Although both silver and gold have rallied over the last year, on a percentage basis the rally in silver has been a lot sharper. The result of silver’s leadership in the metals rally was that the ratio of the price of gold versus silver dropped dramatically over the last year. With gold still at its $1,490s resistance, and with silver just sliding slightly under its $35, the gold/silver ratio has is still at a bull market low. At 42, meaning that it takes about 42 and change ounces of silver to “buy” an ounce of gold metal, the gold/silver ratio is at its lowest weekly close in 28 years as shown in the chart just below.
From 2000 to 2010, it basically took an average of 60 ounces of silver to buy one ounce of gold, but then in late 2010, silver gained an increased luster relative to gold. When silver made its recent high just over a week ago, the ratio of gold to silver shrunk from close to 70 a year ago all the way down to 37!
Now, even after the recent drubbing in silver, it still only takes about 42 ounces of silver to buy one ounce of gold, which is still extremely low by historical standards. All this seems to imply that short term, unless some new demand for silver materializes from a previously non-existent source, either silver is still overvalued or gold is undervalued. Then there is a longer term view that gold silver ratio will go to 6 as of hundreds of years ago.
Good read on how gold/silver ratio is misleading here.
I am not going to discuss the basics of Dollar Cost Averaging, I believe readers can find out about the concept quite easily on the Internet. Just going to display some interesting facts and graphs.
If you are investing $5,000 every time period, say every quarter, which investment, A or B, will you think gives you more return over this time frame?
Answer is Investment B which gives 42% returns compared 38% for Investment A. Some clients find it refreshing. However if you invest with a lump sum at the beginning, we can all see that Investment A gains more than Investment B. So we can see that DCA does best when investment goes sideways or down for years and then, at the end of a period, suddenly breaks to the upside.
Whether DCA works also depends on market timing too! From start to Point A, lump sum investment gained 35% while DCA gained 40% not including interest on cash. However, from Point A to Point B, lump sum investment lost 7.5% while DCA lost 13.5%. This shows that regardless of investment strategy, the point of exit matters! Over the whole period, lump sum gained 25% while DCA gained 10%.
These 3 months of the year, markets have contended with the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, battles between forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi and rebels, protests in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Yemen, oil above $100 a barrel, record-high food costs and a magnitude 9.0 earthquake in Japan that killed more than 8,000 people and crippled a nuclear power plant.
Let’s touch on the events, country and situation one by one.
China’s inflation accelerated to a 4.9 percent annual pace in January, exceeding the government’s aims to limit consumer-price gains to 4 percent for 2011 for a fourth month. Banks extended 1.04 trillion yuan ($158 billion) of new loans, more than double December’s level.
China government targets inflation as top priority to cut risk of social unrest while encouraging private investment and allowing for stronger Chinese currency.
The front loading of interest rate increase by the Chinese government means in the first half of the year we will see substantial interest rate increase and increase in capital requirements of banks.
Reserve ratios stood at 19 percent for the biggest banks before today’s move, already the highest in more than two decades. 8th February, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) announced that the one-year deposit rate and the one-year lending rate will rise by 25 basis points (bps) to 3% and 6.06% respectively.
Chinese banks, set to post record profits, are trading at their cheapest level in two years and may stay depressed in 2011 as investors bet faster inflation and capital requirements will erode earnings. Shares lost allure over the last three months. The nation’s five biggest lenders, with a combined $771 billion market value, trade at an average of 8.5 times forecast profits, compared with 10.4 times at the world’s 20 largest banks, according to Bloomberg. India’s five largest banks trade at an average of 19 times.
All this has contributed to the lack of positive and upward movement in the China market. We are beginning to see that China is shrugging off some of the negative sentiments of interest rate increases. Especially after many months of base building.
“India’s economy may grow at near 9 percent this fiscal year with potential to grow at double digits. The nation must secure its food and energy supply needs to grow at “double-digits,” said Mukesh Ambani, the country’s richest man.
India imports more than 75 percent of its oil needs and is vulnerable to supply constraints and prices. A pick-up in India’s manufacturing growth in January and beginning inflation may hurt the country where majority poor spend a portion of their income on food and transportation. The government is expected to raise excise and service taxes, both currently at 10 percent, by one percentage point.
