Monday 2nd May 2016
NEWS TICKER: Central bank policy is still dominating the trading agenda, even though most analysts believe that the Fed will, if it does move, move only once this year and will raise rates by a quarter of a percent. The statement of the US FOMC was terse and most likely signals extreme caution on its part, though there is a belief that hawkish voices are rising in the committee. The reality is though that the US economic growth story is slowing. Many think the June meeting will spark the uplift. Let’s see. The US dollar is continuing to lose ground across the board after data showed the US economy expanded at its slowest pace since the second quarter of 2009, according to the BEA, which FTSE Global Markets reported on last Friday. GDP increased at a 0.5% annualised rate - versus an expected 0.7% - after rising 1.4% in the fourth quarter of 2015 as personal consumption failed to boost growth in spite of low gasoline prices. Central bank caution makes sense in that context, however timing will be sensitive. If the central bank moves in the autumn it threatens to unbutton the presidential elections; but the reality is that mixed data will emanate from the US over this quarter which will make a June decision difficult. It’s tough being an FOMC member right now. The Bank of Japan meanwhile signalled its intention to stay the course this week with current policy, which discombobulated the markets. The Japanese markets were closed today for a public holiday, so it won’t be entirely clear if the market will suffer for the central bank’s decision. Certainly if fell 3.61% yesterday and is down 5% on the week. so the omens aren’t great. Of course, the pattern that is well established of late is that as the market falls, the yen appreciates. The yen was trading at 107.14 against the dollar last time we looked, compared with 108 earlier in the session, having at times touched 111/$1 yesterday (the lowest point for more than 18 months) The month to date has seen a rise in both the short term and long term volatility gauges. Coinciding with the rise, Nikkei 225 Index Structured Warrant activity has also significantly picked up. Nikkei 225 Structured Warrants showed increased activity with daily averaged traded value up 33% month-on-month. The Nikkei 225 Index Structured Warrants had significant increase in trading activity year-on-year with total turnover up by 6.8 times. – ASIAN TRADING SESSION - Australia's ASX 200 reversed early losses to close up 26.77 points, or 0.51%, at 5,252.20, adding 0.3% for the week. The uptick today was driven by gains in the heavily-weighted financials sub-index, as well as the energy and materials sub-indexes. In South Korea, the Kospi finished down 6.78 points, or 0.34%, at 1,994.15, while in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index fell 1.37%. Chinese mainland markets were mixed, with the Shanghai composite dropping 7.13 points, or 0.24 percent, at 2,938.45, while the Shenzhen composite finished nearly flat. The Straits Times Index (STI) ended 12.42 points or 0.43% lower to 2862.3, taking the year-to-date performance to -0.71%. The top active stocks today were SingTel, which gained 0.26%, DBS, which declined 1.03%, NOL, which gained closed unchanged, OCBC Bank, which declined 1.00% and CapitaLand, with a 0.63% fall. The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index gained 0.60%, while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index rose 0.49%. Structured warrants on Asian Indices have continued to be active in April. YTD, the STI has generated a total return of 1.3%. This compares to a decline of 4.9% for the Nikkei 225 Index and a decline of 6.3% of the Hang Seng Index. Of the structured warrants available on Asian Indices, the Hang Seng Index Structured Warrants have remained the most active in the year to date with Structured Warrants on the Nikkei 225 Index and STI Index the next most active – FUND FLOWS – BAML reports that commodity fund flows went back to positive territory after taking a breather last week, supported again by inflows into gold funds. “The asset class is currently the best performer, with year to date % of AUM inflow at 15%, far ahead of all other asset classes. Global EM debt flows reflected the bullish turn of the market on EMs, recording the tenth consecutive week of positive flows. On the duration front, short-term funds recorded a marginal inflow, keeping a positive sign for the last four weeks. The mid-term IG funds continue to record strong inflows for a ninth week. But it looks like investors have started to embrace duration to reach for yield, as inflows into longer-term funds have recorded a cumulative 0.8% inflow in the past two weeks,” says the BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research team – GREEN BONDS - Banco Nacional de Costa Rica is the latest issuer with a $500m bond to finance wind, solar, hydro and wastewater projects. The bond has a coupon of 5.875% and matures on April 25th 2021. Banco Nacional will rely on Costa Rican environmental protection regulations to determine