It had been a painfully quiet session in Asia (where Chinese levitation continues with the Shanghai Composite up another 0.6% oblivious of yesterday's rout in the US, because as we explained for China it is now critical to blow the world's biggest stock bubble) and Europe, where the only notable news as that for the first time in months the ECB had not increase the Greek ELA, keeping it at €80.2 billion on conflicting reports that Greek deposit withdrawals had halted even as Kathimerini said another €300MM had been pulled just yesterday, suggesting the ECB has reached the end of its road when it comes to funding nearly two-thirds of what Greek deposits are left in local banks. But the punchline came moments ago when Bloomberg reported that "Greece will likely miss a deadline for a deal with creditors by the end of the week as the two sides have made little progress during talks in recent days."
While yesterday most markets were closed and unable to express their concerns at the very strong showing of "anti-austerity" parties in Spain's municipal election from Sunday, then today they have free reign to do just that, and as a result European stocks are broadly lower, alongside the EURUSD which dripped under 1.09 earlier today, with Spanish banks among the worst performers: Shares of Banco Sabadell, Bankia, Caixabank and Popular were down 1.8 to 2.3% earlier this morning, and while the stronger dollar was a gift to both the Nikkei and Europe in early trading, after opening in the green, Spain's IBEX has since slid into the red on concerns of what happens if the Greek anti-status quo contagion finally shifts to the Pyrenees.
With US markets closed for the Memorial Day holiday, and some of the key European markets likewise shuttered for public holiday including the UK, Germany and Switzerland, it is difficult to find where one can observe or trade the weekend's newsflow, which is once again centered on developments in Europe, where on Sunday Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s People’s Party suffered its worst result in a municipal election in 24 years while Greece continues to threaten with default 5 some years after it should have officially pulled the plug.
It looks like US dollar's two-month downside correction ended. Is the bull market resuming?
The rising risk to the housing recovery story lies in the Fed's ability to continue to keep interest rates suppressed. It is important to remember that individuals "buy payments" rather than houses. With each tick higher in mortgage rates so goes the monthly mortgage payment. With wages remaining suppressed, 1 out of 3 Americans no longer counted as part of the work force or drawing on a Federal subsidy, the pool of potential buyers remains tightly constrained. While there are many hopes pinned on the housing recovery as a "driver" of economic growth in 2015 and beyond - the lack of recovery in the home ownership data suggests otherwise.
The most stunning data point from today's report: "Housing inventory declined from last year and supply in many markets is very tight, which in turn is leading to bidding wars, faster price growth and properties selling at a quicker pace," says Yun. "To put it in perspective, roughly 40 percent of properties sold last month went at or above asking price, the highest since NAR began tracking this monthly data in December 2012."
Bank of America advocates adding gold to one’s portfolio along with higher levels of cash. Citing factors such as liquidity, profits, technological disruption, regulation, and income inequality they say there exists a potential for a “cleansing drop in asset prices.”
That the Fed and other central banks have unleashed the speculative furies is an unassailable and baleful reality. What is going on here plain and simple is a one-sided game of chicken. The robo-traders and hedge fund buccaneers on Wall Street press the market higher on virtually no volume or conviction whenever macro-economic weakness presents itself, virtually daring the Fed to maintain is ultra-accommodative stance still longer. The casino gamblers will keep chop, chop choppin’ higher until they finally lose confidence that the Eccles building is heaven’s door to further riches. Then the machines will sell, sell, sell. There will be no credible Fed speakers to stop them.
Futures Flat With Greece In Spotlight; UBS Reveals Rigging Settlement; Inventory Surge Grows Japan GDPSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/20/2015 07:00 -0400
The only remarkable macroeconomic news overnight was out of Japan where we got the Q1 GDP print of 2.4% coming in well above consensus of 1.6%, and higher than the 1.1% in Q4. Did it not snow in Japan this winter? Does Japan already used double, and maybe triple, "seasonally-adjusted" data? We don't know, but we do know that both Japan and Europe have grown far faster than the US in the first quarter.
What to expect from the FOMC minutes...do they even have any idea themselves?
Earlier today, housing starts shocked to the upside when they printed at 1.135MM, smashing estimates of 1.015MM, and representing the single biggest monthly jump since 1991. The entire surge was due to one single number.
Following two ugly months of dramatically missed expectations, Housing Starts exploded to 'recovery' highs (highest since Nov 2007) jumping 20.2% MoM to 1.135million (against 1.015 exp.). This is the 2nd biggest MoM jump in history. Both single-family (3rd biggest MoM surge since the crisis peak) and multi-family starts surged. Permits also surged in April (jumping 10.1% MoM - the most since 2012) to 1.143 million (well above expectations) and the highest since June 2008. and Well these huge mal-investment spikes make perfect sense in light of the collapse in lumber prices (and thus demand).
Less than a week ago, fresh from the aftermath of the recent dramatic six-sigma move in German Bunds, one of Europe's largest banks openly lamented that so far the ECB's QE had done absolutely nothing: "two months of QE for nothing." And lo and behold, as if on demand, overnight the ECB confirmed it had heard SocGen's lament when just before the European market open, ECB executive board member Benoit Coeure delivered a speech at the Brevan Howard Centre for Financial Analysis (appropriately named after a hedge fund) at Imperial College Business School (not to be confused with the July 26, 2012 Mario Draghi "whatever it takes" speech which also took place in London) in which he said that the ECB intends to "frontload" i.e., increase, its purchases of euro-area assets in May and June ahead of an expected low-liquidity period in the summer.
As the economic calendar slowly picks up following the NFP lull, we are looking at a busy week both globally and in the US, where an army of Fed speakers culminates with a Yellen speech on Friday at 1pm in Rhode Island.
With equities having long ago stopped reflecting fundamentals, and certainly the Eurozone's ever more dire newsflow where any day could be Greece's last in the doomed monetary union, it was up to gold to reflect that headlines out of Athens are going from bad to worse, with Bloomberg reporting that not only are Greek banks running low on collateral, both for ELA and any other purposes, that Greece would have no choice but to leave the Euro upon a default and that, as reported previously, Greece would not have made its May 12 payment had it not been for using the IMF's own reserves as a source of funding and that the IMF now sees June 5 as Greece's ever more fluid D-day. As a result gold jumped above $1230 overnight, a level last seen in February even as the Dollar index was higher by 0.5% at last check thanks to a drop in the EUR and the JPY.