Gold hesitant response to weak Dollar

Ten-year Treasury Note yields are re-testing resistance at 2.00%. Recovery above 2.25% would indicate the correction is over and a rally to test the key resistance level of 3.00%. 13-Week Twiggs Momentum below zero, however, continues to indicate a primary down-trend. Failure of support at 1.85% would signal a test of 1.65%.

10-Year Treasury Yields

The Dollar retreated from long-term resistance at 100 as expectations of higher interest rates eased. Rising 13-week Twiggs Momentum signals a strong (primary) up-trend. Respect of support at 95.5 would confirm.

Dollar Index

* Target calculation: 100 + ( 100 – 90 ) = 110

Gold rallied on the back of a soft dollar and weak interest rate outlook, but failed to hold above $1200/ounce. 13-Week Twiggs Momentum below zero continues to indicate a primary down-trend. Follow-through below $1180 would warn of another test of support at $1140/$1150, while a rise above $1220 would test $1300.

Spot Gold

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

Crude consolidates

Saudi Arabia bombs its neighbor Yemen. Another war in the Middle East and crude prices rally. Nymex Light Crude retreated above support at $45/barrel, testing $50, while Brent Crude found support at $54. The Saudis are obviously concerned about the success of Iranian-backed rebels in their close neighbor and are prepared to intervene militarily (Putin will probably send a telegram of support, attempting to draw a parallel although the situation in Ukraine is vastly different). Expect further consolidation between $45 and $55 for Nymex Light Crude. Supply continues to exceed demand and storage facilities are approaching capacity. The bear trend is likely to continue despite the current interruption.

Brent Crude and Nymex WTI Light Crude

Footsie breaks 15-year high

The FTSE 100 overcame resistance at its December 1999 high of 6950, closing the week above 7000 for the first time. Expect retracement to test the new support level, but breakout signals a primary advance with a long-term target of 8000*. A 21-day Twiggs Money Flow trough above zero confirms long-term buying pressure.

FTSE 100

* Target calculation: 7000 + ( 7000 – 6000 ) = 8000

Germany’s DAX recovered above 12000, suggesting continuation of the advance. Expect resistance at the Deutsche Bank target of 12500 (from late 2014). Rising 21-day Twiggs Money Flow indicates strong buying pressure. Reversal below 11800 is unlikely at this stage, but would warn of a correction.

DAX

* Target calculation: 12200 + ( 12200 – 11900 ) = 12500

Strong advances on these two indices suggest a broader European recovery.

Gold rallies on Fed “dovish” statement

The Fed Open Market Committee (FOMC) dropped the word “patient”, but market bulls responded positively to its “dovish” post-meeting statement. Jeff Cox at CNBC writes:

… the mostly dovish statement made little fanfare over eliminating the word, and in fact stated specifically that “an increase in the target range for the federal funds rate remains unlikely at the April FOMC meeting,” a phrase missing from previous communiques……

“The Committee anticipates that it will be appropriate to raise the target range for the federal funds rate when it has seen further improvement in the labor market and is reasonably confident that inflation will move back to its 2 percent objective over the medium term,” the statement said.

Like I said: “…. Janet Yellen will move when the time is right. And not before.”

Ten-year Treasury Note yields broke through 2.00%, warning of another test of primary support at 1.65%. 13-Week Twiggs Momentum below zero continues to signal a down-trend. Recovery above 2.00% is unlikely, but would signal a rally to 2.50%.

10-Year Treasury Yields

The Dollar retreated from long-term resistance at 100. Rising 13-week Twiggs Momentum signals a strong (primary) up-trend. Respect of support at 95.5 would indicate continuation of the trend.

Dollar Index

* Target calculation: 100 + ( 100 – 90 ) = 110

Gold rallied on the back of a softer dollar and weaker interest rate outlook. Expect a rally to test $1200/ounce, but respect of this level would reinforce the primary down-trend. Breach of support at $1140/$1150 would confirm. 13-Week Twiggs Momentum below zero strengthens the bear signal.

Spot Gold

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

China hot money heads for the exit

Huw McKay at Westpac writes:

“The Jan-Feb FX positions of China’s banks imply that FX reserves fell in the early part of the year, despite back to back monster trade surpluses of $US60 billion. The logical conclusion is that money flowed out in a big way on the financial account.”

There are two reasons why capital would flow out on the financial account. The usual explanation is the PBOC buying US Treasuries, exporting capital to prevent the yuan appreciating against the Dollar. But Huw points out that the PBOC balance sheet shows a slight decline in foreign assets held. This could be a smokescreen, with investments channeled through an intermediary. Otherwise, it could be a sign that private capital is leaving for safer shores. This from the Business Times:

More than 76,000 Chinese millionaires emigrated or acquired citizenship of another country in the decade through 2013 amid global expansion by the nation’s companies.

