BHP fuels ASX 200 surge

A surge in production from miner BHP Billiton — shipping 223 million tonnes in FY 2014 against earlier projections of 207 million tonnes — helped the ASX 200 break through resistance at 5550/5560 today. Expect retracement to test support at 5550 and the rising trendline. Respect would confirm a medium-term target of 5700*.

ASX 200

* Target calculation: 5550 + ( 5550 – 5400 ) = 5700

ASX 200 VIX below 10 continues to indicate a bull market.

ASX 200

The Australian Dollar responded to the influx of international buyers, breaking resistance at $0.94. Follow-through above $0.945 would confirm a rally to $0.97. RBA intervention has so far proved ineffectual, but reversal below $0.94 would warn of a test of $0.92.

AUDUSD

DAX warns of correction

Germany’s DAX retreated below medium-term support at 9700, warning of a secondary correction. Follow-through below 9600 would confirm. Declining 21-day Twiggs Money Flow, below zero, indicates medium-term selling pressure. Breach of primary support at 8900/9000 is unlikely, but would warn of a primary down-trend. Recovery above 10000 is also unlikely at present, but would indicate an advance to 10500*. Respect of the long-term trendline at 9500 would indicate that momentum and the primary up-trend are intact.

DAX

* Target calculation: 9750 + ( 9750 – 9000 ) = 10500

Deutsche Post AG (y_DPW.DE) serves as a bellwether for European markets. Deutsche Post DHL couriers holds a similar position to that of Fedex in US markets. The stock formed a rounding top over the last year and is now testing primary support at 25.00. Breach of support would warn of a slow-down in economic activity.

Deutsche Post AG

The Footsie follows a similar path to the DAX in recent weeks. Reversal below 6700 would warn of a correction; follow-through below 6670 would confirm. Declining 21-day Twiggs Money Flow indicates selling pressure, but respect of the zero line would suggest long-term buying support. Recovery above 6800 is unlikely at present, but would suggest a rally to 6880. Breach of primary support is even less likely, but would signal reversal to a primary down-trend.

FTSE 100

* Target calculation: 6800 + ( 6800 – 6400 ) = 7200

Jon Cunliffe: The role of the leverage ratio….

Sir Jon Cunliffe, Deputy Governor for Financial Stability of the Bank of England, argues that the leverage ratio — which ignores risk weighting when calculating the ratio of bank assets to tier 1 capital — is a vital safeguard against banks’ inability to accurately model risk:

….. while the risk-weighted approach has been through wholesale reform, it still depends on mathematical models — and for the largest firms, their own models to determine riskiness. So the risk-weighted approach is itself subject to what in the trade is called “model risk”.

This may sound like some arcane technical curiosity. It is not. It is a fundamental weakness of the risk based approach.

Mathematical modelling is a hugely useful tool. Models are probably the best way we have of forecasting what will happen. But in the end, a model — as the Bank of England economic forecasters will tell you with a wry smile — is only a crude and simplified representation of the real world. Models have to be built and calibrated on past experience.

When events occur that have no clear historical precedent — such as large falls in house prices across US states — models based on past data will struggle to accurately predict what may follow.

In the early days of the crisis, an investment bank CFO is reported to have said, following hitherto unprecedented moves in market prices: “We were seeing things that were 25 standard deviation moves, several days in a row”.

Well, a 25 standard deviation event would not be expected to occur more than once in the history of the universe let alone several days in a row — the lesson was that the models that the bank was using were simply wrong.

And even if it is possible to model credit risk for, say, a bank’s mortgage book, it is much more difficult to model the complex and often obscure relationships between parts of the financial sector — the interconnectedness — that give rise to risk in periods of stress.

Moreover, allowing banks to use their own models to calculate the riskiness of their portfolio for regulatory capital requirements opens the door to the risk of gaming. Deliberately or otherwise, banks opt for less conservative modelling assumptions that lead to less onerous capital requirements. Though the supervisory model review process provides some protection against this risk, in practice, it can be difficult to keep track of what can amount to, for a large international bank, thousands of internal risk models.

The underlying principle of the Basel 3 risk-weighted capital standards — that a bank’s capital should take account of the riskiness of its assets — remains valid. But it is not enough. Concerns about the vulnerability of risk-weights to “model risk” call for an alternative, simpler lens for measuring bank capital adequacy — one that is not reliant on large numbers of models.

This is the rationale behind the so-called “leverage ratio” – a simple unweighted ratio of bank’s equity to a measure of their total un-risk-weighted exposures.

