Friday 27th May 2016
NEWS TICKER, FRIDAY MAY 27TH: BGEO Group plc, the London listed holding company of JSC Bank of Georgia, has this morning announced that Bank of Georgia, Georgia’s leading bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) have signed a GEL220m (approximately £70m) loan agreement with a maturity of five years. EBRD obtained the local currency funds through a private placement of GEL-dominated bonds arranged by Galt &Taggart, a wholly owned subsidiary of BGEO. This is the largest and the longest maturity local currency loan granted to a Georgian bank, which will allow Bank of Georgia to issue longer-term local currency loans, providing essential support for micro, small and medium sized enterprises to converge to DCFTA requirements, as well as underserved women entrepreneurs. “We are keen to develop financial products and lending practices, to service specifically women-led SMEs, which will ultimately increase their involvement in developing Georgia’s private sector”, says Irakli Gilauri, CEO of BGEO Group - The UK’s CBI has responded to analysis from the Treasury showing that a vote to leave the European Union could negatively impact UK pensions. Rain Newton-Smith, CBI Economics Director, says that: “All pension schemes benefit when funds can be invested across a stable, growing economy, to best support people in their retirement years. Any financial market turmoil caused by a Brexit is likely to have a negative effect on household wealth, the value of funds and damage pensions here at home, especially for those looking to retire within the next few years. The sheer weight of credible evidence points towards a serious economic shock if the UK were to leave the EU, meaning a hit to the value of our private pensions, jobs and prosperity.” - EPFR Global reports that Nine weeks into the second quarter mutual fund investors remain underwhelmed by their choices as they seek to navigate a global economy characterized by political uncertainty in Europe, lacklustre corporate profits and the prospect of another interest rate hike in the US, economic stress in major emerging markets and Japan's experiment with negative interest rates. During the week ending May 25 all nine of the major EPFR Global-tracked Emerging and Developed Markets Equity Fund groups posted outflows, as did Global, High Yield, Asia-Pacific and Emerging Markets Bond Funds, seven of the 11 major Sector Fund groups and three out of every five Country Equity Fund groups. Alternative Funds look to have taken in over $1bn for the fifth time in the past 14 weeks. Overall, EPFR Global-tracked Bond Funds added $2.6 billion to their year-to-date tally while another $9.1bn flowed out of Equity Funds. Some $12bn was absorbed by Money Market Funds with US funds attracting the bulk of the fresh money. EPFR Global-tracked Emerging Markets Equity Funds remained under pressure from many directions. China's economic data and policy shifts continue to paint a mixed picture for growth in the world's second largest economy, the US Federal Reserve is talking up the prospects of a second rate hike this summer, Europe's recovery appears to be running out of stream and the recent recovery in commodities prices is being viewed with scepticism in many quarters. All four of the major groups recorded outflows during the week ending May 25, with the diversified Global Emerging Markets (GEM) Equity Funds seeing the biggest outflows in cash terms and EMEA Equity Funds in flows as a percentage of AUM terms. Latin America Equity Funds extended their longest outflow streak since late 3Q15 as investors who bought into the prospect of political and economic change in Brazil confront the messy reality. However, year to date Brazil has been the top emerging market for all EPFR Global-tracked Equity Funds as managers bet that the impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff will open the door to more centrist economic policymaking says the funds data maven. Among the EMEA markets, the firm reports that GEM managers are showing more optimism than investors. EMEA Equity Funds have now posted outflows for five straight weeks and investors have pulled over $300m out of Russia and South Africa Equity Funds so far this month, though GEM allocations for both South Africa and Russia climbed coming into this month. The latest allocations data indicates less optimism about China despite is still impressive official numbers - annual GDP was running at 6.7% in 1Q16 - and the edge the recent slide in the renminbi should give Chinese exporters. GDP growth in Emerging Asia's second largest market, India, is even higher. Elsewhere, India Equity Funds have struggled to attract fresh money as investors wait to for domestic business investment and the government's reform agenda to kick into higher gears says EPFR Global – According to New Zealand press reports, stock exchange operator, NZX, will initiate confidential enquiries into listed companies that experience large, unexplained share price movements, to determine whether they may be holding undisclosed "material" information even while remaining in compliance with the market's Listing Rules that require disclosure of material information at certain trigger points. In an announcement this morning, NZX also warned investors not to assume that a listed entity's Listing Rules compliance statements meant they did not have material information in their possession which would potentially require eventual disclosure - Asian stocks were modestly higher today, largely on the back of increasingly softening sentiment from the US Federal Reserve. Most people think there will be one rate hike this year, but likely it will be in July rather than June. Either way, it will be one and not two or three. Fed chair Janet Yellen is scheduled to talk about interest rates at an event at Harvard University today and the expectation is that a softer approach for the rest of this year will be writ large; a good signal of intent will follow today’s quarterly growth stats. The presidential election will encourage caution; continued market volatility will encourage caution and mixed manufacturing data will encourage caution. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index added 0.4% to touch 16,834.84 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.9% to 20,576.52. The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.3% to 2,829.67. The Straits Times Index (STI) ended 6.65 points or 0.24% higher to 2773.31, taking the year-to-date performance to -3.80%. The top active stocks today were SingTel, which gained 1.05%, DBS, which gained 0.07%, UOB, which gained0.11%, Keppel Corp, which gained2.47% and Ascendas REIT, which closed unchanged. The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index gained 0.27%, while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index rose 0.30% - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) says it is taking the first step towards developing a green financial system in Kazakhstan in partnership with the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) Authority. EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti and AIFC Governor Kairat Kelimbetov signed an agreement today on the sidelines of the Foreign Investors Council’s plenary session to commission a scoping study for the development of a green financing system in Kazakhstan. The study, scheduled to be completed in 2017, will assess the demand for green investments, identify gaps in current regulations, and make recommendations for the introduction of green financing standards and for the development of the green bonds market and carbon market services. The development of a green financing system would be consistent with the COP21 Paris Agreement, aligning financing flows with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate resilient development. The AIFC Authority was put in place earlier this year and is tasked with developing an international financial centre in Astana. In March, the AIFC Authority, TheCityUK and the EBRD signed a Memorandum of Understanding to support the establishment of the financial centre and to encourage and improve opportunities for the financial and related professional services industries – Turkey’s Yuksel has issued notice to holders of $200m senior notes due 2015 (ISIN XS0558618384), and filed with the Luxembourg Stock Exchange, that the company has agreed a term sheet with the ad-hoc committee of noteholders and its advisors to implement a restructuring of the notes and is currently finalising the required scheme documentation with the Committee. Once agreed, the Company will apply to the English High Court for leave to convene a meeting of note creditors to vote on the scheme proposals as soon as reasonably practicable when the High Court reconvenes after vacation in June 2016 - Following the agreement in principle of the May 24th Eurogroup for the release of the next loan tranche to Greece, domestic authorities have intensified their efforts for the completion of all pending issues reports EFG Eurobank in Athens. According to Greece’s Minister of Finance Euclid Tsakalotos, on the fulfilment of all pending issues, €7.5bn will be disbursed in mid-June, of which €1.8bn will be channeled to clear state arrears – This weekend is the second UK May Bank Holiday. FTSE Global Markets will reopen on Tuesday, May 31st at 9.00 am. We wish our readers and clients a sunny, restful, safe and exceedingly happy holiday.

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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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