Thursday 11th February 2016
NEWS TICKER: February 11th 2016: Gaming machine operators will be hit the hardest by the Italian government's plans to reform the gaming sector in 2016, says Moody's in a report published today. "Under the 2016 draft budget law the Italian government plans to overhaul the gaming and sports betting industries. We expect a moderate increase in taxes for gaming machine operators, which is credit negative," says Donatella Maso, a VP-Senior Analyst at Moody's. "In addition, licence renewals for betting shops and corners will result in high one-off costs, although it is unclear whether these will occur in 2016 or the following year." However, the measures under the draft budget law are not as severe as some companies and investors had expected based on the first draft of the law proposed last October - Fixed income manager BlueBay Asset Management has hired Jean-Yves Guibert and Marc Kemp into their Global Leveraged Finance team. Based in London, Guibert has joined as a senior credit analyst in High Yield from BNP Paribas, where he was head of European High Yield Sector Specialists and Marc Kemp has joined as institutional portfolio manager. Kemp was previously at JPMorgan, where he was most latterly a managing director and head of European High Yield Sales. Justin Jewell, co-head of Global Leveraged Finance Long Only says, “In normal credit cycles, the period of market stress is usually sharp but short lived and corresponds with worsening economic conditions. This cycle could be very different, as the distortions created by zero interest rate policies and quantitative easing (and their reversal) will likely result in economic and credit cycles that are less closely aligned. We would further argue that this cycle will likely show a lengthier period of spread widening, as defaults are likely to occur over a longer period.” - Marsh, a global leader in insurance broking and risk management, has appointed Sir Iain Lobban KCMG CB, former Director of the UK security and intelligence organisation GCHQ, as senior adviser on Cyber Risk. In the newly-created role, Sir Iain will provide strategic advice as Marsh works with governments, regulators and clients on how best to address the growing threat of cyber risk. He will report to Mark Weil, CEO, Marsh UK & Ireland and join Marsh’s global Cyber Centre of Excellence. Sir Iain was Director of GCHQ – the UK government’s communications headquarters– between 2008 and 2014 having previously served as director general of operations from 2004 - BNP Paribas Securities Services has won a mandate to provide Nationwide Building Society with clearing and custody services for the UK market. Nationwide Building Society is the world’s largest building society with assets of £200b, and 15 million customers across the UK. BNP Paribas Securities Services has been appointed as the settlement and gilt custody provider, safekeeping Nationwide Building Society’s £12.7bn worth of gilt assets in the UK. - The UK Debt Management Office says an additional £149.975m nominal of 3½% Treasury Gilt 2045 will be created for settlement on 12 February 2016 inrespect of the amount purchased by the Gilt-edged Market Makers and investors during the Post-Auction Option Facility, which closed at 2pm today. This additional stock will be sold at the average accepted price of £127.524 and will take the total amount outstanding of3½% Treasury Gilt 2045 to £25,315,238,000.00 nominal - The Lyxor Hedge Fund Index was down -0.9% in January. 5 out of 11 Lyxor Indices ended the month in positive territory. The Lyxor CTA Long Term Index (+2.2%), the Lyxor Global Macro Index (+0.7%), and the Lyxor Fixed Income Arbitrage Index (+0.7%) were the best performers, says the ETF major. Hedge Funds displayed esilience in January. Both markets and analysts started the year with reasonable growth expectations. These were aggressively revised down, triggered by the release of the disappointing Chinese PMI and the CNY depreciation. Strikingly, investors started to price in more serious odds for a Chinese hard landing, the growing central banks’ impotence, the risk of a US recession, and the return of global deflation. Lyxor says, in that context, CTAs thrived on their short commodities and long bond exposures. FI Arbitrage and Global Macro funds exploited monetary relative and tactical opportunities. To the exception of the L/S Equity Long Bias and Special Situations funds – hit on their beta - the other strategies managed to deliver flat to modestly negative returns - Why did investors think that the US Fed would raise rates in this jittery global market? Investors shed stocks in Asia today, on the back of what was a reasonable statement to the House of Representatives Finance Committee, that the US central bank would remain cautious on future rate hikes. According to Swissquote analysts, “Recent market turmoil and uncertainties surrounding China’s growth prospect could weigh on US growth if proven persistent. A few days ago, Stanley Fisher, Fed Vice Chairman, also delivered a cautious speech reminding us that Fed policy will remain data dependent and that it was too soon to tell whether the current market conditions will prevent the Fed from moving on with its rate cycle”. The global mood among central banks is towards an accommodative rather than tightening monetary policy: this was a theme that investors applauded last year and only last month as the ECB signalled a continuation of its policy, but it wasn’t what Wall Street wanted to hear and early gains lost out to negative sentiment and the US markets ended lower for four days in a row. The real worry of course is that ultra-loose monetary policy signals the fears of central bankers that the global economy continues to wind downwards and that consideration is fueling investor fears. Asia’s trading story has been writ in stone for the last few weeks with havens such as gold, the yen and government bonds the main beneficiaries of continued investor jitters. In commodities, Brent crude oil was down 1.3% at $30.43, while WTI crude futures fell 2.7% to $26.70, despite a drawdown in US stockpiles. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 3.9%, catching up with the week's selloff as the market reopened from a holiday. South Korea’s Kospi ended the day down 2.93%, while in Singapore the STI fell 0.77%. Japan's market and China's Shanghai Composite Index were both closed. The dollar was down 1.8% against the yen at ¥ 111.28, a sixteen-month low for the dollar against the Japanese currency. In other currencies, the euro was up 0.4% against the dollar at $1.1325, its highest since October. Spot gold in London gained 1.1% to $1218.18 a troy ounce, its highest level since May. In focus today, will likely be the Swedish Riskbank policy decision, with expectations for already negative rates to go even lower. “Markets may like cheap money for longer but they definitely don’t like the idea of a major market turn-down and another recession, hence discussion about need for US negative rates sapping risk appetite overnight. Note Janet Yellen testifying again today, although yesterday likely saw the most important information already discussed,” says Accendo Markets analysts.

