The Central Bank of Cyprus (CBC) said last night however that selling the island’s gold had not been on the table. “Such an issue has not been raised, has not been discussed and is not being discussed at the moment,” CBC spokeswoman Aliki Stylianou said. Stylianou added that sale of the gold was a matter handled exclusively by the CBC board. A spokesperson for the Central Bank of Cyprus told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) that reports of the $523 million gold sale have not been, “raised, discussed or debated,” with the bank’s board of directors. The Central Bank of Cyprus denied the gold sale after reports on Reuters said that Cyprus officials had agreed to sell around 400 million euros in excess gold reserves to contribute to the country's bailout. Stylianou, the spokesperson for the Central Bank of Cyprus said that the gold sale was, “never discussed nor are there current or future plans to do so on the board’s agenda.” Reuters based its story on a draft report from the European Commission which assessed the nation's financing needs.
- Obama to report to his bosses today: Obama Meets With Blankfein, Dimon and Moynihan Today (BBG)
- 2007 is here all over again: Seeking Relief, Banks Shift Risk to Murkier Corners (NYT)
- Kuroda Calls BOJ Inflation Target 'Flexible' (WSJ)
- Lagarde warns over three-speed world (FT)
- N. Korea’s Retro Propaganda Calls U.S. Boiled Pumpkin (BBG)
- Luxembourg To Ease Bank Secrecy Rule, Share Data In 2015 (BBG)
- Bank of Korea Keeps Policy Steady (WSJ)
- BOE Stimulus Dilemma Persists as Inflation Seen Higher (BBG)
- EU Sounds Alarm on Spain (WSJ)
- Qatar gives Egypt $3bn aid package (FT)
- RBNZ Says Deposit Insurance May Increase Risk of Bank Failure (BBG)
- Plosser Calls for Reducing QE Pace Citing Gains in Labor Market (BBG)
- Obama budget aims to kick start deficit-reduction talks (Reuters)
Futures green? Check. Overnight ramp in either the EURUSD or USDJPY carry funding pair? Check? Lack of good economic news and plethora of economic misses? Check. In short, all the ingredients for continued New Normal record highs, driven only by the central bank liquidity tsunami are here. The weakness started with Australia's stunning unemployment jump overnight which saw a 36,100 drop in jobs on just 7,500 expected. A miss in Chinese auto sales was next, with 1.59MM cars sole in March, below the 1.596 expected, and even despite the surge in M2 and loan data, the Shanghai Composite closed down once again, dropping 0.29% to 2219.6. Nikkei continued its deranged liquidity-fueled ways, rising 1.96% even as Kuroda is starting to become quite concerned about the rapid move in the Yen, saying he "may adjust policy before the 2% target is reached if the economy and other indicators are growing rapidly." They aren't, and won't be, but if the Nikkei225 is confused for the economy, he just may push on the breaks which would send the only reason for the latest rally, the USDJPY tumbling. Finally, looking at Europe, Italy sold well less than the maximum €6 billion targeted in 2016, 2017 and 2028 bonds, which dented some of the enthusiasm for Italian paper although with Japanese money desperate to be parked somewhere, it will continue going into European and all other fixed income, distorting market signals for a long time. In short, expect the central-bank risk levitation to continue as all the deteriorating fundamentals and reality are ignored once more, and hopium and P/E multiple expansion are the only story in town.
With earnings season underway, perhaps pulling back to 30,000 feet is worthwhile to glance at the macro environment that is backing these new all-time high nominal stock prices. These six charts say it all...
Just as we warned, the avian flu in China has had a very significant impact on its KFC chain
*YUM BRANDS MARCH COMP SALES DOWN 13% FOR CHINA UNIT :YUM US
*YUM BRANDS: MARCH SAME-STORE SALES DOWN 16% AT KFC CHINA
It seems slashing prices did not do the trick - though we are sure this strain of the deadly virus is just a 'storm in a teacup' buying opportunity.
Soros’ yen “avalanche” would appear to have begun with the yen having fallen by 9.5% against gold in 5 trading days since last Thursday leading to record nominal highs in the yen at over 0.1577 million yen per ounce this morning.
The higher gold prices have led to a curious anomaly in Japan where the public has again been selling gold in cash for gold schemes, often due to being under financial pressure, while some Japanese investors and savers have diversified into gold coins and bars both of which have seen an increase in demand in recent days.
- Germany: Europe's... poorest? ECB Survey Puts Southerners on Top in Household Wealth, Germans Near Bottom (WSJ)
- Obama Proposes $3.77 Trillion Budget to Revive Debt Talks (BBG)
- China trade data raise accuracy worries (FT) ... but generates so much laughter
- such as this... China Exports Miss Forecasts as ‘Absurd’ Data Probed (BBG)
- S. Korea Braces for ‘Very High’ Chance of North Missile Test (BBG)
- Slovenia, Spain Warned of ‘Excessive’ Economic Imbalances by EU (BBG)
- G8 foreign ministers meet in London to address Syria, North Korea (Reuters)
- N. Korea Threats Boost First South Korea Rate Cut Odds Since October (BBG)
- China Bird Flu Outbreak May Stem From Numerous Sources (BBG)
- Spain Bailout Less Likely on Lower Funding Costs: Moody’s (BBG)
- BOE’s Haldane: Simplify Bank Rules to Strengthen Them (WSJ)
Now that the 3:30 pm pump has been exposed to the world, and having been priced in and frontran (such as yesterday) it changed to the 3:30 dump, algos are desperately searching for another daily calendar trading opportunity. It appears the opening of Europe and Japan for trading are just these two much needed "fundamental" catalysts. As the charts below show, it appears there is nothing more bullish for the two key carry pairs, the USDJPY and the EURUSD, than Japan opening at 8pm Eastern, and then Europe opening next, at 3:30 am Eastern.
