- The revolving door continues: Mary Schapiro joins Promontory Financial (WSJ)
- First Peek at Health-Law Cost (WSJ)
- Abe warns over Japan inflation target: warns 2% inflation target may not be reached within two years (FT)
- BoJ's Kuroda tested by divided board (Reuters)
- Nanjing poultry butcher fourth person infected with H7N9 bird flu (SCMP)
- What time do top CEOs wake up? (Guardian)
- Cyprus Seeks More Time to Meet Targets in Talks With Troika (BBG)
- Investors Ignore Negativity at Their Peril (WSJ)
- Apple bows to Chinese pressure (FT)
- One can only laugh: North Korea to restart nuclear reactor in weapons bid (Reuters)
- Visa Demand Jumps (WSJ)
- Bloomberg's refutation of Stockman: yes, yes but... look over there, stocks are up! (BBG)
The BTFD mantra is alive and well in a market, where futures overnight briefly dipped to a low of -0.5% only to be set to open at record high, following the biggest one day drubbing in China in months, where the Shanghai Composite closed -2.82% after new rules were issued by the Chinese banking regulator to limit the expansion and improve the transparency of so-called “wealth management products”. The products, which are marketed as higher yielding alternatives to bank deposits, are often used to fund risky projects including property developments, short-term corporate lines of credit or for speculative purchases of commodities and have been identified as contributing to the rise of shadow-banking in China’s financial system. As Deutsche reports, Fitch estimates the total amount of outstanding wealth-management products was around 13 trillion yuan at the end of last year—equal to about 15% of total banking-system deposits. Japanese equities were also weaker overnight (Nikkei –1.3%) and the yen is 0.3% firmer against the dollar after BoJ Governor Kuroda told parliament that he has no intention of buying foreign bonds because doing so could be seen as currency intervention. Finally, South Korea informally entered the currency wars after it slashed its GDP forecast from 3% to mid-2%, announcing it would use "interest rates" to boost growth, which naturally means use of monetary means and directly challenging the BOJ.
It was all going so well. TV pundits could proclaim their omnipotence - knowing full well that Cyprus was a storm in a teacup - and then D-Bom hit the wires with some harsh reality speak. European banks plummeted - most of Italy's banking system ended limit down, European bank credit spreads blew to their widest in 4 months and bank stocks are playing catch down - as we pointed out recently (with their biggest 6-day plunge in 8 months) and almost negative YTD. Equity indices across the continent saw their biggest drops in a month (since the Italian elections) but it was Spain and Italy that bore the brunt - rightfully so as fulcrum securities. Bond spreads snapped wider (from opening notably tighter) as rumors of an Italy downgrade and Fitch reconsidering the sovereign/banking link didn't help. Swiss 2Y rates held at 0% and while it dropped notably on the day, Switzerland's SMI was the best performing stock market on the day, as the Russian Ruble saw its best day against the EUR in 6 weeks. "Europe is fixed," indeed.
All eyes should remain focused on Cyprus today, especially since there is no data being reported elsewhere. Financial markets closed Friday on a positive note, as an agreement on Cyprus appeared to be taking shape and a minor relief rally across most asset classes overnight vindicated hopes of a positive outcome as details of the detail were announced overnight. More clarity is still required on some aspects of the agreement (deposit and bondholders) but the fact that the national parliament does not need to vote again should stop the deal from unravelling as it did last week. Whether this is enough to restore confidence and prevent a possible cautionary deposit flight from Cyprus remains to be seen.
A review of the implications of the new deal struck on Cyprus. We think three of the worst pitfalls have ultimately been avoided--small depositors protected, orthodox seniority of claims respected, and extensive capital controls averted. The political will to preserve EMU has once again triumphed over ideological purity. We review the economic calendar for the week ahead.
Based on the the budget, Fitch has placed the United Kingdom's AAA taing on Watch Negative (for future downgrade): The RWN reflect the latest economic and fiscal forecasts published by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) that indicate that UK government debt will peak later and at a higher level than previously expected by Fitch. GBPUSD snapped 50 pips lower but is reverting a little now - US equities shrug (just another piece of AAA collateral nearer biting the dust).
