Friday 27th February 2015
NEWS TICKER, FEBRUARY 26TH 2015: The CME Group says that the volume in the Mexican peso interest rate clearing in the opening weeks of 2015 has outstripped the volume recorded in the whole of 2014. January was a particularly good month, with record volume m with $50bn cleared (MXN760bn), and $163bn cleared since launch. Meanwhile open Interest has grown to over $139.5bn (MXN2trn) – doubling since the start of the year - Italy’s payment systems specialist SIA reports operating margin up 22.5% at €81.9m and revenues up 7% at €336.9m over the 2014 financial year. The firm says it has proposed an ordinary dividend of €0.21 per share, with a total value of €35.68m. The firm reports a substantive 146% growth in the number of payment transactions processed through 2014 (touching 12bn over the year, with 9.2bn of those related to credit transfers (up 316%) and 3bn via cards (up 9%). The firm also reports a 5% increase in trading and post-trading operations, with service levels of 100%. The firm notes the success of its “Jiffy” service launch in the year, the new “Person to Person” (P2P) payments service, an App permitting money transfer in real time by Smartphone to a user’s contacts, associating the IBAN code of the account with the phone number included - The Straits Times Index (STI) ended -14.65 points lower or -0.43% to 3426.18, taking the year-to-date performance to +1.81%. The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index declined -0.31% while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index declined -0.29%. The top active stocks were SingTel (-0.47%), DBS (-0.66%), Global Logistic (+1.17%), UOB (-0.26%) and OCBC Bank (-0.38%). The outperforming sectors today were represented by the FTSE ST Consumer Goods Index (+0.77%). The two biggest stocks of the FTSE ST Consumer Goods Index are Wilmar International (+1.85%) and Thai Beverage (+0.71%). The underperforming sector was the FTSE ST Basic Materials Index, which declined -1.28% with Midas Holdings’s share price declining 3.08% and Geo Energy Resources’s share price unchanged. The three most active Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) by value today were the IS MSCI India (-0.12%), STI ETF (-0.87%), SPDR Gold Shares (+0.50%). The three most active Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) by value were CapitaMall Trust (unchanged), Ascendas REIT (-1.59%), Suntec REIT (-0.51%). The most active index warrants by value today were HSI25000MBeCW150330 (+5.50%), HSI25000MBeCW150429 (+7.38%), HSI24400MBePW150330 (-10.11%). The most active stock warrants by value today were OCBC Bk MBeCW150803 (-5.74%), SGX MB eCW150803 (-1.16%), DBS MB eCW150915 (-5.33%) -World Bank today called for more transparency in India's power subsidy regime and suggested re-identification of the target population to improve the balance-sheets of losses-stricken distribution companies. The global development finance body says the sector should be allowed to operate in a commercially viable manner by ensuring that those firms that are not eligible for subsidy pay for what they consume - The country witnessed a decline of 12 per cent in solar power generation at a total 883 MW last year, according to energy consulting firm Mercom Capital Group. Total solar energy installations in 2013 stood at 1,004 MW, it said. However, its 2015 forecast remained unchanged at an approximately 1,800 MW with some upside - BNP Paribas Securities Services has appointed Andrea Cattaneo as head of Brazil. "We have expanded our custody offering in Brazil and across Latin America in recent years with great success," says Alvaro Camuñas, head of Spain and Latin America at BNP Paribas SS - A new draft text on an EU system for the use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data, tabled by lead MEP Timothy Kirkhope (ECR, UK), was discussed in the civil liberties committee on Thursday morning. An evaluation of the necessity and proportionality of the proposal in the face of current security threats, its scope (list of offences covered), retention periods, the inclusion or exclusion of intra-EU flights, the connection with the on-going data protection reform, as well as the consequences of the EU Court of Justice judgement annulling the 2006 data retention directive, were among the issues discussed by MEPs. The 2011 Commission proposal would require more systematic collection, use and retention of PNR data on passengers taking “international” flights (those entering the EU from, or leaving it for, a third country), and would therefore have an impact on the rights to privacy and data protection.

