BIGCAPITAL's Blog

December 31, 2010

Goldman Sachs Boosts Global Growth Forecasts 2011

 

Goldman Sachs Boosts Global Growth Forecasts 2011

 Economists at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the most profitable Wall Street firm, increased their forecasts for U.S. and global growth in 2011, predicted an acceleration in 2012 and recommended investors buy banks.

 The U.S. economy will grow at a 2.7 percent rate next year, up from a previous forecast of 2 percent, and 3.6 percent in 2012, economists led by Jan Hatzius in New York said in a report today. The global economy will grow 4.6 percent in 2011 and 4.8 percent in 2012, Dominic Wilson, senior global economist, said in a separate report.

 They recommended U.S. bank stocks, junk bonds, commodities, Japanese stocks and China’s currency as the first of the firm’s “top trades” for 2011. The forecasts are a departure from the pessimism that characterized Goldman Sachs’ projections since 2006.

 “This outlook represents a fundamental shift in the thinking that has governed our forecast for at least the last five years,” Hatzius said in the report. “The hand-off from policy stimulus to private demand — which seemed elusive just a couple of months ago — now appears to be developing.”

 U.S. stocks started what is historically their best month with a rally today after ADP Employer Services data showed companies added 93,000 jobs last month, the Federal Reserve said the economy gained strength across most of the nation and manufacturing in China expanded at the fastest pace in seven months. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index advanced as much as 2.3 percent, the most since Sept. 1.

 Underlying Demand

 The Goldman Sachs economists said underlying demand, a measure of growth that excludes the effects of fiscal stimulus and inventory restocking, has strengthened and is on track to expand at a 5 percent rate in the fourth quarter.

 On average, economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect the U.S. economy to grow 2.5 percent next year and 3.1 percent in 2012. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development lowered its forecast for global growth last month to 4.2 percent for 2011 from 4.5 percent, and predicted 4.6 percent for 2012.

 Even as growth accelerates, U.S. unemployment will remain elevated by historical standards, declining to 8.5 percent by the end of 2012 from 9.6 percent in October, the economists said. The jobless rate increased to 10.1 percent in October 2009, the highest monthly figure since 1983.

 Inflation, Unemployment

 Core inflation, which excludes food and energy prices, is likely to be 0.5 percent in each of the next two years, Goldman Sachs said. The combination of high unemployment and low inflation is likely to keep the Federal Reserve from raising interest rates, the economists said.

 Conditions will be “positive for risky assets,” they wrote. The S&P 500, the main benchmark for American equities, will likely end next year at 1,450, up 20 percent from 1,206.07 at 4 p.m. in New York.

 The S&P 500 has gained 8.2 percent this year and recouped three-fifths of its decline from a record in October 2007. Concerns about the economic fallout from government debt reduction by some European countries caused rallies to stall in April and November and are the principal risk to Goldman’s outlook, the economists said.

 Growth in emerging markets may slow next year as acceleration in the U.S. prompts China, other Asian economies and Brazil to tighten monetary policy, the economists said.

 For its top trades, Goldman recommended betting on a decline in the value of the U.S. dollar against the Chinese renminbi via two-year non-deliverable forwards for an expected return of 6 percent.

 Bets on the KBW Bank Index will return 25 percent, and selling protection on high-yield corporate bonds via credit- default swaps will return 8.7 percent, they predicted.

 Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average is likely to return 20 percent next year, while a basket of crude oil, copper, cotton, soybeans and platinum will gain 28 percent, they said.

December 1, 2010

China Approves Gold Fund Of Funds

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigcapital @ 9:15 am
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China Approves Gold Fund Of Funds
HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — China’s securities regulators have given the go ahead for a mutual fund to invest in foreign exchange-traded gold funds, potentially tapping interest among mainland China investors who face negative real interest rates on their bank deposits and want to hedge against inflation.

 Lion Fund Management Co. said they received approval from the China Securities Regulatory Commission on Monday to proceed with the fund, the first of its kind for mainland China, according to a statement posted on the Beijing-based fund provider’s website.

 The fund has been granted permission to invest outside of China under the Qualified Domestic Institutional Investor (QDII), the fund managers said in the statement.

 The fund will invest in gold-backed exchange-traded funds operated outside of China, though the fund provider’s statement didn’t specify which ETFs, or which markets, it was considering.

