Toronto home sales climb 11% as average for detached home tops $1 million for ...
Housing sales across the Greater Toronto Area climbed 11.3% in February from a year ago, helping to push the average sale price of detached homes in the city pass the $1 million mark for the first time.
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So much for last night's lower than expected API build, DOE data shows a massive build compared to the 3.95 mm barrels expected:
- *CRUDE OIL INVENTORIES ROSE 10.30 MLN BARRELS, EIA SAYS
This is the 8th build in a row and biggest weekly inventory rise in 14 years.
This is the fastest inventory build EVER...
and WTI has broken back below $50...
Unambiguously good still?
Just what are the Swiss up to...
- *SWISS FINANCE MINISTER WANTS NEW MINIMUM EXCHANGE RATE: HZ
A confidential paper signed by Swiss Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, discussed in government last week, said that new minimum exchange rate should be "considered," Handelszeitung reports in a prerelease of an article to be published Thursday.
As Bloomberg adds,
Paper, also backed by Economy Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann, suggests that Swiss govt should have more influence on SNB decision making via regular and more intensive consultations with the central bank: HZ
And Swissy dumped...
Full Statement pre-release (via Google Translate):
A new minimum exchange rate of the euro compared to the franc should be "considered". And: The state government has to take with regelmaessigeren and intensified debates more gain influence on the decisions of the Swiss National Bank (SNB). Be explicitly "target 'must' to coordinate the money economy and the general economic policy content and communication." These controversial claims, signed by Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, are in a confidential discussion paper, which has led in the Bundesrat last week to controversial discussions. About it reports the "commercial paper" in its morning edition.
Topic of discussion were proposals for possible policy responses to the Frankenstaerke. While the Federal Council has not yet approved the paper, but the impact and march direction is outlined: the high politics in Bern, dissatisfied with the by surprising cancellation of guaranteed exchange rate of CHF minimal 1.20 to the euro, will publicly demonstrate power and win back power to act. The said committee jointly presented by Widmer-Schlumpf and Economy Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann analysis states clearly that neither fiscal nor economic or organizational measures are likely to influence decisively the new, for the economy as a whole been considered a difficult situation or to overcome all. The central factor for the development of the Swiss economy, concluded the economists of the covenant, is and remains the monetary policy of the SNB.
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Update: just three minutes later and the NYSE is "fixed", with BATS revoking self-help.
But the mission was achieved: the selling was halted, if only for the time being.
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When in doubt how to send stocks soaring, or at least halt the selling, the solution is simple: break the market.
Moments ago everyone's favorite, venerable exchange, the NYSE, broke as per BATS which just delcared self-help: "BATS Exchange has declared self-help against NYSE Arca per Rule 611 of Regulation NMS. Routing to NYSE Arca has been suspended as of 10:11:59 ET."
US Services PMI rose and beat very modestly from 57.0 to 57.1 in February (this is a flash print). This is the highest Services PMI print since October but Markit warns not to get excited, data "is up only slightly compared to the fourth quarter of last year, meaning growth this year is running at a rate similar to the 2.2% annualised pace seen late last year." ISM Services (survey) confirmed this modest improvement in February (despite all the hard data collapsing) boucing very modestly from 56.7 to 56.9 in Feb despite a drop in BusinessActivity and New Orders.
Services PMI at highest since Oct..
As Markit notes,
“The pace of US economic growth jumped to a fourmonth high in February, according to Markit’s PMI survey data. Business picked up especially towards the end of the month, when the impact of bad weather on the East Coast and port delays on the West Coast began to clear, which suggests this may be a temporary upturn.
“Even with the strong growth recorded in February, the average reading across the manufacturing and services surveys for the first quarter so far is up only slightly compared to the fourth quarter of last year, meaning growth this year is running at a rate similar to the 2.2% annualised pace seen late last year.
“That’s certainly not a pace of expansion that will worry the Fed into hiking interest rates any time soon. However, the ongoing resilience of the US economy, and in particular the sustained robust job creation signalled in February, adds to the sense that policymakers will continue to prepare the ground for a rate rise later this year.”
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ISM Services rose modestly also...
With virtually everything except the all important New Orders and Business Activity rebounding...
Unlike everywhere else, the respondents did not have a hard time braving the snow in February:
- "The lower price of oil is providing a beneficial impact on certain products, specifically plastics." (Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting)
- "Business conditions are seeing less money being spent on capital projects by the major oil companies." (Construction)
- "Business is on par or slightly up for this time of year. This time of year is considerably slower than peak season." (Arts, Entertainment & Recreation)
- "West Coast ports are causing shortages." (Health Care & Social Assistance)
- "Signs of continued, but slowed growth in our sector. Low fuel prices and utility prices helping with costs. International markets remain lagging behind US growth." (Professional, Scientific & Technical Services)
- "The West Coast port labor union situation is slowing down the products we need to release to our customers. Business is good, but waiting and not shipping on time will cost us big time." (Information)
- "Sales continue to be solid which is believed to align with lower fuel costs and overall consumer sentiment being positive." (Retail Trade)
- "Port congestion is causing major delays in the delivery of product. The reduced cost of fuel has increased our sales and we believe it will continue throughout the first quarter." (Wholesale Trade)
And here is the macro reality:
Just 2 days ago everything was awesome (according to stocks). Nasdaq hit 5000 proving it's different this time, despite the total collapse in macro and earnings data. So perhaps - just perhaps - as buybacks slow, US equity markets are exposed to reality underneath them. VIX has snapped back above 15, its highest in 10 days, and the S&P is back at 2-week lows... retracing all the "Greek Deal" gains.
VIX rapidly snapped from under 13 to over 15...
