Tag Archives: ECB

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 We do not publish forecast, but we can speak about trends.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.

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.

Why central banks are relevant for you, investor?

When you read the newspaper, you find always news about the Fed, the ECB, the BoE or the BoJ. These are the initials of the most important central banks: the Federal Reserve in US, the European Central Bank for the euro-countries, the Bank of England in Great Britain and the Bank of Japan. This year, another bank has emerged because of the influence of its decisions in the global economy: the People’s Bank of China.

What are these banks? They are not commercial banks, but they have relevant tasks for the economies. The origin of each is different: for instance, the Fed was created before de WWI after a deep banking crisis; the ECB is the result of an agreement amongst the countries which use the euro as a currency…

What are the main tasks? Well, central banks have the monopoly of printing money. Due to this responsibility, they control the monetary policy through the main instrument: the interest rate. This regulates the amount of money in the system. They are also lenders of last resort for commercial banks. Of course, the tasks can be wider depending the country. For instance, if the currency is pegged to another, they decide also the exchange rate.

Why do they have such influence? Governments delegate the monetary policy in these institutions. They usually have the mandate of controlling the inflation. This is the main role for the ECB in Europe. The mandate of the Fed, on the contrary, is double, because it has to take into account not only the inflation, but also the economic growth. Decisions have to be taken in order to achieve both.

As an investor, why are they relevant for me? You surely have heard the news in August about the drop of the stock exchanges. The origin was in the sudden decisions of the People’s Bank of China, which devaluated the yuan three times in three days. The worldwide effects can be perceived in this chart:

T-Advisor chart with the impact of the devaluation of the yuan in the stock exchanges last August

This is not the only example. The exchanges follow continuously the steps of these banks, as the interest rate has a relevant influence in the evolution of the economy or the companies. For instance, it is expected that the Fed tightens this year its monetary policy increasing the interest rate. The debate has been continuous since the last year and keeps on. As a result, the S&P was quite unstable in the last 12 months. It is relevant the drop before Christmas, when the Fed met for last time in 2014:

S&P evolution in the last year

The relevance of the Fed is also huge in the commodity markets, as they are nominated in dollars. In the case of the ECB, it has built an own vocabulary. It was famous with the former president Jean-Claude Trichet that the increase of the rates was announced two months before saying that the institution was “vigilant” with the price evolution and a month before saying “very vigilant”. The bank prefers to be foreseeable in order to avoid sudden market movements. Current chairman Mario Draghi was also famous, because his words defending the euro stopped the instability over this currency in 2012.

In any case, you, as an investor, should watch what the central banks say. If you are a trader, follow every word. If you are a long-term investor, take care of the statements to rebalance your portfolio in certain moments.

Global market trends: markets in January

This year has begun with the markets playing hard rock. The list of figures and events is long and all of them have effects on the markets. Obama declared the end of the crisis, radical left won in Greece, ECB began the European QE, China grew at the lower pace since 1990… Impossible to miss!

First of all, it is necessary to take into account a point in macroeconomics. IMF reduced its world growth outlook for 2015 last month. Amongst the risks, it is found the cheaper oil prices. Why? Yes, it pushes consumption and reduces industrial costs, but it can feed the deflationary trend. Deflation is very risky, as people tend to postpone investments’ and purchases’ decisions. Current price is around $50, but the pressure from Arabian producers could push it to a lower bar.

Global market trends in January in T-Advisor

Several experts have already warned that 2015 would be an unstable year for economics. However, US President Obama said in his State of Union address to the Congress that the economic crisis was over. American economy has experienced a recovery, but Federal Reserve is still reluctant to increase rates, as it does not perceive inflation risk. Although observers tend to think that the American central bank will hike rates in summer, it is still soon to have a clear perspective about that decision with the current instability.

US global trend in T-Advisor

In Europe, the ECB did finally what many economists recommended some months, even years, ago: an expansive monetary policy printing money. The European QE will expand ECB balance in €1 trillion, but effects will take at least six months. In any case, markets make their own party, till Greeks voted the radical left party Syriza in the last election. New Greek prime minister declared his intention to negotiate the country debt, but European partners do not agree. Markets have suffered abrupt ups and downs. Another point of instability was the Swiss National Bank decision to unpeg its currency from euro, which was not expected by investors.

Europe global trend in T-Advisor

Latin America is still the weakest world region. As the IMF comments, these countries are very dependent from oil and commodities. The current negative price trend for these products is punishing the market evaluation about the region.

Latin America global trend in T-Advisor

In Asia, China registered the lowest growth (“just” 7.4%) since 1990, which can show some weaknesses in its develop. These figures have partially stopped the soared trend since People’s Bank of China reduced its rates in November. In Japan, recent election victory by prime minister Abe guarantees that his expansive economic decisions will continue, but it is to see if they have effects after 25 years of weakness.

Asia global trend in T-Advisor

 

Global market trends: markets in September

If we talked last month about the effects of the crisis in Ukraine in summer, we have to talk now about more political instability in September. The war in the Middle East promoted by the group ISIS and the referendum in Scotland were to main issues (of course, not linked at all) that move the markets.

