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The 15% fall in the FTSE 100 since its May 2018 peak undoubtedly is an unwelcome development for the economy, but past experience suggests we shouldn't rush to revise down our forecasts for GDP growth.
We suspect that euro area investors have one question on their mind as we step into 2019.
Last month was sobering month for equity investors in the Eurozone, and indeed in the global economy as a whole.
Brazil is back on global investors' radar screens. Financial market metrics capture a relatively robust bullish tone, especially since the presidential election.
Friday's final EZ CPI data for July confirm the advance report.
At the end of last year, after October's Party Congress, the Chinese authorities came out with significant new directives and regulations on an almost weekly basis.
Japanese leading indicators point to a slowdown, and the trend over this volatile year is emerging as firmly downward.
Yesterday's CPI report in the Eurozone confirmed that inflation pressures remain subdued, even as GDP growth is accelerating.
Construction in the Eurozone had a decent start in the third quarter. Output rose 0.5% month-to- month in July, pushing the year-over-year rate down to 1.9% from 2.8% in June.
Yesterday's sole economic report in the Eurozone showed that German producer price inflation edged lower at the end of 2018.
At the start of the year, consensus forecasts expected Eurozone equities to outperform their global peers this year, on the back of a strengthening cyclical recovery and an increase in earnings growth. Both of these conditions have been met, and yesterday's sentiment data suggest that EZ equity investors remain constructive.
Readers have asked us about the availability of flow-of-funds data in the Eurozone similar to the detailed U.S. reports. The ECB's sector accounts come close and cover a lot of ground, but are also released with a lag. We can't cover all sectors in one Monitor, but the investment data for non-financial firms, excluding construction, suggest that investment growth slowed last year.
The first round of trade talks between the U.S.and China kicked off in Beijing on Monday, marking the first face-to-face meeting between the two sides since Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping struck a "truce" in December.
If you were looking just at investor sentiment in the Eurozone, you would conclude that the economy is in recession.
Japanese retail sales were unchanged in October month-on-month, after a 0.8% rise in September.
We tend to keep a close eye on monetary policy initiatives in Japan, as the BOJ's fight to spur inflation in a rapidly ageing economy resembles the challenge faced by the ECB.
In previous Monitors, we have outlined our base case that the direct impact of tariffs on Chinese GDP will be minimal this year.
China's industrial production grew at an annualised 7.2% rate by volume in Q1, according to our estimates, up from an average 5.9% rate in the six quar ters through mid-2016.
Friday was a busy day in the Eurozone. The final and detailed GDP report confirmed that growth in the euro area slowed to 0.2% quarter-on-quarter in Q3, from 0.4% in Q2, with the year-over-year rate slipping by 0.6 percentage points to 1.6%, just 0.1pp below the first estimate.
German producer price inflation fell last month, following uninterrupted gains since the beginning of this year. Headline PPI inflation fell to 2.8% year-over- year in May, from 3.4% in April, constrained by lower energy inflation, which slipped to 3.0%, from 4.6% in April. Meanwhile, non-energy inflation declined marginally to 2.7%, from 2.8%.
The Eurozone PMIs stumbled at the end of Q2. The composite index slipped to a five-month low of 55.7 in June, from 56.8 in May, constrained by a fall in the services index. This offset a marginal rise in the manufacturing index to a new cyclical high. The dip in the headline does not alter the survey's upbeat short- term outlook for the economy.
Increased volatility has given equity investors a torrid start to the year, but economic reports have been strong, and yesterday's PMIs were no exception. The composite index in the Eurozone rose marginally to 54.3 in December from 54.2 in November, slightly higher than the initial estimate of 54.0. This is consistent with a continuing cyclical recovery, and real GDP growth of 0.4%-to-0.5% in Q4, modestly higher than the 0.3% rise in the third quarter.
