In the hopes of maintainijng his status quo amidst a plethora of corruption probes and allegations, Turkey's Erdogan has blocked Twitter after pledging to "destroy" the social media platform after troubling leaks occurred appearing to confirm his corruption. As one can imagine, the Turkish people (among others) are not happy...
Once European markets closed, US equity markets gave up any correlation with JPY crosses and began to fade. After bouncing off early Nasdaq-Biotech-driven lows, a ramp of AUDJPY saved the European close but that was it. There does not appear to be any news catalyst to drive this dump as Quad-witching pumps are unwound. The S&P 500 and Russell 2000 jooin the Trannies and Nasdaq in the red from the FOMC statement.
Yesterday's news from the NAR that in February all cash transactions accounted for 35% of all existing home purchases, up from 33% in January, not to mention that 73% of speculators paid "all cash", caught some by surprise. But what this data ignores are new home purchases, where while single-family sales have been muted as expected considering the plunge in mortgage applications, multi-family unit growth - where investors hope to play the tail end of the popping rental bubble - has been stunning, and where multi-fam permits have soared to the highest since 2008. So how does the history of "all cash" home purchases in the US look before and after the arrival of the 2008 post-Lehman "New Normal." The answer is shown in the chart below.
For the first time in 13 months, gold's 50-day moving-average is above its 200-day moving-average. This so-called "golden cross" occurred in Feb 09 before gold surged over 100% in the following years (but also occurred 'falsely' in September 2012.
Yesterday we warned that the honeymoon is over as Ukraine expects gas prices to rise 40% as Russian discounts fade. Today it appears the situation is even worse:
- *NAFTOGAZ, GAZPROM TALKS FOR MARCH 20-21 CANCELLED: INTERFAX
- *UKRAINE POLICE DETAINS NAFTOGAZ CHAIRMAN BAKULIN: AVAKOV
- *UKRAINE NAFTOGAZ RAID PART OF CORRUPTION PROBE, AVAKOV SAYS
The issues up for debate, of course, are supply and pricing of gas from Russia and the payment for over $2bn of existing debt owed. While Interfax reports that this was because the Ukraine gas company executive was unable to leave the country, which now appears due to corruption allegations ("there's corruption going on here?") but merely exacerbates any Russian gas retaliation concerns.
Having noted the ridicule with which the Russians view the sanctions barrage between the EU and US, we thought it worth reflecting, courtesy of Senator Dan Coats, on the absurd political farce that is the entirely useless (and purely public-relations-based) war of words (and not actions) that is under-way as the West realizes the Russian "boomerang" is coming any minute...
For the past five years we have been complaining about the two-tiered, and broken, market resulting from the near-ubiquitous presence of HFT trading strategies, where fundamentals have been tossed into the trash, and where quote churning, packet stuffing and not to mention, momentum ignition, put on candid display just before market open today when the Emini was ramped in a vertical line straight up taking the S&P to new all time highs, have become the only trading strategies that matter. Why? Because algos were in a panic buying mode as other algos were in a panic buying mode, and so reflexively on. The SEC long ignored our complaints, even after the HFT-precipitated flash crash, which we had warned apriori would happen, in a market as broken and manipulated as the one the Fed and the algos have unleashed. This changed recently when NY AG Schneiderman finally decided to "look into things" following the release of Virtu's ridiculous prop trading profits when the firm, in its IPO prospectus, announced it had made money on 1327 of 1328 trading days. However, when even Goldman Sachs begins complaining about HFT, it may be time to fire all those 20-some year old math PhDs who devies your trading algorithms.
For a variety of reasons, the Federal Reserve is viewed by many as the financial Master of the Universe. Given how the media hangs on every pronouncement and the visible power of the Fed's policies to move markets, this view is understandable. But suppose rather than being masters of all things financial, the Fed was actually little more than a collection of incompetents trapped in a broken system that is beyond repair. Rather than Masters of the Universe, the Fed's governors are increasingly looking more like deer caught in the headlights of a transformation they cannot understand, much less control.
Having been among the best performing sectors of the stock market for so long (up around 70% alone last year), the moves of the last few days - and especially today - are extremely worrying for the 'trend-is-your-friend' momo-following fickle investing public. The Nasdaq Biotech index is getting monkey-hammered this morning and is now 10% off its late-Feb highs. Crucially, this sector has been a major pillar of strength for the overall Nasdaq and that means the Nasdaq is also getting crushed - now down 0.9% from the FOMC and dramatically underperforming.
The latest news out of insolvent Bitcoin exchange Mt.Gox will hardly boost confidence in the safety of the digital currency, after last night it announced that it had "found" nearly a quarter, or 199,999.99 of the bitcoin it had previously reported as missing. Mt.Gox Chief Executive Mark Karpeles said his insolvent company found the 200,000 bitcoin assumed lost in a digital wallet, or storage file, that hadn't been used since 2011. As a reminder, when Mt.Gox filed for bankruptcy at the end of February, it reported 850,000 bitcoins were lost, mostly belonging to its customers, with Karpeles stating at the time only 2,000 bitcoin were left, blaming hackers and technical issues for the loss. It turns out there may have been more than met the eye, and one can surely accuse Karpeles of a completely lack of knowing what was truly going on at his company.
Three years after being accused of sexual assault, removed from an airplane in NYC, and later having the charges dismissed on an alleged out of court settlement, former IMF chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) is planning to leverage his status - as an expert on global finance - as well as his thick rolodex to raise a $2bn hedge fund in Asia. As WSJ reports, the fund, which is awaiting regulatory approval, will "invest based on Dominique's analyses," and like most global macro funds will "aim for steady capital returns" with "no leverage." Ironically, given his new role as hedge fund marketer, DSK faces another case in France on charges of "aggravated pimping."
Strongly supported by a surge in AUDJPY, the S&P 500 futures rallied into the US open on this quad witching day and the cash index surged higher once the market opened - breaking to new all-time record highs at 1883.97. VIX was clubbed back below 14% to provide some further support. Nothing else is moving in this 'jerky' manner... gold is leaking higher, Treasuries holding flat (at high yields of week), and the USD is flat... which makes one wonder how long this spike wil hold...
Over the past few years we have grown used to the odd dissent among Fed members as hawks complain at the uber-easy policies and the costs outweighing the benefits but it's different this time. Among the most dovish of Fed heads, Narayana Kocherlakota, dissented, warning that the new "guidance" of the Fed (rather than lowering existing and entirely discredited 'thresholds') will hurt Fed credibility, foster undertainty, and lower growth. Perhaps, then, this is moment when the doves cry and in fact the Fed is becoming more hawkish than that investing public really believes is possible.
Earlier in the week the hypocrisy of the big tech firms was exposed when the NSA's senior lawyers "busted" their lies by explaining they knew full-well that they were engaged in the surveillance-state. Today comes yet more 'elite' hypocrisy as AP reports, Microsoft, which has skewered rival Google for going through customer emails to deliver ads, acknowledged Thursday it had searched emails in a blogger's Hotmail account to track down who was leaking company secrets. Scroogled, indeed.