity issue have kept inflation pressures low") and Europe, after a Bloomberg report that as recently as Wednesday, ECB staff "presented policy makers with models for buying as much as 500 billion euros ($591 billion) of investment-grade assets... options included buying only AAA-rated debt or bonds rated at least BBB-, the euro-area central bank official said. Governors took no decision on the design or implementation of any package after the presentation." In other words less than two weeks before the fateful ECB meeting and Mario Draghi not only still hasn't decided on which of three public QE version he will adopt, but the ECB has reverted back to a private QE plan. Not surprisingly the EURUSD jumped back over 1.18 on the news (and USDJPY and stock markets dropped) on the news that Europe still is completely unsure how to proceed with QE despite the endless jawboning.
Now that China is on the same boat as the rest of the world, and its stock market is a direct reflection of hopes for constant liquidity injections by the central banks, nothing could be better for stocks than bad news, which is precisely what it got. After the biggest crash in the Shanghai Composite in 5 years, what China got just the bad economic update it needed, when it reported a PPI of PPI (-2.7%, Exp. -2.4%), the 33rd consecutive decline and a CPI (1.4%, Exp. 1.6%), lowest since November 2009, when the big banks’ RRR rate stood at 15.5% vs. current 20%. And so hope of yet more PBOC interventions to halt China's deflation promptly reversed SHCOMP losses of over 4% on the session (at which point it was just shy of correction territory from recent highs hit just this week), and stocks surged to close up almost 3%, erasing half of yesterday's losses. This spike came despite reports Chinese regulators may limit brokerages' interbank borrowing.
It wasn't just China's long overdue crash last night. In addition to the Shanghai Composite suffering its biggest plunge since August 2009, there has been a sharp slide in the USDJPY which has broken its uptrend to +∞ (and hyperinflation), and around the time Chinese gamblers were panicking, the FX pair tumbled under 120, although since then the 120 tractor beam has been activated. Elsewhere, the Athens stock exchange is also crashing by over 10% this morning on the heels of news that the Greek government has accelerated the process to elect the next president and possibly, a rerun of the drama from the summer of 2012 when the Eurozone was hanging by a thread when Tsipras almost won the presidential vote and killed the world's most artificial and insolvent monetary union. And finally, the crude plunge appears to have finally caught up with ground zero, with ADX General Index in Abu Dhabi plunging 3.5%, also poised for the biggest drop since 2009. In fact the only thing that isn't crashing (at least not this moment), is Brent, which did drop to new 5 year lows earlier under $66, but has since staged a feeble rebound.
Without doubt, the most memorable line from the latest quarterly report by the BIS, one which shows how shocked even the central banks' central bank is with how perverted and broken the "market" has become is the following: "The highly abnormal is becoming uncomfortably normal.... There is something vaguely troubling when the unthinkable becomes routine." Overnight, "markets" did all in their (central banks') power to justify the BIS' amazement, when first the Nikkei closed green following another shocker of Japanese econ data, when it was revealed that the quadruple-dip recession was even worse than expected, and then the Shanghai composite soaring over 3000 or up 2.8% for the session, following news of the worst trade data - whether completely fabricated or not - out of China in over half a year.
The relentless regurgitation of the only two rumors that have moved markets this week, namely the Japanese sales tax delay and the "surprise" cabinet snap elections, was once again all over the newswires last night in yet another iteration, and as a result the headline scanning algos took the Nikkei another 1.1% higher to nearly 17,400 which means at this rate the Nikkei will surpass the Dow Jones by the end of the week helped by further reports that Japan will reveal more stimulus measures on November 19, although with US equity futures rising another 7 points overnight and now just shy of 2050 which happens to be Goldman's revised year-end target, the US will hardly complain. And speaking of stimulus, the reason European equities are drifting higher following the latest ECB professional forecast release which saw the panel slash their GDP and inflation forecasts for the entire period from 2014 to 2016. In other words bad news most certainly continues to be good news for stocks, which in the US are about to hit another record high (with the bulk of the upside action once again concentrated between 11:00 and 11:30am).
