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January 27, 2014
"These are critical investments…as we prepare for an unprecedented ramp-up in production"
The week in review...
US: Pick your bellwether Earnings season is in full swing, with 104 S&P 500 companies reported as of Jan 24. Thus far results appear broadly in line with expectations, but with the focus on profit margins and investment levels rather than headline numbers, market reaction has been lukewarm at best. Economic figures remain positive: sales of previously-owned houses capped the best year since 2006 rising 1% in Dec month-over-month; for the full year, 5.08 mn were sold; housing prices rose 0.1% in Nov from Oct, less than expected, as rising mortgage rates took a toll. The Conference Board’s index of leading economic indicators rose 0.1%, less than expected, but still signaling growth in the coming 3 months.
Argentina: Hitting the wall Severe currency controls are the latest casualty of the crisis: US dollars will be available for purchase in limited quantities, but at the official devalued rate (for about 8 peso each, vs. up to 13 pesos on the black market as of Fri Jan 24). Unable to stem the outflow of foreign currency to pay debt, inflow was also hampered by the slide in commodity prices – soy, a major export, dropped by nearly 30% in 2013. The country is all but unable to borrow, with financial markets pricing in the possibility of a general halt in bond payments, the first since 2001. Signs of fragility have been growing for months: the resolution of lawsuits by a single private creditor dominate headlines; the government is prohibiting the release of figures that differ from the official economic outlook, cabinet ministers have been swapped out or resigned; the increasing scarcity of the President’s public appearances is adding to anxiety and resentment; looting is reported to be spreading to the outskirts of capital city Buenos Aires.
WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM
Davos: Meet the press Of the 2,655 luminaries on the official list of attendees, 65% are involved in business (25% are CEOs), public and non-profit officials comprise 18.5%. Labor’s place in the economy was the topic of several notable quotes. A former US Treasury official noted ”If workers don’t have sufficient income they cannot be consumers”; the CEO of a major global financial company called for a hike in the US minimum wage; economist John Lipsky, formerly of the International Monetary Fund noted that labor’s share of global GDP is now at historic lows, while the share of corporations’ is at its highest.
Economy: Rough patch Manufacturing PMI signaled a possible contraction for the first time in six months, according to a private-sector reading; the so-called “flash”, or early, figure was 49.6 (figures below 50 indicate contraction; above 50, expansion). Though disappointing, manufacturing is hardly at a standstill: factory output rose 9.7% in Dec year-over-year. Still, economic growth slowed slightly to 7.7% in 4Q13 from 7.8% in 3Q13. Financial sector challenges remain; there was talk of a bailout of a 3 bn yuan ($496 mn) investment trust.
Sources: Bloomberg, Reuters, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, China Daily, MNI, Guardian newspaper, Telegraph, Politico.
Signs of the times:
Rajan Panel Proposes 4% CPI Target in India Policy Overhaul – Bloomberg
Abe Stresses Resolve to Sustain in Japan's Economic Growth – Wall Street Journal
Bank of England Sees 'No Need' to Raise Interest Rates – Telegraph
Worst of Euro Crisis Ended in Poll With 57% Optimistic– Bloomberg
...the week ahead:
GLOBAL ECONOMIC CALENDAR: January 26 – February 1
Europe, UK, Africa, Mideast
Japan, Asia Ex Japan & Pac Rim
Japan: Trade balance, exports, imports
New home sales, Dallas Fed mfg survey
Mexico: trade balance, economic activity
Germany: business climate & expectations
South Korea: manufacturing sector survey
Thailand: industrial production
Australia: business confidence
Durable goods orders, consumer confidence, investor confidence, weekly retail sales, S&P/Case-Shiller home prices, Richmond Fed manufacturing & services sector surveys
France, Italy: consumer confidence
Italy: wage inflation
Russia: producer prices
India: interest rate decision
South Korea: industrial production, current account, service sector output
Singapore: unemployment rate
Mortgage applications, interest rate decision
Brazil: bank lending
Argentina: retail sales
Germany: consumer climate
Italy: business confidence
Spain: retail sales
Switzerland: consumption indicator
South Africa: interest rate decision
Japan: Retail sales
Singapore: bank lending
Australia: export & import prices
New Zealand: building consents, interest rate decision
GDP, real consumer spending, initial jobless claims, pending home sales, Kansas City Fed manufacturing survey, Fed balance sheet, money supply
Brazil: unemployment rate
Chile: manufacturing production, retail sales
Venezuela: consumer prices
Eurozone: business & consumer survey, inflation expectations, industrial sentiment
Germany: consumer prices, unemployment change, unemployment rate
Switzerland: leading indicators
UK: consumer credit, consumer confidence, money supply, mortgage lending & approvals
South Africa: producer prices
Japan: Household spending, consumer prices, unemployment rate, industrial production
China: non-gov’t manufacturing sector survey
Singapore: business expectations
Thailand: private consumption
Australia: producer prices, private sector credit
New Zealand: trade balance
Personal income & spending, core personal consumption expenditure deflator, employment cost index, farm prices, Chicago-area purchasing managers index, consumer sentiment, inflation expectations
Chile: unemployment rate
Colombia :interest rate decision
Eurozone: unemployment rate
France: consumer spending, producer prices
Italy: unemployment rate, producer prices
Spain: current account
Norway: retail sales
South Africa: trade balance
Japan: Construction orders, housing starts
China: manufacturing sector survey
South Korea: trade balance
Thailand: trade balance
The Conference Board is a US-based business membership and research association. The Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the US is designed to signal peaks and troughs in the business cycle.
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.
The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices are the leading measures for the US residential housing market, tracking changes in the value of residential real estate both nationally as well as in 20 metropolitan regions.
Purchasing Managers Indexes (PMI) measure the manufacturing and services sectors in an economy, based on survey data collected from a representative panel of manufacturing and services firms. PMI greater than 50 indicated economic expansion; below 50, contraction. The Chicago-area PMI is closely watched due to the prevalence of manufacturing and transportation in the region.
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.
Yields represent past performance and there is no guarantee they will continue to be paid.
Foreign securities are subject to the additional risks of fluctuations in foreign exchange rates, changes in political and economic conditions, foreign taxation, and differences in auditing and financial standards. These risks are magnified in the case of investments in emerging markets.
Fixed income securities are subject to interest rate and credit risk, which is a possibility that the issuer of a security will be unable to make interest payments and repay the principal on its debt. As interest rates rise, the price of fixed income securities falls.
Mortgage-backed securities involve additional risk over more traditional fixed-income investments, including: interest rate risk, implied call and extension risks; and the possibility of premature return of principal due to mortgage prepayment, which can reduce expected yield and lead to price volatility.
Commodities contain heightened risk that include market, political, regulatory, and natural conditions and may not be suitable for all investors.
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.
The opinions and views expressed herein 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 investment advice. The information in this material is confidential and proprietary and may not be used other than by the intended user. Neither Legg Mason or its affiliates or any of their officer or employee of Legg Mason accepts any liability whatsoever for any loss arising from any use of this material or its contents. This material may not be reproduced, distributed or published without prior written permission from Legg Mason. Distribution of this material may be restricted in certain jurisdictions. Any persons coming into possession of this material should seek advice for details of, and observe such restrictions (if any).
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