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from Morning Bid:

Crosscut Saw

Plenty of cross-currents to be aware of in the markets right now - many of which are pretty confusing and relate countervailing messages when it comes to where equities and other risky assets are headed. Stocks were heavy at the open on Monday and slowly got better throughout the day but energy stocks remained under pressure. The expectation of more unrest in Hong Kong certainly has contributed to the jitters, but the U.S. is a pretty resilient economy regardless of outside forces so it's while it's easy to blame China broadly, it's hard to apply too much of a causation (probably why equities recovered throughout the day).

The bond market might be the better signal for the worries in equities. Last week speculators increased their short position in two-year notes to their longest since 2007, and asset managers hold their biggest short position in five-year notes since 2011; taken together that's a clear sign of bearishness in the front end of the curve, reflecting expectations for a flattened yield curve as part of higher rates across the board. With the dollar continuing to strengthen, there's a bearish sense in the air when it comes to U.S. central bank policy, and that's something that again threatens to undermine equities -- witness the weakness again in energy names.

But there's another point: In many cases, the weak equity sectors through the year have been those with excessive valuations - not for nothing have small-caps struggled through 2014 given higher P/E ratios than their large-cap brethren. "In many cases, the parts of the market that have been performing better of late are some of the relative bargains," said BlackRock's Russ Koesterich, the firm's global chief investment officer, noting recent gains in China and Japan, both of which are seen as more attractive than the U.S. and Europe from a valuation perspective.

The expectation now would be for markets to go into a bit of a crouch - modest moves in front of U.S. jobs data later this week, and as bond markets continue to be affected by the dramatic departure of Bill Gross from PIMCO as he decamps for Janus Funds, where he'll be building a portfolio there. Morgan Stanley estimates a possible $400 billion or so in asset withdrawals from PIMCO, the Allianz unit, though the effect on markets has probably already been seen. The selloff in Treasuries Friday was reversed Monday, and overall moves based on the travails of one star manager seem like opportunities rather than changes in sentiment.

from Expert Zone:

India Markets Weekahead: Time to lighten commitments as extended honeymoon almost over

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

The past week was one of the most eventful post the general elections, and the action continued till Saturday with a landmark speech by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the U.N. General Assembly and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram being sentenced to four years in jail in a corruption case. Markets were volatile and the Nifty closed the week at 7,968, down 2 percent despite a recovery on Friday.

The week started on a positive note but weaker European manufacturing data and concerns about growth in China led the markets to crack.  The Supreme Court’s decision to charge a penalty as well as deallocate almost all coal blocks awarded since 1993 led to another bout of selling in power, metal and banking stocks.

from Expert Zone:

India Markets Weekahead: Continue pruning your portfolio

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of Thomson Reuters)

Markets began the week on an optimistic note with the Nifty touching a new high of 8,178 but fatigue was noticeable in frontline stocks as action shifted to the mid- and small-caps.

from Counterparties:

MORNING BID – The economic state of things

The jobs report takes a bit of heat off of Thursday’s selloff, which was predicated in part on some nonsense out of Europe and more importantly some kind of growing consensus that the economy is getting hot enough that it might force the Federal Reserve to start raising rates a bit earlier than expected, given a sharp and unexpected rise in the employment cost index on Thursday. And while it’s fair to suggest the stock market has gotten a bit ahead of itself when the Fed is rapidly moving toward the end of its stimulus policies, it’s also possible that stocks have gotten ahead of themselves for a far more prosaic reason – the economy isn’t strong enough to support the kind of valuations we’re seeing in equities right now.

That’s not to say we’ve got bubbles all over the place in stocks – they’re pretty few and far between – but credit standards in various places have loosened, and if the Fed starts raising rates we’re going to see a pretty quick reversal of that before long. There are significant signs of concern emerging in places like the high yield market, which has dropped off sharply in recent days, particularly among the weakest credits, and the housing and auto markets, which are better leading indicators than the jobs data, also suggest that the slack credit standards may end up hitting a wall before long.

from Breakingviews:

Deutsche/UBS: there’s life in EU bond trading yet

By Dominic Elliott

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Deutsche Bank and UBS have shown there is life in Europe’s bond traders yet. The two banks and Credit Suisse have been losing share to Wall Street since last year, but in the second quarter they hit back. Fixed-income revenue at Deutsche was flat year-on-year, and down just 2 percent at UBS – against a 9 percent average fall at American banks.

from Expert Zone:

How high will the Sensex go?

