Thursday 11th February 2016
NEWS TICKER: Following a recent Morningstar Analyst Ratings meeting, the firm has downgraded the Morningstar Analyst Rating for the L&G All Stocks Index Linked Gilt Index fund to Bronze. The fund previously held a Silver rating. Jose Garcia Zarate, senior fund analyst at Morningstar says, “We continue to have a positive view on the fund’s price, its tracking accuracy, and the parent company’s commitment to the provision of passive investing solutions. However, we have concluded that the heavily long-dated nature of the underlying market exposes investors to a volatile return profile over a market cycle. In particular, a rules-based passive fund tracking this market is particularly vulnerable to the downside relative to category peers that have the discretion to tweak duration. As such, we feel a Bronze rating reflects more accurately our conviction in this fund’s ability to outperform its category peers over a full market cycle.” - The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) says it has rescheduled the Technology Advisory Committee (TAC) public meeting to Tuesday, February 23rd, from 9:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., at CFTC’s Washington, DC headquarters. The meeting was originally scheduled for January 26, but was cancelled because Federal Government offices in the Washington Metropolitan Area were closed due to inclement weather. The TAC will discuss: the CFTC’s proposed Regulation Automated Trading (Reg AT); swap data standardisation and harmonization; and blockchain and the potential application of distributed ledger technology to the derivatives market. The CFTC says members of the public who wish to submit written statements in connection with the meeting should submit them by Monday, February 22nd - Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has called a ministerial meeting this morning to discuss the latest key domestic developments including the open issues whose implementation is required for the completion of the 1st programme review as well as farmers’ escalating protests against the planned overhaul of the income tax and the social security pension system, says Eurobank in Athens. Minister of Finance Euclid Tsakalotos warned earlier this week that the programme review should conclude by the end of February noting that Greece will be “in trouble” if it carries on into May-June - India’s Power, coal and renewable energy minister Piyush Goyal yesterday offered a $1trn prize to Australian power and energy firms to come and invest in the country’s power sector. Goyal's pitch comes as the government is pegging economic growth at 7.3% for Q4 2015, marking a slight drop on previous quarters but still outpacing China. Goyal says India's power sector is at an inflection point as the Modi government is focusing on structural reforms with an integrated outlook for the energy sector – Tomorrow (February 11th), the Latvian parliament (Saeima) will hold a vote of confidence on the new composition of the Cabinet of Ministers set up by incoming premier Māris Kučinskis. The first ceremonial sitting of the new government will be held tomorrow at 15.00 in the Green Hall of the Cabinet of Ministers. Ināra Mūrniece, acting president and speaker of the Saeima will also participate in the sitting - freemarketFX, the currency exchange, has appointed services veteran Rich Ricci as Chairman. Formerly CEO of Barclays Corporate and Investment Banking - JP Morgan Asset Management has appointed Paul Farrell as head of UK Institutional Clients. Based in London, Farrell will join JPMAM in April and will report to Patrick Thomson, head of International Institutional Clients. Farrell will be responsible for leading the sales team that manages and builds client relationships with Institutional Pension Funds in the UK & Ireland. He will have responsibility for direct client relationship management in the defined benefit as well as business development in the defined contribution marketplace and will work closely with our consultant client team led by Karen Roberton. Farrell joins most recently from Dimensional Fund Advisors, where he served as Head of UK Institutional Clients and was responsible for new business development, client service and consultant relations. Before that he was head of UK Strategic Clients at BlackRock - Vistra Group, a provider of fund admin services, has bought UK-based business expansion services provider Nortons Group, the accounting and advisory service. The Nortons team, led by Andrew Norton and Pete Doyle, is joining the Vistra Group to boost their existing range of services and