While events in Ukraine have once again broken out into lethal fighting, and in a surprise development the Chinese Yuan crossed the 6.25 line for the first time in two years threatening to accelerate the unwind of carry trades which have a 6.25-6.30 point of max pain, futures remain completely focused solely on the strong after-hours results from Apple and Facebook which have helped push Spoos overnight to near record levels once again. The biggest push was given to NASDAQ futures which are back up 1% with optimism for US tech returning with the material earnings beats from both Apple ($11.62 EPS vs Est $10.17 EPS) and Facebook ($0.34 Adj EPS vs $0.24 forecast). Shares in both companies rose in afterhours trading with Facebook up +5% and Apple up more than +7% (supported further by the announcement that the company was expanding its share buyback plan to $90bn from $60bn). Not even the Nikkei being down 1%, the SHCOMP down 0.5% and the USDJPY once again treading water could put a dent in the tech-driven euphoria, which somehow also managed to slam gold and silver to month lows.
Despite the considerable risks created by the situation in eastern Europe, most western stock, bond and property markets, fed on massive central bank fiat liquidity, continue to flirt with new highs. This strikes me as an exercise in whistling past the graveyard. In the short term, investors may continue to profit from risk-taking in financial markets. In the larger picture, much of the geopolitical balance of power that has been in place for much of the past 25 years will be tested on the banks of the Black Sea. Investors should take a few minutes from their daily technical chart analysis to consider these major developments.
It has been exactly six days in which algos, reversing the most recent drop in the S&P with buying sparked by a casual Nikkei leak that the BOJ may, wink wink, boost its QE (subsequently denied until such time as that rumor has to be used again), have pushed the market higher in the longest buying streak since September, ignoring virtually every adverse macroeconomic news, and certainly ignoring an earnings season that is set to be the worst since 2012. Today, the buying streak may finally end on rumors even the vacuum tubes are scratching their glassy heads if more buying on bad or no news makes any sense now that even the likes of David Einhorn is openly saying the second tech bubble has arrived. Keep an eye on the USDJPY which has had seen some rather acute "trapdoor" action in early trading and is approaching 102 after breaching its 55-DMA technical support of 102.38. If the support is broken here we go again on the downside. Keep an eye on biotechs and GILD in particular - if the early strength reverts into more selling again (after the two best days for the biotech space in 30 months), the most recent euphoria phase is now over.
There is a reason why while Germany has been delighted to keep the Euro as its currency, in the process keeping a substantial discount to where the Deutsche Mark would be trading if it weren't for the implicit FX subsidies by ther Eurozone members, France has been increasingly more panicked and vocal about the soaring EUR. That reason became apparent this morning when Markit reported that France PMI for April both declined from the March print of 52.1, and missed expectations of 51.9, printing at 50.9. Same thing for the Services PMI which at 50.3, both missed expectations of 51.3, and dropped from 51.5. France's loss however was Germany's gain, which beat expetations across the board.
Another company which relies on the viability of the global consumer for its profits reports, and sure enough another company that misses: namely McDonalds. Moments ago the fast-food giant reported Q1 revenues of $6.70 billion, missing expectations of $6.72 billion (pushing the number of companies that have missed revenue estimates this earnings season once again into the majority), and also missing EPS estimates of $1.24, printing at $1.21, which however will not be a surprise to those who have been following our reporting on MCD's same store sales growth, or lack thereof, in the US. But while the collapse of the US consumer is well-known, and will hardly be an embarrassment for McDonalds management to reveal its exposure to it, what does the CEO blame the miss on? Why the weather of course.
If one picture can paint a thousand words, the following 33 images, from Danish writer/artist duo Mikael Wulff and Anders Morgenthaler, should shed serious light on the everyday struggles, irritations, and insights of their fellow Westerners.
With revenues meeting estimates to the dot, and with largely meaningless non-GAAP EPS (because after all NFLX is valued on a 2024 foward basis), Netflix is choppy after hours as algos try to determine what is more important for them:the miss in domestic subs, which rose 2.25 million on expectations of a 2.31 million increase, of the beat in international (and very much money-losing although now expected to be profitable in 2014) subs, which rose 1.75MM vs estimates of 1.64MM.
Keep interest rates at zero, whilst printing trillions of dollars, pounds and yen out of thin air, and you can make investors do some pretty extraordinary things. "Central bankers control the price of money and therefore indirectly influence every market in the world. Given this immense power, the ideal central banker would be humble, cautious and deferential to market signals. Instead, modern central bankers are both bold and arrogant in their efforts to bend markets to their will. Top-down central planning, dictating resource allocation and industrial output based on supposedly superior knowledge of needs and wants, is an impulse that has infected political players throughout history." The result was always a conspicuous and dismal failure. Today’s central planners, especially the Federal Reserve, will encounter the same failure in time. The open issues are, when and at what cost to society?
Distilling an economy's success in delivering "prosperity" to a single number has outlived its purpose. Political authorities knew exactly what was happening: they realized that their own credibility could be boosted by a rigged GDP number. Thus we have the central government of China issuing blatantly bogus claims of 7+% annual GDP, as anything less will severely erode their claim of managerial brilliance. In our own propaganda-dependent state, GDP is almost always positive, much like corporate earnings always beat expectations by a penny. But we should be paying attention to an even deeper critique of GDP: that prosperity no longer depends of the "growth" of consumption, financialization, etc. but on the Degrowth of narcissistic consumerism and more efficient use of resources and capital.
All Wars Are Bankers’ Wars
A mix of military reluctance and willingness to use financial weapons was evident before the First World War, as it is now in Ukraine. Countries' efforts to protect their financial systems often centred on increased banking supervision and, in many cases, enlarging the central bank's authority to include the provision of emergency liquidity to domestic institutions. But this belief fuelled excessive confidence among those responsible for the reforms, preventing them from anticipating that military measures would soon be needed to protect the economy. Instead of being an alternative to war, the financial arms race made war more likely – as it may well be doing with Russia today.
Yes, this is not meant to be ironic.
Putin Tells Merkel "Ukraine On The Verge Of A Civil War" As Germany Agrees To Re-Sell Russian Gas To UkraineSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/15/2014 19:36 -0400
A day after Putin called Obama to warn him that only the US president can prevent bloodshed in Ukraine - something which Obama failed at based on this morning's reports out of east Ukraine - German Chancellor Angela Merkel had a follow up phone call with the Kremlin a few hours ago, in which Putin told her that "The sharp escalation of the conflict puts the country, in essence, on the verge of a civil war".
A look at what German is doing and what it does not want to do.