Middle East is a steady trouble hotspot. The never closed war in Irak has become more dangerous as the ISIS jihadist group has under its control a big part of the country as some part of Syria. Western countries have organized a coalition to fight it. Markets are always very frightened of this kind of crisis. On the other hand, the Scottish referendum for the independence opened an unexpected crisis as some surveys published that a majority would vote for the separation from Great Britain. At the end, calm went back to markets when the NO option won.

Global market trends in T-Advisor

In US there are many comments about the next trend in the exchanges. The rally in August, brought S&P500 to its historical peak over 2.000 points two weeks ago (Alibaba IPO helps a bit), but some investors and experts think that the next movements will be negative. In any case, our trend shows a retrace.

US market trend in T-Advisor

In Europe, Mr. Draghi has the power. ECB today’s meeting will reveal the following steps in the monetary policy management, but it seems that the ECB Chairman is determined to act with expansive monetary decisions. Germany is behind trying to avoid such idea, after the next year budget of the first European economy shows that no “bunds” will be issued in 2015. However, ECB September meeting has had an effect in currencies: euro is in the lowest point versus dollar since August 2012.

Europe market trend in T-Advisor

Recession was awful news for Brazil, as it was commented last month. Not only because of the negative effects, but due to the Moody’s reaction: a cut in the outlook from stable to negative. On Sunday, presidential election will take place in the biggest South American economy and the result is still open: current President Rousseff of candidate Silva?

Latam market trend in T-Advisor

In Asia, doubts increase with the recent decision made by Japanese Premier Abe to increase taxes, putting at risk his expansive programme to push up the economy. On the other side, new figures alert investors about the economic development in China.

Asia market trend in T-Advisor

Global market trends: markets in summer

Summer is usually a term quite unstable for the markets. August is a month with higher volatility as capital flows diminish and movements show bigger than they really are. This summer, markets experienced a sudden fear not related to economic or financial reasons, but political ones: the Ukraine crisis. Investors were always with an eye on this country, which is living a civil war. Behind of this war, there is a hidden power fight between Western countries and Russia, as a new edition of the old Cold War. When such kind of political tension exists, money flees. The war still exists and is far to be solved, but it seems that the market worries changed in the last weeks to other motivations: Central Banks.

Global market trends in august in T-Advisor

The World Central Banks meeting in Jackson Hole, US, some days ago, showed the different strategies that are being discussed by the monetary policy managers in their influence areas. Analysts and investors are almost sure that a rate hike will be sooner than later in the main world economy, but Mrs. Yellen is still reluctant while unemployment does not strengthen its downwards slope.

US market trend in August in T-Advisor

In Europe, on the contrary, markets are very sensible to every word that Mr. Draghi says, because it is to expect that new expansive monetary decisions will be taken. For today’s ECB meeting, analysts opt for some explanations instead of new decisions, as more details about TLTRO (a system to lend huge money amounts to banks). ECB Chairman announced in Jackson Hole that the institution is ready to act. Meanwhile, main European countries inflation and GDP figures were quite bad. This is considered as a pressure for the ECB to decide new measures.

Europe market trend in August in T-Advisor

LatAm countries are under the shadow of two crises: the eternal Argentinian debt troubles and the recession in Brazil. In the case of Brazil, analysts comment that this decrease in the GDP has to do with the post Football Worldcup effect. In any case, low prices are still attractive for investors in this area.

LatAm market trend in August in T-Advisor

In Asia, worries increase around China, as the recovery momentum slowed and opened doubts about the strength of the upward movement. However, T-Advisor global trend tool shows that the second world economy markets are sounder that some months ago, when the trend was deeply bearish.

Asia market trend in August in T-Advisor

World global market trends in May

Markets improved slightly their bullish trend, always with very low ratios, as there are still doubts amongst the investors about the strength of the economic recovery, mainly in US. There is also another ingredient in this financial mixture: US markets are touching their highest levels and many analysts are wondering when the correction will come.

Global market trends in T-Advisor

US market trend in T-Advisor

But the eyes are on Europe. ECB meets tomorrow to take possibly historical decisions in its monetary policy. Low inflation figures are warning European authorities about the risk of deflation. One of the main points is the exchange rate with other currencies. Europe is importing deflation with the high rate against dollar and others and exporters are suffering to sell abroad, apart from the deeper trouble: the credit restrictions. These problems have effects in the economic development and employment perspectives. The fear is that the ECB will not be tomorrow brave enough and disappoints the markets, which are really expecting many measures, not only a rate cut.

Europe market trend in T-Advisor

The bullish trend improved also slightly in Asia. The main news was the election of the conservative Narendra Modi in India as prime minister. Markets have high expectations about him and Indian market experienced a strong bullish trend this month, so T-Advisor figures. The results of the election in Indonesia were also positively welcomed by the investors. However, Japan and China carried on their weak market trend.

Asia market trend in T-Advisor

Finally, LatAm showed the best trend in world markets pushing by Argentina. Its government announced an agreement with its lenders to pay the debt. Argentina was the instability focus in the lasts years in the continent and the deal about the debt opens new expectations for investors. On the other side, Brazil remains quite weak.

