Sunday 26th April 2015
NEWS TICKER: FRIDAY, APRIL 24th 2015:Luc Luyet, CIIA – Senior Market Analyst AT Swissquote says that yesterday, “the SNB surprised the market by announcing that the number of sight deposit account holders that are exempt from negative interest has been reduced. This decision doesn’t change much the domestic banks’ situation as the “20 times the minimum reserve requirement” rule is still running. On the other side, the institutions associated with the Confederation, such as the pension fund of the Confederation or the pension fund of the SNB, are no longer exempt of negative interest. Consequently, only the account holders of the national social security system are still fully exempt.” - High yield debt issuance remains buoyant. Issuance volume for the week ending April 17, 2015, slowed down a bit from the previous week, but remained strong. Junk bond, or high-yield debt, issuers continued to issue bonds as yields remained favourable. High-yield debt is tracked by the SPDR Barclays Capital High Yield Bond ETF and the iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond Fund. According to data from S&P Capital IQ/LCD, dollar-denominated bonds amounting to $10.75bn were issued across 16 transactions in the week ending April 17th. The issuance volume fell by 3.2% from the week ending April 10. Pricing was evenly spread across the week. The number of transactions fell from 18 to 16 week-over-week. Last week brought the total US dollar issuance of high-yield debt to $115.8bn in 2015 YTD, up some 15% from the same period in 2014, the bulk of which is refinancing of older debt - Moody's says EMEA auto ABS performance remained stable during the three-month period ending February 2015. The sector's average performance trend was positive in terms of delinquency ratios and cumulative losses. The 60+ day delinquencies decreased to 0.66% in February 2015 from 0.77% in February 2014, while cumulative defaults decreased to 1.06% from 1.20% over the same period. This decrease was due mainly to the good performance of the German and Dutch markets. The prepayment rate increased slightly to 13.49% in February 2015 from 13.30% a year earlier. As of February 2015, the pool balance of all outstanding rated auto ABS transactions was €27.55bn - According to Sino specialists Red Pulse, China’s State Council is considering allowing daily repatriation for QFII. Currently, RQFII enjoys T+1 repatriation while QFII is restricted to T+5. QFII is the largest channel for foreign investment into China with quota of USD150bn, however, only half of the quota is in use, like at least partly due to the five-day repatriation stipulation - Malaysia’s state pension fund will offer a Shari’a-compliant investment option for its members by 2017, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today. Najib says it will create the largest Shari’a fund of its kind in the world. Malaysia has one of the world’s largest Islamic finance sectors and the authorities are keen to develop it further. They envision the industry accounting for 40% of the country’s total banking assets by 2020 compared with latest figures of around 23% released last year. The $160bn (MYR577.4bn) Employees Provident Fund (EPF) already invests about a third of its portfolio in stocks and bonds that comply with Islamic principles, which ban interest payments and pure monetary speculation. The fund reportedly hired consultants last year to study the feasibility of a state-backed pension fund focusing entirely on Shari’a-compliant investments. Additionally, local press reports says that Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional has received regulatory approval to issue a MYR1billion (around $275m) socially responsible Islamic bond - The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc has declared a regular quarterly dividend of $0.25 per share on the company's outstanding common stock, an increase of 67% from the prior $0.15 per share quarterly dividend. The dividend is payable on June 26TH 2015, to shareowners of record at the close of business on June 12TH 2015 - Lazard Ltd today reported operating revenue1 of $581m for the quarter ended March 31st. Adjusted net income was $103m, or $0.77 (diluted) per share for the quarter. These results exclude a pre-tax charge of $63m relating to a debt refinancing2. Q1 2015 net income on a U.S. GAAP basis, including the pre-tax charge, was $56m, or $0.42 (diluted) per share. "Our Financial Advisory and Asset Management businesses continue their strong performance," says Kenneth M. Jacobs, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lazard. "In the first quarter, we refinanced and repaid a portion of Lazard's long-term debt, significantly reducing our interest costs," adds Matthieu Bucaille, chief financial officer of Lazard. "Consistent with our capital management objectives, we have increased the quarterly dividend by 17%, the fifth increase in as many years." -

