Global Investing

Three snapshots for Wednesday

On Friday 283 companies in the S&P 500 had a dividend yield higher than the 10-year Treasury yield, at yesterday’s close this had fallen to 266 but remains very high compared to the last 5-years.

Italian consumer morale plunged to its lowest level on record in May as Italians’ pessimism over the state of the economy plumbed new depths.

Germany set a zero coupon on its new Schatz, the first time it has done so on debt of such maturity. The bid to cover ratio for the new bond at the auction was 1.7, compared with 1.8 at a sale of two-year debt on April 18.

The average yield at the sale was 0.07 percent.

 

Three snapshots for Thursday

Weaker than expected economic data has pushed Citigroup’s G10 surprise indicator into negative territory. The indicator has tracked closely with the relative performance of equities vs bonds:

Italian business confidence fell unexpectedly to its lowest level in two and a half years on Thursday. Business confidence has historically given a good lead on GDP growth suggesting further weakness to come.

An update on currency moves against the dollar this year. Hungary tops the list, the EU opened the way to talks with Hungary on financial aid on Wednesday, ending a five-month dispute over the independence of its central bank. The UK pound and the euro remain positive for the year despite the UK falling back into recession and the continued euro zone crisis.

Three snapshots for Tuesday

Is now the time to shift to equities vs. bonds? Goldman Sachs think so and traditional valuation measures such as the equity risk premium (chart) make bonds look expensive relative to equities when compared to the average over the last 20 years.

It isn’t surprising that the performance of equities relative to bonds tends to be closely correlated with economic activity. However as the chart below shows this does break down from time to time, equities are currently still trailing bonds over a 12-month period while an ISM above 50 suggests equities should be winning.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke poured some cold water on the recent improvement in the U.S. jobs market yesterday. Today’s consumer confidence numbers were mixed, the “jobs hard to get” index rose to 41.0 per cent from 38.6 per cent the month before, but the “jobs plentiful” index also rose to 9.4 per cent from 7 per cent

Three snapshots for Monday

Is China heading for a hard or soft landing? One chart to keep an eye on is the relative performance of materials equities, the long run of outperformance since 2000 looks like it might be rolling over.

Germany’s Ifo business sentiment index rose unexpectedly in March, moving in the opposite direction to the the PMI released last week:

Italian consumer morale also rose to 96.8, economists were expecting a slight decline to 93.7.

from Davos Notebook:

Tigger bounces back in the boardroom

PWC_chart for blogCEOs are, of course, ebullient by nature.

So it's no surprise that confidence about growth prospects is bouncing back as emerging markets continue to barrel along and even sluggish developed economies show signs of recovery.

What is, perhaps, remarkable is just how far confidence has returned. The latest survey of 1,201 company bosses by PricewaterhouseCoopers shows it is back almost to pre-crisis levels.

But how much should we trust the bouncing boardroom Tiggers? There are also plenty of Eeyores in Davos, warning about fiscal deficits, growing economic imbalances and the rising threat from inflation.

from Summit Notebook:

Dubai returns to fixed income sphere

Dubai returns to the fixed-income sphere for the first time in more than a year after raising about $2 billion from dirham and dollar-denominated Islamic bonds.

Confidence in the emirate had run aground earlier this year as investors bet on Dubai's state-linked entities not being able refinance debt. So far, this year it has met all its obligations and with the fresh issue booking about $6.5 billion from regional and international investors, Dubai's doomsday scenario appears to be vanishing. 

With much of the United Arab Emirates' oil coming from the largest of the emirates Abu Dhabi, investors have flocked to the capital this year as appetite for good emerging market debt revives. The spread between Abui Dhabi and Dubai widened at its peak to over 500 basis points in February, but Dubai government efforts to restore confidence -- kickstarted by the UAE central bank buying $10 billion of its bonds -- has helped spreads narrow to about 200 basis points.

Investing with Dante

You know things are bad on financial markets when an investment research note starts talking about Dante‘s visit to the nine circles of Hell with tormented lustful souls and gluttons living in filthy slush.

In the case of State Street Global Markets’ latest report, however, there is a more direct link than simple hyperbole about the way investors are feeling. The firm recently had a chat with former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers who defined what he saw as the five viciousrtx8t2k.jpg circles of the current financial crisis.

It goes like this:

Circle One: House prices fall in value, putting some people into negative equity and leading some to default on mortgages. Foreclosures further erode asset values.

Consumer sentiment: Men are more pessimistic (and that’s rare)

 

plotlines-080530-1-1.gif

plotlines-080530-2.gif

As a rule, women are more pessimistic than men. The pattern has been among the most consistent across years of tracking U.S. consumer sentiment in the Reuters/University of Michigan survey. Since the survey began tracking gender differences in outlook in January 1978, women have shown a higher sentiment reading just twice.

Things changed this month.

The long-term trend continued in May as overall consumer sentiment dropped to a 28-year low. Yet the mood among women improved slightly whereas sentiment for men soured for a fourth consecutive month, dropping to the lowest since 1980 (second graphic above). Moods darkened for men by the biggest margin in nearly three years, since the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

What’s behind it? One factor at play is a diverging view of personal financial situations. Women in the survey indicated their situations improved modestly this month from April, albeit from a 27-year low. For men, however, May marked the seventh straight month of worsening finances. In fact, men rated their finances in the worst shape since the survey began tracking the differences between the genders.