- Ukraine's leaders say have U.S. backing to take on 'aggressors' (Reuters)
- Goldman Sachs Stands Firm as Banks Exit Commodity Trading (BBG)
- Obama reassures Japan, other allies on China as Asia trip begins (Reuters)
- China Challenges Obama’s Asia Pivot With Rapid Military Buildup (BBG)
- Google’s Stake in $2 Billion Apple-Samsung Trial Revealed (BBG)
- No bubble here: Numericable Set to Issue Record Junk Bond (WSJ)
- 'Bridgegate' scandal threatens next World Trade Center tower (Reuters)
- Supreme Court Conflicted on Legality of Aereo Online Video Service (WSJ)
- Barclays May Cut 7,500 at Investment Bank, Bernstein Says (BBG)
It has been exactly six days in which algos, reversing the most recent drop in the S&P with buying sparked by a casual Nikkei leak that the BOJ may, wink wink, boost its QE (subsequently denied until such time as that rumor has to be used again), have pushed the market higher in the longest buying streak since September, ignoring virtually every adverse macroeconomic news, and certainly ignoring an earnings season that is set to be the worst since 2012. Today, the buying streak may finally end on rumors even the vacuum tubes are scratching their glassy heads if more buying on bad or no news makes any sense now that even the likes of David Einhorn is openly saying the second tech bubble has arrived. Keep an eye on the USDJPY which has had seen some rather acute "trapdoor" action in early trading and is approaching 102 after breaching its 55-DMA technical support of 102.38. If the support is broken here we go again on the downside. Keep an eye on biotechs and GILD in particular - if the early strength reverts into more selling again (after the two best days for the biotech space in 30 months), the most recent euphoria phase is now over.
Bloomberg Television’s “On The Move Asia” had a fascinating interview with Albert Cheng, the World Gold Council’s Managing Director, Far East. He discussed China’s gold market and what’s driving the country’s demand with Rishaad Salamat.
Since 2003, we have pointed out how China’s liberalization of its gold market would have enormous ramifications for the global gold market in terms of a huge new source of demand and would ultimately lead to higher prices in the long term.
"The business environment this year has been "grim and complicated"; that is the message from China's largest manager of bad debt. As Bloomberg reports, China’s bad-loan ratio rose "significantly" in the first quarter, increasing risks for the nation’s banking industry, driving up banks’ sour loans for a ninth straight quarter as of December to the highest level since 2008. Huarong expects pressures on asset-quality, liquidity, and lending margins to continue.
So far we have experienced 7 million foreclosures. Beyond that there are still 9 million homeowners seriously underwater on their mortgages and there are millions more who are stranded in place because they don’t have enough positive equity to cover transactions costs and more stringent down payment requirements. And that’s before the next down-turn in housing prices - a development which will show-up any day. In short, the socio-economic mayhem implicit in the graph below is not the end of the line or a one-time nightmare that has subsided and is now working its way out of the system as the Kool-Aid drinkers would have you believe based on the “incoming data” conveyed in the chart. Instead, the serial bubble makers in the Eccles Building have already laid the ground-work for the next up-welling of busted mortgages, home foreclosures and the related wave of disposed families and social distress.
HSBC's (Flash) China Manufacturing PMI for April met expectations at 48.3 - holding at its 2nd lowest in 20 months. This is the 4 month of contraction and 4th month without a beat of expectations. April's flash (preliminary) print rose modestly over March's 48.0 but all sub-indices remain weak though some 2nd derivatives are shifting. Employment is worsening at a faster pace and new export orders contracted. While the world waits open-mouthed for the next Chinese stimulus (which they have now explained will be limited and targeted and not 2009-style) and bloviators expound on last night's RRR cut for rural banks (remember, they do not have a liquidity issue, banks are hording PBOC cash and not lending - due to credit risk concerns), it seems no matter what the PMI (weak, weaker, or weakest) the reforms are being stuck to, CNY is being allowed to weaken, and no new avalanche of credit creation (commodity-backed or not) is coming anytime soon.
Following the Kunming massacre disaster (knife attacks on March 1 at a train station in China's southwestern city of Kunming left 33 people dead and 130 injured) and the recent violent civilian unrest against the Chengguan, The Wall Street Journal reports that over the weekend, more than 1,000 street-patrol officers began carrying 9mm revolvers, Shanghai's Public Security Bureau said. Several other cities across China were set to begin similar programs. Officials said officers are getting training in the largest cities in Tibet, Xinjiang, Hunan, Sichuan and Yunnan, where Kunming is the capital. This comes over 60 years since Mao Zedong - who famously said "political power grows out of the barrel of a gun" - stripped weapons from many police officers shortly after he rose to power in 1949.
