- Oil holds around $55 as Iran nuclear talks drag on (Reuters)
- Bob Diamond’s African Banking Venture Runs Into Problems (WSJ)
- Iran Nuclear Talks Resume With Lavrov Saying Deal at Hand (BBG)
- Wal-Mart Ratchets Up Pressure on Suppliers to Cut Prices (WSJ)
- Renegades of Junk: The Rise and Fall of the Drexel Empire (BBG)
- Explosion at Yemen factory kills at least 25: residents, medics (Reuters)
- Macerich Rejects Simon Property’s $16.8 Billion Takeover Bid (WSJ)
- Reckoning Arrives for Cash-Strapped Oil Firms Amid Bank Squeeze (BBG)
It has been another whiplash, rollercoaster, illiquid session which saw US equity futures tumble early overnight driven by a bout of USDJPY and Nikkei selling, only to regain all losses as European, and BIS, traders walked in, and promptly BTFD. In fact at last check, it was as if all the fireworks that took place just a few short hours ago and sent the ES as low as 2037, and below what has become the key support level, the 50-DMA never happened.
Who could have seen that coming? Markit reports that US Services PMI surged to 58.6 in March (considerably better than the 57.0 exp) and the highest in 6 months. Despite the total collapse in US Macro data, the survey says... everything is awesome.
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.
Markit just issued the results of their Manufacturing PMI survey... and it shows everything is awesome again. Printing at 55.3 - the highest since October 2014 - it is utterly incredulous that this represents any reality as US macro data has completely collapsed in the last 2 months. Exports are down for the first time since November, but Markit is very excited, pitching deflation as good and careful to not be too sanguine about the rise for fear of sparking some Fed action...
- Germanwings Airbus crashes in France, 148 feared dead (Reuters)
- Greece promises list of reforms by Monday to unlock cash (Reuters)
- Merkel Points Tsipras Toward Deal With Greece’s Creditors (BBG)
- Banks Shift Bond Portfolios -Move to ‘held to maturity’ category aims to guard against rising rates, shield capital (WSJ)
- Beijing to Shut All Major Coal Power Plants to Cut Pollution (BBG)
- As Silence Falls on Chicago Trading Pits, a Working-Class Portal Also Closes (NYT)
- Oil below $56 as Saudi output near record, China activity slows (Reuters)
It is a centrally-planned "market" and everyone is merely a bystander. Last night, following a dramatic China PMI miss, which as previously reported tumbled to the worst print since early 2014 and is flashing a "hard-landing" warning, the Shanghai Composite first dipped then spiked because all a "hard-landing" means is even more liquidity by the PBOC (which as we suggested a month ago will be the last entrant into the QE party before everyone falls apart). Then, this morning, a surprise beat by the German (and Eurozone) PMI was likewise interpreted by the algos as a catalyst to buy, and at this moment both European stock and US equity futures are their session highs. So, to summarize, for anyone confused: both good and bad data is a green light to buy stocks. In fact, all one needs is a flashing red headline to launch the momentum igniting algos into a buying spasm.
Chinese rail freight collapses 9.1% YoY; China Manufacturing PMI tumbled back to a contractionary 49.2 - lowest in 11 months; and the Employment sub-index plunged to its lowest since Lehman ... yeah but apart from that, everything is awesome. And for those excited about just how disastrous Chinese data is (and thus how huge the next stimulus unleashing will be), think again - China now sees exactly where the last trillion dollar QE went... a de minimus and unsustained blip in the economy and liquidity-fueled rampage in stocks (which is not what a corruption-crackdown politburo wants to encourage).
Since the start of February, 48 US macro data items have missed expectations and 8 have beaten. Since then the S&P 500 has risen over 5.5% (and the Nasdaq even more) and 10Y yields are up 50bps. Bloomberg's US Macro Surprise index is now as weak as it was just after Lehman and is falling at the fastest pace since Summer 2012. While everyone is well aware that markets can stay irrational longer than a trader can stay liquid, one has to wonder just how long this farce can continue before even the most effusive talking head has to admit... things ain't great.
US Services PMI rose and beat very modestly from 57.0 to 57.1 in February (this is a flash print). This is the highest Services PMI print since October but Markit warns not to get excited, data "is up only slightly compared to the fourth quarter of last year, meaning growth this year is running at a rate similar to the 2.2% annualised pace seen late last year." ISM Services (survey) confirmed this modest improvement in February (despite all the hard data collapsing) boucing very modestly from 56.7 to 56.9 in Feb despite a drop in BusinessActivity and New Orders.
- RBS to cut up to 14,000 jobs in investment banking unit (FT)
- Doctors, patients scramble ahead of high court Obamacare decision (Reuters)
- Rajan Cuts India Rates After Modi Agrees to Inflation Target (BBG)
- Russia’s Putin Makes First Public Comments on Killing of Boris Nemtsov (WSJ)
- House breaks impasse, passes security funding without provisions (Reuters)
- How a 25-Year-Old Investor Spurred Lumber Liquidators’ Plunge (BBG)
- Jeff Immelt’s Overhaul of GE Impeded by Falling Oil Prices (WSJ)
- Sahara India Defaults on Luxury Hotel Loans From Bank of China (BBG)
Just like yesterday, it has - so far - been mostly about Asia in the overnight session, where as reported previously, we got the latest central bank engaging in an "unexpected" rate cut, after Reserve Bank of India Governor Rajan cut rates in an unscheduled move days after the government agreed for the first time to give the central bank a legal mandate to target inflation. This was India's second rate cut in 2 months, and yet despite the Sensex surging to a all time high over 30,000, it subsequently ended up closing red on the day, down -0.7%, despite the Indian currency sliding 0.4% to 62.1463 to a dollar. Is the half-life of thany incremental rate cut in an unprecedented barage of global central bank easing now less than a day?
With little newsflow out of Europe, and just as little on deck out of the US (just NY ISM and auto sales later today), the main overnight events were out of Asia where first the RBA decided to leave rates unchanged but not before the announcement was leaked up to a minute early. In China, the rate-cut euphoria lasted just one day, and after a feeble 0.8% bounce on Monday, the SHCOMP was down 2.2% this morning over fears the PBOC is doing too little, too late to halt what is now perceived by many as a massive "tightening" capital flight out of China. Finally, Japan made the newsflow, after it JGBs continued to slide following a weak auction, fears that the BOJ is done easing after Abe advisor Etsuro Honda warned against overheating, and after the biggest jump in base pay in over a decade led some to think the BOJ may soon have to halt easing altogether, especially if real wages proceed to rise
Goldman's Global Leading Indicator (GLI) final print for February affirms the global economy has entered a contraction with accelerating negative growth. Just six months after "expansion", the Goldman Swirlogram has collapsed into "contraction" with monthly revisions notably ugly and 9 out of 10 components declining in February. Some have suggested, given US equity's strong February (buyback-driven) performance, that the US economy will decouple from the world... or even drive it.. but that is 100% incorrect. US Macro data has fallen at its fastest pace in 3 years and is at its weakest level since July 2011 as 42 of 48 data items have missed since the start of February.
Despite a collapse in US macro data in February, Markit somehow managed to conjure a better than expected 55.1 print for US Manufacturing PMI. Under the covers employment creation was the slowest since July and inflationary pressures loom as selling prices rose notably. ISM Manufacturing printed 52.9 - a small miss vs 53.0 expectations - down for the 4th month in a row to 13-month lows, with employment at its weakest since June 2013. Construction spending's modest rebound in (seemingly un-weather-affected) December (after dropping in November) has been destroyed with a 1.1% drop in January (against expectations of 0.3% rise) for the biggest drop in 8 months.