Australia was among the most favored destinations, broker Knight Frank LLP said on Thursday, citing data compiled by law firm Fragomen LLP. The Chinese accounted for more than 90 percent of applications for the country’s significant investor visa in the two years to the end of January, representing 1,384 people. They also make the most applications for high-net-worth visas in the UK and the US.

Consumer confidence is below 2008/2009 levels and declining.

Crude breaks support

Nymex light crude (April 2015 contract) broke support at $45/barrel, warning of a decline to $35/barrel*.

Nymex WTI Crude

* Target calculation: 45 – ( 55 – 45 ) = 35

The Catch-22 of energy storage | On Line Opinion

John Morgan questions whether wind and solar are viable energy sources when one considers energy returned on energy invested (EROEI).

There is a minimum EROEI, greater than 1, that is required for an energy source to be able to run society. An energy system must produce a surplus large enough to sustain things like food production, hospitals, and universities to train the engineers to build the plant, transport, construction, and all the elements of the civilization in which it is embedded. For countries like the US and Germany, Weißbach et al. estimate this minimum viable EROEI to be about 7……

The fossil fuel power sources we’re most accustomed to have a high EROEI of about 30, well above the minimum requirement. Wind power at 16, and concentrating solar power (CSP, or solar thermal power) at 19, are lower, but the energy surplus is still sufficient, in principle, to sustain a developed industrial society. Biomass, and solar photovoltaic (at least in Germany), however, cannot. With an EROEI of only 3.9 and 3.5 respectively, these power sources cannot support with their energy alone both their own fabrication and the societal services we use energy for in a first world country.

EROEI with and without storage

Energy Returned on Invested, from Weißbach et al.,1 with and without energy storage (buffering). CCGT is closed-cycle gas turbine. PWR is a Pressurized Water (conventional nuclear) Reactor. Energy sources must exceed the “economic threshold”, of about 7, to yield the surplus energy required to support an OECD level society.

These EROEI values are for energy directly delivered (the “unbuffered” values in the figure). But things change if we need to store energy. If we were to store energy in, say, batteries, we must invest energy in mining the materials and manufacturing those batteries. So a larger energy investment is required, and the EROEI consequently drops…[to the buffered level].

Read more at The Catch-22 of energy storage – On Line Opinion – 10/3/2015.

Why our prep-school diplomats fail against Putin and ISIS | New York Post

Kerry and Putin

“Why do our “best and brightest” fail when faced with a man like Putin?” Ralph Peters asks. “Or with charismatic fanatics? Or Iranian negotiators? Why do they misread our enemies so consistently, from Hitler and Stalin to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliph?”

The answer is straightforward:

Social insularity: Our leaders know fellow insiders around the world; our enemies know everyone else.

The mandarin’s distaste for physicality: We are led through blood-smeared times by those who’ve never suffered a bloody nose.

And last but not least, bad educations in our very best schools: Our leadership has been educated in chaste political theory, while our enemies know, firsthand, the stuff of life.

Above all, there is arrogance based upon privilege. For revolving-door leaders in the U.S. and Europe, if you didn’t go to the right prep school and elite university, you couldn’t possibly be capable of comprehending, let alone changing, the world…….

That educational insularity is corrosive and potentially catastrophic: Our “best” universities prepare students to sustain the current system, instilling vague hopes of managing petty reforms.

But dramatic, revolutionary change in geopolitics never comes from insiders. It’s the outsiders who change the world.

An Athenian general once wrote:

The state that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its laws made by cowards, and its fighting done by fools.

~ Thucydides (c. 460 BC – c. 400 BC)

Read more at Why our prep-school diplomats fail against Putin and ISIS | New York Post.

Another downward leg for crude?

Nymex Light Crude is headed for another test of support at $45/barrel. Breach would signal a decline, with a medium-term target of $35/barrel*.

Nymex WTI Light Crude and Brent Sweet Crude

* Target calculation: 45 – ( 55 – 45 ) = 35

Saturation of available storage capacity (see Crude in Contango) is expected to force sellers into the market and drive prices lower.

Gold falls as Dollar soars

Ten-year Treasury Note yields are testing support at 2.00%. Recovery above 2.50% would indicate another test of 3.00%. But 13-week Twiggs Momentum below zero continues to signal a down-trend. Another peak below zero would warn of a decline to test the all-time low at 1.40%. Breakout above 3.00% appears remote at present, but would signal the end of the secular (20+ year) down-trend.

