Energy

The Biggest Event Risks In June

The Biggest Event Risks In June

Today being the first day of June, and the start of the last month of the first half of 2016, we thought it would be aptly appropriate to list down some of the biggest event risks that June will bring. These are the known unknowns — uncertainties which we already know about but not their outcomes.

The biggest risks in June (in our opinion) will be the EU referendum by the UK in the later part of the month, the June ECB monetary policy decision and press conference, the June FOMC statement and interest rate decision, and lastly the BoJ's monetary policy decision.

We feel markets will likely be most sensitive to these types of events, having chopped around for almost half a year now. There is great anticipation for guidance on where to go next, and we feel markets will likely take cues from central banks, chiefly the Fed.

Expect Nasty Volatility & Shocks This Summer

Expect Nasty Volatility & Shocks This Summer

With the stock market heading no where for the last 4 months of this year, it is high time we took a step back and view things from a systematic angle. As we approach the "sell in May and go away" phase of the year, equity returns are looking more vunulrable to adverse shocks, and flares in volatility.

YTD, the S&P 500 is almost unchanged, down marginally. Bonds (quality) and commodities (short USD) have been the best performers for the last 4 months. Vol of vol (VVIX) has remained elevated but is not yet deemed to be at alarming levels. What's in store for us may be a surprise. Or actually maybe not.

When we piece this puzzle back in a way BofAML calls the "3P's of Positioning, Policy & Profits", we can come to the conclusion that the risks are skewed south, and things could turn uglier very promptly. Therefore, it may be wise to expect very moderate returns from equities. One may wish to overweight cash, bonds, and gold while avoiding equities and non-IG corporate credit.

What The Smartest Minds Think Of The Current Rout

What The Smartest Minds Think Of The Current Rout

2016 is shaping up to be like the latter half of 2015 but with a lot of additional dynamic forces warping and twisting the financial markets. Higher than average volatility has been the common theme so far but we're also noticing an incredible rapid shift in cross asset correlations. All this means that the current market environment is extremely rough, giving traders (ourselves included) a hell of a hard time.

It is no surprise that this is indeed the case. Policy uncertainty amongst central banks, oil prices that are stick in a moribund rut, very idiosyncratic technical flows that have caused traditionally lower beta assets to trade like mad donkeys, and of course the deep polarization of sentiment across the board.

It is on this note that we turn to JP Morgan's quantitative desk for answers, albeit nebulous. The desk analyzes markets in a less traditional manner, approaching this landscape with mathematical and technical tools most retail traders have zero access to.

Here's Why Dumping Risk & Buying Cash Might Be The Smartest Move This Year

Here's Why Dumping Risk & Buying Cash Might Be The Smartest Move This Year

It's been an extremely busy first week of 2016 for Business Of Finance. Global markets are in a state of frenzied chaos, much like a chicken running around without its head.Only this time every risk asset has been sold with reckless abandon while liquidity is conversely bid to the moon. Anyone who shorted risk, went long volatility, and stayed in cash since Christmas week would be gleefully grinning at the poor folks who are trapped in 2015's outdated ideologue 

While we are hard pressed for time, we feel we need to put this piece out to give readers a first glance of what 2016 might be like for the markets all across the world. We have a feeling 2016 may be markedly different from the past 5 years where cash might actually be the best performing asset. Yes, being in cash is a position in and of itself.

In layman's speak, you ether go big or go home in 2016. At least that's what we think. You could make a hack a lot of profits or loose your shirt in the kind of markets we've been greeted with so far. So buckle up, sit tight, sell risk and buy cash.

Oil Prices Either Crash Or Rebound At This Juncture

Oil Prices Either Crash Or Rebound At This Juncture

Oil prices are at a major inflection point. They either turn higher or break multi-year support levels and cause more pain to oil producers. 

Nearly 2 months ago, we put out a note describing how we speculated on the upside of crude oil prices. We then subsequently implored if prices had indeed bottomed, and we made a case for both sides of the trade. Regular readers that follow our trades that we make public, will know that from the period spanning 1/27 till today, we have had 5 trades on oil. The results of these trades can be found in our most recent commentary dated 3/10.

In this note, we will share with readers a few takeaways we have gained, as well as what we expect going forward.

US Economy Officially In Deflation

US Economy Officially In Deflation

We spoke, we warned, and it has now happened. For reference, we have included a bevy of links documenting our explanation of why deflation was going to be the elephant in the China room.

