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Wed, 22nd February 2017

Anirudh Sethi Report

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Archives of “finance” Tag

Negative rates put corporate Japan in a spending mood

The introduction of negative interest rates a year ago by the Bank of Japan is prompting listed companies here to funnel the money they save on borrowing costs toward takeovers and capital investment.

The average borrowing rate of 1,387 nonfinancial companies listed on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange and which released their third-quarter results by December 2016 has shrunk to an estimated 1.06%, down 0.11 percentage point from a year earlier. Interest-bearing debt has increased nearly 1 trillion yen ($8.84 billion) to about 207 trillion yen, while interest payment costs have fallen 10% to about 1.63 trillion yen. Some 30% of the companies have increased their borrowings.

 Telecommunications giant SoftBank Group is one of the companies that has benefited the most from negative interest rates. Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son bought British chip designer ARM Holdings for about 24 billion pounds ($29.8 billion) at the current rate in 2016 and has announced other bold global plans.

SoftBank’s interest-bearing debt has jumped 16%, or about 1.9 trillion yen, to a little more than 14 trillion yen over the past year. However, its average borrowing rate — obtained by dividing interest payment costs by average interest-bearing debt — was 3.53%, down 0.18 percentage point.

Negative interest rates have also lowered borrowing costs for corporate bonds. Borrowing costs for SoftBank seven-year bonds issued in April 2016 were 1.94% per annum, 0.19 percentage point lower than the cost for the seven-year bonds it issued six months earlier.

Next Week -Watch out :Week ahead: Greece, Fed minutes, Buffett letter

Don’t be fooled by the the holiday-shortened trading week in the US. Next week promises to give investors plenty to watch, including the Greek bailout, minutes of the Federal Reserve’s last meeting, Bank of England governor Mark Carney’s testimony, retail earnings and Warren Buffett’s annual letter.

Here’s what to look for in the coming days.

Greece

The meeting has also gained additional significance, as the last major one slated before European elections begin next month, starting with the Dutch.

“With the two largest eurozone economies facing elections this year, we believe it is in
their policymakers’ interests to contain any potential risks from Greek disruption,” said economists at Nomura. “We therefore expect some transitory agreement to be reached at least at the eurozone level, with the IMF decision on programme participation likely to be delayed even further”.

Carney testimony

Following Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen’s semi-annual testimony to Congress, investors get to hear from her UK counterpart when Mark Carney testifies before the UK parliament’s Treasury Committee on Tuesday. Mr Carney’s testimony comes after the BoE upgraded its economic forecast, while leaving its inflation forecast and interest-rate policy on hold.

“Since the inflation report was published two weeks ago, we’ve seen downside surprises to wage growth, inflation, and retail sales,” said strategists at TD Securities. “So even after the IR was more dovish than markets expected, we may see a further dovish tone with the IR testimony given the soft tone of the recent data releases.”

Fed minutes

The Federal Reserve will release the minutes of its last monetary policy meeting on Wednesday, though they may seem dated since investors have just heard from Ms Yellen. In her testimony to Congress this week, she painted an upbeat view of the US economy and warned that it would be “unwise” to wait too long before raising interest rates.

Bank of America economists say they believe the minutes will reflect “a great deal of focus on both upside and downside risks,” even as Fed officials “become increasingly constructive on the outlook for the economy.”

Moreover, any discussion on the Fed’s balance sheet is likely to garner interest. “Yellen reiterated the view that the primary tool remains rates and that the balance sheet will only be addressed once the normalization of the fed funds rate is well under way,” said the folks at Bank of America. “We expect the minutes to reinforce this view, but there might be some discussion among members on the issue.”

Moody’s raises outlook on Russia rating to ‘stable’

Moody’s on Friday became the latest ratings agency to lift its outlook on Russia’s credit rating, upgrading it from ‘negative’ to ‘stable’, citing both a fiscal strategy — that is expected to lower the country’s dependence on energy and replenish its savings — and the gradual economic recovery.

The ratings agency had confirmed Russia’s Ba1 rating, which is one notch below investment grade, in April 2016, but assigned it a negative outlook at the time to reflect an erosion of the government’s fiscal savings amid a downturn in crude prices. But on Friday, it said the recovery in the country’s economy following a nearly two-year long recession, alongside the fiscal consolidation strategy, have eased the risks that it had identified last year.

Russia’s deficit-to-GDP ratio is now forecast to narrow by roughly one percentage point per year between 2017 and 2019 and Moody’s said this new target was “achievable” because the government’s “oil price and revenue assumptions are sufficiently conservative”.

