Tag Archives: Brexit

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Brexit has been a gem for FTSE miners

Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets, tells Hot Commodity why miners have struck gold from our decision to leave the EU…

FTSE miners are in a funny place right now. On the one hand, their share prices are supported by being among the major beneficiaries of a Brexit-inspired weak pound, getting a helping hand from a favourable translational gain on foreign profits. Which is all of the them, given that their London listings have everything to do with being quoted in the right financial centre and nothing to do with extracting minerals from within Blighty’s shores. On the flip side, a weak pound and a rising probability that the US Federal Reserve delivers another rate rise in December is keeping the US dollar strong, hampering the prices of their main products – commodities such as industrial metals – which would normally be a hindrance.

Except that oil is doing just fine, trading around 12-month highs on hopes that a production freeze/cut to put an end to a global supply glut is in the making. And oil often leads the commodities space, a signal of optimism about global economic growth and demand. Whether said hopes prove correct or not is by-the-by. What’s important is that markets are giving Opec the benefit of the doubt while its members meet for more informal discussions on the sidelines of the World Energy Congress in Istanbul. This is only two weeks since what was deemed a ‘positive meeting’ at the IEA forum in Algiers, where Opec mouthpiece Saudi Arabia importantly softened its stance ahead of the official November Opec meeting in Vienna. Will the world’s most famous cartel actually deliver?

Mining sector share price gains are also in spite of the sector’s strong links to global growth, a topic on which markets remain very uncertain to say the least. As we move into third-quarter earnings season, stateside Aluminium giant Alcoa has already disappointed and the IMF has cut growth forecasts for several developed nations, worried about the rise of populist anti-globalisation rhetoric. However, with miners still very much exposed to emerging markets (doing much of their digging there) and growth forecasts for these regions having increased, this is providing yet another helpful tailwind for rampaging share price recoveries from extremely depressed multi-year lows around the turn of the year.

So it’s a win-win situation for the miners from a currency, oil and geographic standpoint. The sector is proving to be a nice investment, sheltered from the Brexit turmoil along with many of those internationally focused US dollar-sensitive high-yielding defensives that everyone has run to amid the global hunt for yield. The latter has been engineered by years of extreme central bank stimulus deigned to keep borrowing costs low but which has taken many yields to near zero, if not negative. When this does finally unravel further down the line, could the mining sector once again prove a very unlikely and unintentional port in a storm?

Look at the FTSE’s best performers in the year to date. The miners make up the top five, up anywhere between a respectable 19 per cent and a whopping 244 per cent. Can a very favourable market set-up keep these trends alive? Will more hard Brexit talk send the pound lower? Will FOMC minutes and Fed chat send the US dollar even higher and the pound lower, maintaining that handy translational benefit? Could the US dollar pull back, giving commodity prices and emerging markets currencies a welcome boost? Will positive Opec talk keep oil on track for a $55/barrel price not seen for 15-months? Will fiscal stimulus and infrastructure spending, taking over from central banks, increase demand for raw materials?

Is everything just rosy for the FTSE’s miners, whatever the outcome?

This commentary was provided exclusively for Hot Commodity by Accendo Markets: https://www.accendomarkets.com.

UK woos South Korea’s tech industry in wake of the Brexit vote

In the wake of the Brexit vote, the UK’s relationship status with the rest of Europe remains in the ‘it’s complicated’ category. So it is no surprise that our government is sweetening our relationships in Asia.

Our new chancellor Philip Hammond is in China today promoting British business, while the Treasury has just announced a new “FinTech bridge” with the Republic of Korea (better known as South Korea – the less scary one).

The South Korea deal includes a regulatory co-operation agreement between the two countries, so that FinTech start-ups can easily operate in both. The idea is that it will encourage South Korean investment into UK businesses and vice-versa. The government says it will promote information sharing about new technologies and help scale up FinTech businesses in both countries.

Hammond said: “The newly established FinTech bridge between the UK and the Republic of Korea is an important step for one of this country’s most exciting industries.

“The government is determined to help the UK FinTech sector to innovate and grow and to ensure that Britain remains the location of choice for FinTech start-ups.”

This can only be a good thing for the UK and its hugely significant FinTech industry, which employs around 60,000 people and last year generated £6.6bn in revenue.

While South Korea may be a relative newcomer to FinTech, it is certainly a veteran in the tech/IT space (Samsung, SK Hynix, LG) so is well-placed to provide innovation for our home-grown tech start-ups.

Conversely, there are areas of UK FinTech that could potentially benefit South Korea – such as our peer-to-peer finance industry, which has lent £5bn since 2010.

“Whilst the level of cross-border international lending to date has been limited, a number of countries have looked to the United Kingdom as an example of how an appropriate regulatory regime can be constructed which facilitates innovation and growth in the alternative finance landscape,” said a spokesperson from the Peer to Peer Finance Association, which represents the UK’s fast-growing peer-to-peer finance industry.

