Initial claims continues its saw-tooth shallow trend lower with a drop of 6,000 this week, very slightly beating expectations. The previous week's 'miss' and unexpected rise was due to a surge of 51,000 new claims in California. It would seem clear that firms have reached a cost-cutting maximum as claims have been in a generally tight range now between 320k and 350k for the entire year.
What is important to understand is that, despite rhetoric to the contrary, "record" earnings or profits are generally fleeting in nature. It is at these divergences from the long term growth trends where true buying and selling opportunities exist. Are we currently in another asset "bubble?" The answer is something that we will only know for sure in hindsight. However, from a fundamental standpoint, with valuations and profitability on a per share basis well above long term trends it certainly does not suggest that market returns going forward will continue to be as robust as those seen from the recessionary lows.
Russia Dispatches Sub, Cruiser; UK Sends 6 Jets To Cyprus; China Repeats "Dire Consequences" WarningSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/29/2013 07:45 -0400
Some took a prior report the that the "developed" nations would use Cyprus as a warplane strike base just as a leaked memo predicted in 2011, skeptically. Today we finally got official confirmation from that Britain that it is sending six RAF Typhoon jets to Cyprus "as a defensive measure amid growing tensions over Syria and talks of Western military intervention." It's defensive in case Syria launches an airborne assault of the UK we take it? And just as expected, with the US already piling up naval assets in both the Mediterranean and the Arabian Sea, Russia is responding in kind, and has dispatched a submarine and a cruiser to the Mediterranean. Finally, keeping things exciting, China reiterated that the West should stay the hell out.
- UN Insecptors to leave Syria early, by Saturday morning (Reuters)
- Yellen Plays Down Chances of Getting Fed Job (WSJ)
- JPMorgan Bribe Probe Said to Expand in Asia as Spreadsheet Is Found (BBG)
- No Section 8 for you: Wall Street’s Rental Bet Brings Quandary Housing Poor (BBG)
- Euro zone, IMF to press Greece for foreign agency to sell assets (Reuters)
- Brothels in Nevada Suffer as Web Disrupts Oldest Trade (BBG)
- U.S., U.K. Face Delays in Push to Strike Syria (WSJ); U.S., U.K. Pressure for Action on Syria Hits UN Hurdle (BBG)
- Renault Operating Chief Carlos Tavares Steps Down (WSJ)
- Vodafone in talks with Verizon to sell out of U.S. venture (Reuters)
- Dollar Seen Casting Off Euro Shackles as Fed Tapers (BBG)
Those curious if the Indian Rupee cratered once again in overnight trading will be disappointed: following the previously reported intervention by the RBI in which it would provide US dollars only to crude companies, the currency rose strongly at the open only to fade and trade rangebound before closing in the mid 67 range. In other words, much more will be needed by the central bank to stabilize the currency, the markets and the economy. The main overnight story, however, remains the Syrian conflict and market reactions to it. Stocks traded higher in Europe early today, with credit spreads tightening as market participants scaled back expectations of an imminent strike on Syria after US Defense Secretary Hagel said that the US will act on Syria only with international collaboration. Of note, the G-20 is set to take place next week where Syria is widely expected to be the hot topic for discussion among global world leaders. But while futures ramped in early trade following a spike in the USDJPY over 98, they have since retraced most of their upside, and crude is back to nearly unchanged.
While most of the country is obsessing over Miley Cyrus, the Obama administration is preparing a military attack against Syria which has the potential of starting World War 3. In fact, it is being reported that cruise missile strikes could begin "as early as Thursday". The Obama administration is pledging that the strikes will be "limited", but what happens when the Syrians fight back? What happens if they sink a U.S. naval vessel or they have agents start hitting targets inside the United States? Then we would have a full-blown war on our hands. Could this be the beginning of a chain of events that could eventually lead to a massive global conflict with Russia and China on one side and the United States on the other? Of course it will not happen immediately, but we fear that what is happening now is setting the stage for some really bad things... Let us hope that cooler heads prevail before things spin totally out of control.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says that US forces are "ready to go" if the administration decides to strike against alleged Syrian chemical weapon use. As Bloomberg notes in the infographic below, US Navy guided missile destroyers in the Mediterranean Sea are within range of Syrian targets.. and the ships have a combined inventory of more than 200 cruise missiles. On the other side, the Syrian Air Defense system is very robust, and as Stratfor notes, with an estimated 54,000 personnel, Syria's air defense network is twice the size of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's air force. Here is the Syrian theater of operations...
