Monthly recap: German elections, hot UK inflation and NFP miss

We recap some of the key market movers from September in this monthly round-up. 

Monthly markets recap: September 2021

Germany waves goodbye to Angela Merkel in tight federal elections 

After sixteen years at the helm, Angela Merkel will step down as German Chancellor following late September’s closely contested German elections. 

It’s a hugely fragmented result. Pretty much all parties did worse than they thought. The SPD is the majority party, but they’re still very close to the CDU to really have a massive advantage. You could only separate them with a cigarette paper really.  

The Green’s, after topping the polls four months ago, came in third while the FDP came in fourth.  

Olaf Scholtz, the leader of the SPD, now has his work cut out trying to turn these close results into a working coalition. But what we’ve seen is what our political guru and Blonde Money CEO Helen Thomas calls a Code Red for Germany – that is a shift to the left with a bit of a green hint too. 

What the next German federal government looks like now is up for debate. The Green Party is probably going to be central, after doubling their Reichstag presence, but it’s out of the CDU and FDP to see who becomes the third coalition partner. See Helen Thomas’ election round-up below for more information. 

Nonfarm payrolls’ massive miss 

Nonfarm payrolls came in well below expectations in a wobbly US jobs report.  

In August, 275,000 new jobs were added to the US economy, falling far below the 750,000 forecast. 

The unemployment rate dropped to 5.2% while labour force participation stayed unchanged at 61.7%. Hourly earnings rose 0.6% in August, surpassing market predictions of a 0.3% rise. 

Jerome Powell and the Federal Reserve keeps a close eye on the jobs report. Labour market participation has been one of the key metrics the Fed has been looking at throughout the pandemic to decide on whether to start tapering economic support. 

We know that Jerome Powell and the Fed loves a strong jobs report. But we also know that tapering is on its way anyway – likely in November. August’s job data may not have impacted decision making too much, given the tapering signals were made long before its release.  

However, Fed Chair Powell still believes the US is still far from where he’d comfortably like employment to be. 

Speaking last week, Powell said: “What I said last week was that we had all but met the test for tapering. I made it clear that we are, in my view, a long way from meeting the test for maximum employment.” 

A recent survey taken by the National Association for Business Economics showed 67% of participating economists believed job levels won’t reach pre-pandemic levels until the end of 2022. 

UK inflation jumps 

August’s CPI data, released in September, showed UK inflation had reached 3.2%. That’s the highest level since 2012. 

Rising from 2% in July, the latest CPI print also showed a huge month-on-month rise in prices. Inflation soared well clear of the Bank of England’s 2% target – although the UK central bank did say it believed inflation would hit 4% in 2021. 

However, some market observers believe there is a risk that inflation will overshoot even the 4% level. 

The question is how will the BoE respond? A more hawkish tilt could be possible.  

Markets.com Chief Markets Analyst Neil Wilson said: “Unanchored inflation expectations are the worst possible outcome for a central bank they’ve been too slow to recognise the pandemic has completely changed the disinflationary world of 2008-2020. 

“My own view, for what it’s worth, is that the Bank, just like the Fed, has allowed inflation overshoots to allow for the recovery, but it’s been too slow and too generous. Much like the response to the pandemic itself, the medicine (QE, ZIRP) being administered may be doing more harm (inflation) than good (growth, jobs).” 

China intensifies its crypto crackdown 

Bitcoin was rocked towards the end of September after being hit with a body blow landed by the People’s Bank of China. 

The POBC has ruled that all cryptocurrency transactions in China are illegal. That includes all transactions made by Chinese citizens domestically and those coming from offshore and overseas exchanges. 

BTC lost over 8% and nearly dropped below the $40,000 mark on the news from Beijing. It has subsequently staged a comeback, but this latest move from China tells us a couple of important things about crypto. 

Number one: volatility is ridiculous. The fact that Bitcoin is still so susceptible to big swings on both positive and negative news shows it’s still very volatile. It seems hard to see a future driven by crypto right now if such price swings will be the norm. If this is the case, let’s hope it calms down in the future. 

Secondly, it’s that central banks are still wary of digital finance. In China’s case, it loves control.  

Beijing’s official stance is that cryptocurrency is a) illegitimate, b) an environmental disaster, and c) something it cannot control completely. Freeing finances from government oversight is the entire point of decentralised finance (DeFi) after all. In a country as centralised as China, that’s a no-go.  

China has pledged to step up its anti-crypto, anti-mining efforts further. This could cause major ripples for Bitcoin and the digital finance sector as a whole. A significant chunk of global token supply comes from Chinese miners. Someone else will have to pick up the slack. 

Oil & gas prices stage major rally 

A global gas shortage and tighter oil supplies pushed prices into overdrive towards the end of September. 

Natural gas, in particular, was flourishing. At one point, gas had climbed above $6.30, reaching highs not seen for three years. Basically, there’s not enough gas to go around. High demand from the UK and EU is pushing prices up, while the US, which is meant to be in injection season, is also suffering. Asian demand is also intensifying. 

In terms of oil, a supply squeeze coupled with higher demand caused by major economies reopening is putting a support under oil prices.  

Traders are also confident. Energy markets are the place to be right now. As such, trader activity appears to be pushing these new highs and is confident regarding the market’s overall strength. 

Goldman Sachs has also revised its oil price targets upwards. 

Goldman said: “While we have long held a bullish oil view, the current global oil supply-demand deficit is larger than we expected, with the recovery in global demand from the Delta impact even faster than our above-consensus forecast and with global supply remaining short of our below consensus forecasts. 

“The current oil supply-demand deficit is larger than we expected, with the recovery in global demand from the Delta impact even faster than our above-consensus forecast and with global supply remaining short of our below consensus forecasts.” 

Bitcoin battered by POBC crypto punch

Bitcoin has taken a major body blow after the latest Chinese crypto crackdown was announced this morning.

People’s Bank of China rules crypto transactions are illegal

Volatility and Bitcoin: name a more iconic duo.

With the token starting the day in the green, traders were hoping to see a reversal to the bearish patterns and price action seen in September so far.

A fresh ruling from the People’s Bank of China put paid to that.

China’s central bank has said that all cryptocurrency transactions in the country are illegal and must be banned. As anti-crypto signals go, they don’t come much tougher than that.

A statement by the POBC said that all cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Tether and Ether, are not fiat currency, thus they should not be circulated on the market.

The ban includes services provided by offshore and international exchanges to domestic Chinese citizens.

China’s crackdown on digital currencies has been rumbling along across the year, but this is the most overt statement yet.

The nation already moved to ban crypto mining earlier in the year. China’s economic planning agency said efforts to completely root mining out are underway, which could pose big problems for the global BTC supply.

Additionally, the POBC is stepping up its monitoring of cryptocurrency transactions, including speculative investing.

“Financial institutions and non-bank payment institutions cannot offer services to activities and operations related to virtual currencies,” the bank said

Bitcoin’s response

Bitcoin, as well as other tokens such as Ethereum, have been sent reeling by this news. Associated stocks such as Coinbase and MicroStrategy have also begun to slide on the PBOC’s comments.

BTC had been trading over $45,000 prior to the bank’s proclamation. At the time of writing, it had lost 5% as it spirals back into the red. Bitcoin is now being traded for around $42,500 but will likely slide further as the day progresses.