“As developments in the FinTech sector gather pace, more partnerships – such as the FinTech bridge with the Republic of Korea – will enable other countries to follow the path which has made the United Kingdom a global exemplar in peer-to-peer finance.”

With the UK’s status as a financial hub at risk if we fail to secure a decent agreement with the EU on passporting, it makes good sense to improve relations further afield and remind the world about what we have to offer.

Many years ago, Qatar hoped to become the financial hub of the Gulf, competing with the likes of Bahrain and Dubai. Dubai won, in part due to its swiftness in developing a friendly regulatory regime. So what did Qatar do? It created a ‘three-pronged plan’ to offer niche areas of finance that would set it apart from the rest of the Gulf: asset management, reinsurance and captive insurance.

Now I’m not comparing the UK to Qatar, for many reasons – one being that we already have a highly developed financial centre – but it would not hurt to turn a potential disaster into a positive opportunity by using our newfound independence to innovate. And FinTech should certainly be a key part of that.

Brexit and the Fed: stock market investors should brace themselves for a bumpy June

This week, Mike van Dulken and Augustin Eden of Accendo Markets tell Hot Commodity why we should brace ourselves for a bumpy June…

An optimistically cautious end to May was punctured by a surprise surge for the Leave camp in the latest UK Brexit poll. Whether this says more about what Guardian readers are thinking as they pack their bags and buggies in preparation for this summer’s festival season, or does indeed reflect a wider swing in sentiment is unclear – and will surely remain so until the result is announced. Remember how polls at the last UK general election showed that they’re not always spot on? Nonetheless, polls are seldom ignored and two markets that certainly didn’t ignore this one were cable (the GBP/USD exchange rate) and the FTSE 100.

The two are only really semi-co-dependent. The FTSE 100 contains so much international exposure as to be almost entirely US dollar sensitive, but the fact that these two markets got a big dose of volatility at the end of May and into June says much about current market sentiment: it’s cautious and it’s jumpy. Cautiously nervous? Nervously cautious? Whichever it is, it doesn’t like loud bangs!

Whoever chose June as the month in which the UK would vote on its future relationship with, let’s face it, the rest of the civilised world could not have predicted that we’d also find ourselves once more staring down the barrel of the US Fed’s proverbial interest rate cannon. And while a mere 25bp rate hike is surely nothing to be worried about, now we’re here, it’s natural to wonder what effect one will have on the other. Might the Fed hold off because of Brexit risk? After all, last September it held off because of “international headwinds”. International headwinds have been a feature of the world for, like, ever. Yet Brexit has no real precedent. On the other hand the Fed went ahead in December, right in the middle of a hideous time for stock markets, just because some jobs were added in the US economy.

The dilemma that faces policymakers right now is hardly a subtle one. June is sure to be a tumultuous month because, right in the middle of it, there’s a potentially paradigm-shifting referendum in the UK. Whatever the outcome, the potential for considerable political unrest in both the UK and Europe is very real indeed, so July may also throw up the sorts of international headwinds the FOMC loathes so much.

All that considered, June might actually present the more realistic opportunity. Will the US simply get it out of the way and adopt the brace position for what will surely follow?! Whatever happens, we can be sure that the FTSE 100 index and the GBP/USD pair will find themselves with few hiding places, if any, for the remainder of the year. It’s time to buckle up.

This commentary was provided exclusively for Hot Commodity by Accendo Markets: https://www.accendomarkets.com.

Breakfast with Hot Commodity: the Brexit debate

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Hot Commodity’s inaugural event, held yesterday morning at The Clubhouse in Mayfair, went off with a bang! JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin and Philip Davies MP went head-to-head with economist Vicky Pryce and entrepreneur Alex Mitchell to debate the highly topical issue of Brexit ahead of the EU referendum.

The well-informed panellists did not hold back – from Philip calling Vicky’s pro-EU arguments “drivel” to Tim calling the Treasury “George Osborne’s PR department” and the chancellor “disreputable”.

The be-leavers

Publican Tim gave a spirited argument as to why we should leave the EU, centred around democracy and the need to control our own laws.

“If you look around the world, the successful economies are democratic and have a very high level of democracy that you don’t have in Europe,” he said.

“The European Court judgements, we have no control over and are supreme. The European Commission isn’t elected. It frames the laws and we cannot sack them. It is not democratic. And the 751 Members of European Parliament are too remote to be democratic,” he added.

Eurosceptic Tory MP Philip Davies, who founded the Better Off Out campaign in 2006, focused his argument on how much we could save by leaving the EU.

“We should be ashamed of ourselves that we are handing over £10.2bn this year to be part of a backward looking, inward-facing protection racket set up to prop up inefficient European businesses and French farmers,” he said. “This is not what the UK has ever been about and should not be what the UK should ever be about.”

