UK and EU markets played catch up at the open this morning following Friday’s miss in the US non-farm payroll report. This coupled with on-going concerns over Spain has resulted in further aggressive widening in the 10yr government bond yield spreads in Europe with the Spanish 10yr yield edging ever closer to the 6% level. As a result the USD has strengthened in the FX market in a moderate flight to quality with EUR/USD trading back firmly below the 1.3100 and cable falling toward the 1.5800 mark. There was some unconfirmed market talk this morning about an imminent press conference from the SNB which raised a few eyebrows given the recent move in EUR/CHF below the well publicised floor at 1.2000, however, further colour suggested an announcement would be linked to the naming of Jordan as the full-time head of the central bank when they hold their regular weekly meeting this Wednesday. Elsewhere it’s worth noting that the BoJ refrained from any additional monetary easing overnight voting unanimously to keep rates on hold as widely expected. Meanwhile, over in China the latest trade balance data recorded a USD 5.35bln surplus in March as import growth eased back from a 13-month peak.
Last Friday saw the release of a below-expected US Non-Farm Payrolls figure, causing flight to safety in particularly thin markets, with equity futures spiking lower and US T-notes making significant gains. Data from this week so far in Asia has shown Chinese CPI is still accelerating, coming in above expectations at 3.6% against an expected 3.4% reading. Looking ahead in the session, there is very little in the way of data due to the reduced Easter session in the US and the European and UK markets closing for Easter Monday.
Nothing is going on this morning that did not already happen at 8:30:01 am on Friday. As a result, the three robots who are the sole churners of stocks this AM will keep risk where it was just after NFP, because that is part of the new regime, one in which USD weakness is now stock weakness, and one where stocks have a ways to drop before NEW QE is greenlighted. Also with Europe offline all day, the robots won't even be able to frontrun the European close. Bank of America summarizes the lack of events shaping the market this morning.
With Iran supposedly sitting down on the bargaining table for one last, soon to be failed, effort at diffusing the nuclear situation, the key geopolitical event this week will be the launch of North Korea's Unha-3 rocket, which the country insists is a peaceful launch, and the satellite contained is for scientific research. Others are not as optimistic, and Japan has already taken precautions to intercept the rocket should it get precariously close to Tokyo. Even China has cautioned against such a launch. The tentative launch window to commemorate the 100th birthday of NK founder Kim Il-Sung is set for April 12-16. So what does the rocket look like? Here it is: up close and personal.
- JPMorgan Trader Iksil Fuels Prop-Trading Debate With Bets (Bloomberg), but, but, he is just proividing liquidity, and serving JPM's clients
- Short on tools, central banks left with words (Reuters)
- And the mainstream media finally catches up: Investors braced for fall in US profits (FT)
- Iran rules out pre-conditions to talks: Salehi (Reuters)
- North Korea ‘planning third nuclear test’ (FT)
- Japan to Hold Talks With China on IMF Contributions (Reuters)
- American Universities Infected by Foreign Spies Detected by FBI (Bloomberg)
- Is the Fed Promoting Recovery or Desperation? (Hussman)
- In Europe, Unease Over Bank Debt (NYT)
- Banks test ‘CDOs’ for trade finance (FT)
- More on JPM's uber-prop trader Bruno Iskil - 'London Whale' Rattles Debt Market (WSJ):
- Traders Eye 45-Minute Window After Good Friday Report (Bloomberg)
- Sky News admits hacking of emails (FT)
- Britain’s Economy Barely Grew in First Quarter, Niesr Estimates (Bloomberg)
- Olbermann sues Current TV for $50M, cites glitches (USAToday), full lawsuit here
- Morgan Stanley broadens clawback rules (FT)
- Swiss Franc Showdown Looms as Jordan Defends SNB Ceiling (Bloomberg)
- Key Democratic donors cool to pro-Obama Super PAC (Reuters)
- Investors' Prying Eyes Blinded by New Law (WSJ)
- U.S. not backing off as Iran sanctions bite (Reuters)
When it comes to energy, and specifically crude oil trading, few names are as respected, if controversial, as former Citi star trader, Andrew Hall, whose $100 million pay package in 2008 forced Citi to sell energy unit Phibro to Occidental. He currently is primarily focused on his own fund Astenbeck, where he trades what he has always traded - commodities, and primarily oil. As such, his view on the oil market is far more credible than that of the EIA, or any conflicted Saudi Interests. So what does he have to say about the biggest wildcard currently in the energy market, namely whether or not Saudi Arabia, can push its production from its recent record high of just under 10,000 tb/d to the 12,500 tb/d that would be needed to replace all lost Iranian output (a question we asked rhetorically two weeks ago). The answer? Don't make him laugh.
European equities are taking losses as North America comes to market, with particular underperformance noted in the periphery bourses. Risk-aversion pushed both Spanish and Italian yields higher, with the spread between the Spanish 10-year and the Bund crossing above 400BPS for the first time since Late November 2011. The yields have now come off their highs but still remain elevated. It should be noted that markets are generally light today heading into the Easter weekend as investors take risk off the markets, so large surges in volumes have been observed. In the FX markets, EUR/CHF briefly broke below the SNB’s staunchly defended 1.2000 level on some exchanges, but uncertainty remains over the exact low due to different exchanges registering different prints. Needless to say, all exchanges witnessed a 30pip spike upwards in the cross with significant demand seen pushing the cross away from the floor. EUR/CHF now trades around the 1.2020 level.