Stocks are back at pre-Greek-Deal levels...
House prices are on the rise in Lisburn
The latest statistics released by the Ulster University, Bank of Ireland UK and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive in the quarterly House Price Survey, show that the average house price in Lisburn now stands at £159,842. The overall average price is up ...
UPDATE: And now *YEMEN GUNMEN BLOW UP OIL PIPELINE IN SHABWA: ARABIYA
As oil prices started to slide this morning, following their pop on lower-than-expected API inventory build data, headlines crossed:
- *ISLAMISTS ATTACK IRAQ OIL PIPELINES EAST OF TIKRIT: IRAQIYA
As we detailed yesterday, Tikrit is key, and this (unconfirmed for now) headline sent WTI and Brent up 40c per barrel (for now).
As Blkoomberg reports,
Islamic State militants burned pipelines in Tal Hasiba region east of central city of Tikrit, accord. to state-sponsored Iraqiya television, which didn’t say where it got information.
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And the immediate reaction...
With ISIS suffering from lower cashflows (thanks to lower oil prices), we suspect their efforts to raise oil prices (by any means possible) will continue.
From what I read in the press every day, as well as from private communication, a pretty wide divide seems to appear between what many people think the Syriza government in Athens should do, and what they actually can do at this point in time. It should be useful to clarify what this divide consists of, and how it can be breached, if that is at all possible.
In particular, many are of the opinion that Greece cannot escape its suffocating debt issues without leaving the eurozone and going its own way, reintroducing the drachma and defaulting on much of its €240 billion debt. Those who think so may well be right. But right now that is mostly irrelevant. Because Alexis Tsipras and his men and women simply don’t have their voters’ mandate to go down that road. They may at some time in the future, but they don’t today. The expectations are too great, and certainly too immediate.
If Syriza wants to achieve anything, it will need to stick to democratic principals and procedure. Every important decision, and every – even slight – change of course will need to be laid out before either the Syriza fraction in Parliament, the entire parliament, or the Greek population as a whole, to vote on. The government looks to be sticking to this principle as solidly as it seeks to stick to its mandate. None of that grey wiggle room that is so typical in most political systems.
This also makes the task ahead that much harder. Syriza must be seen by its voters as doing what it can to remain in the eurozone, while at the same time negotiating terms with the other members that will allow relief from the relentless -humanitarian – pressures the country has been put under by its previous governments and EU partners.
And while it may well be so that Tsipras and Varoufakis et al have in private long concluded that in the long term attempts to succeed in combining these two goals are doomed to fail, or even that the eurozone as a whole has no future, the fact is that for now some 70% of Greeks reportedly demand that the country remain in the currency union.
There’s a deep underlying historic component to this that needs to be recognized if one is to understand what is happening. Before the EU, and certainly the euro, Greece always felt under threat from the east, a result of centuries of occupations. They had a deep longing to be recognized as a part of Europe, and to feel protected in that sense.
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard summed it up quite nicely in an interview from ‘the lion’s den’ over the weekend:
“When it comes to the choice, I fear Tsipras will abandon our programme rather than give up the euro,” said one Syriza MP, glancing cautiously around in case anybody was listening as we drank coffee in the “conspiracy” canteen of the Greek parliament.
“The euro is more than just money. It is talismatic for the Greeks. It was only when we joined the euro that we felt truly European. There was always a nagging doubt before,” he said.
“But you can’t fight austerity without confronting the eurozone directly. You have to be willing to leave. It is going to take a long time for the party to accept this bitter reality. I think the euro was a tremendous historic mistake, and the sooner they get rid of it, the better for all the peoples of Europe, but that is not the party view,” he said.
This is what Tsipras faces. There’s an almost schizophrenic attitude even among his own caucus. And there may be plenty voices that say he should at least threaten to leave the eurozone, just to have some leverage in negotiations, but they don’t understand the lay of the land. The European ‘partners’ in the talks know only too well that it would be an empty threat: Greek voters don’t want to leave the eurozone, so threatening to go anyway would only ring hollow.
Tsipras instead must repeat again and again that his goal is to remain in the union, and Greece will do what it can to pay off all its debts. He has no wiggle room on that, not at the moment. If he would want to present his people with the option of leaving the eurozone, it could only be done after very extensive talks in which it becomes ever clearer that the ‘partners’ make it impossible for Greece to achieve that other Syriza commitment, of cutting back austerity measures, within the currency union.
He must at some point be able to turn to his people and say: we’ve done all we could, we’ve even compromised some of your election demands, but Germany etc. just won’t give up. He needs to be able to prove to Greek voters that they can’t have both an end to austerity AND the continued membership of the eurozone.
This will take time, probably lots of it. But it’s the only thing Tsipras, if he means to stick to strict democratic rules – which he’s done thus far -, can do. Claiming today from the outside that he should already have left the eurozone, or at least threatened to do so, is premature at best, and not helpful.
The Syriza MP cited above by Ambrose says it all, really. Some of the MPs are pretty much willing to let go of the euro. But they, too, need to understand that Tsipras can offer that option to the people only after long-drawn-out talks, at the end of which he may be able to say:
“Look, you know what we’ve been discussing with the partners, because we’ve kept you informed every step of the way. It is now clear that if you wish to stay in the eurozone, it will mean austerity, it will mean soupkitchens and no health care and no jobs for your children, for years to come. Do you really want the euro that much? If not, we can go it alone, we have the models ready and we can explain them to you. And it will no doubt be difficult at first, but at least it will be our own difficulties, not those imposed by others.. It’s up to you, the people, to decide.”
For now, those talks haven’t been held. So Tsipras can’t say these things. It will need to be a game of patience. There was never any other way.