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Asia Fixed Income: China – What’s More Than Yields?

Islamic Index Market Update: November 2014

Hedging With Volatility Is Not Just For Stocks

The Dollar and Returns

The Long End of the Curve Pays Off in November

Asia Fixed Income: China – What’s More Than Yields?

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Michele Leung

Director, Fixed Income Indices

S&P Dow Jones Indices

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Chinese bonds continue to attract attention from global investors as they offer relatively higher yields, what’s more, Chinese bonds also have historically demonstrated low correlations with global markets.

Exhibit 1 shows the correlation of the S&P China Sovereign Bond Index with major sovereign bond indices in global markets. While the index has a low correlation of 0.09 with the developed sovereign bonds, it exhibits a negative correlation of 0.12 with the Eurozone developed sovereign bonds.

Thus, Chinese bonds do not only provide the portfolio diversification through the exposure to local rate, credit and currency, they would also be a good hedge to the global fixed income portfolio. And of course, not to mention, China has a higher credit rating than most countries.

The S&P China Sovereign Bond Index currently tracks CNY 9.3 trillion of sovereign bonds. As of Dec 4, 2014, the index has delivered a YTD return of 9.48%.  The index’s yield-to-worst is at 3.54% with the modified duration of 5.55.

Exhibit 1: Correlation Chart

Source: S&P Dow Jones Indices. Data as of November 28, 2014. Charts are provided for illustrative purposes. The S&P China Sovereign Bond Index is calculated in CNY and the S&P Sovereign Bond Index is calculated in JPY. Calculation is based on the historical monthly returns from December 2009.
Source: S&P Dow Jones Indices. Data as of November 28, 2014. Charts are provided for illustrative purposes. The S&P China Sovereign Bond Index is calculated in CNY and the S&P Sovereign Bond Index is calculated in JPY. Calculation is based on the historical monthly returns from December 2009.

Please click here for more information on the S&P China Sovereign Bond Index.

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

Islamic Index Market Update: November 2014

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Michael Orzano

Senior Director, Global Equity Indices

S&P Dow Jones Indices

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November Highlights:

  • Islamic Indices Continue to Outperform Conventional Benchmarks Globally
  • U.S. Markets Power Higher While Europe, Asia-Pacific and Emerging Markets Weaken
  • MENA Equity Markets Sell off Sharply in October & November, Trimming 2014 Gains

Most major Shariah-compliant benchmarks continue to outperform their conventional counterparts in 2014 as Information Technology and Health Care – which tend to be overweight in Islamic Indices – have been sector leaders, and Financials – which are underrepresented in Islamic indices – have experienced some weakness. One notable exception has been in the Middle-East where equity markets have very little exposure to Information Technology and Health Care and thus Shariah-compliant indices have not benefited from the strength in these sectors.

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As of November 21, 2014, the Dow Jones Islamic Market World and S&P Global BMI Shariah Indices gained 6.6% and 6.1%, respectively, for the year, each outperforming their conventional counterparts by about 250 basis points. However, performance has been highly divergent across regions with the U.S up double-digits, while European regional indices are in the red. The Dow Jones Islamic Market Asia Pacific had been outperforming the U.S. and other developed market regions through late August. However, Asian markets have cooled in the past 3 months, while the S&P 500 Shariah has reached new highs following a short-lived bout of volatility in October. Outside of MENA, where the S&P Pan Arab Composite Shariah has underperformed the conventional S&P Pan Arab Composite, all other major regional Shariah-compliant indices remain ahead of their conventional counterparts through November 21.

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MENA equity markets have cooled markedly following substantial gains earlier in the year. After peaking on September 8, up nearly 26% for the year, the S&P Pan Arab Composite Shariah declined 14.3% through November 21, leaving its year-to-date gain at a more tepid 7.8%. Weakness was experienced across the region, although Saudi Arabia was a major driver of the negative performance.

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

Hedging With Volatility Is Not Just For Stocks

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Jodie Gunzberg

Managing Director, Head of U.S. Equities

S&P Dow Jones Indices

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The CBOE Volatility Index, or what many investors have come to know as VIX, is the index many follow as a volatility indicator for the stock market. The benefit besides printing the “implied” or expected volatility for prices over the next 30 days, giving a range of expected prices 30 days from now, is that it has acted as a portfolio hedge.

Luckily for commodity investors, especially those in oil right now (and gold last year), there are volatility indices that may hedge losses like the VIX has done for the S&P 500.  Notice the in the chart below, the opposite movements with correlation of -0.58 of the S&P GSCI Crude Oil versus the OVX, CBOE Crude Oil Volatility Index.

Source: S&P Dow Jones Indices, Bloomberg and CBOE. Monthly data from Sep 2010 - Nov 2014.  Past performance is not an indication of future results.
Source: S&P Dow Jones Indices, Bloomberg and CBOE. Monthly data from Sep 2010 – Nov 2014. Past performance is not an indication of future results.