eligible projects. This is the fourth green bond issuance in Latin America, according to the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI). Actually, Costa Rica is one of the global leaders in terms of renewable energy use. In the first quarter of 2016 it sourced 97.14% of its power from renewables. Hydro's share alone was 65.62%. – SOVEREIGN DEBT - After coming to market with a 100 year bond last week, the Kingdom of Belgium (rated Aa3/AA/AA) has opened books on a dual tranche bond; the first maturing in seven years; the second in 50 years, in a deal managed by Barclays, Credit Agricole, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Natixis and Société Générale. Managers have marketed the October 22nd 2023 tranche at 11 basis points (bps) through mid-swaps and the June 22nd 2066 tranche in the high teens over the mid of the 1.75% 2066 French OAT – LONGEVITY REINSURANCE - Prudential Retirement Insurance and Annuity Company (PRIAC) and U.K. insurer Legal & General say they have just completed their third longevity reinsurance transaction together, further evidence that longevity reinsurance continues to be a vehicle for UK insurers seeking relief from pension liabilities exposed to longevity risk. “This latest transaction builds on our relationship with Legal & General and solidifies the platform from which future business can be written,” explains Bill McCloskey, vice president, Longevity Risk Transfer at Prudential Retirement. “It's also a testament to our experience in the reinsurance space and our capacity to support the growth of the U.K. longevity risk transfer market.” Under the terms of the new agreement, PRIAC will issue reinsurance for a portion of Legal & General's bulk annuity business, providing benefit security for thousands of retirees in the UK. PRIAC has completed three reinsurance transactions with Legal & General since October 2014 – VIETNAM - Standard & Poor's Ratings Services has affirmed its 'BB-' long-term and 'B' short-term sovereign credit ratings on Vietnam. The outlook is stable. At the same time, we affirmed our 'axBB+/axB' ASEAN regional scale rating on Vietnam. The ratings, says S&P, reflect the country's lower middle-income, rising debt burden, banking sector weakness, and the country's emerging institutional settings that hamper policy responsiveness. Even so, the ratings agency acknowledges these strengths are offset by Vietnam's sound external settings that feature adequate foreign exchange reserves and a modest external debt burden. The country has a lower middle income but comparatively diversified economy. S&P estimates GDP per capita at about US$2,200 in 2016. “Recent improvements in macroeconomic stability have supported strong performance in the sizable foreign-owned and export-focused manufacturing sector (electronics, telephones, and clothing). This strength will likely be offset by weaker domestic activity as the impetus to growth stemming from low household and company sector leverage is hampered by weak banks and government enterprises, and shortfalls in infrastructure. We expect real GDP per capita growth to rise by 5.3% in 2016 (2015: 5.6%) and average 5.2% over 2016-2019, reflecting modest outlooks for Vietnam's trading partners. Uncertain conditions in export markets and the slow pace in addressing government enterprise reforms, fiscal consolidation, and banking sector resolution add downside risks to this growth outlook – RUSSIA - Russia's central bank held interest rates steady at 11% today, in line with expectations, although it hinted that if inflation kept on falling it would cut soon. Last month, the bank held rates steady, warning that inflation risks remained "high" and that the then oil price rise could be "unsustainable." However, the decision came at a time of renewed hope for Russia's beleaguered economy and the country's oil industry with commodity prices showing tentative signs of recovery. The central bank noted that 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." Yann Quelenn, market analyst at Swissquote explains: "The ruble has continued to appreciate ever since it reached its all-time low against the dollar in early January. At that time, more than 82 ruble could be exchanged for a single dollar note. Now, the USDRUB has weakened below 65 and even more upside pressures on the currency continue as the rebound in oil prices persists. The outlook for Russian oil revenues is more positive despite the global supply glut. Expectations for increased oil demand over the coming years and the fear of peak oil are driving the black commodity’s prices higher – MARKET DATA RELEASES TODAY - Other data that analysts will be looking out for today include Turkey’s trade balance; GDP from Spain; the unemployment rate from Norway; mortgage approvals from UK; CPI and GDP from the eurozone; CPI from Italy; and South Africa’s trade balance – FTSE GLOBAL MARKETS – Our offices will be closed on Monday, May 2ndt. We wish our readers and clients a happy and restful May bank holiday and we look forward to reconnecting on Tuesday May 3rd. Happy Holidays!

