Despite a late-day surge on chatter from Fed's Williams, equities could not catch a bid. VIX was plundered for protection, surging to the highs of the year (above 16%) as S&P futures saw the biggest volume of the year as they held below the lowest uptrend-channel from the November lows. The Dow and the S&P bounced off unchanged for the month of Feb but the Nasdaq remains red - Materials are down over 3% as Staples are up 3% on the month (Tech/Disc/Energy unch). Gold and Silver managed solid gains on the day even as the USD pushed higher (up over 1.1% on the week even as JPY strengthens) and Oil and Copper had notable down days. Treasury yields slipped lower (-3bps) and credit markets underperformed stocks. The S&P is back at its 2011 highs in terms of Gold, and rolled over today. Cross-asset-class correlations rose all day as broad risk-off was very evident. We suspect the drop in the VIX into the close was short-term protection unwinds along with actual exposure reduction (which we saw at VWAP).
Army Chief of Staff: “The conundrum we have is that we don’t need the tanks”
It's that time of day. Commodities exchanges are opening. And yet, today has a different feel to it. For some strange indiscernible reason, the incessant offer on gold and silver that appears every morning for most of the recent weeks has yet to appear. Did the central bankers get busted? Are too many people aware of the manipulation? Did a 3% drop in China spook them back at the margin? Who knows - its early yet...
- China drains cash to curb liquidity (FT) - no longer just a New Year issue...
- Hilesnrath speaks (but nobody cares anymore) - Fed Split Over How Long To Keep Cash Spigot Open (WSJ)
- Chasm opening between weak French and strong German economies (Reuters)
- JPMorgan Said to Seek First Sale of Mortgage Bonds Since Crisis (BBG)
- China's Bo Xilai not cooperating on probe, been on hunger strike (Reuters)
- Fed minutes send warning on durability of bond buying (Reuters)
- Sony Seeks an Extra Life in New PlayStation 4 (BBG)
- Rajoy pledges fresh round of reforms (FT) - and by reforms he means kickbacks?
- Doubts loom over eurozone recovery (BBG)
- China Extending Zhou Stay Seen as Aid to Financial Overhaul (BBG)
- King Pulls Out Stops to Energize Economy in Carney Handover (BBG)
- Central Banks Discussed Nominal GDP Targets at G-20 (Businessweek)
- Grand Central Owner Opposes IPO of Empire State Building (BBG)
Please do not adjust your monitors: that strange, non-green color greeting you this morning is not a "glitch." Following yesterday's market drubbing, in which a modest 1% decline in the S&P ended up being the biggest market drop of 2013, we next got a wipe out in China, where the SHCOMP plunged by 3% the most in 15 months, down the third day out of four since the start of the year of the Snake on renewed concerns around home purchase restrictions urged by the government, but mostly driven by rampant liquidations of commodity-related stocks following yet another liquidity withdrawing repo (not reverse) by the PBOC which took out even more money out of the market. We then continued to Europe where despite the near-record surge in German optimism (because in the New Normal hope is a strategy - the only strategy), German manufacturing PMI missed expectations of a rise to 50.5 from 49.8, instead printing at 50.1, while the Services PMI outright declined from 55.7 to 54.1 (55.5 expected). We wonder how much higher this latest economic disappointment will push German investor confidence. Not too unexpectedly, Europe's suddenly weakest economy France also disappointed with its Mfg PMI missing as well, rising from 42.9 to 43.6, on expectations of a 43.8 print, while Services PMI declined from 43.6 to 42.7, on "hopes" of a rise to 44.5. The result was a miss in Europe's composite PMIs with the Manufacturing posting at 47.8 on expectations of 48.5, while the Services PMI was 47.3, with 49.0 expected, and a blended PMI missing just as much, or 47.3 with 49.0 expected, and down from 48.6. The news, which finally reasserted reality over hopium, immediately pushed the EURUSD to under 1.32, the lowest print since January 10. Therefore while Germany may or may not escape recession in Q1, depending on how aggressively they fudge their export numbers, for France it seems all hope is now lost.
Every voice in the FOMC minutes is not a voting member. Bernanke, Yellen, Dudley are the keys and they are committed to QE. That is a descriptive claim not normative. Debt market has shown little reaction to FOMC minutes compared with the dollar and stocks. PBOC drained, but did not really tighten monetary policy. Euro zone PMI poor and gap between Germany and France grows. And what's up with Abe's trip to the US ?
Think Americans are the only people in the world toiling under a gargantuan debtload, which at last check was a massive $55.3 trillion, or about $175K per person? Think again. Meet Sherry Sheng, a 29-year-old Shanghai policewoman, who bought herself a 4,000 yuan ($642) black fur jacket, splurging for the last time before she starts paying off the mortgage on her first home.
Sherry is what is known as a Chinese "housing slave."
Update: FRANCE'S MONTEBOURG TELLS TAYLOR REMARKS `IGNORANT, INSULTING' - And now we know Taylor was spot on.
The French industry minister is not amused. The CEO of US tire-maker Titan International has explained to the French unions (who think he belongs in an asylum) why his company is not interested in any deal - noting "you can keep your so-called workers," adding that he would have to be stupid to take over a factory whose staff only put in three hours work a day. Maurice 'Grizz' Taylor went 'postal' at the suggestion his company invest in France: "Titan is going to buy a Chinese tire company or an Indian one, pay less than one Euro per hour wage and ship all the tires France needs." His truth-filled reality letter concluded: How stupid do you think we are? Titan is the one with the money and the talent to produce tires. What does the crazy union have? It has the French government." The flustered Frenchman refrained from immediate reply but gallicly noted, "Don’t worry, there will be a response; it's better written down." Indeed, just as long as its not the labor minister.
