Friday 27th March 2015
NEWS TICKER, FRIDAY MARCH 27th 2015: Moody's says that The Link Real Estate Investment Trust's (A2 stable) acquisition of the mid-end positioned EC Mall in Beijing is credit negative, but has no immediate impact on its ratings. The acquisition, while immediate EBITDA and cash flow accretive, will reduce liquidity and increase debt leverage, as measured by gross debt to EBITDA. This is Link's first venture into the Chinese retail market. Yesterday, Link announced that it will acquire EC Mall for a total consideration of RMB2.5bn. The transaction will close on April 1st - The outcomes of the March 19th-20th spring European Council will be debated with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at 15.00 today. Agenda items at the Council include Energy Union, the EU’s economic situation, its eastern partnership, and the situation in Libya - -- The sharp fall in oil prices will have a positive, yet limited credit impact for most European asset-backed securities (ABS) collateralised by loans granted to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), says Moody's Investors Service in a sector comment published today. "If we balance both direct and indirect exposures to the oil and gas sectors, which affect performance the most, the net effect is slightly positive," says Monica Curti, a Moody's Vice President and author of the report. The rating agency observes that securitised portfolios have very low direct exposure to the oil and gas industries, for which lower prices are credit negative. For pools where borrowers are indirectly exposed to these sectors, Moody’s says the oil price decline will be slightly positive in terms of credit performance due to its strong positive effect on sectors such as airlines, shipping and packaged food, which represent up to 12% of some European ABS SME portfolios. However, for over 60% of the ABS SME transactions that Moody's studied, the net effect of oil price exposures is negligible. In addition, the general positive effect of the oil price decline on economic growth will be mild. "While sustained lower oil prices would significantly boost economic growth in principle, their positive effect will be mild for European SMEs because of the euro area's low dependency on oil and the fact that oil prices have fallen in a subdued economy," says Ariel Weil, a Moody's vice president and co-author of the report - The Straits Times Index (STI) ended +5.76 points higher or +0.17% to 3419.02, taking the year-to-date performance to +1.60%. The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index gained +0.38% while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index gained +0.48%. The top active stocks were SingTel (+0.70%), UOB (+0.61%), DBS (-0.05%), Keppel Corp (+1.13%) and OCBC Bank (+0.29%). Outperforming sectors today were represented by the FTSE ST Utilities Index (+3.48%). The two biggest stocks of the FTSE ST Utilities Index are United Envirotech (+0.31%) and Hyflux (+1.14%). The underperforming sector was the FTSE ST Real Estate Holding and Development Index, which declined -0.33% with Hongkong Land Holdings’ share price declining -0.94% and Global Logistic Properties’ share price gaining +0.78%. – Reuters reports that Chicago-based CME Group had planned to debut an EU wheat-futures contract by the end of next month, but it has yet to reach agreements with local companies to guarantee sufficient deliverable capacity. Eric Hasham, senior director, CME Group is quoted as saying: "If for whatever reasons the parties that we are speaking to decide not to move forward ... we would not be making the contract available.” - Nigeria and Ivory Coast are looking to emulate Senegal's successful move into the market for Islamic bonds or sukuk, the head of the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) has said. Earlier this month the ICD, which is the private sector arm of the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank Group, signed an agreement with the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) to cooperate in the development of the private sector in ICD member countries in Africa - Turkey received foreign direct investment worth $1.8bn in January, according to Turkey’s Economy Ministry. The energy sector was the largest recipient of international capital during the month with $735m worth of inflows. Foreign investment to the county increased by 44% in the first month of 2015 compared with the same month in the previous year, said the statement. Around a quarter of the investment came from European countries, a significant decrease (-76%) compared with January 2014. More than $420m in investments came from Asian countries, such as China and Malaysia. There were 175 new, foreign-funded companies established in the first month of the year, down from 410 in the same month of 2014. A total of 41,699 companies were operating in Turkey with international capital as of January 2015, with 24,612 of them operating in Turkey’s largest province, Istanbul, the ministry said. The report also said that of the total number of foreign-funded companies in Turkey, 6,054 were German-funded and 2,774 were financed by the United Kingdom. Turkey received a total of $12.4bn in foreign direct investment in 2014, down 1.7% compared with 2013.

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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