2019 is poised to be a good year for Japanese risk assets in general and Japanese small cap equities in particular. In fact, against a backdrop of rising US rates and growing equity market volatility, Japanese small caps may prove to be a great place to hide in 2019.
Of course, Japan’s overall market is very dependent on global economic fortunes and as much as 64% of TOPIX earnings depend on overseas sales. Therefore, Japanese large-cap performance will always depend on the US and Chinese business cycles.
Unfortunately, neither the world’s largest nor the second largest economy is likely to accelerate significantly in the coming 9-15 months. Against this, Japan’s domestic demand is in a multi-year structural uptrend, led by rising domestic consumer spending and, importantly, a forceful re-investment cycle by small and medium sized companies rushing to upgrade their local capital stock. This cycle is not affected by global trade uncertainties and the principal beneficiaries are Japan’s small cap companies.
Jesper Koll, Japan Senior Advisor, WisdomTree
After facing a volatile 2018, we expect emerging markets (EM) to recoup its losses and post strong gains in 2019.
We believe negative sentiment stemming from the strong US dollar, ongoing trade wars and the collapse of the Turkish Lira, was a key reason for strong outflows from emerging market assets in 2018. Fundamentals for most EM economies continue to remain stable. More importantly, the idiosyncratic risks among a few emerging market economies such as Venezuela, Argentina, South Africa and Turkey are not accurate representatives of emerging markets. We have also seen significant economic strides being made by each of these countries since then.
Emerging markets boast of having the lowest valuations among any major asset class globally, with nearly a 30% discount to developed markets and they offer a free cash flow yield estimated at 5-7% over the next year.
We expect sectors such as healthcare, real estate, consumer discretionary and utilities to benefit the most from higher earnings growth. We expect to see a turnaround in earnings growth in Brazil, Mexico, Turkey and Russia. We are seeing further signs of a modest deceleration in global growth impact the Federal Reserves interest rate path for 2019 and lower oil prices. Both of which should lend buoyancy to emerging market assets.
Aneeka Gupta, Associate Director – Research, WisdomTree
We remain cautious of economic growth in Europe owing to the rise of political headwinds namely; Brexit in March 2019, dwindling popularity of the grand coalition party in Germany, the EU parliamentary elections in May 2019 and Italian government’s fiscal budget proposal.
Current European GDP growth at 1.9% in 2018 is expected to slow to 1.6% in 2019 and 1.5% in 2020.
The impact of the trade concerns on the European auto sector is now being felt across the supply chain. Original equipment manufacturers have faced the largest setback. As European stocks broadly derive almost 20% of their revenue from emerging markets, the recent weakness across emerging markets has also weighed on demand for European goods. European corporate earnings have been strong in 2018 however the outlook remains strongly tied to a resolution around the trade uncertainties.
While the European Central Bank remains on track to end its bond buying programme by the end of 2018, it intends to reinvest the proceeds of maturing bonds purchased under the programme for an extended period and so monetary policy is poised to remain accommodative for a greater part of 2019 which should keep the Euro significantly lower. We remain less optimistic on the outlook for European equities until political headwinds abate.
Aneeka Gupta, Associate Director – Research, WisdomTree
US markets are poised to witness a modest deceleration in economic growth as the unwinding of the pro-cyclical tax reform takes effect in 2019. However, we continue to remain optimistic on US equities after a strong earnings season in the third quarter in 2018 with average earnings growth expectations as high as 27%. More importantly even on stripping out the effect of the tax reform average US earnings growth declines to only 18% which in comparison to the rest of world is still very high.
The recent results of the midterm elections confirm that Trump’s key fiscal policies such as Tax reform.1 and de-regulation are likely to remain in place. However, the gridlock in parliament suggests we are likely to greater oversight on Trump’s policy on trade, infrastructure, healthcare and immigration reform.
After the recent sell-off of US equities in October, US equity valuations are attractive on a 21x price to earnings ratio.
We remain cautious of the recent sell off in the technology sector and favour more defensive sectors such as healthcare, utilities and consumer staples.
