Just as many expect that the #1 buyer of Treasuries (the Fed) will soon begin paring back its purchases, the top foreign holder (China) may cease buying, thereby opening a second front in the taper campaign. Little thought seems to be given to how the economy would react to 5% yields on 10 year Treasuries (a modest number in historical standards). The herd assumes that our stronger economy could handle such levels. That is why when it comes to tapering, the Fed is all bark and no bite. But the market understands none of this. This is not unusual in market history. When the spell is finally broken and markets wake up to reality, we will scratch our heads and wonder how we could ever have been so misguided.
It was all going according to plan. POMO lifted the S&P 500 instantly 7 points at 1015ET back to unchanged and the mainstream media could discuss the fact that stocks are "off the lows." Then (admittedly non-voting member) uber-dove Dennis Lockhart hit the wires with some oddly hawkish commentary: *LOCKHART SAYS TAPERING 'COULD VERY WELL TAKE PLACE' NEXT MONTH
*LOCKHART SAYS QE NOT MEANT TO BE 'PERMANENT FIXTURE' OF POLICY
Which sent stocks to the lows of the day. We are sure, of course, that these remarks will be walked back by the next Fed speaker but for now, it is clear the market remains entirely headline (and Fed) driven.
South Africa supplies almost 60% of the world's platinum (including secondary supply) and 30% of the world's palladium (including secondary supply).
According to Johnson Matthey, platinum production fell almost 16% in 2012 while palladium production declined 10% last year alone.
With prices well below their recent highs, looming production cuts will leave markets tight supporting prices and likely leading to higher prices.
A record deficit in platinum supplies is set to push prices higher and demand is boosted by the new exchange traded fund (ETF).
The amusing news overnight was that following slightly better than expected Q2 GDP data out of Germany (0.7% vs 0.6% expected and up from 0.0%) and France (0.5% vs 0.2% expected and up from -0.2%), driven by consumer spending and industrial output, although investment dropped again, which meant that the Eurozone which posted a 0.3% growth in the quarter has "emerged" from its double dip recession. The most amusing thing is that on an annualized basis both Germany and France grew faster than the US in Q2. And they didn't even need to add iTunes song sales and underfunded liabilities to their GDP calculation - truly a miracle! Or perhaps to grow faster the US just needs higher taxes after all? Of course, with the all important loan creation to the private sector still at a record low, and with the ECB not injecting unsterilized credit, the European depression continues and this is merely an exercise in optics and an attempt to boost consumer confidence.
- Libor Settlements Said to Ease CFTC’s Path in Rate-Swaps Probe (BBG)
- Manhattan Homes Under $3 Million Never Harder to Buy (BBG)
- Just two years late: Abe Pledges Government Help to Stem Fukushima Water Leaks (BBG)
- Chesapeake drops energy leases in fracking-shy New York (Reuters)
- Hedge Fund Magnetar Won't Face Charges Tied to Mortgages (WSJ)
- U.S. envoy leaves Cairo after talks declared over (Reuters)
- Credit-Crisis Oracle Rajan to Head India’s Central Bank (BBG)
- Bank of England Changes Policy Tack (WSJ)
With part two of today's Fed-a-palooza due out shortly in the form of the May 1 FOMC meeting minutes, here is an informative recap of the current roster of assorted birds at the FOMC via Bank of America. Of course, since every decision always begins and ends with Ben, and soon his replacement Janet, all of below is largely meaningless.
- Obama to report to his bosses today: Obama Meets With Blankfein, Dimon and Moynihan Today (BBG)
- 2007 is here all over again: Seeking Relief, Banks Shift Risk to Murkier Corners (NYT)
- Kuroda Calls BOJ Inflation Target 'Flexible' (WSJ)
- Lagarde warns over three-speed world (FT)
- N. Korea’s Retro Propaganda Calls U.S. Boiled Pumpkin (BBG)
- Luxembourg To Ease Bank Secrecy Rule, Share Data In 2015 (BBG)
- Bank of Korea Keeps Policy Steady (WSJ)
- BOE Stimulus Dilemma Persists as Inflation Seen Higher (BBG)
- EU Sounds Alarm on Spain (WSJ)
- Qatar gives Egypt $3bn aid package (FT)
- RBNZ Says Deposit Insurance May Increase Risk of Bank Failure (BBG)
- Plosser Calls for Reducing QE Pace Citing Gains in Labor Market (BBG)
- Obama budget aims to kick start deficit-reduction talks (Reuters)
The driftless overnight sessions are back. After the Nikkei soared by 3% following several days of declines, and the Shanghai Composite continued its downward ways despite Non-Manufacturing PMI prints for March which rose both per official and HSBC MarkIt data, Europe was unsure which way to go, especially with the EURUSD once more probing the 1.28 support level. The USDJPY was no help, and even with the BOJ meeting at which new governor Kuroda is finally expected to do something instead of only talking about it, imminent, has hardly seen the Yen budge and provide the expected carry-funding boost to global risk. In terms of newsflow there was little of it: European CPI in March printed at 1.7%, above expectations of 1.6%, but below February's 1.8% rise in inflation. UK continued telegraphing the inevitability of Mark Carney's imminent QE, with construction PMI the latest indicator missing, at 47.2, below expectations of 48.0 (above 46.8 last). Elsewhere, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Wednesday called for Europe to implement growth policies to balance its austerity drive and for countries with room for fiscal manoeuvre to increase public spending. "Europe is the only region in the world in recession. To overcome this situation we need three things: every country needs to do its homework, we need more (European) integration and we need growth policies," Rajoy said in a televised speech to leaders of his People's Party. "That's why countries which can afford it should spend more." Surely Europe will get right on it: after all, it's only "fair."
