New Home Sales
Confused about the latest disconnect between reality and propaganda, this time affecting the (foreclosure-stuffed) housing "recovery" which has become the only upside that the bulls can point to when demonstrating the effectiveness of QE now that the latest attempt at economic recovery has failed miserably both in the US and globally? Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg is here to clear any confusion.
It is only logical that after last month's New Home Sales miss (exp. 420, printed 411K), which sent the market higher, today's tiniest of beats in New Home Sales, which printed at 417K, on expectations of 416K, would also send the market higher. The total months of supply indicated was 4.4, the same as February, and well above the 4.0 from January. Unnoticed in the release was that the January housing data was revised higher from 431K to 445K, meaning last month's drop would have been even more acute (-7.6% instead of -4.6%), but who cares about such things as data chronology now that the headline effect is long gone. All that matters is that the trend is the mainstream media's friend, which can report new home sales have grown once more... if only back to levels last seen in April of 2010 when the same number was 422K. Was the data actually meaningful on a long-term basis? We will let readers decide on their own after one look at the chart below. Finally, and this will not be mentioned anywhere, the average New Home price plunged from $310,000 to $279,900 - the lowest since June of 2012. One can only imagine the step down in quality that was required to make up in volume what was "lost" in price.
Yet another round of less than impressive macroeconomic data from China and Eurozone failed to deter equity bulls and heading into the North American crossover, stocks in Europe are seen higher, with tech and financials as best performers. The disappointing PMI data from Germany, where the Services component fell below the expansionary 50, underpins the view that the ECB will likely cut the benchmark interest rates next month and may even indicate that it is prepared to provide additional support via LTROs. As a result, the EONIA curve bull flattened and the 2/10s German spread flattened by almost 3bps to levels not seen since June 2012. In turn, Bund future hit YTD peak at 146.77 and the next technical level to note is 146.89, 1st June 2012 high. However it is worth noting that the upside traction is also being supported by large coupon payments and redemptions from France, the second highest net market inflow for 2013.
If there was any debate about the global economic contraction, driven largely due to pundits confusing manipulated stock market levitation with this anachronistic thing called the "economy" and fundamentals for the fourth year in a row, all doubts were removed after this morning's manufacturing PMI data out of China, which as reported previously was a big disappointment (sending the Composite firmly into the red for the year down 2.57% to 2184.5) only to be followed by just as disappointing manufacturing and services PMI data out of Germany, which tumbled from 49 and 50.9 to 47.9 and 49.2, respectively, missing estimates of 49.and 51. The composite German PMI tumbled to a 6-month low of 48.8 as a result, meaning the European economic deterioration is just getting started, and at the worst possible time for Merkel several months ahead of her reelection campaign. The end result was a miss in the blended Eurozone Mfg PMI, which dropped from 46.8 to 46.5, even as the less relevant Services component eaked out a small gain from 46.4 to 46.6, on the back of a dead cat bounce in French economic indicators. Bottom line: a contraction in both European manufacturing and services for the 15th consecutive month. Some "recovery."
With no macro data on the docket (the NAR's self promotional "existing home sales" advertising brochure is anything but data), the market will be chasing the usual carry currency pair suspects for hints how to trade. Alas, with even more ominous economics news out of Europe, and an apparently inability of Mrs Watanabe to breach 100 on the USDJPY (hitting 99.98 for the second time in two weeks before rolling over once more), we may be rangebound, or downward boung if CAT shocks everyone with just how bad the Chinese (and global) heavy construction (and thus growth) reality truly is. One asset, however, that has outperformed and is up by well over 2% is gold, trading at $1435 at last check, over $100 from the lows posted a week ago, and rising rapidly on no particular news as the sell off appears to be over and now the snapback comes and the realization that Goldman was happily buying everything its clients were selling all along.
Succinctly summarizing the positive and negative news, data, and market events of the week...
Cyprus Contagion Spreads As European "Omnishambles" Return; Euro Under 1.28 For First Time Since NovemberSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/27/2013 06:59 -0400
While everyone likes to hate on Cyprus, it is Italy that is the focal point of today's European "omnishambles" that has seen the EURUSD tumble to a five month low as of this writing. First it was economic data that scared investors, with Industrial Sales and Orders tumbling far below expected, posting numbers of -1.3% and -1.4%, respectively, on expectations of an increase. Retail sales were just as ugly, declining by -0.5% in January, on expectations of an unchanged print, with the December 0.2% number revised also into negative territory. Then Bersani, who has been tasked to form a government until tomorrow, said that the possibility of a broad coalition government does not exist, adding that no lasting government is possible without him as a premier, and requesting that Grillo's Five Star party not block his path to government, for which we wish him the best of luck as moments later Five Star ruled out all external support for a broad government and would vote no confidence for Bersani. Then we got news that the Italian financial police has searched the Nomura in Milan in connection with the Monte Paschi case, which means even more skeletons in the closet are about to be uncovered. Finally, Italy just held a 3.5% 5 and 4.5% 10 year bond auction in which the country raised less than the maximum targeted €7 billion, and in which the Bid to Cover on the 5 Year dumping to the lowest since 2002, with bidding quite soft and the yield rising to 3.65% versus 3.59% previously. This has resulted in a blow out in Italian yields by 16 bps to 4.73% compared to 4.705% earlier. End result, as noted yesterday, has been an acceleration in the rush out of the EUR, with the EURUSD sliding to under 1.28 for the first time since November 21, a blow out in Greek bonds with yields pushing up 55 bps to 12.68% and a push for real safety (sorry, not the DJIA) in the form of German 2 Year bonds, which have dipped to -0.018%, the lowest since December, on rising fears that despite endless lies out of its bureaucrats, Europe may not be fixed after all.