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The push and pull of willpower & politics

Friday, 25 May 2012
The push and pull of willpower & politics June will be a battle between political will and economics. While European leaders continue to insist that they want Greece to remain in the eurozone, they are continually being reminded of the economic reality that a break-up of the single currency is almost certain. What is becoming more apparent day by day is that the markets will simply not allow the likes of Greece to have their cake and eat it without paying for it too. Whether Europe’s politicians will listen to those market siren calls for change has yet to be determined. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

June will be a battle between political will and economics. While European leaders continue to insist that they want Greece to remain in the eurozone, they are continually being reminded of the economic reality that a break-up of the single currency is almost certain. What is becoming more apparent day by day is that the markets will simply not allow the likes of Greece to have their cake and eat it without paying for it too. Whether Europe’s politicians will listen to those market siren calls for change has yet to be determined.

If the Germans and French remain reluctant to put their money in the pockets by either using the ECB’s potential firepower or create a special eurobond then they could themselves become the very nemesis of the single currency that they tell us they are so desperate to keep. Even so, risk aversion continues to whittle down the markets; at the time of writing the index is at 5380, down some 25 points. Traders are watching term support trends at 5335, 5300 and 5275; hopeful bulls out there will be looking for resistance at 5490, 5615/45. This near term downward trend sees the index capped by a downward trend line that also puts some resistance at 5450. Over the longer term now that the index has broken below its 200 day moving average and its upward trend line a close below 5400 could been seen as very negative and we’re now in the ­territory of people not wanting to catch a falling knife.

While immediate market focus will remain on Europe and its affect on the macro picture, there are a couple of important pieces of data that UK investors should note. First, following a surprising improvement in April, unemployment numbers are likely to show a weakening labour market.  There’s little in the way of encouraging data from the UK at the moment, but last month’s data was the first ­indication that unemployment is ­starting to peak. Job creation has come largely from part time rather than ­permanent work and the tick downwards to 8.3% in the rate of unemployment is expected to rise back to 8.4%. Second, it will be interesting to see whether the upcoming Bank of England’s inflation report will encourage the central bank to stick to their hawkish guns or whether the ­confirmation of the double dip recession and a further downgrading of growth projections will result in a more dove-ish tone.



Other European indicators are not great either: Italian ten year yields have crossed back above 6% and for Spain back above 6.5%, meanwhile risk adverse investors piled into German bunds driving their cost of borrowing even lower. This is classic fear gripping the markets once again as the vicissitudes of 2012 look to be playing out in a very similar fashion to 2011. Financial markets detest uncertainty and at the moment they are riddled with them since Greece has been unable to form a government and has had to call for a new round of  elections on 17th June. Up until that point we can expect volatility to remain high and continued pressure to the downside.

The euro made a low of $1.2720 as the situation in Greece continues to deteriorate. Bears sold the single ­currency heavily after socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos announced that talks to form a coalition government had failed and that the public would have to go back to the polls next month. Gold continued to fall as traders dumped risky assets and piled into the safety of the US dollar. Spot gold traded as low as $1541 an ounce.  With little technical support seen until $1531 and no turn around in Greece on the horizon, the down trend looks set to stay firmly in place.

On top of all the European woes there’s also the growing concern that China is slowing down quicker than was previously thought. Add any downturn to the euro crisis and it has negative connotations for global growth.

As ever, ladies and gentlemen, place your bets...

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