Consumer confidence remains at an 18-year high and unemployment at a 49-year low. Core inflation is around the 2% mark. Federal reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has dialled down his rhetoric of an aggressive monetary policy stance at his last meeting, as he acknowledged risks to global growth and rising uncertainty owing to trade wars. Against this backdrop, we anticipate the Fed’s interest rate trajectory will be more gradual in 2019.
Aneeka Gupta, Associate Director – Research, WisdomTree
This material is prepared by WisdomTree and its affiliates and is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. The opinions expressed are as of the date of production and may change as subsequent conditions vary. The information and opinions contained in this material are derived from proprietary and non-proprietary sources. As such, no warranty of accuracy or reliability is given and no responsibility arising in any other way for errors and omissions (including responsibility to any person by reason of negligence) is accepted by WisdomTree, nor any affiliate, nor any of their officers, employees or agents. Reliance upon information in this material is at the sole discretion of the reader. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.
Gold and Precious Metals – Focusing on Gold’s Resilient Base
Gold Trended Higher Early, But Ended April Slightly Down as Dollar Strengthened
Gold trended higher in early April due to trade tensions between the U.S. and China, prospects of airstrikes on Syria, and heightened inflation expectations following a higher than expected March Producers Price Index (PPI)1 and a 2.1% annual rise in the core Consumer Price Index2. Gold topped at $1,365 per ounce on April 11. This level has been the proverbial price ceiling for gold since 2014. Gold subsequently moved lower as a number of generally positive economic releases enabled the U.S. dollar to trend to its high for the year on May 1. Gold was also pressured by real rates that moved higher with U.S. Treasuries. The yield on the 10-year Treasury surpassed 3% for the first time since 2013. For the month, gold incurred a small loss of $9.65 (0.7%) to finish at $1,315.35 per ounce.
Despite No Surprises in Earnings, Gold Stocks With Small Gains
While there was a lack of positive surprises in first quarter earnings, gold stocks were still able to eke out gains as the NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index (GDMNTR)3 rose 1.7% and the MVIS Global Junior Gold Miners Index (MVGDXJTR)4 advanced 1.8%.
Gold’s Resilient Price Floor Has Been Rising Since 2015; Likely to Be Tested Again
While $1,365 per ounce has been the ceiling for the gold price, the floor has been rising consistently since 2015 in a positive trend of higher lows. The base of this trend is currently around the $1,285 per ounce level. As expectations for a June 12 Fed rate increase mount, gold might test the trend’s base in the coming month. Given the resilience the gold price has shown amid concerns over geopolitical risks, trade tensions, and inflation, we would be surprised to see gold fall below this level. Perhaps gold will take another run at $1,365 in the second half of 2018.
Response to Earnings Highlights Lack of Interest in Gold Stocks
A lack of interest in gold stocks over the past year has caused them to fall short of performance expectations, which we highlighted anecdotally in our March commentary. In an April report, RBC Capital Markets was able to quantify this by looking at performance following earnings beats and misses over the last five years. They found that the sustainability of gains from earnings beats has declined in the last two years. Meanwhile, losses on earnings misses have gotten much worse in the last 1-2 years and the loss is sustained over a longer period. RBC also found that the value traded per day in 2018 is at levels last seen at the end of the bear market in 2015, when gold bottomed at $1,050. This points to a lack of buying interest. Absent are those momentum players that follow the winners who beat and value players that pick up the losers who miss. While this lack of interest sounds negative, we are excited by the opportunity it presents. We believe gold equities are undervalued, and the companies are fundamentally sound. A spark that moves the gold price through its $1,365 ceiling may rekindle interest in the miners.
“Gold is Where You Find It”
According to an old prospector saying, “Gold is where you find it”. Many of the companies we follow have found it in very out-of-the-way places. Not next to a highway in Ohio, but near a glacier in British Columbia, in the Atacama desert at 14,000 feet altitude, or 10,000 feet underground in South Africa. Companies must be skilled at building infrastructure in these remote areas.
Understanding Geopolitical Risk
Gold is also often found in places with geopolitical risk. In order to invest in a company, we must be convinced geopolitical risk can be mitigated, if not eliminated by management. Geopolitical risk comes in various forms at the national, state/provincial, and local levels. The most common risks at the national level are changes in taxes or royalties and import/export restrictions. At the state/provincial level, there are risks of legislation that might make mining prohibitively expensive. At the local level, disgruntled groups may blockade an operation and unions sometimes engage in work stoppages. These risks tend to be higher in emerging or frontier countries; however, developed countries are not immune. For example, the largest open pit gold operation in Ontario, Canada has delayed expansion plans to 2026 due to a lack of support from a local Aboriginal community.
