We are almost approaching the end of the summer but it looks like we are back to April 2015 in Turkey. The election outcome and aftermath did not work as politicians had desired and the efforts to form a government have failed so far.
On 11 August China devalued its currency by 1.9% relative to the US Dollar and announced that in the future it would expose the exchange rate of the Renminbi to the forces of supply and demand on the foreign exchange market. In a press conference the Central Bank did say, however, that it would continue to intervene if the development of the Chinese currency were “volatile”, “irrational”, or “distorted”.
In searching for a perfect example of a sideways market one does not need to look further than at Central and Eastern European (CEE) equity markets. The CECE Composite, a Euro-based index of 23 Polish, Czech and Hungarian blue-chips (Bloomberg: CECEEUR), has been range bound for nearly four years, rarely trading outside a narrow range of ±8% from its mean over the period. A recent spike by 23% that started in January and lifted the index beyond this trading range was halted by the escalation of Greece-related risks. The only market in the region that has participated in the broader equity rally in Europe and the US in recent years has been the Romanian market.
The negotiations between Iran and the UN veto powers plus Germany were concluded successfully on Tuesday, 14 July. Iran will curtail its nuclear programme. In exchange, the international economic sanctions will be reduced.
The result is remarkable in so far as the interests of the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) and of Iran differ strongly in many areas. The sanctions apparently had a very serious impact on the Iranian economy, and the P5+1 no longer wanted to hamstring Iran as a political and economic power in the region.
The upcoming parliamentary elections on Sunday in Turkey could force Erdogan to postpone his plan for a new constitution and could lead to new political leaders in the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economics. This would trigger an increase in uncertainty and consequently a higher degree of volatility for the Turkish Lira and the Istanbul stock Exchange.
Based on earnings expectations emerging markets equities are currently valued 27% below the price/earnings ratio of developed markets equities. The long term average of this discount is 19%. Closing the gap is a question whether the confidence of the markets in the earnings expectations is solid enough to facilitate a re-(e)valuation.
In Turkey, the impact of the currency fluctuations are being discussed and even an ordinary Turk on the street knows what it means for the currency to depreciate. For example, during a cab ride, you may have a very deep economic discussion with the taxi driver about the dollar and the Turkish lira. This is as a result of the crises Turks experienced in the past – unfortunately there was more than one! This in turn, has enabled Turks to have their guard up automatically to cope with the strong dollar and there is a dollar investment mechanism in every household immediately if they get a whiff of the depreciating Turkish lira. Corporates also got used to foreign currency fluctuations, but as an import and export oriented country, the depreciating lira has some negative implications on the corporates as well as economic indicators.
After quite a stable period the Turkish lira has started depreciating against the dollar since the final months of 2014 due to a combination of: i) President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s comments regarding the Central Bank of Turkey, ii) the ECB’s quantitative easing program, iii) woes about Greece’s exit from the EU and iv) the FED’s rate hike expectations.
For many institutional investors corporate bonds from emerging markets issuers have become an important instrument of portfolio diversification. Our fund management team estimates that a portfolio made up of 70% investment grade bonds and 30% high-yield bonds can yield an average 5% in the medium term. This sort of yield can hardly be achieved with fixed income papers from the industrialised nations.
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.