European Bloodbath As Merkel Won't Go Dutch

Equity, credit, and sovereigns all ugly. Merkel's unequivocal comment on her nation's unwillingness to 'share' burdens and slap the proverbial cheek of Monsieur Hollande, Italy's banking union looking for more 'aid', Spain actually asking for their bailout, Greece 'avoiding' reality, and Cyprus pulling the 'China rescue plan' last ditch retort to market angst; but apart from that, things are dismal in Europe. Italy down over 4% and Spain almost as bad on the day as every major equity index is well into the red. Italian banks monkey-hammered down 6/7.5% and halted a number of times. Investment grade credit outperformed (though was notably wider) as financials (subs and seniors), XOver, and stocks are plummeted to 11-day lows. After breaking below the pre-Spanish bailout levels on Friday, Spain and Italy 10Y are now 20-40bps wider with Italy and Spain 5Y CDS notably wider and well over 500bps. Notably the short-end of the Italian and Spanish curves underperformed significantly (curves flattened): 2Y BTPs +57bps vs 10Y +21bps; 2Y SPG +37bps vs 10Y +17bps. Europe's VIX snapped back above 27% (and we note that our EU-US Vol compression trade is moving well in our favor). EURUSD has been smacked lower by over 80pips ending under 1.25 once again.

European Bloodbath Continues

Europe was a sea of red (apart from Bund prices) today. With yesterday's window-dressing done and overnight dismissal of Spain's hopeful ECB-workaround, European equity and credit markets were dismal, EURUSD ended under 1.2400, and 2Y Bunds at 0.00% yield. Financials underperformed in stocks and credit with senior bank spreads back up to 300bps and LTRO Stigma jumping 12bps to 177.5bps (near record wides). Spain and Italy dominated both single-name banking and non-banking credit and equity moves as well as sovereigns with Spanish 10Y now +45bps on the week and Italy +37bps (with Belgium, France, and Austria all around 9bps wider). All European equity indices are down for the week with Spain down almost 8%. EUR-USD 3Y basis swaps turned back lower (worse) back to -70bps - not a good sign for funding (especially in light of the drop in LTRO we noted yesterday). On a final note of despair, Spanish 2s10s is now flatter than at any time since LTRO1 - implying that any LTRO debt used to fund a real carry trade is now a loser.

LTRO Failure Full Frontal As Spain 10 Year Approaches 6% Again

US data this week is relatively sparse (as usual in a post payroll week) leaving little evidence over the next few days to progress the seasonality debate but after a long weekend of derisking in mind and now in reality, Europe is front-and-center once again. Spain (and less so Italy) has decompressed to its worst levels of the year (5.96% yield and 425bps spread on 10Y) has now lost all of the LTRO gains as the curves of these liquidity-fueled optical illusions of recovery bear-flatten (as front-running Sarkozy traders unwind into the sad reality - most specifically for Spain - that we described in glorious must read detail here). Divergence and decoupling remain sidelined also as Deutsche Banks' Jim Reid notes the 4-week rolling beat:miss ratio in the US macro data has fallen to 24%: 73% (3% in line) from a recent peak at a string 70%:30% on February 29th. His view is still that in a post crisis world, especially as severe as the one we've just been through, Western growth is going to continue to be well below trend for many years and with more regular cycles. With Spain teetering on the verge of a 6% yield once again, we are still off the record wides from late November but not by much as the vicious cycle of sovereign-stress-to-banking-stress-to-banking-stress re-emerges in style. The European situation is still incredibly political and while we'd expect much more intervention down the line, expect the discussions and rhetoric to be fairly tough. The ECB last week indicated that they felt the recent widening in Sovereign spreads was more due to sluggishness in the pace of reforms. They are therefore unlikely to intervene in a hurry. So if Europe does need further intervention it is likely to need to get far worse again first.

Treasuries Poised For Breakout As Key Technicals Taken Out

By now everyone and their dog knows Treasuries are on the move. The move, however, is sizable as 10Y yields break above their 200DMA for the first time in almost five months. This is the second largest two-day jump in yields in 16 months as the market wonders whether this is the breakout where 's##t gets real' or a test of resistance at the October 2011 spike highs. Only AAPL time will tell.

