At $3.67, US Regular gasoline prices are their highest since March 2013 having risen over 12% (40c) in the last 2 months. This must be great news, right? It must mean world demand is picking up and driving up prices of crude oil as global trade soars (amid a collapsing Baltic Dry and decelerating Chinese growth). This can't be related to "war premia" right? - as we noted here - because stocks (which always know best) have discounted all this tomfoolery. However, as the following chart shows, each time gas prices have surged up toards the Maginot Line of $3.80, US macro-economic fundamentals have collapsed... the only problem is, this time is different - because macro data is already weak going in (and expectations for the post-weather pop are high).
As China's ravenous appetite for oil surpasses that of the US which is enjoying an unexpected, if transitory, boom of shale oil production, which according to some experts may have already peaked, it means suddenly China is far more are the mercy of its core suppliers - the same way that for decades the US had no choice but to be best friends with Saudi Arabia, at least until Canada became the biggest supplier of crude to the US by a huge margin. So which are the countries that China relies most on for its daily energy importing needs? The map below has the answer.
Having been stopped out of his "long punt" in copper futures (which are, we remind readers, levered via margin and not a simple cash percentage loss of capital), world-renowned (for something) Dennis Gartman has issued his latest missive - ultimate contrarian call - advice... "we are sellers this morning of copper and buyers of crude oil, one relative to the other, with the problems in China weighing upon the former while crude has held impressively as other commodity prices have fallen." Crude oil longs beware... prepare to be Gartman'd.
We summarized yesterday's both better and worse than expected Chinese GDP data as follows: "a substantial deterioration of the economy, one which was to be expected yet one which can be spun as either bullish thanks to the GDP "beat", and negatively if the purpose is to make a case for more PBOC stimulus." Sure enough here are the headlines that "explain" the latest overnight futures surge which has once again brought the S&P into the green on the year - a 40 point Spoo move in hours since yesterday's bottom when the Nikkei "leaked" Japan's economy is on the ropes :
- Stocks Rise on China Stimulus Speculation
Here one should of course add the comment that launched yesterday's rebound, namely the Japanese warning that its economy is about to contract, adding to calls for more BOJ stimulus, and finally this other Bloomberg headline:
- The Strengthening Case for ECB Easing
And there you have it - goodbye "fundamental" case; welcome back "central banks will once again bail everyone out" case. Hopefully today's news are absolutely abysmal to add "US economic contraction fear renew calls for untapering" to the list of headlines that should send the S&P to all time highs by the end of today.
Symbolism is important and Putin may be sending the U.S. a message, in the aftermath of JP Morgan unilaterally deciding to block an official Russian wire transfer, regarding how they might use gold as a geopolitical weapon should economic and currency wars deepen ...
The positive sentiment stemming from a positive close on Wall Street and saw Shanghai Comp (+0.33%), Hang Seng (+1.09%) trade higher, failed to support the Nikkei 225 (-2.10%), which underperformed its peers and finished in the red amid JPY strength as BoJ's Kuroda failed to hint on more easing. Stocks in Europe (Eurostoxx50 +0.32%) traded higher since the open, with Bunds also under pressure amid the reversal in sentiment.
Alcoa kicked off earnings season yesterday, with shares up 3% in after-market hours. Focus now turns to the release of the FOMC meeting minutes.
Today’s nonfarm payrolls release is expected to show a "spring" renaissance of labor market activity that was weighed on by "adverse weather" during the winter months (Exp. 200K, range low 150K - high 275K, Prev. 175K). Markets have been fairly lackluster overnight ahead of non-farm payrolls with volumes generally on the low side. The USD and USTs are fairly steady and there are some subdued moves the Nikkei (-0.1%) and HSCEI (+0.1%). S&P500 futures are up modestly, just over 0.1%, courtesy of the traditional overnight, low volume levitation. In China, the banking regulator is reported to have issued a guideline in March to commercial banks, requiring them to better manage outstanding non-performing loans this year. Peripheral EU bonds continued to benefit from dovish ECB threats at the expense of core EU paper, with Bunds under pressure since the open, while stocks in Europe advanced on prospect of more easing (Eurostoxx 50 +0.14%). And in a confirmation how broken centrally-planned markets are, Italian 2 Year bonds high a record low yield, while Spanish 5 Year bonds yield dropped below US for the first time since 2007... or the last time the credit risk was priced to perfection.
Courtesy of Abenomics, all Japan managed to do is import the bad "non-core" inflation, which has sent food and energy prices through the rood (confused why the rest of the world is suffering from an episode of acute deflation? look no further than deflation-exporting Japan) and made "non-core" purchases like food and gas increasingly more unaffodrable to the ordinary Japanese consumer. Today it just went from bad to worse, because as Nikkei reports, gasoline prices at the pump surged to a 5-year high in Japan this week, due to tax increases. The Oil Information Center says the average retail price was 164.1 yen, or about 1.6 dollars, per liter, as of April 1st. That's an increase of about 4.9 cents from the previous week.
The Nikkei shot up last night because the Yen was weak and, best of all, Japan's $1.25Tn pension fund will be handing money to the Banksters to put into the stock market.
Nikkei 225 (+1.04%) outperformed overnight, buoyed by S&P 500 posting a new all-time high, a dovish BoJ's Tankan inflation survey and reports that the GPIF is to invest in funds specializing in Japanese stocks with high returns. Overall, another quiet session this morning as market participants continued to position for the upcoming ECB meeting, with Bunds under pressure amid further unwind of expectation of more policy easing by the central bank. According to ECB sources, there is no clear consensus at present on policy action, intense debate seen on Thursday after March HICP data, adding that it fears "over-interpretation" by market of QE possibility.
What has worked for much of the last two years, and judging by today's epic squeeze in stocks, is still working... is to bet against the most extreme positioning. So, on that basis, the following rather contrarian pairs trade should be ripe for major convergence...
Analysis suggests that commentators and policymakers need to better distinguish between the ways in which the US shale gas boom constitutes a ‘revolution’ and the ways in which it does not. The US unconventional energy boom has reversed the decline of domestic production, significantly lowered oil and gas imports, reduced gas costs for consumers, and created a political space for tougher regulations on coal-fired power plants. But it is not a panacea. Even if current estimates of production turn out to be accurate, the benefits to the US economy in the long run are relatively small, and the benefits to manufacturing competitiveness in most sectors are even smaller.
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.
While Europe is furiously scrambling to find alternative sources of energy should Gazprom pull the plug on natgas exports to Germany and Europe (the imminent surge in Ukraine gas prices by 40% is probably the best indication of what the outcome would be), Russia is preparing the announcement of the "Holy Grail" energy deal with none other than China, a move which would send geopolitical shockwaves around the world and bind the two nations in a commodity-backed axis. One which, as some especially on these pages, have suggested would lay the groundwork for a new joint, commodity-backed reserve currency that bypasses the dollar, something which Russia implied moments ago when its finance minister Siluanov said that Russia may refrain from foreign borrowing this year. Translated: bypass western purchases of Russian debt, funded by Chinese purchases of US Treasurys, and go straight to the source.
Sanctions against billionaires - that's one (very much meaningless) thing. But halting sales of Russian vodka, now that could really cripple someone, just not clear who. And in an attempt to answer that question, the premier of Canada's Saskatchewan province, Brad Wall, says he is considering banning Russian booze in government-run liquor stores because of Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Wall says it’s a small measure, but sends a strong statement.