Conversely, places assumed to be politically risky to a generalist may, in reality, be very favorable mining jurisdictions. The West African nation of Burkina Faso is one of the best places to build a mine. The gold industry is growing and exciting discoveries are being found. The permitting process is straightforward and efficient. A mining culture has developed, and materials and supplies are becoming more available. While the general election in 2015 was not without drama, in the end there was a peaceful transfer of power. The gold industry is a significant part of the Burkina economy that no leader wants to disrupt.
Argentina and the Impact of Geopolitics on Gold Projects
One of our more successful investments historically was Andean Resources. In 2007, Andean discovered high-grade veins on the Cerro Negro property in Santa Cruz Province of southern Argentina, a part of Patagonia. By 2010, Andean had delineated a 2.5 million ounce reserve, and the company was sold to Goldcorp, Inc. (2.9% of Fund net assets*) for $3.4 billion. The stock gained 1,800% from our first investment in 2007 to the 2010 acquisition. By 2010 it became obvious that the administration of former president Cristina Elisabet Fernández de Kirchner was driving the Argentinian economy into a ditch. The last geopolitical straw came in 2011, when exchange controls were announced and we began to avoid the country due to its growing hostility towards mining and other business.
We took a renewed interest in Argentina in 2015 with the election of Mauricio Macri. President Macri has invigorated business by unwinding exchange controls, export duties, capital restrictions, and many other impediments left from 12 years of Kirchner rule. This year we returned to Argentina to visit gold properties and assess the geopolitical climate. Cerro Negro is now one of Goldcorp’s core operations, producing 452,000 ounces in 2017 with a reserve of 4.9 million ounces. The Macri Administration eliminated a tax on reserves that had essentially stopped exploration spending. Goldcorp started drilling again, and they were proud to show off the Silica Cap discovery. Silica Cap is a vein system that we estimate could bring over 2 million ounces into the reserve.
Photo courtesy of Joe Foster. Drilling the Silica Cap system. Silica Cap outcrops visible as dark patches on skyline.
Another highlight of the trip was Yamana Gold’s (2.7% of Fund net assets*) Cerro Morro project, also a high-grade vein system that aims to start production in May. Yamana was able to draw on its expertise from similar operations in Chile and Mexico. We expect to see a smooth start-up that ramps to 180,000 ounces of gold and 7 million ounces of silver annually.
Yamana and Goldcorp have assets across the Americas, so their exposure to Argentina is limited. While we were pleased with the progress companies are making, there are still concerns that keep us from investing in a pure play in Argentina. Unions continue to exert extraordinary power. They are involved in many aspects of planning and decision-making at the mine level. Work stoppages are not uncommon, sometimes for reasons unrelated to mining that are beyond the control of management. Provincial rules can differ widely. Across the border in Chubut Province, open pit mining and the use of cyanide is banned, which is effectively a ban on gold mining. Inflation is running at 25%, and it remains to be seen if the central bank can bring it back to acceptable levels. Mary Anastasia O’Grady of the Wall Street Journal leads an April op-ed with: “Are Argentines ready to throw off the yoke of peronista populism, thuggery, and politics by roadblock that has destroyed their nation, and to rebuild the free republic of the 19th century?” If Macri can maintain popularity into the December 2019 elections while continuing reforms and taming inflation, then perhaps Argentina again becomes an investment destination for us.
With more than 30 years of gold industry experience, Foster began his gold career as a boots on the ground geologist, evaluating mining exploration and development projects. Foster is Portfolio Manager and Strategist for the Gold and Precious Metals strategy.
Please note that the information herein represents the opinion of the author and these opinions may change at any time and from time to time.
*All company weightings, if mentioned, are as of April 30, 2018, unless otherwise noted
1The Producer Price index (PPI) is a family of indexes that measures the average change in selling prices received by domestic producers of goods and services over time.