 Hong Kong launched its own gold-ETF earlier this month, back by bullion held at a government-run depository at the city’s international airport. See report on Hong Kong’s first locally backed gold ETF.

 The QDII scheme enables financial institutions to invest in overseas markets and is widely seen as a vehicle to allow capital outflows from China at a time when the currency is not freely traded, prohibiting China’s vast pool of savers from investing abroad.

 One-year yuan deposits at the Bank of China Ltd., for example, fetch 2.5%, with the People’s Bank of China having last hiked its policy rate by a quarter-point in October.

 However, cash kept in these savings accounts are actually losing purchasing power at a dramatic rate, as with consumer prices in October 4.4% higher than they were a year earlier, and with the inflation rate expected to hit 5% in December, according to estimates by Bank of America- Merrill Lynch.

 The state-run China Daily said Tuesday that the new gold fund was the first of it its kind to be available to mainland investors.

 More funds could be on the way soon, as several other fund providers have pending applications for similar products, seeking to tap rising interest among mainland Chinese investors for precious metals, the report said
-Market Watch-

November 12, 2010

Is the Price of Gold Heading for $2,300 an Ounce?

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigcapital @ 8:53 am
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Is the Price of Gold Heading for $2,300 an Ounce?

 

Debate over the Fed’s recent QE2 maneuver has been generating some interesting volatility on commodity prices, particularly Gold. We’ve seen the US dollar gaining strength as investors anticipate the possibility of renewed inflationary growth in the US, but occasionally there is similar counter-pressure from investors working to price in the devaluation which must naturally accompany a money-printing policy such as QE2.

 

Commodity prices appear to be rising despite a strengthening USD, but there have been a few minor blips in downward movement amid growing concerns as to the effect of QE2. Moreover, the sudden weakness of the EUR in recent days, due to debt concerns in Europe’s periphery, has also added to these fluctuations in both the USD and commodity prices.

 

Previous articles have harped on the notion of a rising price of Gold, and nothing really seems to be able to change that analysis. We’ve seen Gold reach a nominal record high of $1,420 an ounce, even though its true record, after adjusting for inflation, was reached about 30 years ago.

 

What is interesting in this observation is the price reached at that time, in today’s dollars. When Gold took off in the 1980s, its value in today’s dollars was around $2,300 an ounce. If today’s price of Gold is heading in a similar direction, then right now may be the best time imaginable to open a Gold Trading Account and start making profits. What are you waiting for?

October 20, 2010

Bank of Korea considering gold purchases: report

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigcapital @ 12:46 am
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HONG KONG (NEWS) — South Korea is considering buying gold to diversify its foreign exchange reserves, according to a report Tuesday in the Financial Times. Seoul, which holds about 63% of its reserves in U.S. dollars, is believed to have shifted its official skepticism towards bullion at a time when other central banks in Asia are stocking up on gold amid concerns over the weak dollar, the report said. The Bank of Korea is receptive to the idea of buying gold though there remain “differences of views” within the central bank on the issue, the FT cited a unidentified person who has advised the central bank as saying.

October 19, 2010

China Unexpectedly Hike Rates‎, ready to reduce the value of US Dollar next time

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigcapital @ 11:17 pm
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China Unexpectedly Hike Rates‎, ready to reduce the value of US Dollar next time

 

The People’s Bank of China unexpectedly raised the one-year lending and deposit rates by 25 basis points each, effective Wednesday. October 20, 2010

Higher interest rates in China might attract more inflows of speculative “hot money” that regulators worry might be fueling a dangerous bubble in stock and real estate prices. Beijing has tried to block such flows, and analysts suggested earlier that might have been a reason for delaying a rate increase.

U.S. POINTS TO CHINA

The G20 finance ministers and central bank governors at the meetings in Gyeongju, South Korea are expected to tackle head-on the disparities in currency policies that are distorting capital flows in the hopes of achieving a more coordinated approach.

But U.S. officials have put most of the blame on China’s highly restrictive exchange rate regime, which until recently had kept the yuan largely pegged to the dollar. The United States is pressuring China to allow the value of its yuan to rise to take some pressure off capital flows and to rebalance its economy away from exports.

