On the Rollercoaster – Yearly Recap

On the Rollercoaster – Yearly Recap

The 2015 has been a very turbulent year for financial markets globally. Greece, the unpredictable oil rout and weak growth perspective in China repeatedly triggered waves of sell-offs during the last year. Here a closer look at the main characters or events that set the trends this year.

S&P 500 Yearly PerformanceSP500

Oil

The oil rout has started in the middle of last year, when it collapsed from the range $110/100 a barrel to levels close to the post Financial Crisis lows, $35/45 a barrel. Since the beginning of 2015, Oil has been very volatile, trading in a range between $35 and $65 a barrel. Its unpredictable trend affected financial markets on a global scale. The high-yield bond market is under strict observation after the low prices of oil have been pushing a large number of shale gas companies on the verge of bankruptcy. On December 10, Third Avenue Focused Credit Fund closed its $800m junk-bond portfolio due to the slump in bond prices. The energy sector has been dramatically hit by the rout, forcing layoffs, firm aggregation e.g. (Royal Dutch Shell and BG) and Capex reconsideration. Weaker demands from top-tier consumers as China and consistent OPEC plans to keep production high pushed prices down, weakening inflation expectations in developed countries and increasing risks of deflation. Emerging Markets heavily relying on oil exports have to cope with more than halved revenues from the primary source of inflow, currency depreciation and inflation. Brazil is reportedly in recession, Saudi Arabia disclosed a Balance Deficit of 15% of its GPD, envisaging austerity periods in public spending. Oil will still play a major role in 2016, when the ban on Iran oil exports will be lifted and new fresh oil will flood into the market.

WTI 5 Year PerformanceOilSource: Bloomberg

China

Being the second largest economy in the world, China has set the trend in many occasions this year. The Stock Market crash sparked fear and volatility all over the world. The Shanghai Composite, after a rapid ascent, it started to fall rapidly between June and August, losing almost 40% of its value. Weaker growth perspectives, decline in industrial production, and weaker demand for commodities, especially copper, dragged down global markets, spilling over other asset classes, especially Emerging Markets local currencies. In order to give China exporters a competitive edge People’s Bank of China devalued the renminbi several times during this year. In August, in the wake of the first devaluation, the Yuan reported the largest daily loss in over 20 years. Kazakhstan’s Central Bank, in order to cope with depreciating rival currencies, decided to shift to a free-floating rate. On August 15, the tenge tumbled 26%. These moves raised the risk of a potential currency war between August and September, which eventually fade away.

CNY/USD Yearly PerformanceYuan RenminbiSource: Bloomberg

In the first days of 2016 a dramatic sell-off in China that triggered the circuit breaker mechanism halting trading if losses greater than 7% materialize, produced a chain effect on the Financial System, resulting in the worst first week of trading in history. The S&P lost almost $1 trillion in market capitalization in the first week.

 Central Banks

The Fed and the ECB adopted divergent strategies in terms of Monetary Policy. Improved economic conditions and a more solid labor market in the US pushed the Federal Open Market Committee to unanimously raise interest rates up to 50 basis points for the first time in nine years. The December hike was broadly expected by all market makers, and paved the way for future hikes in the coming years. The ECB, in the opposite direction, eased the monetary policy in December, lowering the deposit rates at minus 30 basis point and prolonging the quantitative easing up to March 2017, with potential further extension. Draghi’s move disappointed market makers, who foresaw an increase in the monthly purchase of  securities, hammering down European Equities. Despite eased policies, inflation in both region is far from targets and the pressure on oil prices seems to further raise the risk of consistent low prices and deflation. Central Banks will still play a key role in the next year in their effort of improving economic conditions and reaching inflation target.

In the first days of the New Year, negative signals coming from the commodity market and China sparked uncertainty and fear over the stability of the financial system. Will the improved economic conditions in Europe and America be able to offset the downside risks coming from the Chinese transitioning economy?

