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IMF: Bitcoin matured to ‘an integral part of digital asset revolution’

Crypto assets are no longer on the fringe of the financial system, which raises financial stability concerns, a new IMF research argues.
Crypto is no longer an obscure asset class within the financial ecosystem, but a growing correlati

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Crypto assets are no longer on the fringe of the financial system, which raises financial stability concerns, a new IMF research argues.

Crypto is no longer an obscure asset class within the financial ecosystem, but a growing correlation with the stock market undercuts the “investment hedge” role of Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies, according to new International Money Fund (IMF) research.

A blog post accompanying the survey highlights new risks associated with the growing interconnectedness between virtual assets and financial markets. Penned by IMF Monetary and Capital Markets Department director Tobias Adrian as well as economist Tara Iyer and Research deputy division chief Mahvash S. Qureshi, the article claims that the increasing correlation between crypto assets and stocks “limits their perceived risk diversification benefits and raises the risk of contagion across financial markets.”

“Crypto assets such as Bitcoin have matured from an obscure asset class with few users to an integral part of the digital asset revolution,” the article read, adding that this transition comes along with financial stability concerns.

Nothing that BTC and Ether (ETH) rarely correlated with major stock indexes before the pandemic, the authors agreed that crypto assets helped diversify risk for investors by acting as a hedge against swings in other asset classes. “But this changed after the extraordinary central bank crisis responses of early 2020,” the article reads, adding that crypto and stocks surged hand in hand as investors’ risk appetite grew.

60-day correlation coefficient between Bitcoin and S&P 500 index. Source: IMF

The correlation coefficient between BTC and the S&P 500 index has jumped 3,600%, going from 0.01 to 0.36 after April 2020. This means that the two asset classes have been more closely rising and falling together since the coronavirus pandemic.

Related: What should the crypto industry expect from regulators in 2022? Experts answer, Part 1

With stronger correlation comes greater risks for Bitcoin, according to IMF experts. The growing interconnectedness between crypto and equity markets would permit the transmission of shocks that can destabilize financial markets. Noting that crypto assets are no longer on the fringe of the financial system, the authors summarized:

“Given their relatively high volatility and valuations, their increased co-movement could soon pose risks to financial stability especially in countries with widespread crypto adoption.”

The experts further called for a coordinated global regulatory framework “to guide national regulation and supervision and mitigate the financial stability risks stemming from the crypto ecosystem.”

Last month, IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath made a similar call for a global policy regarding crypto. She argued that if countries were to ban crypto then they would not have any control over offshore exchanges that are not subject to their country's regulations.

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Economics

Taylor Wimpey share price up 3% as housebuilder promises to return more cash to investors

The Taylor Wimpey share price has risen by 3.3% today, reversing some of the…
The post Taylor Wimpey share price up 3% as housebuilder promises to return more cash to investors first appeared on Trading and Investment News.

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The Taylor Wimpey share price has risen by 3.3% today, reversing some of the losses taken over a bad start to the year that has seen the housebuilder’s valuation decline by over 10%, after the company today promised investors it would return more cash to them over coming months. The windfall comes as a result of what Taylor Wimpey described as an “excellent” 2021.

Demand for larger properties, especially houses with gardens, has leapt as a result of the pandemic. As well families spending more time at home desiring more space, buyers were further encouraged to take the leap by the stamp duty holiday that ran from 2020 until late last year, offering savings of up to £15,000. Rock bottom interest rates and fierce competition between providers also led to cheaper mortgages which helped maximise selling prices.

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The combination of favourable headwinds means the homebuilder expects to now realise an operating profit of £820 million for 2021 from the sale of a little under 14,000 homes. That represents a growth of 47% in the number of new-built properties delivered compared to 2020, when construction work and administrative processes were delayed by Covid-19 disruption.

As a result, Taylor Wimpey finished last year with a bank balance of £837 million. It will now, it says, see how much cash is left once it has paid out its dividend and planned for expenses over the rest of the year. Any “excess cash” surplus will be returned to shareholders, most likely through a major share buyback. The company will confirm details alongside its full-year results, due to be reported in March.

Taylor Wimpey is worth around £6 billion and is a member of the FTSE 100. It has existed in its present format since 2007 when created out of a merger between the housebuilders George Wimpey and Taylor Woodrow. The deal was legendarily struck by current chief executive Pete Redfern at a service station on the M40.

Despite sector concerns over how much it will cost to replace dangerous cladding used on buildings over the past 20 years and now banned as a result of the Grenfell Tower scandal, Taylor Wimpey has repeatedly stated it is confident the £165 million it has set aside to cover related expenses will suffice. It has been challenged on the sum but still considers it a “reasonable estimate”.

If the cladding provision does prove sufficient, that should leave plenty of cash for redistribution to investors through a major share buyback over 2022.

