"Successful investing is anticipating the anticipations of others." - John Maynard Keynes

Monday 28 July 2014

Posted 2014-07-28 05:48:32 by David Keohane
Markets: "Asian stocks rose, with a gauge of Chinese shares in Hong Kong heading toward a bull market, while Treasuries and oil slipped as investors await data on U.S. services before the Federal Reserve meets this week. Soybeans and corn rallied... U.S. reports on services activity and pending home sales are due before the Fed meets to discuss monetary policy, while Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said last week rising yields may spur a retreat in global stocks and bonds over the next three months." (Bloomberg)
And have a weekly calendar of events (click to enlarge) for what Citi are calling "a volatile week in a boring month":

Sunday 27 July 2014

Many investors face Scotland exit risk unprotected

LONDON, July 27 (Reuters) - Less than two months before an independence vote that could ultimately tear apart a G7 country, investors in financial markets seem largely unmoved.
Last week saw the first glimmer of action in currency markets to protect against the possibility of Scotland voting on Sept. 18 to break away from the United Kingdom.
But against the backdrop of ultra-low volatility in financial markets that barely stirs even in major geopolitical crises, such moves have been small.
Reasons for leaving financial positions uncovered heading into the vote range from the complexity, the costs and expectations of interest rate rises which muddy the waters. Generally, it's just not considered worth it.
"Investors are completely not positioning themselves for the potential of a vote in favour of independence," said Insight Investment's head of currency Paul Lambert.
Opinion polls that show a lead of around 20 points for the 'No' voters, excluding the undecided, are enough to convince many investors that anything else is too remote a possibility to worry about.
Bookmakers see a 'No' vote as highly likely, offering odds of just 1/8. One Surrey-based businessman staked 400,000 pounds ($680,000) on this bet - the biggest political gamble that bookmaker William Hill has ever received - last month when the odds were 1/4, standing to win 100,000 pounds if he is right.
But even for those slightly perturbed by some polls that show nearly 30 percent of voters are still undecided, finding how best to protect financial assets is no simple task.
"It's very difficult to factor in the risk of Scottish independence. At the moment Scottish assets are so embedded in UK assets, so how do you pick them off? What would you sell?" said Rabobank currency strategist, Jane Foley.
Morgan Stanley's strategy team has been rare among banks to put a figure on the chances of a 'Yes' vote - 25 percent. It, among others, is certain that sterling and UK government bonds would come under some pressure if Scottish leader Alex Salmond's nationalists won the vote.
It says the volatility it would cause could discourage the Bank of England from raising interest rates in support of a rebounding UK economy - an eventuality that money markets have fully priced in for December.
Investors can decide to take out an option to insure against this outcome while retaining their existing positions.
The question is whether the price of protection is worth paying to cover the potential losses which, in the currency markets, some have predicted could shave up to 10 percent of the pound's value versus the dollar.
Many are unconvinced.
One money markets broker, who wished to remain anonymous, said "the ramifications of a 'Yes' vote could kneejerk sterling money markets higher, but not enough in my view to pay for the hedge."
"My conclusion is that the Scottish independence vote is untradeable."
Citi is one of the few banks to have stuck its neck out and advised clients to try to offset any potential losses by buying credit default swaps on UK government bonds.
With the costs of five-year CDS contracts at their cheapest level since 2008 - less than higher-rated German equivalents - there is potential for their value to rise amid referendum-related volatility.
However, very few people are bothering to buy them.
The net notional for five-year UK CDS - a broad measure of the market's exposure to this contract - fell to its lowest since 2008 this month, according to Creditviews data.
The underlying message from strategists and researchers to equity investors is "don't worry".
Morgan Stanley predicts there will be no repeat of the jitters that gripped Canadian stocks when one of its most productive provinces, Quebec, nearly seceded in the mid 1990s.
"A large and sustained move is unlikely given the small impact we expect on UK profits from a Scottish exit," it said.
Investors holding any of the 100 Scottish-based companies listed on UK bourses can also sleep easy, concluded a paper by Paul Marsh of the London Business School and Scott Evans of Walbrook Economics.
"To some extent, they are protected by the fact that both companies and individuals can redomicile if necessary," said the paper. "There will also be a period of at least 18 months during which the terms of separation are negotiated. They can thus afford to 'wait and see' and then make plans."
There has so far been no evidence that equity investors are bracing for a shock. There are those, though, who fear this ambivalence, which they say also surrounds UK plans to hold a referendum on membership of the EU, could come back to bite.
"The most mismanaged country risk I have ever seen in my career is the UK," said Beltran Lastra, a senior equities fund manager at JPMorgan Asset Management. "The Scotland case is another example of that happening."
($1 = 0.5892 British Pounds) (Writing by John Geddie; additional reporting by EMEA markets team)

The EU Morning Report - Gold continues the bearish trend and trades below 1300 - 25 July 2014


The euro (EUR) continued the downtrend and reached a new 8-month low at 1.3437 against the US dollar (USD). The single currency rebounded up to1.3484 after better than expected German Flash Manufacturing and Flash Services data. The single currency is now trading around 1.3467 while the German Ifo Business Climate is on the calendar for today.

The US dollar (USD) rose yesterday against the Japanese yen (JPY) towards 101.76. The greenback gained after the low US Unemployment claims set to be the lowest in the last eight years, which is another sign that the US labour market is recovering.


The European equities gained yesterday as the European manufacturing and services indicators showed higher than expect. The German 30 (DAX) advanced to 9783, the France 40 (CAC) went to 4400 and the Swiss (SWI) to 8631.


Soybeans dropped from its one week high at 1231 back to 1200 USD cents per bushel, as the global supply seems to be increasing.

Mover & Shaker with FX Options

Gold (XAU) continues its bearish trend as yesterday fell another 15 USD, while reached one month low at 1287. The demand for the precious metal has been decreased as the outlook for economic growth improved.

Option traders may consider constructing a Back Spread Strategy with Puts on the XAUUSD and gain if the pair moves lower, while the risk is limited to the premium paid.

A Back Spread Strategy with Puts can be constructed by selling an at the money Put while buying an out of the money Put at double amount.

Written by Demetris Constantinou
Currency Strategist at easy-forex 

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