Wednesday 26th November 2014
NEWS TICKER: TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 25TH 2015 - Morningstar has downgraded its Analyst rating for the Fidelity European Opportunities fund to Neutral. Jeremy Beckwith, director of manager research, Morningstar UK comments: “We have assigned the Fidelity European Opportunities fund a Morningstar Analyst Rating™ of Neutral. The fund had previously been placed Under Review following the fund’s management change announced in the summer. It was previously rated Silver. Alberto Chiandetti—who has gained most of his investment experience in the Italian market—took over from former manager Colin Stone on 1 October 2014. He is also responsible for two single-country strategies: Fidelity Italy since 2008, which has a Morningstar Analyst Rating of Silver, and Fidelity Switzerland since 2011, rated Neutral”. According to Beckwith: “This is Chiandetti’s first time running a European mandate and we expect to see him bring in relevant changes to the strategy. Over a full market cycle, he has proven able to execute his process well at the helm of Fidelity Italy; that said, his past results are not fully relevant for this product, given the differences in the investable universe and the opportunity set compared to the country funds. We have therefore assigned a Neutral rating to reflect the uncertainties surrounding the future of this strategy.” - Among the five China ETFs listed on Singapore Exchange (SGX), the three most active China ETFs in the 2014 year-to-date have been db x-trackers CSI 300 UCITS ETF, db x-trackers MSCI CHINA INDEX UCITS ETF, and United SSE50 China ETF. These first two are traded in US dollars, and the latter in Singapore dollars. These three China ETFs are synthetic ETFs that use derivative instruments such as swaps to track the reference index as compared to physical ETFs that hold the securities or assets of the reference index. These three ETFs generated an average 2014 year-to-date total return of 8.4% - The Straits Times Index (STI) ended +4.46 points higher or +0.13% to 3344.99, taking the year-to-date performance to +5.69%. The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index gained +0.21% while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index declined -0.47%. The top active stocks were SingTel (+0.26%), Olam Intl (-2.27%), DBS (+0.20%), ComfortDelGro (-2.71%) and CapitaLand (+0.30%). Outperforming sectors today were represented by the FTSE ST Technology Index (+1.14%). The two biggest stocks of the FTSE ST Technology Index are Silverlake Axis (+2.40%) and STATS ChipPAC (-1.11%). The underperforming sector was the FTSE ST Basic Materials Index, which declined -0.84% with Midas Holdings’ share price declining -1.70% and Geo Energy Resources’ share price unchanged. The three most active Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) by value today were the IS MSCI India (-0.77%), SPDR Gold Shares (+0.43%), STI ETF (unchanged). The three most active Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) by value were Suntec REIT (+1.58%), Ascendas REIT (+1.76%), CapitaMall Trust (+0.25%). The most active index warrants by value today were HSI23800MBeCW141230 (unchanged), HSI23600MBePW141230 (-3.23%), HSI24400MBeCW141230 (unchanged). The most active stock warrants by value today were DBS MB eCW150602 (-2.96%), OCBC Bk MBeCW150413 (+1.08%), UOB MB eCW150415 (+6.25%) - Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is providing financing under a Regional Public Goods Programme (RPG) that will be managed by Caribbean Export Development Agency in its capacity as the Secretariat for the Caribbean Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (CAIPA. The IDB has provided US$900.000 to CAIPA to support several initiatives geared towards increasing foreign direct investment (FDI) into the Caribbean and will be implemented over a two year period - Mexico has posted record FDI of $35.2bn inflow in 2013, nearly double the level seen in 2012, mainly due to Belgian brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev's acquisition of Mexican beer giant Grupo Modelo, which brought in over $13bn, according to figures released by the economy ministry - Eight Italian regions have hired banks to manage a round of bond buybacks for them, the treasury said on Tuesday, in a move aimed at giving indebted local administrations more time to repay their loans. Abruzzo, Campania, Lazio, Liguria, Lombardy, Marche, Piedmont and Puglia have hired Barclays, BNP Paribas, Citigroup and Deutsche Bank to manage any offers to buy back their bonds.

France’s industrial crisis: predictable and set to last

Friday, 03 August 2012 Written by 
France’s industrial crisis: predictable and set to last France’s industrial sector is in the midst of a steadily worsening crisis. There has been a decline in production, employment and productive investment, the external deficit remains significant, and export market shares are declining rapidly. We would argue that this situation was foreseeable, particularly if we add up issues with supply, domestic and external demand, and the impact of the eurozone crisis. Unfortunately, not a lot can be done about the weakness of demand, and the remedies to the supply problem are difficult to implement rapidly. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

France’s industrial sector is in the midst of a steadily worsening crisis. There has been a decline in production, employment and productive investment, the external deficit remains significant, and export market shares are declining rapidly.