By itself, of course, such a measure would mean banks’ capital was insensitive to risk. For any given level of capital, it would encourage banks to load up on risky assets. But alongside the risk-based approach, as an alternative way of measuring capital adequacy, it guards against model risk. This in turn makes the overall capital adequacy framework more robust.

The leverage ratio is often described as a “backstop” to the “frontstop” of the more complex risk-weighted approach. I have to say that I think this is an unhelpful description. The leverage ratio is not a “safety net” that one hopes or assumes will never be used.

Rather, bank capital adequacy is subject to different types of risks. It needs to be seen through a variety of lenses. Measuring bank capital in relation to the riskiness of assets guards against banks not taking sufficient account of asset risk. Using a leverage ratio guards against the inescapable weaknesses in banks’ ability to model risk.

Read more at Jon Cunliffe: The role of the leverage ratio and the need to monitor risks outside the regulated banking sector – r140721a.pdf.

ASX 200 suggests breakout

The ASX 200 again tested resistance at 5550/5560 this morning, as shown on the hourly chart below. The index retreated, but not far, and another attempt is likely provided international markets behave overnight. Breakout above 5560 would suggest a long-term advance to 5800*. Reversal below 5520 is unlikely, but a fall below 5500 would warn of a test of 5375.

ASX 200

* Target calculation: 5400 + ( 5400 – 5000 ) = 5800

Sleeping tigers: Hang Seng and Straits Times threaten breakout

A monthly chart shows Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index headed for a test of long-term resistance at 24000. A 13-week Twiggs Money Flow trough at zero indicates long-term buying pressure. Breakout above 24000 would signal a primary advance with a medium-term target of 27000*. Reversal below 21000 and the rising trendline is unlikely, but would warn of reversal to a primary down-trend.

Hang Seng Index

* Long-term target calculation: 24000 + ( 24000 – 21000 ) = 27000

Singapore’s Straits Times Index is testing resistance at 3300. Rising 13-week Twiggs Money Flow indicates medium-term buying pressure. Breakout above 3300 would signal a primary advance to 3600*. Respect of resistance is less likely, but reversal below 3200 would warn of another test of primary support at 3000.

Straits Times Index

* Target calculation: 3300 + ( 3300 – 3000 ) = 3600

China’s Shanghai Composite Index remains on an upward path after the PBOC lifted bank credit. Rising 13-week Twiggs Money Flow indicates medium-term buying pressure. Follow-through above 2090/2100 would suggest another test of 2150. Failure of primary support at 1990/2000 is unlikely at present, but would warn of a decline to 1850*.

Shanghai Composite Index

* Target calculation: 2000 – ( 2150 – 2000 ) = 1850

India’s Sensex respected support at 25000. Follow-through above 25700 would signal another test of resistance at 26000/26200. Breakout would offer a target of 27000*. Oscillation of 21-day Twiggs Money Flow around zero warns of hesitancy. Reversal below 25000 is less likely, but would warn of a correction to the primary trendline, around 23000.

Sensex

* Target calculation: 21000 + ( 21000 – 15000 ) = 27000

Japan’s Nikkei 225 is finding support at 15000/15200. Declining 21-day Twiggs Money Flow shows medium-term selling pressure typical of a consolidation; respect of zero would suggest another advance. Recovery above 15500 would confirm, offering a target of the December 2013 high at 16300. Reversal below 15000, however, would warn of another test of primary support at 14000.

Nikkei 225

* Target calculation: 15000 + ( 15000 – 14000 ) = 16000

To sell or not to sell?

Recent acquisition Northern Star Resources [NST] in the ASX 200 portfolio is a great example of the conundrum faced by long-term investors when a new stock leaps out of the starting blocks. Profit-taking is evident from the tall shadows/wicks early in the week and in the decline of 21-day Twiggs Money Flow. Medium-term selling pressure suggests the stock is likely to retrace and give back some of the gains of the last two weeks. The temptation must be great to sell the stock and lock in profits of close to 30 percent.

NST

It is important, however, to stick to the plan. We are investing for a longer time frame in anticipation of much larger gains. There is no guarantee that any individual stock, including NST, will deliver. But I can guarantee you that they will not deliver long-term gains if you sell within the first few weeks.

Investors in S&P 500 stock Micron Technology [MU] faced a similar conundrum in July 2013. The stock had put in a good run from $9.00 before encountering profit-taking as it approached $15.00. 21-Day Twiggs Money Flow retreated below zero and the stock fell back to $12.50. Many investors would have taken this as a sign to get out.

