Rotating Australian Cyclical and Defensive Sectors Over Global Economic Cycles

Rotating between cyclical and defensive stocks across economic cycles is a common approach for investors to take advantage of different economic phases. Energy, materials, industrials, consumer discretionary, financials and information technology are traditionally considered cyclical sectors, as stocks in these sectors have tended to be highly correlated to economic cycles. In contrast, consumer staples, healthcare, telecom and utilities are generally thought to be defensive sectors, as their profits Read more [...]

Sukuk – Looking Behind the Numbers

The growing popularity of sukuk is reflected in the recent strong index performance.The Dow Jones Sukuk Index delivered a total return of 7.08% year-on-year (Y-o-Y) and 5.26% year-to-date (YTD), as of August 18, 2014. The index’s yield-to-maturity also tightened by 51bps YTD to 2.55%. Noticeably, the yield of the S&P MENA Sukuk Index dropped 55bps YTD to 2.33%, which is almost on par with the yield of Dow Jones Sukuk Higher Quality Investment Grade Index. Please see Exhibit 1 for the yield Read more [...]

A Renewed Interest in High Yield Bonds

High Yield Bond Market – Outlook has changed to the positive, away from the recent stories of overvaluation and fund withdrawals. The S&P U.S. Issued High Yield Corporate Bond Index returned 1% last week and a 0.43% the week before to recover the loss incurred the last week of July (-1.38%).  Year-to-date the index is returning 5.10%.  As entitled in Katy Burne’s Wall Street Journal article, "Big Investors Snap Up Junk Bonds," institutional investors have stepped up their buying, seeing Read more [...]

S&P DJI July update provides insight into ACA impact on individual health policies

One of the most significant changes made by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was in the individual health insurance market, where the law eliminated the traditional medical underwriting processes and required health carriers to accept all applicants, regardless of their health conditions. The impact of these changes on the cost of individual health insurance has been hotly debated, but until now, the debate has been speculative due to the lack of actual claims data.  The July update on the S&P Read more [...]

Double Dose of the Fed

Next week will be a double dose of Fed speculation and debate. First, on Wednesday at 2 PM the Fed will release the minutes from the last FOMC meeting on July 29th-30th.  Then on Thursday evening, Friday and Saturday the Kansas City Fed will hold its annual economic policy symposium in Jackson Hole Wyoming.   The symposium usually attracts a who’s-who of international monetary policy and central banking.  While the topic for this year, “Re-Evaluating Labor Market Dynamics” has been announced, Read more [...]

Could Price Momentum Predict Australian Sector Returns?

Sector allocation is one of the main pillars of equity portfolio management, and its use as a strategy to optimize investment allocations through sector rotation is increasingly abundant. In Australia, the equity market is diversified in sectors, and some of them can be traded through exchange-traded funds, making it possible to implement a rotation strategy. Based on the S&P/ASX 200, financials is the biggest sector in the Australian equity market by index weight (46%), consisting of 41 stocks Read more [...]

Where to Find Yields in Japan?

As tracked by the S&P Japan Bond Index, a broad base benchmark that measures the performance of the government and corporate local currency bonds in Japan, the total outstanding par amount have reached over 1,070 trillion Yen this August. Not surprisingly, over 92% of them are government debts, which expanded 3.7 times since the index first valued on January 30, 1998. As shown in exhibit 1, the total return of the S&P Japan Government Bond Index and the S&P Japan Corporate Bond Read more [...]

Tobacco Settlement Bonds: the next cloud on the horizon for municipal bonds?

As the young gas station attendant says at the end of the movie Terminator “there is a storm coming”.  While Detroit and Puerto Rico’s financial struggles continue to rattle the municipal bond market, the over $87billion state issued tobacco settlement bond market is another potential dark cloud worthy of watching. A recent article in the Huffington Post 'How Wall Street Tobacco Deals Left States With Billions of Toxic Debt' initiates an important discussion on the future of the future Read more [...]

Russia, Where’s The Wheat?

Wheat lost more than 8% in July from the near perfect weather that brought the agriculture sector down to its lowest in four years.  Now, in the first week of August the DJCI All Wheat Total Return is already up 5.4% MTD through Aug 7, despite a 1.2% loss for the day. However, Russia's food trade ban has implications that may push wheat prices up or down, depending on location. The simple economics dictate the Russian ban on food imports could raise inventories in exporting countries, which Read more [...]

Inside the S&P 500: An Active Committee

The S&P 500 is maintained by a committee of market professionals.  We publish a detailed methodology document which includes guidelines for selecting stocks and other changes to the index.   Unlike many other S&P Dow Jones Indices and the majority of indices offered by other index providers,  there are no rigid or absolute rules for the S&P 500; the Index Committee have some discretion in selecting stocks or responding to market events. People ask why we have a committee when other Read more [...]