Initial Jobless Claims
With the rest of the developed world's central banks waiting for the Fed to admit defeat for one more year and delay its proposed rate hike (or launch NIRP/QE4 outright) it was all about China (the same China which a month ago we said would launch QE sooner or later) and hope that its central bank would boost asset prices, when over the weekend the PBoC governor hinted that more easing is imminent to offset the accelerating drag after he admitted that the nation’s growth rate has tumbled "a bit" too much and that policy makers have scope to respond. How much scope it really has now that its bad debt is rising exponentially is a different question. It got so bad, Shanghai Securities News leaked a false rumor earlier forcing many to believe China would announce an unexpected rate cut as soon as today, in the process sending the Shanghai Composite soaring by 2.6%.
After a few days of dollar weakness due to concerns that the Fed's rate hike intentions have been derailed following some undisputedly ugly economic data (perhaps the Fed should just make it clear there will never be rate hikes during the winter ever again) the USD has resumed its rise, and as a result risk assets, after surging early in the overnight session driven by the Nikkei225 and the Emini, the "strong dollar is bad for risk" trade has re-emerged, with the Nikkei dropping almost 500 points off its intraday highs, with US equity futures poised to open lower once more, sliding nearly 20 points in the overnight session, and surprising the BTFDers who have not seen five consecutive days of "risk-off" in a long time.
After last week's initial jobless claims drop - which nevertheless held the 4-wk average above 300k - this week saw the number drop once more. Against expectations of 290k, claims printed 282k, leaving the 4-week average at 297k, conveniently below the 300k mark. This means that since the end of QE3, initial jobless claims are unchanged as the trend of improvement has clearly stalled.
In a somewhat surprising turn of events, this morning's futures reaction to last night's shocking start of a completely unexpected Yemen proxy war, which has seen an alliance of Gulf State launch an air, and soon land, war against Yemen's Houthi rebels, is what one would expect: down, and down big. This is surprising, because on previous occasions one would expect the NY Fed, or its pet hedge fund, Citadel, or the BOJ or ECB (via the CME's "Central Bank Incentive Program") to aggressively buy ES to prevent a slide, something has changed, and for the BTFDers, that something may be very fatal with the e-Mini rapidly approaching a 1-handle yet again. The offset to tumbling stocks, as previously observed, is oil, with WTI soaring over 6% in a delayed algo response to the Qatar headlines.
Quad-witching days are volatile on normal days, so in an environment of virtually zero liquidity, in which the market careens from one extreme to another simply based on whether the Fed utters one single word, in which volatility across asset classes is soaring, and in which it is all about igniting algo momentum, today's quadruple withicng should be memorable, which is good since there is virtually no macro data today to speak of.
After some 'stability' in the last few weeks, initial jobless claims in the major shale states has started to rise again with Texas the most impacted for now. Overall initial jobless claims rose very modestly to 291k, but leaves the 4-week average above 300k for the 2nd week in a row - the first time in over 6 months. Contonuing claims rose modestly also, confirming the change in trend from improving to stable-to-deteriorating again.
If it was the Fed's intention to slow down the relentless surge in the dollar with yesterday's "impatient" removal which blamed the dollar strength on the "strength" in the US economy, it promptly failed after algos and a few carbon-based traders looked at the Atlanta Fed and realized that a 0.3% Q1 GDP print is anything but "strong." As a result the EURUSD, after soaring by nearly 400 pips yesterday in a market reminiscent of a third-world FX pair's liquidity especially following the previously noted USD flash crash, the dollar has recoupped nearly all losses, and the DXY is once again on the way up and eyeing the resistance area of 100.
Closing out another whirlwind week, which has seen the biggest S&P 500 intraday plunge and surge in months, futures are taking a breath (if not so much the Nikkei which closed over 19,000 for the first time since 2000 - one wonders how many direct equity interventions it took the BOJ to achieve that artificial "price discovery"). In lieu of any notable macro news, the most significant update hit less than an hour ago when Goldman piled on the EUR pressure, when it released a note in which it further revised down its EURUSD forecast.
Despite a 36k drop week-over-week, the less noisy four-week average initial jobless claims remains above 300k for the 2nd week in a row - something we have not seen since in 6 months. At 289k, initial claims beat expectations of 304k but continuing claims printed higher than expected at 2.418 million. Shale state claims remain below the peak levels of January but well above average. The trend remains 'changed' from the QE3 regime.
FX Volatility Spikes As More Countries Enter Currency Wars; Euro Surges On Furious Squeeze After Touching 1.04Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/12/2015 06:57 -0400
The global currency wars are getting ever more violent, following yesterday's unexpected entry of Thailand and South Korea, whose central banks were #23 and #24 to ease monetary conditions in 2015, confirming the threat of a global USD margin call is clear and present (see "The Global Dollar Funding Shortage Is Back With A Vengeance And "This Time It's Different"). But the one currency everyone continues to watch is the Euro, which the closer it gets to parity with the USD, the more volatile it becomes, and moments after touching a 1.04-handle coupled with the DXY rising above 100 for the first time in 12 years, the EURUSD saw a huge short squeeze which sent it nearly 150 pips higher to 1.0643, before the selling resumed.
Stick a fork in the now proven wrong theory that plunging gas prices would boost consumer spending. Why? Because 4 months after the full impact of tumbling gas price was said to become apparent, consumer spending is not only not picking up, it is in fact slowing down more, especially in those places where there was snow in the winter, and gasp, where oil price actually fell the most!
To some (mostly those in the 1-10% wealth bucket) the main event today is the iWatch unveiling. To others (mostly those not in the 1-10% wealth bucket) it is the Eurogroup meeting in which the fate of Greece will be discussed and perhaps decided. One thing is certain: virtually nobody will care when the Fed's Mester and Kocherlakota speak later today as the Fed is now - supposedly - set to hike no matter what. Here is what the other main events are for the balance of the week.
It was not all smiles and jokes as Mario Draghi's European QE officially launched in Europe, with Greece leaving the proverbial turd in the monetary punch bowl.
Did initial jobless claims just flash the biggest 2007 deja-vu warning yet?
Following this morning's dire Challenger Job Cuts data, it appears the hard reality that lower oil prices are not unambiguously good for America is setting in. Initial Jobless Claims surged last week (after a big jump the week before) to 320k (far worse than the 295k expectation) to the highest since May 2014. Continuing Claims also rose. Since the end of QE3 and the end of the government's fiscal year, the trend of improvment has clearly ended and a new regime of weakening labor markets has begun.