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Weekly investment update – Markets in a sea of uncertainty

At its first policy meeting of 2022, Chair Jerome Powell of the US Federal Reserve signalled that the central bank would begin boosting interest rates from their crisis-era lows in March. To get the inflation genie back into the bottle, our fixed income..

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At its first policy meeting of 2022, Chair Jerome Powell of the US Federal Reserve signalled that the central bank would begin boosting interest rates from their crisis-era lows in March. To get the inflation genie back into the bottle, our fixed income team expected the Fed to have to raise rates faster and further than what was by markets. Chair Powell’s latest comments support that view.  

Markets have already had to digest a lot of information this year on the two main drivers of asset returns: discount rates and cash flows. Among the issues are increasingly hawkish central banks, led by the US Fed, uncertainty over the outlook for policy and growth generated by Omicron and escalating tensions with Russia over Ukraine.

The question is now whether markets can continue to climb the wall of worries.

In the week ending 21 January, we saw mixed market sentiment manifested in a struggle between the urge to ‘buy-on-the-dip’ and an impulse to sell based on concerns that an aggressive Fed policy would drive up yields. Indeed, the sharp rise in US (real interest rates has been the number one reason pushing US stock indices lower since the New Year.

Equity markets have shifted abruptly as a result. The S&P 500 index has lost about 10% of its value so far in January, with growth stocks hit particularly hard.

Nothing illustrates the troubled market sentiment better than the huge swing in US stock prices on 24 January with the Dow Jones Industrials index closing up by almost 100 points, or 0.3%, after falling by more than 1 100 points early in that trading session. The tech-heavy NASDAQ Composite closed the day 0.6% higher after initially dropping by almost 5%. This volatility was repeated on 25 January with the Dow recouping most of its 819-point loss to end the day down a modest 68 points.

Catch-up moves could see Fed hike seven times

In the immediate wake of the Fed’s latest policy meeting, stock markets fell sharply across Europe and Asia after Chair Powell signalled the central bank would begin raising rates in two months’ time. Highly valued tech stocks bore the brunt of the selling in Europe and Asia.

Some in the markets now believe the Fed is so far behind the curve that it will raise policy rates by 50bp from March. We do not share that view, but our fixed income team has a strong, out-of-consensus view, expecting seven rate rises this year, whereas the market prices four to five rate increases.

If our more hawkish view gains momentum, a faster pace of Fed rate rises could weigh on market sentiment.

After the recent release of strong US inflation and labour market data (Exhibits 1 and 2), the rate policy-setting FOMC now appears to think the economy is approaching maximum employment and inflation will remain high instead of being transitory.

Chair Powell noted that the ‘economy is in a very different place than it was’ at the onset of the last rate rising cycle: the economy is on a stronger footing, the labour market is healthier and inflation is higher.

This comment was reiterated several times during the press conference and, crucially, with the observation that “these differences are likely to have important implications for the appropriate pace of policy adjustments.”

Indeed, the message from the meeting was significantly more hawkish than the signals in the Fed’s December ‘dot plot’. That showed a clear consensus across the FOMC on raising rates three times this year.

When asked about the possibility of raising rates in 50bp increments, Chair Powell said no decisions had been made. That was not an endorsement of the idea of a 50bp hike, but neither was it a denial.

Taking away the punch bowl

The FOMC confirmed that the Fed would shrink its massive balance sheet significantly by ending the reinvestment of maturing securities – assets which it bought in large volumes during the pandemic to support the US economy – after it has begun raising rates.

Chair Powell signalled that the balance sheet run-off might begin at the May or June FOMC meeting. Some market participants expect the Fed to act more aggressively by cutting its existing asset purchases by USD 60 billion a month or more.

According to Statista 2022, the size of the Fed’s balance sheet was USD 8.87 trillion on 18 January. Even if the Fed ran down its holdings by USD 100 billion a month, its balance sheet would still be larger by the end of 2024 than it was in January 2020 (USD 4.17 trillion) when the pandemic started.


Any views expressed here are those of the author as of the date of publication, are based on available information, and are subject to change without notice. Individual portfolio management teams may hold different views and may take different investment decisions for different clients. The views expressed in this podcast do not in any way constitute investment advice.

The value of investments and the income they generate may go down as well as up and it is possible that investors will not recover their initial outlay. Past performance is no guarantee for future returns.

