Why would one even look at a self-reported survey as an indicator of coincident activity: after all isn't it beyond obvious that every response will be full of confirmation bias and colored by the respondent's inherent optimism about the present and the future? Apparently it isn't, and neither is it obvious that for all business participants, hope dies last, something which always influences their responses. The problem is that in a world in which central banks have made a mockery of all other coincident signals, one has to dig very low. "We've used this measure less over the last couple of years as central banks have increasingly distorted the relationship between fundamentals and valuation" says Deutsche Bank's Jim Reid. And as Jim Reid shows in the table below, the various regional PMIs have so consistenly overshot in their expectations of where the manufacturing and service sector of a given country is throughout 2014, that not even the market believes, well, Markit.
But the world has been printing such great PMIs? And the US is the new engine of global growth? So how did US Manufacturing PMI just print 56.2, 3 month lows, and its biggest miss since August 2013? Following China and Europe's lead, US is latest PMI print with collapsing New Orders (57.1, down from 59.8, lowest since January), Output, and New Export Orders. This is the biggest 2-month drop in US PMI since May 2013.
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Futures Bounce On Stronger Europe Headline PMIs Despite Markit's Warning Of "Darker Picture" In "Anaemic" InternalsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/23/2014 06:59 -0400
Perhaps the most interesting question from late yesterday is just how did the Chinese PMI rebound from 50.4 to 50.2, when the bulk of its most important forward-looking components, New Orders, Output, New Export Orders, posted a material deterioration? When asked, not even Markit could provide an explanation that seemed remotely reasonable so we can only assume the headline was goalseeked purely for the kneejerk reaction benefit of various algos that only focus on the headline and nothing else. Luckily, we didn't have much time to ponder this quandary as a few hours later we got the latest batch of Eurozone PMI numbers.
The reactions in USDJPY, Nikkei 225, S&P futures, Gold, Treasury futures, and oil (in a word - none!) tells you all you need to know about the market's total loss of faith in the soft-survey-based PMI data from around the world (and in particular China and Japan). Despite dramatic weakness in a slew of hard-date economic indicators for both nations, the PMIs rose and beat. Japan's to 7-month highs (so much for moar QQE?) but New orders and Output tumbled. China rose and beat but all key components dropped. As the two charts below suggest... things in PMI data production-land need some better "adjustments" if they are to keep the dream alive...
And it all started off so promisingly, when after the biggest selloff in US stocks in two months, the BOJ and its preferred banks once again sold 6J (i.e., bought USDJPY) in the morning Japan session (while collecting CME liquidity rebates of course), sending the pair from below 108 to half the way to 109, and naturally taking global futures higher while pushing yields lower when as ITC says a "large TY seller knocked USTs to lows during the session" - hmmm, wonder who the large seller was. And then... the "rebound euphoria" fizzled a la Sodastream, sending the Nikkei sliding 1.2%, and US equity futures back to unchanged with the bond surge returning and sending German Bunds to new all time highs once again, while the Dax briefly broke below under 9000 before stabilizing at the key support level. It is unclear what caused the failure in central bank euphoria, although some suggest that the latest bevy of disappointing economic news wasn't quite bad enough.
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ISM Services printed modestly better than expected but dropped down from last month's 2005 highs. Printing at 58.6 vs 58.5 expectations, the seasonally-adjusted ISM data shows business activity dropping and new orders at 4-mointh lows. Markit Services PMI fell for the 3rd month in a row to its lowest since May but Markit's chief economist sees "good reason to believe growth will pick up once again," from somewhere, despite maunfacturing PMI also fading. The divergence between Markit's and the Government's surveys of the Services industry in America remain large.
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In is only fitting that a week that has been characterized by deteriorating macroeconomic data, and abysmal European data, would conclude with yet another macro disappointment in the form of Markit's sentiment surveys, for non-manufacturing/service (and composite) PMIs in Europe which missed almost entirely across the board, with Spain down from 58.1 to 55.8 (exp. 57.0), Italy down from 49.8 to 48.8 (exp. 49.8), France down from 49.4 to 48.4 (exp. 49.4), and in fact only Russia (!) and Germany rising, with the latter growing from 55.4 to 55.7, above the 55.4 expected, which however hardly compensates for the contractionary manufacturing PMI reported earlier this week. As a result, the Composite Eurozone PMI down from 52.3 to 52.0, missing expectations, as only Germany saw a service PMI increase. And yet, despite or rather thanks to this ongoing economic weakness, futures have ignored all the negative and at last check were higher by 9 points, or just over 0.4%, as the algos appear to have reconsidered Draghi's quite explicit words, and seem to be convinced that his lack of willingness to commit is merely "pent up" commitment for a future ECB meeting. That or, more likely just another short squeeze especially with the "all important" non-farm payrolls number due out in just over 2 hours, which for the past 24 hours has been hyped up as sure to bounce strongly from the very disappointing, sub-200K August print.
Against a consensus expectation of 215,000, Goldman forecast a 230,000 increase in September nonfarm payroll employment and a one-tenth decline in the unemployment rate to 6.0% (vs. consensus 6.1%). Overall they think the available employment indicators for September point to a solid report, despite slightly weaker data this week. In addition, the reversal of a couple of special factors from August should be a positive. If history is any guide, however, regarding downside risks, there has been some seasonal tendency for September payrolls to disappoint consensus.
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A quick anecdote that should quickly confirm just how broken everything is: earlier today MarkIt reported European manufacturing data that was atrocious, with both German and European PMIs tumbling to levels not seen since mid-2013, and with Europe's growth dynamo now in a contraction phase clearly signalling what has been long overdue: a European triple dip recession. So what happens? Moments later Germany sells €4.1 billion in 10 Year paper at a record low yield below 1%.... even as the Bundesbank had to retain a whopping 17.84% of the auction, the highest since June, with only €4.663 Bn in bids for the €5 Bn target, the first miss since May 21. So hurray for the central banks, boo for the economy, and as for that mythical creature, once known as bond vigilantes, our condolences: good luck figuring out what the hell just happened, and good luck recalling what a free market is.
If the European triple-dip alert was barely glowing a muted red until this morning, then following the latest German PMI data, which tumbled to 49.9 from 50.3, below the 50.3 consensus, and is the first contractionary print in 15 months, then they are now screaming a bright burgundy. And while the European recession has now clearly made its way to the core, it wasn't just Germany: French PMI continued to be solidly in a contracting phase, at 48.8, unchanged from the previous month, the overall European Manufacturing PMI also missed and declined, dropping from a flash reading 50.5 to only 50.3, which was a 14 month low, with the average PMI reading for Q3 the lowest since a year ago, and as MarkIt summarized, "Eurozone manufacturing edges closer to stagnation." Have no fear, though, Mario Draghi and his monetization of Greek Junk Bonds will fix everything!
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