I have done a post in January that India may be under selling pressure. After 2 months, India’s Sensex is back to above 18,500. After a horrid start to the year, I believe selling sentiments have been dissipated so far.
Emerging market & Asia
Corporate earnings are growing outweighed inflation concerns the pass week. After relative underperformance as compared to developed markets in December 2010, January 2011 and part of February 2011, emerging markets started to outperform again.
Analysts covering the Brazilian economy raised their 2011 inflation outlook to a high of 5.88%, published March 21. The Brazilian Central bank raised borrowing costs twice this year, pushing the Selic rate to 11.75% from 10.75% in December. Traders are wagering the central bank will lift the benchmark interest rate to 12.75% percent by year-end in a bid to bring inflation back to target.
Russia’s central bank unexpectedly, and for the first time in 26 months, raised the refinancing rate 0.25 percentage points from a record low, and lifted reserve requirements for a second month to curb inflation.
Inflation was the first concern that hit the markets this year. Singapore’s inflation in January rose to 5.5 per cent year-on-year, its highest level since December 2008. Emerging markets have battled concerns of inflation until Japanese natural disasters shifted some of the attention as well as demand.
The S&P 500 has risen 4.41% this year, extending a 13% advance in 2010, on government stimulus measures and higher-than-estimated corporate profits. The Dow ended an eight-week rally on 28 January as unrest in Egypt overshadowed an acceleration in American economic growth. It rose almost 3% in January, its second straight month of gains. After a sharp and short drop due to political crisis in the Middle East, US markets is back at its 2 year high.
Japan Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear
The devastation of the earthquake and tsunami continues with Japan battling to prevent an accident at a nuclear power plant. 2 emerging threats to the Japanese economy: the domestic power supply could be compromised, and manufacturing companies could be unable to export products.
The full impact of the disaster, and the extent to which it could harm economies globally, cannot yet be assessed. Japan’s need for machinery and cereal may rise — at least short term — as the country rebuilds infrastructure and deals with food shortages.
Japan may also be badly hurt as foreign investment falls on concerns about risks.
In a world where product components are manufactured all over the world, expectations is that production problems for Japan may affect the global economy.
As with all crisis, markets dipped on first and subsequent news and recovered on sentiment and more information. The nuclear problem has yet to be over but market seems to have priced it in.
Political turmoil in Middle East
A unprecedented anti-government protests broke out in the Arab world, causing authoritarian regimes of Tunisia and Egypt to fall and chaos and war in Yemen and Libya. Oil price have been steadily rising until the political turmoil hits Middle East and that is when it shots above US$100 a barrel for the first time since 2008. Civil war in Libya caused a further squeeze in supply as But the Japan natural disaster pushed it back by short term.
It is widely expected that oil price will continue rising, bringing commodity funds which has a oil component along with it.
Investors were their most bullish on equities and commodities in nearly 10 years this month as optimism about growth surged, while inflation concerns led them to drastically sell down emerging stocks in the past month. Global markets are signaling that sustained economic growth will more than make up for the ‘black swan’ events.
Ironically, the natural disasters in Japan and the following nuclear crisis actually dampened the inflation experienced by over heating emerging economies in the short term. Some emerging economies government recognized that in the months following the disaster, efforts to contain inflation must continue. Federal Reserve says US economy recovery is on firmer footing and US added more than expected jobs. While US unemployment rate is still high at 8.8 percent. Investors seem more focused on the rate of change than the actual number.
I believe now is a good time to invest. In fact, I have always made calls a week late.
While oil prices carries commodity funds, too high a rise should the political unrest plaguing the Middle East continue to spread across the region can cause dampen economic activity.
The growing threat of inflation in Asia and in emerging economies can derail the fragile economic recovery of the world, though I see that as something to form in another 6 months time.
Further European sovereign debt issues should not be overlooked. Should the “spreading disaster”, as described by PIMCO’s CEO Mohamed El-Erian, take place, there will be a major disruption in credit markets. As I see it, Europe may continue the pass pattern as the next country falls into a near-bailout situation.
