NYSE volume was the 3rd lowest of the year so far (while ES was just below average) as stocks leaked lower all day to small net losses by the close. Financials led the drop in stocks as they start to catch up the credit market weakness we have been pointing to for over a week but while HY (the high yield credit spread index) continues to underperform (and stocks following at a lower beta), IG (investment grade credit spread index) modestly outperforms (the up-in-quality rotation) but HYG (the high-yield bond ETF) surged today into a world of its own once again. We suspect this is driven by 'arbitrage' flows between HY's recent richness and HYG's cheapness (as well as potential HY new issue impacts). Gold (and to a lesser extent Silver) was the story of the day as it exploded (perhaps on the Greek gold-collateral news) over $1780 intraday (now up over $55 in the last 3 days) although the USD did nothing (FX was quiet with JPY inching lower and EUR small higher as DXY leaked higher on the day to -0.25% on the week). The rest of the commodity complex jumped also (with WTI losing ground into the close even as Brent kept going - suggesting the spread decompression was in play). Treasuries rallied from early in the European day with yields dropping 6-8bps from the peaks and shifting the entire curve into the green for the week now (10y and 30Y around 1bps lower in yield). ES couldn't get significantly above VWAP today and CSFB's fear index (which tracks equity option skews) is at record highs which both suggest a preference to sell/cover is appearing (even as VIX diverged modestly from stocks today with implied correlation rising).
HY credit spreads (red) continued to widen from the snap back recovery last Thursday and stocks (blue) are leaking back to that same reality. IG credit spreads (dark red) are staying with stocks for now and modestly outperforming as we see HY-IG decompression (or up-in-quality rotation) showing up. HYG (green) opened exuberantly, tried to get back to reality and failed as it closed at its highs. While flows have been very big drivers in this ETF, we note there was some HY issuance today that may have been soaked up by the ETF and that rotation from old to new could have impacted the underlying portfolio (as comparing HY to HYG over the last week or two shows a notable divergence of real credit spreads decompressing and illiquid bonds underlying a beta-chasing ETF rising).
We suspect however, that this HY-HYG 'arbitrage' as the chart above highlights as the credit derivative market had got a little ahead of itself in the exuberance settings (remember we pointed out how rich the index had become relative to its underlying portfolio of names a week or two back). Therefore, we would not be getting too excited about HYG's performance today as a trend, as we appear to be very close once again to fair value.
Gold snapped higher today (following Oil and Silver's snap yesterday) as Copper, Silver , and Gold are all now over 3% higher this week (from Friday). WTI managed to get over $106 but the rise in Brent from the middle of the European market day (on rising rhetoric and tensions with Iran) as it made it over $123 and the spread broke $17 on the day kept a modest lid on WTI for now.
Treauries rallied handsomely from early this morning...
and while FX remained relatiovely calm (as in DXY did not move much broadly), the dispersion among the majors is becoming large - and notably EURUSD is having less impact as GBP and JPY drop away rapidly.
Finally, the CSFB Fear Index (which tracks how far out of the money a call option must be relative to an equivalent put option - i.e. a proxy for how skewed the option prices in the S&P 500 are becoming towards negative sentiment) reached record highs today. As is clear, it is somewhat coincident but certainly seems like a trend change is overdue and the vol, credit, and even stock moves of the last few days suggest momentum is slowing (as are the analogs to 1997 and last year).
Of course so many are pinning hopes on next week's LTRO but we are afraid that this will not achieve the goldilocks feeling everyone hopes for - too large a draw is very worrisome (more subordination for example) and too small is very worrisome (not enough money printing) leaving a small window for 'just right' that unfortunately will not satisfy the monetary expansion hoarding equity market.