We would argue that this situation was foreseeable, particularly if we add up issues with supply, domestic and external demand, and the impact of the eurozone crisis. Unfortunately, not a lot can be done about the weakness of demand, and the remedies to the supply problem are difficult to implement rapidly.

Let’s go through these issues, their causes and their implications.

Cause no. 1: The supply problem



Supply conditions for goods and services continue to deteriorate in France. The low profitability of companies discourages investment hence the production capacity of French industry is on the decline.

Since 2001, French industry sales prices have been falling relative to unit wage costs. Such falls reflect the excessive level of unit wage costs compared to the sophistication of industrial production in France. The downmarket nature of French industrial production prevents an increase in its selling prices, because of the high level of the price elasticity of demand for industrial products made in France: 0.9 versus 0.3 in Germany.

However, the rise in the unit wage cost – relative to selling prices – does not come as a result of the trend in productivity, but what has been happening to wages. This is because the level of costs is pushed up by the level of employers’ welfare contributions.

The subsequent fall in French industry’s profitability is substantial, reducing its capacity to invest and create jobs. This leads to the off-shoring of production capacity to countries where industrial profitability is higher, thereby weakening industry financially and threatening it with a serious crisis in the event of a recession and falling demand.

Cause no. 2: The demand problem

Between 2011 and 2012, French industry suffered from the weakness of both domestic and external demand. This resulted in a lower capacity utilisation rate than normal, which makes the problem of low profitability even more detrimental. And the decline in demand may deteriorate further if there is a fall in real wage incomes and government expenditure.

Cause no. 3: The euro-zone crisis

The eurozone crisis has two negative effects on French industry:

  1. it weakens demand and therefore imports in the eurozone countries that usually would have been France’s customers. This is significant because the eurozone accounts for 46% of French exports – the United Kingdom, which is also mired in a recession, accounts for 6%;
  2. it reduces domestic demand and capacity utilisation rates in Spain and Portugal and persuades industrial companies in these countries to turn to exports. As wage costs are lower in these countries, there is an increase in the competition that has a direct impact on French industry. France’s export market share tends to decline, whereas those of PortugalSpain and Ireland have recovered.

Remedies are very difficult to implement

Of the three issues mentioned, weakness of demand and the effects of the eurozone crisis cannot be controlled, particularly in a situation where there is private-sector deleveraging and a reduction in fiscal deficits. The question for French industry is therefore which remedies can be implemented on the supply side? We have put together the following list of possible measures:

 

  • an improvement in the sophistication of industrial production and in the differentiation of products, which will require innovation, investments, and marketing;
  • increased geographical diversification in companies' sales to increase the weight of emerging countries, which is currently quite low in France;
  • a major reform of the financing of social welfare in France to reduce the weight of welfare contributions paid by companies;
  • a fall in the hourly labour cost, either through a fall in the per capita wage, or through an increase in the number of hours worked (which is obviously a source of conflict).

 

However, these measures are all very difficult to implement rapidly.

It is also important to understand the major fragility of companies that are not very profitable (i.e. they have a shortfall in supply) when they are faced with a significant and lasting decline in demand.

Unfortunately, it looks as though this French industry crisis is not going to go away any time soon.

Patrick Artus

A graduate of Ecole Polytechnique, of Ecole Nationale de la Statistique et de l'Adminstration Economique and of Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris, Patrick Artus is today the Chief Economist at Natixis. He began his career in 1975 where his work included economic forecasting and modelisation. He then worked at the Economics Department of the OECD (1980), before becoming Head of Research at the ENSAE. Thereafter, Patrick taught seminars on research at Paris Dauphine (1982) and was Professor at a number of Universities (including Dauphine, ENSAE, Centre des Hautes Etudes de l'Armement, Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées and HEC Lausanne).

Patrick is now Professor of Economics at University Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne. He combines these responsibilities with his research work at Natixis. Patrick was awarded "Best Economist of the year 1996" by the "Nouvel Economiste", and today is a member of the council of economic advisors to the French Prime Minister. He is also a board member at Total and Ipsos.

Website: cib.natixis.com/research/economic.aspx

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