On Friday, however, Geithner delayed a report about whether the yuan’s value is being manipulated, saying instead that he wants to work through the G20 process to hash out a multilateral solution.

Geithner said in Palo Alto that he believes China will continue to lift the value of its yuan currency to aid the rebalancing of its economy away from exports and toward domestic growth.

Asked how much higher China should allow the yuan to rise, Geithner said: “Higher.”

“You can’t know how far it should go. What you know now is that it’s significantly undervalued which I think they acknowledge and it’s better for them, and of course very important for us, that it move. And I think it’s going to continue to move,” Geithner said.

 

Many banks expect that AUD/USD will rise to parity by the year-end

BNP Paribas is one of the largest global banking groups in the world, bet on Aussie’s strength.

Strategists at BNP Paribas are loyal to the forecast that Australian dollar will rise above the parity with the greenback to $1.0200 by end of the fourth quarter.

Technical analysts at RBS Morgans are quite bullish on Australian dollar expecting that the pair AUD/USD will advance to US$0.978 in coming months. Some traders even bet that Aussie’s going to strengthen to parity with its US counterpart.

Analysts at BNP Paribas SA in London expect that Australian currency will for the first time rise to parity with the greenback by the end of 2010 and trade at the level of $1.02. According to the specialists, this may happen as Australia’s economic growth is gaining pace, while the Federal Reserve intends for further monetary policy.

Everyone is worried about exchange rates except Australia. The Australian dollar has appreciated 50 per cent since March 2009 and 20 per cent since June this year and is this morning sitting comfortably above 97 US cents, but there has not been a peep from either politicians or central bankers.

Australia is an island of laissez-faire calm in a frothing sea of competitive devaluation. Why? Because we have neither a demand deficit nor high unemployment.

As 12-year Reserve Bank staffer and now HSBC’s Australian economist, Paul Bloxham, said in my interview with him on Inside Business yesterday, the RBA likes the appreciation of the Australian dollar because it helps reduce inflation.

 

SOUTH KOREAN Central Bank Looks To Gold

South Korea, holder of the world’s fifth-biggest foreign exchange reserves, is considering buying gold to diversify its dollar-heavy portfolio, the country’s central bank said, adding it would be cautious in making any final decision.

Even a small realignment of South Korea’s reserves would have a powerfully bullish effect on the gold market. With just 14 tonnes of gold – or 0.2 per cent of its $290bn reserves – Seoul is one of the smallest holders of gold among large economies. The world average is 10 per cent, according to the World Gold Council, while countries such as the US, Germany and France hold well over 50 per cent of their reserves in gold.

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October 5, 2010

John Paulson Getting More Bullish On Stocks, Gold and Australian Dollar

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigcapital @ 8:16 pm
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Gregory Zuckerman of WSJ updated us on the performance of John Paulson’s hedge funds:

As stocks struggled during much of 2010, bullish hedge-fund managers like John Paulson looked like naive optimists.

They got their revenge in September. Mr. Paulson, who racked up losses during the first eight months of the year and was criticized for an upbeat view on markets, enjoyed gains of about 12.5% in his biggest fund in September, according to an investor. Those returns trounced the 8.8% gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, its best September since 1939.

The truth is, despite the strong number for the month, the billionaire hedge fund had his moments of doubt, at least earlier on during the quarter. Read the reports we have had on him during the past two months:

When you manage $32 and run a leverage hedge fund, you will have reasons to be nervous too.

But nowadays, Paulson sounds once again more confident and more bullish. Speaking at the University Club in New York City recently.

Paulson gave similar assessments across asset classes such as stocks, bonds, real estate, and gold recently.

Here are the key points he made:

Paulson reiterated his bullish call on stocks, noting the historically large discrepancy between the equity earnings yield of 7-8% and the 10-year note yield of 2.6%.
Furthermore, because of his belief that the Federal Reserve will continue to implement quantitative easing measures, Paulson is expecting substantial inflation in the next several years. The noted hedge fund manager stated that low double-digit inflation is possible by 2012.
Accordingly, Paulson is shorting longer-dated treasuries through 5 and 7 year calls on the 30-year Treasury bond.
In light of pending inflation, Paulson stressed that investors do not want to own long-dated liabilities, but rather should issue them. One of the most efficient ways for people to take advantage of this is through mortgages on residential real estate, noting that now is the best time in 50 years to purchase a home.
As for the gold price, Paulson remains very bullish on the yellow metal, noting that the price of gold has been highly correlated to the monetary base for as long as his firm, Paulson & Co., has tracked the data.
Given his expectation for further money printing by the Fed – and that in 1980 the gold price rose by 100% more than the correlation implied – Paulson noted that the price of gold could hit $2,400 based only on monetary expansion, and as high as $4,000 per ounce based on a projected overshoot.
Lastly, he noted that 80% of his assets are denominated in gold – a strong indication of his disdain for fiat currencies.
In terms of the gold price, Paulson pointed to gold’s parabolic rise in 1980 and his expectations of a repeat performance.

Super-rich investors buy gold by ton

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigcapital @ 9:14 am
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GENEVA – The world’s wealthiest people have responded to economic worries by buying gold by the bar — and sometimes by the ton — and by moving assets out of the financial system, bankers catering to the very rich said on Monday.

Fears of a double-dip downturn have boosted the appetite for physical bullion as well as for mining company shares and exchange-traded funds, UBS executive Josef Stadler told the Reuters Global Private Banking Summit.

“They don’t only buy ETFs or futures; they buy physical gold,” said Stadler, who runs the Swiss bank’s services for clients with assets of at least $50 million to invest.

UBS is recommending top-tier clients hold 7-10 percent of their assets in precious metals like gold, which is on course for its tenth consecutive yearly gain and traded at around $1,314.50 an ounce on Monday, near the record level reached last week.

“We had a clear example of a couple buying over a ton of gold … and carrying it to another place,” Stadler said. At today’s prices, that shipment would be worth about $42 million.

Julius Baer’s chief investment officer for Asia is also recommending that wealthy investors park some of their assets in gold as a defensive stance following a string of lackluster U.S. data and amid concerns about currency weakness.

“I see gold as an insurance,” Van Anantha-Nageswaran said. “I recommend 10 percent as minimum in portfolios and anything more than that to be used for trading purposes, to respond to short-term over-bought or over-sold signals.”

ULTIMATE BUBBLE?

Billionaire financier George Soros, echoing comments from investment guru Warren Buffett, last month described gold as the “ultimate bubble” because it is costly to dig up and has no real value except its market price.

But a rising price for the precious metal has in itself generated more and more demand from investors looking for a way to hedge against a fresh recession. Gold bears no yield and is uncompetitive in an environment of rising interest rates.

The uneasy outlook for inflation, hard currencies and global growth has triggered a five-fold increase in a physical gold fund launched by Pictet one year ago, the Swiss private bank said.

UBS’s Stadler said the precious metal has become a staple of investors’ portfolios, despite questions about whether it makes for a smart long-term investment.

“If you talk to ultra-high net worth individuals, that level of uncertainty has never been higher in the last two, three, four years,” he said. “If they ask me, ‘Is inflation going up or are we entering a deflationary cycle?,’ I don’t know. But obviously nobody knows.”

Anthony DeChellis, managing director of Credit Suisse’s Americas private banking unit, said at the Reuters summit in New York that clients are more interested in capitalizing on the rise in gold prices than using the precious metal as a safe-harbor investment.

“They’re asking, ‘If it’s a bubble, how far can I ride that bubble,'” he said. “I cannot say we’ve seen a spike in gold interest, but there’s an interest in the phenomenon of it.”

Samir Raslan, Citigroup Inc’s regional head for central, eastern and northern Europe, Africa and Turkey, said clients were not going overboard on gold.

“I wouldn’t say that clients are over-investing. It’s part of an asset allocation, but it’s not something that they are deciding all of a sudden,” he said.

And not all bankers are recommending exposure to gold.

Andreas Wolfer, head of private banking at UniCredit Group, attributed the run-up in the price of gold to frayed investor nerves after the 2008 financial crisis as well as concerns about sovereign debt in the euro zone.

“We have seen it but we have not overweighted it in our asset allocation,” Wolfer told the Reuters summit in Geneva, which has emerged as a major trading hub for precious metals as well as other physical commodities.

“We strongly believe in an asset allocation having a clear and diversified portfolio, which sounds a bit boring but in the end it brings the best returns,” Wolfer said.

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