benefit from Vistra’s global reach. Martin Crawford, CEO of Vistra Group, says: “Offering support services to companies moving abroad is a core business for Vistra and of growing importance. Nortons has the expertise, the experienced staff, and the network to add significant value to this service line. We are very proud to welcome Andrew Norton, Pete Doyle, and their colleagues to our international team and look forward to expanding our global reach with their experience and leadership". The acquisition of Nortons is expected to complete by the end of February and will take the combined headcount of the Vistra Group, inclusive of the soon to be merged Orangefield Group, to over 2,200 staff in 39 countries - Asian markets had another tough day. Japan's Nikkei Stock Average fell 2.3% to its lowest closing level since late 2014, and reaffirming a trend across the last few months the yen remained near its strongest level against the dollar in over a year. Despite the Bank of Japan's decision last month to introduce negative interest rates, a policy that tends to weaken the local currency, the yen has strengthened in recent sessions to levels not seen since 2014. The Japanese 10-year treasury yield traded shortly in negative territory, and touched -0.08%, before stabilising above the neutral mark. The dollar was last up 0.1% against the yen at ¥ 115.00. Australia's S&P ASX 200 fell 1.2%, the downward drift being led by energy stocks. The Australian Dollar consolidated yesterday’s gains and is currently testing the next resistance, which lies at $0.71. AUD/USD up 0.21 in local trading. Other Asian currencies did well today against the dollar. The South Korean won rose 0.74%, the Taiwanese dollar edged up 0.60%, while the Indian rupiah climbed 1.05%. That uptick was not reflected in equity markets. The Topix index slid 3.02%. In Singapore the STI slipped 2.14%, while New Zealand equities were down 0.85% respectively. China's markets are still closed for the Lunar New Year holidays – The story today is all about Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen’s testimony to the US Congress. Analysts say that the market is pricing in no further rate increases in the near future and given the volatility in the markets and the general air of panic right now among investors, it would be a catastrophic move for the Fed to raise interest rates even a quantum in coming months. Truth is that no matter how well Yellen paints the US economy is it a story of two halves: yes, job numbers are rising, but there looks to be a lot of slack in the overall economy and this is contributing to a gradual weakening of the US dollar (but not against the euro). In fact, Europe is making the US look good; hence the wild swings in investor sentiment. Still, bank stocks look to remain vulnerable for the remainder of the quarter. This week's economic calendar is light; hence the focus on the Fed. The other bit of advanced market news is that expectations are rising for a rate cut by Norges Bank. Emerging market currencies are broadly trading higher this morning. The South African rand rose 0.85% against the US dollar, with USD/ZAR back below the 16.0 mark at around 15.9350. The Russian ruble also took advantage of this respite and gained 0.65% versus the greenback, which helped USD/RUB to edge lower to 79.10. In terms of data, watch out for industrial and manufacturing production figures from France, the UK and Italy and CPI data from Denmark and Norway - In commodities, Brent crude oil was last up 2.4% at $31.05 a barrel in thin trade on speculation about possible production cuts, but remains down nearly 9% for the week and roughly 19% for the year. Peter Rosenstreich, head of market strategy at Swissquote Bank explains, "Crude oil has been able to rebound off the 12-year low ($27.78) after falling sharply by nearly 8% on Tuesday. The positive catalyst was the news that Iran has indicated that they would be willing to work with Saudi Arabia on production limits. However, markets remain sceptical of this or any coordinated production cuts. There seems to be no relief on selling pressure in sight as the US government released reports indicating that demand will remain soft by lower demand growth forecasts. In addition, the Paris based International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned that the supply glut will continue through 2016 as production cuts have been made at a slower pace than forecasted.” In other market news this morning, spot gold in London was down 0.2% at $1188.05 an ounce, while three-month copper futures on the London Metal Exchange fell 0.7% to $4,463 a ton.