Investing in emerging markets, or specialised or restricted sectors is likely to be subject to a higher-than-average volatility due to a high degree of concentration, greater uncertainty because less information is available, there is less liquidity or due to greater sensitivity to changes in market conditions (social, political and economic conditions).

Some emerging markets offer less security than the majority of international developed markets. For this reason, services for portfolio transactions, liquidation and conservation on behalf of funds invested in emerging markets may carry greater risk.  

Writen by Chi Lo. The post Weekly investment update – Markets in a sea of uncertainty appeared first on Investors' Corner - The official blog of BNP Paribas Asset Management, the sustainable investor for a changing world.

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No sign of major crude oil price decline any time soon

Bullish pressure on crude oil markets doesn’t seem to be easing Crude oil prices fell last week, notching their second weekly decline in the face of…

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Bullish pressure on crude oil markets doesn’t seem to be easing

Crude oil prices fell last week, notching their second weekly decline in the face of concern that rising interest rates could push the global economy into recession.

Yet the future of crude oil still seems bullish to many. Spare capacity, or lack of it, is just one of the reasons.

The global surplus of crude production capacity in May was less than half the 2021 average, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported on Friday.

The EIA estimated that as of May, producers in nations not members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) had about 280,000 barrels per day (bpd) of surplus capacity, down sharply from 1.4 million bpd in 2021. It said 60 per cent of the May 2021 figure was from Russia, which is increasingly under sanctions related to its invasion of Ukraine.

The OPEC+ alliance of oil producers is running out of capacity to pump crude, and that includes its most significant member, Saudi Arabia, Nigerian Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Timipre Sylva told Bloomberg last week.

“Some people believe the prices to be a little bit on the high side and expect us to pump a little bit more, but at this moment there is really little additional capacity,” Sylva said in a briefing with reporters on Friday. “Even Saudi Arabia, Russia, of course, Russia, is out of the market now more or less.” Nigeria was also unable to fulfil its output obligations, added Sylva.

Recent COVID-19-related lockdowns in parts of China – the world’s largest crude importer – also played a significant role in the global oil dynamics. The lack of Chinese oil consumption due to the lockdowns helped keep the markets in a check – somewhat.

Oil prices haven’t peaked yet because Chinese demand has yet to return to normal, a United Arab Emirates official told a conference in Jordan early this month. “If we continue consuming, with the pace of consumption we have, we are nowhere near the peak because China is not back yet,” UAE Energy Minister Suhail Al-Mazrouei said. “China will come with more consumption.”

Al-Mazrouei warned that without more investment across the globe, OPEC and its allies can’t guarantee sufficient supplies of oil as demand fully recovers from the pandemic.

But the check on the Chinese crude consumption seems to be easing.

On Saturday, Beijing, a city of 21 million-plus people, announced that primary and secondary schools would resume in-person classes. And as life seemed to return to normal, the Universal Beijing Resort, which was closed for nearly two months, reopened on Saturday.

Chinese economic hub Shanghai, with a population of 28 million-plus people, also declared victory over COVID after reporting zero new local cases for the first time in two months.

The two major cities were among several places in China that implemented curbs to stop the spread of the omicron wave from March to May.

But the easing of sanctions should mean oil’s price trajectory will resume its upward march.

In the meantime, in the U.S., the Biden administration is eying tougher anti-smog requirements. According to Bloomberg, that could negatively impact drilling across parts of the Permian Basin, which straddles Texas and New Mexico and is the world’s biggest oil field.

While the world is looking for clues about what the loss of supply from Russia will mean, reports are pouring in that the ongoing political turmoil in Libya could plague its oil output throughout the year.

The return of blockades on oilfields and export terminals amid renewed political tension is depriving the market of some of Libya’s oil at a time of tight global supply, said Tsvetana Paraskova in a piece for Oilrpice.com.

And in the ongoing political push to strangle Russian energy output, the G7 was reportedly discussing a price cap on oil imports from Russia. Western countries are increasingly frustrated that their efforts to squeeze out Russian energy supplies from the markets have had the counterproductive effect of driving up the global crude price, which is leading to Russia earning more money for its war chest.

To tackle the issue, and increase pressure on Russia, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is proposing a price cap on Russian crude oil sales. The idea is to lift the sanction on insurance for Russian crude cargo for countries that accept buying Russian oil at an agreed maximum price. Her proposal is aimed at squeezing Russian crude out of the market as much as possible.

So the bullish pressure on crude oil markets doesn’t seem to be easing.

