Overseas markets were volatile last night as the euro dropped to a new four-year low and Asian stocks sold off sharply. Chinese stocks led the decline in Asia, closing 5.1% lower as investors became concerned that recent growth was not sustainable. Stocks in Japan also fell 2.2% and Hong Kong stocks fell 2.1%. “The Shanghai market is now down about 22 percent for 2010, more than any other major market and roughly in line with the decline in Spain,” the New York Times reported.
Both European and U.S. equities are however off their lowest levels of the day but contained in recent ranges.
Commodity prices are mixed: NYMEX crude is down 96 cents to $70.65 per
barrel and Gold is up $8.40 at $1,236
Overnight, the euro fell to to $1.2235, a four-year low. Meanwhile, Der Spiegel magazine in Germany quoted ECB’s Jean-Claude Trichet warning of contagion. He called for governments to pool fiscal resources ― “We are now experiencing extreme tensions,” he said.
Elsewhere, FedWatchers may be interested in a lengthy column about Ben Bernanke in the New York Times’s DealBook. It includes this comment about the recent turmoil in markets.
“The brief market plunge ‘was just a small indicator of how complex and chaotic, in the formal sense, these systems have become,’ he says. ‘Our financial system is so complicated and so interactive — so many different markets in different countries and so many sets of rules. What happened in the stock market is just a little example of how things can cascade or how technology can interact with market panic.’”
The key sector this week is housing, as data on new construction and homebuilder confidence are each expected to suggest recent progress. Meanwhile, several reports on inflation are also on the schedule, though they are unlikely to have a dramatic effect on markets as investors are much more concerned with sustained growth than out of control prices. Also, when the FOMC minutes are released on Wednesday, investors will be interested to read into voter sentiment and topics of conversation had at the most recent Fed meeting.
Here Are The Key Events Of The Week
The stock lever still has a significant affect on the direction of interest rates. S&P 500 futures are now down 2.50 points at 1132. S&P's have seen a low print 1120.25 and a high of 1140.00 even. 1140 was the only level retested when the S&P contract fell into the 1124 handle. 1140 will be a key resistance level on any move intended to lead the market back up to the 50 day moving average at 1174.52. A quiet schedule has allowed the range to contain directionality so far today. (When do stocks go "ex dividend"? The third week in May)
The 2 year Treasury note is level on the session at 100-13 yielding 0.786% while the benchmark 10 year Treasury note is +0-01 at 100-12 yielding 3.453%. The 2s/10s curve is unch at 267bps. The FNCL 4.5 MBS coupon is +0-07 at 101-27. When you remove the price spike that happened following the 1,000 dip in the Dow, these MBS price levels are new highs of the year.
While benchmark interest rate charts remain bullish, fundamentals are as cloudy as ever. I do feel safe enough to say: THESE BIG PICTURE FUNDAMENTALS STILL APPLY THOUGH
At the moment, the stock lever, shifts in currency valuations, and rising bank borrowing costs are still the main motivational influence over the direction of interest rates. Oh yeh and FINANCIAL REFORM too.
It seems that the EU/IMF/Global Central Banker policy response has yet to convince the market that contagion is contained. One could say risk is still deemed too risky. I am interested to see if the FOMC addressed the EU debt crisis when they last met for a Fed meeting. FOMC Minutes to be released on Wednesday.
And then there's the whole financial reform thing where Senators introduce amendments one day and vote on them the next. It's a shame that what is likely to become wealth shifting financial reform is taking place in an election year. I can't even keep up with all the amending and voting. This is a highly sensitive subject to the business models of market makers and money managers...one has to wonder how the marketplace will react to misguided legislation.
Floating one day at a time seems safe when the range trade is in play, just don't get lulled to sleep by a slow and steady grind to the right. When ranges consolidate and day traders run out of room to earn a living (when levels bounce from pivot to pivot and liquidity dries up), stored up energy is usually released and price levels make large moves in one direction or another. Chances for chopatility remain high.