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.
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.
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.
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.
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 RumorSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/25/2010 08:14 -0400
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.
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.
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.
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.
Somewhere Julian Robertson is convulsing in a fit of lucre-driven epilepsy. The question for today: what is the bigger pain trade - an outright stock short, or a UST flattener? Everyone knows one shouldn't go against the Fed, however the Fed is behind both of these... So where will it crack first?
Can someone please stop the endless cha-ching noises coming out of Julian Robertson's offices already? What's that? Ok, so...apparently absent some sodomy involving bond vigilantes and the inhabitants of the Marriner S. Eccles buildling, nothing can be done.
A hundred billion this week, over a trillion next year, and it starts to add up. It appears that what has been phenomenal strength in the UST market for many months now, undoubtedly with the fervent support of the Federal Reserve, seems to be abating. Over the past week the 2s10s charts has moved stepper by about 15 points, proving that Julian Robertson's steepener trade and its Constant Maturity Swap derivatives will likely end up being quite a profitable position. With a record onslaught of new issuance this week alone, and the expiration of POMO activities on Thursday, the supply side of the equation may finally be catching up bond traders.
Another chart for idiot day traders who think that having a snapshot of a developing market is sometimes relevant. Indeed, we do forget that every data point is always continuously priced in, and need to be violently reminded of that fact: thank you Efficient Market Hypothesis.
Anyone else getting nervous that treasuries are becoming more volatile than stocks (even though VIX is higher on the day despite the 80/30/0 degree equity rally)?
Udpate: for about 2 seconds we were in historical record territory at 277.717 bps.
Quantitative Easing is dead and buried. The bond curve just hit a steepness that was last seen in October... not of last year but of 2003. The rush for near duration is accelerating as investors are running away from the 10 year like a herd of rabid buffaloes. If this continues it will destroy any plans for providing cheap 30 year mortgages. The alternative: make near durations unattractive to the point where banks start losing money from the curve flattening.