Wednesday 28th January 2015
NEWS TICKER, JANUARY 28TH: BNP Paribas’ 4th Quarter 2014 Results will be available on Thursday February 5th from 6:00 am (London time) on the bank’s website. A live webcast in English with synchronised slides of the analysts presentation hosted by Jean-Laurent Bonnafé (CEO) will be available on the website starting at 1:30 pm (GMT). - Kurdish forces say they have expelled the Islamic State fighters from the Syrian town of Kobani, near the Turkish border. However, this is the now the fourth time in as many months that this news has been disseminated - - Deutsche Börse will announce its preliminary results for the 2014 operating year on February 19th - S&P has lowered the Russian credit rating to junk with negative outlook as the sliding oil prices and tensions in Ukraine now look to be a serious threat to the country’s financial and political stability, says SwissQuote. The FX analytics firm notes that the USD/RUB is testing 70 offers. “Should the sell-off gains momentum above 70, we expect the CBR to intervene to temper the ruble depreciation. The CBR meets on January 30th and is expected to keep the bank rate unchanged at 17%. Given the selling pressures on the ruble, we do not expect any cut yet. Russia’s forex reserves eases toward 2009 lows, $379.4bn as of January 16th. With the free-floating RUB, the FX reserves will certainly keep fading, therefore should bring the CBR to find alternative ways to intervene to slowdown the debasing”. - Latvia’s prime minister’s office, has issued a statement about events in the Ukraine. "We express our concern about the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine. We condemn the killing of civilians during the indiscriminate shelling of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol on 24 January 2015. We note evidence of continued and growing support given to the separatists by Russia, which underlines Russia's responsibility. We urge Russia to condemn the separatists' actions and to implement the Minsk agreements. We recall the European Council conclusions of 18 December 2014, where we said that "the EU will stay the course" and that we are "ready to take further steps if necessary." In view of the worsening situation the office asks “the upcoming Foreign Affairs Council to assess the situation and to consider any appropriate action, in particular on further restrictive measures, aiming at a swift and comprehensive implementation of Minsk agreements,” says the statement. Latvia has assumed the presidency of the EU for the six months to June. - Data from the IMF suggests that The Netherlands has raised its gold holdings, having bought 9.61 tonnes in December last year. Russia too continues to build its gold reserves and has increased stock for the ninth consecutive month, buying 20.73 tonnes last month. The purchases by the Dutch central bank follows its move in November to repatriate more than 120 tonnes of gold from vaults in the United States - UK GDP looks to be weaker than expected but remains good news for investors. “The first estimates of the Q4 GDP numbers came in slightly below expectations at 0.5% and markedly slower than the previous three quarters of 2014. The primary driver of the reduced growth rate was the construction sector, which saw output fall by 1.8%. However, the slowdown was not enough to prevent the fastest full year growth rate of 2.7% since the financial crisis,” says Helal Miah, investment research analyst at The Share Centre. “Despite numbers being slightly weaker than expected, we believe the UK economy remains relatively robust. After a fantastic few years in the construction sector it is quite natural to see a return to normal markets conditions. The services element of the UK economy remains healthy and the full benefits of the plunge in the price of oil are still to come. Low inflation will hold back interest rate rises and we therefore believe that for investors the equity market remains the asset class of choice.” - Societe Generale Securities Services (SGSS) has launched a new website, Sharinbox, for corporations and their registered shareholders and employees who benefit from free share plans, stock options plans and other incentive schemes. Operational since December 13th last year, the website, www.sharinbox.societegenerale.com, provides users with direct, multilingual access to an online resource with information regarding their share and employee ownership plans in order to manage their personal data and transactions – According to Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, “Given the headwinds being felt by major oil companies around the world, the share price performance since the beginning of last year, while uninspiring, has still out performed the oil price which given the macro economic back drop is all the more surprising … We’ve already seen the effects that the slump in the oil price is having on the oilfield service providers in the US, with both Baker Hughes and Halliburton announcing job losses as the companies see rig counts drop, and margins decline. We’ve also seen WBH Energy, a Texas based shale producer file for bankruptcy. Despite all these concerns the shares have outperformed, though that probably has more to do with the buyback program the company has been doing than anything to do with outperformance relative to its peers. The company has been buying back shares on a fairly steady basis over the past 12 months and this undoubtedly will have accounted for the relative outperformance”.The FSCS has started paying compensation in respect of 13 firms, including seven investment advice firms and three life and