2The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure that examines the weighted average of prices of a basket of consumer goods and services, such as transportation, food and medical care. It is calculated by taking price changes for each item in the predetermined basket of goods and averaging them.
3NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index (GDMNTR) is a modified market capitalization-weighted index comprised of publicly traded companies involved primarily in the mining for gold.
4MVIS® Global Junior Gold Miners Index (MVGDXJTR) is a rules-based, modified market capitalization-weighted, float-adjusted index comprised of a global universe of publicly traded small- and medium-capitalization companies that generate at least 50% of their revenues from gold and/or silver mining, hold real property that has the potential to produce at least 50% of the company’s revenue from gold or silver mining when developed, or primarily invest in gold or silver.
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iShares MSCI Sydafrika ETF (NYSEArca: EZA) steg med nästan åtta procent i värde, mätt i dollar, i förra veckan. Den primära orsaken till värdeökningen för börshandlade fond var att Sydafrikas president, Jacob Zuma avgång. Vissa analytiker och marknadsobservatörer tror att den kontroversielle Zumas avgång kommer att minska risken i Sydafrikaoch för landets ekonomi.
Sydafrika är en av Afrikas största ekonomier. Landet är även en stor guldproducent och är en av de två främsta producenterna av palladium och platinai världen. Sydafrikanska gruvföretag har åtnjutit förbättrade marginaler på grund av en ökning av råvarupriserna som järnmalm och platina medan den sydafrikanska randen har försvagats mot dollarn.
Zumas avgång minskar risken för politisk förlamning
”Jacob Zumas avgång som president i Sydafrika minskar risken för politisk förlamning”, skriver Fitch Ratings. ”Zumas efterträdare, Cyril Ramaphosa, kommer att lägga större fokus på att förbättra styrningen och stärka landets ekonomiska och finansiella politik, vilket sannolikt kommer att bidra till en återhämtning i företagens förtroende och tillväxt. Huruvida detta kommer att vara tillräckligt för att leda till en betydande förbättring av statsskuldsituation och trendutvecklingen är osäkert”.
EZA som har cirka en halv miljard dollar under förvaltning, följer MSCI South Africa 25/50 Index och har drygt 50 aktier i sin portfölj. EZA har allokerat 31,6% av sin vikt till finansiella tjänster och över 27 % till den konsumentdiskretionära sektorn. Konsumentsektorn står för 9 % av denna börshandlade fonds kapital.
Även med Zumas avgång kvarstår vissa risker.
”Så länge tillväxten är för svag för att förbättra levnadsvillkoren för majoriteten av befolkningen, kan politiskt tryck leda till en populistisk politik som skadar tillväxten eller de offentliga finanserna” skriver Fitch. ”ANCs antagande i slutet av förra året av en resolution till förmån för markexpropriation utan ersättning pekar på ett sådant tryck, även om Ramaphosa i sin State of the Nation Address åtagit sig att genomföra politiken på ett sätt som minimerar de negativa ekonomiska effekterna.”
EZA har en treårig standardavvikelse på nästan 23 %, vilket ligger långt över MSCI Emerging Markets Index. Fondens efterföljande tolvmånadersutdelning är 1,5 %
Attractive risk-adjusted yields in emerging markets
ETF Securities Fixed Income Research – Attractive risk-adjusted yields in emerging markets
The shock to global markets from Brexit has raised expectations for more central banks’ intervention and sharpened the search for yield among investors. Middle East
Turkey’s political risk is likely to have a limited impact on EM outside of the. The Chinese economy and Fed policy will remain the main drivers for EM debt returns.
The slowdown of global growth favours duration risk over growth risk. Emerging sovereign bonds are attractively valued compared to emerging equities.
1990’s lessons learned
Emerging Markets (EM) learned the lessons from the Asian Crisis of the late 1990’s, particularly from an external financing perspective. Notwithstanding regional variation, in general emerging countries have built higher stocks of currency reserves and are less reliant on short term debt, particularly in hard currencies than in the past. (Click to enlarge)
As a rule of thumb, EM countries with robust fundamentals – solid internal (positive fiscal balance) and external conditions (positive current accounts balance) – are far more resistant to rate shocks. In March 2015 when the Fed started to signal an imminent lift-off, EM countries with stronger current account positions experienced lower currency depreciation than those with large external imbalances.
