The US dollar firmed at the end of last week. Does this mean the bull market has resumed after the consolidatig its gains in February?
With production and inventories at record levels despite the total collapse in rig counts, all eyes remain on Bake rHughes data for any signal the algos can use to mount a run. The total rig count fell for the 12th week, down 43 to 1267. This 3.3% decline is the slowest drop in 6 weeks and oil prices are sliding on this news. The key level to watch for WTI is $48.24 which moves it into the red for the 8th month in a row. WTI Contango and Brent-WTI spreads continue to surge.
As the finances of Venezuela continue to deteriorate under the collapse of crude oil prices, the government of President Nicolas Maduro is becoming more paranoid and vindictive. However, the utter bust in oil markets pulled the rug out from beneath the Venezuelan economy. Maduro is cracking down on political opponents as the country deals with the economic crisis, and his pronouncements have become more paranoid as the economy has worsened. The economic situation may only grow worse. The government’s budget breaks even with oil prices at an estimated $117.50 per barrel. With no imminent rebound in sight for oil prices, Maduro is resorting to state-sponsored repression to quell growing opposition.
Euro-denominated emerging market sovereign issuance will soar to its highest levels in 10 years on the back of the European Central Bank's quantitative easing programme, as issuers outside the eurozone seek to take advantage of falling euro yields, according to bank analysts.
Despite still low crude oil prices, gas prices at the pump have been on the rise recently. While still at levels not seen since 2009, gas prices in February have surged at the fastest pace in at least a decade to 2-month highs. As SMRA notes, shutdowns at some refineries due to strikes has been a good part of the reason for the gain in recent weeks, but prices for gasoline also typically start to rise with the approach of spring as refineries prepare to change over to less polluting formations for the summer months. We assume, in some incredible way, higher gas prices are also a positive for the US economy (just as lower gas prices were... not).
and more news moving the markets
Although it may be unrealistically optimistic, I believe my paraphrase of a Churchill quote:
While Crude Oil and Dr. Copper are often cited as economic indicators, as we noted previously, in fact Lumber prices are the most correlated with ISM and GDP of all industrial commodities (h/t @Not_Jim_Cramer). That is a problem. Lumber prices are tumbling - breaking to 18-month lows today. We have seen this picture before, and it did not end well...
Stock market investors live by the Apple and die by the Apple... and with Apple's 2.5% drop today, broad stock market indices have cratered in the last few minutes retracing the gains accrued since Yellen started speaking yesterday...
Oil prices dumped (last night's major 8.9 million barrel inventory build from API), pumped (the Saudi minister claiming "demand is growing" - which just seems like total fiction given economic backdrops and China's VLCC count plunge), and then this morning, dumped setting the scene for this morning's EIA inventory data. Against expectations of an 8 million barrel build, crude inventories saw a 8.43 million barrel build (5 times higher than the 5 year average). Record levels of production and record total inventrory sent WTI plunging out of the gate but it is stabilizing for now...
There was an expectation that today's receipt by the Troika of the revised Greek "reform proposal" would send risk and the EUR higher, which is probably precisely why nothing has happened so far, and US equity futures are unchanged ahead of what the HFT algos' new attention focus is today, namely Yellen's semi-annual testimony to Congress. As a result, the only thing that has seen notable strength this morning is the USD, which has surged to 119.50 against the Yen, and briefly pushed the EURUSD under 1.1300. which also means that WTI has also gone nowhere overnight and remains under $50. One wonders just what OPEC "rumor" those long crude will leak today.
Because when in doubt how to best start a war, lie.