Currently, markets have already priced in the impact of the second quantitative easing. The real economic impact of quantitative easing remains to be seen.
I think now it is back to Textbook portfolio allocation. A diversified portfolio of non-correlated assets can provide the highest returns with the least amount of volatility. It is not a time where it is easy to fall on a narrow selection (it is never easy). Only sure I have is that government and investment grade bonds will suffer from the interest rate increase. Even that in necessary to a certain extend for diversification purpose.
Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities “CMBS”, which was plummeted as a toxic financial asset, is taking a small step back into the market and this time with some relevancy and support. Borrowers with smaller properties and in areas outside the biggest cities are benefitting from the increase in demand for the securities increases from investors seeking higher yields.
The rebound in commercial-mortgage backed securities is making refinancing easier for property owners that have been passed over by institutions that usually hold real estate debt on their books, aiding a recovery in commercial property values. Randy Waesche, an investor in several New Orleans-area hotels, was running out of time to retire debt he took on to build a Marriott hotel in downtown New Orleans when Citigroup offered him a workable solution.
Institutions that keep mortgages on their balance sheets, including insurance companies and non-U.S. banks, focus on top-tier buildings in large metropolitan areas. CMBS issuers fare better in secondary and tertiary markets because they can get the higher rates they need to cover the costs of packaging and selling loans.
Primary markets include metropolitan areas such as New York and San Francisco that are mostly located on the U.S. coasts, while secondary and tertiary markets are comprised of smaller cities and towns. Some of these markets didn’t experience as much of a downturn because they didn’t experience as much of an upturn during the boom years. What people are really looking for is stability. You can find good, stable properties in secondary and tertiary markets.
Citigroup has originated more than $1 billion in CMBS loans over the past six months, about half of which are backed by properties outside major cities, said Marcus Giancaterino, global head of real estate finance at the New York-based bank.
Sales of commercial mortgage-backed securities plunged to $11.2 billion in 2008 from a record $230 billion in 2007 when credit markets seized during the financial crisis. Less than $4 billion was sold in 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Last year, $11.5 billion was sold, and sales may reach $45 billion in 2011, JPMorgan Chase & Co. said in a Nov. 24 report.
Still, one of the primary benefits of CMBS is the ability to bundle smaller mortgages and create a diverse investment pool, according to Alan Todd, an analyst at JPMorgan in New York. “The CMBS market was never solely intended to be the lender to the high quality properties,” he said. “For commercial real estate to fully recover, the CMBS market has to originate loans that insurance companies aren’t vying for.”
Extra Space Storage Inc., a Salt Lake City-based real estate investment trust that operates self-storage centers, used the CMBS market for about 80 percent of its financing until the market froze three years ago, Chief Financial Officer Kent Christensen said. Unable to refinance the debt, the company turned to bank loans, he said.
The company took out an $82 million mortgage from Bank of America last month, the company’s first CMBS loan since February 2007, he said. One of the major advantages in using CMBS debt is that it’s non-recourse, meaning the lender can’t seize the borrower’s assets in the event of default.
Banks, insurance companies and foreign investors are chasing lending assignments across the U.S. amid signs commercial real estate may be recovering. Property values, which have declined 42 percent from 2007 peaks, rose for the third consecutive month in November, Moody’s Investors Service said on Jan. 24.
Loans being written for sale as securities today are conservative compared with those done when sales peaked in 2006 and 2007, when borrowers were allowed to take on more debt with the assumption that rising rents would cover future payments, said Frank Innaurato, a managing director at Horsham, Pennsylvania-based credit-rating company Realpoint LLC.
“Today, we have about 60 percent CMBS and 40 percent other debt,” said Christensen of Extra Space Storage. “I think we will be above 60 percent CMBS again, but not above 80 percent. After seeing the CMBS market go away, we don’t want to be as dependent on it as we were.”
Traders and investors have been dreaming of predicting the markets since the beginning of formation of trading markets. How nice will it be to know exactly how the market is going to move tomorrow, next week, next month. In fact, the whole concept of Technical Analysis is to analyze the chart representing human behaviour and predict the future movements.