With the significance of this being the first deflationary headline figure 6 years after Lehman collapsed, low oil prices have conveniently been cast as the straw man. There is some truth to this - the energy index fell 9.7% while the gasoline index fell 18.7% in January, both over December. This marks the fiercest plunge in the 7 consecutive negative prints; the report also noted that the decline in the gasoline was "overwhelmingly the cause" for broad weakness in overall prices. When annualized, the energy index and gasoline index fell 19.6% and 35.4% respectively. Staggering figures!

A Crazy Week In Charts

A Crazy Week In Charts

What a week of utter craziness! After last week's inexhaustible flurry, we thought we'd see some respite. But no, the events just ratcheted one notch higher; with volatility in the financial markets at year-to-date highs and global developments on geopolitical, financial and economic fronts, we can barely keep up the the trance that is raving. So rather than using narrative to summarize what has been a very busy week, we thought of using charts to highlight the key talking points of the past 7 days or so.

This edition of the Daily Grail will be the first ever to feature a compendium of graphics and charts but we might indeed start to adopt a similar format in future editions for time constraints. We have tried to broaden the subjects covered under each piece while ensure each note remains relevant to our readers.

Europe Frozen In Coldest Deflation Ever

Europe Frozen In Coldest Deflation Ever

Everyone certainly knows about the blockbuster Disney animation film "Frozen" and its plot. Though we realize, rather humbly indeed, that we will never come anywhere close to Chris Buck's eloquence in personifying fictional fantasy, we nonetheless were able to connect the quaint dots of what was one of the most popular movies of 2013 & 2014, and that of the biggest stories of the global economy.

We liken Elsa to global oil prices; once the innocent commodity everyone vied for has now become the harbinger of disinflation and deflation, causing great pain and blowing a bone-chilling deflationary wind across much of the world. Anna (Elsa's beloved sister), which we liken to central banks, embarks on a journey of wanderlust and real purpose to try to rescue her dearest sister who has uncontrollably morphed into an Ice Daemon.
Once in the bliss of a dearest sisterhood with Elsa - like central banks were to elevated asset prices, Anna now frantically embarks on an unprecedented journey of uncertainties to save Arendelle from an eternal ice age - like central bankers are now embarking on extraordinary monetary programs to reverse the unintended consequence of their previous misdeeds.

1-7 January: Oil & Euro Lowest Since Lehman As Grexit Fears Loom, EU In Deflation

1-7 January: Oil & Euro Lowest Since Lehman As Grexit Fears Loom, EU In Deflation

What a way to start 2015. The first deflation in the EU since 2009, record low yields on German sovereign debt, global energy prices keep tanking, US equities down for 5 consecutive days, and the news (or not) keeps flowing. For the record, major equity indices have started 2015 with the worst performance since the financial crisis of 2008. Whatever remnant of the 2014 "Santa Rally" turned out to be a ghost in a shell, and has now spooked global market participants.

The past week has been all about ratcheting up the "Grexit" rhetoric across the markets. Readers should be no stranger to the situation in Greece and the entire periphery of the Euro Union, which we touched upon in our last update preceding the New Year. The risk has indeed never been greater as it seems Germany has openly voiced that it won't be blackmailed by a Greek plunger. Remember, Greece is bounded by €240bn to the Troika under the various bailout packages extended to her.

23-28 December: Record Highs on Santa Rally; Russia Say Ruble Crisis Over; Japanese Prices Slip Yet Lower

23-28 December: Record Highs on Santa Rally; Russia Say Ruble Crisis Over; Japanese Prices Slip Yet Lower

The S&P 500 index closed at a record high of 2083 at Friday's close, capping what has been an ebullient Christmas week where equities have historically enjoyed outsized returns relative to volatility. Indeed, the S&P 500 was joined by the Russell 2000 index of stocks and the DJIA (Dow Jones Industrial Average of 30 stocks) to close Friday at their respective record highs.

Trading volumes have been thin across the board, perhaps not so in China where people apparently are told not to celebrate the festivities of Christmas, as markets there remained opened for the entire week. Apart from American markets, the Shanghai Composite surged to a record high this past week. Reason? Mainstream media has been blaring more stimuli from the PBoC. If indeed true, that the PBoC is indeed gearing up for more stimulus come 2015, it would indeed be trying to balance a very tricky scale. Readers will recall that earlier in December, the PBoC reigned in on shadow banking by tightening collateral rules; and now wants to prop up asset prices by introducing more stimulus via other conduits? Seems like some central bankers over there are a little confused on what they actually wish to achieve with their Schrödinger policies.