Moody’s now believes that the downside risks identified in April 2016 have diminished to a level consistent with a stable outlook. The stabilization of the rating outlook partly reflects external events, and in particular the increase in oil prices to a level consistent with the government’s budget assumptions. The stable outlook also reflects the plans the government has put in place to consolidate its finances over the medium term, and the slow recovery in the economy following almost two years of recession.

Rival raters S&P and Fitch have also boosted their outlook on the country in recent months, as external risks to the oil-producing nation ease.

Overnight US Market :Dow closed up 107 points.Crosses 20600.S&P 500 -Nasdaq Hitting New High

Stocks jumped to new record highs and the Dow shot past 20,600 on Wednesday after more reports showed the U.S. economy continues to strengthen.

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 107 points, up 0.5% to a new closing high of 20,611.86.

Also building upon their record highs set in the previous session were the S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite, up 0.5% to 2349.25 and 0.6% to 5819.44, respectively.

The encouraging data could push the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates more aggressively from the record lows marked during the Great Recession.

Wednesday’s economic reports give the Federal Reserve more encouragement to raise interest rates, and economists said the possibility is increasing that it may happen at the central bank’s next meeting in March. Retailers had stronger sales in January than economists expected, and inflation at the consumer level was the highest in years. Consumer prices rose 2.5% in January from a year earlier, the highest rate since March 2012.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen said in testimony before a Congressional committee that the strengthening job market and a modest move higher in inflation should warrant continued, gradual increases in interest rates, echoing her comments from a day earlier. The central bank raised rates in December for just the second time in a decade, after keeping rates at nearly zero to help lift the economy out of the Great Recession.

Fitch: The Trump Administration Poses Risks to Global Sovereigns -Full Text

The Trump Administration represents a risk to international economic conditions and global sovereign credit fundamentals, Fitch Ratings says. US policy predictability has diminished, with established international communication channels and relationship norms being set aside and raising the prospect of sudden, unanticipated changes in US policies with potential global implications.

The primary risks to sovereign credits include the possibility of disruptive changes to trade relations, diminished international capital flows, limits on migration that affect remittances and confrontational exchanges between policymakers that contribute to heightened or prolonged currency and other financial market volatility. The materialisation of these risks would provide an unfavourable backdrop for economic growth, putting pressure on public finances that may have rating implications for some sovereigns. Increases in the cost or reductions in the availability of external financing, particularly if accompanied by currency depreciation, could also affect ratings.

In assessing the global sovereign credit implications of policies enacted by the new US Administration, Fitch will focus on changes in growth trajectories, public finance positions and balance of payments performances, with particular emphasis on medium-term export prospects and possible pressures on external liquidity and sustainable funding. US positions on some countries may change quickly, at least initially, but any potential rating adjustments will depend on consequent changes to sovereign credit fundamentals, which will almost certainly be slower to materialise.

Japan government debt hits record-high 1,066tn yen ($9.4 trillion) at end of December

Japan’s government debt stood at a record 1,066.42 trillion yen ($9.4 trillion) as of Dec. 31, highlighting the difficulty of restoring the country’s fiscal health, data by the Finance Ministry showed Friday.

Per capita debt, the amount owed per person, came to around 8.40 million yen, based on the country’s total population estimated at around 126.86 million as of Jan. 1.

 The central government’s debt marked an increase of 3.85 trillion yen compared with the end of September, due to the issuance of “zaito” debt to finance projects such as the construction of a magnetically levitated high-speed train line in central Japan as well as ballooning social security costs.

By the end of the current fiscal year through March, the government’s debt is projected to grow further to 1,116.4 trillion yen.

According to the ministry, the debt total as of December consisted of a record-high 928.91 trillion yen in government bonds, 54.26 trillion yen in borrowing mainly from financial institutions and 83.25 trillion yen in financing bills or short-term government notes of up to one year.

Overnight US Market :Dow closed -19 points.

Energy companies led U.S. stock indexes lower Monday as the price of crude oil declined. Phone company and materials stocks were also among the big decliners. Investors were weighing the latest batch of company earnings news.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 19.04 points, or 0.1%, to 20,052. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 4.86 points, or 0.2%, to 2293, as the broad-based index snapped a three-day winning streak. The Nasdaq composite index fell 3.21, or 0.1%, to 5664, as the tech-heavy index pulled back from Friday’s record closing high.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 82 cents, or 1.5%, to close at $53.01 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost $1.09, or 1.9%, to $55.72 a barrel in London.

Several energy companies were trading lower. Devon Energy slid 3.2%, while Chesapeake Energy dropped 3%. Marathon Oil shed 4.1%.

