New Home Sales
Today is shaping up to be a rerun of yesterday where another frenzied Asian session that has seen both the Shanghai Composite and the Nikkei close higher yet again (following the weakest Chinese HSBC mfg PMI in one year which in an upside down world means more easing and thus higher stocks) has for now led to lower US equity futures with the driver, at least in the early session, being a statement by the BOJ's Kuroda that there’s a "possibility" the Bank of Japan’s 2% inflation target will be delayed and may occur in April 2016.
While this week sees the peak of Q1 earnings season, it will be a generally quiet week on the macro economic front for both EM and DM, with the emphasis on the latest seasonally adjusted manufacturing sentiment surveys, US durables and Japan trade.
It is only fitting that the next business day following a headline that "Global Futures Slide China Tumbles On Short Selling Boost" we would see China, in an apparent panic, not only cut its RRR by 100 bps to 18.5% - far more than expected and the most since 2008 - but, more importantly, hinted that the Friday regulatory decision to encourage short sales and tighter margin rules on "umbrella trusts" was in no way meant to pop that the Chinese stock bubble, ridiculous as it may be. End result: after Chinese futures crashed by up to 6% on Friday after the Shanghai close, overnight the SHCOMP was down just 1.64%, erasing the bulk of the futures loss. More importantly, US equity futures have seen a strong bid this morning in yet another attempt to defend not only the Apple Sachs Industrial Average from going red on the year but the all important 100 DMA technical levels.
Moments ago the Department of Commerce reported March starts and permits data, which after the February collapse was expected by everyone to rebound strongly because, well, it didn't snow as much in March as it did in February. Apparently it did, because not only did Housing Starts miss massively, and just as bad as in February, printing at 926K, on expectations of a 1.040MM rebound from last month's revised 908K.
"The contribution of housing to US GDP continues to run at some of the lowest levels since the end of World War II. New construction of single- and multi-family homes, renovations, broker fees and the like still only make up a bit more than 3% of current GDP, well below the post-war average of 4.7%. Not only has the level of lift from housing come in low, but it has bounced out of the last official recession slowly, too," Deutsche Bank says.
Does it really take purportedly intelligent people six years to see that the macros are not responding? Better still, isn’t it time for the Fed to explain the exact channel by which its interest rate pegging and forward guidance is supposed to be transmitted to the main street economy? After all, if these channels are blocked or ineffective - then its flood of liquidity never leaves the canyons of Wall Street. In that event, the central bank actually functions as a financial doomsday machine, inflating the next financial bubble until it bursts. Then, apparently, its job is to rinse and repeat.
After three days of unexpected market weakness without an apparent cause, especially since after 7 years of conditioning, the algos have been habituated to buy on both good and bad news, overnight futures are getting weary, and futures are barely up, at least before this morning's transitory FX-driven stop hunt higher. Whether this is due to the previously noted "blackout period" for stock buybacks which started a few days ago and continues until the first week of May is unclear, but should the recent "dramatic" stock weakness persist, expect Bullard to once again flip flop and suggesting it is clearly time to hike rates, as long as the S&P does not drop more than 5%. In that case, QE4 is clearly warranted.
This is how ridiculous goverment data has become: in the same month in which both Housing Starts and Existing Home sales significantly missed expectations, misses which were promptly blamed on the weather, the Census Bureau moments ago released a stunner of a New Home Sales number, which supposedly rose from an upward revised 500K to 539K, a 25% spike from a year ago and up 7.8% from January, which incidentally is also the highest number since February 2008, even as the median home price dropped to the lowest since September. All of this would be great... if it was remotely credible. It isn't.
- Germanwings Airbus crashes in France, 148 feared dead (Reuters)
- Greece promises list of reforms by Monday to unlock cash (Reuters)
- Merkel Points Tsipras Toward Deal With Greece’s Creditors (BBG)
- Banks Shift Bond Portfolios -Move to ‘held to maturity’ category aims to guard against rising rates, shield capital (WSJ)
- Beijing to Shut All Major Coal Power Plants to Cut Pollution (BBG)
- As Silence Falls on Chicago Trading Pits, a Working-Class Portal Also Closes (NYT)
- Oil below $56 as Saudi output near record, China activity slows (Reuters)
It is a centrally-planned "market" and everyone is merely a bystander. Last night, following a dramatic China PMI miss, which as previously reported tumbled to the worst print since early 2014 and is flashing a "hard-landing" warning, the Shanghai Composite first dipped then spiked because all a "hard-landing" means is even more liquidity by the PBOC (which as we suggested a month ago will be the last entrant into the QE party before everyone falls apart). Then, this morning, a surprise beat by the German (and Eurozone) PMI was likewise interpreted by the algos as a catalyst to buy, and at this moment both European stock and US equity futures are their session highs. So, to summarize, for anyone confused: both good and bad data is a green light to buy stocks. In fact, all one needs is a flashing red headline to launch the momentum igniting algos into a buying spasm.
As previously observed (skeptically), a main reason for the surge in the DAX, and thus the S&P, on Friday was premature hope that the Greek talks earlier were a long-overdue precursor to a Greek resolution, and as we further noted yesterday, subsequent bickering and lack of any clarity as we go into today's critical "final ultimatum" meeting between Merkel and Tsipras, is also why the Dax was lower by 1.1% at last check, even if the EURUSD continues to trade like an illiquid, B-grade currency pair whose only HFT purpose is to slam all stops within 100 pips of whatever the current price may be.
The average American benefited in no way from the government/banker bailout. Their wages have deteriorated, their daily living expenses have risen, Obamacare has resulted in higher healthcare premiums, higher co-pays, more part-time jobs, less full-time jobs, and less healthcare choices for the working class, while Wall Street generates billions in risk free profits, bankers and corporate executives reap massive million dollar bonuses, and the .1% parties like its 1999. Rising wealth inequality has been systematically programmed into our economic system by bankers and their bought off puppet politicians in Washington D.C. – Corporate fascism at its finest.
While the actual number of new homes sold has barely budged during the so-called Recovery, the incentive for the builders, is right there, and as can been by median new home prices which continue to rise, and in fact hit an all time high as recently as December!
When existing home sales missed expectations, the fault was laid squarely at the foot of the meteorological conditions (despite a rise in NorthEast sales). New Home Sales beat expectations in January, printing 481k vs 470k expectations (though very modestly lower than December's revised 482k) and - destroying the meme that weather is to blame - sales soared in The Midwest. Median prices dropped MoM to the lowest since September but remain up an impressive 9% YoY. Lack of inventory continues to be blamed for weak sales - but, we ask rhetorically, doesn't price rise when supply drops?
- Invade Syria already, we know you will: Islamic State in Syria abducts at least 150 Christians (Reuters)
- Greece Struggles to Get Citizens to Pay Their Taxes (WSJ)
- Doubts Shadow Deal to Extend Greek Bailout (WSJ)
- In surprise result, Chicago's Mayor Emanuel faces election run-off (Reuters)
- Obama vetoes Keystone pipeline bill (Reuters)
- Another sign of the top: Cushman & Wakefield Going Up for Sale (WSJ)
- Lure of Wall Street Cash Said to Skew Credit Ratings (BBG) ... and threat of DOJ lawsuits also
- Oil rises to $59 as Saudis say demand growing (Reuters)