What in god’s name does Janet Yellen think she is doing? Just a few weeks ago she established the ridiculous Fedspeak convention that “patient” means money market rates will not rise from the zero bound for at least two meetings. Now she has modified that message into “not exactly”.
While the world's attention is glued to events in Greece, the real action continues to evolve quietly thousands of kilometers east, in China, where the near record surge in new loans remains unable to offset the dramatic slowdown in shadow banking issuance. And while China's bubble-chasing, animal spirits have recently reoriented themselves from real estate to the stock market, it is the real estate that holds the bulk of China's wealth. The problem here is that as China reported overnight, new-home prices in the world's most populous country just recorded their biggest annual decline ever!
"Central bank polices have ruptured the proper functioning of capital markets. Some investors myopically believe that 'money printing needs a home' and that it will end up in equities (the asset class with upside). However, such a belief needs to include a deep faith in the central bank’s abilities to navigate a soft landing. History is not on their side. Investors pouring into equities might be playing an epic game of chicken."
Moments ago, the Advocate General Pedro Cruz Villalon of the EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg delivered the non-binding opinion on issue of Mario Draghi's "unconditional" OMT. Here are the details from Reuters and Bloomberg:
- EU COURT ADVISER SAYS OMT PROGRAMME IN LINE WITH EU LAW SO LONG AS CERTAIN CONDITIONS MET
- EU COURT ADVISER SAYS OMT LEGITIMATE SO LONG AS THERE IS NO DIRECT INVOLVEMENT IN FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMME THAT APPLIES TO STATE IN QUESTION
- EU COURT ADVISER SAYS ECB MUST OUTLINE REASONS FOR ADOPTING UNCONVENTIONAL MEASURES SUCH AS OMT PROGRAMME
In other words, Draghi's "unconditional" bazooka just became conditional, but it is still a bazooka, albeit one that will never actually be used since well over two years after it was revealed following Draghi's famous "whatever it takes" speech, it still has no legal termsheet or basis, and no definition on its pari passu or burden-sharing status. And it never will: after all it was merely meant as a precautionary device designed to scare away the bond vigilantes, and never to be actually implemented.
Stellar 10 Year Reopening Closes At Lowest Yield Since June 2013, Highest Indirects Since December 2011Submitted by Tyler Durden on 12/10/2014 13:12 -0500
Another 10 Year auction (or technically 9 Year, 11 Month reopening), and another round of blistering demand by the Indirects. With the When Issued trading at the lowest since the June 2013 high yield, today's 10 Year issuance did not disappoint, and at a 2.214% High Yield, the 10Y priced just through the when issued which was at 2.215% at 1 pm, making this third consecutive month of declining 10 Year yields (and the lowest in 18 months). The Bid To Cover sizzled, surging from last month's 2.52 to 2.97, the highest since March of 2013. The internals saw Indirect demand surge to 53.8%, the highest since December of 2011, however offset by Directs of just 6.9%. Dealers took the remaining 39.3%.
If yesterday's 2 Year stopping through auction was best described as "blistering", then today's 5 Year, which again stopped through the When Issued 1.614% by a whopping 1.9 bps, was nothing short of a scorcher. Oddly enough, in a time when demand considerations should be sparking a lack of primary market demand for paper, investors just couldn't get enough collateral, and as a result while the Dealer bid was quite possibly a record low 25.1%, it was the Indirects that stunned with their aggressive bid, taking down a record 65% of the auction, leaving just under 10% for Direct bidders. Finally, the Bid to Cover left little to the imagination: soaring from last month's paltry 2.36, it jumped to 2.91, the highest print since March. Needless to say the entire curve buckled tighter on the news, with the yield on the 10 Year printing at a day's low of only 2.279% as once again all the "economic recovery" shorts are left scrambling.
Every day for the past several years, sometime after 3pm, bullish market participants exhale a sigh of relief when as if out of nowhere, an "unexpected" surge of buying lifts stocks into the 4 pm close. There are several explanations for what some have dubbed if not Divine, then certainly centrally-planned intervention. This is the time when ETF creation and (far less frequently) redemption takes place. As a result, in a world in which the bulk of liquidity has shifted away from single name stocks and even futures toward ETFs, trends in the creation and redemption of ETFs are key to watch to determine how the market may move purely for to technical reasons (since fundamentals died some time in 2009). Which is why we note, with little surprise, that according to SocGen, Equity ETFs posted a record level of monthly creations in October, driven by US, regional eurozone and UK indexations, perhaps explaining the relentless levitation of the market on ever lower volume especially in the latter part of the day.
Because after doing the math, we find that the biggest stock market surge in 2014 was over what boils down to be a central bank injection of... $5 billion per month?
When the blood is flowing in the streets...
If yesterday's 2 Year auction was surprising strong, then the week's second, today 5 Year auction which conluded moments ago, was the very opposite, and can only be described as weak.
It has been an odd session: after yesterday's unexpected late day swoon despite the ECB launch of "Private QE", late night trading saw a major reversal in USDJPY trading which soared relentlessly until it rose to fresh 6 year highs, briefly printing at 105.70, a level not seen since October 2008, before giving back all gains in overnight trading. It is unclear if it was this drop, or some capital reallocation from the US into Europe, but for whatever reason while Europe has seen a stable - if fading in recent hours - risk bid, and European bonds once again rising and Irish and Italian yields both dropping to record low yield, US equity futures have slumped and are now trading at the lows of the session ahead of a US nonfarm payroll print which is expected to rise and print for the 7th consecutive time above 200K, at 230K to be precise, up from 209K in July (down from 288K in June). It is unclear if the market is in a good news is bad news mood today, but for now the algos are not taking any chances and have exited risky positions, with the ES at the low end of the range the market has been trading in for the past week centered aroun S&P 2000.
This represents a tectonic shift in the financial markets. It does not mean that Central Banks will never engage in QE again. But it does show that they are increasingly aware that QE is no longer the “be all, end all” for monetary policy.
Following yesterday's disappointing results by Visa, which is the largest DJIA component accounting for 8% of the index and which dropped nearly 3%, while AMZN's 10% tumble has weighed heavily on NASDAQ futures, it has been up to the USDJPY to push US equity futures from dropping further, which it has done admirably so far with the tried and true levitation pump taking place just as Europe opened. One thing to keep in mind: yesterday the CME quietly hiked ES and NQ margins by 6% and 11% respectively. A modest warning shot across the bow of what may be coming down the line?
As if trying to figure out the impact of the central banks' balance sheets and China's record debt creation on stocks wasn't enough of a complexity (actually it really isn't that complex) for a market where fundamentals haven't mattered in 5 years, there is also the issue of ETF basket creation, best known for the daily 3:30 pm ramp when ETFs catch up with their underlying components in a rising market, giving it all a procyclical turbo boost. It is here that SocGen reports that in the past fortnight, there was record equity ETF creation, mostly focusing on the S&P 500.
We show that equity markets are stretched (e.g., more than 80% of the S&P rally since last year is due to re-rating), but we also find that the fixed income market has become quite rich (we have been overweight European peripherals for more than a year on valuation grounds, we show that this argument no longer holds), and the same is true of the credit market. Second because capital has been flowing rapidly into risky assets, we document that argument and here too find evidence that the market might be ahead of itself. We read the market reaction last week to the Portuguese news as a sign that the market is indeed too complacent and could correct rapidly.