Il Primo Ministro greco Lucas Papademos riceve l'approvazione del governo su tagli al bilancio che corrispondono al 7% del Pil nei prossimi tre anni e su una ristrutturazione finalizzata a ridurre di €100 mld gli oltre €200 mld di debito detenuto dai creditori privati, atteso il voto del parlamento • Standard & Poor's declassa il merito creditizio di 34 banche italiane tra cui UniCredit a BBB+ da A, Intesa Sanpaolo a BBB+ da A e Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena a BBB da BBB+, S&P anticipa "una redditività decisamente debole per le banche italiane nei prossimi anni" • La produzione industriale italiana aumenta a dicembre +1,4% da novembre +0,3%, oltre le stime degli economisti +0,5%, anche se i dati del quarto trimestre -2,1% suggeriscono che la terza economia della zona euro è entrata nella seconda recessione dal 2009 • I Btp decennali salgono per la quinta settimana consecutiva, il periodo di recupero più lungo in oltre cinque anni, la prossima settimana il Tesoro vende €4 mld di buoni al 6% con scadenza 2014 • L'euro cala dal massimo di due mesi contro il dollaro, il mercato azionario europeo cala dal massimo di sei settimane e l'azionario Usa registra la prima settimana di perdite del 2012 dopo che i ministri delle finanze europee non hanno concesso il pacchetto di aiuto necessario a prevenire il collasso economico della Grecia

venerdì 31 agosto 2012

Market Comment - August 31

(Marco Bonelli) Does the "stealth" consumer have more legs?

July's retail same-store-sales showed the second consecutive strong performance; with that consumer spending in Q3 appears to ramp up nicely. This leaves the question open whether personal consumption as part of the GDP might accelerate again in Q3 after dipping to (a revised) 1.7% in Q2 from 2.4% in Q1, contributing to a possibly better than expected GDP.

Probably this is all easier said than done. Given high unemployment, flat income and an ongoing deleveraging effect, it feels like consumer spending is more at the bottom of the list of contributors to the economic recovery. Retail Sales in March April and June were negative (monthly % change) and mostly below expectations, so the +0.8% and +0.9% ex auto & gas might have easily been a counter reaction to the weak data in Q2. Were consumers scraping their money to be able to spend in the back-to-school season? How does the recent plunge in consumer confidence (various measures) fit into the picture? Was it a mere psychological reaction to gasoline prices rising to (almost) all-time-highs or did consumers really feel less optimistic? Still, will higher gas and food prices alter the spending picture in the months to come? Spending on casual dining has already been trending down for a while and more recently, some data showed that spending on take-out food fell sharply. Bottom-line there are a lot of contradicting developments that make it hard to put all the chips on the consumer helping save the economy, although the retail and specialty retail sector and many stocks already count to the best performing sectors this year.

Stocks saw one of the rare down days, mostly driven by negative headlines out of Europe (which of course gets promptly reversed this morning) but the Dow Jones defended the psychological 13000 mark as did the SPX with the 1400 level. By the way, 1390 /1400 remains a critical short-term support level as it's been the "floor" after the SPX broke through the previous range on August 3. These will also be the levels to watch today after market players will carefully scrutinize every word in Ben Bernanke's speech 30 minutes after the opening. Perception flip-flops back and forth and it became unclear whether the majority now expects something substantial from the Fed Chairman or not. Having said that, underlying hopes for a clear(er) indication of QE3 getting implemented or not are most likely riding very high and a lack of that may be seen as disappointing, although this observation already represents consensus thinking as well. It should be pretty clear that Jackson Hole has never been the platform to announce any specific monetary policy steps and anything else than an affirmation that the Fed has plenty of tools left in its tool-box, which are ready to be applied if necessary (something Ben Bernanke talks about for more than six months!) would be surprising. At the end, unless the economy falls off a cliff within the next few months, it's a very valid option that the very much hoped for QE3 announcement won't see the light at all - and this will be disappointing for the market!

Trade well and have a great long weekend.

(Marco Bonelli is the Managing Director of International for CL King & Associates in New York. The opinions expressed are his own.)

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