(Click to enlarge)
Turkey’s assets under pressure
The attempted coup which was carried out on Friday 15 July resulted in a 4.8% drop in the Turkish lira against the US dollar on the day. On Wednesday 20 July, S&P downgraded Turkey’s local currency denominated debt one notch to BB+ and maintained its negative outlook. The Turkish lira weakened by 1.1% to 3.0755 against the US dollar on the move. Turkey is running the largest current account deficit among the emerging countries (-4.5% of GDP as of July 2016) and has relatively low currency reserves. Given the sharp rise in political instability and deeper external imbalances, Turkish assets and the Turkish lira are likely to remain under pressure going forward. However, any spill over effects from the events in Turkey toward the other EM countries should remain limited outside of the Middle East region.
China is the main driver behind EM returns
The slowdown of the Chinese economy has already been priced-in into the market early this year. However, the Chinese economy has exhibited signs of stabilisation since then. Chinese GDP grew by 6.7%yoy and industrial production rose by 6.2%yoy. The Chinese authorities have continued to provide fiscal and monetary policies to support short term growth. In June, fiscal expenditure growth grew by 20.3%, money supply (M2) grew by 11.8% and total social financing (TSF, i.e. credit growth) increased RMB1630bn. The very large amount of total debt in China (in excess of 260% of GDP) raises concerns for growth over the long term but is manageable in the short term thanks to decent fiscal space (i.e. low level of government debt1).
Stability of the Yuan is essential for the stability of EM currencies. In our view, further devaluations of the Yuan are unlikely as China has low incentive to do so. As a large importer, China has limited incentive to devalue further because higher imports prices will cause a deterioration of the current account balance. China runs a trade surplus so if anything the Yuan should appreciate as the demand for the Yuan to pay exporters exceeds the need for foreign currencies to pay imports. As a result, EM local currency risk looks contained in the near term.
What if there is another rate shock?
The US dollar stability is also crucial for the stability EM currencies. So far, the procrastination of the Fed in hiking interest rates has prevented the US dollar from appreciating further, in turn reducing the volatility of EM currencies. We expect one additional 25bps rise in the Fed funds rate this year along with an accelerating US economy. In our opinion, this should only result in a modest appreciation of the dollar. In general, a stronger US dollar tends to challenge EM assets, but it depends on the basis for the strengthening. The U.S dollar is currently appreciating because of continued expansion in the US – a supportive environment for global trade. Exporters will benefit from increasing competitiveness and increasing US demand. However, those that rely on hard currency short term external financing (i.e. Turkey, Mexico, South Africa) would be the most vulnerable.
(click to enlarge)
The Latam region has been the most vulnerable to higher US rates in recent years. Latam countries face sizeable domestic economic and political vulnerabilities that tend to exacerbate capital outflows during times of market stress. Latam markets are also more liquid than their peers and are thus easier to short in times of stress.
(click to enlarge)
Search for yield will continue in the medium term
The market shock resulting from Brexit drove expectations for more central bank intervention and sharpened the search for yield. We maintain our long-term positive view on EM debt for three main reasons. First, most EM have limited exposure to the UK economy. Second, lower inflation in EM countries permit looser monetary policy which should support near term growth. Third, valuation of EM debt remains attractive relative to EM equity markets. While the Bond Equity Earnings yield ratio is declining rapidly, it is still greater than 1, implying that EM equities are overvalued relative to EM sovereign bonds. (click to enlarge)
The fundamentals of EM countries are more robust than in the 1990’s, limiting the risk of a crisis. The low yield environment will continue to push traditional investors outside their comfort zone, forcing them to look for risk-adjusted yield in the EM universe. In general, investors are increasing exposures to emerging markets2 helping EM countries to trade on their own fundamentals.
2 According to EPFR Global, Emerging market bond funds attracted US$3.42bn of inflows in June. 3 ETF Securities Research 2016
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6 Reasons Why Platinum and Palladium Are Likely to Shine in Investment Portfolios
Gold is up nearly 20 percent in 2016, with investors flocking into the yellow metal for its potential safe-haven benefits as the market evaluates central bank policies and volatility in equities. While the gold rally continues to dominate financial headlines, investors may be missing other precious metals opportunities, like Platinum and Palladium.
