Analysts are predicting a positive 2017 for European equities, not least because they are currently undervalued compared with US stocks. But there are risks on the horizon due to political instability (elections in France, Germany and Holland, plus the effects of Trump and Brexit), and uncertainty over the timing of the Fed’s rate hikes.
Articles by Francisco López
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The markets’ reaction to the latest measures adopted by the ECB has been very positive, although not all experts believe that the era of quantative easing (QE) is coming to an end. And looking beyond the rises in equity prices, analysts are in agreement that the increased flexibility of the asset purchase programme and the reduction in the average monthly volume is prejudicial for the peripheral countries’ debt.
Someone else has fallen victim to the market: the plunge in Banco Popular’s shares has led to Ángel Ron being replaced as the bank’s chairman. But apart from the stock price’s ups and downs, Popular’s new chairman Emilio Saracho, former global vicepresident of JP Morgan, has a difficult task ahead.
OPEC’s first cut in production in eight years is not good news for the Spanish economy. Spain imports almost all the oil it consumes and has benefited enormously from the slump in the price of a barrel of this “black gold”. It’s estimated that every 10% drop in the price of oil allows for one-tenth of a percentage point improvement in Spanish GDP (1 billion euros). And the reverse is true when the price increases.
The Spanish market’s attention was firmly on technology company Indra on Tuesday when it’s share price plummeted 12%. One reason for the slump was its nine months to September results, which hugely disappointed analysts and investors.
The Bank of Spain’s (BoS) Financial Stability Report usually puts its finger on the problem when it highlights the main risks affecting the banking business. As well as low interest rates and the deterioriation in both Spanish and global economic prospects, the BoS’ latest report points to another factor which has not warranted so much attention: the decline in the prices of financial assets, both in fixed income securities and equities.
Telefonica’s stock price held up much better than expected after the multinational announced it will cut its dividend this year and next. The shares finally closed down 1% after falling as much as 4% in the first few hours of the session. It seems that investors have understood that, on the one hand, it is the company’s best option for reducing debt; and, on the other, that the dividend yield is still very attractive.
The recovery in long-term public debt in the last two weeks has not gone unnoticed in the markets. Investors sense there is a series of factors which could drive a change in trend in the fixed income market and are gradually taking positions. The German bund has returned to positive territory and Spain’s risk premium has risen by 20 basis points since the beginning of the month.
Are extremely low interest rates good or bad for the economy? Is is it true that they are seriously damaging the profitability of the banks and insurers? The debate over the suitability of the zero interest policy driven by the central banks is heating up between the monetary authorities and the financial sector.
It’s definitely not Telefónica finest hour. Problems with the possible listing of its UK affiliate O2 after the pound’s slump can be added to the fiasco with the IPO of its infrastructure subsidiary Telxius. The company is worried about having its rating cut and it doesn’t know how it can cut its massive 52 billion euros debt pile. But on Monday it returned to the debt market and successfully placed 2 billion euros in 4-year and 15-year bonds.