A Glance at the Liquidity of the Sukuk Market

Despite the challenging global environment and the shrinkage in sukuk issuance in 2013, the liquidity of the sukuk market, as tracked by the Dow Jones Sukuk Index, showed a slight improvement in the same period. The Dow Jones Sukuk Index is designed as an independent benchmark to measure the performance of the U.S.-dollar-denominated, investment-grade sukuk issues in the global market.  Demonstrated in Exhibit 1, while the total trading volume was relatively stable in 2012, there was a trend Read more [...]

Defining a fast growing investment trend: ‘Smart Beta’

If finance were high fashion, ‘smart beta ETFs’ would be the showcase of this year’s Spring collection. They are receiving a lot of press attention and surveys of institutional investors show that they plan to increase their adoption of smart beta ETFs. In this article, we answer the question: What specifically are smart beta ETFs and what assets have they gathered to date? Looking beyond the label is very important to both retail and institutional investors. To do this, we first need to Read more [...]

An Immediate Risk Measure

Volatility and correlation are history. In fact this is a consequence of their definitions.  The calculation of volatility and correlation – the preeminent measures of risk - requires multiple observations.  Quite a few periods are needed if the resulting estimates are to be relied upon as robust.   Because of this, volatility and correlation are not particularly quick to capture new and changing market dynamics[1]. Shorter term measures can help.  For any market - the S&P 500® Read more [...]

Index of Leading Indicators Kicks-Off the Week

The yield on the 10-year Treasury as measured by the S&P/BGCantor Current 10 Year U.S. Treasury Index suddenly moved higher to 2.78% from the previous day’s 2.64%.  Thursday’s upward movement before the Good Friday Holiday was a result of negotiations over the Ukraine crisis possibly resulting in an accord to defuse the conflict. Yields in the U.S. have remained lower as political tensions in Ukraine have kept Treasuries as the safety trade.  In addition to global political issues, domestic Read more [...]

Housing Looking for Good Old Days

Rising Home Prices are boosting property taxes while mortgage lenders may be getting more generous. Bloomberg reports that property tax collections are rising at the fastest pace since the financial crisis with gains spread across the country. Among cities cited as enjoying renewed revenue gains were San Jose CA, Nashville TN, Houston TX and Washington DC.  Rising home prices, as chronicled by the S&P/Case Shiller Home Price Indices are a key factor in the rebound.  With some communities Read more [...]

Internet Intercedes in the Market

The last month has been marked with worries that the stock market is about to (finally) have a correction and drop some 10% or more.  While it is impossible to tell if, or when, this might happen; a few numbers may explain some of the recent action. Stocks were seized with a bit of mania for growth and the internet which over-shadowed other parts of the market.  The Dow Jones Internet Index peaked at the beginning of March after climbing almost 70% from the start of 2013. Then it turned down and Read more [...]

What’s the Canadian Preferred Market Made Of?

Shift in the Makeup of the Preferred Market As we noted in an earlier post, the Canadian preferred share market has undergone a significant expansion over the past five years, approximately doubling in market size.  In addition to the growth of the market, the Canadian preferred market has seen a shift from most outstanding preferreds being fixed-dividend to a majority being rate-resets.  The proliferation of fixed-rate-reset preferreds and their unique distribution characteristics make it possible Read more [...]

Right Conclusion (maybe), Wrong Reason (definitely)

This morning's Wall Street Journal joined (actually, re-enlisted in) the chorus of those arguing that 2014 would be a time for stock pickers to "shine."  The lynchpin of the Journal's case will be familiar to advocates of a "stock-picker's market."  That argument is that since correlations in the U.S. equity market are declining (perhaps as a consequence of the Federal Reserve tapering its support of the Treasury market), stock selection strategies will perform better than in a more macro-driven Read more [...]

Retail Sales Hop Before the Easter Weekend

Treasuries closed the week returning 1.02% as measured by the S&P/BGCantor Current 10 Year U.S. Treasury Bond Index.  Last week’s return was the strongest weekly return since the flight to safety trade driven by Ukraine / Russia news from the week of March 14th, which remains the largest weekly gain for the year. This week started with a hop in Retail Sales, as reported numbers were stronger than expected and are at levels that have not been seen since September, 2012.  Treasuries sold Read more [...]

Introduction to Preferred Shares in Canada

What are Preferreds? Preferred shares are hybrid equity securities, with characteristics that lie between the traditional fixed income and equity asset classes.  Like common shares, preferred shares represent ownership in a company and are listed as equity on the balance sheet; the ownership isn’t entirely the same though.  Preferreds have preferential rights to dividend payments before common shares, which is thanks to their seniority in the capital structure.  On the other hand, common shares Read more [...]