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Shame on Bill Gross

Takeaway: The NSA jobs data continues to improve at an accelerating year-over-year rate. The Fed needs to taper. Despite Bill Gross's protestations.

Today’s US jobless claims print (surprising to the upside - again) is the single most important economic data point this week. In particular, how it relates to rising interest rates, which have been hugging non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) rolling jobless claims like a glove over the past six months.


US Employment equals #GrowthAccelerating.

 

Shame on Bill Gross - gross

 

Contrary to what a lot of Macro Tourists may be telling you, yesterday’s Q1 GDP print isn't a forward looking economic indicator. It’s rear-view mirror. NSA rolling jobless claims is what you want to be looking at. Study it. Don’t be a Macro Tourist.

 

For the record, we haven't had bad US economic news (yet). It’s the good news that's been wreaking havoc and wrecking Gold and Bonds.

 

Incidentally, Gold continues to get clobbered. It's in full-blown correction mode. Yet the knife catchers are still out there in full force, despite their peers losing eyes, ears, and lips loading up on "precious" metals. Come on already. As I wrote earlier this week, if interest rates keep rising, gold is going to have a hangover the likes of which we’ve never seen. 

 

It's important to note that 346,000 in claims isn’t a number that ultimately matters – it’s all about the slope of the line in NSA rolling claims.

 

(Click to enlarge)

Shame on Bill Gross - steiner

 

As you can see, NSA jobs data continues to improve at an accelerating year-over-year rate. This is the case on both a 1 week and 4 week rolling-average basis. NSA jobless claims were 9.6% better than at this time last year. It’s a continuation of what we've been seeing.

 

Here’s the unfortunate rub: Fed policy hinges on employment.

 

Now, Bill Gross’ political book pushing aside (Pimco's Grand Poobah just went on record saying "...the 10-year Treasury – may be as much as 35 basis points too cheap. They belong in our opinion at 2.20% instead of 2.55%."), the Fed should be tapering right now.

 

The biggest threat to both American Purchasing Power and sustainable US economic growth remains our unelected, omnipotent Central Planners at the Federal Reserve devaluing our currency. Deal with it.

 

The other risk of course is big bond managers talking up what’s best for their own book, not their country.


Morning Reads on Our Radar Screen

Takeaway: A quick look at stories on Hedgeye's radar screen.

Keith McCullough – CEO

(My friend) Rob Labritz's amazing shot to make it in to the PGA Championship (via PGA.com)

Yellen Betting Defies 100-Year Jinx of Fed No. 2 Never Elevated (KM note: Scary, scary option … via Bloomberg)

Brazilian protesters clash with police outside stadium (via BBC)

 

Morning Reads on Our Radar Screen - radar

 

Josh Steiner – Financials

Proposed Guidelines Could Require Banks to Raise Billions in Capital (via DealB%k)

FHFA Nominee Watt Faces Senate Skeptics at Hearing Today (via Bloomberg)

 

Jonathan Casteleyn – Financials

Biggest Pension Gap Fails to Deter Illinois Buyers: Muni Credit (via Bloomberg)

 

Brian McGough – Retail

US Boss Held Captive by Workers Leaves China (via CNBC)

 

Matt Hedrick – Macro

Europe’s Richest Person Kamprad to Move Back to Sweden (via Bloomberg)

 

Kevin Kaiser – Energy

Eclipse Resources Acquires The Oxford Oil Company in the Utica Shale (via Fiscal Insider)

 

Howard Penney – Restaurants

McDonald's Becomes #25 Most Shorted Dow Stock, Replacing JPMorgan Chase (via Forbes)

Industry reps detail health care law challenges at Congressional hearing (via National Restaurant Association)


INITIAL CLAIMS: NO IMPACT YET ON THE LABOR MARKET FROM RISING RATES

Takeaway: The labor market improved at an accelerating rate again this week on an NSA basis. Meanwhile, the yield curve has hit 217 bps.