Historically when the S&P GSCI Crude Oil lost in a month, it lost 5.4% on average. During those months, the OVX returned 7.5% on average. However, when the S&P GSCI Crude Oil lost more than 5.0% in a single month, the OVX provided even more protection with an average return of 16.4%. This is exactly the kind of protection investors may look for in order to hedge the downside risk of the oil price drops. The worst month in history (since Sep 2010) for the S&P GSCI Crude Oil was in May 2012 when the index lost 17.5%. During that month the OVX returned 38.3% and continues to provide strong protection as evidenced by the 118.6% gain since Aug 2014 when the S&P GSCI Crude Oil lost 23.3%. If as an investor since Sep 2010, 10% of OVX was taken from an allocation to the S&P GSCI Crude Oil then the return would have improved from -7.8% to 4.0%, swinging the pendulum from red to black.

The same argument holds true for the relationship of the S&P GSCI Gold and GVZ, CBOE Gold ETF Volatility Index.  Notice the in the chart below, the opposite movements with correlation of -0.59 of the S&P GSCI Gold versus the GVZ.

Source: S&P Dow Jones Indices, Bloomberg and CBOE. Monthly data from Sep 2010 - Nov 2014.  Past performance is not an indication of future results.
Source: S&P Dow Jones Indices, Bloomberg and CBOE. Monthly data from Sep 2010 – Nov 2014. Past performance is not an indication of future results.

Historically when the S&P GSCI Gold lost in a month, it lost 4.3% on average. During those months, the GVZ returned 5.2% on average. However, when the S&P GSCI Gold lost more than 5.0% in a single month, the GVZ provided even more protection with an average return of 16.7%. Again, this is exactly the kind of protection investors may look for in order to hedge the downside risk of gold price drops. The worst month in history (since Sep 2010) for the S&P GSCI Gold was in June 2013 when the index lost 12.2%. During that month the GVZ returned 40.3% and provided strong protection as evidenced by the 48.5% gain in 2013 when the S&P GSCI Gold lost 28.3%, the worst year in history since 1981. If as an investor since Sep 2010, 10% of GVZ was taken from an allocation to the S&P GSCI Gold then the return would have improved from -8.6% to 19.1%, an astonishing capital preservation measure in my opinion.

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

The Dollar and Returns

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David Blitzer

Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee

S&P Dow Jones Indices

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The US dollar has strengthened against most other currencies in recent months.  Over the last year the dollar is up 5% against the British pound, 7% versus the Canadian dollar, 8% over the Australian dollar, 9% ahead of the euro and 16% against the yen.  Movements this big shouldn’t be ignored – foreign investors with funds tracking the S&P 500 are doing much better than their domestic American counter parts while Americans in funds tracking some foreign indices are losing ground because of the dollar’s renewed strength. Further, if it seems some analysts following oil in other countries aren’t as excited as analysts in the US, the answer also is the dollar: Brent crude prices are down about 36% for dollar-based purchasers but only 24% for those based in yen.

The first chart compares the performance in the last 12 months of an investment tracking the S&P 500 for investors in various currencies.  Tracking the S&P 500 in any of the other currencies than the dollar came out ahead.

The second chart shows how US dollar-based investors would have missed out on the recent surge in the S&P TOPIX 150 due to the yen’s weakness.  The gains of the last month or two would have been lost in the translation from yen to dollars.

While investing outside the US is less attractive for many American-based investors as foreign currencies weaken, there is a benefit to investors in the US: the rising dollar makes American equities more attractive to the rest of the world and draws in investment funds which can drive up stocks prices here. The US markets now represent about 50% of the S&P Global BMI index series, the highest proportion in over 20 years – some of that is market gains and some is dollar gains.

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

The Long End of the Curve Pays Off in November

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Kevin Horan

Director, Fixed Income Indices

S&P Dow Jones Indices

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Long duration was the trade to have for the month of November. The yield-to-worst of the S&P/BGCantor Current 30-Year U.S. Treasury Index closed the month at 2.90%, 17 bps tighter than at the beginning of the month, which was 3.06%.  The 10-year yield-to-worst, as measured by the S&P/BGCantor Current 10 Year U.S. Treasury Index tightened by 16 bps.

Investment-grade corporate bonds, as measured by the S&P U.S. Issued Investment Grade Corporate Bond Index, returned 0.7% for the month.  Together with the index’s October gain of 0.9%, the past two months make up for the September loss of -1.17%.

High yield bonds ended in the red in November, as the S&P U.S. Issued High Yield Corporate Bond Index returned -0.63% for the month.  Unlike the high-yield index, the S&P/LSTA U.S. Leveraged Loan 100 Index was in the black for the month, as senior bank loans returned 0.36%.  Though still representing more than half of the YTD return of high-yield bonds (2.46% versus 4.12%), the steady return and lower volatility of leveraged loans are a plus to the sector.

Green bonds, with a duration just under five years (at 4.92), also had a negative return for the month (-0.20%), as the S&P Green Bond Index has underperformed for the year, returning -0.85% YTD.
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The posts on this blog are opinions, not advice. Please read our Disclaimers.