With equities having long ago stopped reflecting fundamentals, and certainly the Eurozone's ever more dire newsflow where any day could be Greece's last in the doomed monetary union, it was up to gold to reflect that headlines out of Athens are going from bad to worse, with Bloomberg reporting that not only are Greek banks running low on collateral, both for ELA and any other purposes, that Greece would have no choice but to leave the Euro upon a default and that, as reported previously, Greece would not have made its May 12 payment had it not been for using the IMF's own reserves as a source of funding and that the IMF now sees June 5 as Greece's ever more fluid D-day. As a result gold jumped above $1230 overnight, a level last seen in February even as the Dollar index was higher by 0.5% at last check thanks to a drop in the EUR and the JPY.
Yesterday it was only the US that got the full benefit of the market-wide stop hunt that sent the US market soaring on its biggest opening ramp in 2015 following the worst payroll data since 2013, because Europe was closed for Easter Monday. Which means today it was Europe's turn to celebrate atrocious US data (yes, yes, snow - because somehow tremendous January and February jobs data was not impacted by snow), and in the first European trading session of the week, equities have started off on the front-foot.
There have been countless previews of the FOMC statement at 2pm today, all of them largely worthless and regurgitating the same exact stuff. The only one that matters, as it is the only one with the explicit blessing of the Fed (see "On The New York Fed's Editorial Influence Over The WSJ") in its attempt to manage expectations: that "drafted" by Jon Hilsenrath. And if what the WSJ economist writes in "Fed to Markets: No More Promises" is accurate, then fasten your seat belts, ladies and gentlemen, because we are about to enter some turbulence. "The Federal Reserve is about to inject uncertainty back into financial markets after spending years trying to calm investors’ nerves with explicit assurances that interest rates would remain low."
"Seasonally adjusted housing starts for February plunged by one of the largest amounts in the post-crisis period. The chart below shows a subset of the February non-farm payroll report, residential construction jobs. Seasonally adjusted these jobs increased by 17,200 in February, the most in two years (Feb 2013 was greater) and the second most in four years. So while economists are blaming the weather for the plunge in housing starts, residential construction jobs were fairly robust in February. This makes no sense."
With all deference to Dr. Richard Fisher, the surging dollar is not good for either the economy or ultimately a stronger labor market. This is particularly the case when the dollar is only stronger because the rest of the world is on the brink of recession and or deflation. The negative impact of a surging dollar in a weak economic environment will more than likely outweigh any positive inputs for the U.S. consumer. Time will tell, but the evidence is mounting that the we are likely closer to the end of the current economic cycle than the beginning.
It has been a quiet overnight session, following yesterday's epic short-squeeze driven - the biggest since 2011 - breakout in the S&P500 back to green for the year, with European trading particularly subdued as the final session of the week awaits US nonfarm payroll data, expected at 230K, Goldman cutting its estimate from 250K to 210K three days ago, and with January NFPs having a particular tendency to disappoint Wall Street estimates on 9 of the past 10. Furthermore, none of those prior 10 occasions had a massive oil-patch CapEx crunch and mass termination event: something which even the BLS will have to notice eventually. But more than the NFP number of the meaningless unemployment rate (as some 93 million Americans languish outside of the labor force), everyone will be watching the average hourly earnings, which last month tumbled -0.2% and are expected to rebound 0.3% in January.
Between professional economists, CNBC's "Nail The Number", and Twitter #NFPGuesses, the range of today's guesses for payrolls is between 100k and 400k...
Once again the internals of the market (advancers vs decliners, new highs vs new lows and trends) triggered a Hindenburg Omen as today's dump-and-pump on the European close and Draghi 'mis-characterization and clarification' headlines left stock green with an hour to go. Then came headlines from Die Welt that appeared to show Draghi has no majority and stocks tumbled into the close (with a small bounce late to get S&P green on the week). For the 2nd day in a row, Treasury yields fell 1-4bps (short to long-end), notably decoupling from stocks after Europe closed. HY Credit also pressed to wider wides after Europe closed even as stocks surged. The USD lost ground as EUR strengthened giving back half the week's gains (USDJPY broke 120 early but faded). Copper and Silver gained modestly, gold was flat, but oil prices slipped 1% lower back below $67. VIX briefly tested below 12.2 but ended the day barely higher at 12.6.