Stronger in

But remain-ers Vicky and Alex fought back with equal force. Vicky, who is on the board at the Centre for Economics and Business Research, argued that the benefits outweigh the disadvantages of being in the EU.

“There is no doubt at all that having been part of the EU has helped us quite substantially in the past few decades,” she said, explaining that it helps “productivity, innovation and investment”.

“What it also does for the consumer and of course any entrepreneur who has to sell the goods is that it is a very keen market in terms of prices,” she added. “Look what’s been going on as the markets opened up in the airline sector…and the telecoms sector. There has been a huge consumer benefit coming out of this, with a huge increase in the number of possibilities in terms of what can be offered.”

Alex, an entrepreneur and UK President of the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance, conceded that Brussels is “a difficult beast” that “needs change”, but emphasised the benefits of being part of a larger economic union for smaller and fast-growing industries.

He made the point that UK businesses have benefited hugely from EU programmes such as the Horizon 2020, which is providing nearly €80bn of funding for research and development projects over the seven years to 2020.

Trade deal or no deal?

Tim made the point that there is currently no trade deal between the UK and the US and that “it hasn’t done us too badly for the last couple of hundred years”.

“We buy our wine from South America, Africa, New Zealand and Australia. For many years I asked why aren’t we able to get better deals from the French, but we just can’t,” he said, disputing the idea that there are better trade deals to be had in the EU.

And Philip argued that with Britain’s £62bn trade deficit with the EU, it would be easy to secure a free trade agreement – as we have far more to offer the bloc than the likes of Norway.

Vicky came back with a strong riposte to the leave team, who also had concerns about the high levels of immigration coming from EU countries:

“It’s interesting to think we can have an even better deal, with completely free access to the market…Are you telling me we can have everything we want if we leave, but [without] people coming into this country? The chances of achieving that are peanuts.”

She also hit back at Philip’s criticism of the EU being a declining part of the world economy, saying: “If you look at the growth of the countries that we are dependent on and that we would like to be trading more with – and nothing has stopped us so far doing this – or the BRIC countries with the exception of India, they are all in recession. We can’t rely on those parts of the world.”

Rates and rumours

Tim blasted chancellor George Osborne for warning that a Brexit could lead to higher interest rates, labelling him “disreputable”.

“After the 2008 economic crisis, the pound went down, inflation went up for several years and what happened to mortgage rates? They went down,” he said.

“It was highly disreputable for the chancellor to give rise to headlines that say that mortgage rates will go up in an economic crisis, when the last time, they went down.”

Vicky qualified the central bank action by saying that the Bank of England had “very sensibly decided not to raise interest rates in the middle of a recession”.

Interested in taking part in – or supporting – the next Breakfast with Hot Commodity event? Email info@hotcommodity.co.uk.

Brexit will not stop EU free movement

Leaving the European Union would not halt the free movement of migrants into the UK, a legal expert has said.

A key argument for the ‘leave’ camp ahead of the 23 June referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU has been migration, at a time when the bloc is struggling to deal with the fallout from the Syrian refugee crisis.

Eurosceptics argue that leaving the EU will give us sovereignty over our borders and stem the flow of migrants from newer members of the economic and political union, such as Bulgaria and Romania – and prevent migrants from outside the bloc entering the UK via other member states.

If we did leave the EU, the UK would have to establish new trade agreements with the rest of Europe. But Anthony Woolich, partner at Holman Fenwick Willan, told Hot Commodity that if the UK expects to continue doing business with EU member states, it will come with strings attached.

“If the UK wants to export its goods and services to the EU, free movement of persons could be a key part of a free trade agreement,” he said.

“Especially bearing in mind how close the UK is to mainland Europe, I think it is highly likely that the EU would demand free movement as part of the deal.”

However, it should be noted that the EU currently has 53 trade agreements with countries around the world – all with varying Visa arrangements – so free movement is not a certainty.

Regarding the trade deal itself, Woolich argues that this could be tricky to thrash out.

“I don’t think the UK will be very popular if we leave the EU, as it’s a time of crisis,” he said. “So I think the EU will drive a hard bargain.

“Furthermore, the EU has negotiated our trade agreements with countries outside the bloc – does our civil service have the expertise to negotiate these deals?” he added.

“These discussions are slow moving and we will have to do this on multiple levels.”

The migrant crisis has dominated headlines in recent months and added weight to the ‘leave’ argument, due to growing concern over border control. Prime Minister David Cameron recently came back from Brussels with a proposal for EU membership reform that was seen as far too weak by Eurosceptics.

The large inflow of migrants has put a strain on some eastern European countries, who do not have the capabilities to deal with them. Macedonia provoked outrage when it resorted to using tear gas to hold back migrants, while other countries have built high fences and tightened their identity controls to protect their borders.

This week the EU proposed a deal whereby Turkey will take back Syrian migrants who have arrived in Greece and in return, a Syrian already in Turkey would be resettled in the EU. Turkey would receive financial support and progress on its EU membership application.