More pain in Spain has been the theme so far in the European morning as poor auction results across three lines has resulted in significant widening in the 10-yr government bond yield spreads over benchmark bunds with the Spanish 10yr yield up some 24bps on the day. In combination with this the latest Germany Factory orders also fell short of analysts’ expectations and as such the lower open in bund futures following yesterday’s less than dovish FOMC minutes has been completed retracted and we now sit above last Friday’s high at 138.58.
The Deepwater Horizon incident demonstrated that most of the oil left is deep offshore or in other locations difficult to reach. Moreover, to obtain the oil remaining in currently producing reservoirs requires additional equipment and technology that comes at a higher price in both capital and energy. In this regard, the physical limitations on producing ever-increasing quantities of oil are highlighted, as well as the possibility of the peak of production occurring this decade. The economics of oil supply and demand are also briefly discussed, showing why the available supply is basically fixed in the short to medium term. Also, an alarm bell for economic recessions is raised when energy takes a disproportionate amount of total consumer expenditures. In this context, risk mitigation practices in government and business are called for. As for the former, early education of the citizenry about the risk of economic contraction is a prudent policy to minimize potential future social discord. As for the latter, all business operations should be examined with the aim of building in resilience and preparing for a scenario in which capital and energy are much more expensive than in the business-as-usual one.
Watching pompous politicians, egotistical economists, arrogant investment geniuses, clueless media pundits, and self- proclaimed experts on the Great Depression predict an economic recovery and a return to normalcy would be amusing if it wasn’t so pathetic. Their lack of historical perspective does a huge disservice to the American people, as their failure to grasp the cyclical nature of history results in a broad misunderstanding of the Crisis the country is facing. The ruling class and opinion leaders are dominated by linear thinkers that believe the world progresses in a straight line. Despite all evidence of history clearly moving through cycles that repeat every eighty to one hundred years (a long human life), the present generations are always surprised by these turnings in history. I can guarantee you this country will not truly experience an economic recovery or progress for another fifteen to twenty years. If you think the last four years have been bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Hope is not an option. There is too much debt, too little cash-flow, too many promises, too many lies, too little common sense, too much mass delusion, too much corruption, too little trust, too much hate, too many weapons in the hands of too many crazies, and too few visionary leaders to not create an epic worldwide implosion. Too bad. We stand here in the year 2012 with no good options, only less worse options. Decades of foolishness, debt accumulation, and a materialistic feeding frenzy of delusion have left the world broke and out of options. And still our leaders accelerate the debt accumulation, while encouraging the masses to carry-on as if nothing has changed since 2008.
European cash equities are seen mixed as the market heads into the US session, with the DAX index the only bourse to trade higher at the midpoint of the European session. European markets were seeing some gains following the open after the weekend release of better than expected Chinese manufacturing data, however the main price action of the day occurred after some European press reports that the Bundesbank had stopped accepting sovereign bonds as collateral from Portugal, Ireland and Greece garnered attention, however the Bundesbank were quick to deny reports and state that it continues to accept all Eurozone sovereign bonds. Following the denial, participants witnessed a slight bounceback, but failed to push most markets into the green. Data releases from Europe so far have been varied, with outperformance seen in the UK Manufacturing PMI, beating expectations and recording its highest reading since May of 2011. However, the French manufacturing PMI came in below expectations, weighing on the CAC index as the session progresses. A further release from the Eurozone has shown February unemployment coming in alongside expectations recording a slight increase from January to 10.8%.
European markets got off to a bad start following early reports that the Greek PM has not ruled out a further aid package for the country, however European cash equities are now trading higher as US participants come to market. Markets have been reacting to the announcement from EU’s Juncker that the Eurogroup has agreed upon Eurozone bailout funds of EUR 800bln. Elsewhere in the session, FPC member Clark commented that the FPC should not aim to stimulate credit growth in the UK, adding that direct intervention in the mortgage market is too politically volatile, but may be considered in the coming years. Following the reports, GBP/USD spiked lower around 15 pips, however it remains in positive territory, moving above the 1.6000 level in recent trade. In terms of data, the Eurozone CPI estimate for March came in just above expectations at 2.6%, 0.1% above the 2.5% consensus. The market reaction to this data, however, was relatively muted as participants await Eurogroup commentary. Looking ahead in the session, participants await commentary on the Spanish budget, US Personal Spending and Canadian GDP.
- Greek PM does not rule out new bailout package (Reuters)
- Euro zone agrees temporary boost to rescue capacity (Reuters)
- Madrid Commits to Reforms Despite Strike (FT)
- China PBOC: To Keep Reasonable Social Financing, Prudent Monetary Policy In 2012 (WSJ)
- Germany Launches Strategy to Counter ECB Largesse (Telegraph)
- Iran Sanctions Fuel 'Junk for Oil' Barter With China, India (Bloomberg)
- BRICS Nations Threaten IMF Funding (FT)
- Bernanke Optimistic on Long-Term Economic Growth (AP)