Some analysts were expecting higher prices towards the weekend with talk of $47,000. Now, it looks like BTC is going to continue to trend downwards into next week.

Looking at crypto boards just shows red. Ethereum is down nearly 10% and so is Litecoin. Polkadot has dropped over 11% while Ripple has also dropped by 8%.

Consternation over another market drop has never been far away from the Bitcoin sector after it tumbled from all-time highs of over $65,000 earlier in the year.

Arcane’s Fear & Greed index, which measures general market attitudes regarding BTC performance, was flashing bearish signals at the start of the week and this has continued.

On a scale of 0-100, with 0 being extreme fear and 100 being extreme greed, BTC registered a 27 rating on Tuesday, suggesting fears the market may bottom out are coming to fruition.

Realistically, this move should have probably been spotted earlier. As mentioned above, China has not exactly been subtle in its government-led distaste for decentralised finance. This is a nation where pretty much everything passes through government control after all.

But just when things were looking good for BTC, it’s down once more. It only goes to show just how volatile cryptocurrency trading is and how susceptible the market is to external pressures.

Perhaps wider global regulation may cause stabilisation across the board, but for now, cryptocurrencies are probably going to continue to pitch on volatile seas.

China risks weigh on stocks, Fed meeting ahead

Morning Note

Rough day for equities: China risks to the fore at the start of the week as the fallout from the collapse of Evergrande weighed on the Hong Kong market. The Hang Seng fell 3.5%, with Evergrande down another 12%. Basic resources are feeling the heat as a slowdown in demand from Chinese property developers would be a negative. Luxury also hit – Chinese investors are seeing portfolios hammered, which means less for fur coats. Hong Kong’s weakness was all the more noticeable with Japan, China and South Korea on holiday. Spiking natural gas prices and a European energy crisis, talk of produce shortages and surging inflation don’t provide an encouraging backdrop. Meanwhile a Federal Reserve meeting this week and Sunday’s German election both offer macro uncertainty.

Contagion risks from the Evergrande meltdown are the prime cause of today’s sell-off. You’ve got all kinds of banks and insurers caught in the net but ultimately, I don’t see this as a Lehman’s moment right now. But combined with the tech crackdown it’s probably another reason why investors will be seeking to avoid China in the near term. What we are seeing today is how risks get priced gradually then suddenly. It is definitely though a major cause for investor concern right now and it is possible we see further losses before the dip finally gets bought. A market so well-conditioned to buying the dip will find it hard to resist. But the Fed meeting this week will be of particular importance – does a Chinese property collapse and energy crisis collide with expectations for a Fed rate hike next year and biting inflationary pressures? That would be a pretty nasty cocktail for risk appetite and I think these are the risks being priced into today’s (and possible further) selling.

European equities took the weak handover and limped to a decline of more than 1% in early trade. The blue-chip index is now testing its 200-day simple moving average at 6,880. Rolls-Royce and AstraZeneca gained 2% each but the rest of the board is nasty looking, led lower by basic resources and financials. Prudential fell 4% after placing 130m shares in Hong Kong following the demerger of its US business Jackson Financial. A very soft start for the DAX’s brave new world – 10 more companies added as of this morning but down more than 2% at the start of the session. Airline stocks are just about the only bright spot on the Stoxx 600 as investors bet that looser restrictions will drive up demand over the winter. Also, Lufthansa’s decision to launch a capital raise to pay back the €2.1bn state bailout it received during the pandemic is also being viewed as a positive – clearly, the company feels the medium-term prospects allow it to think about paying back the state. All sectors on the Stoxx 600 are lower.

Wall Street suffered a third straight down week, with the S&P 500 failing to hold its 50-day SMA support and declining 0.9% on Friday to 4,432.99. Futures indicate the market will open about 1% lower around 4,390. The Dow Jones industrial average was lower by 0.5% on a day of veay volume – the highest since July on quad witching day. Although the S&P 500 has traded through its 50-day SMA before and bounced in the last year, we’re dealing with a set of financial fears (China) rather than ‘concerns’ about a variant weighing on growth.

Conspiracy theory: Handy timing for Fed officials to be forced to sell their stocks a week or two ago because of ‘ethics’, not perhaps because they wanted out at the top? The Fed haters and many more think it’s more than a coincidence that their stock trading was revealed, leading to voluntary liquidation just in time to avoid a fallout. Better that than selling out at the top and people finding out later.

Metals weaker – copper down 2% and testing its 200-day SMA, gold treading water at $1,750 after last week’s steep losses, hitting its lowest since mid-August earlier this morning. Silver – once a darling of the Reddit crowd – dropped to its weakest since Nov 2020.

Natural gas prices in the US have come back after spiking last week above $5.60 – top called? Expected rise in demand going into the winter may be well priced. Remember what is happening in Europe with gas prices and the infrastructure problems are not directly correlated to the Henry Hub contract.

Natural Gas Chart 20.09.2021

The USD is finding all this risk-off sentiment a positive – fresh three-week highs for DXY. GBPUSD declined to a new three-week low at 1.36650, towards the bottom of the YTD range, whilst EURUSD is testing a 4-week low at 1.170.

GBP USD Chart 20.09.2021

Cryptocurrencies also markedly weaker on the general risk-off liquidation we are seeing across global markets. Bitcoin took a leg lower in early European trade and may want to test the Sep 13th lows around $44k.

Bitcoin Chart 20.09.2021

Little in the way of data today so all the China contagion/fallout stories will be the prime driver of sentiment. Looking ahead we have the Federal Reserve meeting on Wednesday – key question is whether it announces plan to taper QE or sits on its hands a little longer. But actually, the key risk lies in what the dots (if you still look at them) tell us about when Fed policymakers (increasingly hawkish?) think the lift-off date for rate hikes will be. Meanwhile, the Bank of England will need to respond to biggest jump in inflation on record when it convenes this week. Does is call time on QE now and prepare the market for a rate hike soon? Surging inflation is not going away and the MPC risks all kinds of trouble by not administering some medicine early.

Stocks start September strongly, OPEC+ ahead

Morning Note

European stocks kicked off September with a strong start, with the major bourses back towards the tops of recent ranges. The DAX rose close to 1% in early trade to 15,980 as German bond yields hit a 6-week high, whilst the FTSE rose to 7,177 at the start. Wall Street dipped slightly on Tuesday in quiet trade ahead of Friday’s key jobs report but nevertheless managed to eke out a 7th straight monthly gain like its European and global peers. SPX now up 20% for the year without any sizeable drawdown – the 50-day SMA holding the line every time it’s tested and it’s now breezed through 4,500 without a glance back. The question now is after 7 months of gains, valuations stretched and economic growth struggling to retain the kind of perkiness it had on the initial rebound, can the market continue to glide higher? A combination of ongoing earnings strength, normalisation of the economic situation as reopening proceeds, and ongoing support from a dovish Fed suggest there is more upside, but not without some larger pullbacks along the way.