By Rashid Husain Syed

Toronto-based Rashid Husain Syed is a respected energy and political analyst. The Middle East is his area of focus. As well as writing for major local and global newspapers, Rashid is also a regular speaker at major international conferences. He has provided his perspective on global energy issues to the Department of Energy in Washington and the International Energy Agency in Paris.

Courtesy of Troy Media

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University of Cincinnati enrolling patients for PTSD clinical trials

About 8% of Americans will experience post-traumatic stress disorder at some point in their lives, but there are still few effective options to treat the…

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About 8% of Americans will experience post-traumatic stress disorder at some point in their lives, but there are still few effective options to treat the condition.

Credit: Photo/University of Cincinnati

About 8% of Americans will experience post-traumatic stress disorder at some point in their lives, but there are still few effective options to treat the condition.

“There are some medical treatments for PTSD and psychotherapies for PTSD, but patients continue to suffer with symptoms that aren’t responsive to the currently available treatments,” said Lesley Arnold, MD.

June is PTSD Awareness Month, and the University of Cincinnati is currently enrolling patients for clinical trials examining the effectiveness of different medications to better treat PTSD symptoms.

The basics

Arnold said PTSD is a common and often chronic disorder that develops after a traumatic event that is either personally experienced or witnessed by a person.

“People with PTSD often re-experience aspects of the original trauma and can develop symptoms such as avoidance of trauma reminders, negative thoughts and feelings and increased alertness to their surroundings,” said Arnold, director of the Women’s Health Research Program and professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience in the UC College of Medicine.

Most people who are exposed to a trauma will have an acute stress response in the moment, Arnold said, but about 30% of those who experience a trauma develop PTSD. Symptoms can last for months or years and also include disrupted sleep or nightmares, issues with memory or focus and depression and anxiety. 

In people who are at higher risk for exposure to trauma, such as war veterans, PTSD occurs in even higher proportions, Arnold said. The COVID-19 pandemic has also exacerbated symptoms of PTSD for some individuals.

“It led to some isolation and made it difficult for individuals to seek treatment or to continue to engage in treatment,” Arnold said. 

New trials

Arnold and her team are focused on testing medication-based treatments that could help alleviate the symptoms of PTSD that have not responded to currently available medications, including sleeplessness and nightmares among others.

“The problem that we have is that there are two FDA medications approved for the treatment of PTSD, but these medications aren’t effective for everybody, and they take a long time to work,” Arnold said. 

Each of the clinical trials will test different novel drugs that take new approaches to treat unregulated neurotransmitters in the brain that are involved in PTSD. The randomized trials will measure the effectiveness of the medications compared to a placebo control group.

“We are in urgent need of treatments for PTSD,” Arnold said. “That’s why these trials are so important because they offer a novel approach that we hope to be effective in helping patients overcome the problems associated with PTSD and return to full function.”

Adults, both women and men, over the age of 18 with PTSD are eligible to participate in the trials, with patients with a variety of different trauma experiences being recruited. The trials will involve about three months of participation from patients.

“We’re asking for volunteers to help us with our trials, those individuals who continue to have symptoms of PTSD,” Arnold said. “We are conducting these trials actively, and I would encourage individuals to come forward to help.”

Arnold said there has been an increased interest in finding drug treatments for PTSD in about the last five years.

“This is an exciting time and a hopeful time for people with PTSD because we are actively seeking out better treatments,” she said. “There’s been a growing interest and a recognition of the unmet need in this population, so I’m really gratified to be able to have these trials going on now and to be able to offer some hope to individuals with PTSD.”

For more information on the PTSD trials at UC, call 513-558-6612.


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Why REV Stock is Trending After Filing Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Will Revlon end up getting bought out after filing for bankruptcy? And if so, how will it affect investors holding REV stock?
The post Why REV Stock is…

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Revlon (NYSE: REV), the iconic beauty brand, has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. Meanwhile, REV stock rallied on the news as traders promoted the idea of a buyout on social media.

After implementing a new strategy to drive growth, Revlon did see business pick up last year. But it wasn’t enough to overcome the massive debt Revlon piled on throughout the years. Nonetheless, the company has been losing money since 2015.

The bankruptcy filing will help the company “reorganize its capital structure” and “improve its long-term outlook.”

Will it be enough to turn the company around? Revlon still faces intense competition and rising costs. Not to mention an uphill battle with its supply chain.

