Bai Zhongren, the president of state-run China Railway Group - the state-owned engineering giant behind many of the country's largest railway projects - committed suicide over the weekend. As SCMP reports, Bai is among several senior railway officials and executives who have committed suicide since corruption scandals implicating the senior railway officials began to come to light three years ago. However, there have been no direct links between China Railway Group and the corruption cases (yet) but Chinese courts are about to hand down verdicts on several very senior executives.
A look at the technical condition of the fx market, interest rate differentials, central bank developments and the data due out in the week ahead.
All signs point to serious trouble for the Chinese economy. The best ways to play a China downturn: short-selling Australian banks, China property and the yuan.
The Future of Money: The Dumb Dollar vs Smart, Programmable Currencies!
- Heavy snowstorm hammers northeastern U.S. (Reuters)
- Coins Remain a Bright Spot for Gold (WSJ)
- Gross’s Mistake on Fed Taper Echoes Across Pimco Funds (BBG)
- China December services PMI falls to four-month low (Reuters)
- General Mills Starts Making Some Cheerios Without GMOs (WSJ)
- U.S. considers flammability risk of Bakken crude after accidents (Reuters)
- China Mobile’s Costly iPhone Deal with Apple (WSJ)
- Hezbollah Upgrades Missile Threat to Israel (WSJ)
- UK House Prices Cap Best Year Since 2006 as Mortgages Surge (BBG)
- China tells police to be loyal to party amid graft crackdown (Reuters)
In a day that will be remembered for the first major snowstorm to hit New York in 2014 and test the clean up capabilities and resolve of the city's new populist mayor (not starting on a good note following reports that JFK airport will be closed at least until 8:30 am Eastern), it was only fitting that there was virtually no overnight news aside for the Chinese non-manufacturing PMI which dropped from 56.0 to 54.6, a new 4 month low. Still, following yesterday's ugly start to the new year, stocks in Europe traded higher this morning, in part driven by value related flows following the sell-off yesterday. Retailers led the move higher, with Next shares in London up as much as 11% which is the most since January 2009 and to its highest level since 1988 after the company lifted profit forecast after strong Christmas trading performance. Other UK based retailers with likes of AB Foods and M&S also advanced around 2%.
A Reuters report this week noted that nearly 3.33 million hectares (eight million acres) of Chinese farmland are too polluted to grow crops. The article, which was re-posted by the state-run China Daily news site, quoted Wang Shiyuan, China’s vice minister of land and resources. Wang says that the government is determined to address the issue of polluted farmland, and will commit “tens of billions of yuan” each year to help return the land to a usable state. Food security is a major concern for Chinese leaders, and worries over this issue already had the potential to severely slow down other planned reforms such as urbanization.
"We are deeply sorry for this whole affair," said Wal-Mart's China president after the world's largest retailer recalled donkey meat sold at some outlets in China after tests showed the product contained the DNA of other animals - including fox. "It is a deep lesson (for us) that we need to continue to increase investment in supplier management," repeat-offender Wal-Mart added as Reuters reports the tainted "five-spice" donkey meat may mean "wealthy shoppers will start to lose the trust [in Wal-Mart's brand] they had before." Donkey meat is a popular snack in some areas of China, but as one bemused customer noted, oddly, "Isn't fox meat more expensive than donkey meat anyway?"
The first trading session of previous years has always been a whopper for those betting on central planning and capital flows. In fact, if one adds up the S&P performance on the first trading day of each year going back to 2009 (i.e., 1/2/13: + 2.54%, 1/3/12: + 1.55%, 1/3/11: + 1.13%, 1/4/10: + 1.60%, and 1/2/09: + 3.16%), one gets a whopping 10% return just on that one trading session. Which is why the fact that futures are glowing read, if only for the moment, may be disturbing for index investors and all those others who put all their faith, not to mention money, in St. Janet. Today's red open is hardly being helped by the 10 Year which continues to drift lower with the yield now at 3.04%, even as the Spanish 10 Year yield just got a 3 handle as well. At this rate the two streams should cross some time in the next two months. Just what a higher yield in the US vs Spain would imply for fair and efficient markets, we leave up to readers to decide.
