Tag Archives: Brexit

Markets, you are getting very messy

Markets are living unusual situations since the beginning of the Great Crisis in 2007-2008. We are now living the 8th anniversary of the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers. Since that moment, markets have been intervened by central banks (in fact) and their operations are not really free.

One of the chapters that we have recently lived is a “black swan”: Brexit in Europe has shaken the markets with a crash at the end of June and a continuous bullish trend in July. On the other hand, low volatility dominated the trading in August. For instance, volatility hit a 2-year-low in this month in Wall Street. Now, in September, investors tend to be negative and bears have taken their positions. In other words, markets are getting messy.

Evolution of developed markets YTD

What can we expect in the last quarter of this year? BlackRock head Russ Koesterich bets that the US election will hardly move the markets, either Clinton or Trump win. He proposes that market volatility can come from near elections in Europe, where populist parties are winning support amongst electors in several countries, even the most powerful as France or Germany.

Some investors are watching carefully the evolution in emerging markets. They are currently performing fine, mostly in Latam. Moody’s has recently raised the outlook for Brazil, Russia and China. If we look at the chart, we also find that Argentina is performing quite well after the change in the Presidential Seal.

Evolution of emerging markets YTD

But the deep discussion in the market operators is not about the influence of the politics, but the current bubble and overvaluation linked with what we mentioned at the beginning: the intervention by the central banks.

54% of investors requested by Bank of America Merrill Lynch in its Global Fund Manager Survey think that stocks and bonds are overvalued. This was also the perception before the dotcom crash in 2000. What does it mean? Are we near a new crash? Do markets experience a new “irrational exuberance” as Greenspan asserted in 1996?

We receive signals, because we cannot guess the future. The clear signal is that markets are not operating free: is it logical that several countries and companies are paying negative interests for the bonds? Is it logical that central banks keep their interest rates so low? Not at all, but the crash of this bubble can create a wave difficult to control.

This was the first semester… and these are some clues for the second

These are tough times for investors. We have already commented some of the weird phenomena that we are living in the markets, but the first semester was not easy at all to find good performances. Instability comes from several fronts:

  • EU: the ECB has no clue to solve the current troubles to make money and credit flow. Interest rates are negative, Euribor is also negative and the debt gives no return for investors. In the current unstable and volatile situation, investors prefer to pay instead of becoming profits from Treasury Bonds, specifically German ones. Finally, the black swan appeared: Brexit is there to stay.

Europe global trends in the first semester

  • USA: the Fed shows doubtful and indecisive. Markets have become mad and Mrs. Yellen prefers to delay the more-than-once announced (in Fed gobbledygook) rate hike. The presidential election also opens a new possible black swan, because a victory of Trump could cause another turmoil in the exchanges. The poverty of returns in the US markets is very clear with a figure: S&P 500 has produced positive returns YTD since Easter and its peak was under 4%.

USA global trends first semester

  • Asia: China sets the pace in the continent, but there are hard signs that the economy doesn’t grow as before. Exchanges reflect this low confidence and Shanghai performed erratic since the crash last August. The performance fluctuation band was between -15% and -25% YTD. Japan is also deadlock, because no policy obtains a positive outcome to get over the long economic stagnation of the country. This continent is the weakest for investors.

Asia global trends in the first semester

  • Latam: Although Brazil has experienced a great political crisis, investors acted more confident and the performance moves between 10% – 20% YTD. Mexico also shows a stable evolution in the markets, as the oil price has begun to rise.

Latam global trends in the first semester

This is the past and current situation, but where are the opportunities for the second half of the year? We do not publish forecast, but we can speak about trends.

Some days ago, BlackRock, the main ETF manager, decided to downgrade equities, because “stocks still face several obstacles”. Bank of America published a survey in which investors declared to bet higher for cash, peaking the highest allocation since 2001 in investment portfolios. Gold soared a 25% since January and volatility index VIX rallied this last month after a quiet quarter.