Stagflation: Manufacturing activity across all seven countries in the ASEAN block contracted for the first time since May 2020. PMIs for the region remained firmly in contraction territory, whilst inflationary pressures also remained high. “Input costs increased markedly again, with firms raising their average charges at an accelerated pace as a result,” IHS said. China’s Caixin PMI also registered a drop, marking the first time it has been in contraction for a year and a half. In Europe, German retail sales plunged by 5% – after yesterday’s 3% inflation print for the EZ. PMIs for the Eurozone already showing declining momentum + deeper supply chain problems + accelerating inflation pressures.

Crude oil remains with a slight bullish bias with WTI (spot) holding $69 after a larger-than-expected draw on US inventories, while traders are also looking towards today’s OPEC+ meeting. The API reported a draw of more than 4m barrels for last week, with EIA figures today expected to show a draw of around 2.5m barrels.

OPEC’s meeting today with allies should be simple – agree to raise output by 400k bpd as they have already set out the schedule through to December. Delta has increased downside risks for oil demand but prices have stabilised around $70 and the physical market remains tight even if speculative sentiment rolled over in July and August. Note WH Smith seeing encouraging signs of much stronger demand in Travel though still some way to go to get back to 2019 levels.

Spot Oil Chart 01.09.2021

Also looking at the crypto space, particularly COIN, after the SEC boss Gary Gensler said crypto platforms need to be regulated ahead of his testimony before the European Parliament later today.

On the tape today – US ISM manufacturing PMI called at 58.5 but we will be looking for weakness in sentiment and, of course, inflation pressures.

Cryptocurrency update: BTC slides as China intensifies mining crackdown

Bad news for Bitcoin. Earlier Chinese efforts to limit crypto mining have turned into a full-scale purge, hitting BTC prices with a significant body blow.

Cryptocurrency update

Bitcoin tumbles as China puts the squeeze on crypto mining

China has intensified its crackdown on cryptocurrency mining operations sending Bitcoin reeling.

As of Monday 21st June, BTC was trading for around $32,000 – some $32,000 lower than the $65,000 highs seen in April. Just last week, Bitcoin had climbed to around $40,000, but China’s efforts to curb mining activity has stunted recovery.

Authorities in China’s key crypto mining provinces are following Inner Mongolia’s lead by banning the energy-hungry practice. China has major climate change goals, so limiting mining for digital tokens from energy consumption chains is part of the strategy to reduce its CO2 emissions.

Every year, crypto mining globally consumers more energy than Sweden.

China is not content with limiting or halting mining operations. In May, the government moved to ban financial institutions and payment companies from providing services related to cryptocurrency transactions. Authorities also warned investors against speculative crypto trading.

The hash rate, the rate at which new Bitcoin tokens are minted, has dropped considerably with these latest measures. Bitcoin tokens are already scarce, it’s partly what gives them value, but authorities moving against miners, and kicking them out of China, is the real issue here.

China’s authoritarian stance is not unexpected – it’s a government that thrives on control of pretty much every industry – but it fits into a wider cautionary attitude displayed by regulatory bodies and governments worldwide.

We’ve heard Governor Bailey of the Bank of England speak out against cryptocurrencies, for example. Regulators in Thailand, India, and Turkey have been mulling over full-on bans too. Retail crypto trading is unavailable for UK customers.

While institutional support from banks and corporations like Tesla continues to mount, it’s being met by stiff resistance from governments.

How can Bitcoin recover? No doubt miners will be setting up shop elsewhere. El Salvador has an ambitious plan to turn itself into Central America’s crypto mining hub, harnessing the geothermic power of volcanos to run its mining operations. Will we see a spike in El Salvador-sourced tokens?

Bitcoin has been struggling to regain its massive April gains across May and June. It looks like its path to recovery just got longer.

Over 90% of UK financial advisors would avoid cryptocurrency

A survey of UK independent financial advisers (IFAs) undertaken by Opinium reveals 93% would never recommend investing in cryptocurrency to their clients.

A further 91% said they would be concerned if they were investing in such assets.

Retail clients are unable to trade digital tokens in the UK anyway, but this is still an interesting development. According to Opinium, crypto’s inherent volatility and close regulatory scrutiny turn IFAs against cryptocurrency investing.

Only a third of those surveyed said they had noticed an increase in interest regarding crypto trading and investing.

A new crypto unicorn emerges

A new unicorn, a tech firm valued at a minimum of $1bn, has emerged in the cryptoverse.

Amber Group (AG), an Asian crypto trading and technology firm, is the latest subject of venture capitalist interest, as they continue to pour capital into the space.

The Group dubs itself as “an integrated crypto financial services firm that offers 24/7 services ranging from market making to asset management and structured products”.

It passed the $1bn mark after a successful investment round raising $100m from China Renaissance, with participation from Tiger Brokers, Tiger Global Management, and other new investors. Its existing investors, such as Pantera Capital, Coinbase Ventures, and Blockchain.com have also joined the round.

Michael Wu, Co-Founder and CEO of Amber Group, says the company now accounts for 2%-3% of total trading volumes in the crypto spot and derivative market. AG’s cumulative trading volumes have doubled from $250bn since the beginning of the year to over $500bn as of June 2021.

“We have been profitable since inception, and with growing revenues across all business lines, we are now annualizing USD 500m in revenues based on January to April 2021 figures,” Wu said in an announcement.

Week Ahead: Apple and Tesla earnings, Fed meeting and US GDP in focus

Week Ahead

Lots to bite our teeth into this week. We start with the Fed, although we’re not anticipating big things. An optimistic GDP outlook is coming for the US, though, while consumer confidence indicators are on their way.

Elsewhere, China’s manufacturing PMI data is released after 13 months of straight growth.

We’re also looking at another earnings charge as Wall Street reporting season rolls on with Apple, Facebook, Tesla, Alphabet and Microsoft all due to deliver quarterly numbers.

Fed meeting: no major changes ahead

America is gradually getting back to normality. The vaccine roll-out is picking up, people are returning to work and leisure, lockdown restrictions are easing and the economy is surging.

“You can see the economy opening, you can see the riderships [sic] on airplanes going up and people going back to restaurants,” Fed Chair Jerome Powell said in a recent Economic Club interview. “I think we’re going into a period of faster growth and higher job creation and that’s a good thing.”

So, what does this mean for the week’s Fed rate decision? The FOMC meets this week amidst speculation that the current “easy money” strategy may not be the right one.

With three stimulus deals pumping more liquidity into the economy, and historically low rates, ominous inflation war drums are sounding for some. However, we’re not likely to see any wholesale changes this week, with no change expected to rates until at least 2023 and bond purchases continuing at the current pace at least until later this year.

Powell has laid out the criteria for a major policy shift:

  • Effective complete recovery in the labour market
  • Inflation reaching 2%
  • Inflation running above 2% for a sustainable period of time

None of those boxes have been ticked thus far. Even so, jobs numbers are improving. The unemployment rate nudged down to 6% with last nonfarm payrolls. The extra liquidity afforded by Biden’s stimulus deals may also pump up consumer good prices too. Conditions for a rate change are swirling around.

But don’t go into the FOMC press conference expecting a blitz of new policy changes. The course is a steady one from here on out.

US quarterly GDP set to soar as economy roars

With the US economy roaring back to life, US GDP forecasts for the first quarter are electric.

