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To perform or not to perform…that is the question for the Indian PSU ?

Jaw-Boning at the Fed

Holding Bonds As Rates Rise

Back to School Shopping: Pricey Clothes Are Not Just Name-Brand

Malaise and Fears of Fed Tapering

To perform or not to perform…that is the question for the Indian PSU ?

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Utkarsh Agrawal

Associate Director, Global Research & Design

S&P Dow Jones Indices

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The notion of an investment in equity of a public sector undertaking may appear to be a very stable investment with long term growth opportunity especially in developing countries like India. However if we explore the performance of the S&P BSE PSU with S&P BSE SENSEX in a five year horizon, the picture turns out to be a little different. S&P BSE PSU represents approximately 20% by full market capitalization of S&P BSE 500.
As on July 31, 2013 there is a huge gap between the year to date cumulative returns given by S&P BSE SENSEX (-0.42%) and S&P BSE PSU (-25.70%). On analyzing the returns for a five year period, S&P BSE SENSEX has given an annualized return of 6.15% whereas S&P BSE PSU has given -4.06%. The risk percentage per annum has also remained low in S&P BSE SENSEX as compared to S&P BSE PSU. Table 1 below summarizes the statistics of both the indices for a period of five year ending July 31, 2013.

Performance of India PSU_Graph_Utkarsh

S&P BSE SENSEX also consists of six PSU stocks out of which five have given negative annualized returns as on July 31, 2013.
Based on the above, we can conclude that most of the PSU’s have not been able to outperform the market.
Performance of India PSU_Graph_Utkarsh1

Source: S&P Dow Jones Indices and BSE Ltd. Data from July 31, 2008 to July 31, 2013. Index performance is based on price return index levels in INR. Past performance is not an indication of future results.

S&P Dow Jones Indices is an independent third party provider of investable indices.  We do not sponsor, endorse, sell or promote any investment fund or other vehicle that is offered by third parties. The views and opinions of any third party contributor are his/her own and may not necessarily represent the views or opinions of S&P Dow Jones Indices or any of its affiliates.

The posts on this blog are opinions, not advice. Please read our Disclaimers.

Jaw-Boning at the Fed

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David Blitzer

Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee

S&P Dow Jones Indices

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When the FOMC minutes were released on Wednesday (August 21st) at 2:00 PM analysts and investors combed through all ten pages looking for some hint of when QE3 might be tapered or what new trigger was be watched by the Fed.  This was old news from a time capsule:  The meeting was three weeks earlier and the minutes don’t mention anything that happened since the meeting.  Why is old news more important than the data and market action reported since the end of July?  The newer news included unemployment, inflation, industrial production, car sales and housing starts as well as a new record high and subsequent 4% drop in the stock market.

The Fed’s monetary policy tools are no longer limited to open market operations, reserve ratios or the Fed Funds rate. What they say is now as important as what they do.  This shift goes back to 2003 when the FOMC began issuing statements immediately after their meetings.  “Talk policy” expanded further under Ben Bernanke with press conferences and even a brief course on monetary policy and the Great Recession at the George Washington University.  Gillian Tett writes in the Financial Times that other central banks are following the Fed in trying to talk the economy forward and that the development is being studied by Douglas Holmes, a professor of anthropology.

Increased communication is welcomed by most investors and analysts as greater transparency.  However, we need to recognize what is happening.  The central bank is not simply opening its kimono, it is using its speeches and reports in an effort to encourage us to accept its view of the economy and act accordingly.  It tells us about QE3 to enhance its stimulative effects and encourage us to borrow or lend, and spend, to boost the economy.  This is rhetoric, not reporting; preaching as well as publication.

All this jaw-boning should be familiar to everyone in the financial markets.  Virtually every CEO and investor relations officer does this when they generously give “guidance” in forward looking statements about the next earnings report.  If they do it well, investors respond by buying their stock.

It wasn’t always like this.  Under Greenspan, Volcker and other Fed chairman, central bankers rarely spoke.  Fed watchers – monetary theory’s version of Kremlinologists – interpreted the Fed’s open market operations for the rest of us.  On rare occasions when the something needed to be said, the Fed chairman, disguised as an unnamed senior fed official, would grant an interview that always found its way to the front page of the Wall Street Journal.

The posts on this blog are opinions, not advice. Please read our Disclaimers.