MU July 2013

With hindsight, the decision to stay the course looks easy: support held at $12.50 and MU is now trading at $33.00. But I am sure that there were many investors who forgot their original plan and took profits at $12.50.

MU 2013/2014

….They just aren’t bragging about it.

S&P 500 pregnant pause

  • S&P 500 advance to 2000 likely.
  • VIX continues to indicate a bull market.
  • ASX 200 finds support.

A Harami candlestick formation on the S&P 500 suggests continuation of the up-trend. Harami means ‘pregnant’ in Japanese. Expect a test of the psychological barrier at 2000. 21-Day Twiggs Money Flow recovery above the descending trendline would confirm that short-term selling pressure has ended. Further resistance is likely at the 2000 level — and at 4000 on the Nasdaq 100. Short retracement or narrow consolidation would suggest another advance. Reversal below 1950 is unlikely, but would warn of a correction to 1900 and the rising trendline.

S&P 500

* Target calculation: 1900 + ( 1900 – 1800 ) = 2000

CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) spiked to 15 on news of the Israeli incursion into Gaza and the downing of Malaysian airlines flight MH17 over Eastern Ukraine, but soon retreated to 12 and remains indicative of a bull market.

S&P 500 VIX

The ASX 200 retreated below support at 5525/5530 on the hourly chart, but long tails at 5500 indicate buying pressure and another attempt at 5550 is likely. An open above 5530 would confirm. Breakout above 5550 would suggest a long-term advance to 5800*. Reversal below 5450 is unlikely, but would signal another test of 5350.

ASX 200

* Target calculation: 5400 + ( 5400 – 5000 ) = 5800

Flight MH17: The smoking gun

The following tweet and video purportedly show a BUK surface-to-air missile system being moved by UKR rebels from the area near the MH17 crash site — with two empty missile tubes.

Hat tip to The Interpreter

MH17 is the third plane this week shot down over Ukraine under mysterious circumstances – Vox

From Max Fisher:

…at first, people were wondering if rebels even had the capability to shoot down a high-flying commercial airliner like MH17. But there was another incident just on Monday, July 14, that did not get very much attention at the time. That day, over eastern Ukraine, an Antonov AN-26 Ukrainian military transport plane was hit by a missile while flying over eastern Ukraine — at 21,000 feet altitude. That’s far beyond the range of a shoulder-fired system like the MANPADS.

Read more at MH17 is the third plane this week shot down over Ukraine under mysterious circumstances – Vox.

Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Deleted posts suggest Ukraine rebels downed jet in error

From The Straits Times:

…a message on the official Twitter account of the Donetsk People’s Republic had announced hours earlier that insurgents had seized a series of Russian-made Buk systems capable of soaring to that height.

“@dnrpress: self-propelled Buk surface-to-air missile systems have been seized by the DNR from Ukrainian surface-to-air missile regiment A1402,” said the post.

That tweet was later deleted as well.

Read more at Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Deleted posts suggest Ukraine rebels downed jet in error.

What We Know So Far About the Passenger Jet Shot Down in Ukraine

From Elias Groll & Reid Standish:

Update: 1:10 p.m.Prior to the Malaysian Airlines jet’s shoot down, pro-Russian separatist leader Igor Strelkov posted on the Russian social networking site, VKontakte, claiming responsibility for shooting down a Ukrainian AN-26 transport plane. However, after news emerged of the downed Malaysian Airlines plane, Strelkov’s page appears to have been scrubbed of the post.Strelkov’s page claimed responsibility for taking down a Ukrainian jet and posted and accompanying video that shows smoke rising from what is now believed to be the crash site of the passenger jet. Below is a screengrab of Strelkov’s VKonkakte page that includes the post claiming responsibility for the downed transport plane. That post now appears to have been removed. Donetsk separatist boss Strelkov, Kremlin’s proxy in war, says he ordered shootdown thinking plane was Ukrainian pic.twitter.com/uaWKVlsA7q — Strobe Talbott @strobetalbott July 17, 2014 After reports emerged that a passenger jet had been shot down, Strelkov said that his forces were not responsible and that they lacked the capability to shoot down a plane flying at that altitude. The plane was reportedly flying at an altitude of about 33,000 feet.Meanwhile, additional images are emerging of the crash site, including the horrifying image below that was carried by Russian television:

Malaysian Airlines Crash Site

Read more at What We Know So Far About the Passenger Jet Shot Down in Ukraine.