10-Year Treasury Yields

The Dollar is on a tear, testing long-term resistance at 100. Rising 13-week Twiggs Momentum signals a strong (primary) up-trend. Breakout would offer a new target of 110*, but first expect retracement to confirm the new support level.

Dollar Index

* Target calculation: 100 + ( 100 – 90 ) = 110

Gold

Gold fell through long-term support at $1200 and is testing the last line of support at the recent lows of $1140/$1150 per ounce. Reversal of 13-week Twiggs Momentum below zero warns of another (primary) decline, with a target of $1000*. Breach of support at $1140 would confirm.

Spot Gold

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

Deflation in Australia?

The Eurozone experienced negative CPI growth over December/January.

CPI EU

Australia shows consumer price growth declining at the end of 2014. The next CPI update (Q1 2015), at end of April, is likely to reflect further slowing.

CPI Australia

Declining inflation expectations reported by Westpac (in the 0 to 5% range) tend to support this.

CPI expectations Australia (0 - 5% range)

CPI unwinds as the Fed runs out of “patience”

From Seeking Alpha:

The euro fell to a fresh 12-year low on Wednesday, extending a broad decline just days after the ECB launched its €1T bond-buying program, while the dollar index soared to its highest in more than 11 years at 98.95, buoyed by expectations that the Fed could soon lift U.S. interest rates. Nearly all now believe the FOMC will remove the word “patient” from its policy statement after its March 17-18 meeting, opening the door for a rate increase in June.

Not so fast. US consumer price growth (annual % change) to end of January 2015 fell below zero.

US CPI

Core CPI is slowing at a far gentler rate because it excludes energy prices (as well as food).

CPI Core

Wage pressures in the manufacturing sector are declining, despite solid job numbers, indicating there is still plenty of slack.

Manufacturing Hourly Earnings

With inflationary pressures easing, why the haste to raise interest rates? I believe that Janet Yellen will move when the time is right. And not before.

Dad’s Army fumbles housing affordability | Macrobusiness

By Leith van Onselen — Published with kind permission from Macrobusiness.

Broken Window

After his shoddy effort yesterday defending Australia’s giant superannuation rortDad’s Army’s Robert Gottliebsen (“Gotti”), has backed Treasurer Hockey’s proposal to allow young home buyers to raid their superannuation accounts to purchase their first home:

Joe Hockey’s idea to allow first home buyers to use their superannuation to break into the housing market is not stupid…

Most young people in Australia are finding it impossible to gain a first home… we are watching a fundamental shift in the Australian landscape with huge implications for the intergenerational problem…

[Last weekend]…I found myself in the company of a typical first home buyer in today’s market… They can just manage a house or larger apartment but they are saddled with a huge mortgage…

So why would we not say to that couple: “you can invest up to $50,000 of your superannuation in your first home…

A whole generation of Australians could retire without a house because they are unable to get into the market…

A question, Gotti: What do you think the extra demand from first home buyers (FHBs) accessing their super would do to house prices? That’s right, it would raise them, making the scheme self-defeating, much like FHB grants did.

Meanwhile, young people’s retirement nest eggs would be put at risk, potentially increasing their reliance on the Aged Pension (increasing the burden on future taxpayers).

Thankfully, Business Spectator’s young gun, Callam Pickering, understands these issues, penning the following rebuke today:

Australia’s approach to housing is full of misguided policies and dumb ideas…

Australian housing policy can best be viewed as a remarkably successful anti-Robin Hood scheme. We take from the poor (usually those under 40) and give it to the wealthy (often but not always ‘baby boomers’).

Over the years we have introduced all sorts of dodgy schemes to continue this rort…

Allowing younger Australians to use their superannuation for a housing deposit would have a similar effect to the FHOG… It certainly did nothing to boost home ownership…

Exactly. How about policy address the root causes of unaffordable housing – tax lurks, supply constraints, loose capital rules, and over-investment by super funds – rather than applying a band aid solution that will impoverish young people further and fill the coffers of Gotti’s rent-class?

Colin’s Comment: In 1850 Frédéric Bastiat wrote an essay Ce qu’on voit et ce qu’on ne voit pas (That Which Is Seen and That Which Is Unseen) which describes the common mistake of politicians, economists and the general public when devising or assessing economic policy. They focus on the immediate, visible benefit and fail to consider the unseen, hidden costs.

Here is a simple video by Sam Selikoff that explains Bastiat’s Broken Window fallacy:

When good news is bad news

“The U.S. economy added 295,000 jobs in February, a strong gain that beat expectations by a mile. Unemployment fell to 5.5%.” You would expect stocks to surge on the strong employment numbers. Instead the S&P 500 fell 1.4% on Friday. Penetration of support at 2080 warns of a correction.

