Despite the best efforts of the straight-line panic buying algos on a Tuesday, it seems flashing red headlines of dreadful escalations in Ukraine (more deaths), from Bloomberg:
11 REPORTED DEAD DURING UKRAINIAN OPERATION IN KRAMATORSK: RT
UKRAINE GOVT: RUSSIAN 45TH AIRBORNE IN SLOVYANSK, KRAMATORSK
...and USDJPY tagging 102 again (of course) were enough to spark the manic idiocy of markets from buy-buy-buy to sell-it-all-Mortimer... So much for yesterday's "see it's all good now" ripfest... The Russell 2000 is back at yesterday's lows and NASDAQ is back under 4000.
One can see that while the traditional 6:00 AM USDJPY buy program is just duying to resume aggressive upward momentum ignition, futures are still leery and confused by the recent post-open high beta selloffs. Then again, things like yesterday's ridiculous no news 3:30pm ramp happen and confused them even more just as momentum is about to take a downward direction. Stocks in Asia (ex-China) advanced amid a reversal in sentiment after Citigroup (+4.15%) inspired positive close on Wall Street, however Shanghai Comp (-1.4%) underperformed as concerns over GDP data on Wednesday following weak money supply data weighed on sentiment. Stocks remained on the back foot (Eurostoxx50 -0.42%), with Bunds supported by the release of lower than expected German ZEW survey and also ongoing concerns surrounding the stand-off between Ukraine/Russia. Short-Sterling bear steepened after UK CPI fell to its lowest level since October 2009, but house prices across Britain posted its biggest rise since June 2010, reviving concerns over an overheating market.
Futures are treading water once more now that Ukraine has stormed to center stage from the backburner after everyone was convinced Putin would let the situation cool off after annexing Crimea. Guess not. Adding the renewed geopolitical jitters to what has already been a beta stock bloodbath into a holiday shortened week assures some high volatility fireworks. Cautious sentiment was observed over in Asia (Nikkei 225 -0.36%) amid renewed fears that geopolitical tensions in Ukraine will flare up again following reports of exchange gunfire with pro-Russian militants. This sentiment carried over into the European session with stocks lower across the board (Eurostoxx50 -0.71%). EUR is lower after ECB’s Draghi said any further strengthening of the EUR would warrant further action by the ECB, including non-standard measures such as quantitative easing - it is amazing how frequently and often the Virtu algos still fall for Draghi's jawboning trick which has now become all too clear will never be implemented and certainly not if he keeps talking about it daily, as he does.
From Goldman's Sales & Trading Team, "The equity rout continued. Growth tech names felt the heat once again as Nasdaq led the way down, but the weakness was truly wide spread as all sectors ended in the red – both in domestic and overseas developed markets. Earnings season continued, but derisking is the name of the game in these markets."
A look back at the headlines and market movements of the last month provides some useful color for why markets are weak and why now... As Scotiabank's Guy Haselmann warned early last month, there is a threshold point during the Fed’s attempt to normalize policy where the tide reverses and investors join in a sell-off in a race to avoid being left behind. This is why it's called the greater fool theory.
Ahhh, the smell of "fake" headlines in the morning. It smells like victory, especially as there goes another conspiracy "theory"
After a selloff as violent as that of last night, usually the overnight liftathon crew does a great job of recovering a substantial portion of the losses. Not this time, which coupled with the sudden and quite furious breakdown on market structure, leads us to believe that something has changed rather dramatically if preserving investor confidence is not the paramount issue on the mind of the NY Fed trading desk. Nikkei 225 (-2.38%) suffered its worst week since March'11 amid broad based risk off sentiment following on from a lower close on Wall St. where the Nasdaq Biotech index suffered its largest intra-day decline since August 2011. Negative sentiment carried over into European session, with stocks lower across the board (Eurostoxx50 -1.17%) and tech under performing in a continuation of the recent sector weakness seen in the US. JP Morgan (JPM) due to report earnings at 7:00AM EDT and Wells Fargo (WFC) at 8:00Am EDT.
It appears yesterday's "Fed Cat Bounce" was exactly that. While the momos are making headlines, selling pressure is broad-based now and the S&P has just joined the Russell, Nasdaq, and Dow in the red year-to-date... "Growth" stocks are at the lows of the year relative to "Value"
In the interests of transparency and on the heels of Mary Barra's suggestion that some of those involved in the ignition switch problem are still employed at the firm, she has decided to place 2 employees on paid leave...