Q4 2020 saw GDP growth revised upward from 4.1% to 4.3% as US consumers splash their stimulus cash. Consumer spending has been the key driver, but other areas of business investment are helping an economic surge. Exports rose 22.3%. Business investment in intellectual property, inventories and residential housing was up too.

All very good – but the real surge could be about to begin. Estimates for Q1 2021 GDP are exceptionally high.

The Atlanta Fed forecasts a whopping 8.3% at its latest GDP estimates dated April 16th. The key driver here is personal income. In January, household wealth increased by $2 trillion, alongside a 2.4% rise in spending. Combined with the other factors at play, like higher nonfarm payrolls, consumer spending, and industrial output, the recipe for high GDP growth is all there.

Extra household stimulus cheques are on their way. As vaccine rollout progresses, and further sectors are opened to individual spending, it’s likely GPD growth will surge. The challenge, then, is sustaining it.

Can US consumer confidence stay high?

It seems highly likely: consumer confidence hit a one-year high in March and things have only improved since then regards vaccines, reopening and stimulus. Given the way the vaccine rollout and economy are performing, this will probably be the case in April too.

Let’s look at March’s data to gauge April sentiment. Last month, consumers were upbeat about the jobs market. They were feeling cheery as restrictions on small-businesses are lifted. The thought of extra free cash from stimulus cheques is lifting the mood.

Big ticket items like cars, houses and household appliances are on US consumers’ shopping lists going forward as a savings glut plus extra government money is increasing spending power.

In point terms, the Confidence Board’s survey jumped 19.3 points to hit 109.7 in March. That’s the highest it has been for a year, and the highest points leap since April 2004.

March’s mood was good. Will we see the same in April?

China manufacturing PMI: can the sector bounce back?

China’s manufacturing PMI data is released this week as the nation’s economic recovery gains traction.

March’s index showed an increase over February’s numbers, rising from 50.6 to 51.9. While growth is still historically low for Chinese manufacturing, a reading over 50 implies the sector is still expanding. In fact, PMIs have shown growth readings for 13 straight months.

Production capacity was closed during Lunar Festival but it’s been back online. This is partly responsible for the PMI rise, but there are more important factors at play. Namely, the global economic recovery.

Orders are up, which means Chinese plants are busier. The US stimulus cheques are feeding into higher demand for consumer goods – great news for Chinese factory owners. Additionally, domestic and international orders of machinery like excavators are helping prop up sectoral growth.

Future prospects are buoyed by big spending plans overseas. Joe Biden’s mammoth infrastructure plan, if it passes, is being hungrily eyed by Chinese construction machinery and materials manufacturers. There’s profit to be had stateside.

China is on course for a bumper first quarter according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics. GDP growth has clocked in at a record 18.3%, following an economic surge that completely outpaces the US stellar growth.

While the short term outlook is encouraging, questions around sustainability remain. Exports, fuel for China’s manufacturing fire, were up 38.7% overall in Q1 2021, but those eye-watering numbers have been tempered by somewhat by the drop in export activity between February and March. A cause for concern to be sure, so this week’s PMI release will be interesting to watch.

Tech-heavy week ahead for earnings season

Wall Street prepares for another earnings barrage this week. As ever in earnings season, the reports are coming thick and fast.

There’s a bit of a tech focus to earnings this week. Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Tesla are all reporting in. Tesla will be interesting, purely to see the impact its decision to spend billions on bitcoin has had on its financials. Previous reports suggest it has made more profit from the crypto this year then selling cars.

Apple’s financials come after the company’s 2021 launch event. A shiny new colour the iPhone twelve, plus a rainbow of hues for iMacs, Apple TV updates, and more have all been launched – but the focus is very much on iPhone 12 sales. With six out of every ten smartphones sold in Q1 being an iPhone, Apple could be looking at another record breaking quarter.

We also see oil majors ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, TOTAL, and Chevron share earnings, which probably won’t be as colossal as Apple’s. ExxonMobil says resurgent oil prices means figures may be better than expected but could be facing a chilling $800m loss thanks to the Texas Big Freeze. Will we see more hefty losses for the majors?

See below for a roundup of this week’s reporting large caps.

Major economic data

Date  Time (GMT+1)  Currency  Event 
Mon 26-Apr  9.00am  EUR  German IFO Business Climate 
       
Tue 27-Apr  Tentative  JPY  BOJ Outlook Report 
  Tentative  JPY  Monetary Policy Statement 
  Tentative  JPY  BOJ Press Conference 
  3.00pm  USD  CB Consumer Confidence 
       
Wed 28-Apr  All day  All  OPEC-JMMC Meeting 
  2.30am  AUD  CPI q/q 
  2.30am  AUD   Trimmed Mean CPI q/q 
  1.30pm  CAD  Core Retail Sales m/m 
  1.30pm  CAD  Retail Sales m/m 
  3.30pm  USD  US Crude Oil Inventories 
  7.00pm  USD  FOMC Statement 
  7.00pm  USD  Federal Funds Rate 
  7.30pm  USD  FOMC Press Conference 
       
Thu 29-Apr  2.00am  NZD  Final ANZ Business Confidence 
  1.30pm  USD  Advance GDP q/q 
  1.30pm  USD  Advance GPD Index q/q 
  1.30pm  USD  Unemployment claims 
  3.00pm  USD   Pending House Sales 
       
Fri 30-Apr  2.00am  CNY  Manufacturing PMI 
  9.00am  EUR  Germany Prelim GDP q/q 
  1.30pm  CAD  GDP m/m 

 

Key earnings data

Date  Company  Event 
Mon 26-Apr  Tesla  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  Vale  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  Canadian National Railway Co.  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  Philips  Q1 2021 Earnings 
     
Tue 27-Apr  Microsoft  Q3 2021 Earnings 
  Alphabet (Google)  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  Visa  Q2 2021 Earnings 
  Novartis  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  Texas Instruments  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  Starbucks  Q2 2021 Earnings 
  HSBC  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  GE  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  3M  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  AMD  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  BP  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  Mondalez  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  Chubb  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  Capital One  Q1 2021 Earnings 
     
     
Wed 28-Apr  Facebook  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  Apple  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  QUALCOMM  Q2 2021 Earnings 
  Boeing  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  Moody’s  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  NOVATEK  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  Spotify  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  Ford Motor Corp  Q1 2021 Earnings 
     
Thu 29-Apr  Amazon  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  Samsung  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  MasterCard  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  China Construction Bank  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  McDonald’s  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  Royal Dutch Shell  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  Bank of China  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  Sony  Q4 2020 Earnings 
  Caterpillar  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  TOTAL  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  Airbus  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  S&P Global  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  Gilead  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  Sinopec  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  BASF  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  Baidu  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  Equinor  Q1 2021 Earnings 
     
Fri 30-Apr  Alibaba  Q4 2020 Earnings 
  ExxonMobil  Q1 2020 Earnings 
  AstraZeneca  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  BNP Paribas  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  Colgate-Palmolive  Q1 2021 Earnings 

How you can invest in emerging markets

Emerging economies can offer investing and trading opportunities you may have missed. As such, you might want to consider investing in emerging markets to diversify your portfolio. Here’s how to do it.

Investing in emerging markets

What are emerging markets?

Emerging markets (EMs) are simply economies that are becoming more involved with the global market as their prosperity and GDP grows. They usually share, or are starting to show, characteristics common with developed economies.