Times are hard to take investment decisions. The best one is no panic. Current volatility has to do with it and decisions under this pressure are usually wrong. Investors play for the long term. These are times to keep calm, avoid sudden changes and smart rebalance your portfolio.

Oil, gold and rates: something does not work in the markets

Performance evolution of the main world markets last year

Old civilisations believed that weird natural or astronomical events were signals of disasters or even the end of the world. A modern version of those myths could be the evolution of some financial references: oil, gold and rates. Their behaviours are far from being rational. Why? There is a lot of uncertainty and fear amongst investors.

Gold is the traditional safe haven in times of high inflation. This is not the case now, because we experience very low inflation or even deflation. The Depression that we have lived pressured the wages, something that have a direct relationship with the price evolution (in both as a production cost and consumption capacity). Why is the price of gold going up? Because investors buy the precious metal to preserve capital. Currently, there are not many options to obtain good performances: neither fixed income, nor equities (not to mention traditional products as deposits…). Gold is a way, at least, to avoid losing value.

Oil dropped in January to the lowest price for years: Brent was around 30 dollars. However, the market sentiment was not positive at all. The fall of the price was linked with excess of supply from several producers pumping and fighting for a largest market share that demonstrate suicidal. On the hand of demand, the economy does not grow as wished, mainly in Europe. Low demand, large supply: the traditional equation gives as a result a decline in the oil price. Usually, investors smiled, when oil reduced the prices, but it is not the case now. Prices are recovering around the 50-dollar threshold, but it is not enough to calm down the markets.

Finally, rates are in negative figures. The world turns upside down. Creditors have to pay debtors. German 10-year-bund has negative interests and Euribor is negative since 2014. The extreme would be that banks, pressured under the current situation, asked customers for fees or interests for their fixed-term deposits. Central banks intervention is creating a weird situation in which there are no rational behaviours in markets. Another sign is that wealth managers are holding more cash than ever since 2001 in their portfolios.

The Brexit poll, the uncertain US presidential election, China’s deceleration, the absence of strength in the European recovery… too many uncertainties. Investors are always frightened and money looks for security. Gold, oil and rates are indicators that markets are not working. What will be the solution? Will the markets recover their proper operation when central banks end the intervention? But when will they end it? Uncertain questions for an uncertain world.

Q1 confirms that instability is the rule in the markets

The closing of the Q1 in the markets confirms that this will be a complicated year for equities. The Great Crisis that the world lived since 2007-2008 is not ended at all, as there are some points of instability. Some of them are related to international politics: the shadow of terrorism, the wars in Middle East, the fight in the European Union and the US elections are some points to watch that affect the market evolution. However, there are also financial and economic troubles to solve: the ECB policies show that they are not enough to stabilise the European credit flows and return to some inflation, while the Federal Reserve stays cautious in the next steps to follow in its monetary policy. No one wants to be blamed of being a cause of a second big recession.

The T-Advisor charts show these statements. As we can see in the both charts below, comparing the general trend in global regions, there has been a positive evolution between the beginning of the year (above) and the end of the Q1 (below), but very slight apart from the Latam region:

T-Advisor global trends in January, 1st, 2016

T-Advisor global trends on April, 1st, 2016

If we check the evolution in each region, we can perceive much better the specific changes:

EUROPE

European stock exchanges evolution in Q1 2016

Besides the traditional parallel evolution amongst the European markets, it is also to underline that no main stock exchange registered positive returns YTD. The recovery from February was stopped by the instability created by the possibility of a Brexit (an independence of UK from the EU) and the terrorist attacks in Brussels, in the heart of the capital city of the European institutions. The ECB has also lots of troubles to make efficient their decisions, because its expansive policy has still no positive effects in the real economy to consolidate the general recovery.

AMERICAS

American stock exchanges evolution in Q1 2016

The trend is positive since the second half of January, but S&P Index was finally positive YTD in the last weeks of the Q1. The uncertainties related to the US election (no candidate is clearly heading the primary elections) and economic evolution make investors cautious. However, the announcement of the Fed about a delay in the next rate hikes was welcomed and consolidated the slight bullish trend.