A Steadily Widening Divergence

No real change this week vs. the trend we've been seeing over the last several weeks in claims. NSA data continues to improve at an accelerating YoY rate, on both a 1-week and 4-week rolling-average basis. NSA claims were 9.6% better than at this time last year, and, by coincidence, the 4-week moving average was also better by 9.6%. These represent sequential improvements vs. 7.7% and 9.1% YoY changes, respectively. The bottom line is that the accelerating improvement we've been seeing for the last few months continued last week. We continue to hypothesize that one contributing factor is Obamacare, which is causing high-employment, relatively low-wage industries like restaurants and hospitality to replace 3 full-time employees with 4 part-time employees to stay underneath the 30-hour ACA cutoff. We've been seeing and hearing a fair amount of anecdotal evidence in support of this idea.

 

On the seasonally-adjusted side, the data wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. Essentially rolling SA claims went sideways again this week - a growing divergence vs. the trend in the NSA data - consistent with prior years. This trend should continue for two more months, when it peaks in August. Thereafter, we'll begin to see the reversal - SA claims data will begin to appear stronger than NSA data and the sector should be very strong in response.

 

The Data

Prior to revision, initial jobless claims fell 8k to 346k from 354k WoW, as the prior week's number was revised up by 1k to 355k.

 

The headline (unrevised) number shows claims were lower by 9k WoW. Meanwhile, the 4-week rolling average of seasonally-adjusted claims fell -2.75k WoW to 346.75k.

 

The 4-week rolling average of NSA claims, which we consider a more accurate representation of the underlying labor market trend, was -9.6% lower YoY, which is a sequential improvement versus the previous week's YoY change of -9.1%

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: NO IMPACT YET ON THE LABOR MARKET FROM RISING RATES - 1

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: NO IMPACT YET ON THE LABOR MARKET FROM RISING RATES - 2

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: NO IMPACT YET ON THE LABOR MARKET FROM RISING RATES - 3

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: NO IMPACT YET ON THE LABOR MARKET FROM RISING RATES - 4

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: NO IMPACT YET ON THE LABOR MARKET FROM RISING RATES - 5

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: NO IMPACT YET ON THE LABOR MARKET FROM RISING RATES - 6

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: NO IMPACT YET ON THE LABOR MARKET FROM RISING RATES - 7

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: NO IMPACT YET ON THE LABOR MARKET FROM RISING RATES - 8

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: NO IMPACT YET ON THE LABOR MARKET FROM RISING RATES - 9

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: NO IMPACT YET ON THE LABOR MARKET FROM RISING RATES - 10

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: NO IMPACT YET ON THE LABOR MARKET FROM RISING RATES - 11

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: NO IMPACT YET ON THE LABOR MARKET FROM RISING RATES - 12

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: NO IMPACT YET ON THE LABOR MARKET FROM RISING RATES - 13

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: NO IMPACT YET ON THE LABOR MARKET FROM RISING RATES - 17

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: NO IMPACT YET ON THE LABOR MARKET FROM RISING RATES - 14

 

Yield Spreads

The 2-10 spread rose 11.8 basis points WoW to 217 bps. 2Q13TD, the 2-10 spread is averaging 169 bps, which is higher by 2 bps relative to 1Q13.

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: NO IMPACT YET ON THE LABOR MARKET FROM RISING RATES - 15

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: NO IMPACT YET ON THE LABOR MARKET FROM RISING RATES - 16

 

Joshua Steiner, CFA

Jonathan Casteleyn, CFA, CMT


Early Look

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Volatility (Still) Breeds Contempt

Client Talking Points

ASIA

Equities are still all over the place here. Volatility should continue to breed contempt. China was down small (-0.1%) overnight while Hong Kong was up for Day Two of a bounce (+0.5%). Since every major index in Asia is bearish TREND right now, tonight’s move in the Hang Seng will be a very important tell. Failing here? That would be a very bad thing.