Volcker Rule likely delayed until after US presidential elections

Monday, 16 April 2012
Volcker Rule likely delayed until after US presidential elections As mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act, the Volcker Rule—named for its author, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker—prohibits commercial banks from using their own capital to invest in hedge funds and private equity funds, unless such activity is deemed “systemically important” (that is, is related to market making, securitisation, hedging, and/or risk management) and is limited to a three-percent ownership stake. With nary a fan on either side of the pond, the much-maligned Volcker Rule could be ripe for modification—though any change is more likely to happen later than sooner. David Simons reports. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

As mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act, the Volcker Rule—named for its author, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker—prohibits commercial banks from using their own capital to invest in hedge funds and private equity funds, unless such activity is deemed “systemically important” (that is, is related to market making, securitisation, hedging, and/or risk management) and is limited to a three-percent ownership stake. With nary a fan on either side of the pond, the much-maligned Volcker Rule could be ripe for modification—though any change is more likely to happen later than sooner. David Simons reports.

Regulators had hoped to have the Volcker Rule finalised by mid-July. However, ironing out the increasingly complex proposal—which includes newly added exemptions needed to placate the bill’s many opponents—will likely take much longer.

Retiring Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank, head of the House Financial Services Committee and co-author of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, has suggested something of a compromise; that regulators work towards completing a simplified version of the law by early September. "The agencies [have] tried to accommodate a variety of views on the implementation,” says Frank, “but the results reflected in the proposed rule are far too complex, and the final rules should be simplified significantly.”



Financial institutions may be struggling to regain public trust in the wake of the 2008 credit meltdown; however that has not stopped officials from taking aim at the proposed Volcker legislation during the SEC’s comment period which closed on February 13th. Speaking on behalf of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), Tim Ryan, SIFMA’s president and chief executive officer called the proposed regulations “unworkable” and “not faithful to Congressional intent”. Moreover, Ryan says they will have negative consequences for US financial markets and the economy.

Echoing a common theme among Volcker critics, Ryan contends that the new law could result in drastically reduced market liquidity for investors, and make it more difficult for companies to raise capital. SIFMA’s five-part comment letter includes proposed modifications to proprietary trading restrictions and hedge fund/private-equity fund investment activity under Volcker, and expresses concern over Volcker’s impact on municipal securities and global securitisation.

Like almost everything else drafted by the Obama White House, the Volcker Rule has virtually no support in the GOP, and includes among its detractors Daniel Gallagher and Troy Paredes, the two Republican members of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Speaking at an Institute of International Bankers conference held in Washington last month, Gallagher suggested that regulators re-examine their initial efforts and, if necessary, “go back to the drawing board to make sure we regulate wisely, rather than just quickly.”

Not that all of the criticisms have had political overtones. An exception to the rule allowing US banks to continue trading treasuries and municipal bonds has drawn fire from state and local government agencies, which have demanded that they receive the same exemption. The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB), the US-based firm charged with protecting investor interest in the municipal-securities space, has urged regulators to expand the rule’s proprietary trading exemptions to include municipal-bond brokers. It’s an effort to avoid “bifurcation” within the municipal securities market, says MSRB, warning current exemptions “are not useful in the municipal securities market,” and unless modified will “prevent a free and open market from prevailing.”

Nor has Volcker venting been limited to the US. In a comment letter issued in February, the European Fund and Asset Management Association (EFAMA), the representative association for Europe’s investment-management community, argued that exemptions favouring US institutions pose a serious threat to European funds due to the potential shift in the balance of power. Accordingly, regulators should take the necessary steps to prevent any negative impact on liquidity and operational efficiency abroad, said the group.

Meanwhile, Oregon’s Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley, who along with Senator Carl Levin of Michigan helped draft some of the Volcker provisions, bristled at suggestions that substantial modifications would be required. If anything, said Merkley, the rule needs to be tougher, though not “as vague or complex as regulators are making it.” Also in favour of a stronger Volcker is former Citigroup chief executive officer John S Reed, who has argued that in its present form the rule “does not offer bright enough lines or provide strong enough penalties for violation."

Having made regulatory reform one of its chief priorities, the Obama administration is unlikely to cede any ground in the months leading up to the US presidential elections in November. Hence, even the most vocal of Volcker opponents admit that change is unlikely to happen until after the new Congress convenes in January of next year.

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