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The yen (FXY +2.9%) spikes higher, bringing dollar/yen back below ¥96 amid rumors of busted carry trades and hedge fund liquidations. Should today's move be sustained, it would be the largest single-day drop for the pair since the 2010 flash crash. BofA's MacNeil Curry suggests the next stop in ¥91. Japan stock ETFs take it hard: The iShares Japan Fund (EWJ -2%), WisdomTree's Hedged Equity Fund (DXJ -4.9%).
Japan revises Q1 GDP up to 4.1% (annualized) from an initial reading of 3.5% sending the Nikkei (EWJ, DXJ) up 3% in early trading. Also helping Japanese stocks is the weak yen (FXY), down 0.4% against the dollar to ¥97.95. Meanwhile, the BOJ begins a two-day policy meeting. Goldman's advice: Initiate "long positions in Nikkei September futures with a target of 14,500 and a stop on a close below 12,700." For what it's worth.
Long Nikkei, short yen continues to unwind with investors in 2013's most popular trade all hitting the exit at the same time. The yen's up another 1.6%, with dollar/yen at ¥95.47 and erasing more than 2 months worth of gains in the last few sessions. FXY +1.3% premarket. The Nikkei tumbled another 1.8% overnight and has also erased 2 months worth of gains. DXJ -2.3% premarket. Earlier: Japan's government pension fund confirms it's cutting JGB exposure and increasing equity holdings.
When crowded trades go bad: Investors don't wait until Tokyo to sell Japan - Nikkei futures tumble 3.5% as the yen flies higher, now at ¥96.76 and in two weeks erasing two months worth of gains in dollar/yen. The Nikkei has returned to its early April level as well. The unhedged EWJ falls 0.9%, while this year's hottest ETF, the hedged Japan fund (DXJ), slides 3%, now up only 16.5% YTD.
The Nikkei (EWJ) drops sharply once again and takes other Asian bourses with it, with the fall this time because of disappointment with Shinzo Abe's "third arrow" of economic reform. The measures "aren't enough for Japan to achieve sustained economic growth and overcome deflation," says economist Hisashi Yamada, especially as the labor-market reforms don't go far enough. There's also disappointment that Abe isn't proposing to cut corporate taxes, which are amongst the highest in the OECD. Japan -3.8%, Hong Kong -1.1%, China -0.1%, India flat.
"This is not a good time to be exiting the Nikkei (EWJ, DXJ)," says Jeff Gundlach in a presentation (webcast) titled "What in the world is going on?" Markets don't rally like that to be immediately followed by a "monster collapse," he adds. He'd prefer to buy below 13K (closed last night at 13.5K), but the his bull thesis remains intact and he wouldn't be a seller here.
"Current conditions represent a buying opportunity for bonds (TLT, LQD) says Jeff Gundlach, appearing on CNBC. Higher interest rates will prove too damaging to certain sectors and he expects the 10-year Treasury - currently at 2.13% - to head back below 2% into the summer and fall. Nikkei (EWJ, DXJ)? In the mid-12s, it's a buying opportunity. Apple (AAPL)? He was a buyer in the low $400s and $500 is a chip shot, but it may never see $700. Chipotle (CMG)? He never got filled on his short at $380, but would give it a shot again.
The yen (FXY +1.4%) surges higher, with dollar/yen crashing through ¥100 all the way to ¥98.97 - the first time in double digits in about a month. Along with the strengthening yen are declining Nikkei 225 futures (NKY), off 2.8%. EWJ -1.9%, DXJ -3.6%. The proprietor of the DXJ, WisdomTree (WETF -3.1%).
Investors rush to buy the tumbling Japanese stock market, with WisdomTree's (WETF) Japan Hedged Equity Fund (DXJ) raking in another $264M over the last week, according to XTF.com, the 3rd largest inflow of any ETF. The crazy turnaround in Nikkei futures this morning on word Japan's national pension fund is considering boosting its equity allocation carries through to Tokyo, the Nikkei +1.8%.
Nikkei futures go nuts, reversing most of a 5% overnight plunge on word Japan's public pension fund is considering shifting to a more pro-equity stance. They're off just 0.4% at the moment. NKY -1% premarket.
The recently-plunging Nikkei may have already solved this issue, but Japan's giant public pension fund (GPIF) is considering a change in strategy that would otherwise force it to sell stocks (EWJ, DXJ) and buy JGBs (JGBS) as equities rally and bond prices fall. No significant change in policy has been made since 2006. Of interest: Last night's 5% dive in stocks failed to put in a bid for JGBs, the yield on the 10-year flat at 0.89%.
Skittishness in the markets has the yen (FXY) resuming gains against the dollar, with dollar/yen sliding 1.2% to ¥101.13. After a couple of frightening plunges in the past few sessions, the Nikkei took the yen's gain rather well, falling just 0.9% to 14,189. EWJ -1.7%, DXJ -1.5% premarket. Action to eye: The JGB market as the 10-year yield carves out a new Y/Y high, up 4 bps to 0.93%
Soaring volatility on the Nikkei isn't stopping investors from scooping up options "with something approaching glee," according to SIG's derivatives team (for the uninitiated, higher vols mean higher options prices). Most of the buying in the Japan ETF space is in the form of calls as dip buyers do what they've become accustomed to doing. Two popular ones, EWJ and DXJ are off nearly 10% since Wed. afternoon.
Even Japanese stocks are subject to the law of gravity (who knew?) as a confluence of factors sends the Nikkei (EWJ, DXJ) plunging 7.3% on the session (the swing from intraday high to low was ~9%). Yields on JGB 10s (JGBL) spiked above 1% at one point as an already skittish and volatile market was further rattled by what have generally been perceived as hawkish comments out of Ben Bernanke and other Fed officials on Wednesday. Yields pulled back in late trading. Compounding the problem for Japanese stocks was the yen (FXY), which has strengthened some 2% against the dollar to 101.16 most recently. (See also: China HSBC flash PMI shows contraction)
The Japanese economy is slowly improving, the government says, pointing to evidence that exports and factory output are beginning to show signs of life. The upgraded economic assessment is the first upbeat report in two months. Additionally, Reuters Tankan survey showed a sixth consecutive month of improving manufacturer sentiment in Japan, as exporters cheer the weak yen. The index printed at 7, the first positive read in more than a year. The country's Economics Minister says the stage is set for a "V-shaped recovery." The rosy outlook was enough to boost the Nikkei (EWJ, DXJ)) 1.47% on the session.