New Home Sales
While US floor markets are closed for the Thanksgiving holiday (equity, rates and energy futures are open until 1pm Eastern), Europe and Asia (as well as US equity futures) were busy rebounding overnight on strength in the commodity complex following yesterday's news that China's metals producers have asked for a wholesale government bailout or the "QEmmodity" as we have dubbed it, for the first time since 2009, which together with news that China would soon start arresting "malicious metal sellers" has provided a push for commodity prices across the board.
As the chart below shows, new home construction has plateaued and has been in decline ever since February of 2015 when it posted its post-recession peak of 545K. But what is more troubling is that the median price of new homes tumbled from 307,800 in September, or the highest in the series history to just $281,500, the lowest in 13 months!
Following yesterday's dramatic geopolitical shock, U.S. equity index futures rise as Russia has not escalated the confrontation with Turkey as some had feared, while Asian shares fall, reversing earlier gains. European stocks are rallying and the euro is falling on the back of a Reuters report that the ECB is mulling new measures to prop up lending, although it’s not clear at this point what the real impact from these measures would be.
It may be a holiday shortened week in the US with Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales on deck (some of which may be starting as soon as Wednesday) but there is a lot of macro data to digest in the next few days.
The stock market has been soaring, but all of the hard economic numbers are telling us that a major global recession is here. This is so reminiscent of what happened back in 2008. Back then, all of the fundamentals were screaming “recession” by the middle of that year, but the equity markets didn’t respond until later. It appears that a similar pattern is playing out right now. Just like in 2008, the irrational optimists are going to keep chanting their happy mantras for as long as they possibly can.
To believe this isn’t a bubble is to believe that all of the hot momo money from insti’s, high/biotech, flipper, flappers, fraudsters, and foreigners buying houses is fundamental and here to stay, which is exactly what everybody thought in 2006. Or, to believe that interest rates will keep falling 1% per year going forward, which would lend an element of support to prices.
For generations, single family housing development was a driver of US economic growth. Today, there is no single family housing industry to speak of. These 7 charts derived from this week’s release of new house sales data from the Census Bureau illustrates just how bad things are.
Following the carnage in new home sales in September, amid sliding mortgage apps and despite soaring homebuilder sentiment, pending home sales in September also plunged - dropping 2.3% MoM (missing expectations of a 1.0% rise) and worse still from a downwardly revised history. This is the biggest MoM drop sicne Dec 2013 andthe second lowest level of pending home sales this year. While there is plenty of blame for this, NAR's Larry Yun, rather ominously warns, "signs of a slowing U.S. economy may be causing some prospective buyers to take a wait–and–see approach."
The surge in the USDollar today after The FOMC's 'hawkish' statement has prompted strength in the Offshore Yuan, narrowing once again the spread to Onshore Yuan. Another CNY10 billion cash injection hasn't done much for Chinese stocks or liquidity markets however. After better than expected Japanese industrial production however USDJPY plunged (i.e. no imminent BoJ easing) and that dragged Nikkei 225 over 200 points lower (erasing all the FOMC gains).
"Investors are now facing the second most extreme episode of equity market overvaluation in U.S. history (current valuations on similar measures already exceed those of 1929). The belief that zero interest rates offer no alternative but to accept risk in stocks is valid only if one believes that stocks cannot experience profoundly negative returns. We know precisely how similar valuation extremes have worked out for investors over the completion of the market cycle, and those outcomes have never been deferred indefinitely. The only question at present is how many grains are left in the hourglass."
For the first time since April, Case Shiller Home Prices rose month-over-month (though barely at +0.11%). However, this very modestly better than expected print was all thanks to downward revisions of previous data. San Francisco continues to lead the 20-city index with a 10.7% YoY gain. This is the 6th month in a row in which year-over-year gains are basically stagnant at +5%
Two biggest move overnight came from everyone's favorite carry pair, the USDJPY, which may have finally read what we said yesterday, namely that with the Fed and ECB both doing its job, there is little need for the Bank of Japan to repeat its Halloween massacre for the second year in a row, and as a result will keep its QQE program unchanged. It promptly tumbled from its 121 tractor level, to just above 120.25, where BOJ bids were said to be found. With the FOMC October meeting starting today, the other overnight catalyst was not surprisingly the latest Hilsenrath scribe in which he removed any uncertainty about a Wednesday hike, "leaving mid-December as the central bank’s last chance to raise rates this year."
News That Matters
Homebuilders were exuberant, The Fed was confident, and stock markets have recovered... so why did New Home Sales collapse 11.5% in September (missing a 0.6% drop expectation by a proverbial mile)? This is the largest MoM drop since July 2013. Worst still, the excitement of July and August data has been notably revised lower to press the current New Home Sales SAAR to 468k - its lowest since November 2014. At the same time, median home prices surged to $296,900 - the highest in 2015. Time to hike rates?
Last week it was all about central banks, when both the ECB and the PBOC unleashed a massive market rally. This week it will be about even more central banks, this time the Fed, which won't hike, and the BOJ, which may but most likely won't as the Fed and the ECB already did its work for it, sending the Yen tumbling with their actions and/or jawboning.