ASX encounters resistance

The ASX 200 gapped up at today’s open, but encountered strong selling at recent highs of 5550 — evidenced by large volume on the hourly chart. The index retreated, but respect of support at 5525/5530 and the rising trendline indicates buyers remain in control. Breakout above 5550 would signal another primary advance, with a long-term target of 5950*.

ASX 200

* Target calculation: 5450 + ( 5450 – 5050 ) = 5950

Gold retreats as Dollar strengthens

  • Treasury yields remain weak
  • The Dollar strengthens
  • Inflation looks weak despite rising TIPS spread
  • Gold retreats

Interest Rates and the Dollar

The yield on ten-year Treasury Notes continues to test support at 2.50 percent. Failure would indicate a decline to 2.00 percent; follow-through below 2.40 would confirm. 13-Week Twiggs Momentum below zero continues to warn of a primary down-trend. Recovery above 2.65 is less likely, but would suggest the correction is over, with a medium-term target of 2.80 and long-term of 3.00 percent.

10-Year Treasury Yields

* Target calculation: 2.50 – ( 3.00 – 2.50 ) = 2.00

The Dollar Index found short-term support at 80.00. Follow-through above 80.50 indicates another test of 81.00. Recovery of 13-week Twiggs Momentum suggests a primary up-trend. Breakout above 81.00 would strengthen the signal; above 81.50 would confirm. Breach of 80.00 is unlikely at present, but would warn of another test of primary support at 79.00.

Dollar Index

Low interest rates and a stronger dollar suggest inflation expectations are falling, but this is not yet evident on the TIPS spread (10-Year Treasury Yields minus 10-Year Inflation-Indexed Yields).

10-Year Treasury Yields minus 10-Year Inflation Indexed (TIPS) Yields

Gold

Gold is nonetheless falling, in line with weaker inflation expectations. Follow-through below $1300 would test support at $1240. And breach of $1240 would threaten another primary decline, with a target of $1000*. Oscillation of 13-week Twiggs Momentum around zero, however, suggests hesitancy, with no strong trend. Recovery above $1350 is unlikely at present, but would indicate another test of $1400/$1420.

Spot Gold

* Target calculation: 1200 – ( 1400 – 1200 ) = 1000

Australia: UBS eyes $23b capital hit to big banks

Chris Joye at AFR reports on a recent study by UBS banking analysts Jonathon Mott and Adam Lee. The two believe that David Murray’s financial system inquiry is likely to recommend an increase of 2 to 3% in major banks tier 1 capital ratios.

Based on an extra 3 per cent capital buffer for too-big-to-fail banks, UBS finds that the major banks would have to “increase common equity tier one capital by circa $23 billion above current forecasts by the 2016 financial year end”.

…This automatically lowers the major banks’ average return on equity at the end of the 2016 financial year from 15.4 per cent to 14.3 per cent, or by about 116 basis points across the sector. Commonwealth Bank and Westpac come off best according to the analysis, with ANZ and National Australia Bank hit much harder.

Readers should bear in mind that capital ratios are calculated on risk-weighted assets and not all banks employ the same risk-weightings, with CBA more highly leveraged than ANZ. As I pointed out earlier this week, regulators need to monitor both risk-weighted capital ratios and un-weighted leverage ratios to prevent abuse of the system.

Bear in mind, also, that a fall in return on equity does not necessarily mean shareholders will be worse off. Strengthening bank balance sheets will lower their relative risk, improve their cost of funding, and enhance valuations.

Read more at UBS eyes $23b capital hit to big banks.

The world’s lightest sports car

The Elemental RP-1 carbon fiber framed British sports car weighs in at only 450 kg, about one-third the weight of a VW Golf compact.

RP-1

Read more at British Automaker Debuts the World’s Lightest Sports Car | Industry Tap

World’s first 3D carbon fiber printer

The world’s first 3D carbon fiber printer will also soon reach the market. Nidhi Goyal writes:

Developer Gregory Mark, of MarkForged, unveiled his first working prototype of the world’s first carbon fiber 3D printer at SolidWorks World 2014 in San Diego recently. The printer can print in carbon fiber, fiberglass, nylon and PLA and can generate extremely stable, lightweight objects. Carbon fiber is 20 times stiffer and five times stronger than ABS plastic with a strength that exceeds steel….At $5,000, the Mark One printer is slightly more expensive than a normal 3D printer….

Could be useful if you have a fender-bender.

Read more at World's First Carbon Fiber 3D Printer Prints Parts 20X Stiffer, 5X Stronger Than ABS | Industry Tap.

