Friday, 5 May 2017

Commodities Bust Again.

Baltic Dry Index. 1004 -30     Brent Crude 47.29

LIR Gold Target in 2019: $30,000.  Revised due to QE programs.

The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals, would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it.
Adam Smith. The Wealth of Nations. 1776
The big news today and this weekend is European politics. Will yesterday’s limited local elections in GB give a clue as to the outcome of the UK’s general election on June 8th, and how will France vote on Sunday. The early indications from the UK’s vote suggest a large Conservative victory in the general election next month, allowing Her Majesty’s Government to start playing hardball back to Brussels, and walking away from a bad deal in favour of no deal.

In France, the polls show an easy convincing win for the neophyte Macron, a man with no party in the Parliament, who wants to sanction Poland, and with a penchant for older women, will be completely under the thumb of Germany’s Mrs Merkel. At least until the German election in the autumn. Reform, if it ever comes at all, will not be coming to the rump-EUSSR until 2018 at the earliest, more likely 2019 and John Bull’s freedom and Brexit.

But the wealth and jobs destroying, dying EUSSR may not have the luxury of such time. Commodity prices and the Baltic Dry Shipping Index suggest bad things are already rolling through the global economy. After the usual seasonal lift from the northern hemisphere spring and summer, a stormy autumn and winter seem to lie ahead, although Brent Crude oil breaking below $50, suggests that we may not even have that long for the storms to arrive.  Next month’s anticipated Federal Reserve interest rate rise, I now think unlikely. The US economy already seems to have too little cash and credit.

Below, some reasons to think that we might just have run out of road and talent.

Chinese stocks drop on falling commodity prices

Published: May 4, 2017 11:48 p.m. ET

Markets down across Asia; Nikkei, Kospi closed

Slumping commodities prices in China sent stock markets there lower Friday, leading declines across the region as investors feared that the nation’s crackdown on speculation and borrowing could hurt metals demand.

The Shanghai Composite Index SHCOMP, -0.68%   was last down 0.7%, with the Shenzhen Composite 399106, -0.34%   off 0.4%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HSI, -1.16%   lost 0.7%, while the Hang Seng subindex that tracks Chinese shares fell 1%.

Markets in Japan and South Korea were closed for holidays.

Chinese commodity futures extended losses as speculators sold contracts amid tougher rules aimed at cooling an overheating market. The most actively traded iron-ore futures contract opened down 6.8% on the Dalian Commodity Exchange, after tumbling by the 8% daily limit on Thursday.

Meanwhile, steel-rebar futures traded in Shanghai opened down 2.9% and rubber was down 4.5%.

On Thursday, already weak investor sentiment got a fresh hit after six Chinese government agencies pledged to curb runaway local-government debt by increasing oversight of the projects they are pumping money into.

“Financial market regulatory scrutiny certainly appears to be driving liquidation across a range of asset classes onshore,” said Bill Bowler, a Chinese equities trader at Forsyth Barr in Asia.

There was also some anticipation that the efforts could continue to tighten bank credit and impede growth, he said.

Weaker commodities prices were also dragging down stocks in Australia, with the S&P/ASX 200 XJO, -0.73%  down 0.4%. Among the index heavyweights, BHP Billiton BHP, -3.01%   was off 2.2%, Fortescue FMG, -3.12%   fell 1.4% and Rio Tinto RIO, -2.69%   lost 2.1%.

A decline in Brent crude oil prices to under $50 a barrel in early Asian trading also sent energy stocks sharply lower.

Oil's Plunge Accelerates Below $45 as U.S. Shale Confounds OPEC

by Ben Sharples , Serene Cheong , and Sharon Cho
5 May 2017, 01:06 GMT+1
While OPEC’s curbs drove oil in early January to the highest since July 2015, that increase encouraged U.S. drillers to pump more. The result has been 11 weeks of expansion in American production in the longest run of gains since 2012. Prices are still more than 50 percent below their peak in 2014, when surging shale output triggered crude’s biggest collapse in a generation and left rival producers such as Saudi Arabia scrambling to protect market share.

“We’re seeing a strong reaction and a change in mood,” said Victor Shum, a Singapore-based vice president at IHS Energy. Prices that “overshot” to the mid-to-high $50s after the output deal are now “back to reality” amid surging American supplies, he said.

West Texas Intermediate for June delivery dropped as much as $1.76, or 3.9 percent, to $43.76 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, and was at $44.12 at 1 p.m. in Hong Kong. Total volume traded was more than quadruple the 100-day average. The contract lost $2.30, or 4.8 percent, to close at $45.52 on Thursday.