The post Taylor Wimpey share price up 3% as housebuilder promises to return more cash to investors first appeared on Trading and Investment News.

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VIDEO — Eric Nuttall: Oil in Multi-year Bull Market, Supply Crisis Coming

Eric Nuttall: Oil in Multi-year Bull Market, Supply Crisis Coming

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Supply and demand fundamentals show oil is in a multi-year bull market with a supply crisis in the works.That’s according to Eric Nuttall, partner and senior portfolio manager…

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Eric Nuttall: Oil in Multi-year Bull Market, Supply Crisis Coming youtu.be

Supply and demand fundamentals show oil is in a multi-year bull market with a supply crisis in the works.

That's according to Eric Nuttall, partner and senior portfolio manager at Ninepoint Partners. He manages the firm's Ninepoint Energy Fund, which he said was the best-performing energy fund of 2021.

"The risk/reward for me in the sector is incredible," he told the Investing News Network in an interview. "My biggest challenge is everything looks good — large caps look good, small caps look good. Oil looks good, natural gas looks good. Services look good, offshore drilling looks good — everything looks good."


Nuttall said supply-side factors are key for oil right now, and explained that there are three main baskets to keep in mind: US shale, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the rest of the world.

Looking at 2022, he said US shale is no longer experiencing hypergrowth, meaning that production will grow, but will no longer exceed global demand growth. Meanwhile, OPEC is getting close to using up its spare capacity.

"By the end of this year I believe we will exhaust OPEC's spare capacity, and that will be the most bullish catalyst for oil in easily the last decade," Nuttall said during the conversation.

The "rest of the world" category includes major oil producers like Shell (NYSE:RDS.A,LSE:RDSB) and BP (NYSE:BP,LSE:BP), which Nuttall said have invested insufficiently in new production since 2014, and as a result will effectively post no growth until the end of the decade.

In terms of what that means for prices, Nuttall said it's tough to give a 2022 forecast due to variables like COVID-19, but he thinks oil will be "well in excess" of US$80 per barrel this year, with a shot at making it to US$100. Looking out further, he sees a new all-time high of US$140 to US$150 in the cards for oil.

"I feel very confident that we're in a multi-year bull market for oil. Energy stocks, despite the run, still in my opinion represent a generational opportunity due solely to energy ignorance — people frankly are clueless in terms of how oil is used and how long it's going to take to displace," he explained.

"We will all be consuming oil for the rest of our lifetimes, and yet that fear of peak demand is leading to a reality of peak supply. The writing is on the wall: We're heading towards an oil supply crisis."

Don't forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Charlotte McLeod, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

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Graphite Outlook 2022: Demand from Battery Segment to Remain High

Click here to read the previous graphite outlook. Graphite is an essential raw material used in electric vehicle (EV) batteries, and as sales of EVs grow, market watchers believe demand for the metal will surge. Despite discussions about battery chemistry

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Click here to read the previous graphite outlook.

Graphite is an essential raw material used in electric vehicle (EV) batteries, and as sales of EVs grow, market watchers believe demand for the metal will surge.

Despite discussions about battery chemistry changes, many experts think graphite will remain a dominant element in EV batteries for at least the next decade. Both synthetic graphite and natural graphite, in the form of the intermediate product spherical graphite, are used in the anodes of lithium-ion batteries.

Here the Investing News Network (INN) looks at the key trends in the graphite market in 2021 and what the graphite outlook is for 2022.


Graphite trends 2021: Shipping and power cost challenges


After a tumultuous 2020 in which supply chains were put to the test as economies shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, graphite kicked off 2021 on a bright note.

In early 2021, prices for natural flake graphite were slightly higher than expected as a result of unexpectedly strict environmental investigations and closures in China, Suzanne Shaw of Wood Mackenzie told INN back in July.

“There was also considerable shipping disruption early on in the year with containers and vessels not where they should be as routes reopened post-COVID,” she said. “Limited availability was prioritized for higher-value cargos, with lower-value raw materials flows disrupted. This situation subsided through Q2.”

Pricing was relatively flat during the first six months of 2021, according to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence data.

“Prices for +100 mesh flake concentrate, across all purities, have moved upward by around 5 to 10 percent year-to-date, while pricing for all other grades has moved less than 5 percent so far this year due to continued structural oversupply in the graphite market,” Miller told INN at the end of H1. “Moreover, the global shipping situation at the moment is hindering upward price pressure.”

Prices took a turn in August, jumping on the back of the energy crisis, which hit producers and disrupted output. Battery grades were particularly hit by rising power costs as both the manufacture of synthetic graphite and the processing of spherical graphite from natural flake are known for their high levels of energy consumption.

In terms of supply, Chinese production was expected to ramp up to meet rising domestic battery demand, as there is still a lot of overcapacity in China.