By

Tancredi Viale, Master Student

Advertisements

Turmoil and Hope -APAC, Japan & ASEAN Trends – Sept. 20th 2015

Turmoil and Hope -APAC, Japan & ASEAN Trends – Sept. 20th 2015

While the Asian financial storm is far from being over, the FED recently decided not to hike up the interest rates as the conditions in the global economy have changed dramatically since the last Federal Open Market Committee meeting.

 Federal Funds Rate vs. Bank of  England  Base RateRates

The Shanghai Stock Exchange Index (SSE) keeps maintaining its downward trend, losing up to 15% in the last 30 days, reaching the lowest value of 2927.25 in Aug 26. Following the strong financial measures adopted from the Chinese government along with a positive response from the US regarding the interest rates, analysts would have expected a slight upward change in the Chinese stock market that, however, did not happen, highlighting investors’ concerns about China slowdown and Yellen’s warnings about weaker global growth perspectives. A Fed interest rate hike would increase the attractiveness of US dollar denominated assets and thus generate capital outflows from the China and Emerging Markets towards Wall Street.

 Shanghai 1 M

Japanese counterparts seems to be reluctant to changes as Abe gets reelected and uncertainty regarding structural reforms (Abenomics’ third arrow) still persists. This position is shared by Standard & Poor’s who, on Sept 16, downgraded Japan from AA- to A+. The uncertainty is shown as well in the NIKKEI, where high volatility was registered  in the last weeks (+7,5% Sept 9). The USD/JPY pair, In the last month, traded in the ¥ 120-123 range and at the moment one dollar is worth  ¥ 120.07. The release of the Japanese National Consumption Index due the next week, might affect the exchange rate, and, if the preliminary results for inflation of 0,1% (against the 2,0% target) were to be confirmed, further stimulus from the BoJ might become reality. This scenario will involve a further weakening of the JPY.

 Tokyo, Nikkei  225 1Y PerformanceN225

Looking beyond those two giants, other Asian countries are on the rise. In fact, several experts strongly believe that the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) will be the new BRICS. While BRICS economies struggle, as Brazil was recently downgraded to junk bond (BB+) from S&P along with the Russian Ruble losing more than half of its value (USD/RUB +70% 1y), one of the most prominent ASEAN’s country, Malaysia, gained a + 6,02% (1M) in FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI Index. This negative correlation ( Shanghai Index 1 M -18.34%, KLCI Index 1 M +6%) shows how ASEAN economies are getting more and more independent from other emerging markets.

Kuala Lumpur, FTSE KLSE, 1Y PerformanceKLSE

Furthermore, recent political and economic reforms strongly support this view as well. In fact, ASEAN countries have recently established an “Asian Region Funds Passport” that will provide a multilaterally agreed framework to facilitate the cross border marketing of managed funds across participating economies in the Asia region. This partnership will enhance the expansion of the asset management industry in the region and further tighten the connections between these rising economies.

By

Ludovico Buffo, Master Student

The Chinese Turmoil: Intervention or Resurrection?

The Chinese Turmoil: Intervention or Resurrection?

China, the leading country of the BRICS , seems to be experiencing a slowdown.  Despite many experts claim that China’s GDP will rise by $7 trillion in the next decade (the equivalent of “two more Chinas”), Chinese manufacturing was dragged down by a weaker demand for Chinese exports down to the 12 months lowest level of 49.2 in April 2015. However, the main questions remains: how does this correlate with the recent Chinese stock market crash? Economists say it does not.

Shanghai and Shenzhen, the two Chinese stock markets, strongly differs from their global counterparts in terms of investors. In fact, Individual investors account for the 80% of the stock markets, as there is a weak presence of institutional investors. The rising Chinese middle class preferred to invest its savings into the bullish Chinese stock markets as stocks prices have constantly appreciated in the last years. (CSI 300 Index + 84,12% 5 yr). These peculiarities of the market along with the spread use of margin trades (Borrowing money to invest in the stock exchange), makes it clear that the Bubble had to burst soon.