Here is a short quiz for you. Ready?
- What’s the current situation with Lindsay Lohan’s rehab?
- Who won the latest “Dancing With the Stars”?
- Name five celebrities with “baby bumps.”
- Explain how the Cypriot banking crisis could impact the European economy.
If you answered the first three questions but are clueless on the fourth, you’re in good company. Estimates are that up to half the population in America is ignorant about the situation in Cyprus. Oh sure, they hear snippets on the evening news, but since it’s far away and happening to other people, they don’t worry about it. There are many people who just can’t “see” anything wrong with our country. People continue to cling to the notion that our leaders are working for us, not for themselves. So people sit on their butts watching “American Idol” or reading about celebrity baby bumps. Can the U.S. economy crash? Nah. It can’t happen here.
I see Japan as a global aggressor, the country doesn't give a damn about where the chips fall outside of its borders.
- JPMorgan Leads Job Cuts as Banks Seek to Bolster Profit (BBG)
- North Koreans don't show for work at Kaesong factory park (Reuters), as NK urges foreigners to leave South Korea (FT)
- Lisbon Struggles to Close New Budget Gap (WSJ)
- Portugal may face delay to bailout funds (FT)
- Putin Squeezing Out UBS to Deutsche Bank Using Oligarchs (BBG)
- China's Xi Says Fast Growth Over (WSJ)
- Spain’s PM wants more powers for ECB (FT)
- Bernanke Says Interest on Reserves Would Be Main Tightening Tool (BBG)
- Bird Flu Claims 7th Victim in China (WSJ)
- Texting While Flying Linked to Commercial Helicopter Crash (BBG)... No, Bernanke wasn't the pilot
We started off the overnight session with various pseudo-pundits doing the count-up to a 100 in the USDJPY. It was only logical then that moments before the 4 year old threshold was breached, the Yen resumed strengthening following comments from various Japanese politicians who made it appear that the recent weakening in the currency may suffice for now. This culminated moments ago when Koichi Hamada, a former Yale professor and adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, told Reuters that level of 100 yen to dollar is suitable level from the perspective of competitiveness. The result has been a nearly 100 pip move lower in the USDJPY which puts into question the sustainability of the recent equity rally now that the primary carry funding pair has resumed its downward trajectory. Another result is that the rally in the Nikkei225 was finally halted, closing trading unchanged, and bringing cumulative gains since the morning before the BoJ’s announcement last Thursday to 8.9%. Over that the same time period, the TOPIX Real Estate Index is up an incredible 24%, no doubt reflecting the prospect of renewed buying of REIT stocks from the BoJ’s asset purchasing program.
Shanghai just can't catch a break - first it was floating dead pigs, then ducks, then black swans, then mass chicken exterminations, and now fish. From the Telegraph: " Just weeks after over 16,000 putrefying pigs were pulled from Shanghai's Huangpu river, more than 250kg of dead carp had to be retrieved from a river in the city's Songjiang district. Mystery still surrounds the cause of death, but numerous explanations have surfaced in the Chinese media since residents first complained about the foul-smelling fish last Monday. Theories reportedly include climate change, electrocution, an explosion or even a drug overdose. The Shanghai Daily quoted a local government official who "speculated" the fish could have been "drugged." So, in China things are so good, even the fish are ODing on sleeping pills? Hardly, but the fact that this is even floated "out there" just shows how miserably The Onion has missed its IPO window.
Q. What is your view on gold?
Soros: That’s a complicated question. It has disappointed the public, because it is meant to be the ultimate safe haven. But when the euro was close to collapsing in the last year, actually gold went down, because if people needed to sell something, they could sell gold. Therefore they sold gold. So gold went down together with everything else. Gold was destroyed as a safe haven, proved to be unsafe. Because of the disappointment, most people are reducing their holdings of gold. But the central banks will continue to buy them, so I don’t expect gold to go down. If you have the prospect of a crisis, you will have occasional flurries or jumps. So gold is very volatile on a day-to-day basis, no trend on a longer-term basis.
The week ahead is light on major market moving data releases. From a policy perspective and in light of the recent moves in treasuries, FOMC minutes are likely to be followed by markets. Retail sales in the US are likely to print below consensus both on the headline and on the core metrics. That said, this needs to be seen against the backdrop of first quarter retail consumer spending data surprising to the upside. Producer prices are also likely to come in on the soft side of market expectations. Finally, do not expect large surprises from the U of Michigan consumer confidence.