energy

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.

Euro Parity, Coming Sooner Than You Expect

Euro Parity, Coming Sooner Than You Expect

The time from when we last published our latest addition of the Daily Grail has been rather eventful. From the blistering jobs report 2 weeks ago that propelled market's expectation for a June rate hike even higher, to the continuation of monetary policy bifurcation by the world's central banks that will soon see the Euro trading at par to the Dollar, the month of March has so far endowed the financial markets with much needed cross-asset volatility.

On 22 January, the ECB unveiled something the world had never seen before. Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank, announced that for the first time in the 14 years of the Euro's existence, the ECB was going to monetize debt securities to the tune of €60bn/month. Just 2 short months ago, the ECB termed this open market operation the EAPP (Expanded Asset Purchase Program).

2 months and 1000 pips later, the ECB has coined a new term - the PSPP (Public Sector Purchase Program).The big question on the minds of currency traders across all trading desks is when will parity be attained on EURUSD. Not if but when.

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.

Jim Reid: Volatile Volatility

Jim Reid: Volatile Volatility

What makes this move shocking is that just last month the SNB committed themselves to preventing their currency appreciating beyond 1.20 to the Euro and vowed they would enforce the policy with "the utmost determination". The risk for the global financial system is that if the SNB can make such a dramatic u-turn could other central banks follow at some point. We're not so concerned here as their situation is arguably a lot different to the ECB. The ECB might actually look at the wider market moves yesterday and be scared to disappoint.

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.

19-22 December: Reeling From Russia's Pain, Belarus Implodes; Global Markets Rebound Sharply; Sony Hacking Satire

19-22 December: Reeling From Russia's Pain, Belarus Implodes; Global Markets Rebound Sharply; Sony Hacking Satire

The overnight night unsecured deposit rate on BYR has exploded north of 30% as the national bank has made it too expensive to lend BYR even amongst banks. As we learned from the bank's press release, it wants to halt sales of BYR by as much as possible though pseudo and conventional capital controls. The interest on commercial and retail deposits at local banks has also spiked to encourage individuals and businesses to leave their currency in their banks. Apparently enough, we know this is not working one bit and the run on banks continues and will probably extend all the way to Christmas Eve before there is any easing of tensions.

Indeed, just a few hours after AFP broke this news, the overnight interbank BYR deposit rate has surged past 50% as the fire intensifies.

15-16 December: Russian Ruble Falls to Record Low Despite Massive Rate Hike

15-16 December: Russian Ruble Falls to Record Low Despite Massive Rate Hike

Update: After surging 9% against the dollar in the early hours of European trading, the Ruble has resumed its slump towards 70 to the dollar, as Bloomberg reports. Seems like all is not fixed even in the surface.

Update 2: USDRUB breaches 80, RTS index down a whopping 15%. Alarm bells going off. Dollar is at session lows and safety is massively bid.

The CBR raised its main interest rate to 17% from the 10.5% last week, a 650bp hike, sending the ruble much higher as traders knew jerked to the eleventh hour decision to try halt to ruble's cataclysmic collapse amid even lower oil prices. The decision to raise the borrowing cost of interbank borrowing came at 1am local time, highlighting the desperation and intended impact of the measure