Classifieds | Archives | Jobs | About TGT | Contact | Subscribe
 | 
Last updated 57 minutes ago
Printer Friendly Version | TGT@Twitter | RSS Feed |
HOME LOCAL MIDEAST ASIA WORLD BUSINESS SPORT OPINION WRITERS
Goldilocks markets show 2017 was ‘no year to be a bear’
December 07, 2017
 Print    Send to Friend

LONDON: A year ago, the consensus view of the world economy and markets coming into 2017 was for a Goldilocks mix of strong growth, decent corporate profits, low volatility, a gradual drift higher in bond yields, and a continued “melt up” in stocks.

If anything, 2017 has proved even more resilient than many had hoped for. World stocks rose 20 per cent, global growth was its strongest since 2010, market volatility fell to its lowest on record and “junk” bond yields hit all-time lows. It didn’t pay to be a contrarian in 2017.

Just ask Scottish hedge fund manager Hugh Hendry, who closed his fund Eclectica Asset Management after losing 9.4 per cent in the first eight months of 2017 and 4 per cent loss in 2016. He had sold Italian government bonds as part of a wider bet on the break-up of the European Union.

Equity hedge funds with a short-selling bias have been the worst-performing hedge funds this year, down 9.22 per cent January-October, according to data from industry tracker Hedge Fund Research. The wider equity hedge fund total index is up around 11 per cent and the S&P 500 is up 18 per cent.

At the start of the year, “secular stagnation”, “political risk” and “weak recovery” were the Cassandras’ popular tropes, but they quietly faded from the wider market discourse as, frankly, global growth and markets boomed.

Continued central bank largesse and a surprisingly rosy economic backdrop, particularly in Europe, anchored market volatility, which provided the springboard for the global and cross-asset rally.

A year ago, Reuters outlined some of the most contrarian market predictions for the year ahead, covering specific trades and broader political and economic risks that could throw markets a curve ball.

Unsurprisingly, most of them failed to materialize. But a few did come up trumps.

One was the UBS call for the euro to rise. At the time, the politics didn’t auger well - Europe’s electoral calendar was loaded, populism was on the rise and there was widespread concern that anti-euro parties such as France’s Front National would gain power.

The euro opened the year only a few cents above parity with the dollar and the consensus was that it would struggle to rebound much, if at all. Swiss bank UBS predicted a rise to $1.20, a level that was breached in August. Right now, the euro is up 13 per cent on the dollar this year, well on course for its best year since 2003.

Another was HSBC rate strategist Steven Major’s prediction that 10-year US bond yields would rise to 2.5 per cent in the first quarter, then fall as low as 1.35 per cent. Well, sort of.

The yield rose to what turned out to be a high for the year of 2.6 per cent in March then came close to breaking below 2 per cent in September.

The following chart from Deutsche Bank’s Torsten Slok shows how consistently wrong analysts have got their US bond yield forecasts down the years. Major’s 1.35 per cent call (which would have been a new low) proved a stretch, but he got closer than most.

Tighter Fed policy was expected to deliver a stronger dollar and higher US bond yields, an unpalatable cocktail for emerging markets. Unsurprisingly, most analysts were bearish on emerging markets at the start of the year.

That’s not how it played out. With the dollar on track for its worst year since 2003 and the US yield curve its flattest in a decade, emerging markets have boomed.

Emerging-market stocks are up 30 per cent and on course for their best year since 2009, local currency debt is up 13 per cent and dollar-denominated EM bonds are up 9 per cent.

Reuters

Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites
Comments
 
Post a comment
 
Name:
Country:
City:
Email:
Comment:
 
    
    
Related Stories
LME storage not market dynamics driving aluminium stocks lower
London Metal Exchange (LME) on-warrant aluminium stocks, metal not earmarked for delivery, are at their lowest since January 2006 at 608,050 tonnes − a far cry from the p..
Copper’s robust dynamics clash with futures gloom
LONDON: You’ve got to feel sorry for Doctor Copper. He and his base metal friends find themselves on the front line of the escalating trade stand-off between the United S..
Sterling derivative bets rise as Brexit endgame nears
LONDON: As negotiations become fraught before Britain’s exit from the European Union in March, tensions of a different kind are surfacing on the currency markets − deriva..
Trade wars will weigh on already struggling tin
LONDON: Tin has been spared the volatility afflicting the rest of the industrial metals over the past month. The London contract is too illiquid to attract the attention ..
Currencies’ crisis could lead to broader economic trouble
LONDON: Emerging market (EM) investors are trying to gauge whether a currency crisis and the steep interest rate hikes being used to fight it could turn into a broader sl..
FRONTPAGE
 
GALLERY
 
PANORAMA
 
TIME OUT
 
SPORT
 
 
Advertise | Copyright