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February 17, 2014
"Italy cannot remain in a situation of uncertainty..."
The week in review...
Italy: Demolition zone Prime Minister Enrico Letta resigned in the wake of an internal struggle within his Democratic Party (PD). The party's most favored replacement for now is Matteo Renzi, the 39-year-old former mayor of Florence, nicknamed "Demolition Man" for his abrupt political style. So far, the fragile ruling coalition remains intact, along with the country's unpopular austerity program, adopted at the encouragement of the European Central Bank (ECB). Spreads for Italy's 10-year sovereign bond remained near their post-crisis lows.
UK: Guiding light The Bank of England (BoE) hiked its most recent forecast for growth from 2.8% to 3.4% for the rest of 2014, and stepped away from its six-month-old policy of formal forward guidance tying future interest rates to improvements in employment. Seeking to quiet fears of higher borrowing costs, BoE Governor Mark Carney said "…the recovery is neither balanced or sustainable", and was still in need of low interest rates.
Germany: Not with a bang The constitutional court issued a key ruling on whether the ECB's high-profile "whatever it takes" Outright Monetary Transaction (OMT) program of 2012 violates German law…and handed the matter off to the European Court of Justice.
Kazakhstan: Tough neighborhood In devaluing its tightly-controlled currency (the tenge) by about 20% in one step (to about 185 from 155.6 tenges per US dollar) on Wed Feb 11, the central bank attempted to slow the drain on its $23.5 bn foreign reserves caused by declining oil revenues and rising consumption-driven imports. Pressure on the tenge has increased as the Russian ruble dropped vs the tenge, reducing Russia's ability to import from its major trading partner – or to sell its oil. Central bank chairman Qairat Kelimbetov said one objective was to increase domestic consumption without driving inflation above its Jan reported 4.5% level – a tall order. The devaluation may make it even tougher for the country to service its high level of foreign debt.
China: Trust but verify As China's central bank signaled that it would tolerate more "volatile" rates in the interbank market to modernize its money markets, China's assets (invested in its wide variety of investment trusts) soared to $1.8 tn in 2013, a 46% jump. Though trade group China Trustee Association described systemic risks as "impossible", a 3 bn yuan ($494.8 bn) high-yield trust product had to be bailed out at the last minute.
US: Stormy weather Retail sales and factory production both disappointed in Jan, down 0.4% and 0.8% respectively, with a rough winter taking some of the blame. Job openings also disappointed, falling in Dec by 43k to 3.99 mn, but new Fed chair Janet Yellen's congressional testimony stressed policy continuity, apparently appeasing financial markets.
Sources: Bloomberg, Reuters, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, China Trust Association, Tengri News (Kazakhstan), tradingeconomics.com, Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe, European Central Bank.
Signs of the times:
Strong China January Trade Data Sparks Cheers, Doubts – Reuters
Australia Readies More Than $100 Billion in Asset Sales – Wall Street Journal
Portugal Taps Bond Markets As It Moves Toward Bailout Exit –Wall Street Journal
Argentina Revises ‘Bogus’ Inflation Figures – Financial Times
British Business Optimism at 22-year High – Reuters
...And the week ahead:
GLOBAL ECONOMIC CALENDAR: February 16 – February 22
Europe, UK, Africa, Mideast
Japan, Asia Ex Japan & Pac Rim
Japan: GDP, industrial production, capacity utilization
Singapore: foreign trade
New Zealand: retail sales
Colombia: industrial production
Russia: industrial production, government finance
South Korea: producer prices
Homebuilder optimism, foreign securities purchases, e-commerce retail sales, NY Fed manufacturing survey
Canada: foreign securities purchases
Eurozone: current account
Germany: economic sentiment, current conditions
Italy: trade balance
Russia: producer prices
UK: consumer prices, retail prices, producer prices
Hong Kong: unemployment rate
Australia: wages, prices
Housing starts & permits, producer prices, weekly retail sales, mortgage applications, FOMC minutes
Canada: wholesale sales
Argentina: unemployment rate
Switzerland: economic expectations
UK: unemployment rate, claimant change, average earnings
South Africa: consumer prices
Japan: Trade balance, exports, imports
China: non-gov't manufacturing survey
India: money supply
New Zealand: producer prices
Initial jobless claims, consumer prices, leading indicators, Philly Fed survey, Fed balance sheet, money supply, Cleveland Fed median CPI
Brazil: unemployment rate
Eurozone: manufacturing & services sector surveys
Germany: producer prices, manufacturing & services sector surveys
France: consumer prices, manufacturing & services sector surveys
Italy: industrial sales & new orders
Russia: retail sales, unemployment
UK: retail sales, distributive trades survey, industrial trends orders
Existing home sales
Canada: consumer prices, retail sales,
Mexico: GDP, economic activity
Brazil: current account, foreign direct investment
Argentina: industrial production, economic activity
UK: public sector net borrowing
Honk Kong: consumer prices
The European Central Bank (ECB) is responsible for the monetary system of the European Union (EU) and the euro currency.
The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is the main policy- and decision-making body of the Federal Reserve (Fed) system responsible for promoting economic growth, full employment, stable prices, and a sustainable pattern of international trade and payments.
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.
A consumer price index (CPI) measures the average change in consumer prices over time in a fixed market basket of goods and services.
A spread is the difference in price or yield between two different types of securities.
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.
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.
Yields and dividends represent past performance and there is no guarantee they will continue.
Currencies and commodities contain heightened risk that include market, political, regulatory, and natural conditions and may not be suitable for all investors.
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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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Issued and approved by Legg Mason Investments (Europe) Limited, registered office 201 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 3AB. Registered in England and Wales, Company No. 1732037. Authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Client Services +44 (0)207 070 7444.
Issued and approved by Legg Mason Investments (Europe) Limited, registered office 201 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 3AB. Registered in England and Wales, Company No. 1732037. Authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Client Services +44 (0)207 070 7444. This document is for use by Professional Clients and Eligible Counterparties in EU and EEA countries. In Switzerland this document is only for use by Qualified Investors. It is not aimed at, or for use by, Retail Clients in any European jurisdictions.
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