China holds its head above water

A quick snapshot from the latest RBA chart pack.

Manufacturing is holding its head above water (50 on the PMI chart) and industrial production shows a small upturn but investment growth is falling, as in many global economies including the US and Australia. Retail sales growth has declined but remains healthy at 10% a year.


Electricity generation continues to climb but steel, cement and plate glass production all warn that real estate and infrastructure development are slowing.


Interest rates remain accommodative.


Real estate price growth is slowing but remains an unhealthy 10% a year. Real estate development investment rallied in response to lower interest rates but is clearly in a long-term decline.


There are no signs of an economy in immediate trouble but there are indications that the real estate and infrastructure boom may be ending. Through a combination of fiscal stimulus and accommodative monetary policy the Chinese have managed to stave off a capitalism-style correction. But failure to clear some of the excesses of the past decade will mean that the inevitable correction, when it does come, is likely to display familiar Asian severity (Japan 1992, Asian Crisis 1997).

Around the markets: Hong Kong & India bullish

Canada’s TSX 60 continues to test resistance at the former primary support level of 900. Bearish divergence on Twiggs Money Flow warns of strong selling pressure. Decline below 880 would confirm a primary down-trend, with an initial target of 865*.

TSX 60 Index

* Target calculation: 900 – ( 935 – 900 ) = 865

The Footsie recovered above 7400 but bearish divergence on Twiggs Money Flow warns of long-term selling pressure. Another test of primary support at 7100 remains likely.

FTSE 100 Index

European stocks are taking a beating, with the Dow Jones Euro Stoxx 50 Index testing support at 3400. Sharp decline on Twiggs Money Flow warns of selling pressure. Breach of 3400 would warn of a test of 3200.

DJ Euro Stoxx 50 Index

* Target calculation: 3650 – ( 3650 – 3450 ) = 3850

India’s Sensex remains in a bull market.

BSE Sensex

* Target calculation: 29000 + ( 29000 – 26000 ) = 32000

As does Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index.

Hang Seng Index

* Target calculation: 24000 – ( 24000 – 21500 ) = 26500

While China’s Shanghai Composite index ranges between 3000 and 3300. Government interference remains a concern.

Shanghai Composite Index

Round the world: India & Hong Kong advance, Canada falters

Canada’s TSX 60 retraced to test resistance at the former primary support level of 900. Respect is likely and would signal a bear market. Decline of Twiggs Money Flow/Trend Index below zero would strengthen the bear signal. Medium-term target for the decline is 865*.

TSX 60 Index

* Target calculation: 900 – ( 935 – 900 ) = 865

The Footsie is losing momentum, with penetration of successive trendlines and declining Twiggs Trend Index. A test of primary support at 7100 is likely.

FTSE 100 Index

Dow Jones Euro Stoxx 50 Index, representing the 50 largest stocks in the Euro Zone, found support above 3400. Penetration of the declining trendline would indicate the correction is over and suggest the start of another advance — confirmed if the index breaks its recent (May 2017) high.

DJ Euro Stoxx 50 Index

* Target calculation: 3650 – ( 3650 – 3450 ) = 3850

It’s full steam ahead for India’s Sensex. Trend Index troughs above zero indicate strong buying pressure. Expect some profit-taking at the target of 32000* but any correction is likely to be shallow as the bull market gathers momentum.

BSE Sensex

* Target calculation: 29000 + ( 29000 – 26000 ) = 32000

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index has also reached its target of 26500. Again Trend Index troughs above zero indicate solid buying pressure.

Hang Seng Index

* Target calculation: 24000 – ( 24000 – 21500 ) = 26500

China’s Shanghai Composite index is also rallying but I remain wary of government intervention.

Shanghai Composite Index

Credit Suisse contrary view on Iron Ore

Where is the Chinese iron ore inventory cycle?

By Houses and Holes at 9:06 am on July 5, 2017
Republished with thanks to Macrobusiness.

From Credit Suisse:

Iron ore turns up, once again confounds bears on the Street

Iron ore once again confounded those calling it down by jumping at the end of June. However, this was predictable. In late May and early June we were hearing anecdotally (Platts) that some steel mills were on-selling contractual cargoes of iron ore to repay quarterly loans due at the end of June. That was a destocking event which inevitably put pressure on the price by adding cargoes to the daily sales list. But by the end of the month, loans were met and destocking is always followed by restocking.

