Sunday 1st May 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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A streamlined approach

Friday, 15 June 2012
A streamlined approach The European asset management industry has grown considerably over the last ten years. Assets under management (AUM) stood at €3trn at the end of 2001, and had reached €7.89trn by the end of the second quarter (Q2) 2011. This growth, which will support the savings and retirement of a large portion of the European population, means asset managers have an enormous responsibility to their end clients. By Ann Doherty and Brian Coughlin, JP Morgan Worldwide Securities Services (WSS). http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

The European asset management industry has grown considerably over the last ten years. Assets under management (AUM) stood at €3trn at the end of 2001, and had reached €7.89trn by the end of the second quarter (Q2) 2011. This growth, which will support the savings and retirement of a large portion of the European population, means asset managers have an enormous responsibility to their end clients. By Ann Doherty and Brian Coughlin, JP Morgan Worldwide Securities Services (WSS).

It is inevitable that asset managers want to retain their investment gains by reducing uncertainty and risk from their activities as much as possible and increase straight through processing (STP) and transparency, particularly in today’s volatile environment. One way to achieve that is to use a custodian that can provide all of these benefits through a streamlined product offering to help reduce both costs and risks while keeping up with the ever-

changing regulatory environment.



The objectives of asset managers present their own challenges, particularly with a regulatory reform agenda framed by G20 commitments, which culminated in the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform Act and the European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR). Since 2008, regulation has been constantly evolving and expanding. In addition to those two regulations, investors also have to adjust to the second iteration of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II), UCITs IV, AIFMD, FATCA, Basel III and Solvency II.

To understand and execute on what regulators expect from them, asset managers today look to their service provider for help with the provision of an industry-leading  global custody and securities services offering with innovative technology to meet their daily requirements; seamless execution to increase STP and reduce risk; thought leadership to help them understand how regulation and potential market events could affect them (as well as their end-clients) and provide appropriate and timely data analysis.

Inevitably, the most sophisticated asset managers want to work with a securities services provider that can provide global reach and which has sufficient resources of capital to invest in industry-leading systems and technology. That means all of their requirements are met in one place. Investors then benefit and can have confidence in the fact that whatever complexity is injected into the market, whether by unexpected market events or by regulators, their custodian will be able to manage it.

Next, asset managers want seamless execution to help them eliminate risk and costs. Recognising the important role that asset managers play in the savings and pensions industry, regulators are putting pressure on them to provide their end clients with transpar­ency and as little risk as possible.  To do that, fund managers must tighten up the chain in their post-trade activities. 

For their part, custodians have been moving into more consultative technology-driven services for years, which asset managers and other users of custodian and related securities services have greatly benefitted from. Increasingly, these users of securities services are looking to their providers to move even closer to their front office, even coming just after the trading and investment decision. 

In the past, using one firm’s investment bank to execute trades and using the same bank’s custodian arm might have raised concerns about whether this one-stop-shop provided the best execution and cost in the market. ­Regulations, particularly MiFID, have removed that uncertainty.

Finding a provider that can tick the first two boxes as well as provide the critical consultative thought leadership all asset managers look for to keep up with regulatory and market changes, isn’t easy. Asset managers look to their service providers to provide ­information about changes arising from the rapidly evolving regulatory environment, to ensure that new requirements are understood and ­prepared for. Large international firms that are present in multiple jurisdictions are best placed to have a view of regulatory changes and to adapt their services to new requirements on a global basis.

Lastly, asset managers also rely on service providers to help them provide up-to-date and transparent data ­analysis, which is a critical reporting requirement to regulators, governments, trustees and other stakeholders, and is part of their own internal risk reviews.

This means asset managers want detailed information about their ­transactions, securities held, and ­breakdown of the core characteristics of those assets. They also want this data delivered in a fast and efficient manner, which requires a strong STP framework. This presents a challenge and an opportunity for service providers as it is not an easy task pulling together different sets of data and presenting it in a format that asset managers can consume and customise.

To meet all of these requirements, a service provider has to continuously invest in technology, and have ­regu­latory experts who can quickly analyse new regulations and understand how they will fit and potentially impact existing regulations with which asset managers are already complying. This re­quires a delicate balance between investing in business enhancements and people, while maintaining required capital levels. Large global custodians with the capacity to invest in its technology and systems are more able to make these investments than smaller firms.  

Asset managers are looking to ­securities services providers to act more strategically then ever before. By using one bank for all activities following the investment decision, asset managers are recognising their ability to cut potentially weak links from their post-trade chain, and rationalise the number of providers they use. This coordinated servicing effort across a firm, usually a bank, enables the large and fully-integrated players to really understand an asset manager’s needs, requirements, product and geo­graphical expansion plans. This support across many distribution channels helps fund managers reduce cost,

outsource the risk by leveraging ­operational cap­abilities, risk management capabilities and therefore offers a much better and broader value proposition. Today, a service provider must have all the ­necessary tools in the tool box and be willing and able to use them.

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