Sunday 23rd November 2014
NEWS TICKER – FRIDAY NOVEMBER 21ST 2014: The director of the National Security Agency, Navy Admiral Michael Rogers, says he expects to see adversaries launch a cyber-attack in the next few years aimed at severely damaging America's critical infrastructure. "I fully expect that during my time as commander, we're going to be tasked to help defend critical infrastructure within the United States because it is under attack by some foreign nation or some individual or group," Rogers told the House Select Committee on Intelligence this morning (EST). Rogers, who also serves as commander of the US Cyber Command, says the government is better prepared to defend against those attacks than it was two years ago.On November 24th, the Federal Reserve will conduct a fixed-rate offering of term deposits through its Term Deposit Facility (TDF) that will incorporate an early withdrawal feature. This feature will allow depository institutions to obtain a return of funds prior to the maturity date subject to an early withdrawal penalty. The Federal Reserve will offer eight-day term deposits with an interest rate of 0.29000% and a maximum tender amount of $20,000,000,000. The penalty for early withdrawal is 0.75%, the minimum tender per institution is $20,000,000,000 - The Straits Times Index (STI) ended +29.72 points higher or +0.90% to 3345.32, taking the year-to-date performance to +5.70%. The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index gained +0.64% while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index gained +0.83%. The top active stocks were SingTel (+0.51%), UOB (+1.37%), DBS (+1.64%), Keppel Corp (+0.22%) and OCBC Bank (+1.16%). The outperforming sectors today were represented by the FTSE ST Basic Materials Index (+1.70%). The two biggest stocks of the FTSE ST Basic Materials Index are Midas Holdings (+1.72%) and Geo Energy Resources (+3.02%). The underperforming sector was the FTSE ST Technology Index, which gained +0.16% with Silverlake Axis’s share price gaining 0.41% and STATS ChipPAC’s share price unchanged. The three most active Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) by value were the IS MSCI India (+1.70%), SPDR Gold Shares (+0.34%), DBXT MSCI Singapore IM ETF (unchanged). The most active Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) by value were Suntec REIT (unchanged), Ascendas REIT (unchanged), CapitaCom Trust (+0.89%) - In an interview with US online service Careers Info-Security News Greg Shannon, chief scientist at the CERT Division of Carnegie Mellon University's Software Engineering Institute says that to defeat cyber-adversaries, cybersecurity professionals should adopt a contrarian attitude, says. "Having that contrarian point of view allows you to get into the mindset of the adversary," Shannon says in an interview with Information Security Media Group. "How would this technology work if it did something the designer of it didn't think of?" he asks. "Certainly, that's the way the adversary is thinking, coming up with new attacks, new threats. They're looking at an app, a piece of software or some websites, [and they think] 'What can I do here that the designer didn't think of? Is there a way to get information through channels, through tricks that weren't anticipated? Is there some frailty of humans that I can exploit to get information out of them that they wouldn't normally give me?'" – Raiffeisen Bank International warned in an analyst conference call yesterday that profits in its Russian business would be challenged in Q4 versus Q3. The bank’s Chief Financial Officer Martin Gruell said higher risk provisioning and increased operating expenses could cut profits in its single most profitable market. "I would expect the fourth quarter to be a bit lower than the third quarter," he said. He believes the worst of the rouble's devaluation is over, but explained that the impact on the group’s capital from the dip in the ruble, could push RBI's core capital below 10% of risk-weighted assets by the end of this year - The performance of the Dutch residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) market remained stable during the three-month period ended September 2014, according to the latest indices published by Moody's Investors Service. The 60+ day delinquencies of Dutch RMBS, including Dutch mortgage loans benefitting from a Nationale Hypotheek Garantie, decreased to 0.95% in September 2014 from 0.98% in June 2014. At the same time, the 90+ day delinquencies decreased to 0.72% during the three-month period compared with 0.75% in June 2014. Cumulative defaults continued to increase to 0.54% of the original balance, plus additions (in the case of Master Issuers) and replenishments in September 2014, compared with 0.47% in June 2014, says the ratings agency. Cumulative losses slightly increased to 0.11% in September 2014 from 0.10% in June 2014 – According to a Clearstream client bulletin on November 18th, the US Internal Revenue Service and the US Treasury published an amendment to the current temporary regulations (TD9657) regarding FATCA. The amendment impacts Foreign Financial Institutions (FFIs) who have entered into an agreement with the IRS to become a participating FFI. It amends the determination date and timing for reporting with respect to the 2014 calendar year.