Those wondering why the overnight ramp has not yet materialized despite promises from BOJ's new governor Kuroda to openly-endedly monetize Fukushima radiation if necessary in order to reflate the economy, will have to look at Europe where a raft of horrifying PMIs confirms what most have known: the relapse into a multi-dip European recession is progressing nicely, and the hoped for rebound in the core economies of France and Germany is once again on track to not happen, but at least there will be Cyprus to blame it all on this time. The specific reason this time was French and German Flash Manufacturing and Services PMI for March, all of which came far below expectations: German Mfg PMIs printed at a contracting 48.9 vs Exp. 50.5 (back from 50.3), while Services came at 51.6, down from 54.6 on expectations of a rise to 55.0, while French Mfg PMI stayed stubbornly flat at 43.9, despite hopes of a "bounce" to 44.3, even as the Service number ticked even lower from 43.7 to 41.9, below expectations of 44.3 and the lowest since February 2009. End result: Eurozone March Services PMI down from 47.9 to 46.5, vs Exp. of 48.2, while Manufacturing slid from 47.9 to 46.6 on hopes and prayers of a bounce to 48.2. Which then takes us back to Cyprus, where things are not fixed yet, where the parliament is not expected to vote for a revised Bailout proposal yet, and where we got a cornucopia of brilliant one liners, such as these from the new Eurogroup head, who is filling in the shoes of his predecessor Juncker in style, and proving quite well that "things are serious."
A dispassionate review of yesterday's developments and today's.
Average daily trading combined volumes on the three main gold contracts on the Shanghai Gold Exchange in the first two months of the year jumped 24% on the year, according to Reuter’s calculations. "The strong physical demand in China is the main reason behind gold's resilience," a Beijing-based trader told Reuters. Physical demand prospects out of China remain positive in the weeks ahead, UBS AG said according to Bloomberg. China is very vulnerable to a property crash and its own economic crisis. The Chinese stock market has performed very poorly in recent years and Chinese people realise the importance of gold as a store of value.
Just like yesterday, it will be up to the US session to provide the perfectly expected, VIXterminating, volumeless ramp as the rest of the world just did not have it in i to take the S&P to all time highs in overnight trading. To summarize: currency talkfare out of Asia, hope springs eternal out of Europe despite the usual spate of ugly numbers, PIIGS bond auctions backstopped by the ECB and always "that much better" than the expected, a UK economy that is just imploding to provide an alibi for more open-ended QE and a crushed pound, and with the US due to make everything better by sending the SP to its all time high (just 9 points away) on the one week anniversary of the record high DJIA, as the NY Fed clobbers the VIX to a 10 handle or lower on even more ugly, unadjusted economic data.
In the upcoming week the key focus on the data side will be the US February retail sales figures on Wednesday, which should provide clearer evidence on how the tax increases that took place on January 1 have affected the consumer. In Europe, industrial production and inflation data will be the releases to watch. On the policy side, the focus will be on the BoJ appointments in an otherwise relatively quiet week for G7 central banks. Italy’s newly elected lawmakers convene for the first time on Friday 15 March and the expectation remains that President Napolitano will formally invite Mr Bersani to try and form a new government. He may also opt for a technocrat government. Although clearly preferred by markets, winning political backing may prove challenging.
Just like a week ago, when the futures experienced an unprecedented event when they actually slid overnight (only to recoup all the losses and then some, in the US trading session), so today sentiment appears to be driven by China which over the weekend once more posted its worst economic numbers to start the year since 2009, with purposeful economic weakness telegraphed by the politburo coupled with higher than expected inflation in what is a harbinger to the end of the global reflation, just as it was in 2011. The Shanghai Composite closed down 0.3%, while the Nikkei was in a world of its own, closing up 0.5%, tracking nothing but the USDJPY nowadays. Additionally, while the US stock market took Friday's downgrade of Italy in stride, and in fact Getco's algos used it to catalyze a late day ramp to close the DJIA just around the "psychological" 14,400 (just like Dow 36,000 is apparently psychological), Europe is less sanguine, and so far Italian bonds have been pressured compared to the rest of PIIGS, rising with yields rising to 4.65%, hitting 4.694% earlier. That's ok though: as we reported over the weekend, there is nothing for widening BTP spreads that a few hundred billion in Fed reserve reallocations to European banks can't fix. And with no macro events or news on today's calendar, perhaps the most notable event so far is the lack of the overnight ramp, which we have all grown to love and expect almost as much as the mysterious 3:30 pm intraday clockwork DJIA ramp.
A interesting non-partisan analysis of Draghi (which means dragon) and Grillo (which means cricket) to discuss what is happening in Italy and the euro area more generally.
This objective report concisely summarizes important macro events over the past week. It is not geared to push an agenda. Impartiality is necessary to avoid costly psychological traps, which all investors are prone to, such as confirmation, conservatism, and endowment biases.
The France-based ratings agency has just joined China's Dagong, and US Moody's by Fitch-slapping Italy with a BBB ratings handle. Citing four main reasons: election results which and 'non-conducive' for further structural reforms, deeper than expected recession, greater than expected budget deficits, and a weak government less able to respond to shocks. But apart from all that, as we noted earlier, Italian stocks and bonds are bid.