Street still focused on port stocks, China mills are not Iron ore has been nothing if not volatile so it has been a tough call, but the Street keeps getting it directionally wrong, doubling down when the price is sliding. We believe one big difference between the Street’s price forecasts and what actually happens is that analysts are looking at a different side of the supply-demand equation from the actual buyers – Chinese steel mills. The street is obsessed with ever-rising port stocks. These stocks seem a clear indication that iron ore is over-supplied so for commodity analysts, that means the price should fall until some supply is destroyed to restore balance. Therefore, when the iron ore price is rising, analysts publish grim warnings that this can’t last due to too much supply. When the price falls again, the analysts feel validated that they were right, and promptly down grade price forecasts because it’s “the end”. But then the price rises again….

Why do the steel mills keep buying?

China steel mills seem unconcerned about port stocks, although it is not clear why. We do note that steel mills own two thirds of the port stocks anyway (traders the remainder) so perhaps SOEs are taking contractual cargoes, but only using the high grade portions currently while steel prices are so high? They could buy other high grade supply from the traders’ stocks. As we found on our visit to Tangshan mills at the start of May, SOEs have no concerns obtaining bank loans so may not worry about working capital. They may plan to destock later when prices are lower. And interestingly, Mysteel’s survey of around 67 small to medium steel mills which will be private, seem to have normalised inventories rather than any build up. So larger SOEs may be the culprits.

Steel mill buying follows demand, not supply

But if we leave aside the port stocks issue, then steel mills’ buying decisions are based on demand, not supply. The volatile iron ore price is actually reflecting destock-restock cycles by steel mills. One influence on the stock cycles is seasonal and predictable, another is Chinese macro factors, particularly policy decisions and is very difficult or impossible to forecast. Macro factors and seasonal demand periods guide steel mills as to whether steel demand will be strong and prices strong. If it looks promising, they want to buy ore to run flat out. And when one is buying, all start buying to beat the iron ore price peak.

How has this worked in practice?

Seasonally we reached the construction season end in June, so rebar demand should have been lower, and it has been. But equally importantly it was clear from anecdotal reports in Platts that destocking was taking place – mills were dumping contractual cargo deliveries into the spot market, liquidating to raise cash for debt repayments due at the end of June. It is clear that near the end of the month, that would cease as debts were met. Instead, the mills that had sold incoming cargoes would need to go back and buy to continue steel production – restock follows destock. And so it has played out.

As commentators searched for an explanation for the price jump, they latched onto a speech about the economy by President Xi on 27 June that was the only notable macro event. It was not a rip-roaring call by the President, but may have provided reassurance. From Reuters’ reports we see that the President said the full-year growth target could be met, said China was capable of meeting systemic risks despite challenges and noted that maintaining medium to high speed long-term growth will not be easy due to the sheer size of the economy, but the Government is committed to bolstering consumer-driven growth and curbing excess capacity in industries such as steel and coal.

No change to our 3Q price forecast of $70/t

Despite the run-up in the iron ore price it remains below our 3Q price forecast of $70/t. But our call was not based on the end of a short-term destocking cycle. Instead, we are looking towards September and October, which is seasonally a strong period for steel production and consumption – after the summer heat and rain, but before the winter freeze. If steel mills want to be producing strongly in September, they need to be booking iron ore cargoes in late July and August, and these are typically months where the price lifts. June is normally the low point for iron ore, heading into the summer steel demand lull.

Looming winter cuts may add to 3Q iron ore demand

This year there is an additional factor to consider. The Environment Ministry has its widely publicized industrial curtailments planned for 26+2 cities over winter. Smog reaches hazardous levels over Beijing-Tianjin during the winter when coal burn for heating joins the normal industrial smoke. Next winter, a change is planned by reducing industrial emissions from mid-Nov to late-Feb. The steel industry in Hebei, Henan, Shanxi and Shandong is expected to cut output by 50%, If this policy is enforced – and smog is a high priority issue – then steel output may fall by 35-45Mt over the three months. If prices remain high, steel mills will want to keep selling so it might be possible for them to over-produce and build some inventory in 2H. If this is so, then 3Q iron ore buying could be extra strong.

Ahem, not a lot of humility there. CS was telling folks that iron ore was going higher at $94. It was it that missed the destock not the other way around.

Still, there’s some reasonable arguments here. The jump in price triggered by Li’s bland comments was a surprise. Mills have been lowish on stock so may be behind some of it. But let’s face it, when Dalian open interest also soars then we can be pretty sure that China’s loony tune retail speculators (Banana Man) also played some significant role.

Those rebar stocks are also bullish and it’s true that mills follow demand. Q3 may well hold up and mills replenish their inventories though $70 as average looks a big stretch from here. $60 would probably cover it.

