Good news was bad news for stocks (and great news for bonds) today as GDP's best sent stocks reeling early on, only to ramp back magically into the European close. For the next 4 hours, the S&P 500 traded in a 1.5 point range. While stocks dumped and pumped, Treasury yields went only on direction, lower (30Y -3bps today and -8bps on the week). FX markets were less chaotic than yesterday with early EUR weakness leaking back as the US day rolled on (USD -0.15% on the week). Silver, gold, and oil rose on the day (though well off spike highs during the EU session as Russia 'invasion' headlines hit). Copper tumbled the most in over 4 months. While equity markets closed modestly lower (Trannies red on the week), VIX and Credit markets weakened somewhat further.
The last time the Ukraine who cried Russian wolf invasion swore it had blown up Russian military vehicles, as part of the humanitarian convoy, it turned out rather quickly it had lied after it couldn't provide any evidence of this. So, in keeping with crying wolves, now is the time for try #2. From BBG:
- UKRAINE SAYS TWO COLUMNS OF RUSSIAN MILITARY VEHICLES DESTROYED
- UKRAINE SAYS RUSSIAN MILITARY VEHICLES DESTROYED NEAR ILOVAYSK
Judging by the market reaction, which actually rose on the headlines, it is becoming clear that Ukraine propaganda has lost all market moving abilities, as not even the algos buy the fabricated attempts at escalation.
Once Europe closed, US equity markets rolled over on what is a new 'lowest-volume-day-of-the-year' led by recent winner Russell 2000. The Dow is now red on the week and the Nasdaq up 11 days in a row. Today was not about stocks though (aside from the close). While CAD saw its best gain in over 2 years, it was US Treasuries (as EUR weakened and Bund yields plunged) that made the flashing red headlines with 30Y back at 15-month lows (at 3.10%) and 10Y -3.5bps at 2.36% as the yield curve flattened even further. 2s30s dropped below 260bps - its flattest since Dec 2012. Un-de-escalation concerns evident in TSYs and credit finally started to bleed into VIX and stocks. Gold, silver, and oil limped higher as US weakened (and copper fell). A desperate buying panic into the close smashing S&P futures to VWAP magically enabled the S&P to close at the confidence-inspiring centrally-planned 'wealth effect' level of 2000.07!!
Chinese Developers "Destocking" Desperation: Bikini-Clad Model Car Washes, iPhones, & Alibaba DiscountsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/27/2014 15:33 -0400
We have presented numerous examples of the turmoil under the surface of China's unprecedentedly placid GDP headlines but, as The FT reports, the desperation of property developers should be the biggest canary in the coalmine that all is not well. Developers began cutting prices this year but have so far failed to revive flagging volumes and so are increasingly resorting to creative sales tactics to drum up interest. From discounts on Alibaba purchases up to $325,000 to car-washes by bikini-clad models, as "putting full effort into destocking has become the common choice of most developers. They’re still not optimistic about the market situation." So why are US investors so upbeat about China's 'recovery'?
If the big hope propelling both ES and S&P cash over 2,000 was the Ukraine-Russian talks, leading to some de-escalation and a thawing of Russian-German conditions, then it was clearly a dud. As the WSJ reports, "face-to-face talks between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents failed to produce a breakthrough for ending the conflict over eastern Ukraine, as Kiev released videos of captured Russian soldiers and rebels pushed toward a government-held city. The one-on-one session, which Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko described as "tough and complex," ended early Wednesday after a day of talks on the crisis in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Mr. Poroshenko said afterward that he would prepare a "road map" toward a possible cease-fire with the pro-Russia separatists." In other words, absolutely no progress. There was however escalation, when overnight the September Bund future rose as much as 36 ticks to 151.18, after Poland PM Tusk said “regular” Russian troops are operating in eastern Ukraine. And so we are back to square one, with concerns over Russia pushing European bonds to new record highs, in turn leading to more US Treasury buying, while a brand new rumor of more easing from the ECB, this time by Deutsche Bank, has propped up European equities, which like US futures are trading water around the critical 2000 level.
With Europe and the US on one side, and Russia and China on the other, the saying, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" could best describe the current geopolitical situation
After spending time in Argentina, BofA's Marcos Buscaglia is concerned... The perception of many locals is that the risks of an economic/currency crisis before year-end have increased significantly. This compares to a view they had before of a muddle-through till the 2015 presidential elections. Policy decision-making is ever more concentrated, and the administration has radicalized, but the severe economic downturn will change political incentives in 2015, in BofA's view. With the official peso rate at record lows once again, the black-market Dolar-Blue tumbled to over 14/USD - a record low indicating dramatic devaluation ahead (which of course, sends ARS-denominated stocks surge to record highs).
