Ahead of the US open, markets are exhibiting some modest risk appetite, with all major European bourses trading higher, and financials outperforming all other sectors. There has been little in the way of key data from Europe, however we have seen the Eurozone Trade Balance coming in alongside expectations in the seasonally adjusted reading. Bund futures continue to move lower in recent trade as US participants come into the market, with the 10-year German yield crossing the 2% level to the upside, trading at a level not seen since the 10th February. Bunds may also have experienced some pressure following the release of a research note from a major US bank recommending rotation trade with the selling of bonds and the buying of equities. USD/JPY is seen trading higher ahead of the US open following the overnight release of some relatively dovish BoJ minutes, with commentary suggesting further easing in Japan in the future. Taking a look at the energy complex, The IEA have commented on yesterday’s speculation concerning the use of the US’ Special Petroleum Reserve, stating that they have not received any contact regarding any emergency oil release. As such, WTI and Brent crude futures are seen higher; however they have seen some selling off in recent trade.
- Tapping oil from the SPR may be trickier than ever (Reuters)
- Why Quantitative Easing Is The Only Game in Town: Martin Wolf (FT)
- Lacker Says Fed May Need to Raise Target Interest Rate in 2013 (Bloomberg)
- Japan Debt-Financing Concern Clouds BOJ’s Bond Buying (Bloomberg) No worries - US will just buy Japan's bonds
- IMF Approves €28bn Loan to Greece (FT)
- Banks Want Fed to Iron Out 'Maiden' (WSJ)
- China 'Wealth Exodus' Underestimated (China Daily)
- Geithner Calls For Reforms to Boost Growth (FT)
- China Adds Treasuries For First Time Since July on Europe Woes (Bloomberg)
- Osborne Weighs 50p Tax Rate Cut To 45p (FT)
The U.S. Is Letting China Steal Its Nuclear Innovations … Just Like Xerox Let Apple and Microsoft Steal Its Valuable Breakthroughs
Seemingly hidden from the mainstream media's attention, we note that the last six weeks has seen the second largest devaluation in the JPY since Sakakibara's days in the mid-90s. As Sean Corrigan (of Diapason Commodities) notes, this has to be putting pressure on Japan's Asian neighbors - not least the engine of the world China. Furthermore, JPY on a trade-weighted basis has cracked through all the major moving averages and sits critically at its post-crisis up-trendline. As we noted last night, perhaps Japan really is toppling over the Keynesian endpoint event horizon. JPY weakness and the carry trade may not be quite as hand in hand if rates start to reflect any behavioral biases, inflation (or more critically hyperinflation) concerns any time soon.
Going into the US open, European equity markets have carried across some risk appetite from last night’s Wall Street news that 15 out of 19 major US banks had passed the Fed’s stress test scenarios. This risk appetite is evident in Europe today with financials outperforming all other sectors, currently up over 2%. Data released so far today has been relatively uneventful, with Eurozone CPI coming in alongside expectations and Industrial Production just below the expected reading for January. Taking a look at the energy complex, WTI and Brent crude futures are seen on a slight downwards trajectory so far in session following some overnight comments from China, highlighting the imbalance in the Chinese property market, dampening future demand for oil. Looking ahead in the session, the DOE crude oil inventories will shed further light on the current standing of US energy inventories.
- Euro zone formally approves 2nd Greek bailout: statement (Reuters)
- In a First, Europeans Act to Suspend Aid to Hungary Unless It Cuts Deficit (NYT)
- UK Chancellor Looks at 100-Year Gilt (FT) - What? No Consols?
- Hilsenrath: Fed's Outlook a Tad Sunnier - (WSJ)
- Banks Shored Up By Stress Test Success (FT)
- U.S. dangles secret data for Russia missile shield approval (Reuters)
- Wen Warns of Second China Cultural Revolution Without Reform (Bloomberg)
- Wen Says Yuan May Be Near Equilibrium as Gains Stall (Bloomberg)
- Merkel Says Europe Is ‘Good Way’ Up Mountain, Not Over It (Bloomberg)
While not quite as dramatic as Kim Cattrall in a cheongsam, the recent group-think of 'heads bulls win, tails bears lose" on the back of seemingly ever-rising strike prices on central bankers implied-puts is becoming crescendo-like. Nowhere is this more evident in China currently, as the world views every inflation, growth, and lending print as either positive because of more stimulation or positive because of global growth. Of course all of this ignores the 'trap' that is/has already sprung in Japan (ZIRP, deflation, and zombification), US (ZIRP, addiction, and energy prices), and Europe (print, subordinate, and alienate foreign bond purchasers) and the care with which even insane printers must tread for fear of upsetting the world economy. Tonight we hear from China's Premier Wen that, via Bloomberg, China seeks to establish social democracy and much to Chuck Schumer's chagrin we pre-suppose, that the Yuan is close to equilibrium levels. Furthermore the veiled threat that China-US cooperation is better than confrontation, which brings us to four charts we found interesting in their potential to upset the euphoria of a global race-to-the-bottom which apparently makes US stocks invincible.