- *GM BARRA CONFIRMED 2 ENGINEERS PLACED ON PAID LEAVE
- *GM SAID TO PLACE DEGIORGIO, ALTMAN ON PAID LEAVE
- *GM CREATES SPEAK UP FOR SAFETY PROGRAM FOR EMPLOYEES
To distract from the main headlines, GM has created a "speak up for safety" spy-on-your-neighbor plan as part of her safety-first strategy.
The main overnight event, which we commented on previously, was China's trade data which was a disaster. March numbers turned out to be well below market consensus with exports falling 6.6% YoY (vs +4.8% expected) and imports falling 11.3% YoY (vs +3.9% expected). The underperformance of imports caused the trade balance to spike to $7.7bn (vs -$23bn in Feb). Pricing on the Greek 5-year syndicated bond is due later today, with the final size of the bond boosted to EUR 3bln from EUR 2.5bln as order books exceed EUR 20bln (equating to a rough bid/cover ratio of over 6) as the final yield is set at 4.75% (well below the 5.3% finance ministry target and well above our "the world is a bunch of idiots managing other people's money" 3% target). Ireland sold EUR 1bln in 10y bonds, marking the third successful return to the bond market since the bailout. Also of note, this morning saw the release of lower than expected French CPI data, underpinning fears of potential deflation in the Eurozone.
Echoing Charlie Munger, Oaktree's Howard Marks warns today's institutional and retail investors that "everything that’s important in investing is counterintuitive, and everything that’s obvious is wrong." These words seem critically important at a time when the world and his pet rabbit is a self-proclaimed stock-picking export. Be "uncomfortably idiosyncratic," Marks advises, noting thaty most great investments begin in discomfort as "non-conformists don’t enjoy the warmth that comes with being at the center of the herd." Dare to be different is his message, "dare to be wrong," or as Charlie Munger told him, "it’s not supposed to be easy. Anyone who finds it easy is stupid." While Marks philosophically adds that "being too far ahead of your time is indistinguishable from being wrong," he warns the lulled masses that "you can’t take the same actions as everyone else and expect to outperform."
The positive sentiment stemming from a positive close on Wall Street and saw Shanghai Comp (+0.33%), Hang Seng (+1.09%) trade higher, failed to support the Nikkei 225 (-2.10%), which underperformed its peers and finished in the red amid JPY strength as BoJ's Kuroda failed to hint on more easing. Stocks in Europe (Eurostoxx50 +0.32%) traded higher since the open, with Bunds also under pressure amid the reversal in sentiment.
Alcoa kicked off earnings season yesterday, with shares up 3% in after-market hours. Focus now turns to the release of the FOMC meeting minutes.
As we have discussed numerous times, nothing lasts forever - especially reserve currencies - no matter how much one hopes that the status-quo remains so, in the end the exuberant previlege is extorted just one too many times. Headline after headlines shows nations declaring 'interest' or direct discussions in diversifying away from the US dollar... and as SCMP reports, Standard Chartered notes that at least 40 central banks have invested in the Yuan and several more are preparing to do so. The trend is occurring across both emerging markets and developed nation central banks diversifiying into 'other currencies' and "a great number of central banks are in the process of adding yuan to their portfolios." Perhaps most ominously, for king dollar, is the former-IMF manager's warning that "The Yuan may become a de facto reserve currency before it is fully convertible."
Fundamentals are always important over the long term. That said, it has become quite clear that company financials are not what’s moving this market. If fundamentals mattered then the words and decisions of central bankers wouldn’t be the most important headlines. Simply put, the economic fundamentals do not support stock prices. Is this the top? There’s no way to tell. Do some areas of the market look like past bubbles once did? Without a doubt. The last step up before the fall is often characterized by a feeling that the market is invincible. Despite the S&P’s incredible run, it cannot continue to rally forever. Eventually, economic fundamentals will matter again and when that happens it’s likely that the market will sell off.
While the Nasdaq was unable to get back above its crucial 100DMA, it outperformed today (Biotechs went nowhere) as the S&P 500 dipped-and-ripped off its 50DMA (and the crucial 1840 level for bulls). The problem with all this "the correction is over" chatter... nothing else is buying it... Treasury bond yields slumped lower (7Y -15 bps from Friday highs and back to FOMC levels) with 10Y < 2.70% again. Credit spreads on high-yield debt made new swing cycle wides (did not hold teh dead cat bounce gains). Gold jumped back above $1310 (and on a separate note oil prices surged as "tanks" hit the headlines once again in Ukraine). But perhaps the most notable 'negative' for this being anything but a dead-cat-bounce was the collapse in JPY carry - USDJPY's biggest drop in 8 months. VIX was pegged to the S&P 500 all day - but even there we saw notable steepening (as hedgers termed out protection). S&P 500 futures close perfectly at yesterday's closing VWAP.