New Home Sales
On the heels of the 17-sigma beat in new home sales, pending home sales soared 5.1% MoM in April - 6.5 standard deviations above economist estimates of a 0.7% jump. Pending home sales rose for the third consecutive month in April and reached their highest level in over a decade, according to the National Association of Realtors. All major regions saw gains in contract activity last month (with The West surging 11.5% MoM) except for the Midwest, which saw a meager decline.
Follow EM or not? That is the big question that BofAML asks as once again Emerging Market stocks are decoupling (lower) from an exuberant US equity market.
The single biggest event overnight was the PBOC's devaluation of the Yuan to the lowest since March 2011, setting the fixing at 6.5693, the highest in over 5 years and in direct response to a stronger dollar, which however if one looks at the DXY remains well below the recent highs in the 100 range, suggesting for China this is only just beggining. However, the fact that there was not more volatility in onshore and offshore overnight FX also comforted the market that at the same time as its was devaluing the PBOC was also intervening in the FX market, thus providing some assurance it would not allow runaway "risk off" sentiment prevail, nor would it promote another blitz round of capital outflows, leading to another gradual levitation in overnight risk.
There was a lot of headscratching in today's New Home Sales reported released moments ago by the Census Bureau, according to which there was a whopping 619K new home sold in April, up from the upward revised 531K (was 511K), and smashing expectations of a 523K print, driven by a surge in Northeast home sales which soared unexpectedly from 36K in March to 55K in April, a completely unexplained 53% spike.
Yesterday's weak dollar headfake has ended and overnight the USD rallied, while Asian stocks dropped to the lowest level in 7 weeks and crude oil fell as speculation returned that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates as early as next month. The pound jumped and European stocks gained thanks to a weaker EUR.
Following last week's lull in global macro, it’s a busy start to the week in which we get the latest deluge of global flash PMIs, while the US economic calendar is loaded with New Home Sales data, Trade Balance, Initial Claims, UMichigan sentiment and the revised US Q1 GDP print on Friday. But perhaps the most expected event will be Yellen's speech on Friday at Harvard's Radcliffe, where the Fed chairman is expected to reveal some more hints on the upcoming rate hike.
Comparing the growth in the number of full time jobs versus the growth in new home sales starkly illustrates both the horrible quality of the new jobs, and how badly ZIRP has served the US economy.
Following the weakness in new home sales, starts, and permits, pending home sales modest beat of expectations (+1.4% MoM vs 0.5% exp) provides a glimmer of hope for homebuilders and recovery-narrative-buyers. Pending sales in The West declined and are now lower than a year ago (-7.9% YoY) for the 3rd month in a row. The decoupling between new- and pending-home sales was also seen at the start of last year, and ended badly for pending home sales...
For the 5th month in a row (and 10th of last 11), S&P Case-Shiller Home Price growth YoY missed expectations. February saw prices rise 5.38% (below 5.5% exp) which is the weakest annual growth since September 2015. Seattle and San Francisco rose the most MoM as Cleveland and New York saw the biggest drops MoM.
With the Fed decision just one day away, followed the very next day by the increasingly more irrational BOJ, stocks had no desire to make significant moves and overnight's boring session was the result, as European stocks and U.S. index futures rose modestly but mostly hugged the flatline while Asian declined 0.2% for a third day as raw-material shares declined and Tokyo equities slumped before central bank meetings in the U.S. and Japan this week. China’s stocks rose the most in almost two weeks, up 0.6% but failed to rise above 3000 on the Shanghai Composite, in thin trading.
The cracks are starting to show in the housing 'recovery'. With Starts and Permits already rolling over, New Home Sales printed a disappointing 511k (vs 520k expectations), dropping 1.5% MoM. This is the 3rd monthly decline in a row - the longest such streak since July 2011. While positive for affordability, the decline MoM and YoY in median home prices (-$9,400 and -$5,400 respectively) will do nothing for The Fed's wealth-creation mandate. The West saw New Home Sales plunge 23.6% MoM while The Midwest surged 18.5%.
The April FOMC gathering headlines a crowded economic events calendar this week. The post-meeting statement, released Wednesday afternoon, should continue to strike a cautious tone. There will be no press conference and updated economic and financial forecasts will not be released. Few expect the FOMC to add the “balance of risks” sentence back into its communiqué at this point. Doing so would be quite bearish for risk assets as it would definitely open the door for a June rate hike.
Futures are currently unchanged, but the E-mini was down as much as 12 points less than two hours earlier after the European open when this time it was up to the PBOC to intervene in global markets by pushing the Yuan higher (selling USDCNY via intermediary banks) sending global stocks sharply higher off session lows and leaving the S&P futures virtually unchanged. As Bloomberg reported, there has been increasing USD/CNY selling in afternoon session as Dollar Index edged lower. This is the PBOC entering the building and levitating stocks.
Those betting against Goldman Sach’s retail investment advice have generally been on the right side of things. The same thing is about to happen again. “Short gold! Sell gold!” said Goldman’s head commodity trader, Jeff Currie, during a CNBC “Power Lunch” interview. Currie’s advice was in response to the question “Is there any commodity you are recommending that can help our viewers make some money?” Currie’s provided several reasons for shorting gold, blatantly wrong.