Metals Extend Sell-Off on Mounting Concerns Over Demand in China

Metals extended their biggest daily plunge this year, buffeted by signs of ample supplies of copper, and concerns over demand in China. Iron ore tumbled in Dalian, steel plummeted in Shanghai and mining shares slid to the lowest level in four months.

Three-month copper dropped 0.5 percent to $5,573 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange, extending Wednesday’s 3.5 percent drop as stockpiles tracked by the LME jumped 25 percent in two days, the most since early March.

Metals have come under pressure after data this week signaled a slowdown in China’s manufacturing, with the LMEX Index of six major metals tumbling 2.5 percent on Wednesday, the most since November. The country is also experiencing tighter liquidity during a crackdown on risk, with the onshore benchmark money-market rate rising to the most expensive in two years.

Nickel was dragged to a 10-month low on easing supply concerns in the Philippines after lawmakers rejected the appointment of Gina Lopez as Environment Secretary.

“The weakness in metals is mainly due to spillover from the decline in iron ore,” Xiao Fu, an analyst at BOCI Global Commodities UK Ltd., said by phone from London. Tighter liquidity is a concern for some steel producers who are “overly leveraged”, she said.

The recovery of iron ore futures from six-month lows in April was abruptly reversed on Thursday with a plunge of 7.3 percent to 485 yuan ($70) a ton, the maximum allowed by the exchange. Steel futures also slumped 7.3 percent in Shanghai.

The Bloomberg World Mining Index of shares fell for the fourth day. BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s top mining company, lost 2.3 percent in London, while Rio Tinto Group, the second largest, sank 1.2 percent, after reaching the lowest level since November.

Thu May 4, 2017 | 4:46pm EDT

Germany says no debt relief being prepared for Greece

No debt relief measures are being readied for Greece, Germany's Finance Ministry said on Thursday after the Handelsblatt business daily reported measures were under consideration.

The implementation of reforms that Greece agreed to in return for aid would help ensure the sustainability of the country's debt, the ministry said in a statement e-mailed to Reuters.

"No debt relief is being prepared," it added.

Regarding possible debt measures, a clear agreement was reached in a statement by the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers last May.

"According to that, after the full implementation of the adjustment program, there will be an assessment of whether debt measures are necessary. That still applies," it said.

Earlier, Handelsblatt reported that Greece's international lenders were preparing possible debt relief for Athens for discussion by the finance ministers.

The European Commission, the ESM euro zone rescue fund, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)had prepared various debt measures in a document to be sent to the Eurogroup for further discussion, it said, citing people familiar with the document.

One option was for the ESM to take over loans paid out by the IMF. The advantage would be lower interest rates charged by the ESM.

Others included extending debt maturities and having the ECB and national central banks send profits made on Greek bonds to Athens through national governments, Handelsblatt reported.

An EU source told Reuters the document was originally a paper by the ESM, not all four institutions, and had been modified on the way to the version Handelsblatt saw.

Fri May 5, 2017 | 12:49am EDT

A quarter of French electorate to abstain in election runoff: poll

A quarter of the French electorate is due to abstain in the presidential runoff on Sunday, many of them left-wing voters disappointed after their candidates missed reaching the runoff, according to a poll by Odoxa.

The projected abstention rate would be the second-worst for a presidential election runoff since 1965, underscoring the disillusionment of many voters at the choice between centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

The turnout rate for the first round of the election was close to 78 percent, according to the interior ministry.
The poll for franceinfo, released on Friday, showed 69 percent of abstaining voters will do so reluctantly, refusing to chose between Macron and Le Pen. Many voted for the more leftist candidates eliminated in the first round of voting on April 23.

A third of the supporters of defeated far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon, who placed fourth in the first round, said they were evenly opposed to both Macron and Le Pen, according to the poll.

It also showed that voters found Macron more convincing than Le Pen in the acrimonious televised debate on Wednesday evening, confirming the general impression conveyed in earlier polls and reinforcing Macron's status as the favorite to win on Sunday
“A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.”
H. L. Mencken.
At the Comex silver depositories Thursday final figures were: Registered 33.59 Moz, Eligible 163.48 Moz, Total 197.07 Moz.

