Friday 6th March 2015
NEWS TICKER – THURSDAY, MARCH 5TH 2015: Following a recent Morningstar Analyst Ratings meeting, Morningstar has moved the Henderson Horizon Japanese Equity fund and the Henderson Japan Capital Growth fund to a Morningstar Analyst Rating™ of Neutral. Both funds were previously Under Review due to a change in the lead portfolio manager. Prior to being placed Under Review, both funds were rated Bronze. The funds were solely managed by Michael Wood-Martin, who took over in 2005. However, in October 2014 Henderson decided to adopt a team-based approach. They are now run by the Japanese Equities team consisting of four investment professionals, including William Garnett, Michael Wood-Martin, Jeremy Hall, and Yun-Young Lee. Given this change to the investment process, Morningstar says it has less clarity around the likely shape of the portfolios and little evidence that the strategy can be implemented effectively. Morningstar believes a Neutral rating is appropriate at the current time —Moody's Investors Service has today republished a number of asset-backed securities (ABS) and residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) rating methodology reports. The updated ABS and RMBS methodology reports consolidate the secondary rating methodology "Revising default/loss assumptions over the life of an EMEA ABS/RMBS transaction" and which the agency will now retire; for RMBS specifically sees updates to the surveillance section; and for Consumer Loan-Backed ABS specifically a new appendix describing how Moody's will tailor its approach to rating consumer loans for marketplace lending loans. The republications do not represent a change in methodology and will not result in any rating changes —BATS Chi-X Europe reports a 23.7% market share, with average notional value traded at €12.3bn up substantially from €8.9bn in February 2014. Market share rose in 14 of the 15 markets the firm covers. Its trade reporting facility, BXTR, had its second-most successful month ever with more than €369.3bn reported in total during the month; an average of €18.5bn each trading day. In total, BATS Chi-X systems touched €616.1bn of trades in February—The Straits Times Index (STI) ended -20.26 points lower or -0.59% to 3395.27, taking the year-to-date performance to +0.90%. The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index declined -0.18% while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index declined -0.17%. The top active stocks were SingTel (-1.20%), DBS (+0.05%), Keppel Land (-0.44%), OCBC Bank (-0.48%) and Global Logistic (unchanged). The outperforming sectors today were represented by the FTSE ST Utilities Index (+1.66%). The two biggest stocks of the FTSE ST Utilities Index are United Envirotech (unchanged) and Hyflux (+0.58%). The underperforming sector was the FTSE ST Consumer Goods Index, which declined -1.31% with Wilmar International’s share price declining -0.61% and Thai Beverage’s share price declining -2.06%.The three most active Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) by value today were the IS MSCI India (-1.22%), SPDR Gold Shares (-0.31%), DBXT MSCI Thailand TRN ETF (-0.38%). The three most active Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) by value were CapitaMall Trust (+0.94%), Ascendas REIT (+2.02%), CapitaCom Trust (+0.28%).The most active index warrants by value today were HSI25000MBeCW150429 (-14.16%), HSI24200MBePW150429 (+10.53%), HSI23800MBePW150330 (+16.92%)—Commerz Real and RFR Holding have signed an agreement to purchase the real estate Atlas Plaza in Miami/Florida for its open-ended real estate fund hausInvest. The retail trade complex, located in the burgeoning Design District and in part on two storeys, comprises two existing buildings and a new construction, scheduled to be completed by May 2015. Upon the completion of the building work the leasable area will total approximately 1,600 square metres. The total investment volume for the acquisition and extension of “Atlas Plaza” amounts to around 68 million US dollars (approximately €60m)—Malaysia’s corporate sukuk sales will rebound from the worst start to a year since 2010 as a recovery in oil prices spurs issuance before the US raises interest rates, according to investment bank CIMB. Islamic bond offerings to date are down MYR9.7bn on a year on year basis. Kuala Lumpur-based AmInvestment Bank Bhd predicts sales could surpass last year’s MYR62bn as more projects come on stream under the government’s 10-year development programme. A 34% rally in Brent crude from January’s six-year low will shore up the country’s finances after Fitch Ratings warned the loss of revenue for oil-exporting Malaysia puts its credit ranking at risk. The average yield on AAA rated Malaysian corporate securities has dropped to a three-month low, cutting costs for issuers involved in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s $444bn spending drive and those seeking to refinance debt—Bahrain’s BIBF has announced the launch of the region’s first Islamic Finance and Muslim Lifestyle Convergence Training programme, developed as part of the Waqf Fund’s initiatives to enhance Islamic Finance training in the region, in partnership with New York-based DinarStandard, at a press conference yesterday. The burgeoning Halal food and Muslim Lifestyle sectors is estimated to be worth $2trn in 2013, and is expected to reach $2.47trn by 2018, based on the State of the Global Islamic Economy 2014 report, produced by Thomson Reuters in collaboration with DinarStandard. This represents a huge opportunity for Islamic Finance, which has been for the most part, untapped—Kames Capital is to lower the annual management charge on the Kames Investment Grade Global Bond Fund following a review of the fund’s positioning in the European markets. The move will see the AMC on the Kames Investment Grade Global Bond Fund B share class fall to 0.65% from its current rate of 0.80%, while for the A share class the charge will drop to 1.15% from 1.30%. The changes will take effect from the 1st April 2015. As part of the review, Kames will also be changing the benchmark of the fund to the Barclays Global Aggregate Corporate Index from the Lipper Global Bond Global Corporate Median. The changes are intended to bring the fund into line with its peer group particularly in Continental Europe. Whilet there will be no change to the investment process of the fund, there will be a slight change to the fund’s duration. In order to maintain its index-neutral duration, the Fund will now be aligned to the Barclays Global Aggregate Corporate Index which has a duration of around 6.4 years. This compares to the existing Lipper peer group which has an estimated duration of 5 years.

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The European Review

By Patrick Artus, chief economist at Natixis

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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