Now it maybe more possible than ever, as reported in New York Times. Being able to crunch what is called big data gives someone a huge advantage. Wall Street, quant traders and hedge fund have been exploring this for years. Data includes news, commentaries, blog posts, social networking sites and tweets (on Twitter). Analysis includes which market or counter is commented upon, adjectives used, words representing sentiments, even emoticons!
There are no lack of mainstream users of this form of market analysis. Alpha Equity Management, a $185 million equities fund in Hartford, uses Thomson Reuters software to measure sentiment over weeks and pumps that information directly into his fund’s trading systems. Bloomberg monitors news articles and Twitter feeds and alerts its customers if a lot of people are suddenly sending Twitter messages about, say, I.B.M.
Trading IT War
The development of computerized trading, years in the making, is part of the technological revolution that is reshaping Wall Street. In a business where information is the most valuable commodity, traders with the smartest, fastest computers can outfox and outmaneuver rivals. But some warn of a growing digital divide in the markets and the risks involved. Well-heeled traders who can afford sophisticated technology have an edge over everyone else and high speed trading have the ability to cause market surges and collapse at unprecedented speeds.
Hedge fund Derwent Capital Markets will launch a new fund in February that will trade based partly on analysis of Twitter sentiment. This approach is built on a research “Twitter predicts stock market” from the University of Manchester and Indiana University that showed how the number of emotional words on Twitter could be used to predict moves in the Dow Jones index. Researchers said they found that a change in emotions expressed on Twitter would be followed by a move in the index between two and six days later, and that this method had greater than 87-percent accuracy.
Some are skeptical, raising the question: How long until someone starts setting up spam or bot accounts to try to game specific stocks? In his Article, Mathew Ingram thinks it will take a week, if they don’t exist already.
Last year I had some clients in Indian equity, always a consideration and comparison to China. India had a pretty good 2010 and China equity faltered. India’s main stock index, the Sensex, gained 17% last year, and the country’s market cap as a percentage of world market cap increased more than any other country except Canada.
This year seems different. After a small gain of 0.25% on the first day of the year, the Sensex has gone down for all except one day since for a year-to-date decline of 7.90%. The chart below from Bespoke Invest shows the index made a lower high on its most recent rally, and tested its late November intraday low.
I have been noticing this since I read the article on 11th Janurary. The November lows didn’t hold, the technicals will turn decidedly bearish.
Adapted from “India Struggles Out of the Gate” published on Tuesday, January 11, 2011 in bespokeinvest.com
China’s stocks may slump for a second year as the central bank raises interest rates to tame inflation, according to Zhang Kun, the strategist at Guotai Junan Securities Co. who correctly predicted last year’s drop.
According to Zhang, whose Shanghai- based firm Guotai Junan is the nation’s second-largest brokerage by revenue, said. “Inflation is the biggest risk. The government will keep tightening.”
Guotai Junan is alone among China’s major brokerages in predicting declines for 2011. China International Capital Corp., the only other major Chinese brokerage to correctly forecast the index’s drop in 2010, also expects an advance this year.
The Shanghai Composite fell 14 percent in 2010 to 2808.08, making it the worst performer among benchmark indexes in the world’s 10 biggest markets. Premier Wen Jiabao’s government ordered banks to set aside more reserves six times and boosted rates twice since October to tame inflation and curb asset bubbles after record gains in lending and property prices.
The central bank will keep increasing borrowing costs to cap inflation at around 4 percent this year after it reached a 28-month high of 5.1 percent in November, Zhang said. Last March, he said the Shanghai gauge, which had already dropped 9.2 percent, would fall a further 17 percent to 2,500 in the first half as the government boosted measures to cool economic growth. The index slid 27 percent in the first six months of 2010.
Hao Hong, global equity strategist at CICC, the top-ranked brokerage for China research in Asiamoney magazine’s annual survey, expects the Shanghai gauge to rebound as the economy grows more than 8 percent and inflation eases.
Last January, Hong predicted stocks would fall in the first six months as the government reined in property speculation. The Shanghai Composite dropped in the first half before rebounding 25 percent between July 1 and the end of October.