- Ukraine Accord Nears Collapse as Biden Meets Kiev Leaders (BBG)
- Novartis reshapes business via deals with GSK and Lilly (Reuters)
- Moscow Bankers See Fees Slide 67% as Ukraine Crisis Grows (BBG)
- Why ECB's QE will be Ukraine's fault: Draghi Gauges Ukraine Effect as ECB Tackles Low Inflation (BBG)
- As Phone Subsidies Fade, Apple Could Be Hurt (WSJ)
- Amazon Sales Take a Hit in States With Online Tax (BBG)
- Ford Speeds Up Succession Plan: Mark Fields, Auto Maker's No. 2, Seen Replacing Alan Mulally as CEO Ahead of Schedule (WSJ)
- U.S. force in Afghanistan may be cut to less than 10,000 troops (Reuters)
- IBM End to Buyback Splurge Pressures CEO to Boost Revenue (BBG)
Moving onto overnight markets, apart from China we are seeing broad based gains across most Asian equities. Bourses in Japan, Korea and Australia are up +0.2%, +0.2% and +0.5% respectively whereas the Hang Seng and the Shenzhen Composite indices are down -0.2% and -1.1% as we type. The gains in broader Asia Pacific followed what was another constructive session for risk assets yesterday during US trading hours. The S&P 500 (+0.38%) rose for its 5th consecutive day partly driven by better corporate earnings from the likes of GE and Morgan Stanley. Staying on the results season, we’ve had 70 of the S&P 500 companies reporting so far and the usual trend is starting to emerge in which earnings beats are faring better than revenue beats. Indeed the beat:miss ratio for earnings has been strong at 77%:23% whereas revenue beats/misses are more balanced at 50%:50%. Looking ahead, markets should get ready for another big week of US earnings.
It appears, based on these extremely graphic images, that the Chinese people has a different way of dealing with corrupt officials. As Shanghaiist reports, a riot involving around 1,000 people broke out last Saturday in Cangnan county of Wenzhou city, Zhejiang province, resulting in the hospitalization of five chengguan, China's notoriously abusive and under-regulated urban enforcement officials. The alleged cause for the riots was the five's brutally killing a civilian. According to reports, the chengguan "hit the man with a hammer until he started to vomit blood, because he was trying to take pictures of their violence towards a woman, a street vendor." This man later died while being rushed to the hospital. Given the following images of civilian retribution; is it any wonder, the powers that be in China fear social unrest?
Dear Gennady, ...So you see, Gennady, we are actually quite prepared to see the stock market crash, to see all the stock markets in the world crash, and the yields on our dollar bonds rise to whatever level. We are prepared for much worse things... The inevitable economic setback may result in some political opposition within Russia itself, but in the context of an escalating confrontation with Europe it shouldn’t be too difficult to cope with.... I hope that makes things a little clearer. Yes, it is a risky strategy, but a Europe dominated by Russia, or at least detached from the United States and disunited, is a prize worth risking everything for. Beppo is worth a crash.... Think about what I’ve said – some of it may come as a shock, but in the end, I think you’ll agree that it’s actually good news that the long tense period of waiting is finally over. We can’t win a conventional or a nuclear conflict, but this plan really might succeed. If not, well, we Russians are used to overcoming adversity.. Your Friend, Sasha
"Marubeni [the world's largest soybean exporter to China] is deluded in thinking that payments will come once the cargoes have sailed," is the message from an increasing number of liquidity-strapped Chinese firms, "If they take these cargoes, some could go bankrupt. That's why they choose not to honor the contracts." As we explained in great detail here, this is the transmission mechanism by which China's commodity-financing catastrophe spreads contagiously to the rest of the world. A glance at the Baltic Dry is one indication of the global nature of the problem (and Genco Shipping's $1 billion bankruptcy), but as Reuters reports, "If buyers cannot resolve the issue, they may also cancel future shipments."
We noted yesterday, Japan's decision to send an Abe cabinet official to the Yasukuni shrine (home of Class A war criminals) and Abe's sending of an offering, warning it will likely see retaliation from China. We didn't have to wait long. As BBC News reports, China has seized a Japanese cargo ship (over a pre-war debt). With President Obama due to visit in days, it seems the tensions between China and Japan may force his hand to pick sides.
Now that everyone is breathing down the PBOC's neck to finally reveal - with a five year delay - just how much gold it does hold, the Chinese central bank has done a U-turn on its indirect transparency and, as Reuters reports, has begun allowing gold imports through its capital Beijing, sources familiar with the matter said, "in a move that would help keep purchases by the world's top bullion buyer discreet at a time when it might be boosting official reserves."
For the wealthy Chinese with 5 million Yuan (around $800,000) burning a hole in their pocket, there is a new must-have 'toy'. Instead of the latest Ferrari or Lambo, it is none other than the provocatively named "Red Flag L5" that is popping eyeballs and leaving the wealthy Chinese breathless...