The US central bank, the Fed, is very likely – almost 90%, according to Fed funds futures – to raise the Fed funds rate this year. The expected rate hike has been one of the dominating topics on the financial markets for a year. The bursting of a mega bubble, rising pressure on fragile emerging markets, and the end of years of a share market rally in the USA are the most commonly mentioned worries in this context. None of which is overly far fetched, as we have indeed seen all of these scenarios before. Still – history prompts the conclusion that there is no need to panic, at least not when it comes to equities.
The share price performance in emerging Europe, i.e. Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Russia, Turkey, and since most recently again, Greece, has not been overwhelming in the past years. Since the middle of 2011 the MSCI Emerging Europe, the most important index for the region, had been locked into a sideways movement, which was topped off by a correction at the end of 2014 as a result of the ongoing political crises. Along with (geo-) political factors, the weakening of the economic dynamics and a lack of reforms had been causing a subdued price performance.
The oil and gas sector is the backbone of the Russian economy. It contributes roughly a quarter to the Russian GDP, and it accounts for almost two thirds of exports. Oil and gas companies represent almost 60% of the market capitalisation of the Moscow stock exchange. It therefore makes sense to analyse the performance of the Russian equity market in connection with the level and development of the oil price. For a long time, the “oil x 20” rule of thumb would suggest that the fair value of the RTS, the Russian equity index, was 20 times the price of crude oil (as measured in US dollar per barrel of Brent). Especially equity strategists – always suckers for simple marketing ploys – would take a liking to this relation.