But the September-November period is not seasonally bullish at all. It is seasonally weak and traditionally brings in a big destock. If we combine that with what I expect to be a slowing of growth at the margin by then, then mills will indeed follow demand and shed inventories into year end. Especially so given port stocks will be even higher before then if we see some price pressure in Q3.

Daily iron ore price update (headfake) | Macrobusiness

By Houses and Holes
at 12:05 am on June 28, 2017
Reproduced with permission of Macrobusiness.

Iron ore price charts for June 27, 2017:

Tianjin benchmark roared 6% to $59.10. Coal is calm. Steel too.

The trigger of course was this, via SCMP:

China would like foreign businesses to keep their profits in the country and reinvest them, Premier Li Keqiang said in his keynote speech at the World Economic Forum in Dalian on Tuesday, although he added there would be no restrictions on the movement of their money.


China’s economic growth is gaining fresh momentum and there will be no hard landing in the world’s second-biggest economy. The unemployment rate in May dropped to 4.91 per cent, he noted, the lowest level in many years.

Market access

China will continue to open its markets in the services and manufacturing sectors. It will loosen restrictions on shareholdings by foreign companies in joint ventures and will ensure China will continue to be the most attractive investment destination.

Economic policy

The Chinese government will not rely on stimulus to bolster economic growth. Instead, it will use structural adjustment and innovation to maintain economic vitality. The government will keep stable macro policies – a prudent monetary policy and a proactive fiscal policy – to ensure clarity and stability in financial markets.

Financial risks

China is fully capable of containing financial market risks and avoiding systemic ones. There are rising geopolitical risks and increasing voices opposing globalisation. China will keep its promises in combating climate change and will work to promote globalisation.

Absolutely nothing new there. In fact it is a little reassuring to those of us that think reform is on the verge of returning.

But the market has been heavily sold and so it got excited. There is a little room for it to run given lowish mill iron ore inventories:

But, in all honesty, I’m stretching to be positive. The price jump will very quickly arrive at Chinese ports as bowel-shakingly higher inventories in short order:

And the economy is still going to slow at the margin as housing comes off leading to a destock in the foreseeable future:

The great thing about markets is they always off[er] second chances. On this occasion it is to get even more short.

The disconnect between long-term and short-term rates

Bob Doll highlighted the disconnect between long-term and short-term rates in his latest review. The chart below plots the 3-month T-bill rate against 10-year Treasury yields.

Spot Gold/Light Crude

At this stage, the disconnect is not significant. But a disconnect as in 2004 – 2005 is far more serious. Large Chinese purchases of Treasuries prevented long-term rates from rising in response to Fed tightening, limiting the Fed’s ability to contain the housing bubble.

China: Stay clear

“Never trade against the central bank” is a golden rule of trading. Rule #2 should be: “When the central bank behaves erratically, stay clear.” The PBOC announced a crackdown on wealth management products in May but alarm at the rapid contraction elicited a quick retraction.

The Shanghai Composite Index broke support at 3050/3100 signaling a primary decline. But the PBOCs sudden reversal spurred a recovery, with the index now likely to test resistance at 3300. Rising Twiggs Money Flow indicates buying pressure. Reversal below 3050 is unlikely but would confirm a primary down-trend.

Shanghai Composite Index

Shanghai retraces

The Shanghai Composite Index retraced to test support at 3100. The decline on Twiggs Money Flow indicates long-term selling pressure. Reversal below 3000 would confirm a primary down-trend.

Shanghai Composite Index

* Target medium-term: May 2016 low of 2800

Why we’re selling all shares and handing cash back to investors – Philip Parker | Livewire

Philip Parker – veteran fund manager decides to sell all shares in Altair’s Trusts to hand back cash and hands back mandates for SMA/IMA’s and also sells MDA family office mandates to cash from shares.


The underlined above are some of the more obvious reasons to exit the riskier asset markets of shares and property – in my opinion.

As a result of the above and after 25 years as a fund manager and 30 years in this industry I am taking around 6 to 12 months off. The main reason is in my opinion that there are just too many risks at present, and I cannot justify charging our clients fees when there are so many early warning lead indicators of clear and present danger in property and equity markets now….

Read more at: Why we’re selling all shares and handing cash back to investors – Philip Parker | Livewire

Shanghai intervention

The Shanghai Composite Index recovered above primary support at 3100, after the state moved quickly to ease contractionary pressures from the recent crackdown on wealth management products. Rising Twiggs Money Flow signals buying pressure but the situation is artificial. Normally breach of primary support would elicit strong selling.

Shanghai Composite Index

* Target medium-term: May 2016 low of 2800