Confused by the latest Chinese military hacking scandal? The cartoon wizards from Taiwan's New Media Animation have it summarized for in just 150 seconds for all those US dummies who were not hacked by the Chinese.
First it was Walmart letting the truth finally slip last Friday when a leaked memo showed recent sales are a "total disaster." Today, as anyone who has looked at AAPL premarket quotes will surmise, it's Apple's turn, following a report in the FT that FoxConn, the world's largest contract electronics manufacturer, "has imposed a recruitment freeze across almost all of its factories in China 5th as it slows production of Apple's iPhone." It is not an internal memo, but in this particular case actions speak even louder than leaked words: 'The suspension in hiring by China's largest private sector employer, and the biggest assembler of Apple products, is the first search countrywide move since the 2009 downturn, prompted by the financial crisis. It underscores the weakening demand for some Apple products, Which has put pressure on the American company's battered share price. "Currently, none of the plants in mainland China have hiring plans," said Liu Kun, a company spokesman at Foxconn's largest manufacturing facility in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen." So first Walmart, the world's largest private sector employer with over 2 million workers, and now FoxConn, the world's largest tech-focused employer with 1.2 million workers, is also realizing what a cashless, consumerless "recovery" means, regardless whether it is due to Apple or not. And the markets still continues to wave it off as one off events.
- Office Depot Agrees to Buy Officemax for $13.50/Shr in Stock
- Bulgarian Government Resigns Amid Protests (WSJ)
- Rome will burn, regardless of Italian election result (Reuters)
- Abe Says No Need for Foreign Bond Buys Under New BOJ Chief (BBG)
- Rhetoric Turns Harsh as Budget Cuts Loom (WSJ)
- Muddy Waters Secret China Weapon Is on SEC Website (BBG)
- Business Loans Flood the Market (WSJ)
- Staples May Be Winner in Office Depot-OfficeMax Merger (BBG)
- Fortescue Won't Pay Dividend, Profit Falls (WSJ)
- Key Euribor rate on hold after rate cut talk tempered (Reuters)
- FBI Probes Trading in Heinz Options (WSJ)
- Spain Said to Impose Yield Ceiling on Bond Sales by Regions (BBG)
- BOK’s Kim Signals No Rate Cut Needed Now as Outlook Improves (BBG)
Sterling is has eclipsed the yen as the main focus in the foreign exchange market. The surprising news that has kicked it to fresh multi-month low was that the BOE is closer to easing policy than has been suspected. While it was a unanimous decision to leave rates on hold as expected, it was a tighter 6-3 vote on new asset purchases.
The market had expected a 8-1 vote. Of particular interest, it is the fourth time Governor King has been outvoted.
Volume was nothing to cheer about after a long weekend, but it seemed the forced buy-ins and stop-runs remain as stocks pushed on to new highs even as the USD ended unchanged from Friday's close and Treasury yields up 2-3bps. A 1.2% rally in S&P futures from Friday's lows as Copper and Silver were slammed lower (former on China 'tightening' and latter on equity short-covering margin unwinds we suspect). In general risk-assets were not playing along with stocks' exuberance but as the after noon played on and stocks saw at most a 1 pt reversal, so bonds pushed higher in yields - recoupling risk and stocks towards the close. VIX led the way - testing Friday's decoupled lows around 12.08%. Credit markets remain underperformers but tracked stocks higher on the day. Oil prices - seemingly the only thing that could potentially foil the current rally - pushed around 1% higher from Friday's close, as Gold fell back modestly to $1605. AAPL ended the day unch - with a huge volume spike at the close, as homebuilders suffered post-NAHB. VIX closed at its lowest since April 2007; S&P 500 futures had their biggest open-to-close rise of the year.
Precisely a month ago, when we last looked at the ongoing French campaign in Mali, whose diplomatic justification before the people of the "democratic" world was the eradication of "insurgents", and various other "Al Qaeda rebels", we asked readers, rhetorically, to look at a map of Mali and tell us what they see. We even provided an answer: "Nothing. Mali is one of the most irrelevant countries in West Africa from a resource standpoint, and what happens inside of it is certainly irrelevant from a greater geopolitical standpoint. What is more important is what this map doesn't show, specifically the name of the country located a few hundred miles to the south: Nigeria. Now Nigeria is important: very important. Or rather, Nigerian light sweet, one of the highest quality crudes in the world, is. And thanks to the "bungled" French peacemaking attempt, the US now has a critical foothold in what is the most strategically placed stretch of desert in Western Africa, a place where US "military trainers" will now be deployed at will. Be on the lookout for curious escalations in violence around the capital Abuja, and key port city Lagos, in the coming months once the current Mali fracas is long forgotten." It appears that Nigeria will be drawn into the fray far sooner than even we expected following today's news that Islamist militants from neighboring Nigeria abducted a French family of seven, including four children, in northern Cameroon on Tuesday, French President Francois Hollande said. Next up: Al Qaeda is mysteriously discovered to be aiding and abetting "evil" insurgent Malians out of Nigeria, and the French campaign, with the generous and stealthy support of the US, shifts slowly but surely southward to its ultimate destination: liberating all that Nigerian light sweet oil.
Chinese data takeaway...