That means they will have some liquidity in local debt and equity markets, increasing trade volumes and foreign direct investment, and internal development of domestic financial and regulatory institutions, and stock exchanges.

How are EMs different to developed markets?

While they are on track to reach the same levels of economic complexity as their developed peers, there are some differences that set emerging markets apart from their developed peers:

Characteristic Developed economy Emerging economy
Industrialisation Developed nations tend to have already heavily industrialised and have transferred into service-led economies. Emerging markets tend to rapidly expand their industrial base.
Growth Growth in developed economies is often slow but steady. Emerging economies’ GDP growth is usually higher-than-average.
Demographics Population growth has slowed in most developed markets while the middle class has been firmly established. GDP per capita tends to be high. Emerging markets usually have rapidly growing populations and a developing middle class, however GDP per capita is lower than the developed average.
Currency Developed market currencies are less volatile than their emerging counterparts and are easily exchangeable. Currencies in emerging markets are more volatile. Exchange rate mechanisms are being developed to discourage citizens from sending cash overseas and encouraging FDI.
Commodities Developed economies are not as vulnerable to swings in commodity prices. Many emerging markets are dependent on commodities for their economic prosperity, thus are susceptible to price swings.

 

One of the key takeaways here is rapid growth but high volatility. Take Russia for instance. Its economy is intrinsically linked to oil & gas.

40% of government revenues come from its hydrocarbons industries. While it has prepared measures to encourage financial investment, such as localisation deals for car manufacturers and oil & gas equipment producers, its economy is still highly susceptible to oil price volatility.

PwC forecasts the Emerging 7, i.e. the most prominent emerging economies, will experience annual average growth of around 3.5% between 2016 and 2050, well ahead of the G7’s forecasted growth of 1.6%.

Which countries are considered emerging markets?

Developing economies are found across the globe, but if you’re looking to invest in emerging markets, you may want to start with the Emerging 7. These are seven countries identified by PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2006 as future global economic powerhouses, as a counterpoint to the traditional Group of Seven (G7) economies that dominated the 20th century (US, UK, France, Germany, Canada, Japan & Italy).

The Emerging 7, and their current GDPs, are:

  • China – $14.9 trillion
  • India – $2.59 trillion
  • Russia – $1.72 trillion
  • Brazil – $1.36 trillion
  • Mexico – $1.32 trillion
  • Indonesia – $1.08 trillion
  • Turkey – $761.4 billion

Certainly, these countries grab the emerging economy headlines – especially China. Investors are increasingly looking at how to invest in China because it’s predicted that the country will overtake the US as the world’s preeminent economic power at some point this century.

How to invest in emerging markets

There are plenty of options open to invest and traders who are looking at investing in emerging economies.

As ever, it’s very important to do thorough research if you plan on trading and investing. Doing thorough analysis on stocks, emerging market ETFs, and so on will help you pick stocks or assets suitable for your investment or trading strategy.

Historically, returns from EM equities have been relatively low. According to JPMorgan, EM equity returns have only averaged +3.6% per year from 2010 to 2019. But 2020 was different.  The MSCI Emerging Markets Index outperformed the S&P 500 for the first time since 2017 (EM gained +18.5% versus the S&P 500’s +18.4%).

Past performance is not indicative of future results, but the above rise could be encouraging for investors looking to put capital into emerging economies.

So, how can you get involved? You may wish to invest in companies based in emerging markets. Taking South Korea as an example, Samsung and Hyundai are viable, internationally renowned large caps helping power the South Korean economy.

In China, Alibaba, Tencent, and Geely Motors are all tech-related stocks that have performed well over the past year.

Emerging markets investors may also use ETFs. Exchange traded funds group together stocks and assets into a single fund, giving investors exposure with lower risk.

On our Marketsx trading platform, for instance, we offer the Wisdom Tree Emerging Markets High Dividend ETF (DEM). This draws its constituents from a Wisdom Tree index that measures the performance of EM stocks that offer high dividend returns.

It is composed of mainly Russian and Chinese firms, including Rosneft and the Industrial Commercial Bank of China, but also includes other big hitters like Brazil’s Vale, one of the largest mining companies in the world, Taiwanese plastics giant Formosa Plastic Group.

You may also consider bonds. Bonds are fixed-income instruments representing a fixed amount of debt. They are most often issued by governments or corporations, paying regular interest payments until the loan the bond is drawn from is repaid.

There are several different varieties of bond, so you could potentially create a diverse portfolio of just bonds issued by governments of emerging economies. Bonds are generally considered a more secure investment than equities too.

Risks of investing in emerging markets

One important thing to remember is volatility is more likely in emerging economies than developed ones. Economic conditions may change more suddenly in an emerging market than a developed one, so bear that in mind when investing. You may end up losing more than you initially invested.

We spoke earlier about how emerging markets are often more susceptible to commodity price swings. Russia is a good case study here. In 2015, the oil price dropped significantly.

As mentioned earlier, Russia relies heavily on oil & gas for revenues and the performance of its hydrocarbons industry has major ramifications for its economy as a whole. During this time, the value of rouble effectively halved, making Russia less attractive for oil & gas investment and development for international firms.

It’s these type of market trends you have to fully consider when investing in emerging markets. However, the purpose of investing in emerging markets is to trade higher risk with potentially higher rewards.

If you are planning on investing in emerging markets, it’s a good idea to ensure you have a diverse portfolio of stocks and assets. You may wish to include an emerging market ETF, plus several stocks from one country, a mixture of stocks from one country and so on.

Diversifying your portfolio is way to help you mitigate risk. You’re aiming to lower the effects of under or negatively performing assets. Gains in one asset may help offset losses in another. An example diversified portfolio, based around EMs, might look something like this:

  • 20% developed economy stocks
  • 22% foreign stocks from emerging markets
  • 22% bonds from emerging markets
  • 22% bonds from developed markets
  • 9% commodities
  • 5% long-term investments

This example portfolio draws heavily on stocks from EMs, but it also balances that out with capital allocated to equities and bonds in developed markets. In theory, any losses caused by market volatility in emerging economies could be offset by steady performance from the developed economies.

Investing vs trading: what’s the difference?

Before investing in an emerging market, it’s important to know the difference between investing and trading as distinct practices.

The goal of investing is to gradually build wealth over an extended period of time through the buying and holding of a portfolio of stocks, baskets of stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and other investment instruments. You hold onto them in the hope they will grow in value over the long-term.

Trading involves more frequent transactions, such as the buying and selling of stocks, commodities, currency pairs, or other instruments. Many trading services, such as ours, run using products like CFDs or spread betting.

Unlike investing, you do not own the underlying asset here. Instead, you are trading on its price movements. CFD trades use leverage, so you can get exposure to a stock or market for the fraction of the initial cost it would take to invest. However, because you are trading on margin, your losses can be increased too.

Both practices require you to mitigate risk as best you can. Trading and investing are risky and can result in capital loss. Always do your research and due diligence prior to committing any funds, and always ensure you can afford any losses you may occur.

