The overnight session began on a dour mood, with both the Shanghai Composite and Nikkei sliding (the former once again just barely above 2,000, latter once again dropping below 16,000), even though Chinese CPI came below expectations suggesting the PBOC has some more room to ease and not rush into liquidity extraction (which just happens to blow out repo rates like clockwork), while in Japan BOJ board member Shirai implied the Japanese QE can be extended and expanded as needed. Europe had a weak start although shortly after 3 am Eastern staged a dramatic turnaround supported by a bounce in the EUR (and ES driving EURJPY) leading to broadly higher stocks, supported by solid demand for Portuguese 5y bond syndication, as well as oversubscribed debt auctions by the Spanish Treasury which sold above the targeted amount and consequently saw SP/GE 10y spread fall to its tightest level since April 2011. At the same time, having been propped up by touted redemption flows ahead of Spanish and French bond auctions, absorption of supply shortly after 1000GMT resulted in an immediate selling pressure on Bunds. Helping lift spirits was a rumored $1 billion trade order in September S&P futures, as well as chatter by the Greek PM that the country was like Portugal and Ireland, prepared to get back into the bond markets.
Some better than expected economic news out of Europe, Greek 10 Year yields dropping to 7.65% or the lowest since May 2010, and futures are... red? Alas, such is life in a world in which the S&P500, aka the E-mini, is simply a derivative of the Yen funding currency pairs, where the USDJPY touched on 105 after a straight line diagonal move only to sell off in recent trading. Heading into the North American open, stocks in Europe are seen mixed, with peripheral stock indices outperforming, buoyed by the prospect of Portugal echoing yesterday’s Irish NTMA return to capital markets with its 10y bond syndication. As such, despite the cautious sentiment, financials led the move higher, with Italian banks gaining for 4th session as IT/GE 10y spread narrowed to its tightest level since early July 2011. Of note, FTSE-100 index underperformed its peers since the get-go, with retailers and tobacco names under pressure. In spite of opening higher by over 3%, Sainsbury's shares have since reversed and are seen lower by almost 2% after co. CFO said that he expects FY LFL sales to be just below 1% and expects Q4 to be similar to Q3. Elsewhere, tobacco names came under selling pressure following reports that China is planning a ban on smoking in public by year's end.
Recently, the FBI made a significant change to its self-proclaimed primary focus in its fact sheet from “law enforcement” to “national security.” This change merely confirms what I and countless others have claimed to be true for quite some time. That the entire regulatory, security and intelligence apparatus of these United States has been redirected away from protecting the Constitution and the rule of law, toward a narrow focus on protecting the economic and social positions of the oligarch class at all costs under the guise of a “war on terror.”
Despite the best day in the S&P (+0.6%) since the Taper (12/18), this remains the worst start to a year since 2005. The Dow stands out as the best of the bad bunch ( down only 0.25% from 2013 close highs) while Trannies remain the worst. Homebuilders tumbled back to recouple with Financials post-Taper. Treasuries decided to ignore the equity strength and rallied once again (with 10Y now -10bps on the year) even as the USD was well bid back to unch on the week (once again all the vol in the US open to EU close period) with notable CAD weakness to its lowest since May 2010. USDJPY was on-and-off in charge with stocks staying in sync until the EU close, reconnecting briefly in the afternoon, then taking off again. VIX dropped back under 13% (but stocks were relatively outperforming). Precious metals remained in the headlines, this time with weakness, but from the early spike down, they recovered half the losses.
Heading into the North American open, stocks in Europe are seen broadly higher, with peripheral EU stock indices outperforming after Ireland successfully returned to capital markets with its 10y syndication that attracted over EUR 10bln. Financials benefited the most from the consequent credit and bond yield spreads tightening, with smaller Italian and Spanish banks gaining around 4%. Following the successful placement, IR/GE 10y bond yield spread was seen at its tightest level since April 2010, while PO/GE 10y spread also tightened in reaction to premarket reports by Diario Economico citing sources that Portuguese govt and debt agency IGCP consider that the current level of yields already allows Portugal to go ahead with a bond sale. Looking elsewhere, the release of better than expected macroeconomic data from Germany, together with an in line Eurozone CPI, supported EUR which gradually moved into positive territory. In addition to that, smaller MRO allotment by the ECB resulted in bear steepening of the Euribor curve and also buoyed EONIA 1y1y rates. The Spanish and Italian markets are the best-performing larger bourses, Swedish the worst. The euro is stronger against the dollar. Japanese 10yr bond yields fall; Spanish yields decline. Commodities gain, with wheat, silver underperforming and Brent crude outperforming. U.S. trade balance data released later.
Workers at a tire plant in Northern France have taken two managers hostage until Goodyear (the firm that owns the plant and has been trying to shutter it for years) meets the mabor unions demands. WSJ reports, as Goodyear winds down operations with the plant almost idle, French labor law requires the company to keep all workers employed, which means many of them don't work more than a couple of hours a day while still getting full salary. The situation is why Titan International's Maurice Taylor blasted that he "would be stupid" to operate the plant on that basis.
