Markets More Than A Little Wobbly Today

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It’s all looking more than a little wobbly this morning. After yesterday’s solid 10 year auction helped stem the bloodflow from the execrable consumer confidence figure, equities managed to put in a fairly “blah” close, which suddenly seems like the new “high volume percent and a half melt-up.”

The canary in the coal mine for the current market came from, of all places Australia. Quarterly CPI was released a bit highre than expected; given the recent AUD love-fest and the swirling focus on RBA tightening, this surely led to a nice rally in the Oz, right? Not so fast, my friend. Of all the flamingos out there, AUD is surely among the biggest, given that there is apparently nothing wrong with it. Or maybe there is. The Aussie banking sector, which has largely flown under the radar during the entire crisis, apparently has a few skeletons (or at least turds) in its closet, as NAB’s earnings report was an absolute shocker. The AUD has been spanked as a result, which surely must tell us something.

Meanwhile, European banks have continued their descent down the liuft shift this morning, with Irish banks grabbing this morning’s “limelight.” It’s been a while since financial stability has been any sort of focus, but it is pretty striking that every mornin this week, Macro Man has beens serendaed with comments like “ING down 20%” or “Bank of Ireland down 15%.” The European banking index doesn’t look any better than the BKX; given the relative lack of pain taken by European banks, one could easily argue that the downside for the SX7E is greater.

And w(h)ither the euro? It’s hard for Macro Man to figure out whether this just a flamingo-y position squeeze, the by now-usual month-end jitters, a reaction to a possible change of Fed language, or a Leftback-style “Big One.”

What’s interesting to note is that amongst the cosmic background radiation of the DGDF trade has been signs of a vulnerability to a dollar rally. If we overlay EUR/USD with the skew in 1 month 25d risk reversals, we see that for the first half of the year the correlation is quite high. Over the last few months, though, even as the dollar was going down the drain, the riskies came off ; they’ve actually been bid for euro puts for most of this month. Again, whether that’s a canary in the coal mine or prudent hedging remains to be seen, but it is certainly curious.

Overall, Macro Man’s expectation of higher volatility trading conditions is looking prescient (or at least more accurate than this week’s directional calls). The last several months have seen month-end wobbles, which have swiftly righted themselves once the calendar page flips. With the Fed, NFP, and G20 looming, the jury is still out on the current wobbles. Will markets prove to be Weebles, or Michael Spinks?

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