Week Ahead: NFPs, OPEC & PMIs

Week Ahead

OPEC+ meets this week against a backdrop of weaker oil prices. Nonfarm payroll data is released too. Will we see another strong month or is February’s surge a one-off? Meanwhile, the US and China square off in the manufacturing sphere with key PMI releases. Deliveroo, one of the UK’s most hotly anticipated IPOs, goes live too. 

OPEC+ meeting – more cuts or staying the course? 

Supporting oil prices throughout the lockdown and return normalcy has always been top of OPEC’s agenda. This will take on renewed importance in April’s meeting, as crude oil prices have dropped down from their $70 high over the past couple of weeks. 

At the time of writing, prices had risen off a six-week low despite the EIA reporting higher than expected storage volumes at US warehouses. WTI is trading about $60 with Brent at $63. 

Cuts are very likely to stay in place. OPEC and allies have taken 7% of pre-pandemic supply out of circulation, and chair Saudi Arabia has committed to a further 1m bpd cut. 

However, there is an EU-shaped spanner in the works.  

Vaccine rollout, or lack thereof, in Europe has also put pressure on oil prices. Politically motivated supply tussles, and now more questions around the AstraZeneca vaccine’s effectiveness, have all conspired to impact oil demand as speculators unwound long positions they had booked on higher summer travel demand. 

Vaccine uptake coupled with a fresh wave of new Covid-19 cases across Europe has resulted in tighter lockdowns. France and Germany, for example, have announced more restrictions, as has Poland. The UK has also said it has had to slow is own vaccine programme, one of the best in the world, due to vaccine supply pressure. 

For the second quarter of 2021, the EIA sees Brent prices averaging $64 per barrel and then averaging $58 a barrel in the second half of 2021, as it expects downward price pressures will emerge in the coming months as the oil market becomes more balanced.  

OPEC’s next move will be crucial if it wants to help support its members through better prices in 2021. 

US nonfarm payrolls – all eyes on labour market after February surge 

US nonfarm payrolls are released on Friday. Following February’s blowout month, the market will be watching March’s report intensely, hoping to pick up more signals that the US is quickly returning to economic health. 

 Payrolls surged 379,000 in February, smashing expectations of 210,000 and edging down the unemployment rate to 6.2%.  

The battered leisure and hospitality sector showed the lion’s share of new payrolls, with 355,000 added in February. While this encompasses cinemas, hotels, museums, resorts and amusement parts, it was food service that propped up the leisure and hospitality industry in terms of new jobs added, with 285,900. 

 Biden’s stimulus deal is likely supportive of new job creation. As part of the President’s $1.9 trillion  package, small businesses are receiving further support in order to a) support existing jobs and b) possibly lead to new hires or rehires. This includes: $25bn for restaurants and bars; $15bn for airlines and another $8bn for airports; $30bn for transit; $1.5bn for Amtrak and $3bn for aerospace manufacturing. 

Because of the stimulus package, other companies have halted lay off programmes. United Airlines, for instance, had scheduled 14,000 layoffs in February. According to a Washington Times report, this has been cancelled with extra government money flooding into United’s coffers. 

Local transport authorities, especially the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York, will be receiving billions, allowing them to protect jobs. New York will be receiving $6bn, for example, so it can stop layoffs and service cuts. 

Of course, this is mostly about protecting existing jobs. It will be interesting to see what effect that has on nonfarm payrolls for March. If SMEs are anticipating more government funds, that may then feed into increased payroll numbers, as their finances may allow recruitment to kick off again. 

US & China Manufacturing PMI 

The two global economic titans reveal their latest manufacturing PMI data in the week ahead. 

Starting with the US, we’ve already seen IHS Markit’s US manufacturing PMI for March, showing another strong month for the country’s factory output. This edged higher to 59 in March from 58.6 in February, implying  activity in the manufacturing sector continued to expand at a robust pace. This reading came in slightly lower than the market expectation of 59.3, but nothing to really fret about. 

We’re waiting for the Institute of Supply Management (ISM) PMI data in the week ahead. February’s was a blockbuster month for manufacturing, according to ISM, with the PMI reaching a three-year high of 60.8. If we take the IHS data as an indicator, then we’ll probably be looking at steady expansion, rather than another massive surge has seen in February. Still, encouraging signals for factory production levels throughout the US. 

The US’ economy has been in a healthier state since the new year. Stimulus put more money into consumers’ pockets, and we already know more is coming. Being able to pump that liquidity back into the economy may be why manufacturing is in such a good place. Vaccine rollout isn’t bad in the US either, which is also underpinning renewed confidence throughout the country. 

On the other hand, Chinese output slowed in February, according to the March release of the Caixin PMI, the country’s key factory productivity tracker. Could we see the slowdown continue in April? 

According to the last Caixin PMI, the index fell from January’s 51.5 reading to 50.9 in February – the lowest for 9 months. A reading above 50 still indicates growth, but the fact its dropping suggests a retraction. 

Why so? Domestic Covid-19 flair ups and slowing global demand for imported Chinese goods put a strain on China’s manufacturing centre. Factories also laid off workers and were in no hurry to fill their vacancies.  

Analysts still expect a strong year for China, as it was one of the few countries to show any real economic growth during 2020 at the height of the pandemic. However, February’s manufacturing slowdown highlights some fragility in the ongoing Chinese economic recovery. We’ll get a clearer picture when March’s PMI is released. 

Deliveroo IPO – save the date 

Deliveroo launches its IPO on March 31st, although unrestricted trading will not be available until April 7th 

Deliveroo has set a price range for its shares of between £3.90 and £4.60 per share, implying an estimated market capitalisation of between £7.6 billion and £8.8 billion.  

The company will issue 384,615,384 shares (excluding any over-allotment shares) and expects to raise £1bn from its IPO. Even at the lowest end of the range, it would be the largest listing in London for a decade and Europe’s largest this year.  

Amazon has a 15.8% stake in the company, but it plans to sell 23,302,240 shares for between £90.8 million and £107.2 million, depending on where the IPO prices. Chief executive and founder Will Shu will sell 6.7m shares, leaving him a remaining stake of 6.2% of the company, worth around £500m. 

Major economic data 

Date  Time (GMT)  Currency  Event 
Tue 30 Mar  3.00pm  USD  CB Consumer Confidence 
       
Wed 31 Mar  2.00am  CNH  Manufacturing PMI 
  1.15pm  USD  ADP Nonfarm Employment Change 
  1.30pm  CAD  GDP m/m 
  3.30pm  USD  US Crude Oil Inventories 
       
Thu 1 Apr  All Day  All  OPEC+ Meetings 
  3.00pm  USD  ISM Manufacturing PMI 
  3.30pm  USD  US Natural Gas Inventories 
       
Fri 2 Apr  1.30pm  USD  Average Hourly Earnings m/m 
  1.30pm  USD  Nonfarm Employment Change 
  1.30pm  USD  Unemployment Rate 

 

Key earnings data 

Date  Company  Event 
Mon 29 Mar  Sinopec  Q4 2020 Earnings 
     
Tue 30 Mar  Bank of China  Q4 2020 Earnings 
  Carnival  Q1 2021 Earnings 
     
Wed 31 Mar  Micron  Q2 2021 Earnings 
  Walgreens  Q2 2021 Earnings 

As a China spending boom looms are these global stocks must buys?