"For Apple Computers to pay their workers $2 an hour while they have $150 billion in the bank is nothing short of obscene. They have workers who are doing back-breaking and eye-burning work in depressed states of mind and in many instances have already committed suicide. Instead of treating their employees like human beings, they are treated like animals. If it were not for their employees, Apple would not be where it is today. But instead of giving these people a better life, they give these people the bare minimum and defend this action with the argument that the wage is higher than the average there and in-line with what their competitors are paying."
The "polar vortex" (no, really) which is about to unleash even record-er cold temperatures upon the US may be the greatest thing to happen to the economy: after all once Q1 GDP estimates miss once again, what better scapegoat to blame it on than cold winter weather during... the winter. However, for the overnight markets, the weather seems to have had an less than desired effect following both much weaker Services PMI data out of China, and after the entire USDJPY ramp achieved during Bernanke's late Friday speech evaporated in the span of two hours in Japanese Monday morning trading, sending the Nikkei reeling lower by 2.35%. One reason for this may be that like in the early summer when both the Yen and the Nikkei froze in a rangebound formation, South Korea has vocally started t0 complain about the weak Yen, which as readers may recall was one of the catalysts to put an end to the surge in the USDJPY and EURJPY. This time may not be different, furthermore as Goldman forecast overnight, it now expects a BOK rate cut of 25 bps as soon as this Thursday. Should that happen expect the JPY coiled-short spring to pounce.
Contrary to ongoing attempts by the administration to refocus the public's attention on such focal points as guns, an imminent external cybersecurity threat (until it was revealed that the biggest cyber terrorist is the NSA itself), and climate change, the three still remain, pardon the pan, at the cold end of the spectrum when it comes to what issues most concern the US public. On the other end, for one decade and counting, the "top priority" for the US public was and continues to be "the economy", stupid.
All signs point to serious trouble for the Chinese economy. The best ways to play a China downturn: short-selling Australian banks, China property and the yuan.
In a day that will be remembered for the first major snowstorm to hit New York in 2014 and test the clean up capabilities and resolve of the city's new populist mayor (not starting on a good note following reports that JFK airport will be closed at least until 8:30 am Eastern), it was only fitting that there was virtually no overnight news aside for the Chinese non-manufacturing PMI which dropped from 56.0 to 54.6, a new 4 month low. Still, following yesterday's ugly start to the new year, stocks in Europe traded higher this morning, in part driven by value related flows following the sell-off yesterday. Retailers led the move higher, with Next shares in London up as much as 11% which is the most since January 2009 and to its highest level since 1988 after the company lifted profit forecast after strong Christmas trading performance. Other UK based retailers with likes of AB Foods and M&S also advanced around 2%.
2013 already saw violent unrest in some of the most stable countries in the world like Singapore and Sweden, all underpinned by absolute disgust for the status quo. Whether today or tomorrow, this year or next, there will be a reckoning. The system is far too broken to repair, it must be reset. It’s simply absurd to look at the situation objectively and presume this status quo can continue indefinitely... that this time is different… that we’re somehow special and immune to universal principles.
The now ubiquitous prior upward revision helped headlines crow of 'another' decline in initial jobless claims this week. Initial claims beat expectation of 344k with a 339k print, whis is now a drop from a previously reported 338k that is now revised up to 341k... all makes sense, right? It seems claims have stabilized somewhat after the few weeks of glitches and shutdown SNAFUs and the downtrend appears to have stalled as these levels of claims are at the same level as 5 months ago. Bear in mind this is the last print for 2013 (not first print of 2014 data) and with 1,391,297 people on Emergency benefits due to start 'tapering' this week, we can only imagine the 'glitches' that will occur going forward.
The first trading session of previous years has always been a whopper for those betting on central planning and capital flows. In fact, if one adds up the S&P performance on the first trading day of each year going back to 2009 (i.e., 1/2/13: + 2.54%, 1/3/12: + 1.55%, 1/3/11: + 1.13%, 1/4/10: + 1.60%, and 1/2/09: + 3.16%), one gets a whopping 10% return just on that one trading session. Which is why the fact that futures are glowing read, if only for the moment, may be disturbing for index investors and all those others who put all their faith, not to mention money, in St. Janet. Today's red open is hardly being helped by the 10 Year which continues to drift lower with the yield now at 3.04%, even as the Spanish 10 Year yield just got a 3 handle as well. At this rate the two streams should cross some time in the next two months. Just what a higher yield in the US vs Spain would imply for fair and efficient markets, we leave up to readers to decide.
The fifth anniversary of Zero Hedge is just around the corner, and so, for the fifth year in a row we continue our tradition of summarizing what you, our readers, found to be the most relevant, exciting, and actionable news of the year, determined objectively by the number of page views. Those eager for a brief stroll down memory lane of prior years can do so at their leisure, by going back in time to our top articles of 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. For everyone else, without further ado, these are the articles that readers found to be the most popular posts of the past 365 days...