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EU seeks CSD regulation and proportionality

Thursday, 19 April 2012
EU seeks CSD regulation and proportionality In early March this year the European Commission issued proposals to improve securities settlement in the EU and the operation of central securities depositories (CSDs). The proposal has the potential to speed-up harmonisation of post-trade processes in Europe, thereby helping to make cross-border securities transactions less complex, less risky and less costly. The proposal now passes to the European Parliament and the Council (member states) for negotiation and adoption under Europe’s co-decision procedure. Francesca Carnevale reports. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

In early March this year the European Commission issued proposals to improve securities settlement in the EU and the operation of central securities depositories (CSDs). The proposal has the potential to speed-up harmonisation of post-trade processes in Europe, thereby helping to make cross-border securities transactions less complex, less risky and less costly. The proposal now passes to the European Parliament and the Council (member states) for negotiation and adoption under Europe’s co-decision procedure. Francesca Carnevale reports.

The EU Commission’s proposal aims to harmonise both the timing and conduct of securities settlement in Europe and the rules governing central securities depositories (CSDs) which operate the infrastructures enabling settlement. CSDs constitute the last layer in the post-trade infrastructure. Their role is to ensure the smooth completion of securities transactions once these have been traded and cleared. The proposal harmonises timing and discipline of securities settlement in the EU and forwards the establishment, for the first time at European level, a common authorisation, supervision and regulatory framework for CSDs.

“The Commission is optimistically working on the assumption that the ­regulation will generally come into force in early 2013. However provisions relating to the harmonised T+2 settlement period won’t come into force until 1 January 2015 and the provisions imposing the dematerial­isation/immobilisation of securities will not enter into force until 1 January 2020,” explains James Tinworth, funds partner in the corporate practice at law firm Stephenson Harwood.



Alan CameronAlan Cameron, head of client segment, financial institutions and broker-dealers, at BNP Paribas ­Securities ServicesEssentially, the proposals are designed to increase the safety of settlements, particularly for cross-border transactions, by ensuring that buyers and sellers receive their securities and money on time and without risks; increase the efficiency of settlements by introducing a true internal market for the operations of national CSDs; and to augment the safety of CSDs by applying high prudential requirements in line with international standards. “Essentially it is about reducing risks and costs; in line with regulation, the industry also has to focus on these elements. Neither element is exclusivel but in reality the industry has tended to focus either or one or the other,” concedes Alan Cameron,  head of client segment, financial institutions and broker-dealers, at BNP Paribas Securities Services.

The proposals have been forwarded to help mitigate risk in the post trade environment, at a time when cross border trading of securities is rising and where legislation (T2S and EMIR, for instance) proposes heightened responsibilities for institutions in the post trade segment. The environment is dynamic: as cross-border transactions in Europe, ranging from usual purchases/sales of securities to collateral transfers, continue to increase and CSDs become increasingly interconnected. These trends are expected to accelerate with the advent of Target2 Securities (T2S), a project launched by the Eurosystem to provide a common technical platform for securities settlement in Europe, which is scheduled to start in 2015.

While generally safe and efficient within national borders, settlement across borders presents higher risks and costs for investors than domestic operations. The EU believes it to be important to have a harmonised set of measures across Europe for settlement, which will also serve to help CSDs. “Post trade costs have come down,” explains Cameron, “ and continue to fall. However, there’s a point where people are concerned about the huge infrastructure that is emerging in this search for harmonisation.”

Up to now CSDs have tended to be regulated at the national level and lack a common set of prudential, organisational and conduct of business standards at ­international (or European) level. This ­regulation does not in essence change this infrastructure.