Holding Bonds As Rates Rise

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Kevin Horan

Director, Fixed Income Indices

S&P Dow Jones Indices

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This week’s FOMC minutes revealed that almost all the members of the committee agreed that it was not yet time to begin tapering the Fed’s asset purchases. Many committee members urged additional caution, and advocated waiting until more concrete evidence about the economy’s recovery was available. The report continued to explain that the members generally supported Fed Chairman Bernanke’s “contingent outlook”. The Fed’s inaction shows that its members are comfortable with waiting patiently as the economic recovery unfolds. Come the September FOMC meeting, however, and the Fed may begin to change its tune.

The bond market, which was already struggling to keep its head above water, took a dive after the FOMC minutes were released, as many investors took them to mean the central bank would begin cutting back on its bond buying program as soon as next month. The S&P/BGCantor U.S. Treasury Bond Index ended down 0.25% for the day, on top off its -0.84% loss month-to-date. Between the slow drawn-out economic recovery and heightened expectations surrounding the timing of the Fed’s tapering of its asset purchases, bond market yields have risen significantly. As the Fed scales back, and eventually ends, its stimulus, yields will continue to rise. Also, the Fed will likely keep the short-term Federal Funds Rate near zero at the start, if not all the way through the tapering process. The combination of these two events means that the yield curve should steepen with anchored short-term rates and increasing intermediate to long term rates. The yield of the S&P/BGCantor 7-10 Year US Treasury Bond Index is 36 basis points wider month-to-date, and long duration indices have been performing poorly as well, as seen by the maturity sub-indices of the broad S&P/BGCantor U.S. Treasury Bond Index in the table below. Unfortunately for investors the curve steepening is likely to continue, even as yields on long duration investments have become attractive and the continuing increase in rates pushes prices downward. Sticking with short durations, or implementing a laddering strategy out to the middle of the curve, will help. As short bonds in the laddering strategy mature, the money can be reinvested at the long end of the ladder and capture higher yields in a rising rate environment, while the short end of the ladder stay consistent as long as the Fed keeps the front end near zero.

Month-to-Date Yield Curve Shift 08-22-2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fixed Income Return 08-21-2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source:  S&P Dow Jones Indices as of Aug. 21, 2013. Tables & Graphs are provided for illustrative purposes.  This table may reflect hypothetical historical performance.  Past performance is not a guarantee of future results

The posts on this blog are opinions, not advice. Please read our Disclaimers.

Back to School Shopping: Pricey Clothes Are Not Just Name-Brand

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Jodie Gunzberg

Managing Director, Head of U.S. Equities

S&P Dow Jones Indices

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If you are back to school shopping and notice clothing prices are higher this year, don’t just blame it on designer brands. Cotton has been on a roll as measured by the S&P GSCI Cotton, which is up 21.5% YTD through Aug. 19, 2013. The last time the S&P GSCI Cotton was up over 20% YTD through Aug was 18 years ago in 1995 when it was up 46.2%, and historically this is only the 7th time since 1977 where cotton has been in a bull market by this time of year. Prior to 1995, the other years were 1980 (46.0%), 1983 (23.8%), 1987 (45.8%), 1989 (29.0%) and 1990 (21.8%), noted in green in the chart below.

Source: S&P Dow Jones Indices. Data from Dec 1976 to Aug 2013. Past performance is not an indication of future results. This chart reflects hypothetical historical performance. Please see the Performance Disclosure at the end of this document for more information regarding the inherent limitations associated with backtested performance.
Source: S&P Dow Jones Indices. Data from Dec 1976 to Aug 2013. Past performance is not an indication of future results. This chart reflects hypothetical historical performance. Please see the Performance Disclosure at the end of this document for more information regarding the inherent limitations associated with backtested performance.

Cotton prices have been supported by fundamental factors in 2013 as I mentioned in an earlier postThe supply of cotton is being threatened in both quantity and yield from recent rainfall in the U.S., the world’s biggest exporter, a poor harvest in Uzbekistan, and a destructive flood in Pakistan.  

Even though the price of cotton has surged compared to corn and soybeans as measured by the S&P GSCI Corn (-17.7%) and S&P GSCI Soybean (10.0%), in March the prospective plantings report from the USDA (United States department of Agriculture) predicted a 28% increase in corn acreage, unchanged soybean acreage, and a 43% decrease in cotton acreage.  The relative performance of cotton has not been attractive enough to get the farmers to make a significant switch. Also in a recent June report from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), the NASS (National Agricultural Statistics Service) forecasted all cotton production at 13.1 million 480-pound bales, down 25% from last year, and the service stated the yield is expected to average 813 pound per harvested acre, down 74 pounds from last year.