Equities
Investments

Analysts at the Bank of America has chosen luxury fashion stocks moving from one to watch to investor must-buys as Chinese spending boom is forecast. 

Millions of Chinese consumers are rushing to buy high-end fashion items and accessories online. BofA expects two stocks to benefit from this growing trend. China’s middle class already outnumbers the entirety of the US’ population, totalling approximately 700 million people. Their habits may point towards which stocks are must picks now and in the near future. 

“China is the most exciting opportunity in online luxury,” BofA wrote. The bank expects Chinese shoppers to spend $48.9 billion buying luxury goods online in 2025 – four times more than was spent in 2020. 

So which companies are set to benefit most from this boom? According to the George de Mendez-led analysts at the Bank of America Farfetch and Richemont are in the frame to potentially make some big gains. 

Farfetch 

The British-Portuguese brand has been dubbed a “big deal” by the bank in the past, and now its set to become a major juggernaut, according to BofA analysis, thanks to Chinese shopping habits. Farfetch has established a partnership with China’s e-commerce juggernaut Alibaba, and will start selling via the Tmall Luxury Pavilion, as well as on designer outlet platform Luxury Soho. Through the deal that will help Farfetch get access to a potential market of 780 million customers. 

Richemont 

Swiss luxury conglomerate is BofA’s second pick. The Cartier owner has pumped money in Farfetch, and has also partnered with Alibaba to launch a new entity: Farfetch China. 

Richemont’s Yoox Net-A-Porter online fashion business already has a partnership with Tmall and is showing impressive growth in the jewellery segment as highlighted by Bank of America. 

Partnering with Alibaba is crucial here. For Western firms, it can be difficult to crack the Chinese market.  As well as the economy featuring protectionist measures favouring domestic companies, Chinese consumers prefer to shop online or via so called “super apps”. It’s pretty much essential to partner with app owners to get access to markets. 

With an Alibaba partnership, Farfetch gets access to its massive user base. Chinese customers will be will subsequently get access to broader selection of designer labels than what other platforms currently offer. 

Farfetch currently has 3,500 brands available including Gucci, Off-White and Balmain. Comparatively, the Tmall Luxury Pavilion only stocks about 200 designers. 

Yoox Net-A-Porter and Farfetch are competitors, but the Chinese deal has “multiple advantages” for all of the players, according to the BofA analysts.  

Richemont already has access to the Chinese market via its Net-A-Porter Tmall Luxury Pavilion store, but the joint venture with Farfetch will give it access to a wider audience. 

The renewed focus on e-commerce follows a year in which consumers were forced to shop for luxury apparel and accessories online during coronavirus lockdowns.  

Bank of America said the online luxury sector had an “exceptional” 2020 and expects the global market to grow to 100 billion euros in 2025, 15 billion euros more than previous forecasts. 

What about Chinese stocks? 

Some Chinese stocks have great potential. The country’s rapid economic growth is nothing short of breath-taking, and several stocks have been identified as potential must buys. 

Alibaba   

Alibaba Group Holdings Limited is the largest retailer and e-commerce company in China. Alibaba operates some of the largest shopping platforms like Taobao and the aforementioned Tmall 

Very few of those investing in Chinese stocks haven’t heard of Alibaba. It is currently trading at a price over $266 per share, thanks to its cloud division becoming profitable for the first time according to its latest earnings call. Its core commercial revenues grew 38% year-on-year, Alibaba reported in January 2021, with total quarterly revenues clocking in at $33.88bn, beating market expectation.  

JD.com   

JD is one of the biggest B2C e-commerce service providers in China and in the world in general. It’s also one of Alibaba’s chief competitors. It was represented in 85 hedge funds om 2020, with a total hedge fund holding value of $13.57bn.  

Tencent  

Tencent is one of China’s internet kings, operating QQ, the country’s largest social media platform, as well as popular messaging services Weixin and WeChat. Over 1 billion users use Tencent’s messaging services each month, and it boasts over 500m social media users too.  

Recently, its shares tumbled after nearing a $1 trillion valuation, but quickly bounced back, gaining over $230bn following listings, as mainland investors hoover up Tencent contracts on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Growing proliferation of smartphone users in China, thanks to its massive middle class, and higher internet penetration rates, make Tencent a very attractive prospect to Chinese and international traders.  

How to invest in China

 China’s a divisive place for investors, but its enormous economic growth suggests it holds great potential. Want to invest in China? Here’s what to watch out for. 

Here’s how to invest in China 

China’s rapidly growing economy 

The first thing that attracts those who want to invest in China is its economy. The next 100 years are very much shaping up to be the Century of the Dragon, thanks to China’s rapid economic and industrial growth. Since the late 20th century, Asia’s foremost economy has been expanding at a rate of knots. 

China was the only major economy to expand in 2020; a year when the Covid-19 pandemic stunted growth in economies around the world, particularly the developed markets in the US and Europe. During 2020, Chinese GDP grew 2.3%. 

The prospects are bright for continued Chinese expansion, and that’s why many choose to invest in China. Fitch recently upgraded its 2021 outlook for Asia’s largest economy, predicting annual GDP growth of 8% – very impressive in a year when the global economy is forecast to contract 4.4% by Fitch estimates. 

Here are some Chinese key stats: 

  • GDP – $14.9 trillion (2020) 
  • GDP per capita – $10,389 (2020) 
  • Population – 1.4 billion est. (2020) 

China’s economic transformation 

Initially, China’s massive growth was down to manufacturing with its old nickname as the Workshop of the World. A vast assortment of goods, from construction materials and heavy machinery, to children’s toys and everything in between, is cranked out of China’s factories and sold to markets globally. But, while exports remain huge, China is the largest exporter in the world, it is gradually shifting its economic focus, transitioning away from its export economy, and looking internally to drive growth.  

Shifting demographics, rapid urbanisation, and wage growth mean China has the largest middle class in the world, with estimates suggesting total middle-class population sits at 707 million people. For context, Europe’s total population stands at about 741 million. Some 50% of China’s GDP now comes internal consumption, driven by this massive social group. 

Coupled with that high number of middle-class consumers are China’s protectionist measures meaning a lot of Western-produced products are not available on the Chinese market. Those that are tend to be more luxurious or high-end items, like designer clothes, smartphones, and luxury cars.  

Domestically produced alternatives essentially have free reign there. One only has to look at the Chinese automobile sector and notice how many Chinese marques have models that look very similar to BMWs, Audis, and Mercedes to see the protectionist measures in action. 

Technology is a major focus for Chinese industry now. Designing and manufacturing more sophisticated technology is all part of the Chinese government’s “Made in China 2025” plan – a policy that aims to move towards sophisticated industries and services, doing away with the old Made in China export model it was previously based on. The fourth industrial revolution is very much on in China, with robotics, 5G internet, and AI all being developed there, alongside electric vehicles and battery tech. 

China could overtake the US in the next two decades if present trends continue, which may power Chinese equities on a strong upward swing.  

JPMorgan has predicted they will continue to deliver close to double-digit annual returns over the next 10-15 years. Using the past five years’ performance as an indicator, MSC China All Shares has delivered an average annual return of 10.34% (although past performance is not indicative of future performance). 