The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 2.42% from 2.47% late Friday.

Investors are still cautious as Trump’s early acts as president have been shaping markets for the past couple of weeks. On Friday, Trump directed the Treasury Secretary to look for potential changes to the Dodd-Frank law, which reshaped financial regulations after the 2008-09 financial crisis. Investors applauded that move but remain uncertain about the future impact of other policies. Over the weekend, the U.S. immigration ban on refugees and travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries was blocked by a federal judge and an appeals court turned down a Justice Department request to set that judgment aside. The White House said it expects the courts to restore executive order, which was founded on a claim of national security.

Greece : Nine out of 10 firms are not creditworthy

Almost two in every three Greek companies (63 percent) are deemed to have a high credit risk, compared to just 6 percent in 2009, according to data compiled by ICAP, as the Greek production base is collapsing rapidly.

Most Greek firms now have serious or very serious problems in covering their obligations, along with weak financial results and particularly low competitiveness. This is a combination which generates major doubts about their sustainability.

Another 27 percent of enterprises are on the verge of entering the above category too, with an increased risk, as they show vulnerability to adverse financial conditions, low economic performance and low competitiveness.

In other words, 90 percent of enterprises in Greece find themselves in the zone of high or increased credit risk and according to bank rules should not be entitled to bank financing. Therefore the credit system is up against a huge problem, as in order to help the revitalization of the economy it will have to increase credit levels, but the companies that are actually creditworthy and fulfill the banks’ criteria are very few indeed.

World’s Largest Actively Managed-Bond Fund Dumps “Excessively Risky” Eurozone Bank Debt

Back in September, Tad Rivelle, Chief Investment Officer for fixed income at LA-based TCW, said in a note that “the time has come to leave the dance floor”, noting that “corporate leverage, which has exceeded levels reached before the 2008 financial crisis, is a sign that investors should start preparing for the end of the credit cycle.” Ominously, he added that “we’ve lived this story before.” Five months later, the FT reports that TCW, which is also the US asset manager that runs the world’s largest actively managed bond fund, has put its money where its bearish mouth is, and has eliminated its exposure to eurozone bank debt over fears these lenders are “excessively risky.”

In an interview with the FT, Rivelle said the company began to reduce its exposure to debt issued by eurozone lenders following the UK’s vote to leave the EU last June. In the first half of last year TCW, which oversees $160bn in fixed income strategies, had around $2bn invested in European bank debt. This has fallen to less than $500m since the Brexit vote, most of it in UK banks.

Rivelle, who previously was a bond fund manager at PIMCO, said his biggest concern was the number of toxic loans held by eurozone lenders, which amount to more than €1 trilion. Last month Andrea Enria, chairman of the European Banking Authority, said the scale of the region’s bad-debt problem had become “urgent and actionable”, and called for the creation of a “bad bank” to help lenders deal with the issue. Rivelle said: “The [eurozone] banking system [has] a bad combination of negative rates, slow growth and lots of problem non-performing loans. It is inherently prone to a potential crisis should global economic conditions, or European economic conditions, worsen. [These are] the preconditions of a potential banking crisis.”

Continuing his bearish bent, Rivelle added that there is a 50% likelihood of another global recession within the next two years, removing any incentive to invest in the eurozone banking sector within that timeframe. The forthcoming French presidential elections in April, which could see Eurosceptic candidate Marine Le Pen come to power, and the problems facing the Italian banking system, are additional risks for eurozone banks this year.

Apple readies to sell up to $8bn in new bonds

Apple was finalising plans to borrow between $6bn and $8bn on Thursday after the iPhone maker reported a rebound in revenue growth in its latest quarter, according to two investors and a banker with knowledge of the bond sale.

The funds will be used for general corporate purposes, including share buybacks and the issuance of dividends, according to a filing with US securities regulators

Apple, which has $246bn of cash on its balance sheet, has turned to debt markets to finance an expanding shareholder return programme. More than 90 per cent of its cash is held overseas by foreign subsidiaries, as it seeks to avoid taxes tied to repatriating that money to the US.

The company was planning to offer notes across nine tenors, including three floating rate notes that mature in 2019, 2020 and 2022. The fixed rate notes span two- to 30-year maturities. Initial price talk on the company’s new 10-year bonds was set at 110 basis points above Treasuries, for a yield of roughly 3.56 per cent.

Apple’s 2026 maturing notes, which it sold last year with a yield of 2.48 per cent, traded hands with a yield of 3.29 per cent on Thursday.

Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan led the offering.