Moments ago, the 2016 edition of the Sohn Investment Conference started, a feeding frenzy for traders and hedge fund managers such as Gundlach, Einhorn and Chanos who descend on this popular annual "round table" to pitch their best and worst ideas. As always, the moment a company's name is mentioned in a bullish or bearish context, its stock is sure to surge or slump, as the headline-hungry algos immediate pounce in the current reactionary market environment. But is following the advice of these hedge fund gurus such a good idea?
In a surprising development, the U.S. monthly international trade deficit decreased substantially in March 2016 from $47.0 billion in February (revised) to $40.4 billion in March, below the $41.2 billion expected, as exports declined by a modest $1.5 billion, a 0.9% drop to $176.62BN from $178.16BN in Feb. At the same time imports outright plunged by $8.1 billion, down 3.6% in March to $217.06BN from $225.13BN in Feb. Curiously this happened just as Canada announced a trade deficit of C$3.4 billion, the widest on record. In March, the US trade deficit excluding petroleum was $37.48 billion.
Despite a very modest beat of expectations US worker productivity fell for the 2nd quarter in a row (down 1.0% vs 1.3% QoQ), the two-quarter-average output per hour isdown 1.4% - the worst slump since 1993. Unit labor costs rose by a better than expected 4.1% (helped by a downwardly revised 2.7% rise in Q4), the highest since Q4 2014.
Against expectations of a 195k gain, ADP reported just 156k job growth in April with manufacturing losing jobs once again and services job growth clowing quickly to catch down to such negative indicators as ISM Services Employment. This is the worst headline print since April 2013. From last week's job-creation-machine firinmg on all cylinders, Mark Zandi is now more cautious -“The job market appears to have stumbled in April. Job growth noticeably slowed, with some weakness across most sectors. One month does not make a trend, but this bears close watching as the financial market turmoil earlier in the year may have done some damage to business hiring.”
Aeropostale's decline was swift. The brand was established in 1987, went public in 2002, and by 2010 it had a market cap of nearly $3 billion. However, by January 2015 the company of 21,000 employees had posted losses in its last three fiscal years, and with 2015 being the fourth consecutive year of losses, its market cap imploded to just $2.9 million.
We've now seen three consecutive quarters of net tightening of C&I lending standards in the US (Figure 1, left) and previously whenever this has happened it has ultimately led to a full blown default cycle – albeit with only three cycles of data to examine. The series does tend to exhibit sweeping cyclical tendencies with momentum and is not prone to random fluctuations. So it's a worry that we've entered the net tighten stage and have stayed there for three quarters now.
While there was no unexpected overnight central bank announcement unlike yesterday's surprise by the RBA which unleashed volatility havoc in the FX market, which promptly spilled over into all asset classes, overnight stocks around the world saw another leg lower without a tangible catalyst, while EM currencies fell to a one-month low after two Fed presidents raised concern investors had become too complacent in their belief that U.S. interest rate raises will stay on hold. Or perhaps all that is happening is that after ignoring Trump, the market is starting to finally price in the possible reality of the Donald in the White House (although as Jeff Gundlach pointed out, Trump would be a far better president for the economy and the market than Hillary or Bernie).
Stealing small amounts of food to stave off hunger is not a crime, Italy’s highest court of appeal has ruled. Judges overturned a theft conviction against Roman Ostriakov after he stole cheese and sausages worth €4.07 (£3; $4.50) from a supermarket. Mr Ostriakov, a homeless man of Ukrainian background, had taken the food “in the face of the immediate and essential need for nourishment”, the court of cassation decided. Therefore it was not a crime, it said.
The 'odd' regime shift in the relationship between USDJPY and US equities continues overnight. Following some visible-handedness and follow-through momentum, Yen is weakening against the USD - normally a big flashing green sign for risk-on pajama traders but China's biggest Yuan devaluation in 9 months (since the August turmoil) seems to have stolen the jam out of the bull's donut as US equity futures extend losses, AsiaPac credit risk jumps, and USD strength is weighing on crude prices.
"Unrestrained power may be many things, but it’s not American. It is in this sense that the act of whistleblowing increasingly has become an act of political resistance. The whistleblower raises the alarm and lifts the lamp, inheriting the legacy of a line of Americans that begins with Paul Revere..."
Based on the world risk index, which takes into account not only the frequency of natural disasters in each country (known as exposure) but also how well equipped the country is to cope with and recover from the effects of a disaster, The Guardian reportsVanuatu is the riskiest country to live in, with natural disasters on average affecting more than a third of the population each year. If you want to be safe from natural disasters, move to Qatar (the lowest disaster risk country in the world)...
"I oppose today’s so-called capitalism. I don’t even like the world “capitalism,” I like “free markets.” But if you say “free markets” and “capitalism” together, we don’t have that. We have interventionism. We have a planned economy, we have a welfare state, we have inflationism, we have central economic planning by a central bank, we have a belief in deficit financing. It is so far removed from free-market capitalism that it’s foolish for people to label it free market and capitalize on this and say: “We know it’s so bad. What we need is socialism.” That is a problem."
Back in March, Japan's Global Pension Investment Fund appointed Norihiro Takahashi as its new president. Few paid much attention to it, but it may very well end up being one of the most significant events that occurred as we look back in twelve to eighteen months.
Great News!! As OilJobFinder.com reports, North Dakota's top oil regulator sent out a message the other day to the leaders of Williston: Get Ready. "This is going to come back pretty hard and pretty rapidly," Helms said told members of Williston’s Chamber of Commerce. "And we'll be back running to stay ahead of it." You can smell the desperate hope in his rhetoric...
Despite today's jump in the USD index, the sharp dollar selloff trend remains even as U.S. rates have climbed and the commodity rally pauses. It’s logical to query if there is an end in sight for the rout. The short answer, according to Bloomberg's Mark Cudmore, is no. The dollar may be due a bounce, but that would likely mark a consolidation phase rather than a trend reversal.