Stocks Have Second Biggest Plunge Of 2012
April 4, 2012
Treasury yields retraced more than 50% of their rise post-FOMC yesterday leaving them only marginally higher on the week as, despite another late afternoon light volume surge to VWAP, stocks closed with their second biggest daily loss of the year. Three days in a row now, ES (the S&P 500 e-mini futures contract) has closed at its VWAP – suggesting institutional blocks continue to look for opportune/efficient selling levels (as opposed to buying the dips which we are so used to). After Spain’s auction debacle and the ISM Services miss, it seems that with no Fed standing guard that good is good but bad is not better anymore as the S&P 500 cash lost over 1% (down 2% from Monday’s peak to today’s trough). Financials underperformed and the majors (which we noted on Monday sagging after Europe’s close) have been really hurt with Citi, BofA, and MS down 6 to 7% since then. Equity markets in the US and Europe played catch up once again to credit’s more realistic assessment of the world as HYG (the high-yield bond ETF) is back at one-month lows, down 2.7% from its end-Feb highs (or five months worth of yield, oops). Investment grade credit (which remains rich to its fair-value) was not helped as Treasuries were the place of refuge for the day as 30Y yields dropped their most in 2012. Commodities suffered significant damage as Silver tumbled to meet Gold’s loss for the week, both down 3% Copper and Oil also dropped notably and are now back in sync with the USD for the week -1% or so. Most major FX remained USD positive except for JPY which retraced its snap lower from yesterday as carry trades were generally exited (with EUR and AUD weakness mirroring JPY strength post-FOMC) leaving DXY near 3-week highs. Who-/What-ever was doing the buying in the afternoon clearly levered the position (using AAPL or options) as VIX dumped once again out of nowhere intraday – closing near its lows of the day. However, VIX did close up near one-month highs as it catches up to Europe’s VIX flare. Given the drop in implied correlation (and in-line VIX-S&P move) we suspect the covered-call strategy of the year was coming undone a little at the seams as single-name vol underperformed.