International criticism of Chinese economic expansion 

Economic growth is one thing, and certainly attractive to those who want to invest in China, but not everyone is so enamoured with China. 

The Trump-led US-China trade war is the perfect example of that. To curb Chinese global influence, the US and allies have been trying their best to limit Chinese access to key markets and have been calling into question what they perceive as negative business practices backed by the Chinese government. 

The US has been the most vocal critic of Chinese business. For instance, it believes the practice of China’s government subsidising domestic firms so they can compete on a global scale, and leveraging state-owned enterprises, is not in line with international trading standards.  

There have also been allegations of intellectual property and tech theft thrown at China. It seems any foreign company wanting to do business in china has to form a joint venture with a Chinese firm with virtually no exceptions. The foreign firm also has to share IP and tech with its Chinese partner – something the US claims gives China license to steal secrets for their own use. 

Could it be insecurity on the US part? Its status as the world’s largest economy and political power may be being eroded by China’s continued growth. If China is protectionist, then surely the US too. After all, Trump’s trade war was all about protecting US jobs and companies, even if that didn’t necessarily pay off. 

It should be pointed out that many of the world’s most developed economies are out for themselves too, having historically benefited from access to free markets, or their own relatively shady dealings around the globe. 

But there are moral objections at play here too. 

The case of the Uighur population’s ongoing plight has rightly been met with international condemnation, yet no sanctions on trade have really been put in place to halt that Chinese policy. China’s clampdown on Hong Kong has also earned it worldwide condemnation. The conditions in Chinese factories have been heavily called into question too, as much of the economic growth comes from very cheap labour working in less than savoury environments. 

If you’d like to invest in China, it’s advised you do some with careful thinking. If you are comfortable with the above, by all means continue, but be warned. 

China can be risky 

All investment and trading is risky, but sometimes Chinese opportunities might present greater risk than in other markets. 

As of December 2020, the Shanghai Index was actually performing down across the last five years, and only marginally up across the decade. Compared with US exchanges like the Nasdaq and S&P 500 hitting record highs, that may take a bit of the sheen off China for investors. That comes despite Chinese equities giving investors double digit returns.  

Chinese accounting practices have been called into question too which can cause some stocks to be delisted from international exchanges. In October 2020, sixteen Chinese firms, including supposed Starbucks rival Luckin Coffee, were delisted from US exchanges after investigators found many discrepancies in the Chinese company’s accounts.  

But China’s growth cannot be overlooked. It is also still classified as an emerging market. You have to remember US and European markets and stocks have been steadily developed over centuries. China is still playing catch up.  

Pros & cons of investing in China 

Pros 

  • Rapid economic growth 
  • Emerging market 
  • Rising global status 
  • Potential for double digit returns on equities 

Cons 

  • Authoritarian government 
  • Rapidly changing demographics 
  • Historic stock market underperformance 
  • International criticism of business practices 

Chinese stocks to watch 

If you want to invest in China, you may consider adding the below Chinese stocks to your portfolio: 

Alibaba  

Alibaba Group Holdings Limited is the largest retailer and e-commerce company in China. Alibaba operates some of the largest shopping platforms like Taobao and Tmall. Very few of those investing in Chinese stocks haven’t heard of Alibaba. It is currently trading at a price over $266 per share, thanks to its cloud division becoming profitable for the first time according to its latest earnings call. Its core commercial revenues grew 38% year-on-year, Alibaba reported in January 2021, with total quarterly revenues clocking in at $33.88bn, beating market expectation. 

JD.com  

JD is one of the biggest B2C e-commerce service providers in China and in the world in general. It’s also one of Alibaba’s chief competitors. It was represented in 85 hedge funds om 2020, with a total hedge fund holding value of $13.57bn. 

GDS Holdings  

GDS Holdings is a datacentre technology provider focussed mainly on the domestic market. 2020 has been a year of sustained growth for GDS with revenue growing 43% year-over-year in Q3 2020 to hit $224.6m. As one of the fastest growers in its sector, GDS’ organic sales also completely surpassed 2019 totals by Q3. 

Baidu 

Baidu owns China’s search engine. It’s China’s Google equivalent, generating revenue from its advertising sales, as well as developing advanced technologies. On the face of it, Baidu appears to be struggling, with 2020’s ad revenues being a bit of a disappointment, but that doesn’t really tell the whole story, as analysts forecast 15% revenue growth across 2021. Importantly, the stock as risen 90% in the last year too, making it one to watch for investors. 

Tencent 

Tencent is one of China’s internet kings, operating QQ, the country’s largest social media platform, as well as popular messaging services Weixin and WeChat. Over 1 billion users use Tencent’s messaging services each month, and it boasts over 500m social media users too. Recently, its shares tumbled after nearing a $1 trillion valuation, but quickly bounced back, gaining over $230bn following listings, as mainland investors hoover up Tencent contracts on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Growing proliferation of smartphone users in China, thanks to its massive middle class, and higher internet penetration rates, make Tencent a very attractive prospect to Chinese and international traders. 

Geely Automobile 

China is one of, if not the biggest, vehicle markets on Earth and Geely Motors is the largest of its domestic carmakers, selling over a million cars annually. While the bulk of its sales are restricted to China, it has been enjoying success exporting vehicles to the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe. Geely’s long term goal is to expand its EV offering, as well as investing in foreign marques like Volvo and Daimler and it even has eyes on Aston Martin. 

EV builder Nio, Fast Food firm Yum! Holdings, tutoring service TAL Education Group, and video streaming platform BiliBili Inc. 

Picking the best Chinese stocks for you will depend on your preferences, your trading strategy, and so on. But make sure you do your research before you choose. Be sure to use fundamental and technical analysis on stocks to ensure you’re informed as best as can be before committing any capital. Also be sure to invest only if you can afford any potential losses. 

Investing vs trading Chinese stocks 

There is an important distinction between investing and trading Chinese stocks you need to know. You can do both with markets.com, but you will need to open a couple of different accounts, as we have different platforms for different functions. 

Investing is the act of buying shares and owning them in the hopes they rise in price. To invest with us, you will need a Marketsi account. This gives you access to our Share Dealing platform*, and access to thousands of stocks including major and minor Chinese companies. 

Some Chinese stocks are listed on US exchanges. If you’re in the UK, and wish to trade these, you will need to complete a W-8BEN form. They’re required by the US Inland Revenue Service to confirm that you’re not a resident of the United States for tax purposes. 

Trading is done using derivatives like stock CFDs. You do not own the underlying asset, instead trading on the asset’s price movements. That means you can take a long or a short position and still make a profit. However, it does mean your losses could be higher too as you are trading using leverage. 

To trade, you will need a Marketsx account. 

We can help you invest in China and Chinese stocks. 

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Marketsi
An individual approach to investing.

Whether you’re investing for the long-term, medium-term or even short-term, Marketsi puts you in control. You can take a traditional approach or be creative with our innovative Investment Strategy Builder tool, our industry-leading platform and personalised, VIP service will help you make the most of the global markets without the need for intermediaries.

La gestión de acciones del grupo Markets se ofrece en exclusiva a través de Safecap Investments Limited, regulada por la Comisión de Bolsa y Valores de Chipre (CySEC) con número de licencia 092/08. Le estamos redirigiendo al sitio web de Safecap.

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