Saturday 30th April 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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Hedge Fund Association asks SEC for clearer rules on vetting investors; supports hedge fund advertising in comment letter

Wednesday, 06 June 2012
Hedge Fund Association asks SEC for clearer rules on vetting investors; supports hedge fund advertising in comment letter The Hedge Fund Association (HFA), an international organisation that represents hedge funds, service providers and investors, says liberalised advertising and solicitations rules contained in the new Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act could help hedge funds raise assets and “encourage emerging managers to continue to enter the industry.”  The HFA has also asked the SEC for clearer rules to verify that potential investors are indeed accredited as a way to “add further stability to the industry.” http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

The Hedge Fund Association (HFA), an international organisation that represents hedge funds, service providers and investors, says liberalised advertising and solicitations rules contained in the new Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act could help hedge funds raise assets and “encourage emerging managers to continue to enter the industry.”  The HFA has also asked the SEC for clearer rules to verify that potential investors are indeed accredited as a way to “add further stability to the industry.”

The HFA’s position is outlined in a comment letter submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission on June 6th.  The SEC is soliciting comments before implementing regulations, scheduled to be published July 5th this year, which are expected to allow hedge fund management companies to communicate directly with potential investors for the first time in their history. Hedge funds would still be restricted to selling their securities to accredited investors such as individuals with a minimum $1m net worth and qualified institutional investors.

Hedge funds have been banned from soliciting or advertising their private offerings to the general public in exchange for being exempt from having to register their interests or shares with the SEC under Rule 506 of Regulation D. The lack of a clear definition of a solicitation has created confusion about what hedge fund managers can disclose in their marketing materials, at conferences or in the media.



Richard Heller, chairman of the HFA’s Regulatory and Government Advisory Board and author of the letter on behalf of the HFA, says the JOBS Act provision lifting the advertising ban does not weaken existing anti-fraud provisions forbidding people from using false or misleading statements to induce investors to invest in hedge funds. If anything, he wrote, “providing rules to strengthen a manager's decision to accept a subscriber's investment by following the rules to be drafted by the SEC that will for the first time provide a road map for managers to rely upon will, we believe, add further levels of compliance that the Dodd-Frank Act initiated.” 

The HFA’s comment letter comes two months after the historic signing of the JOBS Act, which the association praised at the time as being a boon to emerging hedge fund managers.  The HFA’s comment letter, says the association’s President, Mitch Ackles, ensures that regulators are able to consider the views of the whole industry, including its service providers, investors and those smaller managers which represent a majority of hedge fund firms.

“In addition to promoting a better understanding of and education about hedge funds, our association’s mission is to give a voice to the concerns of industry participants who may not otherwise have been heard,” says Ackles.  “That’s why we include all of our members in developing policy initiatives,” he adds.

A transcript of the letter, addressed to Elizabeth M Murphy at the SEC is provided below:


The HFA believes that amending the rules that relate to capital formation is fundamental to the continued growth of the hedge fund industry and that allowing general solicitations to further that outcome will encourage emerging managers to continue to enter the industry. Further, providing rules to strengthen a manager's decision to accept a subscriber's investment by following the rules to be drafted by the SEC that will, for the first time, provide a road map for Managers to rely upon will, we believe, add further levels of compliance that the Dodd-Frank Act initiated. While Managers have had subscription agreements in place (and internal policies to provide checks and balances for the manager), having rules in place to verify that potential investors are indeed accredited will add further stability to the industry.

The HFA recognises that the SEC may be concerned that opening the door to general solicitation may, to some degree, open the door to people who wish to perpetrate fraud in connection with false or misleading statements to induce investors to invest in hedge funds. We would remind the SEC that the JOBS Act in no way limits Section 10b-5 promulgated under Section 10 of the Exchange Act, nor does it limit Section 17(a)0 of the Securities Act. All of the state securities or "Blue Sky" rules relating to fraud remain unaffected by the JOBS Act and hedge fund managers continue to be subject to the anti-fraud provisions of the Investment Advisers Act.

Lastly, we note and support the changes to Section 3(c)(7) and would hope that the SEC will amend the language of the Investment Company Act as being available only to offerings not involving a public offering to be consistent with the JOBS Act.

The letter is signed by Mitch Ackles, president of the Hedge Fund Association and
Richard Heller,  chairman, Regulatory & Government Advisory Board, at the Hedge Fund Association.

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