Punishing a moral obscenity flaccidly, with token military action, would constitute a diplomatic mistake of the first order. That's Negotiations Theory 101. Once you commit yourself publicly to some action, you have to keep that commitment or risk becoming a laughing-stock. Failing to follow through disheartens your constituents and allies. And what adversary, present or future, will take you seriously the next time you want to coerce or deter? That's a reputation no political leadership should want. Savvy diplomats and elected leaders are very sparing with absolute rhetoric. Not just the enemy but allies, friends, and bystanders around the world - not to mention ordinary citizens - measure their deeds by their words. No one wants to be known as the leader who fought for justice halfheartedly. Take it from Truman and Bush.
"Banging the close," is hardly a new 'event' but the ubiquity with which it is occurring around 4pm GMT (when major FX market benchmarks known as 'WM/Reuters rates' are set) is prompting authorities to investigate potential abuse of these benchmarks by the major banks. From Libor to ISDAFix and from base-and-precious metals to energy markets, adding the largest markets in the world - foreign exchange - to the banks' pernicious manipulations does not seem like a stretch. Critically, benchmark providers base daily valuations of indexes spanning different currencies on the 4 p.m. WM/Reuters rates (which in turn drives derivative settlements and triggers). Stunningly, the same pattern - a sudden surge minutes before 4pm in London on the last trading day of the month, followed by a quick reversal - occurred 31% of the time across 14 FX pairs over 2 years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. For the most frequently traded pairs, such as EURUSD, it happened about half the time! U.S. regulators have sanctioned firms for banging the close in other markets; we await the results of the current probe...
How do markets (US equities, Gold, Crude Oil, and the USD) react around US military conflicts...? Citi shows what happened before-and-after the Gulf War, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya... and why Syria is arguably more complex than these previous conflicts...
Presenting The Numerous, Undisputed And Very Clear Signs That India's Currency Was Set For An Epic CrashSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/28/2013 20:45 -0400
Citizens of India have been watching, in stunned amazement, as over the past month the local currency has lost an unprecedented 15% of its value, with a record plunge taking place just last night. And, as so often happens, the population habituated to a government "acting in its best interests" is asking itself - how could we have possibly known this was coming. The answer, as usually happens, was staring everyone right in the face. As Grant Williams shows in his latest "Things That Make You Go Hmm", the warnings came loud and clear, and were very explicit in the form of not one, not two, not ten, but many more sequentially imposed and escalating forms of capital controls by the Indian central bank that sought to prevent the conversion of paper into hard currency. Gold.
BREAKING: Obama: US has 'concluded' that Syrian government carried out chemical weapons attack.
— The Associated Press (@AP) August 28, 2013
The current external environment and consequence of past policies are limiting options for EM nations (most specifically Indonesia and India). Citi believes the best they can do now is to smooth the (inevitable) macro adjustment (weaker FX, higher risk premiums, slower growth) through improved policy credibility (to curb volatility and overshooting) and find offsets to portfolio flows to ease the pressure. The 4 choices of various rocks and hard places do not hold much hope for anything but further FX devaluation. As Citi's Matt King points out, what goes up (in terms of Emerging Market central bank FX reserves) risks coming back down with a thud... and in case you were wondering why India, Turkey, and Indonesia were the most-hammered...
Astute investor, Jim Rogers has warned overnight in an interview with Tara Joseph of Reuters that "oil and gold will go much, much higher" due to "market panic" regarding Syria and the coming end of free money... "when this artificial sea of liquidity ends we're gonna see panic in a lot of markets, including in the US, including in West developed markets."
Nigeria, Africa's top oil-producing nation, has a problem - too much money in its sovereign wealth fund and no idea what to do with it. Have no fear though, for as Reuters reports, Goldman Sachs, UBS, and Credit Suisse have kindly responded (to emails from long-lost cousins?) and will be allowed to managed 20% of Nigeria's $1 billion fund (which is meant to cushion against oil price shocks - good timing?) This should come as no surprise to Zero Hedge readers as we have been discussing Africa as the only place left in the world capable of incremental debt capacity (and therefore growth). There are consequences (the boom-bust cycle) to this politically-motivated capital inflow; but for now the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) states (in a reassuring manner) that the banks will invest "the fund's assets conservatively, with capital preservation in nominal terms being of primary importance," which 'nominally' fits with UBS managing their Treasury exposure and GS and CS their corporate debt exposures.