As it stands under current proposals, CSDs will be authorised and supervised by “national competent authorities specifically designated by the member states”. These authorities must, however, consult and cooperate with “other relevant authorities, which include the authorities from the member states responsible for the oversight of each securities settlement system operated by CSDs and the central banks in whose accounts securities transactions are settled”.

Moreover, “Where a CSD has subsidiaries in several member states the proposed regulation requires the authority responsible for the supervision of the CSD to cooperate with the authorities responsible for the ­supervision of its subsidiaries. This co­operation also implies immediate information of the authorities involved in case of emergency situations affecting the liquidity and stability of the financial system in any of the member states where the CSD or its participants are established,” states the EC Commission website.

The European ­Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) however will be responsible for ensuring cooperation between national authorities and developing commonly applied technical standards. Within hours of the release of the proposal, the European Central Securities Depositary Association (ECSDA) stated that it welcomed the regulation. The association represents some 42 national and inter­national CSDs across Europe, providing a forum for its members to exchange views and take forward projects of mutual interest. Combined, members of the ­association held approximately €37.9trn in securities at the start of 2011; no mean amount.

ECSDA notes that CSDs support the move to a settlement cycle of two business days after trade date for most securities across Europe. “The adoption of a common framework for settlement discipline could also benefit market transparency and safety by reinforcing incentives for market ­participants to fulfill their obligations and deliver securities on time,” says the association. Soraya Belghazi, secretary general of ECSDA, notes: “Like other critical market infrastructures, CSDs exist to take risk out of the market, which is why global ­regulators and the G20 in particular are keen to encourage their use by market participants. Rather than disrupting the existing market structure in post-trade, ECSDA thinks that financial stability can be enhanced by tight regulation of the limited credit function of some CSDs and by the adoption of an effective resolution regime for market infrastructures.”

Soraya BelghaziSoraya Belghazi, secretary general of ECSDAThe adoption of a common framework for settlement discipline could also benefit market transparency and safety by reinforcing incentives for market participants to fulfil their obligations and deliver securities on time. Even so, not all the EU proposals have been received positively. According to ECSDA some measures put forward by the Commission “do not seem proportionate given the strength and resilience of CSDs particularly during the financial crisis. These measures are not justified by any market failure and should be recalibrated to avoid disrupting the operation of existing CSDs in some markets”.

In particular, the association suggests the regulation could make it more difficult for CSDs to establish links with other CSDs, in contradiction to the spirit of the TARGET2-Securities (T2S) project of the eurosystem which encourages CSDs to build links and to compete for cross-border business. “It is possible that ECSDA is concerned that there will be less need for a CSD to establish links with CSDs in other member states given that it could just passport into the relevant member states under the regulation,” comments Tinworth at Stephenson Harwood. “I assume, however, that ECSDA is primarily referring to the numerous requirements in the proposed Regulation relating to “CSD links”. The main requirement is that a CSD intending to set up a “CSD link” would need to apply for authorisation. It does seem as if the proposed requirements will make it more difficult for CSDs to establish links with other CSDs, although, crucially, Articles 48-50 give CSDs the right to have access to any other CSD,” he adds.

However, Tinworth, adds a more nuanced consideration: “It is not correct to say that T2S is intended to encourage CSDs to build links and to compete for cross-border business. T2S is actually encouraging CSDs to build only one link between CSDs – itself. In any event, the Commission has said that it is trying to ensure that the two initiatives are complementary. I can only find one exception in the regulation that is meant for T2S, however, and there are numerous requirements relating to “CSD links” that provide no exceptions for T2S. These may need to be given some further consideration.”

ECSDA also suggests the regulation would introduce new restrictions on the provision of cash and credit for the purpose of CSD settlement. While ECSDA supports the inclusion of strict safeguards in the ­regulation, “we wish to ensure that CSDs currently offering limited banking services can continue to do so in the future and that likewise, other CSDs are allowed to develop such services in response to market need. Limited banking services of CSDs are primarily used to provide liquidity to market participants on a fully collateralised basis and to facilitate settlement in foreign currencies”.