S&P 500 Index

I can only ascribe this to fear of a rate rise. The stronger the employment data, the closer the prospect of the Fed raising interest rates. But Janet Yellen is likely to err on the side of caution, only raising rates when she is sure that the economy is on a sound footing and inflationary pressures are rising. That is far from the case at present, despite the good job numbers.

There is plenty of short-term money in the market, however, that seems to think otherwise.

Crude in contango

Nymex WTI Light Crude is testing resistance at $54/barrel, while Brent Crude is at $62/barrel. WTI above $54/barrel would signal a bear market rally, but is likely to leave the primary trend unaltered. Breach of support at $45/barrel would signal another decline.

Nymex WTI Light Crude and Brent Crude

The crude oil market is in contango, with spot prices lower than future prices, encouraging traders to store oil until prices rise. But Leslie Shaffer reports that oil storage is nearing full capacity:

“We’re going to see pretty fast inventory builds over the next few weeks,” Francisco Blanch, head of commodity research at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, told CNBC Wednesday, noting that global supply is running around 1.4 million barrels a day above demand.

“If you run out of space, prices tend to react a lot more violently to adjust that supply and demand imbalance and that’s what we expect over the next few weeks,” he said, forecasting both WTI and Brent will fall toward $30 a barrel.

Dollar breaks out, Gold tests support

The 5-year breakeven rate for inflation — calculated by deducting the yield on 5-year TIPS from the 5-Year Treasury yield — rallied in recent weeks and is testing resistance at 1.60%. But the long-term trend is down and we should expect another test of support at 1.2%.

5-Year Treasury Yield minus 5-Year TIPS yield

Apart from Japan, deflationary pressures are rising in all major OECD countries. Given the global trend, the Fed is likely to raise interest rates at a leisurely pace. Expect low inflation and low interest rates for the next 2 to 3 years.

10-Year Treasury yields rallied along with the inflation breakeven and are now testing resistance at 2.15%. Breakout would test the descending trendline around 2.40%. But reversal below 2.0% remains as likely and would signal another test of 1.65%.

10-Year Treasury Yields

The Dollar

The Dollar Index broke through resistance at 95.50, offering a medium-term target of 100*.

Dollar Index

* Target calculation: 90 + ( 90 – 80 ) = 100

Gold

Low inflation undermines support for gold. Spot Gold is testing long-term support at $1200/ounce. Reversal of 13-week Twiggs Momentum below zero warns of another decline. Breach of support at $1200 would signal another decline, while follow-through below $1150 would confirm.

Spot Gold

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

Gold and the impact of Beijing on Fed monetary policy

The prospect of higher interest rates is fast approaching, but 10-Year Treasury yields retreated below 2.0%, warning of another test of the December low at 1.40%.

10-Year Treasury Yields

The weight of foreign purchases, for reasons other than yield (dollar peg/currency manipulation), may be overwhelming the market response. This has happened before, in 2004/2005, when the Fed was alarmed to find that long-term yields failed to respond to monetary tightening. The graphs below are from a 2012 report by DO Beltran (and others) at the Fed. The Fed Funds Rate was steadily increased between mid-2004 and the end of 2005, but 10-year yields declined slightly over the same period.

Fed Funds Rate and 10-Year Treasury Yields

The reason was fairly obvious: a massive surge in foreign purchases (mainly from China) had left the long-term market awash with liquidity. US monetary policy was effectively being controlled from Beijing.

Foreign Treasury Purchases

I cannot understand why this abuse has been tolerated.

The Dollar

The Dollar Index has been consolidating for the last 5 weeks, but the narrow range is a bullish sign and the Dollar is likely to strengthen further. Breakout would offer a medium-term target of 100*.

Dollar Index

* Target calculation: 90 + ( 90 – 80 ) = 100

Gold

Spot Gold is testing support at $1200/ounce. Reversal of 13-week Twiggs Momentum below zero warns of another decline. A trough below the zero line would strengthen the bear signal.

Spot Gold

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

The strong Dollar, low inflation and higher interest rates all point to another decline, but so far support has held firm. Completion of another trough at this level would strengthen the argument that gold is forming a long-term bottom. Possibly with help from Beijing.

China’s infrastructure boom is over

China has been on a record-breaking infrastructure binge over the last decade, but that era is coming to an end. Fall of the Baltic Dry Index below its 2008 low illustrates the decline of bulk commodity imports like iron ore and coking and thermal coal, important inputs in the construction of new infrastructure and housing.

Baltic Dry Index

High-end commodities like copper held up far better since 2008, but they too are now on the decline.

Copper

With the end of the infrastructure boom, China’s economy may well prove to be a one-trick pony. Transition from a state-directed infrastructure ‘miracle’ to a broad-based consumer society will be a lot more difficult.