Netherlands Held Liable for 300 Deaths in Srebrenica Massacre – NYTimes.com

From DAN BILEFSKY and MARLISE SIMONS at the New York Times:

The Dutch Supreme Court, which was upholding a 2011 decision by an appellate court, said that even though United Nations commanders were in charge of the peace mission at Srebrenica, in the days after the Bosnian Serb takeover, Dutch authorities had “effective control” over the troops and therefore shared liability.

Srecko Latal, a political analyst who until recently worked with the nonprofit International Crisis Group in Sarajevo, Bosnia, said by phone that the verdict was important for showing that peacekeepers had both a moral and a legal responsibility to protect civilians….

The Srebrenica tragedy highlights two important issues:

  1. Why are lightly armed UN peace-keeping forces being sent into conflict areas where they are incapable of offering effective protection from heavily-armed protagonists? You don’t have a strong negotiating position when your opponent has tanks and artillery.
  2. Who is responsible if troops under UN command obey orders?

Read more at Netherlands Held Liable for 300 Deaths in Srebrenica Massacre – NYTimes.com.

Banks try scare tactics to avoid calls for more capital

ANZ chief executive Mike Smith is the latest banker to warn that the push to increase bank capital ratios will reduce access to bank finance. The AFR reports Smith as saying:

It is not just about banks, it is about the real economy – about corporations, business and individuals… It is one thing for a bank to ­complain about regulation but it is another thing for a corporation to say we are not getting finance because of this regulation that is being imposed on the banks.

Methinks bank resistance to increased capital requirements is more about protecting bonuses than about protecting shareholders or the broad economy. Shareholders would benefit from lower funding costs and improved stock ratings associated with a stronger balance sheet, while Bank of England’s Andrew Bailey had this to say about the impact of stronger capital ratios on bank lending:

I do however accept that there remains a perception in some quarters that higher capital standards are bad for lending and thus for a sustained economic recovery…… Looking at the broader picture, the post-crisis adjustment of the capital adequacy standard is a welcome and necessary correction of the excessively lax underwriting and pricing of risk which caused the build up of fragility in the banking system and led to the crisis. I do not however accept the view that raising capital standards damages lending. There are few, if any, banks that have been weakened as a result of raising capital.

Analysis by the Bank for International Settlements indicates that in the post crisis period banks with higher capital ratios have experienced higher asset and loan growth. Other work by the BIS also shows a positive relationship between bank capitalisation and lending growth, and that the impact of higher capital levels on lending may be especially significant during a stress period. IMF analysis indicates that banks with stronger core capital are less likely to reduce certain types of lending when impacted by an adverse funding shock. And our own analysis indicates that banks with larger capital buffers tend to reduce lending less when faced with an increase in capital requirements. These banks are less likely to cut lending aggressively in response to a shock. These empirical results are intuitive and accord with our supervisory experience, namely that a weakly capitalised bank is not in a position to expand its lending. Higher quality capital and larger capital buffers are critical to bank resilience – delivering a more stable system both through lower sensitivity of lending behaviour to shocks and reducing the probability of failure and with it the risk of dramatic shifts in lending behaviour.

The BOE and BIS tell us that higher capital ratios will improve bank lending, yet Mr Smith is trying to scare regulators with threats that it will have the opposite effect.

Read more at Andrew Bailey: The capital adequacy of banks – today’s issues and what we have learned from the past | BIS.

And at ANZ CEO Mike Smith Rebuffs Murray Inquiry Call For More Bank Capital | Business Insider.

Ray Dalio: The Economic Machine and Beautiful Deleveraging

Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, released a 30 minute video in 2013, explaining his template of the economy and how central banks and government should manage a deleveraging like the Great Recession and its after-effects.

Ray proposes three simple rules to avoid future crises:

  1. Don’t let debt grow faster than income (GDP) otherwise it will eventually crush you;
  2. Don’t let income grow faster than productivity otherwise you will become uncompetitive in international markets; and
  3. Do all that you can to raise productivity because in the long run that’s what matters most.

What is productivity and how do we measure it?

Productivity is the result of hard work and innovation, both of these factors will increase the level of output (GDP) per unit of input.

We measure productivity by comparing GDP to units of input, either:

  • the population of a country;
  • the number of hours worked; or
  • the number of people employed.

Index

Each will give a different perspective, but there are a few general rules:

  • countries with high technology and innovation (e.g. Germany or USA) show high productivity;
  • as do resource-rich countries with big extraction industries (like Norway and Australia); and
  • countries with low tax regimes (Singapore and Ireland) which attract transient income.

Read more at Labor productivity can be misleading.