pension advice firms that have gone into default. The financial advice firms which have entered default, according to the scheme are: Barry Norris & Associates, Premier Financial Advice, The Financial Consultancy (UK), True Financial Management (formerly HNL Financial Services), Unleash Advice Partnership, and AJ Buckley Financial Management formerly AJ Buckley Overseas, City Insurance Consultants. Last week, the FSCS published its plan and budget for the coming year, which revealed investment advisers would be paying £125m towards the FSCS annual levy for 2015/16. Life and pension intermediaries are paying a £57m levy, an increase of £24m compared to the £33m the FSCS levied against the funding sub-class for 2014/15. Since it was set up in 2001, the FSCS has paid out more than£975 million in compensation to customers of defaulted advice firms. In November 2014, the FSCS said it had dealt with the default of 2,391 independent advice firms since it was set up. - Retail Sales in the United Kingdom unexpectedly increased in December, as the drop in oil prices boosted the country’s spending power. The increase came from a 5.2% gain in computers, telecoms, toys, and sporting goods sales, while food sales alone contributed 1.3%. There was a decline in sales of some items, such as clothing and household goods, reflecting a boost from Black Friday discounts the previous month - The Source Goldman Sachs Equity Factor Index Europe UCITS ETF has been launched, the second Source ETF to be launched that provides access to Goldman Sachs’ multi-factor indices. “Smart beta funds have proven successful in certain markets, providing investors with the potential to generate better returns than the more common market-cap weighted benchmarks, particularly on a risk-adjusted basis,” says Michael John Lytle, chief development officer at Source. “The Goldman Sachs series of factor-based indices offer exposure to multiple factors, rather than just the one or two that are applied to many other funds on the market.” – Mixed news from the US over the weekend. Housing starts in the US surged, as builders broke ground in December on the most houses in almost seven years. Work began on 728,000 houses at an annual rate, a 7.2% increase from November and the most since March 2008. On the other hand, building permits, a representation for future construction declined 1.9% in December to a 1.03m pace, however more Americans filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, signaling that the holiday employment turnover is taking its toll on the jobs market. Jobless claims dropped by 10,000 to 307,000 in the week ending January 17th down from a revised rate of 317,000 in the prior week, a Labor department report shows. Applications for jobless benefits were expected to decline to 300,000, according to market surveys by economists - German ZEW Center for European Economic Research in Mannheim said its index of investor and analyst expectations, which aims to predict economic developments six months in advance, climbed for a third consecutive month in January to 48.4 from 34.9 in December. Economists forecast an increase to 40, according to the median of 37 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. The sentiment index jumped to the highest level in 11 months - Singapore Exchange is partnering Clearbridge Accelerator to address financing gaps small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs face by providing the investing community with greater transparency. SGX said on Monday (Jan 26) it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with CBA, a Singapore venture capital and incubation firm specialising in early-stage investments. Under the agreement, both parties will form a joint-venture (JV) company to develop the fund-raising platform, which aims to address financing gaps SMEs and entrepreneurs face by providing the investing community with greater transparency. The JV will identify and form a strategic equity partnership with an experienced platform operator and industry stakeholders such as financial institutions to operate the new capital-raising platform. It will also identify other partners and collaborators to create demand among investors for the offerings on the platform, according to the press release. The move to help smaller firms raise funding marks the entry of SGX into a new business area. Besides operating the stock market, which caters to the equity needs of more to established firms, SGX also offers a platform for bonds as well as derivatives and commodities. Enterprise development agency SPRING Singapore will play a supporting role in the formation of the JV, as part of its ongoing efforts to make the financing environment more conducive to SMEs and entrepreneurs, the statement added. - Hedge funds swung to betting on price falls in cotton, soybeans and wheat, amid ideas of easier supplies, as they cut bullish positioning in agricultural commodities to the weakest in three months Managed money, a proxy for speculators, cut its net long position in futures and options in the top 13 US-traded agricultural commodities, from coffee to cattle, by more than 43,000 contracts in the week to last Tuesday, according to data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission regulator - Richard Bruton TD, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, today announced that the Viagogo Group, which operates www.viagogo.com, the ticket marketplace, intends to double its workforce in Ireland over the next three years, taking it from 100 to over 200 employees. The jobs are supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through IDA Ireland -