LatAm market trend in T-Advisor

Markets deal with several risks in the short-term

The current world situation has some points of instability for the markets. Last year, the earnings were quite high after the financial crisis years, but 2014 began with a more complex landscape, mainly in the emerging markets, as we have written before in this blog.

Risks: Global trends in markets by T-Advisor

As we see in the chart above, the main trend is still bearish for all the markets. What is happening? The first problem has to do with central banks. Janet Yellen, new chairwoman in the US Federal Reserve, seems to be “dovish” as she prefers to delay somehow the taper of the quantitative easing or, at least, wait more for an increase of the interest rates (announced for 2015), not linked to a concrete unemployment rate. Is it good? Not necessary, if the Fed mentions in today’s and tomorrow’s meeting that the US economic recovery is slower than expected.

On the other side of the Atlantic, ECB chairman Mario Draghi announced surprisingly in last press conference that the institution will not take any decision in the monetary policy although the credit flows are still low, there are downside risks for inflation and the exchange rate euro-dollar is touching the psychological 1.40 $ border. This exchange rate is risky for European exports and has influence in the decrease of the inflation, as import prices pressure to lower prices. An outlook of lower prices is critical, because it delays consumers and investors decisions to buy.

In the Asian front, China worries the markets, as there are some dangerous signs related to the financial and the export sector, amongst others. But the markets follow carefully the developments in Ukraine. Recent political events in Crimea increased concerns for the effects of the economic sanctions imposed to Russia by the EU and US, apart from the risk of a conflict on the land.

Next weeks will be decisive to watch the evolution of the markets: will instability be part of 2014? Or are all of these risks just an exception in a possible upward trend?

Instability dominates emerging markets

Monetary policies in some countries experience a deep change after some years of relax due to the financial and economic crisis. US Federal Reserve is the machine in this movement. The announcement in December that the central bank reduced its debt purchases (broadly known as Quantitative Easing), originally focused to avoid deflation and promote an economic improvement, provoked an earthquake in the emerging markets. Why? Well, there were already signs in August, but these countries are now less attractive as the US bond rate outlook tends to increase.

Emerging markets benefit these years from capital flows from developed countries. Low interest rates and economic crisis in US, Europe and Japan put them in the investors’ focus. But the QE tapering continued in last week’s Federal Reserve meeting activated the alarms. The IMF alerted about a possible turmoil in developing countries, but it was too late: India, Brazil, South Africa and Turkey increased their interest rates to protect their currencies and keep the attractiveness for investors. In the particular case of Turkey, the central bank doubled the rates. However, volatility exploded and bears dominated markets. The following chart, extracted from T-Advisor, showed the five worst markets last week:

Emerging markets: Worst markets last week January 2014

But the effects multiplied and affected the whole world, as we can see in this chart from T-Advisor:

World markets last week January 2014

Possibly, the 1997-98 crisis will not repeat, as emerging markets have other strengths, but instability will be the next months’ market behaviour.

US Federal Reserve will tend surely to continue its tapering in a slow pace, but markets take into account that this year will be the last one with quantitative easing. Dollar will tend to be stronger and US bond will tend to increase. At the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, the ECB will tend to keep a flexible monetary policy, as Mr. Draghi observes some deflation risks. The open question is if the European Central Bank will act surprisingly as it did in November with an unexpected rate cut.

These changes in the world capital flows will have a deep impact in emerging markets. Investors should look for the best information to react immediately and avoid possible losses in their portfolios.

European banks: new landscape after the crisis

European banks: Image of the euro symbol in front of the seal of the ECB

European banking sector changed deeply in the last years as a result of the long crisis since 2007. The branch experienced a lot of different events, such direct recapitalizations and nationalisations. Nobody could have bet for it before 2007, but the banking landscape in Europe is quite different.

ECB figures show this dramatic change. From 2008 to 2012, almost 600 banking institutions disappeared and assets dropped 12%. The peak of the restructuration process took place in 2009. Mergers and resolutions finished, for instance, the savings’ bank sector, which had 50% of the market in Spain.

It seems that it happened long time before, but we should not forget the nationalisations of ING in Holland or Hypo Real Estate in Germany happened three or four years ago, just to point two cases in which countries were not intervened by the troika. In the bail-out side, Spain needed €40 bn to recapitalized four banks, amongst them Bankia. Now, Spain and Ireland seem to be at the end of the bailout programme.

European banks have to deal now with new regulations. Not only Basel III capital requirements will influence in the balances and future bank investments, but also the next European single supervisor. ECB is going to repeat the stress tests for the banking sector and, although there is more confidence than before, some investors still have some doubts about the capital strength of the branch.

One of the most important trends in the European banking sector is the concentration. Following the ECB, big banks have a bigger market share, amongst them in Germany, Italy and Spain. European bank ranking by assets shows that UK, Germany and France are at the top.

The question now is the real strength of European banks. Are they a good business in the stock markets? As the European Banking Authority stated, there is still uncertainty about the quality of banks’ assets and valuation, because of the loans lent to companies and building sector. It is just a question of time to discover the real truth for investors.