Listen, if you thought the U.S. political landscape was going to be any less cartoonish in 2018 than it was in 2017, you have been disabused of that notion over the past 24 hours.
Although markets took it in stride, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention in our Wednesday wrap the fact that on Tuesday evening, Donald Trump bragged about the functionality of his “nuclear button” on Twitter in what amounted to a thinly-veiled dick reference aimed at the leader of another country.
Less than 24 hours later, the President fired off an angry statement disparaging former chief strategist (and man who has fewer friends by the day) Steve Bannon. Excerpts from a forthcoming book about the Trump White House (as documented on Wednesday by The Guardian) reveal Bannon’s misgivings about the infamous Trump Tower meeting which Steve calls “treasonous and unpatriotic.” Bannon also had some not-so-nice things to say about Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner. Trump fired back, claiming that Bannon has “lost his mind” and contending that the Breitbart boss and populist firebrand is hell-bent on “burning [America] down.” You can read all about that here.
Meanwhile, Paul Manafort is now suing the Justice Department, Robert Mueller, and the FBI.
Manafort sues Robert Mueller, Rod Rosenstein and the USDOJ in federal district court, alleging Mueller has overstepped his authority. pic.twitter.com/1A1iSrVXZj
— Byron Tau (@ByronTau) January 3, 2018
rednecks across the country will now pretend like Paul Manafort is a guy who they can identify with.
because every low income, coal-digging, Trump voter spends $1 million on rare decorative rugs.
— Walter White (@heisenbergrpt) January 3, 2018
So if you are one of those people who is still claiming that this administration and everything that came with it is not an absolute fucking train wreck, then we would politely ask that you wake up, because this is a dumpster fire of epic proportions.
Meanwhile, some folks were trying their best to ignore that circus in the interest of trading the Fed minutes and a hot December ISM manufacturing print:
- U.S. DECEMBER ISM MANUFACTURING INDEX RISES TO 59.7; EST. 58.2
The odds of a Fed rate hike by March jumped as the market read the minutes as slightly hawkish (whatever that means these days). Basically, policymakers are in favor of “continued gradual rate hikes.” Nothing new and indeed the knee-jerk reaction faded:
The minutes also betrayed considerable discussion about the yield curve although the consensus is that there’s nothing historically “unusual” about it right now. Ultimately, Treasurys bull flattened with the 2s10s inside of 51bp:
Stocks rallied (of course) with the S&P closing above 2,700 for the first time. More notable than that meaningless “milestone” was the Nasdaq’s second day of outperformance. It’s now up some 2.3% to start the year:
Gold – which is riding the best winning streak since 2011 – dove on the purportedly “hawkish” messaging, but quickly bounced:
Oil rallied hard, moving above $61 for the first time in well more than 2 years:
High yield spreads tightened, hitting a two-month low as higher oil prices support. JPMorgan notes that retail funds saw an inflow of some $500m in the week to date. Speaking of retail funds, HYG had its best day since November 16:
The euro took a breather on Wednesday which was a relief for European equities – they rallied across the board as MiFID II went into effect. The VStoxx plunged 9%:
Here’s your moment of zen, courtesy as usual of Sarah Huckabee Sanders who, in a testament to just how surreal things have gotten, found herself having to explain why the President’s son didn’t commit treason as the President’s former chief strategist now suggests he did:
Reporter: "Did the President's son, Donald Trump Jr., commit treason?"
Sanders: "I think that is a ridiculous accusation"https://t.co/Z5Rb13xrCj
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) January 3, 2018