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.
As Europe’s largest derivatives market and centre of expertise prepares to leave the EUSSR in 2019, Europe’s proposing to turn Europe’s derivatives gambling over to the amateurs. For good measure, only one side of the zero-sum game, EU gambling contracts need report the trade, and no one to close out (and presumably settle,) for three years. Good luck with that, “only in Europe,” as they say.  Presumably, the rump-EUSSR will now drop its proposed “transaction tax,” lest all the gambling fun and games not migrate to continental Europe as intended, but stay sticky in London, and migrate to America and Singapore. The EU apparatchiks seem to be living in a something for nothing, dream world.
It is the maxim of every prudent master of a family, never to attempt to make at home what it will cost him more to make than to buy...What is prudence in the conduct of every private family, can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom.
Adam Smith. The Wealth of Nations. 1776
Thu May 4, 2017 | 8:22am EDT

EU plans to ease derivatives rules in bid to boost economy

The European Union has proposed easing derivatives rules in a move which will save pension funds billions of euros, as it seeks to boost growth in the bloc.

New rules were introduced in 2012 after the sector was blamed for accentuating the 2007-09 financial crisis. Policymakers are now trying to help drive growth by cutting red tape for companies and investors, though not for big banks.

The European Commission proposed a draft law on Thursday to continue shielding pension funds - a sector it sees as critical for investment in infrastructure - from having to clear their derivatives trades for a further three years, a move to save them billions of euros in collateral payments.

"Our aim is to simplify rules as well as to eliminate disproportionate costs and burdens to small companies in the financial sector, corporates and pension funds," European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen, said in a statement.

Brussels is trying to encourage companies to use markets to raise funds and wean them away from a reliance on bank loans.

But it has made slow progress, suffering a knock after Britain, by far the EU's biggest capital market, decided to leave the bloc in 2019. Efforts to revive securitization, a form of debt security, have also stalled.

Thursday's plans, which need approval from the European Parliament and EU states to become law, are among the first after a root-and-branch review of financial rules.

As reported by Reuters, only one side of a derivatives trade would have to report it, helping to cut costs.
The commission said such changes could save market participants, especially energy companies and manufacturers, up to 2.6 billion euros in operational costs and up to 6.9 billion euros in one-off costs.
Brexit has also prompted the commission to look again at how derivatives are cleared, a process carried out by a third party to ensure a trade is completed.

Euro zone policymakers have said that the bulk of clearing of euro-denominated securities like derivatives and bonds should move to the single currency area.

The London Stock Exchange's (LSE.L) LCH clearing house clears most euro-denominated trades, but this activity will be outside the bloc's legal framework after Brexit.
The commission said it intends to present further legislative proposals before the summer.
The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order, ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.
Adam Smith. The Wealth of Nations. 1776
Technology Update.
With events happening fast in the development of solar power and graphene, I’ve added this section. Updates as they get reported. Is converting sunlight to usable cheap AC or DC energy mankind’s future from the 21st century onwards? DC? A quantum computer next?

High temperature step-by-step process makes graphene from ethene

Date: May 4, 2017

Source: Georgia Institute of Technology

Summary: An international team of scientists has developed a new way to produce single-layer graphene from a simple precursor: ethene -- also known as ethylene -- the smallest alkene molecule, which contains just two atoms of carbon.

By heating the ethene in stages to a temperature of slightly more than 700 degrees Celsius -- hotter than had been attempted before -- the researchers produced pure layers of graphene on a rhodium catalyst substrate. The stepwise heating and higher temperature overcame challenges seen in earlier efforts to produce graphene directly from hydrocarbon precursors.

Because of its lower cost and simplicity, the technique could open new potential applications for graphene, which has attractive physical and electronic properties. The work also provides a novel mechanism for the self-evolution of carbon cluster precursors whose diffusional coalescence results in the formation of the graphene layers.

The research, reported as the cover article in the May 4 issue of the Journal of Physical Chemistry C, was conducted by scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Technische Universität München in Germany, and the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. In the United States, the research was supported by the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Basic Energy Sciences.

"Since graphene is made from carbon, we decided to start with the simplest type of carbon molecules and see if we could assemble them into graphene," explained Uzi Landman, a Regents' Professor and F.E. Callaway endowed chair in the Georgia Tech School of Physics who headed the theoretical component of the research. "From small molecules containing carbon, you end up with macroscopic pieces of graphene."
Another weekend, and what a weekend it is. Will the French vote in as President an unknown Europhile with a penchant for older women, turning the rump-EU completely over to Migrant Mad Merkel, plus starting a nasty sanctions spat against poor old Poland, or will the left and the right combine to vote in a French version of Donald Trump, with a very “France First” agenda? All the polls show that France is about to vote in Frau Merkel rule. Poor Charles de Gaulle must be spinning in his grave. Have a great weekend everyone.

In politics it is necessary either to betray one's country or the electorate. I prefer to betray the electorate
Charles de Gaulle.

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished April

DJIA: 20,941 +149 Up. NASDAQ:  6,048 +190 Up. SP500: 2,384 +152 Up.

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