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

A bronze bull sculpture is seen as an employee walks out of the Bombay Stock Exchange building in MumbaiSince April, the stock market has been in a frenzy after a long period of utter gloom. In quick succession, the Sensex jumped month after month to cross 26,000 on July 7. This was not mere euphoria created by the election of the Narendra Modi government, with a single-party majority in the Lok Sabha after a long time.

from Breakingviews:

German soccer glory was predictable – with luck

By Robert Cole

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Brazil’s World Cup was first-rate entertainment thanks to its many surprising results. For its part Breakingviews, also somewhat surprisingly, predicted that Germany would win the competition as long ago as last Christmas.

from Breakingviews:

“Seller beware” when profiting from market calm

By Swaha Pattanaik

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Seller beware. That is an unusual warning, but it applies right now to the options market. Sellers of protection against large price moves have been pocketing gains. But many will suffer losses if markets become less calm.

from Expert Zone:

National agenda to bring $100 billion of domestic household savings in capital markets in next five years

(Rajiv Deep Bajaj is the Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Bajaj Capital Ltd. The views expressed in this column are his own and do not represent those of Thomson Reuters)

Currency of different denominations are seen in this picture illustration taken in Mumbai April 30, 2012. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash/FilesIndia is an attractive investment destination for foreign institutional investors, due to its vibrant economy, favourable demographics, high growth potential and well diversified capital markets. In fact, the benchmark Nifty has representation from 10 broad sectors, four with weightage in double digits.

from Counterparties:

MORNING BID – Speculating on a Hypothesis

A few thoughts as the market heads into a relatively quiet week featuring mostly Federal Reserve speakers and a few other random events that aren't likely to knock the market to its knees:

    Bear markets don't just start "because," as Dan Greenhaus of BTIG puts it. Usually there are a few factors, but most often it's some combination of speculative excess, tightening rates, and a reduction in that bit of froth in an area that's crucial to the bull market or economic expansion in question. When technology investing money dried up and the companies that sold shares to the public foundering on a lack of earnings, the tech bubble was unwound pretty quickly. The financial crisis came about as banks became unable to handle the volume of debt that had been sold and as the Fed raised rates, sapping demand in the "greater fool" housing market, and as the banks ate themselves under synthetic products that weren't anything underlying. So with that in mind, what's the speculative excess now? Probably the overall thing is ultimate low rates, because when that does go, the market is going to view growth differently. The expectation for higher rates is a primary underpinning for overall investor nervousness. If rates are higher, the expansion is threatened, and inflation becomes an issue. It's not that those conditions exist now, but the prevailing view for rising rates explains in many ways why this bull market is as loathed as it is. People remain wary of making bets in this market, even if retail investors would have been handsomely rewarded by getting in at any morn, so that's point in favor of them rather than against. Higher rates often do end up killing a lot of bull markets - and economic expansions - so the inflation figures and the Fed members' beliefs related to the threat of rising prices are all important, and we'll attempt to make sure of the chatter coming from the likes of Charles Plosser, Jeff Lacker and John Williams. So that's the second team when it comes to Fed speakers (Bill Dudley also speaks, but the Puerto Rican economy is the topic) in terms of influence, but still, those views remain important. Complacency isn't a "thing." As Luciana Lopez and Jennifer Ablan wrote about late last week, the VIX being low isn't a workable assessment of the concerns thousands of investors have about the equity market and economy, particularly when the VIX really only reflects expectations for volatility in the coming couple of weeks and not in any long-term kind of way. So yes, the VIX around 10 doesn't make a lot of sense until you remember it's been about 45 cays where the index hasn't even hit a 1 percent change - so realized volatility has been in the 4 percent range.

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