After a hopeful start to the year - despite the weather, the West Coats ports, and every other excuse - US Services PMI has slipped the last 2 months, back to the lowest since January. At 56.4, below expectations, this is the biggest 2-month drop since December. Input prices edged up to 9-month highs. This is the first YoY drop in the Services PMI since December. As Markit proclaims hopefully, "policymakers will be eager to see if this slower growth trend develops further over the summer months before risking any tightening of policy."
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.
Having dipped and missing by the most on record in April, Markit's US Manufacturing PMI printed 53.8 (against expectations of 54.5). This comes on the heels of weakness in European PMIs (especially Germany - but but but lower EUR... exports, growth, etc...) and Chinese PMIs. This is the lowest US Manufacuring PMI since Jan 2014 (in the middle of the polar vortex). May saw the slowest rise in new orders since Jan 2014 - but the post-weather rebound? - and input costs rrise for the first time in 2015. Markis now carefully noting that "the survey is likely to encourage policymakers to err on the side of caution."
The big news overnight was neither the Chinese manufacturing PMI miss nor the just as unpleasant (and important) German manufacturing and service PMI misses, but that speculation about a rate hike continues to grow louder despite the abysmal economic data lately, with the latest vote of support of a 25 bps rate increase coming from Goldman which overnight updated its "Fed staff model" and found surprisingly little slack in the economy suggesting that the recent push to blame reality for not complying with economist models (and hence the need for double seasonal adjustments) is gaining steam, and as we first suggested earlier this week, it may just happen that the Fed completely ignores recent data, and pushes on to tighten conditions, if only to rerun the great Trichet experiment of the summer of 2011 when the smallest of rate hikes resulted in a double dip recession.
The last two months have been nothing if not a lesson in the disater that is the economic-forecasters of the world. With a 3-sigma beat followed by a 5-sigma miss, hope abounds that April will be the 'goldilocks' print - just cold enough to leave the Fed on hold and just hot enough to 'prove' growth remains. Goldman expects nonfarm payroll job growth of 230k in April, in line with consensus expectations. While labor market indicators were mixed in April, the employment components of service sector surveys were strong and better weather conditions should provide a boost. In addition, they see some upside risk to the forecast from a calendar effect, and expect the unemployment rate to decline by one-tenth to 5.4% and average hourly earnings to rise 0.2%.
The hope-strewn bounce in Services PMI over the last 3 months (despite collapsing macro data) has ended. Markit Services PMI dropped in April to 57.4, weakening notably from preliminary expectations of 57.8. Markit remains convinced that their survey implies 3% GDP growth and all is well in the world. ISM Services however smashed expectations, printing 57.8 vs 56.2, its highest since November - despite a plunge in new export orders into contraction.
If yesterday's laughable lack of volume (helped by the closure of Japan and the UK) coupled with hopes that the end of the buyback blackout period was enough to send stocks surging if only to end with a whimper below all time highs despite what is now looking like three consecutive quarters of Y/Y EPS declines according to Factset, today's ramp will be more difficult for the NY Fed and Citadel to engineer, not least of all due to the headwind of the overnight "incident" by China's stock bubble which saw the Shanghai Composite tumble by 4%, the most since January.
Quickly looking at the potential market moving events this week, US payrolls on Friday will be the clear focus. In terms of expectations, our US colleagues are expecting a +225k print which matches the current Bloomberg consensus, while they expect the unemployment rate to drop one-tenth to 5.4%. Elsewhere, Thursday’s UK Election will be closely followed while Greece will once again be front and center.
US Manufacturing Weakest In 2 Years As Construction Spending Plunges; Mfg Employment Lowest Since 2009Submitted by Tyler Durden on 05/01/2015 10:11 -0400
April's Manufacturing PMI printed a minimally disappointing 54.1 (against 54.2 prior and expectations) - its lowest since January and hardly the post-weather Q2 surge everyone was hoping for. New Orders and Production were the weakest since December and export business fell for the first time in 5 months and input prices dropped for the 4th month in a row; all leading Markit to demand The Fed remain patient. ISM Manufacturing missed expectations and has not risen for 5 months (its longest streak since the recession) with a contraction in the employment index to lowest since Sept 2009. And then Construction Spending plunged 0.6% (against a +0.5% exp.) - the 7th miss in 10 months and worst April print since 2009.
Holidays in Europe and Asia left things quiet overnight after some traders used the last day of April to frontrun the old "sell in May and go away" market adage. Market closures also kept the Chinese day trading hordes from using a tiny beat on the official manufacturing PMI print as an excuse to pile more money into the country's equity mania, while Japanese shares ended mostly unchanged as investors fret over when the BoJ will deliver the next shot of monetary heroin. In the US we'll get a look at ISM manufacturing and the latest read on consumer confidence as we head into the weekend.
With US Q1 GDP set to be a huge disappointment to initial estimates of 3% growth set at the beginning of the year, and since plunging to 1% or lower when it is reported later this week because, well, it inexplicably snowed in the winter for the second year in a row, earlier today we learned that US harsh weather cross the Atlantic and landed in the UK where ONS reported that the economy grew at a tepid pace of just 0.3% in the first quarter, well below consensus estimates of 0.5%, and at the lowest pace since Q4 2012 when GDP posted a 0.3% drop.
Following yesterday's early MNI rumor that a Chinese QE is being "considered" and which sent the Shanghai Composite surging 3% and led to an initial boost in US stock futures, overnight the PBOC scrambled to once again deny such speculation. Of course, going full "cold Turkey" on Chinese stimulus would be too much for the market to handle, so in a piece by the WSJ also released overnight, the author said the PBOC would pivot from outright QE to mere LTRO, which is also not new and was reported over a week ago here in "China Floats QE Trial Balloon, PBoC May Launch LTROs." In any event, for now at least, Asian stocks are not happy despite Apple's latest blockbuster results, and neither is Europe, with the Stoxx 600 down 1%, and even the E-mini is hugging 2100 unable to levitate on any imminent central bank intervention.
After 3 months of somewhat surprising strength (given the background of disastrous hard data), US Services PMI dropped in April by the most since December, missing expectations by the most on record. Against serial extrapolators' expectations of a rise to 58.9, PMI fell to 57.8 with cost inflation jumping to a six-month high and the biggest rise in the jobs index suggests to Markit that "the FOMC to consider starting the process of normalising monetary policy sooner rather than later at its meeting later this week.."
It has been a story of two markets so far, with China's Shanghai Composite up another 3% in today's continuation of the most ridiculous, banana-stand driven move of the New Normal (and there have been many ridiculous moves in the past 6 years) on the previously reported hints that the PBOC is gearing up to start its own QE, while Europe and the Eurostoxx are lagging, if only for the time being until Citadel and Virtu engage in today's preapproved risk-on momentum ignition, on Greek jitters, the same jitters that last week were "fixed"and sent Greek stocks and bonds soaring. Needless to say, neither Greek bonds nor stocks aren't soaring following what has been the worst week for Greece in months.
Well, the Nasdaq finally did it. So if you invested in the Nasdaq at the peak of the dotcom bubble, you are just finally breaking even 15 years later. Unfortunately, the truth is that stocks have not been soaring because the U.S. economy is fundamentally strong. Just like the last two times, what we are witnessing is an irrational financial bubble. Sometimes these irrational bubbles can last for a surprisingly long time, but in the end they always burst. And even now there are signs of economic trouble bubbling to the surface all around us.