“We are confident that the Chinese government has the capability to control inflation at a reasonable level in 2011,” investor Mark Mobius, who oversees about $40 billion as executive chairman of Templeton Emerging Markets Group, said in an e-mailed on Dec. 29. “If China can keep the CPI at about 4 percent in 2011, the equity market should perform well.”
Shenyin & Wanguo said the Shanghai Composite will reach 3,800 in 2011 as policy tightening eases. The brokerage cut its 2010 target to 3,000 during its mid-year investment conference in June 2010 from the original forecast of 4,200. Non-Chinese brokerages forecasts for the MSCI China Index which closed at 66.6 at the end of 2010 are shown below.
Inflation seems the main concern and is not going to be easily tackled. Government have pledged to soak up excessive money supply that fueled a record gain in property prices and drove up food costs, which account for a third of the weighting of inflation. In the so-called Central Economic Work Conference, attended last month by President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen, the leaders announced a shift in monetary policies to “prudent” from “appropriately loose”.
“After the Chinese New Year period, we might begin to see more stability in food inflation,” JPMorgan’s Ulrich said in a Dec. 21 interview. The Hong Kong-based strategist likes consumer and construction-related stocks as they will benefit from government efforts to boost domestic consumption and public housing.
China is lagging behind counterparts across Asia that took steps earlier to raise borrowing costs from global recession lows. India has lifted its benchmark rate six times since March 2010, while Malaysia increased it three times, also starting in March. Taiwan began increasing rates in June and South Korea in July. Most analysts are expecting the government to boost rates twice more and cut the quota for new bank loans from 2010’s 7.5 trillion yuan.
The mid-year rebound for the Shanghai Composite faltered in November after the central bank raised rates on Oct. 19 for the first time in three years. A measure of property developers was the worst performer in the index in the last quarter of 2010. A gauge of banks and real-estate companies plunged 27 percent last year, the most among the 10 industry groups in the CSI 300 Index, comprising stocks in the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges.
The property market has been extremely hard to predict and effects widespread. There are so many conflicting opinions among top fund managers and investors on this issue
The Shanghai gauge’s decline has driven down valuations for the 913 companies to an average of 18.3 times reported earnings, compared with the historical average of 30.5 times, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. This means current valuations in China, despite having risen from the lows of early 2009, still remain attractive historically.
Last year’s drop for China’s benchmark gauge was the biggest since 2008, when the global financial crisis curbed the nation’s exports. The index jumped 80 percent in 2009 as a 4 trillion-yuan ($605 billion) stimulus package and record new lending helped the economy recover from the slump in growth.
China’s stocks entered a so-called bear market in May after the government introduced tightening measures to curb real- estate speculation. Equities reversed course and entered a bull market in October as the Shanghai Composite rebounded 20 percent from the 2010 low in July on an improving economic growth outlook and faster yuan appreciation.
I think we’ll probably continue to see a volatile stock market as long as inflation persists. Bear in mind that all except 2 brokerages had estimated the China stocks would soar in 2010.
|Major Brokerages’ Forecasts for Chinese Stocks in 2011 – Brokerage Index Target|
|Citic Securities||Shanghai Composite||3,500|
|Shenyin & Wanguo||Shanghai Composite||3,800|
|Haitong Securities||Shanghai Composite||3,500|
|Sinolink Securities||Shanghai Composite||4,200|
|Galaxy Securities||Shanghai Composite||4,000|
|Guotai Junan||Shanghai Composite||No Gain|
|JPMorgan||Shanghai Composite||20% Gain|
|Citigroup||Shanghai A-Share Index||4,000|
|Credit Suisse||MSCI China Index||81|
|Morgan Stanley||MSCI China Index||94.5|
|UBS||MSCI China Index||88|
|Deutsche Bank||MSCI China Index||15% Gain|
“The benchmark gauge for American equities will rise 11 percent to 1,379 in 2011, bringing the increase since 2008 to 53 percent, the best return since 1997 to 2000, according to the average of 11 strategists in a Bloomberg News survey. Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s David Kostin, the most accurate U.S. strategist this year, said sales growth will spur a 17 percent rally in the S&P 500 through the end of 2011. ”
I was quite suprised by this Bloomberg in a report. I had mentioned about the term “New Normal” coined by Pacific Investment Management Co. (PIMCO) where the world economy grows at a slower rate than the decades that preceded this crisis years.