Investors seeking investment alternatives to gold should take a closer look at platinum and palladium. We believe these shiny white metals offer investors great price entry points and powerful long-term growth drivers. Specifically, here are six reasons why investors should consider adding platinum and palladium to their portfolios.
According to the International Platinum Group Metals Association (IPA), annual production of platinum and palladium amounts to around 440 tons, much less than many common metals.
Geographically, production is highly concentrated. 58 percent of world primary production of these metals takes place in South Africa and Russia accounts for an additional 26 percent.1 Nearly all of the rest comes from Zimbabwe, Canada, and the United States. Deposits in Russia and North America have high palladium contents while deposits in South Africa and Zimbabwe are richer in platinum.
2. Stable and Growing Demand
As with any assets, investors need to know where they are putting their money. Most investors probably haven’t thought much about platinum or palladium since their last high school chemistry quiz, although they are probably more familiar with other precious metals like gold and silver.
Platinum and palladium are used mostly for industrial purposes such as the manufacturing of catalytic converters in automobile exhaust systems (platinum for diesel vehicles, palladium for gasoline) which convert pollutant gases into less harmful ones.
Across major consumer markets worldwide, auto sales are increasing and automobile manufacturers continue to increase per-vehicle loadings of each metal to meet more-stringent emissions standards worldwide, particularly in Europe, China and the U.S. These trends translate into highly favorable supply demand dynamics for platinum and palladium.
3. Favorable Macroeconomic Trends
Coupled with an overall uptick expected this year in industrial production, platinum and palladium’s cyclical economic exposure makes them a potential ideal portfolio alternative. According to recent Bloomberg data, the white metals climbed to the highest level in more than three months, entering bull markets, on speculation that infrastructure spending in China will boost demand for the metals used in auto pollution-control devices. Last week, platinum posted the biggest gain since October, while palladium surged the most since 2001, helped by the outlook for low borrowing costs and rising auto sales in the U.S.
4. New Emissions Regulations
With favorable supply-demand fundamentals already in place, new emissions regulations could push prices even higher this year. For example, the World Platinum Investment Council and SFA revealed that the rollout of 2016 European emission regulations last year resulted in a 7% rise in platinum loaded into diesel cars.
1 Chamber of Mines of South Africa, Annual Report 2012; figure does not include recycling.
5. Further Upside Potential
Other factors may also spark higher prices, including dollar depreciation, rising jewelry demand, South African labor unrest (which in 2014 halted mining for five months where 80% of the world’s platinum is sourced), energy security, or an acceleration of mine closings based on the dwindling return on investment (ROI).
6. Available as an ETF
For investors looking to add exposure to these precious metals to their portfolios, exchange-traded funds offer an easy entry point. They provide access to physically-backed, liquid assets offering pure exposure to the metals without any vaulting or operational issues of a mining stock.
Takeaway for Investors
For a typical investor who probably holds less than 5% of their portfolio in alternatives like commodities, platinum and palladium provide cyclical economic exposure in contrast to gold, which is more defensive in nature. And with industrial production expected to rise this year, platinum and palladium are well- positioned for growth.
So, while most people probably don’t know where platinum and palladium reside on the periodic table, investors seeking alternatives in the commodity space may be wise to seek them out.
Commodities and futures generally are volatile and are not suitable for all investors.
ALPS Distributors, Inc. is the marketing agent for ETFS Silver Trust, ETFS Gold Trust, ETFS Precious Metals Basket Trust, ETFS Platinum Trust and the ETFS Palladium Trust.
ETF 000909 3/31/17
About the Author Nitesh Shah is a Commodities Strategist at ETF Securities. Nitesh has 13 years of experience as an economist and strategist, covering a wide range of markets and asset classes. Prior to joining ETF Securities, Nitesh was an economist covering the European structured finance markets at Moody’s Investors Service and was a member of Moody’s global macroeconomics team. Before that he was an economist at the Pension Protection Fund and an equity strategist at Decision Economics. He started his career at HSBC Investment Bank. Nitesh holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the London School of Economics and a Master of Arts in International Economics and Finance from Brandeis University (USA).