Why The LTRO Is Not A "Risk On" Catalyst

Over the past month, much has been said about the recent 3 year LTRO, and its function in stabilizing the European bond market. Certainly it has succeeded in causing an unprecedented steepening in European sovereign 2s10s curves across the periphery (well, except for Greece, and recently, Portugal) as by implication the ECB has made it clear that debt with a sub-3 year maturity is virtually risk free, inasmuch at least as the ECB is a credible central bank (and if it is perceived as no longer being one, there will be far bigger issues), along the lines of what the Fed's promise to keep ZIRP through the end of 2013, and today's likely extension announcement through 2014. Yet does filling a much needed for European stability fixed income "black hole" equate to a catalyst for Risk On? Hardly, because as in a new note today Brockhouse Cooper analysts Pierre Lapointe and Alex Bellefleur explains, the LTRO is "not a catalyst for a risk-on rally as the central bank is substituting itself for funding sources that have “dried up.” Sure enough - all the ECB is doing is preserving existing leverage (especially in light of ongoing bank deleveraging), not providing incremental debt, something which could only be done in the context of unsterilized bond monetization ala QE in the US. So just over a month in, what does the LTRO really mean for Europe (especially as we approach the next 3 Year LTRO issuance on February 29)? Here is Brockhouse's explanation.

Volume Crashes As Stocks End Unchanged

Amid the lowest NYSE volume of the year (-24% from Friday - OPEX) and pretty much the lowest non-holiday-period volume in 9 years based on Bloomberg's NYSEVOL data, ES (the e-mini S&P 500 futures contract) ended the day almost perfectly unchanged underperforming 5Y investment grade and high-yield credit indices on the day as both moved to contract tights (their best levels since early August last year) even as their curves flattened. There has been lots of chatter about how the steepening of the short-end of the European sovereign bond markets (Italian 2s10s for instance) is a sign that all-is-well in the world again, well unfortunately the flattening of the short-end of US IG and HY credit markets sends a rather less positive signal than headlines might care to admit (as jump risk in the short-term remains 'high' relative to bullish momentum in the medium-term). At the same time, vol markets are showing extreme levels of short-term complacency as 1m VIX is almost at record low levels relative to 3m VIX (and diverging today from implied correlation). Broadly speaking , risk assets rallied into the US day session open only to sell off into the European close (with Sovereigns leaking back the most). The afternoon saw risk rallying as the path of least resistance appears to be up all the time there is no news. Stocks ended well off their highs of the day, in line with broad risk assets, as TSY yields rose 3-4bps higher, Oil and Copper 1.5-1.75% higher (outperformed) while Silver and Gold hugged USD weakness at around a 0.5% gain from Friday's close.

Italian Bonds Surge To Early November Wides

10Y Italian bonds (BTPs) ended the day at their second-widest closing spread to Bunds ever (at 533bps). Only November 9th saw a wider closing print and of course we saw margin hikes at LCH CC&G. 10Y yields are at 7.16%, their highest since just after Thanksgiving but we do note that 2Y yields have stabilized at around 5.00% yields (having peaked near 8% during thin Thanksgiving trading). It seems apparent that perhaps traders front-running LTRO's impact have compressed the 2s10s term structure but much clearer to us is Mr. Market's obvious desire for more money-printing now as BTPs are pushed to unsustainable levels once again - and the banking-to-sovereign vicious circle transmission of insolvency cranks up.

Italy 2s10s Inverts For First Time Since August 1994 As French and Spanish Spreads Widen To Records

Dismal data from French manufacturing and industrial production along with growing chatter of a 'core' Europe strategy having been discussed is sending spreads among sovereign bonds notably wider. As a reminder Italy faces a rather large 1Y bill auction later this morning and the front-end of the BTP curve is underperforming as 2s10s inverts for the first time since August 1994.

2s10s, 30 Year Yield Pancakes As Bernanke Sets Off On Bank Carry Trade Deathwish

Congratulations Ben: you succeeded in getting the 30s to a near record low level (and by far the lowest for 2011) , which also means that the entire curve will soon be flat as a pancake, killing Net Interest Margin, aka curve carry for the banks, momentarily. Good bye Bank of America. Have fun riding that bear market rally with no financial leadership for the next several years.