EUROPE

We are already seeing European Equities fail after their 2-day no volume bounce. Say it ain't so, but the train wreck that is Greece is actually crashing again. Greece down -2.7% this morning and -29% since May 17th. #Nasty. Spain is another loser down -1% after failing at 7887 resistance (IBEX). Meanwhile, in Germany TREND resistance for the DAX remains intact at 8019.

UST 10YR

It is still all about the speed of the move (higher) on the long end of the curve. Today’s US jobless claims print is the most important (current) US economic data point of the week. Since US consensus still seems afraid of being long growth, it will be interesting to see what another positive surprise in claims would do to stocks (yields up). Of course, if claims miss, stocks could go down on that too.

Asset Allocation

CASH 65% US EQUITIES 10%
INTL EQUITIES 5% COMMODITIES 0%
FIXED INCOME 0% INTL CURRENCIES 20%

Top Long Ideas

Company Ticker Sector Duration
HCA

Health Care sector head Tom Tobin has identified a number of tailwinds in the near and longer term that act as tailwinds to the hospital industry, and HCA in particular. This includes: Utilization, Maternity Trends as well as Pent-Up Demand and Acuity. The demographic shift towards more health care – driven by a gradually improving economy, improving employment trends, and accelerating new household formation and births – is a meaningful Macro factor and likely to lead to improving revenue and volume trends moving forward.  Near-term market mayhem should not hamper this  trend, even if it means slightly higher borrowing costs for hospitals down the road. 

MPEL

Gaming, Leisure & Lodging sector head Todd Jordan says Melco International Entertainment stands to benefit from a major new European casino rollout.  An MPEL controlling entity, Melco International Development, is eyeing participation in a US$1 billion gaming project in Barcelona.  The new project, to be called “BCN World,” will start with a single resort with 1,100 hotel beds, a casino, and a theater.  Longer term, the objective is for BCN World to have six resorts.  The first property is scheduled to open for business in 2016. 

WWW

WWW is one of the best managed and most consistent companies in retail. We’re rarely fans of acquisitions, but the recent addition of Sperry, Saucony, Keds and Stride Rite (known as PLG) gives WWW a multi-year platform from which to grow. We think that the prevailing bearish view is very backward looking and leaves out a big piece of the WWW story, which is that integration of these brands into the WWW portfolio will allow the former PLG group to achieve what it could not under its former owner (most notably – international growth, and leverage a more diverse selling infrastructure in the US). Furthermore it will grow without needing to add the capital we’d otherwise expect as a stand-alone company – especially given WWW’s consolidation from four divisions into three -- which improves asset turns and financial returns.

Three for the Road

TWEET OF THE DAY

Bill Gross is officially talking up what's best for his own book, not his country #sad @PIMCO

@KeithMcCullough (commenting on Gross' statement earlier this morning that the 10-year Treasury may be as much as 35 basis points too cheap.)

QUOTE OF THE DAY

Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.

– Babe Ruth

STAT OF THE DAY

Worldwide arms exports are surging, up nearly 30% since 2008, according to a new report from defense analyst IHS Jane's. Weapons exports totaled $73B in 2012, up from $57B four years earlier. Total worldwide defense spending in 2012 was $1.6 trillion. 



Hogtown

“There is thy gold, worse poison to men’s souls,

Doing more murder in this loathsome world,

Than these poor compounds that thou mayst not sell.”

-William Shakespeare

 

My colleagues and I ventured up to Toronto (nicknamed Hogtown due to the vast pork processing plants that used to call Toronto home) yesterday to meet with some old clients and some new prospects.  The first prospect’s office we strode into had a massive solid gold coin and paintings from French Impressionists on the walls.  Clearly, the commodity, and in particular gold, boom, has been good to Canadian investment managers.

 

As we made our rounds yesterday, it became increasingly obvious that Canadian money managers were also doing their utmost to diversify from this commodity heritage and in the short run that means diversifying more into U.S. equities.  In part, this was actually due to a perception of potential strength in the U.S. dollar, a theme which is very near and dear to our hearts, of course.