High yield market: Finding fixed-income firepower

Wednesday, 25 July 2012
High yield market: Finding fixed-income firepower With Fed liquidity helping to drive rates in competing asset classes lower, fixed-income mavens have been understandably buoyed by the comparatively attractive risk-adjusted returns of high-yield corporate bonds. Despite consistently strong credit fundamentals, however, the persistence of worrisome global-macro volatility will likely keep high-yield investors on alert throughout the second half of the year. From Boston, Dave Simons reports. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

With Fed liquidity helping to drive rates in competing asset classes lower, fixed-income mavens have been understandably buoyed by the comparatively attractive risk-adjusted returns of high-yield corporate bonds. Despite consistently strong credit fundamentals, however, the persistence of worrisome global-macro volatility will likely keep high-yield investors on alert throughout the second half of the year. From Boston, Dave Simons reports.

While many segments of the bond market have struggled in the face of plum­met­ing interest rates, one area that has been increasingly attractive to income investors has been high yield. Unlike 2011 which saw long-term treasuries outperform US corporate high yield by a six-to-one margin (according to figures from Barclays Capital), the global high-yield market began the current year in top form, with portions of the sector topping 8% as of late May.

With corporations de-leveraging and balance sheets improving, high-yield fundamentals appear to be sound (and include a record low default rate), while new issuance has been largely limited to extending maturities and boosting liquidity.



Though price action is typically impacted by global-macro volatility concerns (particularly with respect to the situation in Europe), the sector’s aggregate yield has advanced approximately 100 basis points since the start of the year, which could help attract even more investors going forward. Accordingly, many observers remain unusually bullish toward high yield corporate bonds and their attractive risk-adjusted returns, and believe these investments will be aided by the central-banking pro-growth monetary policy of the US and EU.

David Leduc Standish Mellon Asset ManagementDavid Leduc, chief investment officer of Standish Mellon Asset Management’s active fixed income division.Credit fundamentals remain reasonably healthy across most sectors, particularly within the US and developed areas, affirms David Leduc, chief investment officer of Standish Mellon Asset Management’s active fixed income division. “We have been a bit lighter on energy given the recent fluctuation in oil prices and other concerns,” says Leduc, “however on balance we’ve liked what we’ve seen.” Earnings have been strong, says Leduc, and the vast majority of companies have been able to secure financing at historically favorable terms, giving them greater flexibility.

As one would expect, the top end of the yield curve has been shaped for the most part by lower-rated issues, with some CCC-rated products approaching the 10% mark. Emerging-markets high yield has garnered significant interest, while European high yield continues to lead the pack on a global basis. “Euro spreads have been consistently higher,” says Leduc, “which helped the sector outperform during the first part of the year.” Navigating the financial space has been tricky, though, says Leduc. “There have been a lot of fallen angels particularly around European bank sub-debt, and we’ve tended to steer clear as a result.” Attractive opportunities in the US include various issues in the lease-finance sector; communications has had its share of good performers, and Standish Mellon has also benefited from positions in the US auto sector, particularly in light of recent upgrades.

Even those with a reduced appetite for risk have seen returns in the vicinity of 4% or higher from certain higher-rated (BB and B) issues. “Some of the smaller names in Latin America and Asia have paid upwards of 60 basis points (bps) higher than their US counterparts, simply because they may have better credit metrics including lower leverage and higher interest coverage,” says Leduc. “While it might not sound like that big a deal, when you have 10-year treasury bonds yielding less than two percent, it does mean something.”

