Wednesday 4th May 2016
NEWS TICKER: MARKET ROUNDUP —Markets tanked today (almost everywhere bar the PRC) as economic data from China and an 18% lunge in profits at HSBC sapped market confidence. The bank reported an adjusted profit before tax of $5.4bn for the first quarter, down 18% on the same period last year. Citing challenging market conditions, the bank reported first quarter(Q1) pretax profit before adjustments of $6.1bn, down from $7.1bn in the first three months of 2015 but beating analysts’ forecasts of a pretax profit of $4.3bn, according to Reuters. In Hong Kong this morning the bank’s shares were up on the news, as expectations had been for much worse. Earnings per share came in at 20 cents, down from 26 cents per share in the same period last year. HSBC held its first-quarter dividend in line at 10 cents per share. In London HSBC fell 3.5p to 449p as the bank said it put in a "resilient" performance in difficult market conditions, with the entire investment banking sector suffering after stock markets tumbled at the start of 2016 amid an oil price rout. However, as we reported earlier today indexes across Europe paid the price of lower than expected manufacturing data from the Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' index (PMI), rather than Chinese bourses. The DAX fell 1.5% lower and the CAC40 dropped 1.1%. Commodity stocks were also on the back foot despite the price of oil rising 0.4% to 45.99 US dollars a barrel. Glencore ended the day down 7.5p to 155.5p, Rio Tinto fell 96.5p to 2205p and BHP Billiton slipped 34.8p to 897.4p – AQUISITION—M&A maven Cavendish Corporate Finance has advised bfinance on the investment in the company by private equity funds managed by Baird Capital. Current bfinance CEO David Vafai will continue to lead the consultancy in this next, exciting phase of its growth. He will be joined on the board by Andrew Ferguson, managing director at Baird Capital, and CFO Mark Brownlie, as directors. Also joining the board as chairman is Tim Trotter, who founded public relations group Ludgate, co-founded Citywire, the information service for the global fund management industry and is a non-executive chairman at a number of financial services and asset management related blue-chip companies. The deal with Baird follows a strong period of successes for bfinance. Recent high-profile mandates for bfinance include advising on a $1bn alternative beta strategy programme for a U.S. corporate pension plan, a USD 1.2bn private equity search for Swedish State pension fund AP7, and multiple searches across asset classes on behalf of Australian superannuation funds. The deal marks a strong start to the year for Cavendish. It follows shortly after the sale of Periproducts to Venture Life Plc, the sale of Gloucester Rugby club to new owner Martin St Quinton, the sale of B2B creative marketing agency Twogether to Next 15 Plc and the debt raise for Pets Corner following a highly successful 2015 during which the company completed over 20 deals –AIIB/ADB— In a shift in strategy the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has signed a financing memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Asian Development Bank, the second partnership signed in the space of a few month by the challenger development bank. AIIB, set up to counter the ‘hegemony’ of Western dominated aid institutions, has been struggling to dispel its image as a rival to existing NGOs. The bank secured a similar arrangement with the World Bank during the International Monetary Fund-World Bank spring meetings in Washington last month. This MoU sets the stage for the banks to share funding costs for projects. The ADB said it is already in talks with the AIIB around ventures in the road and water sectors, the first of which is expected to be a 64-kilometre highway connecting two cities in Pakistan’s Punjab Province. - ASIAN TRADING SESSION - The Nikkei and Topix indexes took the brunt of risk off sentiment today as investors gave a distinct thumb down to last week’s decision by the Bank of Japan not to cut rates further. The Nikkei225 fell 7.41%, while the Topix went down 7.25% in a somewhat bloody trading session. Continuing with the pattern set down for most of this year, the yen by contrast continues to appreciate, touching at one point 105.81 again the dollar, the yen’s highest point for almost two years. The Bank of Japan in response rattled a few sabres, threatening to intervene should the yen appreciate further; but investors continued to test the yen’s upper limit. Yann Quelenn, market analyst at Swissquote noted this morning: “The yen has climbed 13% against the dollar since the start of the year and there a strong support lies at 105.23, which is now clearly on target.” The other story in the Asian session was the surprise move by the Reserve Bank of Australia to cut The Reserve Bank of Australia on Tuesday cut the cash rate to a record low of 1.75 per cent in a bid to head off falling prices and an economic downturn. Market commentators now expect a second cut before the end of the year, although some say the June quarter inflation figure, out in August, will determine the RBA's next move. The latest cut puts Australia firmly into the group of countries with an ultra-loose monetary programme, or should that be a noose around falling interest rates and bond yields. Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens said the decision was based on last week's surprisingly weak inflation figures. "Inflation has been quite low for some time and recent data were unexpectedly low," he said in a statement. The AUDUSD fell to 0.7572 from 0.7720 on the news, though the ASX All Ordinaries rose 1.94% on the day, with the S&P/ASX100 rising 2.24%. The index is now up 6.8% on the month, though up only 1.32% over the year. Aside from China and Australian indexes, boards across the region ran red for most of the session. The S&P BSE Senses was down 1.75%. The Kospi100 was also off by 1.50%, while in Singapore the Straits Times took a beating, losing 4.39% today, bringing it down 0.26% over the month and down 2.58% over the year. The Hang Seng also had a tough day, falling 3.68% today, though it is up by 0.87% over the month and down 5.65% over the year. In China, the Shanghai Composite was up 1.13% in trading today, though it is still down 0.56% over the month and down 15.44% over the year. The Shenzhen Composite had a better day, up 3.29%, and is up 1.45% over the month, but still down 16.45% on an annualised basis. The upbeat market sentiment was interesting, given that the Caixin Manufacturing PMI weakened to 49.4 in May from 49.7 in April, softer than market expectations and marking a 14th month of contraction; data that usually would have sent investors to the hills. Go figure. The data indicated that softness in labour markets and exports continue. Meantime, the central bank set the USDCNY mid-point at 6.4565. There is still mixed data emanating from China. Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s latest China: An Equity Strategist’s Diary research report highlights the nugget that YTD 241 non-government bond issuances have been cancelled or postponed, 120 of which were deferred in April, compared with 315 across the whole of last year. Some 709 bonds worth a total of RMB1.04trn came to market in last month (an 85% success rate). However, says the bank, if the bond market corrects sharply, sectors that rely most on the credit markets to support their day-to-day activities (including developers, banks, brokers, industrials and utilities) could suffer disproportionately as their reliance on credit has grown significantly during the past six months. Among the 120 bond issues affected in April, 70% were from industrials (50 bonds), financials (18) and materials (17). The bank also says a perceived implicit government guarantee on bonds and other moral hazards in the shadow banking sector, including wealth management products, is largely behind the mispricing in corporate credit. With the country’s overall default risk perceived to be low, bonds have become a cheap source of long-term financing for corporations compared to other traditional credit products. At the end of April, an AA+ rated five-year bond yielded 4.3% while the benchmark rate for a one-year to five-year loan was 4.75%. A five-year AA- rated bond offered 6.6%. The overnight repo rate annualised was 2%; seven-day repo, 2.5%; six-month discounted bill, 3%; and the one-year benchmark loan rate came in at 4.35%. Alternative sources of finance cost between 12% and 15% for P2P; 8% for a two-year trust; 19% for private lending in Wenzhou; and 18% to 20% for offline wealth management companies. BAML says a sharp uptick in the number of corporate defaults, coupled with the increasing number of cancelled or postponed bond issuances, shows that the market is starting to reprice risk although this process could last until the end this year. The peak maturing period is April/May with between RMB80bn and RMB790bn of bonds maturing over the period. From June onwards maturities fall to around RMB600bn a month for the rest of the year—SAUDI ARABIA—In another move to liberalise the Saudi Arabian capital markets, the Capital Market Authority (CMA) has approved a request by the Saudi bourse to relax settlement cycles for investors, making the country’s inclusion in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index more likely from next year. It has also announced an overhaul of foreign ownership regulations for listed companies, as it seeks to encourage participation by international institutional investors in a wide ranging programme of privatisations. The CMA announced today that it was widening the definition of Qualified Financial Investors (QFI) to include financial institutions such as sovereign wealth funds and university endowments as well as banks. The regulator says the minimum value of assets under management for QFIs will be reduced to SAR3.75bn (about $700m), compared with the current level of SAR18.75bn ($3.5bn). From the end of June 2017, QFIs will be able to own up to 49% of a company’s capital, “unless company’s bylaws or any other regulation provides for foreign ownership to be limited to a lower percentage". Individual QFIs will be able to own up to 10% of a company’s share capital, compared with the current level of 5%. Foreign investment is now an important element in the government’s wide-ranging economic diversification program, which will also involve partial privatisation