By Sybilla Gross
While plenty of investors remain skeptical about the fine print of the U.S.-China trade deal and fret over the sustainability of the American economic expansion, bulls are taking control. As a Bank of America Corp. index of financial stress plunges to May lows, volatile shares are trumping safer equities that offer smaller price swings. Cheaper stocks are getting snapped up and money is rushing into emerging markets anew. Thank fresh bets on global trade, a U.S. labor market in robust health and a dovish Federal Reserve ironclad in its reflationary resolve. All that is spurring the likes of JPMorgan Chase & Co. to tout new bullish trades, and Bank of America Corp. to project a “melt-up” next quarter. In a year when valuations for defensive assets soared, Wall Street is now lavishing the riskier laggards with festive cheer. “For the next six months you need to have a more positive view,” said Francois Savary, chief investment officer at Prime Partners SA.
China liquidity jitters are about to test the bond market yet again. Government-bond investors in China will soon be looking for reassurance from the central bank that there’s plenty of cash in the financial system. Why? The country will see a “liquidity hole” of 2.8 trillion yuan ($400 billion) in January, in large part because people across the country will withdraw cash for the Lunar New Year holiday, according to Guotai Junan Securities Co. That means bond traders expect the central bank to unlock funds to avoid the liquidity-driven panic seen in October, when the benchmark 10-year yield spiked the most in six months. It’s not clear exactly what analysts expect the People’s Bank of China to do, but no one is calling for a massive net liquidity injection or a benchmark interest-rate cut, as Beijing won’t want to risk inflating prices when the consumer price index is at a seven-year high. Also, while the economy is growing at its slowest pace since the 1990s, November data was more encouraging, and — if you throw in a phase-one trade deal agreed with the U.S. last week — Beijing has even fewer reasons to go aggressive on stimulus measures. That all means that after a brief spell in the sun in January, a rally in Chinese sovereign debt is unlikely to last.
Asian stocks were set to open mixed Wednesday as investors take a breather after the partial U.S.-China trade deal that sent global equities close to record highs, while the dollar gained and 10-year treasuries were steady. Futures were little changed in Japan, fell in Australia and climbed in Hong Kong. The S&P 500 Index closed just one index point higher at a new record amid positive U.S. factory and construction data, and investors continue to watch the details of the U.S.-China trade accord, as well as keeping an eye on the improving global economy and the path ahead for monetary policy in 2020. The pound dropped the most in a month as concerns about a no-deal Brexit resurfaced. Elsewhere, West Texas intermediate crude briefly touched $61 a barrel for the first time in three months as strengthening outlooks for manufacturing and trade buoyed demand prospects. Bitcoin’s woes continued, as the digital currency languished below $7,000.
Indian asset managers’ shares are trouncing global peers this year as domestic money managers benefit from the tectonic shift in savings from gold and real estate to stocks and bonds. Reliance Nippon Life Asset Management Ltd. and HDFC Asset Management Co., whose shares have more than doubled in 2019, are the third- and fourth-best performers among 36 peers with a market value of at least $2 billion, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Retail investors piled into mutual funds after the government ban on high-value currency bills in 2016 hurt returns from gold and property. What’s more: while total assets have more than tripled to $382 billion in the past five years, only 1.5% of Indians own funds, suggesting a long runway for growth. And passive investing that’s decimated fees for U.S. managers is still to take hold in India.
WeWork has obtained $1.75 billion in new financing, with the help of Goldman Sachs. The fundraising push frees up a mountain of cash for the struggling office-sharing company, and the new line of credit is the first hurdle cleared by SoftBank in its pledge to put together $5 billion in debt financing for WeWork as part of a bailout package. At this stage, the move should free up roughly $800 million in cash that WeWork had set aside to satisfy covenants on its previous credit line, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. “We are pleased that WeWork and SoftBank Group Corp. have entered into a commitment letter with Goldman Sachs,” Erin Clark, a spokeswoman for WeWork, said in an emailed statement. WeWork won’t be required to post any cash collateral under the new deal, she said, adding that the company will be able to access the facility starting next month. While Goldman has committed to providing capital, it’s still in the process of farming out portions of the loan to other investors.