The 2nd class data point, that quickly became the darling of the algo pumpers when it beat expectations by a record last month, has tumbled back to a less exuberant reality and missed expectations by the most in 7 months. Printing at 55.5 (vs 56.0 exp.) the index is still in expansion mode but factory jobs and factory orders sub-indices both fell...
- GM enters harsh spotlight as Congress hearings begin (Reuters)
- Facebook's Zuckerberg earns $3.3bn through share options (BBC)
- Sheryl Sandberg has sold more than half her stake in FaceBook (FT)
- Chinese Dragnet Entangles Family of Former Security Chief, Zhou Yongkang (WSJ)
- NHTSA chief: GM did not share critical information with U.S. agency (Reuters)
- Citigroup uncovered rogue trading in Mexico, fired two bond traders (Reuters)
- Corporate America’s overseas cash pile rises to $947bn (FT)
- Thai anti-government protester killed, rekindling political crisis (Reuters)
- China Milk Thirst Hands U.S. Dairies Record 2014 Profits (BBG)
- Caterpillar accused of ‘shifting’ profits (FT)
- New iPhone 6 screens to enter production as early as May (Reuters)
Among the key overnight events was the February Euro area unemployment report, which was unchanged at 11.9%, lower than the 12% median estimate; in Italy it rose to a record 13% while in Germany the locally defined jobless rate for March stayed at the lowest in at least two decades Euro zone PMI held at 53 in February, unchanged from January and matching median estimate in a Bloomberg survey HSBC/Markit’s China PMI fell to 48 in March, the lowest reading since July, from 48.5 in February; a separate PMI from the government, with a larger sample size, was at 50.3 from 50.2 the previous month NATO foreign ministers meet today to discuss their next steps after Putin began withdrawing forces stationed on Ukraine’s border Gazprom raised prices for Ukraine 44% after a discount deal expired, heaping financial pressure on the government in Kiev as it negotiates international bailouts.
"It's always darkest before the dawn," we are sure will be the next idiotic (and wholly unsupported) bullshit line from various Japanese leaders about yet another round of disastrous Japanese data. Aside from June 2013, this is the biggest monthly drop in Industrial Production since the Tsunami - and biggest miss since Abenomics began. Good news right? More stimulus right? Not with inflation surging thanks to the collapsed currency. But wait, there's more 'great' news, Markit PMI just had its biggest 2-month drop in 20 months and is at its lowest in 6 months. For now, JPY is confused (and so is the Nikkei) but US futures aren't, they are rallying; because, well - why not, the casino is still open for now.
30Y yields are now over 10bps below post-Yellen spike highs as growth-hope-driven US equities were monkey-hammered in another pump-and-dump deja vu day - with one difference - no late-day bounce to provide solace for the bulls. The Nasdaq and Russell 2000 are down over 3.5% from Yellen; Biotechs broke to new lows (down over 14% and below the 100DMA); momo names were slammed (FB) as King IPO's and lost over 15% on the day. The Nasdaq and Russell have joined the Dow in the red year-to-date, S&P and Trannies barely positive. The USD lost ground on the day after early strength. Gold, silver, and copper fell notably. VIX jumped from 2-month lows to back over 15%. USDJPY was sin charge all day - and broke below the key 102 level into the close.
Another morning melt up after a less than impressive session in China which saw the SHCOMP drop again reversing the furious gains in the past few days driven by hopes of more PBOC easing (despite China's repeated warning not to expect much). A flurry of market topping activity overnight once again, with Candy Crush maker King Digital pricing at $22.50 or the projected midpoint of its price range, and with FaceBook using more of its epically overvalued stock as currency to purchase yet another company, this time virtual reality firm Oculus VR for $2 billion. Perhaps an appropriate purchase considering the entire economy is pushed higher on pro-forma, "virtual" output, and the Fed's capital markets are something straight out of the matrix. Despite today's pre-open ramp, which will be the 4th in a row, one wonders if biotechs will finally break the downward tractor beam they have been latched on to as the bubble has shown signs of cracking, or will the mad momo crowd come back with a vengeance - this too will be answered shortly.
Spending just $3.33 on US-produced goods every year by every person in the USA would create 10,000 jobs. We obviously don’t have that much money to spend or we don’t care
Last month's exuberance-filled, and instantly extrapolated, Markit US PMI print at the lofty levels of 57.1 (proving that the weather-delayed pent-up-demand was truly back) has been dashed on the shores of ugly reality. March's print dropped to 55.5, missing expectations by the most since Feb 2013 as jobs grew at a slower pace and factory orders declined. This slowing in the US economy's growth adds to last night's weakness in Chinese growth. Given weather was not a majr issue in March, what excuse can we find for this?
If there was one thing that the market was demanding after last night's disappointing March HSBC manufacturing PMI, which has now fallen so low, local market participants are convinced a stimulus is imminent (despite China's own warnings not to expect this), and sent both the SHCOMP and the CNY surging, it would have been further weak data out of Europe, where the other possible, if not probable, "QE-stimulus" bank is located now that the Fed is in full taper mode. It didn't get precisely that however there was a step in the right direction when overnight the Euro area Composite Flash PMI eased marginally from 53.3 to 53.2 in March, largely as expected. The country breakdown showed a narrowing of the Germany/France Composite PMI gap owing to a notable (3.7pt) increase in the French PMI while the German PMI eased somewhat (1.4pt). On the basis of past correlations, a Euro area Composite PMI of 53.2 is consistent with GDP growth of around +0.4%qoq, slightly stronger than our Current Activity Indicator (+0.35%qoq).
