So it’s not just investors who are guilty of moving in a herd-like fashion.
Which bond would you rather buy — one issued by a country with an unpredictable leader but huge oil reserves, or one with a dictatorial president as well as empty coffers? The answer should be a no brainer. Not so. The countries are Venezuela and Belarus, and a basic comparison of their debt profiles shows how strangely risk can be priced in emerging markets.
For all the doom and gloom associated with the broader economy—historic unemployment in the United States, debt woes and mandated austerity in Europe—it’s been a remarkably positive year for the stock market. As we enter the last week of 2010, the S&P 500 index is up nearly 13 percent for the year. That’s far from a record (1954 witnessed a breakneck 45 percent rise), but at least the index this year climbed above the level hit before Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy in September, 2008. The stock comeback story is not unique to America, either; this week, Korea’s stocks hit their highest level in more than three years.
Are global equity markets under an ‘Even Years Curse’ that sees them underperform bonds in even-numbered years but beat fixed-income returns in odd-numbered ones? After some number-crunching, Fidelity International’s’ director of asset allocation Trevor Greetham suspects so.
As investors in London’s junior AIM market know only too well, high risk does not always mean high return. Now, more than ever, the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange needs to prove that it can offer investors high-quality companies.******The FTSE Small Cap index of smaller companies listed on the main London market has outperformed the AIM 100 index on the way down, and on the way back up. The FTSE Small Cap has gained almost 30 percent over the last couple of months, while the AIM 100 has risen 20 percent.******And that’s after the AIM 100 saw falls of over 50 percent in the past year, much more than the 27 percent posted by the FTSE Small Cap index.******While liquid companies like Advanced Medical Solutions and Cape typify the benefits of AIM, there are too many that have cut back so much that they are reduced to a CEO operating alone out of his spare bedroom.******AIM officials said on Friday that they thought the market has had its best month for a year, raising around 500 million pounds for companies, but this includes 220 million pounds raised by one company alone, Max Properties.******Fund managers say that they like some AIM companies that are making profits, or close to that point. However high-risk beta stocks that expect investors to hang around for five years or more should be happy that the winter weather has cleared, because they’re likely to spend most of their time with their caps in their hands.******If AIM wants to see its companies grow fruitfully as cash returns to the market, it will have to start out by sifting the chaff from the wheat.
More than a “nice to have,” investor sentiment is running heavily on the side of environment, social and governance (ESG) factors, according to the latest Thomson Reuters Perception Snapshot.