Following yesterday's G-7 announcement which sent the USDJPY soaring, and its embarrassing "misinterpretation" clarification which undid the entire spike, by an anonymous source in the US who said the statement was in fact meant to state that the Yen was dropping too fast and was to discourage "currency wars", it was only a matter of time before another G-7 country stepped into the fray to provide a mis-misinterpretation of the original G-7 announcement. That someone was the BoE's outgoing head Mervyn King who at 5:30 am eastern delivered his inflation reporting which he said that "it’s very important to allow exchange rates to move," adding that "when countries take measures to use monetary stimulus to support growth in their economy, then there will be exchange rate consequences, and they should be allowed to flow through." Finally, King added that the BOE will look through CPI and relentless UK inflation to support the recovery, implicitly even if it means incurring more inflation.
As soon as the much-weaker-than-expected GDP print hit the tape this morning, precious metals began to rise. Led by Silver, it appears the physical demand of recent weeks is creeping into the reality of prices (suppressed or otherwise) as bad is good enough for moar help from Ben and his buddies. The upward move in the PMs is as good a predictor of what to expect (i.e., not even a hint of tightening) as the sell-side crew, which is expecting merely another boring FOMC statement - as Goldman notes, following the substantial policy changes announced in December - including the shift to outcome-based forward guidance and the introduction of open-ended Treasury purchases - Goldman expects the January meeting will likely be relatively uneventful with few changes to the economic assessment.
Our quote of the week award recipient is none other than Atlanta Fed's Dennis Lockhart for the following pearl of wisdom:
- LOCKHART SAYS FED WILL BUY BONDS UNTIL U.S. EMPLOYMENT IMPROVES.
Considering that employment is bad because of Fed "bond buys", which are preventing price clearing and discovery, and perpetuating the worst capital misallocation environment in the history of the world (if not for Apple's professional line waiters), one should just replace "buy bonds" with "continue beatings" and "U.S. employment" with "morale."
Hopes that today may finally see an increase in trading volatility and volume following yesterday's reversal session will likely be dashed as the event wasteland on the horizon continues for the third day in a row. As DB explains, the FOMC meeting minutes and Juncker’s visit to Athens are likely the two main sources for key headlines today. While backward looking and certainly predating Lockhart's hawkish comments from yesterday, the FOMC minutes today are expected to shed further light on the kind of policy currently under consideration and the economic conditions required before easing is warranted. One thing that will not be discussed is the circularity of launching more QE even as gas prices have never been higher on this day in history, soy and corn are back at all time highs, and the market trading at multi-year highs. As repeatedly explained before, the option for the FOMC include pushing out the targeted exit date for fed funds, providing “exit guidance” on balance sheet measures (i.e. asset sales), various mixes of additional balance sheet expansion (including the possibility of an open-ended QE program) and cutting interest on reserves. It is virtually certain that none of these will be enacted at the Jackson Hole meeting in one week, 2 months ahead of the presidential election, but hope springs eternal.
As the S&P 500 makes new multi-year highs, the USD dumps, commodities surge, and AAPL just does what it does best; The Fed's Dennis Lockhart has just 'subtly' announced the walking-back of expectations of QE3 happening anytime soon, via Bloomberg:
- *LOCKHART SAYS `MONETARY POLICY IS NOT A PANACEA'
- *LOCKHART SAYS ECONOMIC DATA HAVE BEEN `FIRM' IN LAST MONTH
- *LOCKHART SAYS HOUSING IS STABILIZING AND `ENCOURAGING'
- *LOCKHART: MONTHLY UNEMPLOYMENT RISE SHOULDN'T BE EXAGGERATED
- *LOCKHART SEES `MORE APPETITE FOR RISK'
- *LOCKHART SAYS DISINFLATION, DEFLATION NOT NOW A CONCERN
Tuesday has see little in the way of macroeconomic data, and much focus so far has remained on speculation over whether the ECB will buy periphery debt. Comments from the German ECB representative Jorge Asmussen overnight that he backs the ECB buying periphery debt as a means to prevent the "disintegration of the Euro", a seeming change in stance given that the Bundesbank continues to opposed such measures, lifted risk assets in early trade. As such, the Spanish and Italian spreads over the benchmark Bund are seen tighter by 12.9bps and 14.4bps on the day. Spain's 12- and 18-month T-bill was also well received, the country selling slightly more than the indicative range at EUR 4.512bln, with lower yields, though only the 18-month had a stronger bid/cover. Both the Spanish and the Italian 2-year yields have declined to lows last seen in May of this year. Similarly, two separate comments from German Christian Democratic Union (CDU) lawmakers concerning Greece and the possibility of making "small concessions" for the country so long as they lie within the existing programme also boosted risk appetite, as the probability of a Greek exit looks much less likely if it has the full support of Germany. Elsewhere, the UK unexpectedly posted a budget deficit in July as corporation tax receipts plunged, though this was slightly skewed due to the closure of Total's Elgin gas field in the North Sea. Today also saw UK CBI orders for August plunge, with the industrial order book balance at its lowest this year led by a weakening in the consumer goods sector.
Just like last time around when stocks were plunging with no knight in shining armor in sight, until the Fed's faithful mouthpiece-cum-scribe Jon Hilsenrath showed up with a report, subsequently disproven, that more QE is coming minutes before the market close on July 6, so today stocks appeared poised for a precipice until some time after 3 pm it was leaked that none other than Hilseranth once again appeared, at precisely 3:55 pm, with more of the same. Ironically, the market only saw the word Hilsenrath in the headline, and ignored the rest. The irony is that this time around the Fed's scribbler said nothing that we did not know, namely that the Fed can do something in August, or it may do something in September, or it may do nothing, none of which is actually news.