2022.03.07 Weekly Note
Sell. Every. Rally.
Boy do I love a slow Monday! ! Got a glimpse of the market open and snoozed-in snug-ly with one eye on the macbook which seems to have found its place by the bed-side so far this year. Slowly recovering from way too many drams of whiskey last night while watching the Manchester Derby and what a great result that was!
News is generally pointing to further escalation with both sides preparing for Urban warfare, while the global political arena remains contentious. Market appears to be bracing for a much harder landing as a result of heightened political uncertainties and battling of inflationary pressures.
- Civilian casualties mount in Ukraine as Russian shelling, airstrikes intensify ahead of new talks (WSJ) Russian forces stepped up airstrikes and artillery barrages as they resumed their push toward Kyiv and Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. Plans for humanitarian corridors to evacuate Mariupol and Volnovakha in the south collapsed again amid Russian shelling, local authorities said.
- Russia Recruiting Syrians for Urban Combat in Ukraine, U.S. Officials Say (WSJ)— “The Russia deployment of foreign fighters from Syria into Ukraine internationalizes the Ukraine war, and therefore could link the war in Ukraine to broader cross regional dynamics, particularly in the Middle East,” said Jennifer Cafarella, national security fellow at the Institute for the Study of War in Washington DC. Chechen forces have also been deployed to Ukraine, according to a Reuters report citing Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of the Chechen Republic and an ally of Vladimir Putin.
Fighters are also pouring into the country to fight on the side of the Kyiv-based government. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said last week that 16,000 foreigners have volunteered to fight for Ukraine, part of what he described as an “international legion.”
- Thousands arrested across Russia at anti-war protests (AlJazeera)
Russia’s interior ministry said earlier that police had detained around 3,500 people, including 1,700 in Moscow, 750 in St Petersburg and 1,061 in other cities. The ministry said 5,200 people had taken part in the protests. The OVD-Info protest monitoring group said it had documented the detention of at least 4,366 people in 56 different cities. The arrests on Sunday brought the total number of people held in anti-war protests since the invasion began on February 24 to more than 10,000, OVD-Info said.
- ‘The Exodus’: Why some Russians are fleeing their homeland amid Ukraine invasion (GlobalNews) “For the posts I’m making, you’d just get instantly 15 years in jail”, “I couldn’t keep silent, so I decided I’m going to go”.
- U.S. Weighs Acting Without Allies on Ban of Russian Oil Imports (Bloomberg) Biden team yet to decide as U.S. lawmakers push for ban, and engaging with allies in Europe on possible embargo.
- Iran Nuclear Deal Threatened by Russian Demands Over Ukraine Sanctions (WSJ) Fresh demands from Russia threatened to derail talks to restore the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, as Moscow said it wanted written guarantees that Ukraine-related sanctions won’t prevent it from trading broadly with Tehran under a revived pact. The demands, made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday and dismissed by U.S. officials on Sunday, came as Western and Iranian officials said they were near to reaching a deal to restore the nuclear pact, which lifted most international sanctions on Iran in exchange for tight but temporary restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear programs.
- China Opposes Sanctions and Has a Reputation for Busting Them (WSJ) Western actions to sever many of Russia’s ties to the global economy as punishment for its war on Ukraine could be less effective if China offers Moscow access to what some see as the bazaar of choice for rogue nations.
- China Urges World Not to ‘Add Fuel to Fire’ in War in Ukraine (Bloomberg) China declared ties with Russia to be “rock solid” despite President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, while repeating earlier an accusation that the U.S. is trying to build a Pacific version of NATO.
- Global Markets Fall After Oil Hits $130 a Barrel (WSJ) U.S. stock futures and global equity indexes dropped after Russian forces intensified strikes across Ukraine and as the threat of a potential ban on imports of Russian oil helped spur a surge in energy prices.