of some of the country’s key state owned firms. Over the last few weeks Saudi has signalled its intention to list a 5% stake in Saudi Aramco, a move that could raise in excess of $100bn. The opening of the Saudi stock exchange, the GCC’s largest, to QFIs in June of last year was hailed as a milestone at the time, but has so far failed to attract large scale foreign investment into Saudi equities. Licensed QFIs to date include Blackrock, Ashmore Group, Citigroup and HSBC. However, up to now the firms, in combination own less than 0.1% of the Tawadul’s market capitalisation—STOCK EXCHANGE NEWS—Börse Stuttgart reports turnover in excess of €6.7bn in April 2016. The trading volume was almost on a par with the previous month. Securitised derivatives accounted for the largest share of the turnover. The trading volume in this asset class was more than €2.7bn. Leverage products contributed more than €1.4bn to the total turnover, while the trading volume of investment products was more than €1.2bn. At more than €1.4bn, turnover from equity trading at Börse Stuttgart was around 9% higher than in the previous month. German equities accounted for more than €1.1bn of the total turnover – an increase of more than 7% in comparison with March - while international equities contributed about €299m. Trading in debt instruments generated turnover of around €1.6bn in April, with trading volumes almost as high as in the previous month. Corporate bonds accounted for the largest share of the turnover, with approximately €918m.The order book turnover in exchange-traded products (ETPs) was more than €916m in April. Trading in investment fund units generated turnover of €8m —ASSET MANAGEMENT —Aberdeen Asset Management says pre-tax profits have fallen to £98.8m in the six months to March 31st, down from £185.4m over the same period a year earlier after investors have backed off from emerging markets. The asset management has been affected by changes in end investor asset allocation choices as fund outflows over the period amounted to £38.2bn (£16.7bn on a net basis says the asset management maven); however, the pace of outflows has slowed, compared with the previous six months, when investors withdrew £41.7bn (£22.6bn in net basis). Aberdeen has £292.8bn worth of assets under management, down from £330.6bn a year ago, although it marked an improvement on the £283.7bn at its financial year-end. Despite the challenges, Aberdeen has been active in turning around its fortunes, promising to cut annual costs by £70m by 2017 and has diversified its business proposition by a series of acquisitions, including the takeover of hedge-fund manager Arden, risk-graded portfolio provider Parmenion, and fund-of-funds investment manager—CORPORATE NEWS—Advance Utilico Emerging Markets Ltd says it has has extended its £50m senior secured multi-currency revolving credit facility with Scotiabank for a further two years to April 2018. Shares in Utilico are down 0.1% to 176.75 pence—SPANISH ELECTIONS – Looks like Spain is heading for another hung government. News agency The Spain Report says the latest poll of polls data from Electograph shows only minor changes compared to the results of the last general election on December 20th last year. The order of the parties remains the same: PP, PSOE, Podemos, Ciudadanos and United Left. No party is currently forecast to be close to an overall majority, of 176 out of 350 seats in Congress. Over the past four months, polls have at times suggested a slight shift towards a right-wing PP-Ciudadanos coalition and, in the latest round, the possibility that a joint Podemos-United Left electoral list might overtake the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) as the reference for the Spanish left, says the news agency—POLITICAL RISK—maven Red24 advises professionals to avoid visiting Kabul. The firm reports that yesterday, the US Embassy, issued a statement warning of an increased threat of attacks in the Taleban’s spring offensive (Operation Omari) against Afghanistan's government and its Western-backed allies, including the US, on April 12th. Crowded public areas, police and military interests, foreign embassies, foreign guest houses, hotels and government buildings/sites have been listed as probable targets; no information was provided regarding the timing of any planned attacks. Red24 says Taleban attacks in Afghanistan generally increase during the spring and summer months, which generally extend until September, when warmer weather allows militants greater access through usually snowed-in mountain passes from their traditional strongholds along the mountainous Afghanistan-Pakistan border. “Given the extreme and ongoing threat of terrorism in Afghanistan, such warnings by government authorities are taken seriously and regularly result in additional security force deployments. The warning is particularly pertinent given the attacks carried out in the capital on 19 April, following the launch of the offensive, in which at least 24 people were killed as a result of a car bomb attack, in the vicinity of several government ministries and the US Embassy in the Pul-e-Mahmood Khan and Shahr-E-Naw areas. Further incidents are expected to persist,” says the firm in an alert issued today.