“However, the overall trend is that China is showing less appetite on the raw material side and investing in higher-value downstream industries rather than exploration/mining across most mineral sectors,” Shaw said at the end of H1. “It will continue to increase its own imports of flake graphite.”

Meanwhile, on the synthetic graphite front, the market could be driven into a deficit as a result of increasing demand from the lithium-ion battery and downstream EV sectors worldwide, Roskill, which was acquired by Wood Mackenzie, reported back in August.

“From a performance perspective, EV automakers prefer synthetic graphite, citing its superior fast charge turnaround and battery longevity,” a November Fastmarkets report reads. “Synthetic graphite, however, is costly, power intensive and environmentally unfriendly, with supply centered in China at odds with North American and European automakers’ desire for more localized supply.”

Graphite outlook 2022: What’s ahead


At the end of last year, analysts were expecting demand from the battery segment to continue to grow on the back of increased EV sales, with growth opportunities for both synthetic and natural graphite.

According to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence data, demand for natural graphite from the battery segment amounted to 400,000 tonnes in 2021, with that number expected to scale up to 3 million tonnes by 2030. Meanwhile, demand for synthetic graphite reached about 300,000 tonnes in 2021 and it’s expected to increase to 1.5 million tonnes by 2030.

“We do expect recycling to plug some of these gaps, but this isn't really likely to reach the necessary scale until post 2030,” Miller said in a December webinar. “So at the moment, the focus is really on synthesizing and mining this material as quickly as possible to meet the demand that we might see into the future.”

By volume, graphite is one of the most important elements in any electric vehicle battery ― there is between 50 and 100 kilograms of graphite, whether synthetic or natural, present within each vehicle.

“We can really see the sector growing progressively to around 15 times the demand we see today by 2030, outpacing moderate growth and demand from industrial applications,” Miller said.

That said, it's important to note that only certain types of natural graphite supply are relevant to and able to be qualified for the lithium-ion supply chain.

“This is really the biggest challenge in using natural graphite as a battery input,” Miller said. “This has the potential to exclude further capacity from projects in development.”

The expert explained that if all planned supply reached the market, it would have the potential to balance out demand up to 2029 to 2030, but with these limitations on which material can be qualified, the story takes a different direction.

“The primary limitation here is the mesh size inputs for the battery supply chain must be fine to medium flake,” Miller said, adding that consistency and high purity, somewhere around 94 to 95 percent carbon, is also key. “Flake graphite for the lithium ion supply chain must have low levels of impurity in order to avoid compromising the quality and longevity of the end product.”

According to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, today, synthetic graphite anodes make up the majority of market share and approximately 57 percent of the anode market.

“Going forward, we do expect this to shift in the direction of natural graphite anodes to around a 50-50 balance for a multitude of reasons,” Miller said. His reasons include tight graphitization capacity, higher costs for synthetic graphite anode material and also the environmental shortcomings of the synthetic graphite supply chain at the moment.

Graphitization is the process of producing synthetic graphite from carbon-rich, oil-derived feedstock raw materials, and this process is energy intensive.

“In China, graphitization capacity has been mainly located in Inner Mongolia, a province which has some of the lowest energy costs in the country and where other high-energy metal producers, such as ferro-chrome smelters, are based,” Fastmarket reports. “But Inner Mongolia was the first in the firing line when the 2021 energy crisis unfolded.”

This resulted in reduced production and unpredictable cost increases for synthetic graphite, and the reason why many battery manufacturers in China could turn to natural graphite instead.

Looking ahead at how overall demand for graphite will perform, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence expects the battery segment to challenge industrial applications as the leading end-market for graphite demand. Over the next decade, anode demand will grow at an average of 27 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR).

“Unlike some of the other critical mineral markets, there is still time for both the natural and synthetic graphite market deficits to be redressed — so long as adequate funding is provided for junior miners in the near term,” Miller said.

Commenting on price performance, Fastmarkets maintains the view that both flake and spherical graphite prices will trend stable to higher in the near term.

“The only potential reprieve we see for graphite prices would be if the power constraints diminish EV lithium-ion battery production, and in turn reduce demand for graphite anodes sufficiently to stem the upward pressure on graphite prices,” analysts said.

Another key trend for graphite investors to watch in the new year is how western automakers keep up with China, which has become the dominant player in all steps of the anode supply chain.

Interestingly, before 2021 came to an end, US-based Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) made a move to secure graphite supply from top graphite producer Syrah Resources (ASX:SYR).

The ASX-listed company will process graphite from its Balama mine in Mozambique in its Louisiana plant, and will supply the EV maker with anode graphite material for an initial four year period. Tesla also has an option to offtake additional volume subject to Syrah expanding its capacity beyond 10,000 tonnes per year.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Priscila Barrera, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

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