Friday 29th April 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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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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