It is unclear exactly why stock futures, bonds - with European peripheral yields hitting new record lows for the second day in a row - gold, oil and pretty much everything else is up this morning but it is safe to say the central banks are behind it, as is the "de-escalation" algo as a meeting between Russia and Ukraine begins today in Belarus' capital Minsk. Belarusian and Kazakhstani leaders will also be at the summit. Hopes of a significant progress on the peace talks were dampened following Merkel’s visit to Kiev over the weekend. The German Chancellor said that a big breakthrough is unlikely at today’s meeting. Russian FM Lavrov said that the discussion will focus on economic ties, the humanitarian crisis and prospects for a political resolution. On that note Lavrov also told reporters yesterday that Russia hopes to send a second humanitarian aid convoy to Ukraine this week. What he didn't say is that he would also send a cohort of Russian troops which supposedly were captured by overnight by the Ukraine army (more shortly).
Over the past week a new geopolitical mystery emerged: an "unknown" party was launching airstrikes against Libya, which is already reeling in its latest political crisis. The strikes puzzled various media outlets, such as Reuters which over the weekend reported that "Unidentified war planes attacked positions of an armed faction in the Libyan capital Tripoli on Saturday." This follows a similar report when on Monday, the government said unknown fighter jets had bombed positions from armed factions in Tripoli, an attack claimed by a renegade general in Benghazi. Turns out the renegade general was lying, and merely trying to take credit for another party's intervention. That party, or rather, parties has been revealed as Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, which "have secretly teamed up to launch airstrikes against Islamist-allied militias battling for control of Tripoli" And sure enough, "US diplomats were fuming about the airstrikes" as the US was never given advance notice of these attacks.
There was something missing at this year's Jackson Hole meeting of the world's most 'brilliant' monetary minds - a stock market rally - and while VIX was slammed lower (by mysterious forces assuming that uncertainty must have fallen), even the local rag understood i) the context - Yellen did not even make the main headline in The Jackson Hole Daily (the 'common folk' preferring something far more - or less - trivial, like the weather); and ii) All she has done is raise uncertainty. We await the machines to manually read these headlines before the requisite trading actions are taken... It seems, as we noted before, the Fed's magic is running out (for now).
Confused by what Janet Yellen said? As it turns out, so is everyone else, where the prevailing sentiment across the sell-side analysts was that Yellen was not dovish enough. Then again, with expectations bordering on Yellen giving the "BTFATH" green light, there is no way she was not going to disappoint...
"The fact that Russian trucks entered the territory of Ukraine without proper border and customs procedures and that the cargo was not donated to the representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross indicates deliberate and aggressive nature of Russia’s actions. As we have previously emphasized the Russian side is fully responsible for the safety of the cargo. It is important to note that the Ukraine has already taken all necessary measures to ensure the security of the cargo. We also are not aware of the content of the agreements of the Russian side with Luhansk insurgents and we do not exclude the possibility of any planned provocation."
Russian Humanitarian Convoy Enters Ukraine Without Authorization; Ukraine Considers Move "Direct Invasion"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/22/2014 09:02 -0400
Update: the farce is complete, although at least this time it didn't take Ukraine several hours to fabricate then unfabricate its plot line, because literally minutes after it accused Russia of invading, Ukraine's foreign minister said the convoy was "allowed" to avoid provocations
Here we go again. Precisely a week after the fabricated headlines last Friday that Ukraine had blown up Russian military vehicles in Ukraine territory, "news" which promptly was forgotten when Russia denied and Ukraine couldn't produce any proof of said attack, now it is time for the real "humanitarian" convoy to become the topic du jour, and so it did a few hours ago when some 90 trucks from the convoy were said to have entered Ukraine territory, a move which Ukraine promptly denounced as a direct invasion.
While today's key events were supposed to be the Jackson speeches first by Janet Yellen at 10:00am Eastern and then by Mario Draghi at 2:30 pm, Ukraine quickly managed to steal the spotlight yet again when moments after the first Russian humanitarian aid convoys entered Ukraine allegedly without permission, Kiev first accused Russia of staging a direct invasion, even if moments later it changed its tune and said it had allowed the convoy in to "avoid provocations." In other words, your daily dose of Ukraine disinformation, which initially managed to push futures down some 0.3% before futs regained virtually all losses on the subsequent clarifications. Expect much more conflicting, confusing and very provocative headlines out of Kiev as the local government and the CIA try to get their story straight.
Amid his corruption indictments, Texas Governor Rick Perry is making more headlines today. During a CNN interview, Perry exclaimed "it's possible ISIS may have crossed into The United States from Mexico." Speaking earlier at The Heritage Foundation, Perry blasted, "they need to be eliminated, and they need to be eliminated now."