It is clear now that we must have been wrong about the economy. No more proof is needed than the fact the Dow has gone up 1,500 points. Everyone knows the stock market reflects the true health of the nation – multi-millionaire Jim Cramer and his millionaire CNBC talking head cohorts tell us so. Ignore the fact that the bottom 80% only own 5% of the financial assets in this country and are not benefitted by the stock market in any way. It is time to open your eyes and arise from your stupor. Observe what is happening around you. Look closely. Does the storyline match what you see in your ever day reality? It is them versus us. Whether you call them the invisible government, ruling class, financial overlords, oligarchs, the powers that be, ruling elite, or owners; there are powerful wealthy men who call the shots in this global criminal enterprise. No amount of propaganda can cover up the physical, economic, social, and psychological descent afflicting our world. There’s a bad moon rising and trouble is on the way.
Wealth levies and a European banking system collapsing; dismal capital goods new orders; a miss for new home sales and Richmond Fed; almost the lowest volume of the year in stocks, and Treasury bonds trading at their lowest yield since the Cyprus debacle started - a perfect recipe to try a run to all-time closing highs in the S&P 500. The previous high close (not intraday) was 1565.17 on 10/09/07 and we missed it by less than 2 points today. What has taken us to these new post-Cyprus highs, safety - Staples, Healthcare, and Utilities (up 1-3% since 3/15 Cyprus). Banks remain battered with C, GS, and MS all down 5-6%. Treasuries and corporate bonds reflected a considerably different perspective on risk-appetite to stocks today. While the USD largely flatlined, with JPY weakening, EURJPY (and WTI it seems) led stocks higher on dismal volume. Gold, silver, and copper flatlined (following the USD's lead) but the disconnect between VIX/Stocks and Bonds/Credit was extreme by the close. VIX remains 1.5 vols higher than it was when stocks were last here and the protection bid in credit markets (and low volume in stocks) suggests equity algos simply forgot that Europe opens again in 8 hours.
Houston we may have a problem: with the DJIA trumpetedely hitting new all time highs day after day in March, one would expect that its traditional second derivative - US Consumer Confidence, would be at all time highs as well, or close thereby. One would be wrong, because according to the Conference Board, March consumer confidence plunged to 59.7 from 69.6, and well below expectations of a 67.5 print. Both components of the index dipped, with both the present situation and expectations indices sliding from 61.4 and 72.4, to 57.9 and 60.9, respectively. And just to make sure the S&P ramps to all time highs on ongoing miserable economic, corporate profit and, of course, sovereign insolvency news, we got both New Home Sales, dropping from 431K to 411K, missing expectations of 420K, and the Richmond Fed also missing expectations of a 6 print, dropping from last month's 6 to 3. All in all, if this latest round of ugly and rapidly getting worse economic data doesn't send the S&P to new all time highs, nothing will. Well, perhaps another European country going broke may do the trick...
Another session in which the market continues to be "cautiously optimistic" about Europe, but is confused about Cyprus which keeps sending the wrong signals: in the aftermath of the Diesel-Boom fiasco, the announcement that the preciously announced reopening of banks was also subsequently "retracted" and pushed back to at least Thursday, did little to soothe fears that anyone in Europe has any idea what they are doing. Additional confusion comes from the fact that the Chairman of the Bank of Cyprus moments ago submitted his resignation: recall that this is the bank that is supposed to survive, unlike its unluckier Laiki competitor which was made into a sacrificial lamb. This confusion has so far prevented the arrival of the traditional post-Europe open ramp, as the EURUSD is locked in a range below its 200 DMA and it is unclear what if anything can push it higher, despite the Yen increasingly becoming the funding currency of choice.
Well, that was a fun day, eh? Spills and thrills the whole day long.
Importantly, it’s the end of the quarter and performance bonuses are on the line. So any excuse to rally is built in to conditions.
With little on the event calendar in the overnight session, the main news many were looking forward to was Italy's auction of €2.5 billion in 5 and €4 billion in 10 year paper, to see just how big the fallout from the Hung Parliament election was in the primary market. As SocGen explained ahead of the auction: "The target of Italy's 2017 and 2023 BTP auction today is a maximum EUR6.5bn, but in order to get to that tidy amount the Tesoro may be forced to offer a hefty mark-up in yield to compensate investors for the extra risk. Note that Italian 6-month bills were marked up at yesterday's sale from 0.731% to 1.237%. Who knows what premium investors will be asking for today for paper with the kind of duration that is not covered by the ECB OMT (should that be activated)? Will Italian institutions, already long BTPs relative to overall asset size, be forced to hoover up most of the supply?" The outcome was a successful auction which, however, as expected saw yields spike with the 4 year paper pricing at 3.59% compared to 2.95% before, while the 10 Year paper priced some 60 bps wider to the 4.17% in January, yielding 4.83%. The result was a brief dip in Italian OTR BTP yield, which have since retraced all gains and are once again trading in the 4.90% range on their way to 5%+ as JPM forecast yesterday. And as expected, talk promptly emerged that the auction was carried by "two large domestic buyers" in other words, the two big local banks merely levered up on Italian paper hoping furiously that they are not the next MF Global.
Ben was in congress campaigning er, testifying mostly about the effectiveness of all things ZIRP and QE. He was grilled about possible risks with QE especially if interest rates should rise. The Bernank saying that interest rates would rise was unlikely but he then cavalierly stated if rates rise, the Fed would just “hold back on payments” er, stiff the Treasury. That’s no big deal for him since by then he’ll be down the road writing his memoirs, making speeches and joining some big Wall Street firm as a well-paid consultant. The Bernank was also asked if he noted any bubbles or market excess and said he saw none.