 

One manager actually made a very interesting point on gold companies, which was that as the majors were being increasingly forced to hedge out gold prices, they put their company at even greater risk in the future if, and when, gold prices and operating costs increased.  His view is that intrinsic value of many major Canadian gold companies is substantially lower than where Mr. Market is currently valuing them.

 

Given how much fun we’ve had analyzing the hedging strategies of LINN Energy, the Canadian gold sector may be an interesting short research project to work on next.  But as always, while you can marry your longs, it’s highly recommended to only date your shorts.

 

Back to the global macro grind . . .

 

Despite a little bit of a market freak out last week, global markets are seemingly stabilizing.  An important tell for us on this front is sovereign debt markets in Europe where, logically, risk capital seems to flee first.  After peaking over 5% on Monday, Spanish 10-year bonds are back down well below 5% and on their way back to 4.5%.

 

Admittedly, though, even as some of the risk has decreased over the past couple of days, the low volume price recovery in many key markets has been uninspiring.  In Asia, the bounce has been very uninspired with China down small over night and Hong Kong only up 0.5% for the second day of its bounce.  In Europe, Greece is back in crash mode as is down -2.7% this morning.

 

Speaking of yields, the future direction of yields on U.S. Treasuries is one of the topics our international clients are increasingly focused on, which is no surprise given the blood bath that has occurred in the U.S. government debt market over the last thirty days.  But, where will yields go from here?

 

Many bond experts had been adamant that the Federal Reserve would defend the 2% line on the 10-year.  Clearly, that was about as defendable as a Canadian Football League offense against a NFL defense.  In the Chart of the Day, we look at the yield on the 10-year going back ten years.   On a basic level, if the market truly begins to price in the end of quantitative easing, the blood bath in the bond market is likely in early days. 

 

Conversely, as interest rates go up in the U.S., this should bode well for the U.S. dollar especially given the positive relative position versus the Yen and the Euro.  In Japan, to generate anywhere close to 2% inflation will require substantially more quantitative easing.  Meanwhile in Europe, the continued economic bifurcation between countries makes it unlikely the ECB will tighten anytime soon.  On the last point, the best example of this is like the gap in unemployment rate of Germany at 6.8% and the rest of the Euro zone at 12.2%.

 

Another key theme that will continue to play out if rates in the U.S. increase and the U.S. dollar naturally strengthens is Emerging Markets outflows.  In fact, in the strong dollar era from 1995 to 2001, the SP500 CAGR was 15.8% and the CAGR of the MSCI EM Index was -5.3%.  Conversely, in the weak dollar period of 2001 to 2011, the SP500 CAGR was 1.4% and the MSCI EM Index returned 14.5%.  Now clearly, there were and are other factors at play, but the U.S. dollar will continue to be one of the most influential.

 

As it relates to interest rates, today’s jobless claims print will be the most important data we will get through the end of the week.  If claims are better than expected, then interest rates are likely to continue their ascent.  So far, equities have not acted well with interest rates breaking out to the upside, though that could change if a stabilizing economy becomes increasingly evident.

 

The global markets are having a difficult time finding their identity.  As Shakespeare wrote:

 

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.”

 

Indeed, we are all stock market players.  The key is to make sure, whether it is gold, U.S. treasuries, or LINN Energy, that we are not the last players to exit.

 

Our immediate-term TRADE Risk Ranges are now (TREND bullish or bearish in brackets):

 

UST 10yr 2.39%-2.74% (bullish)

SPX 1 (neutral)

DAX 7 (bearish)

Nikkei 12,9 (bearish)

 

VIX 15.17-20.97 (bullish)

USD 82.27-83.67 (bullish)

Euro 1.29-1.31 (bearish)

Yen 96.41-99.53 (bearish)

 

Oil 98.98-103.36 (bearish)

NatGas 3.64-3.89 (bearish)

Gold 1 (bearish)

Copper 2.98-3.12 (bearish)

Keep your head up and stick on the ice,

 

Daryl G. Jones

Director of Research

 

Hogtown - Chart of the Day

 

Hogtown - Virtual Portfolio


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