- Firms to Face new Rules Over Pay, Taxes (WSJ)
- US to test commercial drones at six sites (CNN)
- China’s Local Debt Swells to 17.9 Trillion Yuan in Audit (BBG) - which is about 2 trillion less than where it actually is (Reuters)
- Fears after key China debt level soars 70% (FT) and in reality the debt level is saoring far more
- Pot Shops in Denver Open Door to $578 Million in Sales (BBG)
- China Says It Will Shun Abe After Shrine Visit (WSJ)
- De Blasio Taking Office Citing Wealth Gap as Crime Falls (BBG)
- China Approves $353 Million of Share Sales as IPOs Resume (BBG)
- Obama Seeks Way to Right His Ship (WSJ)
- Netflix Tests Subscription Fees Based on Number of Account Users (BBG)
- Three big macro questions for 2014 (FT)
A year which showed that central planning works (for the fifth year in a row and probably can continue to "work" at least a little longer - in the USSR it surprised everyone with its longevity before it all came crashing down), is drawing to a close. This is what has happened so far on the last trading session of 2013. As market participants head in to the New Year period, volumes are particularly thin with closures being observed across Europe with only the CAC, IBEX and FTSE 100 trading out of the major European indices, with German, Switzerland, Italy and the Nordic countries are already closed. The FTSE and CAC are both trading in the green with BP leading the way for the FTSE earlier in the session after reports the Co. have asked a federal appeals court to block economic loss payments in its settlement of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. European stocks rise, with real estate, travel & leisure leading gains. Retail shares underperform as Debenhams slumps following its IMS. A number of major markets will close early today. The euro falls against the dollar. Fixed income market are particularly quiet with the Eurex being shut. Whilst Gilts are seen down this morning following on from yesterday’s short-covering gains.
Heading into the North American open, stocks in Europe are seen broadly lower, with consumer services seen as the worst performing sector, where the UK based retailers have underperformed amid fears that a combination of heavy discounting, along with bad weather, impacted heavily on overall performance. Of note, the SMI index in Switzerland underperformed throughout the session, with Swatch shares under pressure after officials were unable to say what caused the fire at the weekend at the co.'s ETA unit factory in Grenchen, which destroyed one workshop and damaged another. As expected, traded volume is far below the daily avg and this trend is expected to continue this week. The euro is stronger against the dollar. Japanese 10yr bond yields rise; Italian yields decline. Commodities little changed, with silver, gold underperforming and natural gas outperforming. U.S. pending home sales, Dallas Fed manufacturing data due later.
For the New Year, it seems that SOH, that last true refuge for pensive brooding bears, has been overrun with pompous bulls peddling & pumping a new 21st century high tech plateau of permanent prosperity, that would make even Irving Fisher's rose twittering cheeks blush. I wonder if old Irving would have Linked himself In or posted his rip roaring 20s rosy market views on a pretty pink Facebook page?
- Millions of Tons of Metals Stashed in Shadow Warehouses (WSJ)
- Moguls Rent South Dakota Addresses to Dodge Taxes Forever (BBG)
- Fastest Japan Inflation Since ’08 Stokes Wage Pressure (BBG)
- Thai crisis deepens as army chief hints at intervention (Reuters)
- Anti-Assad Lebanese ex-minister killed in Beirut bomb (Reuters)
- Foreigners Unload Turkey Bonds as Probe Tarnishes Erdogan Growth (BBG)
- Small ISS Change Shakes Up Boards: Tweak to Influential Shareholder Adviser's Recommendations Has Directors Rethinking Proposals (WSJ)
- Japan’s Nishimura Calls for Quick Corporate Tax Cut to Under 30% (BBG)
- Japan's Abe bets U.S. alliance, ratings can weather shrine visit (Reuters)
It's the last Friday of 2013. Here is what happened overnight.