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Malaysia offers tax breaks to secure dominance of sukuk issues

Wednesday, 23 May 2012
Malaysia offers tax breaks to secure dominance of sukuk issues Malaysia is offering tax breaks to issuers in an effort to secure its global dominance of Islamic finance. It seems to be working, there appears to be a record rally in foreign-currency sukuk. Moreover, arrangers say interest is increasing among local corporate issuers; with Standard Chartered claiming a growing issuance pipeline worth $1bn, most of which will be in foreign currency denominated bonds. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

Malaysia is offering tax breaks to issuers in an effort to secure its global dominance of Islamic finance. It seems to be working, there appears to be a record rally in foreign-currency sukuk. Moreover, arrangers say interest is increasing among local corporate issuers; with Standard Chartered claiming a growing issuance pipeline worth $1bn, most of which will be in foreign currency denominated bonds.

Malaysia is seeking to strengthen its lead over the Gulf Cooperation Council countries as a centre of Islamic finance. It hopes to become a capital markets issuance hub, and in an effort to secure its place in the pantheon of issuing markets has announced that it is exempting investors from capital gains taxes on non-ringgit sukuk between now and the end of 2014. It is a smart move, given that more Asian companies see sukuk denominated in currencies other than the ringgit as an effective funding strategy. Malaysia has become the world’s leading sukuk market, accounting for some 73% of the $92bn of sukuk issued globally last year; a banner year in which issuance volume rose by 68% on 2011. Malaysia is also the domicile for 68% of the $210bn total sukuk outstanding globally as at end-2011, according to recent figures issued by the Securities Commission in Malaysia.

Nonetheless, there is some way to go and sales of foreign currency bonds issued out of Malaysia have topped only $358m so far this year, compared with a grand total of $2.1bn for the whole of last year. The signs are that the Malaysian authorities have discounted this year for foreign currency denominated ringgit and have introduced a raft of initiatives in the hope of capitalising on better global market conditions in 2013 and beyond. Ringgit sukuk however continue to outstrip issuance in foreign currency.



Khazanah, the country’s sovereign-wealth fund alone, sold $358m of seven-year bonds convertible into shares at a negative yield in March alone. However, that was pretty much a plain vanilla deal for the issuer, which is rated A3 by Moody’s. Sukuk watchers may remember that the fund issued the first yuan-denominated Shari’a compliant notes in Hong Kong last year.

Corporate sales of ringitt denom­inated sukuk in Malaysia climbed 8% in the first quarter (compared with Q1 2011) to MYR13.4bn, after Tanjung Bin Energy raised MYR3.3bn in March in the biggest offering so far this year. Investor demand is also buoyant. A recent issue by Pembinaan BLT, the state-owned construction company, worth MYR1.35bn was over­subscribed 2.6 times.

Even so, the market infrastructure remains problematic and will likely dampen growth unless Malaysia can unlock key elements. Among them must rank a lack of secondary market liquidity; in particular the lack of secondary market trading. This is a problem of infrastructure and supply as well as a lack of formal trading mechanisms. Without an active secondary market liquidity and sustained fund manager participation in the market is not really feasible.

Once the Kuala Lumpur-based International Islamic Liquidity Management Corporation (IILM) is up and running properly, the resulting intermarket dialogue should spur member states and the central bank executives that represent them in the corporation should help (over the longer term) should help to mitigate this lack of market liquidity. The IILM is supposed to facilitate cross-border liquidity management among institutions offering Islamic financial services by making available a variety of Shari’a-compliant instruments, including sukuk, on commercial terms, to suit the varying liquidity needs of these institutions. The IILM, of which the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) is a founding member, is due to launch its debut benchmark sukuk within the next two months. Some $3bn of issuance is expected to originate out of the IILM each year.

For now, Malaysia is managing to retain the initiative and remains the most developed systemic Islamic financial market and an active secondary trading market. However, it is not the largest liquidity pool in Islamic finance; that honour goes to Saudi Arabia, which is potentially the largest sukuk origination market; though again, local infrastructure limitations are apparent. Very few sukuk, for instance, are traded on the Tadawul and the market remains firmly domestic.

According to the latest data of the Securities Commission Malaysia, between 2000 and 2010, the First Capital Market Masterplan period, the local Islamic capital market more than tripled in value to MYR1.05trn, growing at an annualised rate of 13.6%. The Second Capital Market Masterplan, or CMP2, which spans the ten-year period to 2020 (please refer to FTSE Global Markets, Issue 57, pages 55 to 60 for more information), expects Malaysia’s Islamic capital market to grow by an average 10.6% a year, to reach just under MYR3bn by 2020, of which sukuk segment will account for 46% of the total.

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