In a stunning turn of events, a Japanese Ministry of Finance official admits to Richard Koo's worst nightmare "Japan is fiscally worse than Greece". Bloomberg is reporting that, at a conference in Tokyo, Yasushi Kinoshita says Japan's 2011 fiscal deficit was up to 10% of GDP and its debt-to-GDP has soared to over 230%. What is more concerning is the Kyle-Bass- / Hugh-Hendry-recognized concentration risk that Kinoshita admits to also - with a large amount of JGBs held domestically, the Japanese financial system is much more vulnerable to fiscal shocks (cough energy price cough) than Europe. Of course, the market is catatonic in its reaction to this - mesmerized by the possibility of buybacks and hypnotized at big-banks-passing-stress-tests - though we do note the small reverse stronger in USDJPY has reversed as this news broke and the USD pushes modestly higher.
"Rationalising away the imminent risk of inflation, the Fed leaves the door wide open for a QE3 announcement in April."
In the Spring of 2011, when Libyan oil production -- over 1 million barrels a day (mpd) -- was suddenly taken offline, the world received its first real-time test of the global pricing system for oil since the crash lows of 2009. Oil prices, already at the $85 level for WTIC, bolted above $100, and eventually hit a high near $115 over the following two months. More importantly, however, is that -- save for a brief eight week period in the autumn -- oil prices have stubbornly remained over the $85 pre-Libya level ever since. Even as the debt crisis in Europe has flared. As usual, the mainstream view on the world’s ability to make up for the loss has been wrong. How could the removal of “only” 1.3% of total global production affect the oil price in any prolonged way?, was the universal view of “experts.” Answering that question requires that we modernize, effectively, our understanding of how oil's numerous price discovery mechanisms now operate. The past decade has seen a number of enormous shifts, not only in supply and demand, but in market perceptions about spare capacity. All these were very much at play last year. And, they are at play right now as oil prices rise once again as the global economy tries to strengthen.
Back to basics with some definitions:
DEFAULT, n. Semi-mythical celestial occurrence that passes by Earth every 76 years.
I was worried for a second about that Greek default, but I realise there's nothing to see now and all is well.
FEDERAL RESERVE, n. A wholly owned subsidiary of Goldman Sachs.
The Federal Reserve voted to give a few more billion dollars to Wall Street.
US GOVERNMENT, n. Another wholly owned subsidiary of Goldman Sachs.
We seem to be running out of Goldman Sachs alumni here in the Treasury. No, wait, we've still got hundreds of 'em.
European equity markets are trading higher across the board ahead of the US open, with the financials sector outstripping others and Health Care lagging behind, although still in positive territory. The main news from yesterday’s finance minister’s meeting was instruction to reduce their deficit by a further 0.5% of GDP; this is having an effect on the Spanish spread against the German bund today, underperforming against other European spreads. The main data of the European session so far comes from Germany, with the ZEW survey for Economic sentiment beating expectations for March, as well as the UK trade balance figures showing a record high in the UK’s non-EU exports. As the session progresses, participants will be looking towards the US retail sales data and the latest FOMC rate decision.
While US equity futures continue to do their thing as the DJIA 13K ceiling comes into play again (two weeks ago Dow 13K was crossed nearly 80 times), ahead of today's 2:15pm Bernanke statement which will make the case for the NEW QE even more remote, none of the traditional correlation drivers are in active mode, with the EURUSD now at LOD levels, following headlines such as the following: "Euro Pares Losses vs Dollar as Germany’s ZEW Beats Ests" and 20 minutes later "EUR Weakens After German Zew Rises for 4th Month." As can be surmised, a consumer confidence circular and reflexive indicator is the basis for this Schrodinger (alive and dead) euro, and sure enough sentiment, aka the stock market, aka the ECB's balance sheet expansion of $1.3 trillion, is "improved" despite renewed concern over Spain’s fiscal outlook after better than expected German ZEW per Bloomberg. Next, investors await U.S. retail sales, which have come in consistently weaker in the past 3 month, and unless a pick up here is noted, one can scratch Q1 GDP. None of which will have any impact on the S&P 500 policy indicator whatsoever: in an election year, not even Brian Sack can push the stock market into the red.