Wholesales Inventories and Sales beat expectations (+0.3% and +0.2% respectively) but, thanks to significant downward revisions in August, hope for a Q3 GDP boost are dashed. Sales growth remains near 2014 lows and inventory growth hovers near 14 month lows. Inventories-to-Sales ratios were flat in September at 1.19 months. Petroleum inventories plunged 5.3% MoM and down 13.2% YoY - the largest since Jul 2009.
With the USDJPY repeatedly hitting 116.00 as a result of the same pair of headlines hitting either Reuters, the Nikkei or Sankei every 6 or so hours for the past 3 days, namely that Japan will delay its sales tax hike by almost two years, and that Abe is preparing early elections, perhaps the algos realized they were pricing in the same event about 4 times in one day, and unable to break the 7-year-high resistance level, slid dropping nearly 100 pips to just over 115 at least check, which may well be today's "tractor" level, which in turn has also dragged down both European stocks and US futures. But the thing that made the vacuum tubes really spark is that at a press conference yesterday in Beijing, Abe was quoted as saying that he "has never made any reference to the dissolution of parliament", this came after the chief cabinet secretary Suga saying that the decision on whether or not to go to the polls would be Abe’s only.
Following Friday's sticksave, where the usual 3:30 pm ramp brigade pushed futures just barely green into the close despite a miss in the payrolls report which the spin brigade did everything in its power to make it seem that the hiring a few hundred thousand young female waitresses was bullish for the economy, overnight we have seen a listless session, dominated by more USD-profit taking as increasingly more wonder if the relentless surge higher in the Greenback is massively overdone, especially considering that stocks are screaming "worldwide recession" excluding the US, if only for now, because as Goldman explained soaring USD means plunging Oil, means tumbling E&P capex, means lower GDP, means less growth, means lower corporate profits, and so on. That said, we expect the now trivial Virtu JPY momentum-ignition algos to activate shortly, pushing the USDJPY and its derivative, the S&P500, higher in the coming minutes, and certainly before the US market opens in under 3 hours.
- IRELAND SELLS 10-YEAR BONDS AT RECORD-LOW YIELD OF 1.63%
- GERMAN 10-YEAR BUNDS RISE; YIELD FALLS 2 BASIS POINTS TO 0.88%
- DUTCH 10-YEAR GOVERNMENT BOND YIELD DROPS TO RECORD-LOW 1.021%
- PORTUGUESE 10-YEAR BOND YIELD DROPS TO RECORD-LOW 2.942%
- FRENCH 10-YEAR GOVERNMENT BOND YIELDS DROP TO RECORD-LOW 1.214%
- U.S. 10-YEAR NOTE YIELD DROPS TO 2.296%, LOWEST SINCE JUNE 2013
- SPANISH 10-YEAR BOND YIELD DROPS TO RECORD-LOW 2.038%
- FINNISH 10-YEAR YIELD DROPS TO 1% FOR FIRST TIME ON RECORD
While the biggest micro news of the weekend is certainly the report that Hewlett-Packard has finally thrown in the towel on organic growth (all those thousands laid off over the past ten years can finally breathe easily - they were not fired in vain), and has proceeded to do what so many said was its only real option: splitting into two separate companies, a personal-computer and printer business, and corporate hardware and services operations (which will certainly lead to even more stock buybacks only not at one but two companies) which in turn has sent its stock and futures higher, perhaps the most notable development in the macro world is Japan's realization finally that the weaker Yen is crushing domestic businesses, which has resulted in the USDJPY sliding to lows last seen at Friday's jobs report print, and also generally leading to across the board wekness for the dollar, whose relentless surge in the past 3 months is strongly reminiscent of the euphoria following the Plaza Accord, only in the other direction (and making some wonder if the Plaza Hotel caterer are about to see a rerun of September 22, 1985 in the coming weeks).
With GDP now basically an exercise in inventory expansion and contraction (Q2 inventory estimate amounted to 40% of GDP), this 'miss' in July Wholesale Inventories provides a worrying glimpse into Q3 GDP. Against expectations on a 0.5% rise MoM, inventories rose only 0.1% (and June was revised lower) to the weakest inventory build since May 2013. This is the 3rd miss in a row.