Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Monthly Economic Commentary

Economic and market highlights


The US Federal Reserve left the federal funds rate unchanged in October but adopted a more hawkish tone in its press release, removing references to global financial and economic risks. The implication being that the chances of a December rate rise have increased. The target band remains 0 to 25 basis points. We forecast that the first Federal Reserve interest rate rise for the new tightening cycle will occur in December 2015, which is in line with market consensus.

The Chinese Caixin Flash Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) shows manufacturing activity continues to slow, although the reading was fractionally stronger than anticipated at 48.3, up from 47.2 the previous month. In the eurozone, PMI readings have been relatively robust for most of the year, with October’s registering at 52.3 while after some strong data in the US over the past year, things are looking a little more subdued with the PMI at 50.1 with purchasing managers surveyed citing the strong dollar and energy markets as headwinds.

Source: MWM Research, Caixin, ISM, Markit, November 2015

Deflation in Europe remains a concern with Germany's Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) registering a 0.2% fall year-on-year, while import prices fell 3.1%. The Euro area HICP is -0.1% year-on-year with core inflation running at 0.9%.

The latest real GDP figures from China show a 6.9% growth year-on-year, with the announcement after the 5th Plenum reiterating the goal to double China's GDP between 2010 and 2020, implying an average growth rate of 6.5% per year over the next five years.

Canada entered a technical recession in the first half of the year but is expected to return to growth in the third quarter. Australia was sailing close to the wind with a 0.2% quarter-on-quarter growth rate in the June quarter, although we expect a rebound for the third and fourth quarters of 2015 with a pickup in manufacturing output and strong retail trade.


The downward trajectory of US 10-year note yields over the last few months looks to be reversing with the latest statements from the Federal Reserve conspicuously removing warnings about global financial and economic risks. Fixed income markets are pricing in a greater chance of a December rate hike after what was perceived to be relatively more hawkish statements. Yields in the United Kingdom, also close to a new rate hike cycle, followed suit. In Europe, while 10-year rates moved, there was very little response at the short end, which remain relatively stable near or below zero due to quantitative easing.


Equities were broadly stronger in October as they began to shrug off the volatility of August and September. In local currency terms, the strongest developed markets were Germany and Japan, up 11.8 and 10.9% respectively. The US gained 8.1% while Australia lagged, adding only 4.2%. Emerging market equities underperformed developed markets with China rallying 9.1% while the MSCI Emerging Market Index recovered 5.3 percent, dragged down by Brazil, India and Russia.

The S&P500 has staged a dramatic recovery, rallying 11.6% from its September lows and now rests just 1.4% away from new highs.


The Canadian dollar and Swiss franc gained 2.4% while the British pound was up a fraction less at 2.0%. The Australian dollar has strengthened 1.6% over the course of October. The Quantitative Easing currencies euro and yen lost 1.0 and 0.8% respectively.


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