Sunday 1st February 2015
NEWS TICKER FRIDAY, JANUARY 30TH: Morningstar has moved the Morningstar Analyst Rating™ of the Fidelity Japan fund to Neutral. The fund was previously Under Review due to a change in management. Prior to being placed Under Review, the fund was rated Neutral. Management of the fund has passed to Hiroyuki Ito - a proven Japanese equity manager, says Morningstar. Ito recently joined Fidelity from Goldman Sachs, where he successfully ran a Japanese equity fund which was positively rated by Morningstar. “At Fidelity, the manager is backed by a large and reasonably experienced analyst team, who enjoy excellent access to senior company management. While we value Mr Ito’s long experience, we are mindful that he may need some further time to establish effective working relationships with the large team of analysts and develop a suitable way of utilising this valuable resource,” says the Morningstar release - The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) today released a list of orders of administrative enforcement actions taken against banks and individuals in December. No administrative hearings are scheduled for February 2015. The FDIC issued a total of 53 orders and one notice. The orders included: five consent orders; 13 removal and prohibition orders; 11 section 19 orders; 15 civil money penalty; nine orders terminating consent orders and cease and desist orders; and one notice. More details are available on its website - Moody's Investors Service has completed a performance review of the UK non-conforming Residential Mortgage Backed Securities (RMBS) portfolio. The review shows that the performance of the portfolio has improved as a result of domestic recovery, increasing house prices and continued low interest-rates. Post-2009, the low interest rate environment has benefitted non-conforming borrowers, a market segment resilient to the moderate interest rate rise. Moody's also notes that UK non-conforming RMBS exposure to interest-only (IO) loans has recently diminished as the majority of such loans repaid or refinanced ahead of their maturity date - The London office of Deutsche Bank is being investigated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), according to The Times newspaper. Allegedly, the bank has been placed under ‘enhanced supervision’ by the FCA amid concerns about governance and regulatory controls at the bank. The enhanced supervision order was taken out some months ago, says the report, however it has only just been made public - According to Reuters, London Stock Exchange Group will put Russell Investments on the block next month, after purchasing it last year. LSE reportedly wants $1.4bn - Legg Mason, Inc. has reported net income of $77m for Q3 fiscal 2014, compared with $4.9m in the previous quarter, and net income of $81.7m over the period. In the prior quarter, Legg Mason completed a debt refinancing that resulted in a $107.1m pre-tax charge. Adjusted income for Q3 fiscal was $113.1m compared to $40.6m in the previous quarter and $124.6m in Q3 fiscal. For the current quarter, operating revenues were $719.0m, up 2% from $703.9m in the prior quarter, and were relatively flat compared to $720.1m in Q3 fiscal. Operating expenses were $599.6m, up 5% from $573.5m in the prior quarter, and were relatively flat compared to $598.4min Q3 of fiscal 2014. Assets under management were $709.1bn as the end of December, up 4% from $679.5bn as of December 31, 2013. The Legg Mason board of directors says it has approved a new share repurchase authorisation for up to $1bn of common stock and declared a quarterly cash dividend on its common stock in the amount of $0.16 per share. - The EUR faces a couple of major releases today, says Clear Treasury LLP, and while the single currency has traded higher through the week, the prospect of €60bn per month in QE will likely keep the euro at a low ebb. The bigger picture hasn’t changed, yesterday’s run of German data was worse than expected with year on year inflation declining to -.5% (EU harmonised level). Despite the weak reading the EUR was unperturbed - The Singapore Exchange (SGX) is providing more information to companies and investors in a new comprehensive disclosure guide. Companies wanting clarity on specific principles and guidelines on corporate governance can look to the guide, which has been laid out in a question-and-answer format. SGX said listed companies are encouraged to include the new disclosure guide in their annual reports and comply with the 2012 Code of Corporate Governance, and will have to explain any deviations in their reporting collateral. - Cordea Savills on behalf of its European Commercial Fund has sold Camomile Court, 23 Camomile Street, London for £47.97mto a French pension fund, which has entrusted a real estate mandate to AXA Real Estate. The European Commercial Fund completed its initial investment phase in 2014 at total investment volume of more than €750m invested in 20 properties. Active Asset Management in order to secure a stable distribution of circa 5% a year. which has been achieved since inception of the fund is the main focus of the Fund Management now. Gerhard Lehner, head of portfolio management, Germany, at Cordea Savills says “With the sale of this property the fund is realising a value gain of more than 40%. This is the fruit of active Asset Management but does also anticipate future rental growth perspectives. For the reinvestment of the returned equity we have already identified suitable core office properties.” Meantime, Kiran Patel, chief investment officer at Cordea Savills adds: “The sale of Camomile Court adds to the £370m portfolio disposal early in the year. Together with a number of other asset sales, our total UK transaction activity since January stands at £450m. At this stage of the cycle, we believe there is merit in banking performance and taking advantage of some of the strong demand for assets in the market.” - US bourses closed higher last night thanks to much stronger Jobless Claims data (14yr low) which outweighed mixed earnings results. Overnight, Asian bourses taken positive lead from US, even as Bank of Japan data shows that inflation is still falling, consumption in shrinking and manufacturing output is just under expectations. According to Michael van Dulken at Accendo Markets, “Japan’s Nikkei [has been] helped by existing stimulus and weaker JPY. In Australia, the ASX higher as the AUD weakened following producer price inflation adding to expectations of an interest rate cut by the RBA, following other central banks recently reacting to low inflation. Chinese shares down again ahead of a manufacturing report.” - Natixis has just announced the closing of the debt financing for Seabras-1, a new subsea fiber optic cable system between the commercial and financial centers of Brazil and the United States. The global amount of debt at approximately $270m was provided on a fully-underwritten basis by Natixis -

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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