- European Currencies Crumble With Ruble on Oil Embargo Threat (Bloomberg) Euro slid below parity against Swiss franc as crisis deepened, SNB is ready to intervene on currency, board member says
- Putin’s Ruble Workaround Still Leaves Bond Payments in Doubt (Bloomberg) Debtors can set up accounts in Russia to pay foreign investors
Rosneft, Gazprom, government have dollar payments due soon
- Bloomberg: UBS Has $200 Million Exposure to Russian Assets in Loans to Rich, Credit Agricole Has $7 Billion of Russia, Ukraine Exposure (Bloomberg) Dutch lender ING Groep NV said Russia-related exposure amounts to a total of 6.7 billion euros with metals and mining industry accounting for more than a third of that amount. Ukraine accounts for 500 million euros of ING’s exposure, with the bank’s food and agricultural industry representing 62%. Along with Raiffeisen, Italy’s UniCredit SpA and Societe Generale SA are among the European banks most exposed to Russia. Credit Agricole’s off-shore balance sheet in the country consists of fifteen large corporates, mainly involved in heavy industries and the energy sector, and is mostly in U.S. dollars and euros.
- Tesla CEO Elon Musk Wants the U.S. and the World to Pump More Oil (Barrons) tweeted Friday that “extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures,” adding that while falling energy prices can impact demand for EVs, “hate to say it, but we need to increase oil and gas output immediately.”
- Carl Icahn Exits Occidental Petroleum After Nearly Three Years (WSJ) who had been cutting the position, in recent days sold the remainder, of what was once a roughly 10% stake, according to a letter he sent to Occidental’s board Sunday.
LAST WEEK’S ACTION
- Antipode currencies are the strongest which seems to be benefiting from better covid news, a more shielded economy from the Ukraine war and the massive commodities rally. Almost all other currencies except safe haven CHF JPY and USD have traded to new lows.
- US equity futures opened at previous week’s high and felt the impact of crumbling European sentiment with DAX down roughly 10% last week, and Bonds as yields plummeted.
- Monster rally in commodities last week most notably in Oil +26.3% and Wheat closing +40% higher.
European equities got slammed last week with Russian MOEX wiping off half its value from highs seen last year.
US Growth was the weakest while strong performances in Energy and Defensive sectors helped Value stocks.
I have mentioned 4300 in SPX as the level to watch for accelerated selling below the level. The level was defended last week but there is still some heavy put gamma there and ES is currently trading below the level as I write this with some 2hrs til the NY open.
SPX at-the-money implied volatilies continues to push higher while…
the surge in VIX and VOLDEX and rise in risk premiums has cooled off a little last week. I would expect these metrics to start picking back up, otherwise I may be inclined to start exploring that we may have seen the worst in the sell-off but for now, I remain unconvinced.
US yields took a tumble last week especially around the belly of the curve.
Yield curve continues to flatten with 2s5s only ~15bp from inversion and 5s10s ~10bp. As we approach the March FOMC meeting next week, this trend will probably continue and it won’t be long til we see an 2s10s inversion at this rate, now at 25bps.
The MOVE index continues to move higher…
It’s only the beginning of March and CRB index is already +11.48% this month. As well as Oil, Agricultural commodity futures are going limit up…
As the saying goes, there’s no cure for high prices, like high prices; and I think we aren’t far away from some kind of violent price correction in commodities.
On twitter I was asked:
But since that reply and with a commodity price correction in mind, it got me thinking…
While we are seeing some risk-off sentiment taking hold, going short the best performing AUD and NZD seems interesting with good risk-to-reward on offer, on idea that in the event of some true broad risk-off markets where commodities temporarily plunge from their monster rallies, these short trades could work quite well.
The above were the 4 best performing currencies last week and I think the JPY technically is looking very attractive for a potential breakout higher out of the consolidation range. There’s also been some strong expectations for higher rates over the months, and that should mean there is some cross-JPY positioning that could get squeezed in violent fashion.
EMFX is also looking increasingly weaker and with the above theme discussed, I think ZAR to the short side would be the one of choice.
- Staying short Nasdaq EURUSD and EURJPY — as discussed over the weeks. Don’t see any reason to stop adding on rallies on the continuing path of recent developments…
- AUDNZD short — I wrote last week that I’m:
“starting to lose faith in the idea mainly due to the headwinds from AUD’s terms of trade benefiting from the higher commodity prices. Technically still looks reasonably good, and so does the stance of respective central banks to support the move in rate differentials and the cross. Happy to hold onto it for now.”
Still don’t see any reason to panic yet and hang onto the original thesis of short tailwinds from divergent policies and rate differentials.
- AUDJPY short — I’ve just initiated this trade just earlier as I contemplated a corrective price shock to commodity prices. Technically the AUD and JPY index charts above looks attractive and the pair chart (below) has reach a band of resistance which could provide a solid pivot point.
That’s it for this week — wish you good trading!