The EU counters, holding that: “The ­objectives of the proposed regulation are consistent with those of T2S, a project launched by the eurosystem to create a common technical platform to support CSDs in providing borderless securities ­settlement services in Europe. The two ­initiatives are complementary: the proposed regulation harmonises legal aspects of ­securities settlement and the rules for CSDs at European level, allowing T2S, which ­harmonises operational aspects of securities settlement, to achieve its goals more effectively”.

Outsource to T2S

Under the scheme national CSDs will outsource part of their role to T2S, which will be operated by the European Central Bank (ECB) and four national central banks (from France, Italy, Germany and Spain); though they will still have some important functions. As Richard Turrell, global head of product at BNP Paribas Securities Services explains, “T2S is not a record keeper; that function will still sit with the CSDs, but the core function of delivery versus payment will be provided by T2S.”

T2S itself is at a critical point, says Turrell, who explains that there is a financial incentive package in place for CSDs signing on by April 2012 for the first wave of adoption. This includes a waiver of the one-off entry fee, no fees for the first three months following the go-live date, from July to September 2015, and after that month, there will be a fee reduction by one-third for the whole price list until the end of the last regular migration wave.  

“CSDs deciding to sign the T2S Framework Agreement for adoption in April 2012 will benefit from reduced prices; then there is another round in June. After then there will be no financial incentives on offer and CSDs will have to sign up at full tariffs. It means that those CSDs that do sign up in either of the first two rounds will have a competitive advantage,” he states. However, he adds, that he thinks that some CSDs are still struggling with the T2S concept; and might not sign up straight away. “It depends on the way that CSDs will manage this interim period and accommodate their business models to suit the new regime,” adds Turrell. “It involves reviews of their coding practices and the way, for instance, that they will decommission their architecture.”

Richard TurrellRichard Turrell, global head of product at BNP Paribas Securities ServicesThe European Central Bank, in an official release, notes that this early bird package is justified because adopters will encounter “teething problems” and will likely need to support the testing activities of CSDs that migrate later. If a CSD signs by June 2012, it will still benefit from the one-off waiver but will not receive other incentives. “The Programme Office is very confident that the CSDs and their markets have understood the benefits of the project and that they need to participate,” the ECB wrote in a recent project update.

Separately, ECSDA is also concerned with limits on competitiveness and says the ­regulation would prevent CSDs from owning and operating subsidiaries offering non-CSD services. Such a measure would force a number of existing CSDs to overhaul their corporate structures, but it is far from certain that these changes will enhance market safety.

In the light of these limitations, however, Belghazi underscores that the association welcomes the proposal, “as a good basis for discussion. We trust that the European legislator will work to improve the current text in a way which allows CSDs to further contribute to enhance the safety, efficiency and transparency of Europe’s financial markets.”

In the short term, the proposed regulation is likely to create more competition between CSDs, with expected benefits for the quality and price of cross-border services. In the medium to long term, the CSD market could become more consolidated and less fragmented. There could be less intermediation for cross-border holding of securities and CSD services, and cross-border settlement will become safer and cheaper. This would translate into lower costs for investors along the whole post trading chain. The expected reduction in the costs of holding and settling securities, especially cross-border, would benefit both issuers, by increasing their ability to raise capital, and investors, by allowing them to place their funds more efficiently. The ­securities market in the EU would therefore become more efficient in supporting the financing of the economy and ­sustainable growth. SMEs, in particular, would benefit from the expected cost reductions since the fees charged by CSDs for the issuance and custody of their ­securities are often proportionally higher than for larger companies.

However, markets will require further clarity on the scope of the regulation and the way that it dovetails into parallel directives and rules governing the trading markets, such as EMIR and MiFID. Questions are still extant on whether CSDs may be subject to the rules of MiFID for certain services they provide, such as the provision of securities accounts and, possibly, collateral management services. It remains for the European Parliament, the EC and member states to clarify, in the context of the current review of MiFID, whether, similarly to banks, CSDs should be exempted from certain rules of MiFID or not.

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