With the Chinese stock markets losing up to $4 Trillion (15 times Greece’s GDP) and going down by 34% from its peak in June, a strategy was needed. After blaming US Investment Banks for bearish recommendations on Chinese stocks, China’s government, central bank and regulators have closely worked upon measures to prop up the stock prices in a very rapid way. On the first place, an unexpected interest-rate cut took place in order to stimulate the liquidity as well as an order for national brokers to pump up government-backed funds in the markets. These financial measures along with a freeze on new IPOs and a stricter regulation on margin trades, although, had only a marginal effect in the CSI 300 index that caught up only by 3,5% from its lowest peak of July 8, while reporting, last week on July 27, the biggest day drop since 2007, -8.43%.

Shanghai

At the moment, the problem regards the stock market only but there is a huge risk that it might turn into a new financial crisis. In fact, so many investors took out loans with financial brokers using stocks as collateral (margin trading) and this trend could affect their capability to pay off their loans. For this reason, 1400 companies were given permission to suspend trading in their shares in order to preserve their value.

Signals of a weakening momentum in the Chinese real economy came in the weekend from the Purchasing Manager Index, which measures the manufacturing activity. The PMI settled July at 50.0 below the consensus at 50.2 and on top of the benchmark at 50.0 that distinguish expansion from contraction. All those signals are driving down all the major global commodities, Copper and Oil on top of the list, while all the commodity currencies are experiencing a brutal depreciation against the dollar, threatening global growth projections.

Chinese PMI

By:

Ludovico Buffo, Master Student

11356313_10207430037335999_669605629_n

A bubble about to burst? – APAC Overview

A bubble about to burst? – APAC Overview

The monetary expansion policy of the People’s Bank of China fueled the Shanghai, Shenzhen, and ChiNext indices of 95%, 198%, and 383%, respectively, since January 2013. Chinese stock-market capitalization grew from 44% of GDP at the end 2012 to 94% of GDP earlier this month[1], but at the same time the Chinese GDP growth, equal to 7,4%, has slightly slowed at the lowest level since the 1990 and the average ratio price to earnings is 26.

It seems clear that there are enough evidences that prove the presence of financial factors that are threatening the economical rebalance of Chinese economy: from export oriented economy to consumptions. This is the issue. At the beginning of financial crisis, the Chinese political establishment chose to fuel the economy by increasing the public spending and making easier to borrow money.

Therefore, the private debt raised from 100% in 2002 to 200% in 2014[2] and the PBOC tried to stop it by raising the refinancing interest rate until started the first bankruptcies and the slowdown of Chinese economy. The PBOC knows that the economy needs a monetary stimulus but the more the money supply increase the more grows the probability to create a financial bubble.

In order to minimize the possible negative effects of a hard slowdown, the Government is trying to boost the economy by cutting the refinancing interest rate (from 6.5% to 5.0%), deregulating the financial markets (e.g. exchange rate fluctuating) and privatizing most of public companies. The issue is that the more the money supply increase the more the financial bubble grow.

It is sure that the Government will have to face the dichotomy between autocracy and capitalist markets, but how it will face the issue will determine the feature of the Chinese economy slowdown[3]. Anybody should not underestimate the huge challenge to change the Chinese economy into a fully capitalist system, as the MSCI index committee decision to do not list the Shenzhen A shares (for some regulatory framework) show.

Last but not least, the main market mover it will be the dual listing between Shenzhen and Hong Kong stock exchange.

ChiNext

PBOC Interest Rate

By:

244a02b

Roberto Vacca, Master Student

[1] Cf. “Channeling China’s Animal Spirits”, by Xiao Geng and Andrew Sheng 26/05/2015, available on http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/china-economic-growth-by-andrew-sheng-and-geng-xiao-2015-05
[2] See “China’s debt-to-GDP level”, by S.R. 16/07/2014, available on http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2014/07/china-s-debt-gdp-level
[3] See “Nouriel Roubini: China Slowdown May Be Sharp”, by Bloomberg 04/02/2015, available on http://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2015-02-04/china-slowdown-may-be-sharp-nouriel-roubini