QE and a gradually strengthening economy will remain positive catalysts for equities in the euro area this year. But with the MSCI EU ex -UK up almost 24% in the first quarter, the best quarterly performance since Q4 1999, the question is whether the good news has already been priced in.
Recent polls in the U.K. have reminded markets that the vote is too close to call at this point, but investors in the Eurozone appear unfazed, so far. The headline Sentix index rose to 9.9 in June, from 6.2 in May, lifted by the expectations index, which increased to a six-month high of 10.0 from 5.5 in May.
A year can make a big difference for the equity market. At this point last year, holders of the MSCI EU ex-UK were looking at a meaty gain of 21% year-to-date. The corresponding number this year is a sobering -12%. This is a remarkable shift, given stable GDP growth, close to cyclical highs, and additional easing by the ECB.
Advance PMI data indicate a slow start to the first quarter for the Eurozone economy. The composite index fell to 53.5 in January from 54.3 in December, due to weakness in both services and manufacturing. The correlation between month-to-month changes in the PMI and MSCI EU ex-UK is a decent 0.4, and we can't rule out the ide a that the horrible equity market performance has dented sentiment. The sudden swoon in markets, however, has also led to fears of an imminent recession. But it would be a major overreaction to extrapolate three weeks' worth of price action in equities to the real economy.
Investors have endured a severe test of their resolve in the last few months. Global equity markets have sunk more than 10%, eclipsing the previous low in September, and credit spreads have widened. The bears have predictably pounced and, as if the torrid price action hasn't been enough, media headlines have been littered with advice to "sell everything" and warnings of a 75% fall in U.S. and global equities. When "price is news" we recognise that views from well-meaning economists--often using lagging and revised economic data to describe the world--are of little value.
Emmanuel Macron's victory in France has lifted investors' hopes that the good times in the Eurozone economy and equity markets are here to stay. On the face of it, we share markets' optimism. Mr. Macron and his opposite number in Germany--our base case is that Ms. Merkel will remain Chancellor--will form a strong pro-EU axis in the core of the Eurozone.
Today's FOMC announcement will be something of a non-event. Rates were never likely to rise immediately after December's hike, and the weakness of global equity markets means the chance of a further tightening today is zero.
The equity market this year has been a story of two halves. Hopes of a sustainable economic recovery pushed the benchmark Eurozone equity index to an 7.5% increase in the first six months of the year.
Markets initially applauded the ECB for its bold actions, but the tune has changed recently. Negative interest rates, in particular, have been vilified for their margin destroying effect in the banking sector. Our first chart shows that the relative performance of financials in the EZ equity market has dwindled steadily in line with the plunge in yields.
The sell-off in equity markets and increases in volatility have put EM assets under pressure. EM equities and bonds, however, have been outperforming their U.S. and global market counterparts.
Eurozone investors continue to look to the ECB as the main reason to justify a constructive stance on the equity market. Last week, the central bank all but promised additional easing in March, but the soothing words by Mr. Draghi have, so far, given only a limited lift to equities. Easy monetary policy has partly been offset by external risks, in the form of fears over slow growth in China, and the risk of low oil prices sparking a wave of corporate defaults. But uncertainty over earnings is another story we frequently hear from disappointed equity investors. We continue to think that QE and ZIRP offer powerful support for equity valuations in the Eurozone, but weak earnings are a key missing link in the story.
The failure of House Republicans to support Speaker Ryan's healthcare bill has laid bare the splits within the Republican party. The fissures weren't hard to see even before last week's debacle but the equity market has appeared determined since November to believe that all the earnings-friendly elements of Mr. Trump's and Mr. Ryan's agendas would be implemented with the minimum of fuss.
As things stand, we see little reason to revise down our forecasts for the U.K. economy in response to the tailspin in equity markets
Andres Abadia, who authors our Latin American service, was previously Head of Research at Bankia in Madrid. Andres is a native of Colombia and has wide and deep experience covering all the Latin American economies. He has degrees in Economics from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain and the Universidad Externado de Colombia.
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