Bunking the myth of oil price hikes and speculation

Monday, 05 March 2012
Bunking the myth of oil price hikes and speculation The question of whether speculators are responsible for the recent spikes in the price of oil has been one of the most hotly debated topics in the oil market in the last few years. Most recently it has prompted US regulators to put limits on some speculative positions and re-define what they consider to be speculative positions. Vanja Dragomanovich met up with Rita D'Eclessia, professor at the Department of Economic Theory and Quantitative Methods for Political Choices at the University of Rome and a visiting lecturer at Birkbeck University in London, who has run these theories through a set of mathematical tests and has produced some slightly surprising results. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

The question of whether speculators are responsible for the recent spikes in the price of oil has been one of the most hotly debated topics in the oil market in the last few years. Most recently it has prompted US regulators to put limits on some speculative positions and re-define what they consider to be speculative positions. Vanja Dragomanovich met up with Rita D'Eclessia, professor at the Department of Economic Theory and Quantitative Methods for Political Choices at the University of Rome and a visiting lecturer at Birkbeck University in London, who has run these theories through a set of mathematical tests and has produced some slightly surprising results.

Vanja Dragomanovich (VD): Why has the issue of oil prices attracted so much attention outside the actual oil market?
Rita D'Eclessia (RD’A): Analysis and empirical evidence shows that four out of the last five global recessions were preceded by oil shocks. In the case of the 2007-2008 crisis oil prices cannot be ignored as a culprit of what happened: the oil price increased over 300% and this caused the annual fuel bill of OECD countries to increase dramatically. Exceptional oil price volatility affects many economic variables and their related markets. Oil price fluctuations affect consumers, producers and marketers, especially in terms of costs, incentives to invest in technology and trading strategies. The importance of oil prices is further increased by the fact that other forms of energy such as coal, gas, and, to a lesser extent, electricity are sometimes priced in order to compete with oil, so that oil price fluctuations become reflected in broader energy price changes.

VD: As part of your research you looked into the link between the volatility in oil prices and the involvement of speculators in the market. Can you talk us through your findings?
RD’A: Economists and financial experts are divided over who they think was responsible for driving crude oil prices to their peaks in the first half of 2008. Basically trend-following speculation and institutional commodity index-buying have reinforced the output pressure on prices. In my research I tried to identify which economic and financial variables provide insights into understanding oil price dynamics. Our proposition was that the changes in the oil price are an example of an economic variable which is largely unpredictable. In such a context the role of futures markets, considered as a measure of the speculative component in the market, is also investigated. However, our conclusion was that using the data we had, we could not find any evidence that the oil price depends on speculative activity in the market.



VD: What data did you base your research on? For instance, how did you define speculators and how did you distinguish between speculative and non-speculative activity? Was your research based on information from several commodity exchanges?
RD’A: I set up an econometric model to capture possible long run equilibrium between some macroeconomic variables and some financial variables. The data used to measure speculation is the number of the benchmark US futures oil contracts, the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) spot crude oil held by speculators; this is data published by the US Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
I used monthly West Texas Intermediate spot oil prices between 1993 and 2011 and assumed that speculators are participants who trade oil as an investment and not to hedge.

VD: Once you established that the link between speculative activity and oil price volatility was weak which other factors proved most influential in the oil market?
RD’A: Surprisingly, by far the strongest influence is the price of gold, followed by the strength of the euro against the dollar. For instance we found that for any one basis point move in the euro/dollar exchange rate the oil price moved by $2.8 dollars. Given that the euro was only introduced in 2000 we ran the analysis using the Deutschmark from 1993 till the introduction of the euro.
In all, we tried six different variables to try and find some meaningful correlation. We tried open interest, US interest rates, imports of WTI and WTI oil futures, all of which proved not to have a strong impact on the oil market.

VD: Your analysis was primarily statistical. However, in that period of time oil would have also moved for other reasons such as geopolitical crises, conflicts in the Middle East, economic crises, and political changes in Europe. How do those factors feature in your analysis?
RD’A: That is correct, but we can infer the influence of political events through the fluctuations of the dollar exchange rate and the price of gold. In any case the debate continues; oil price changes certainly cannot be explained solely by looking at the supply and demand dynamics.

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