A day after a Reuters headline blast proclaimed that, in a stunning turn of events, the ECB which has barely started buying covered bond (of countries like Germany today for example, because the record low yielding Bunds clearly need help from the ECB) will also buy corporate bonds, sending the stock market soaring the most in 2014, it has now backtracked for the second time, and following a report from the FT yesterday which denied the report, the second denial came straight from Reuters itself which hours ago said that the ECB “has no concrete plans to buy corporate bonds, but this could be a way to prevent the bank from paying too much for just covered bonds and asset backed securities, ECB governing council member Luc Coene told Belgian media.”
“We still haven’t had a serious discussion about the purchase of corporate bonds,” Coene, who is governor of the Belgian central bank, told business dailies L’Echo and De Tijd. “If we limit ourselves to buying covered bonds and asset backed securities there is a risk that we would pay too high a price. We can prevent that by also buying corporate bonds,” Coene added. “But there is no concrete proposal for that on the table.”
And if and when the ECB ever begins buying corporate bonds (of which there is once again not enough to boost its balance sheet to the required size but more on that later), the ECB can just jawbone that in order to not overpay for bonds, corporate or otherwise, it will just begin buying equities, and so on until the ECB has “no choice” but to monetize the garbage in your trash so as not to overpay for your kitchen sink.
However, if the ultimate goal of yesterday’s leak was to push the EUR lower (and stocks higher of course), then the reason why today’s second rejection did little to rebound the Euro is because once again, just after Europe’s open, Spanish Efe newswire reported that 11 banks from 6 European countries had failed the ECB stress test. Specifically, Efe said Erste, along with banks from Italy, Belgium, Cyprus, Portugal and Greece, had failed the ECB review based on preliminary data, but gave no details of the size of the capital holes at the banks.
The ECB, which likely once again leaked the news, said it could not comment on individual institutions or on speculation. “Any inferences drawn as to the final outcome of the exercise would be highly speculative until the results are final on 26 October,” said a spokesman. What the ECB certainly did enjoy is that once again, with just one media leak, it had managed to bring down the EURUSD by 50 pips lower, pushing it under 1.27 yet again. We wonder how long until Europe discovers, just like Japan, that merely slamming your currency does little to boost exports. But at least there is a rising market to keep everyone happy so why not.
Finally, circling back to those German record low yields, earlier today Germany sold another €1.428 billion in 30 year paper at a record low yield of 1.77%, far below the 2.25% in the last such auction in May, however, this was also the 10th (!) uncovered, as in failed, German auction of the year with the Buba forced to retain a whopping 28% of the paper, compared to 19% at the last primary issuance.
Elsewhere, the BoE’s October minutes which showed a 7-2 split among MPC members with Weale and McCafferty maintaining their hawkish stance, despite speculation that circulated pre-release that McCafferty may have stepped down in his call to hike rates. The initially reaction was volatile as outside bets of a 8-1 split were unwound, however, the details revealed a decidedly more dovish outlook from the majority of members who noted some signs that UK economic was losing momentum and that the economic outlook had worsened. As such the short sterling curve has flattened aggressively. Prelim Barclays month end extension for US treasuries +0.08yrs
In summary, European equities initially opened higher this morning following a 3rd consecutive day of >1% gains in the S&P 500 for the first time in 3yrs, and with the Nikkei up some 2.6% overnight. However the positive sentiment proved short lived as weak corporate earnings out of BAT’s and Heineken weighed on consumer stables, ECB’s Coene said that there is no concrete proposal for bond buying, refuting claims to the contrary yesterday, and Spanish press reported that 11 banks may fail the ECB stress tests which are due to be released this Sunday (ECB has declined to comment).
Looking ahead attention turns to US CPI (Sep), DoE oil inventories, Boeing (BA) earnings, and the release of the Bank of Canada interest rate decision where all surveyed analysts are expecting rates to remain on hold at 1%