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    Northern Trust announced today the successful closing of its acquisition of Aviate Global LLP, an institutional equity brokerage firm offering market research and execution services. Aviate’s global presence will strengthen Northern Trust’s ability to deliver sophisticated trading solutions to meet the investment servicing and transition management needs of clients worldwide. The acquisition provides a local trading and servicing presence in Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific, deeper global equity expertise and distinctive research offerings. Read more...
  • Tuesday, 03 May 2016 BNP Paribas reports organic capital generation in a challenging environment
    BNP Paribas has reported this quarter good revenues resilience despite a particularly unfavourable environment: interest rates still low, stock market crisis, wait-and-see attitude by debt investors. Revenues totalled €10,844m, down by 2.0% compared to the first quarter (Q1) 2015. They included the one-off impact of €365m euros Own Credit Adjustment (OCA) and own credit risk included in derivatives (DVA) (€37m in Q1 last year). Read more...
  • Tuesday, 03 May 2016 KfW-IPEX reports on a banner year as operating income before tax touches €274m
    Following the publication yesterday of KfW's 2015 Annual Report, KfW IPEX-Bank GmbH, which is responsible for Germany’s export and project finance business sector, has reported on its international business. In 2015, the development bank's wholly-owned subsidiary achieved its best ever result since it was hived off from KfW in 2008. The volume of new commitments came to €20.2bn last year in what it describes as a banner year. Read more...
  • Tuesday, 03 May 2016 Stress in commodities sectors pushes 2015 default to highest level for seven years
    Standard & Poor’s says that as oil prices have continued to slide, and volatility in emerging market financial sectors has picked up, and the the stress felt in the commodities sectors has pushed the corporate default count for 2015 up to 113--the first time an annual total has exceeded 100 since 2009, according to its annual global defaults report published today by S&P Global Fixed Income Research. The study includes industrials, utilities, financial institutions and insurance companies around the world with long-term local-currency ratings. These 113 defaulted issuers accounted for a total of $110.3bn in debt, up from $91.6bn in 2014, though a proportionately much smaller amount on average considering the number of defaults. Read more...
  • Tuesday, 03 May 2016 Fears of deflation compels RBA to cuts rates as government announces pre-election budget
    In an unexpected move, at its meeting today, the board of the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) decided to lower the cash rate by 25 basis points (bps) to 1.75%, effective tomorrow (May 4th). In a short statement from RBA governor Glenn Stevens today, he noted inflationary pressures are lower than expected; in other words, loosening of monetary policy is taking place against a background of feared deflation. Markets were taken by surprise on a day when the coalition government announces its third and final budget prior to elections scheduled for July 2nd this year. Read more...
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  • Friday, 29 April 2016 CMDportal launches global platform for $4.8trn private placement bond market.
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  • Friday, 29 April 2016 Global corporate default tally climbs to 53 issuers YTD says S&P
    The global corporate default tally climbed to 53 issuers so far in 2016 with the addition of two defaulters this week--the highest tally of global defaults by this time in the year since 2009 during the financial crisis when we saw 67 defaults, said an article published today by Standard & Poor's Global Fixed Income Research. "So far in April, there were 16 global corporate defaults--the most in a single month since November 2009, which saw the same number of defaults," says Diane Vazza, head of Standard & Poor's Global Fixed Income Research. "While high, this total is still far below the record set in March 2002 of 47 defaults in a single calendar month. Of the 53 defaulters so far in 2016, the energy and natural resources industry accounts for roughly half the total, with 17 defaulters from the oil and gas sector and nine from the metals, mining, and steel sector." Read more...
  • Friday, 29 April 2016 Europe: IPO numbers and values fall, but M&A volume doubles in Q1 reports AFME
    Not a great quarter for equities trading and new issues, but M&A continues its upward trajectory suggests the latest quarterly market review from AFME. Equity underwriting in European exchanges accumulated in the first quarter (Q1) this year, a total of €20.8bn in proceeds, a decrease of 66.2% from the value originated in Q4 last year (€61.6bn), it reports. Equity underwriting encompasses IPOs, convertible securities and follow-on offerings. Meantime, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) totalled €158.3bn Q1, an increase of almost 100% from the value observed in 4Q 2015 (€79.2bn). Of this, the acquisition of BG Group plc by Royal Dutch Shell plc accounted for 38% of the total deal value during the quarter. Excluding this deal, the increase against 4Q 2015 stood at 23% quarter on quarter (QoQ). Read more...
  • Friday, 29 April 2016 Russia’s central bank steady on rates; benchmark still 11%
    Russia’s Board of Directors has kept interest rates steady at 11%, as some analysts had expected a drop to 10.50% to keep the ruble and exports competitive. The central bank, says it “sees the positive processes of inflation slowdown and inflation expectations decline, as well as shifts in the economy which anticipate the beginning of its recovery growth. At the same time, inflation risks remain elevated. These risks primarily stem from slowly declining inflation expectations against the target, uncertainty in parameters of the national budget, and ambiguity of the observed movements in nominal wages,” as important reasons for not moving on current policy. Read more...