The Main FX Charts For The Upcoming Week: The 2s10s Is Set To Resume Flattening Again

Goldman's John Noyce once again lays out all the main charts to keep a track off in the coming week, with a particular focus on the EURUSD, EURUSD 2 Year swap spreads, USD 2 and 10 Year swap spreads, but most interesting are Noyce's observations about the 2s10s treasury curve, which he believes Noyce is set to resume flattening from record steep levels: "Putting all the pieces together; the aggressive weekly moving average setup and triangle like consolidation on 2-year swaps, the relatively less aggressive weekly moving average setup on 10-year swaps and the current extreme level of the 10-year/2-year curve, it seems the market is at a juncture where a break higher in short-end yields would be very significant both in specific yield related terms and also due to the USD’s +ve correlation to short-end U.S. yields in a number of currency pairs."

2s10s Under 200 Bps For First Time Since April 2009, Curve Collapse Adds Fuel To Fire Of Macro Fund Implosion Rumor

The 10 Year continues to burrow ever deeper inside 250 bps, last seen at 2.46% or 8 bps tighter on the day, as now the Greek-Bund spread has blown up: did the fake stress tests buy Europe all of one month of time? A country fully backed by the faith and credit of the ECB is once again imploding - what can we say about the "faith and credit" of the ECB then? The only thing keeping the EUR from plunging at this point is the expectation that the Fed will (soon enough) print another cool $2-3 trillion. And the kicker, for Julian Robertson and whatever the macro hedge fund rumored to be liquidating (aside from the TRS which we pointed out yesterday), the 2s10s has just crossed inside 200 bps, the tightest the spread has been since April 2009. Since at least half the market players are still stuck holding on to steepeners, and are now about 30% underwater from the top 4 months ago, add 10x TRS-based leverage, and you can see why whatever fund is blowing up now won't be the last.

2s10s Prepares To Breach Key 200bps Support, As Curve Flattening Resumes With Feeling

The main (and lately only) bullish indicator that everyone seems to be focused on (for all the wrong reasons), continues to telegraph ongoing distressed for the financial segment: the 2s10s part of the Treasury curve has tightened to 206 bps (this was nearly 290bps a few months ago). At today's rate of flight to safety it is possible the key psychological (whatever that means - computers need therapy if Fib levels are brached?) support level 200bps will be taken out. This means all the leading indicators will soon reorient downward yet again, which also includes the ECRI LEI, which is once again due for an inflection point. And the recently far more critical from a funding standpoint, 2s10s30s butterfly, which we have discussed extensively as the primary carry driver of stock purchasing ability, has just gone double digit again.

10 Year, 2s10s Both Suggest Manic-Depressive Stocks 70 Points Too Rich

There was a time when stocks, bonds, gold, dollar, oil, correlations, and pretty much anything that isn't nailed down, going up concurrently would make at least some market participants frown. Not so much any more - with the average "trader" an 18 year old pustular math whiz-kid with the personality of a paper clip and a Ph.D. from a prestigious institution to boot, with no idea of just the level of death and destruction their "sentient", "self-aware" and "learning" programs are about bring to the market, nobody cares about that little thing called logic. Yet going off that, and basing observations on the last rational market indicator, i.e. bonds, it appears stocks continue to be about 70 points rich and have a fair value around 1,020 as implied by 10 Year Yields. As the deranged schizophrenic computer algos were blowing threw vacuum tubes like Ukranian hookers go through crack on any given Hamptons weekend, they totally forgot to bring bond yields higher for validation. Which is why the stocks-bonds (10 Year) convergence is now more pronounced than ever. Sell stocks, Sell bonds (Long Yields) and wait for the big Mahwah collocation facility black out that will eliminate 80% of binary market participants that will allow the spread to close.

Curve Flattening Continues: 2s10s Now Under 240 bps

The most ominous sign for US bank P&L continues to not relent: the 2s10s curve, which is the primary source of "revenue" for the hedge funds formerly known as US banks until a bunch of idiots came along and repealed Glass-Steagall, has just gone inside 240 bps. As before, we view this as the primary margin call threat, as billions, if not trillions, of wrong-way bets on curve steepening move further out of the money with every passing basis point. Once the first major repo counterparty blinks and demands a trand unwind, this trade will snap and we could see an even faster flattening, which would lead to some scary consequences for every other asset class.

UST Curve And Dollar Back To Post Fed Announcement Levels, As Stocks Blissfully Pretend Nothing Happened

After some gyrations in both the 2s10s and the dollar, both are trading at the levels hit post the Fed announcement. The one outlier, of course, is stocks, which are trading oblivious of not only the Fed announcement, but everything that is happening in bonds and FX. Does it mean volume is horrendous and a few algos have again hijacked the market? Yes it does. Welcome to OpEx insanity.