This week, financial markets have been led in their upward trend by the voices coming from Central Banks. On Tuesday, two ECB officials, Coeuré and Noyer, declared that the European Central Bank is purchasing in May and June larger amount of assets, in order to cope with the issue of scarce liquidity in the bond markets between July and August. This news pumped up all major European Markets as leading the dollar into a new surge, reaching EUR/USD 1.1009. During this week, a various number of meetings occurred between Greece and European officials. In Monday, Athens officials assured the public that a potential deal with IMF and creditors was likely to be reached. From Wednesday, rumors spread the news that Greece will not be capable of paying back the $305m tranche to the IMF, which in later days appears to be confirmed. I agree with the voices that see the Exit of Greece, the so-called Grexit, as a potential Lehman Brothers alike financial disaster. Not considering the political disaster the crash of the European Union would mean this event would shake up all assets classes very badly. The anomalies in the German Bond Market in the past few weeks showed how fragile the situation is by now. At this level of prices, especially in peripheral Europe, Grexit (in my opinion) would cost a 30% crash in the markets, and unquantifiable difficulties in the real economy. In Markets, sell-offs are more brutal and violent then upward movements. A CRISIS CAN BE ANY MOMENT AT YOUR BACK. Plan Carefully. On the Macro side, the ZEW Index, which measures the Economic conditions of Germany, based on economists’ consensus, was below expectations: Economic Sentiment at 41.9, EXP 49.0. Nevertheless, German DAX was able to report a weekly 3.21% settling at 11815. FTSEMIB closed at 23782, +1.31%, IBEX 11554, +2.1%, FTSE100 7013, +0.76%, CAC40 5143, + 2.99%, Lisbon PSI20 6102, -0.3%.
On the US market operators’ sentiment was mainly driven by earnings’ results coming from Retail Giants, and macro data. Wal-Mart Inc., failed in meeting expectations, quarterly EPS was 1.03, EXP 1,04. Home Depot beat the estimates with q. EPS 1.16, EXP 1,15. Target on Wednesday beat the estimates with q. EPS at 1.1, EXP 1.03. Lowe’s missed analysts’ expectations, reporting q. EPS at 0.7, EXP 0.74. Retail Earnings are very important in America because they mirror the consumer’s spending attitudes. Retail Sales on a macro level fell. Wal-Mart showed lower sales growth rate than expected. Consumers do not seem aligned in giving up money for spending. On the macro side, from the housing market, Housing Starts MoM increased 20.2% and Building permits MoM 10.1%. Real Estate data are a very important indicator of the soundness of the Economic recovery in US. Increased starts mean more contracts signed and more inflows of liquidity, making the market more flexible to meet demand and to expand one of the invoices of Consumer Spending. The FED published the minutes of the FOMC on Wednesday, in which FED officials observed that a rise in interest rates may be expected for the next semester. No major macro indicator is expected to be published next week. Volatility in the market will be triggered by developments of the situation in Greece. DJI closed at 18351, reporting a weekly -0.22%, NASDAQ 5085, +0.81%, S&P500 2126, +0.16%.
On the other side of the financial world, the Nikkei topped multi-year high reaching 20264 and a weekly performance of +2.69%. Wednesday, GDP data have been released. Abe’s Japan topped estimates: 0.6% increase on a Quarterly basis, EXP +0.4%, and +2.4% on a Yearly basis. This long rally lead the Index to levels never reached after 2000. The Hang Seng closed at 27992, with a weekly +0.39%. KOSPI closed at 2146, with a weekly +1.89%.
Today, Monday 18th May 2015
European Equities experienced volatility in the first part of the day. The Italian FTSEMIB was the worst performer mainly due to the issuance of dividends. Around 50 companies, from various market segments, Large, Mid, Small Cap, issued dividends, which accounted for €7bn, pushing down the Index to -1,5% in the first hours of trading. The uncertainty about the outcome of the talks between Athens and European officials, who took place today, fueled a selloff around 12-13 that led all Indexes to their Intraday Low. FTSEMIB reached the short-term resistance point at 23000 before settling at close at 23198, -1.17%. German, French and English Equities remounted after testing intraday minimums, closing positive: DAX +1.29%, FTSE100 +0.12%, CAC40 +0.37%, EUROSTOXX50 +0.45%, IBEX +0,24%. I attribute the positive turnaround to the fact that markets have bet on a positive outcome of the talks between Greece and Europe. Today, Pierre Moscovici, the European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner, said that a common understanding on the reforms to be backed to the new IMF rescue plan was in the route to be reached. The Athens Stock Exchange General closed +1.62%. If a deal will be reached between Greece and creditors, there is enough space for a further upward in European Markets. Macro data are improving in Italy, and France. Some Italian blue chips are still undervalued in my opinion, and there is also the opportunity to profit from the dividends issuance, by betting on the sounder companies who suffered the most price decrease. Personally, I took a small position on SNAM, an Italian utility company, who issued a dividend of €0.25 per share, when it was at 4.518, -5%.
On the Asian side, Nikkei 225 settled at 19890, at +0.8%, KOSPI (Korea) 2113 +0.34%, Hang Seng 27591 -0.59%. Japan stocks, after BoJ’s Governor Hikuroda reinforced its QE, have rallied very steeply. As of today, I count a yearly +42% of the Nikkei. Unfortunately, Japan economy is known for being unpredictable in terms of results, and Japan Stock Exchange is among the most volatile in the world. If QE will not succeed, turbulence will rise. I would STAY AWAY from trading this underlying, unless other clear signals manifest.
American Equities are in the wake of the earnings season. DJI closed at all-time high 18298 +0.14%, breaking the resistance point positioned at 18289, but volumes were less consistent then yesterday. S&P closed at high 2129 +0.3%, NASDAQ at 5078 +0.6%. Weeks ago, the NASDAQ broke the historical resistance point at 5000, Scylla and Cariddi of the dotcom bubble of 2000. Techs and Biotechs are boosting this bullish trend. Earnings and macroeconomic data will be the main focus of market makers. More specifically, some of the retail giants will publish their results this week. Wal-Mart Stores will open its books tomorrow morning. Retail sector is under particular focus considering the weak results in Retail Sales. Americans, despite improved economic conditions are not spending as much as expected. A turnaround in American Habits??? I do not think so. I would be cautious and see further movements before entering in long position. It is probable a downturn happening soon, for the most brave shorting the DJI could be a good move.
However, I WILL NOT MOVE A FINGER BY NOW!! CBOE VIX Index rise 2.83% at 12.73. The volatility, especially in Europe has been mounting up, with investors betting on riskier assets, as shown by the selloff on German Bunds. These markets change direction very quickly, BE CAREFUL.