- Banks to Pay $3.3 Billion in FX-Manipulation Probe (BBG)
- Symbolic being the key word: U.S., China sign symbolic emissions plan, play down rivalry (Reuters)
- Europe (so really Russian sanctions) is the new "snow in the winter" - Carney Sees Europe Stagnation Impact as Growth Outlook Cut (BBG)
- Eurozone Industrial Output Points to Weak Third Quarter Growth (WSJ)
- Not everyone around Abe is insane: Kuroda Ally Flags Warning on Delaying Sales-Tax Increase (BBG)
- Hong Kong to scrap daily yuan conversion limit to boost stock investment (Reuters)
- Barclays Falls After FX Settlement Delay Reduces Discount (BBG)
- Some unhappy Yahoo investors asking AOL for rescue (Reuters)
By far the scariest harbinger revealed by today's JOLTS data is seen when one looks at the openings only for manufacturing jobs, which have now declined for 4 consecutive months: the longest negative stretch in the so-called recovery. The chart clearly shows that the last time we had an identical lack of improvement in manufacturing jobs, the US economy entered a recession, or as we like to call it, a depression, just that month!
The jobs number expectation had been falling for a few days into the print this morning and despite the desperate efforts of every status-quo-hugging TV talking-head's Goldilocks scenario, it was not a good report - it missed low expectations and it seems the market is realizing (having been told the bar is very high for an un-taper) that the Fed will not rescue it any time soon. GDP expectations are also tumbling and thus the hope-driven hyper-growth stocks have been monkey-hammered. This is the worst swing for the Nasdaq since Dec 2011 (with Russell, Dow, and Nasdaq -1% YTD). Momos and Biotechs were blamed but this was broad-based selling as JPY carry was unwound in a hurry. Gold rallied above $1300 (+8.1% YTD) as bond yield ripped lower for 5Y's biggest daily drop in 10 weeks (short-end -4bps on the week). VIX pushed back above 14 (but it was clear derisking exposure - as opposed to hedging positions - was the order of the day).
Despite hope that this time is different, and after a few weeks of improvement that was extrapolated as back-to-the-status-quo for us all, initial jobless claims rose by their most week-over-week in 10 weeks, missed expectations, and hover just below the average of the last year. Not exactly the positive trend that so many would like to use to build their "so buy stocks" thesis. This follows ADP's miss and the ISM reports' internal jobs indices misses. Of course, a 'bad' claims data is great news for more un-tapering.. the bulls, let down by Draghi, now need Friday's payroll data to be truly dismal.
More snow. That is the assessment of Mark Zandi and the ADP Private Payrolls, which just printed at 139K on expectations of a 155K print. But don't worry: the number was pre-spun for idiot consumption, as the 139K was actually an increase from the January 127K. What was not said is that the January number was a massive revision lower from the previously announced 175K. What will also not be said is that the December ADP print was revised lower from 227K to 191K and the November 289K was chopped off and revised to only 245K. Of course, both of those numbers were massive beats at the time, and have now become misses, but who cares: they have served their algo kneejerk reaction purposes. And while the data is complete garbage, and is obviously manipulated and goalseeked (as we have shown before), it should be welcome to the US to know that in February it generated a whopping 1,000 manufacturing jobs. But the punchline, certainly, is this from Mark Zandi: "February was another soft month for the job market. Employment was weak across a number of industries. Bad winter weather, especially in mid-month, weighed on payrolls. Job growth is expected to improve with warmer temperatures.”
Back in September, courtesy of an unprecedented discrepancy between the JOLTS "net turnovers" (or hires less separations) print, which traditionally has been the equivalent of the NFP's establishment survey monthly job additions, we highlighted just what happens when the BLS has caught itself in a estimation lie, and is forced to adjusted the data set both concurrently and retroactively to correct for cumulative error. We suggested that as a result of this public humiliation, the BLS would have no choice but to ramp up its monthly net turnovers print in order to "catch up" to what the monthly payrolls survey indicated is America's "improving" jobs picture. Sure enough, when moments ago the latest October JOLTS survey was released, the October "net turnovers" number soared from 155K in September to a whopping 260K in October, more than eclipsing the revised NFP print of 200K job gains in October, and leading to the second highest JOLTS turnover print since February's 271K, and before that - going back all the way to the 287K in February of 2012. And yes, this was in the month when the government had shut down and the result was supposedly major, if temporary, job losses.
With the government shutdown stretching into an improbable 4th day (and with every additional day added on, the likelihood that the impasse continues even longer and hit the debt ceiling X-Date of October 17 becomes greater), today's monthly Non-Farm Payroll data has quickly become No-Farm Payroll. However, just like on day when Europe is closed we still get a ramp into the European close, expect at least several vacuum tube algos to jump the gun at 8:29:59:999 and try to generate some upward momentum ignition in stocks and downward momentum in gold. In addition to no economic data released in the US, President Obama announced last night he has cancelled his trip to Bali, Indonesia, to attend the APEC conference and instead to focus on budget negotiations back at home - which is ironic because his latest story is that he will not negotiate, so why not just not negotiate from Asia? Ah, the optics of shutdown.