A constant stream of hyprocrisy from Fed officials (will print moar money if stuff happens), The EIA (storage is getting fuller and fuller, but production will be lower than expected), and Saudi Oil Minister Naimi's idiocy (increased production, demanding non-OPEC cooperation, but optimistic on prices recovering in the short-term) has sent crude asymmetrically rocketing higher... which is now apparently a good thing for US equities.
As reported earlier, several hours ago Saudi Arabia announced that its 91-year-old King Abdullah had passed away, in the process setting off what may be a fascinating, and problematic, Saudi succession fight which impacts everything from oil, to markets to geopolitics, especially in the aftermath of the dramatic political coup in neighboring Yemen. As a reminder, it is Saudi Arabia whose insistence on not cutting oil production with the intent of hobbling the US shale industry has led to the splinter of OPEC, and to a Brent price south of $50. Which is why today's event and its implications will be analyzed under a microscope by everyone: from politicians to energy traders. Here, courtesy of Ecstrat's Emad Mostaque, is an initial take at succession, the likely impact on oil, then the Saudi market & currency and finally regional politics.
After first falling ill and being hospitalized in December, Saudi Arabia officials have announced:
*SAUDI ARABIAN KING ABDULLAH DIES, CROWN PRINCE SALMAN SUCCEEDS: STATE TV
As we noted previously when considering this possibility, "a new King can do (almost) anything he wants, including changing oil policy." 79-year-old Crown Prince Salman has been named succesor (and has his own health issues - reportedly suffering from Dementia). Oil prices popped around 80c on the news.
There's been a huge price move in oil. The spreads shows a startling picture.
Saudi King Abdullah Hospitalization Sends Stocks Tumbling But It's Oil That Is Suddenly Paying AttentionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/31/2014 11:29 -0400
Earlier today, Saudi Arabia's stock market fell sharply with the Tadawul All Share Index plunging following a Saudi state TV report that King Abdullah had been admitted to hospital for tests. As shown in the chart report, the index tumbled as much as 6% lower in the minutes after the Saudi Press Agency report which quoted a brief royal court statement. But while the ill king of the King, aged 90, is hardly news to the discounting stock market, a few more nuanced interpertation of not just what happens if and when the King passes away but what Saudi succession looks like, is much more relevant for oil - especially now that Saudi Arabia has unilaterally decided to tear apart OPEC in its push to put US shale producers out of business.
Every year, David Collum writes a detailed "Year in Review" synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year's is no exception. "I have not seen a year in which so many risks - some truly existential - piled up so quickly. Each risk has its own, often unknown, probability of morphing into a destructive force. It feels like we’re in the final throes of a geopolitical Game of Tetris as financial and political authorities race to place the pieces correctly. But the acceleration is palpable. The proximate trigger for pain and ultimately a collapse can be small, as anyone who’s ever stepped barefoot on a Lego knows..."
Total U.S. national debt hit a new record high overnight at over $18 trillion as the Obama administration continues to pile debt onto the back of the U.S. taxpayer at a rate that would have made George W. Bush look prudent.
While we have covered the aberration that is a negative gold GOFO rate previously and in extensive detail in this post, an abridged version of what negative GOFO means comes courtesy of Deutsche Bank's recent discussion on what a successful Swiss gold referendum. To wit: "It is interesting to note that benchmark gold-dollar swap rates have recently traded negative, meaning investors are paying to borrow gold. This is unusual as gold is traditionally used as a source of collateral for cash financing.... [A] number of factors may play a role, such as excess dollar liquidity or an increased demand for collateral on the back of the global regulatory developments." In short a gold shortage at the institutional, read commercial and central bank, level. And not just a shortage but the biggest shortage in history, judging by today's latest plunge in the 1 Month GOFO which just dropped to -0.5% and , worse, 1 Year GOFO that just hit its lowest print in the 21st century, and is also about to go negative: something that has never happened before further suggesting the gold shortage could go on for a long, long time!
As the debate regarding whether or not Switzerland should keep the bulk of its gold reserves at home on Swiss soil reaches it's climax - the referendum takes place on Sunday - it is telling that the Dutch announced on Friday that they have just secretly repatriated 122 tonnes of their sovereign gold reserves from New York back to Amsterdam.
“Unconventional measures might entail the purchase of a variety of assets, one of which is sovereign bonds,” the ECB president said in Brussels yesterday in answer to a question during his quarterly testimony to lawmakers at the European Parliament. Draghi and the uber doves appear determined to ignore the failure of QE in both the U.S. and Japan.
As noted over the past week there has been a massive shortage of precious metals - most notably silver which as of this moment is indefinitely unavailable at the US Mint - as a result of the tumble in the paper price, and following 8 days of sliding and negative 1 month GOFO rates, today the physical metal shortage surged, as can be seen by not only the first negative 6 month GOFO rate since last summer's much publicized gold shortage when China was gobbling up every piece of shiny yellow rock available for sale, but a 1 month GOFO of -0.1850%: the most negative it has been since 2001!
Shit just got real. The Bank of Japan said it will buy 100% of new bond issuance.
Copper prices are surging this morning (in the face of Goldman's recent warnings of a plunge), jumping 4 handles apparently on the heels of a WSJ story in which LME admits that a single buyer has snapped up more than half the copper held in London Metal Exchange warehouses, giving it control over a crucial source of supply and raising concerns among traders about the potential for higher prices. What is more remarkable is, as WSJ reports, on several occasions in the last month, this buyer held as much as 90% of the world’s copper stored in LME-licensed warehouses. Though no confirmation has been given traders suggest the firm cornering the copper market is Red Kite Group, a London hedge-fund manager that focuses on metals trading.
The recent slowdown in Chinese property sales, prices and early-cycle new starts has most impacted physical demand for (and sentiment towards) commodities exposed to the earlier stages of China’s construction cycle – steel and iron ore – which have underperformed commodities more exposed to latter stages of the construction cycle, such as copper. However, as the recent slowdown in new starts flows through to late-cycle, copper-intensive construction completions, we expect copper to come under further pressure.