The market behaviour was better in the emerging countries, although some evolutions are very linked to national decisions. For instance, the evolution of Argentinian Merval in March was erratic because of the agreement with the creditor funds, which was not totally assessed as positive by investors. In the case of Brazil, the cases of corruption in the Government have determined the ups and downs in Bovespa.

ASIA

Asian stock exchanges evolution in Q1 2016

The biggest markets (Shanghai and Tokyo) are really bearish and sum a very negative YTD return in this Q1. In China, the bubble broken last summer produced a hard landing in which the market is still moving. The trend is erratic or, better said, there is no trend. In Japan, there are worries about the global evolution, because the country has a great support from its exports. The doubts about the economy, underlined by the low oil price, and the instability of the exchange rate with the dollar are two hard reasons to be wary.

What can we expect in the Q2? We do not like to make any prediction or copy what others expect, but we prefer to alert about some relevant issues:

  • Look at the oil price: it is linked with the global activity.
  • Follow the Fed and ECB decisions: the Fed is progressively hawkish and the ECB should be more dovish to push the credit flow and inflation in the Eurozone.
  • Watch the Q1 profits of the companies, because they provide a guide about the economic activity.
  • Be wary about emerging markets: the dollar evolution (if the Fed hike the rates) can be negative for them.

United Kingdom: in the crossroads about the EU

United Kingdom has opened widely its economy since the beginning of the conservative governments in the 80s to become a service and financial country. Canary Wharf shows daily the strength of the financial services and also the crossroads in which the country lives its relationship with the European Union. Banks prefer to stay, but some part of the population does not find the advantages of being there. That’s why Prime Minister David Cameron promised to organize a referendum about this subject.

The political development has been surprising in the recent years: the first coalition government since the WWII, the creation of a far right party (UKIP) with relevant support in an always politically not radical country, the Scottish referendum about its independence from the Kingdom. Now, tories obtained recently the majority to govern alone, the UKIP lost quite a lot support and Scottish nationalists have seen how their wish to be independent disappeared with their surrender in the referendum, although they keep the strength as a party in Scotland.

New Cameron’s cabinet will pass a budget with cuts on the spending side, aligned with the traditional conservative policy. UK emerged strongly from the economic crisis: there has been a hard correction in the housing market, the unemployment is very low (around 5%) and the economic outlook for this and next year proposes a GDP growth higher than 2%. Interest rates will remain low, as the Bank of England promoted exceptional monetary policies as other central banks in the world. A rate hike is only probable from 2017.

What was the stock market evolution in the last five years? Volatility was high, but the evolution was very positive between May 2012 and May 2013. Then the FTSE 100, the main index, has moved between the 6.500 and 7.000 points.

5-year chart of FTSE 100

If we consider the evolution of the returns since 2010, the T-Advisor chart is as follows:

5-year return in FTSE 100

What are the companies with higher 1-year returns in the London Stock Exchange? This is the selection of the ones with returns over 100%. All are related to the services sector: tourism, replacement vehicles, gifts, pharma, distribution and restaurants.

6 best companies in London Stock Exchange

On the other side, the main losers are mainly energy and industrial companies. The companies with 1-year loses over 70% are an investment company, a pub chain, a mobile banking service and three companies linked to energy and mining:

6 worst companies in London Stock Exchange

UK is a country with a strong development in financial economy and that’s why there are several investment opportunities in the stock exchange. T-Advisor has a steady model portfolios with British assets rebalanced every second month. The portfolio has always had strong figures, as we show below:

United Kingdom model portfolio in T-Advisor

UK is a country with lots of opportunities for investors. They have a developed financial branch and markets and the economic environment is positive for this business. The only shadow is the evolution of the relationship with the EU, as it is its main market. A “Brexit” is not very probable, but it can bring uncertainties in the next months… and uncertainties are not very welcome for money.