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Key Stories from FTSE Global Markets

Set against a dynamic business backdrop in its own backyard, the European Energy Exchange (EEX) has adopted a confident and bold strategy to establish its global footprint within the exchange industry. Last year’s move into new commodity focused asset classes marks a new dimension in EEX’s growth and its continued transition from Europe’s leading energy exchange towards a global, multi-commodity exchange group. It has provided EEX and its parent company, Deutsche Börse Group, a growing competitive edge, given that it can also provide the vertical post trade support infrastructure required to back its expansion plans. Why has EEX been so successful in Europe, and how does that translate into its plans for global growth?

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Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Egypt opts for development funds

For the third time this year, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) has depreciated the Egyptian pound against the dollar in a foreign exchange auction in mid-October, taking the currency's decline for the year to 9.8%. The pound fell 1.3%(10 piasters) to 7.93 per dollar sell side and 7.88 buy side according to a report by the state-owned Middle East News Agency, which announced that the CBE offered $40m at a regular dollar sale to local lenders. Can the country pick its way out of the blues?

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The make-up of shareholders in Turkey’s banking segment has always been a touchstone of wider market change. The country has always been a swing market and the banking system has remained vulnerable, even with an improved capital base, as it has an ultra-high dependency on foreign funding of lending. That vulnerability has resulted in some significant changes in the investment in the country’s banking segment by foreign financial firms who have shown little stickiness in the country when the going gets tougher.

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Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Political uncertainty weighs on Turkey

A survey of 947 respondents in Turkey by Washington think tank PewCentre Research suggests Turks are dissatisfied with the direction of their country. Rising prices, crime and inequality are concerns. Moreover after years of quasi-Islamic rule that has been antipathetic to the military; survey respondents say the military is the only group with a “good influence on the country”. Opinions of the police, national government, religious leaders and the courts are mixed, while views of the media tilt to the negative. More pertinently perhaps, 52% of Turks think their children will be worse off financially in the future. The findings come as voters are scheduled to revisit national government elections on November 1st after the AKP party failed to form a coalition government in June. The upcoming elections will be closely watched, both as a bellwether of wider change in the eastern Mediterranean and as an indicator of the near term prospects for a lynchpin emerging market.

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In September, FTSE Group announced that Qatar will be upgraded from frontier to secondary emerging markets within the FTSE Global Equity Index Series in two equal tranches in September 2016 and March 2017, after the index provider confirmed that the country had now passed its key liquidity criteria for Secondary Emerging Market inclusion. Despite the plunge in oil prices, Qatar has held up relatively well in the current rout in emerging market stocks. Although with the exception of the FTSE upgrade, there remains a lack of immediate catalysts for Qatari stocks, even so Qatar maintains its edge as the government continues to spend freely, even as energy prices remain depressed. Does positive thinking about the kingdom’s prospects have legs?

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