BlackRock's 2013 market outlook predicts improving investment prospects

Sunday, 23 December 2012
BlackRock's 2013 market outlook predicts improving investment prospects Prospects are improving for a positive albeit gradual turn next year in global economic and investment conditions, according to the BlackRock Investment Institute’s 2013 investment outlook.  The report, entitled ‘Slow Turn Ahead?’ urges investors to keep a close eye on the impact of government policy – first and foremost, the urgent effort to avoid the fiscal cliff in the US, which will drive the direction of both the US and global economies in the New Year. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

Prospects are improving for a positive albeit gradual turn next year in global economic and investment conditions, according to the BlackRock Investment Institute’s 2013 investment outlook.  The report, entitled ‘Slow Turn Ahead?’ urges investors to keep a close eye on the impact of government policy – first and foremost, the urgent effort to avoid the fiscal cliff in the US, which will drive the direction of both the US and global economies in the New Year.

“Our big questions for 2013 are whether the wave of ultra-loose monetary policies and quantitative easing has crested and if private sector credit can stage a modest recovery,” says Ewen Cameron Watt, BII’s chief investment strategist. “Trillions of dollars in monetary stimulus and record low interest rates have failed to spur much credit growth and economic activity so far. But what if this changes? Policy - fiscal, monetary and regulatory - drove markets in 2012 and will remain central to 2013 outcomes,” adds Cameron Watt.

With central banks apparently refocusing monetary stimulus away from preventing a financial sector collapse and towards targeting economic growth, next steps by the US Federal Reserve will merit particularly close attention, according to the report.



“We do not expect the Fed to raise rates any time soon. But it could take its foot off the monetary accelerator on signs of quickening job growth in the second half of 2013,”says Cameron Wat. “Markets need only a whiff of a Fed preparing to slow its QE programmes because of improving employment to empty some of the vast store of investor money in cash and low-yielding fixed income assets, and put it into equities.”

In the US, much hinges on efforts to avoid the fiscal cliff, a set of tax hikes and spending cuts set to go into effect on 1 January. "The United States may turn the corner on growth – if Washington can avoid falling off the fiscal cliff and negotiate a long-term budget reduction plan,” according to the report. Regulation remains an important focus too, whether it be financial sector reform in the developed world or social security and welfare reforms in emerging economies. Politics also will play a role again in 2013 with elections in, among other nations, Italy, Germany and Israel, alongside US budget reform.

BII’s Five-Point Summary for 2013

  1. We have become more upbeat about the prospects for risk assets and stabilising economic growth (albeit at low levels). Low expectations = potential upside surprises.
  2. The US economy should gain momentum and help boost global growth – IF Washington can avoid the “fiscal cliff” and compromise on a sustainable budget.
  3. Many investors lack conviction in markets where risk taking is often punished and trends last a skinny minute. Rome – and confidence – was not built in a day.
  4. The era of ultra-loose monetary policy may draw to a close, challenging “safe” fixed income assets and heralding a shift toward equities. Safety = new tail risk.
  5. Income investing works in a zero-rate world – but the hunt for yield has narrowed valuations between top-quality and not-so great income assets. Take out the garbage. 

So What Do I Do With My Money?

Here is a summary of the BII’s investment recommendations for 2013:

Fixed Income: Danger in Safety

Prices of safe-haven government bonds and similar assets could plunge when yields start to rise. Low yield = high price risk.  We like global high yield and US munis for income – but do not expect much capital appreciation. We favour emerging market debt.  In Europe, we prefer Italian and Spanish bonds over debt of weaker core countries. We are bullish on commercial mortgage-backed securities and collaterised loan obligations.

Equities: Global Smorgasbord

We like global companies with strong balance sheets, steady cash flows and growing dividends. We favour high-quality US stocks, global energy and emerging markets.  We are bullish on domestic consumption plays in Brazil and China, North Asian cyclical stocks, and Mexican banks and industrials. We like discounted exporters on Europe’s periphery and small “self-help” UK companies.

Commodities: Long View

We like metals with long-term supply gaps and agricultural commodities.  China’s appetite is huge.

Currencies: Dollar Bulls

We are bullish on the US dollar due to the country’s energy boom and long-term growth prospects.

Good and Bad Income

Income investing remains our strategy of choice in a zero-rate world. The hunt for yield has created pockets of overheating and narrowed valuations between top-quality and less desirable income assets. The report details the state of play in fixed income, high yield, emerging market debt, municipal bonds, dividends, and real estate investment trusts.

 

Pain Trades

Our biggest contrarian idea is buying Japanese exporters while selling the yen. Other pain trades include selling “safe” tobacco stocks, buying US companies with cash piles abroad, and buying securities of European and US financials. We have warmed up to Indian equities after the country’s reforms on foreign investment.

The Gift of Insurance

Short-term implied volatility is eerily low whereas policy uncertainties are near financial crisis levels. Consider options to hedge downside and upside risks.

Volatility Reversal?

The fire hose of monetary liquidity and investor hunger for yield has depressed short-term volatility, so maybe a reversal will have the opposite effect.

 

 

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