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August 18, 2014
"It is better to admit what is than to hope for what won't be."
The week in review...
Eurozone: Running out of petrol - The Eurozone economy was stagnant in the second quarter, dragged down by weakness in its biggest economies. German GDP (Gross Domestic Product) fell 0.2%; Italy returned to recession and France saw zero growth. The monetary union’s GDP was flat between April and June, heightening deflation fears, and raising hopes that the European Central Bank will unveil a US / Japan-style Quantitative Easing (QE) stimulus. Sovereign bonds rallied and the area’s overnight borrowing costs fell to a euro-era low. The benchmark 10-year German bund fell below 1% for the first time.
UK: Not so fast: In the much faster-growing UK, where QE measures have already been adopted, wages fell for the first time since 2009, even as unemployment fell to 6.4%. The Bank of England cut its forecast for 2014 wage growth by almost half, to 1.25%, and governor Mark Carney changed his previously rather-hawkish mantra, noting that falling wages could delay a rise in interest rates. Sterling fell 0.5% against the US dollar and 10-year gilt yields fell by 7.3 basis points to 2.416%.
Retail sales: Two steps forward, one back: July retail sales were flat, compared with a 0.2% gain in June. Core sales – which exclude cars – were 0.1% higher. The weak data reinforced signs that growth, albeit steady, is still sluggish. The US yield curve continued to flatten, with 10-year Treasury yields trading below 2.4%.
Tax stumble: The economy shrank by 1.7% in the second quarter, the worst contraction since the 2011 tsunami, though better than the consensus estimate of 1.8%. The main culprit: a long-anticipated sales tax increase to 8% which led many consumers to shift spending into Q1 in advance of the increase. A second hike, to 10%, is planned for October 2015.
Slower growth: Moody’s revised GDP growth forecasts for emerging markets, citing inflation concerns and lower exports to China. Argentina and Russia are expected to contract, while Brazil and South Africa’s economies are likely to slow down. Growth in the 20 largest emerging countries, excluding China, may reach 2.1% this year. Emerging market stocks, however, gained last week as investors expect the Chinese government to bolster its economic stimulus, lifting demand for products sold by smaller emerging markets.
Oil: West Texas Intermediate crude had one of its worst weeks since November, while Brent hovered near 12-month lows, amid reduced demand and rising tensions in the Middle East. Oil prices have remained flat over the past 12 months.
Signs of the times:
ECB would, for now, prefer to do nothing – Financial Times
Junk Sell-off Means Buy at Barclays to Citigroup: Credit Markets – Bloomberg
Exporters eyeing boost in Russian business – China Daily
Sources: Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Bloomberg
...The week ahead:
GLOBAL ECONOMIC CALENDAR: August 18–23
Europe, UK, Africa, Mideast
Japan, Asia Ex Japan & Pac Rim
Canada: Foreign Direct Investment YoY
EU: trade balance
UK: Rightmove House Prices MoM
South Korea: PPI MoM
Brazil: IBGE Brazil CPI Extended National MoM
EU: Construction output YoY
Japan: Trade balance; All Industry Activity Index
Initial Jobless Claims
Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook
Existing home sales
Federal Reserve Jackson Hole Symposium
EU: Consumer Confidence
Federal Reserve Jackson Hole Symposium
Brazil: Current account balance
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is an economic statistic which measures the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period of time.
Quantitative easing (QE) refers to a monetary policy implemented by a central bank in which it increases the excess reserves of the banking system through the direct purchase of debt securities.
The Federal Reserve (Fed) is the US central bank, responsible for the formulation of a policy designed to promote economic growth, full employment, stable prices, and a sustainable pattern of international trade and payments.
The European Union (EU) is an economic and political union established in 1993 after the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty by members of the European Community and since expanded to include numerous Central and Eastern European nations.
Emerging markets are nations with social or business activity in the process of rapid growth and industrialization. These nations are sometimes also referred to as developing or less developed countries.
U.S. Treasuriesare direct debt obligations issued and backed by the "full faith and credit" of the U.S. government. The U.S. government guarantees the principal and interest payments on U.S. Treasuries when the securities are held to maturity. Unlike U.S. Treasury securities, debt securities issued by the federal agencies and instrumentalities and related investments may or may not be backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. Even when the U.S. government guarantees principal and interest payments on securities, this guarantee does not apply to losses resulting from declines in the market value of these securities.
Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures the average change in consumer prices over time in a fixed market basket of goods and services.
The Producer Price Index (PPI) is an inflationary indicator published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to evaluate wholesale price levels.
Unless otherwise specified, all uses of the symbol "$" refer to US dollars.
The opinions and views expressed herein, as well as references to individual companies or securities, are not intended to be relied upon as a prediction or forecast of actual future events or performance, or a guarantee of future results, or recommendations to buy, hold or sell, or investment advice.
Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.
All investments involve risk, including possible loss of principal.
International investments are subject to special risks including currency fluctuations, social, economic and political uncertainties, which could increase volatility. These risks are magnified in emerging markets.
This material is for information only and does not constitute an invitation to the public to invest in any funds, securities, strategies or other products. You should be aware that the investment opportunities described should normally be regarded as longer term investments and they may not be suitable for everyone. The value of investments and the income from them can go down as well as up and investors may not get back the amounts originally invested, and can be affected by changes in interest rates, in exchange rates, general market conditions, political, social and economic developments and other variable factors. Past performance is no guide to future returns and may not be repeated. Investment involves risks including but not limited to, possible delays in payments and loss of income or capital. Neither Legg Mason nor any of its affiliates guarantees any rate of return or the return of capital invested.
Please note that an investor cannot invest directly in an index. Forward-looking statements are subject to uncertainties that could cause actual developments and results to differ materially from the expectations expressed. This information has been prepared from sources believed reliable but the accuracy and completeness of the information cannot be guaranteed and is not a complete summary or statement of all available data. Individual securities mentioned are intended as examples of portfolio holdings and are not intended as buy or sell recommendations. Information and opinions expressed by either Legg Mason or its affiliates are current as at the date indicated, are subject to change without notice, and do not take into account the particular investment objectives, financial situation or needs of individual investors.
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