The global price increase for cotton has been further pushed this year by an effort in India to control higher price increases and boost domestic supplies. While this might be helpful for India, its biggest consumers Pakistan, Bangladesh, and China may suffer from the higher prices. China, the largest consumer of cotton, has been stockpiling cotton as the textile industry is seeing higher demand.  The China Cotton Association said it will increase its import quota by almost 1 million metric tons and sell more from its stockpiles to fill a supply shortfall.  In response to the higher prices, the textile firms are also stockpiling, which may lock in the current cotton price but may also push the future price up further by taking more off the market.

Going forward, according to new figures released by the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC), they expect a rise in the season average 88 cents per pound in 2012-13 to more than one dollar in 2013-14.

The table below shows in the 6 years prior to 2013 that cotton has had a bull market increase of more than 20% through Aug, the index has dropped on average by 2.5% through Dec with 4 of the 6 times losing between Aug and Dec.

Source: S&P Dow Jones Indices. Data from Dec 1976 to Aug 2013. Past performance is not an indication of future results. This chart reflects hypothetical historical performance. Please see the Performance Disclosure at the end of this document for more information regarding the inherent limitations associated with backtested performance.
Source: S&P Dow Jones Indices. Data from Dec 1976 to Aug 2013. Past performance is not an indication of future results. This chart reflects hypothetical historical performance. Please see the Performance Disclosure at the end of this document for more information regarding the inherent limitations associated with backtested performance.

Let’s see if ICAC gets an “A+” in forecasting.

The posts on this blog are opinions, not advice. Please read our Disclaimers.

Malaise and Fears of Fed Tapering

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David Blitzer

Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee

S&P Dow Jones Indices

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The market’s malaise and its poor results on Thursday August 15th are being blamed on fears of Fed tapering.  Unless the Fed has a surprise change of heart, these fears will be with until tapering starts, so examining them is worthwhile.   Most signs suggest the economy will continue to gain strength.  Weekly initial unemployment claims continue to fall, signaling both economic strength and raising hopes for a lower unemployment rate. Inflation is under control, but is closing in on the Fed’s 2% target.  Housing, which was a powerful positive in the first half, is showing some mixed numbers (see our Housing Views blog), but those may reflect the same interest rate worries. The result is that either the economy takes a sudden, unexpected tumble or the Fed will decide to scale back its bond buying. While timing is unknown, the popular guesses all focus on the month of October.

What will happen? The chart shows the 10 year treasury and the S&P 500 since May 1st of this year.  Yields will go up.  Further, no matter how fast people think they will rise, some of us will be spooked because they’ll rise a lot faster.  At almost the same time, stock prices will tumble and VIX will surge.  A very rough gauge of the damage can be found in the damage done last May and June.  The S&P 500 fell from 1669.16 on May 21st to1573.09 on June 24th losing 5.7% in a bit over a month.  The rise in yields was more gradual but also more damaging. The 10 year treasury was yielding 1.63% at the beginning of May.  Using almost the same dates as for the S&P 500, the yield rose from 1.93% on May 21st to 2.61% on June 25th, an increase of 68 bp, or more than a third.

The chart shows that the pattern after the initial collapse is quite different for stocks and bonds. The S&P 500 recovered and made new highs in early August; yields continued to rise, pushing bond prices lower.  Why did stocks recover while bonds faded slowly?  The root cause of all this is the strengthening economy and the Fed’s response. A better economy should be good news for stocks, at least good enough to support something of a bounce back. The same economic news adds support to those expecting tapering from the Fed and limits the recovering in bonds.  The last few days shown on the chart suggest we may be in a replay of the May-June game now.

A few bits of caution: first, we’re looking at fears or expectations of tapering; no one – except the members of the Fed’s FOMC – has any real idea of when tapering will happen. Second, as important as the Fed is, it is not the only thing investors are worried about.  The top stories and headlines in the last week include more turmoil in the Mid-East which drove oil well above $100/barrel along with more reports that China’s economy is slowing down.  And then there’s the upcoming Congressional battle over the debt ceiling. No shortage of things to worry about.

500-10Yr

 

The posts on this blog are opinions, not advice. Please read our Disclaimers.