Reuters blog archive
from Global Investing:
A perfect storm seems to be brewing for the Russian rouble. It has tumbled to four-year lows against a euro-dollar basket. Against the dollar, it has lost around 7 percent so far this year, faring better than many other emerging currencies. But signs are that next year will bring more turmoil.
While oil prices, the mainstay of Russia's economy, are holding up, Russian growth is not. It is running at 1.3 percent so far this year and capital outflows continue unabated -- $48 billion is estimated to have fled the country in the first nine months of 2013 compared with $55 billion in 2012. Russia's mighty current account surplus has shrunk to barely nothing and could fall into deficit by the middle of next year, reckons Alfa Bank economist Natalia Orlova. Finally, the rouble can no longer count on the central bank for wholehearted day-to-day support. FX market interventions cost the bank $3.5 billion last month but it also shifted the exchange-rate corridor upwards six times, indicating it is keen to move to a fully flexible currency.
Orlove also estimates that around $150 billion in overseas debt payments are due in 2014 for Russian corporates. She adds:
This is going to be an issue and given that the central bank is actively promoting inflation targeting, the market should prepare for higher rouble volatility.
from Global Investing:
Emerging stocks, in the doghouse for months and months, haven't done too badly of late. The main EM index, has rallied more than 11 percent since its end-August troughs, outgunning the S&P 500's 3 percent rise in this period. Bank of America/Merrill Lynch strategist Michael Hartnett reminds us of the extreme underweight positioning in emerging stocks last month, as revealed by his bank's monthly investor survey. Anyone putting on a long EM-short UK equities trade back then would have been in the money with returns of 540 basis points, he says.
Undoubtedly, the postponement of the Fed taper is the main reason for the rally. Another big inducement is that valuations look very cheap (forward P/E is around 9.9 versus a 10-year average of 10.8) .
Britain’s economy is steaming ahead - by one measure faster than any other large developed or emerging economy – but history suggests it will struggle to sustain the rapid growth indicated in business and confidence surveys.
Data this week showed British businesses were at the forefront of Europe's nascent economic recovery, outpacing major euro zone peers that are still grappling for momentum.
Manufacturing PMI surveys for euro zone countries and Britain will be the latest litmus test of the durability of fledgling economic recoveries.
Even the readings from Spain and Italy have shown improvement over the summer so it may well be that they are the most interesting given we’ve already had flash readings for the euro zone, Germany and France which showed business activity across the currency bloc picked up faster than expected in August.
With little sign of economic recovery in Europe and governments incrementally loosening their austerity drives (Britain being the exception) the focus turns to the big central banks on our patch and what more they might be able to do to foster some recovery.
With the European Central Bank meeting on Thursday, President Mario Draghi is in Shanghai saying the euro zone is on track for only a “very gradual recovery”. It’s hard to tell at a glance whether that is a rhetorical downgrade of the existing forecast for a pick-up in the second half of the year with downside risks attached. Either way, the pressure on the ECB to act again is growing.
* Updated to show Scotland's composite PMI has bettered the UK equivalent for seven straight months now, after Monday's data.
For the first time in a long while, Scotland's economic performance has caught up with the UK average– and there is at least some evidence to suggest it's doing slightly better than the British baseline.
A sudden turn for the worse across German companies should clinch an interest rate cut from the European Central Bank next week, or in June at the latest.
That's because the latest PMI surveys, which have a decent correlation with economic growth, suggest the German economy shifted back into reverse this month, against the expectations of economists.
from Global Investing:
Taiwan's forecast-beating export data today came as a pleasant surprise amid the general emerging markets economic gloom. In a raft of developing countries, from South Korea to Brazil, from Malaysia to the Czech Republic, export data has disappointed. HSBC's monthly PMI index showed this month that recovery remains subdued.
With Europe still in the doldrums, this is not totally unsurprising. But economists are growing increasingly concerned because the lack of export growth coindides with a nascent U.S. recovery. Clearly EM is failing to ride the US coattails.
Optimism in Germany is roaring and consumers across the euro zone are starting to become less gloomy. But the latest hard economic data are a reminder of the difference between confidence that things are going to get better, and the hope that they will.
For the moment, we only have the latter.
Friday's German Ifo business climate survey topped even the highest expectations, as did the ZEW economic sentiment indicator on Tuesday. Euro zone consumer confidence improved this month too, and the mood in financial markets has been largely buoyant since the start of the year.