Yet the company has a strong portfolio of brands. On top of this, Revlon already has a buyout offer, according to reports. Will Revlon end up getting bought out? And if so, how will it affect investors holding REV stock?

Keep reading to learn why Revlon stock is trending and what you can expect next.

Why Is REV Stock Trending

The news of Revlon’s bankruptcy broke about two weeks ago. As a result, retail traders piled into REV stock, promoting it as a short squeeze candidate.

The announcement caused REV shares to first crater. And then, after hitting an all-time low of $1.08, Revlon shares rallied on heavy volume. Revlon stock soared over 800% within a week, gaining meme stock status.

Traders on social media sites such as Reddit and StockTwits compared the situation to rental car company Hertz (NASDAQ: HTZ).

After the initial fallout, Hertz stock soared after announcing bankruptcy in 2020. As a result, HTZ stock gained over 900% as retail traders bid the price up.

Doesn’t bankruptcy mean the company is going out of business? Why would someone want to own a bankrupt company?

For one thing, Chapter 11 bankruptcy doesn’t mean the company is going out of business. To illustrate, in Hertz’s case, the company sold over 200,000 vehicles. Not only that, but investors bet on the company’s turnaround.

An investment group gave Hertz $5.9B while the company managed debt. As a result, Hertz is back in business, with demand for rentals heating up.

At the same time, it may be a different situation with Revlon than Hertz.

How Did This Happen

Revlon has been losing market share for years. Newcomers enter the industry with attractive marketing campaigns, drawing in the younger crowd.

For example, a longtime rival, Coty Inc (NYSE: COTY), teamed up with Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner. Coty has a 20% stake in Kim’s beauty business and an over 50% in Kylie’s. With this in mind, the deals are part of Coty’s transition to an online, DTC business model.

Meanwhile, Revlon has failed to keep up in the digital age. That said, the company was started 90 years ago and has built strong ties with leading retailers.

But, as shoppers move online, especially younger crowds, Revlon has been slower to catch trends. Coty’s partnerships expand their reach online, particularly on social media. Celebrity influencers push products to their millions of followers.

Then, the pandemic hit. Revlon saw sales crater as a result. For one thing, with lockdowns in place, people wore less makeup. And on top of this, if they did buy makeup, it was online.

So, Revlon lost even more market share. And then higher raw material costs, shortages, and rising labor put the company over the edge. Below is a look at Revlon’s debt by year since 2012.

Revlon started missing payments as a result, and vendors had enough. The past due accounts piled up, and the company couldn’t keep up. So, Revlon filed for voluntary chapter 11 bankruptcy on June 16, 2022.

What’s Next for Revlon

As shown, chapter 11 doesn’t mean Revlon is going out of business. In fact, it will give the company a chance to restructure its debt, like Hertz. Here’s what we know so far.

  • Revlon expects to receive $575M in financing to support day-to-day operations.
  • The pre-trial hearings are ongoing, with another one today.
  • Revlon will have the chance to work with creditors to write off some debt.
  • Another option is the company gets bought out.

We could also see a potential sale of Revlon’s assets. Revlon’s CEO says demand remains solid, and “people love our brands” while adding the company’s strong market position.

But she added that the company’s debt situation has made it challenging to do business. In particular, rising costs and shortages.

Revlon will continue doing business for now while working with those they owe money to. If they come to a resolution, the company may reduce its debt to better position itself in the long term.

At the same time, investors holding REV stock may not get anything.

Is It Worth Buying REV Stock

The first thing to know about buying REV stock right now is that you can lose everything. If Revlon fails to turn a profit, it will continue losing money.

The bankruptcy filing will give the company a second chance to restructure its debt. But Revlon will still be operating with the challenging conditions from before.

Though raw material costs have dropped slightly in the past month, they are still well above pre-pandemic levels. Revlon will need to make significant changes behind the scenes to overcome the difficulties.

Can REV stock become the next GameStop (NYSE: GME) or Hertz? That’s what traders on social media are hoping for. But, with competition gaining market share, the situation seems different.

At the same time, Revlon is a massive brand in makeup. For instance, Revlon is the #3 global cosmetics brand. Not only that, but they are also the #1 for mass fragrance and nail brand for professionals.

Yet these facts don’t mean Revlon stock is worth buying. The company still faces rising costs. Furthermore, Revlon has a long list of creditors they will pay before investors. For this reason, it may be best to stay on the sidelines for this one.

The post Why REV Stock is Trending After Filing Chapter 11 Bankruptcy appeared first on Investment U.

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