Brian Kinney State StreetBrian Kinney, managing director at State Street Global Advisors (SSgA).The perception that the Fed will keep rates at low, combined with the positive direction of corporate balance sheets, has helped boost comfort levels, says Brian Kinney, managing director at State Street Global Advisors (SSgA). As such, investors are increasingly viewing high yield as a plausible mechanism with which to diversify away from lower-paying government bonds, or to use high yield in part as a hedge against inflation.

“Not only are clients moving into these types of asset classes in greater numbers, they are doing so in a way that they feel will provide them with the most liquidity,” says Kinney. Given the illiquidity licking that many an investor suffered pre-crisis, it’s not that surprising that the vehicle of choice for high-yield entry has often been exchange-traded funds. During the first quarter alone, roughly 25% to 30% of total high-yield inflows arrived via ETFs, with the majority directed toward State Street’s SPDR Barclays Capital High Yield Bond ETF as well as iShares’ iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (the two funds currently account for an estimated $25bn combined).

Because high-yield ETFs tend to invest in a smaller number of larger, more liquid issuers, there is a bit of a trade-off between liquidity and broad exposure when compared to institutional fixed-income high-yield benchmarks. It’s a sacrifice that many clients have been willing to make, says Kinney. “If you look at the performance of high-yield managers versus the index, on balance the returns haven’t been all that different,” says Kinney. ­“Particularly when you consider the importance of liquidity to investors nowadays, you can see why ETFs have become a legitimate choice for clients in support of high yield.”

Despite the upward trend, managers have been loath to keep the pedal to the medal, given the perpetual ebbs and flows of economic developments both at home and abroad. In contrast to the buoyant first quarter that saw major fund flows into high yield, the economic realities of Q2 subsequently sucked some of the joy back out of the markets; though still north of 5% on an aggregate basis (as of June 30th), corporate high-yield indices have since retraced much of the gains tacked on earlier in the year.

“There could still be a fair amount of volatility into the foreseeable future,” says Leduc, “which is important to keep in mind, particularly when using high yield in accounts that may not be totally dedicated to that asset class. Things have clearly gotten a bit softer in the US during the second quarter, which isn’t all that surprising given the higher-than-average performance we saw during the previous quarter, nevertheless it does bear watching. But there are other things to look out for as well—China’s growth has been slower than the markets had previously expected, and of course Europe continues to struggle with the sovereign-debt problem. So global-growth concerns do remain at the forefront, and even though it’s not our view, should there be a more meaningful pullback in the US economy, that would certainly not be constructive for high yield. While we’re not necessarily building those expectations into our high-yield strategy, it is something we need to be cognisant of as we move forward.”

Still, experts such as Kinney prefer to look at the bigger picture. “The fundamentals story, which is about corporations’ balance sheets, cash on hand, and access to the capital markets is still quite positive,” says Kinney. “If you forget about the spreads and just focus on the absolute yields, you see that corporations are in better shape than they’ve been in years. You also have a very strong technical story in the sense that there is a lot of liquidity in the system right now—and the indirect result of the Fed putting all of this money into the system is that absolute yields in other asset classes have been driven very low. So as a relative-value proposition high yield looks very attractive, particularly in a market that is awash in liquidity and other yields are at their historical lows.”

Despite some suggestions that government regulation has lead to greater inefficiency and the potential for market dislocations, the improved transparency has allowed investors to breathe a bit easier whilst on the high-yield hunt.

“Say what you want about regulation—the fact of the matter is that investors have been able to look at corporate balance sheets and have a much better understanding of what’s actually behind them,” says Kinney. “The ability to analyse and subsequently invest in corporations is probably better than it’s ever been, and that is certainly one of the more positive aspects of the increased disclosure around what corporations are doing with their money. And the high-yield market has really been one of the key beneficiaries of that trend.”

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