Morocco fears its stock market is on the verge of being re-classified as a frontier market when index provider MSCI announces its annual rejig of equity indices this month.
Maybe it should pray for relegation instead. A report at the end of last week by Citi notes the boom in frontier market equities — they have risen 15 percent since the start of this year, a stark contrast to their better known, more liquid emerging market cousins which have fallen around 5 percent so far this year. In fact the performance of the frontiers — comprising less liquid, smaller markets from Kenya to Kazakhstan — has been more akin to the U.S. or Japanese equity markets which have earned investors double-digit returns this year.
LONDON (Reuters) – Sell in May? They certainly did in emerging markets.
But unlike in the old adage, they are likely to sell in June and July too if investment returns in the once-hot sector keep getting slammed by moves in U.S. bond yields and the dollar.
Emerging currencies have crashed to multi-month and even multi-year lows against the dollar in the recent frantic selloff, with emerging bond funds suffering their first weekly outflow in a year, according to data from EPFR Global.
LONDON, May 31 (Reuters) – Sell in May? They certainly did
in emerging markets.
But unlike in the old adage, they are likely to sell in June
and July too if investment returns in the once-hot sector keep
getting slammed by moves in U.S. bond yields and the dollar.
Of all the emerging currency and bond markets that are feeling the heat from the dollar’s rise, none is suffering more than South Africa. A series of horrific economic data prints at home, the prospect of more labour unrest and the slump in metals prices are making this a perfect storm for the country’s financial markets.
Some worrying data from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange this morning shows that foreigners sold almost 5 billion rand (more than $500 million) worth of bonds during yesterday’s session alone. Over the past 10 days, non-resident selling amounted to 10.7 billion rand. They have also yanked out 1.2 billion rand from South African equities in this time. And at the root of this exodus lies the rand, which has fallen almost 15 percent against the dollar this year. Now apparently headed for the 10-per-dollar mark, the rand’s weakness has eaten into investors’ total return, tipping it into negative return for the year.
The received wisdom is dollar strength = weaker emerging market currencies. See here for my colleague Mike Dolan’s take on this. But as Mike’s article does point out, all emerging markets are not equal. It follows therefore that any waves of dollar strength and higher U.S. yields will hit them to varying degrees.
ING Bank says in a note sent to clients on Tuesday that emerging currency gains in recent years have been closely tied to foreign investments into domestic bond markets. Recent years have seen a torrent of inflows into local debt, driving down yields on the main GBI-EM index and significantly boosting its market value. Hence, it makes sense to examine how the GBI-EM’s biggest constituents might fare under a scenario of a surging dollar and Treasury yields (In the two years before a Fed tightening cycle commences, 5-year Treasury yields can trade 120-150 basis points higher, ING analysts point out).
The corporate bond juggernaut continues apace in emerging markets.
In a note at the end of last week, analysts at Bank of America/Merrill Lynch estimated that companies from the developing world have sold debt worth $179 billion already this year. Originally, the bank had forecast $268 billion in corporate debt issuance in 2013, a touch below last year’s $290 billion but it is finding itself, like many others, marking up its estimates.
Oleg Melentyev, credit strategist at BofA/Merrill, writes that recent bumper bond sales imply quarterly issuance is running at 10-11 percent of market size, well above the past average. Melentyev points out that the first 4.5 months of the year tend to account for 35 percent of full-year total debt sales by EM companies. If this formula were applied now, it would imply total 2013 new debt issuance at $420 billion.
We wrote here yesterday on how Turkish hard currency bonds have been given the nod to join some Barclays global indices as a result of the country’s elevation to investment grade. Turkish dollar bonds will also move to the Investment grade sub-index of JPMorgan’s flagship EMBI Global on June 28.
Local lira debt meanwhile will enter JPM’s GBI-EM Global Diversified IG 15 percent Cap Index — the top-tier of the bank’s GBI-EM index. But the big prize, an invitation into Citi’s mega World Government Bond Index, is still some way off. Requiring a still higher credit rating, WGBI membership is an honour that has been accorded to only four emerging markets so far.
Surprising as it may seem, the Egyptian pound has got some fans. The currency has languished for months at record lows against the dollar and the headlines are alarming — the lack of an IMF aid programme, meagre hard currency reserves, political upheaval. So what’s to like ?
Analysts at Societe Generale say that just looking at the spot exchange rate of the pound is missing the bigger picture. Instead, they advise buying 12-month non-deliverable forwards on the pound — essentially a way of locking into a fixed rate for pound against the dollar in a year’s time depending on where you think it may actually trade. They write:
Turkey’s elevation to investment grade last week may or may not be a game changer for its stock and bond markets, but the country is really hoping for a boost to FDI – bricks-and-mortar foreign direct investment into manufacturing or power generation. Its peace process with Kurdish separatists should help.
Speaking last week at Mitsubishi-UFJ’s annual Turkey conference, Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek cited data showing an average 2 percentage-point pick-up in FDI in the two years immediately after a country moves into investment grade.
LONDON (Reuters) – A broad collapse of company profits in the developing world shows no sign of abating, forcing investors to tilt portfolios towards sectors such as healthcare or consumer goods where margins are more robust.
What is evolving is in effect, a two-speed asset class.
Profits in emerging markets have been sharply squeezed in recent years, leading stocks to underperform their developed world peers and slashing return on equity, a measure of how well firms use shareholders’ equity to make profits.