HSBC's Flash China Manufacturing PMI printed at 48.1 (against a hope-strewn 48.7 bounce expectation). This is the lowest in 8 months and among the lowest prints since Lehman. Even the usually silver-lining-seeing HSBC Chief economist had little positive to add, "weakness is broad-based with domestic demand softening further." Early strength in CNY, stocks, and copper is eroding fast.
Since Ukraine is the only wildcard variable in the news these past few days, it was to be expected that following i) the end of the large Russian military drill begun two weeks ago and ii) a press conference by Putin in which he toned down the war rhetoric, even if he did not actually say anything indicating Russia will difuse the tension, futures have soared and have retraced all their losses from yesterday. And not only in the US - European equity indices gapped higher at the open this morning in reaction to reports that Russian President Putin has ordered troops engaged in military exercises to return to their bases. Consequent broad based reduction in risk premia built up over the past few sessions meant that in spite of looming risk events (ECB, BoE policy meetings and NFP release this Friday), Bund also failed to close the opening gap lower. At the same time, USD/JPY and EUR/CHF benefited as the recent flight to quality sentiment was reversed, with energy and precious metal prices also coming off overnight highs.
We were perhaps even more amused than our readers by our Friday headline "Stocks Close At New Record High On Russian Invasion, GDP Decline And Pending Home Sales Miss." It appears that today the market forgot to take its lithium, and is finally focusing on the Ukraine part of the headline, at least until 3:30 pm again when everything should once again be back to market ramp normal. As expected, the PMI data from China and Europe in February, was promptly ignored and it was all about Ukraine again, where Russia sternly refuses to yield to Western demands, forcing the shocked market to retreat lower, and sending Russian stocks lower by over 11%. This is happening even as Ukraine is sending Russian gas to European consumers as normal, gas transport monopoly Ukrtransgas said on Monday. "Ukrtransgas is carrying out all its obligations, fulfilling all agreements with Gazprom. The transit (via Ukraine to Europe) totalled 200 million cubic meters as of March 1," Ukrtransgas spokesman Maksim Belyavsky said. In other words, it can easily get worse should Russia indeed use its trump card.
Much as the 3rd grade Markit US Manufacturing PMI 'beat' was blamed for the furious rally last Thursday in stocks, it appears bad news in the form of today's 3rd grade Markit Services PMI 'miss' is (rightly) completely ignored by the market. While the Services segment of the economy is vastly larger and more important for 'guessers', it seems USDJPY would not provide the juice this morning as this is the weakest services performance in 4 months. Of course, "weather" is blamed and optimism for the future remains but what was odd to us is that economists claim that in February manufacturing returned to normal... but clearly services did not.
This was one of the all too real Bloomberg headlines posted overnight: "Asian Shares Rally as U.S. Manufacturing Data Beats Estimates." Odd: are they refering to the crashing Philly Fed, or the just as crashing Empire Fed data? Wait, it was the C-grade MarkIt PMI that nobody ever looks at, except to confirm that where everyone else sees snow, the PMI saw sunshine and growth. Remember: if the data is weak, it's the snow; if it's strong, it's the recovery. Odder still: one would think Asian shares care about manufacturing data of, say, China. Which happens to be in Asia, and which two nights ago crashed to the lowest in months. Or maybe that only impact the SHCOMP which dropped 1.2% while all other regional markets simply do what the US and Japan do - follow the USDJPY, which at one point overnight rose as high as 102.600, and brought futures to within inches of their all time closing high. Sadly, it is this that passes for "fundamental" analysis in this broken market new normal...
After learning that it snowed in China this winter following the release of the abysmal February Flash HSBC PMI numbers, we found out that there had also been snow in Europe, following misses across virtually all key French, German and composite PMIs with the exception of the German Services PMI which was the sole "beater" out of 6. To wit:
- Eurozone PMI Manufacturing (Feb A) M/M 53.0 vs Exp. 54.0 (Prev. 54.0); Eurozone PMI Services (Feb A) M/M 51.7 vs Exp. 51.9 (Prev. 51.6)
- German Manufacturing PMI (Feb A) M/M 54.7 vs. Exp. 56.3 (Prev. 56.5); German PMI Services (Feb A) M/M 55.4 vs Exp. 53.4 (Prev. 53.1)
- French PMI Manufacturing (Feb P) M/M 48.5 vs. Exp. 49.6 (Prev. 49.3); French PMI Services (Feb P) M/M 46.9 vs. Exp. 49.4 (Prev. 48.9)
Of course, economic data is the last thing that matters in a manipulated market. Instead, all that does matter is what the USDJPY does overnight, and as we forecast yesterday, the USDJPY 102 tractor beam is alive and well and managed to pull equity futures from a -10 drop overnight to nearly unchanged, despite the now traditional pattern of USDJPY selling during the overnight session and buying during the US session.