A rise of 11 percent in Standard & Poor’s 500 Index will bring the increase since 2008 to 53 percent, though not as impressive as Emerging Markets growth of approximate 80 percent till date. However, an 11 percent rise is a very attractive draw to finally enter the US market at a time Emerging Markets is showing signs that explosive growth has gone to a sustainable pace.
I may look at what I have mentioned about US market for the first time in 2 years for my clients. Previous post. Well, the standard deviations guide is pretty sound, the date was about 6th Nov. S&P Index was weak starting from 5th Nov and dropped a whole week from 9th Nov.
There are more positives now than negatives. The index trades at 13.5 times that estimate, compared with a median price-earnings ratio of 16.4 since 1956. There is good earnings growth with accommodative policies. So positive such that the volatility index (measures how confident investors are, the lower, the more confident).
Strangely, each time the VIX dropped to this low level, there is a sell-off. What a predicament isn’t it?
It actually is not. I’m planning for long term. 11 percent, think about it.
The global financial crisis have presented us with such crazy happenings driven by greed. More is to come, the following is from an actual New York Times article and not FHM or Happy Potter novel. Investors Put Money on Lawsuits to Get Payouts.
“Large banks, hedge funds and private investors hungry for new and lucrative opportunities are bankrolling other people’s lawsuits, pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into medical malpractice claims, divorce battles and class actions against corporations — all in the hope of sharing in the potential winnings.”
This insane practice, thankfully, cannot be found here. Or at least not to any extent of common knowledge. Will you as an investor, want to own payout of your wealthy neighbors’ ugly divorce battle in a loan structure? After all, this thing looks like its gonna hurt the plaintiff good, which is profitable for my clients!
For your information, there are already companies/funds in Singapore, such as Tranen Capital and SG Life Settlements, offering ownership on Universal Life Insurance policy of individuals who are bought out of the policies. Also called ‘Death Bonds’, the investor owns units of a fund which buys out the Universal Life Insurance policies of individuals and gets payout when the life insured dies. This, I feel, is just borderline ethical depending on the practices. More on this later.
Among all the scamming, Madoff, risk-massaging, financial-layering, now – to top it all off – there are investments in other peoples’ lawsuits. Seriously, legal disputes as an asset class? Please let no greed grabbing ‘entrepreneur’ bring this to Singapore.
Financial Advisor Magazine has the results of a study by Cerulli Associates which tells us that in the US, advice business has hit a wall and is not replenishing the ranks with young talent.
“As an industry, the financial advisory business is relatively young. But its practitioners aren’t. Cerulli Associates recently threw out some numbers to chew on––the average age of financial advisors is a shade under 49 years, and about 14% of its workforce are north of 60 years. More important, less than 25% of all advisors are ages 40 and younger. And one final number to consider: Just 5.6% of advisors are ages 30 or younger.”
Typical profile of a financial advisor in US is a mid-career stock broker, lawyer or banker. It does contrast with Singapore where we have so many younger Relationship Managers (Banks) and Financial Advisers (tied or IFAs). The issue with US is the tough regulation and high sophistication in products and tax issues, creating barriers to entry for fresh graduates. You can sense the difference in the demands of the clients and the stature of the title Financial Advisor in the US and Singapore.
“The quarterly research paper by Boston-based Cerulli Associates cites as evidence the fact that independent financial advisers account for less than 1% of the sales of mutual funds in the Asia Pacific region. Independent financial advisers have yet to make much headway in Asia Pacific, where banks and securities houses continue to dominate the market, a new research paper says.”
Not all bankers and brokers have the necessary expertise and knowledge since they are hired on sales ability, not on financial acumen. Banks do have better pool of experts sitting right at the top, far away from the clients though. Who is managing your money when you enter into an investment? The Personal Banker in the branch, nope. The Financial Adviser who you get the funds from, will he? Make sure you know who and if he or she knows how.