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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Year End 2018

Two thousand and eighteen, come and gone so fast,
Turn the page in a few weeks, put it firmly in the past.
The days are growing shorter, the nights are getting colder,
As fall turns into winter, another year we all are older.
Put your politics aside, for a moment let’s be civil,
If you watch CNN or Fox, forget about all that drivel.
To this year’s beginning, let’s re-wind back the clock,
We’ll look at it holistically, not on a basis that’s ad hoc.

News there was aplenty, stories of people very brave,
A Thai soccer team and coach, rescued from a flooded cave.
Winter in PyeongChang, we saw the Olympic flame ignited,
And the South and North Koreans, marching with one flag united.
A Windsor Castle wedding, how those British royals sparkle,
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
At his confirmation hearings, Kavanaugh faced some strong objections,
The Dems took back the House, in November’s midterm elections.

Farewell to Steven Hawking, Godspeed to John McCain,
Respect to Aretha Franklin, good eats to Anthony Bourdain.
The rich and famous lifestyles, did show us Robin Leach,
The evangelist Billy Graham, he sure knew how to preach.
George and Barbara Bush, a classy couple he and she,
A fond goodbye to Burt Reynolds, so long now to Stan Lee.
The most gruesome death this year, Khashoggi we do remember,
For whom a hit squad was dispatched, to murder and dismember.

A fourth term coronation for Putin, Xi’s now emperor for life,
Genocide in Burma, in Syria endless strife.
A June summit down in Singapore, Trump and Kim Jong-Un,
Raising hopes for a de-nuking, assuming you trust that pudgy goon.
A duck boat disaster in July, California fires in a recurring cycle,
Tragedies in Florida, the Parkland shooting and Hurricane Michael.
A former Russian spy in England, poisoned but still alive,
Great progress down in Saudi, where the women now can drive.

A caravan of migrants, heading northward towards the border,
So Trump dispatched the troops, vowing to keep the law and order.
China’s modifying the genes of babies, opening Pandora’s box,
In Boston they’re still cheering, the triumph of their Red Sox.
The Eagles flew and flew, and seized a rare victory dance,
At the World Cup in Russia, the trophy went to France.
The Warriors won in four, beating Cleveland in a hurry,
Even mighty LeBron was no match, for Durant and Curry.

Mueller’s investigation moves apace, slowly tightening the noose,
Seems he’s angling for bigger fish, and unwilling to call a truce.
White House turnover continues, it’s stormy near the throne,
Hope Hicks resigned in Feb, followed in March by Gary Cohn.
Rex Tillerson was fired, these shifts seem almost daily,
McCabe and McMaster, and don’t forget about Nikki Haley.
We’re told it’s no big deal, please don’t get the wrong impressions,
John Kelly’s out as well, following in the footsteps of Jeff Sessions.

This year in the markets, to almost nowhere could you flee,
It mattered not if you were in, fixed income, gold, or equity.
Two issues were to blame, which caused all this bloodshed,
One was the Chinese tariffs, the other was the Fed.
Two stocks were worth a trillion, the Amazon and the Apple,
For redemption from that greed, we’re now praying in the chapel.
Many charts are off the peak, so much it makes you holler,
The only things that have gone up, are volatility and the dollar.

So what awaits us all next year, in this uncertain future,
How to stop this sudden bleeding, and give our wounds a suture?
Perhaps reset your expectations, to a lower notch than outright brash,
It’s not time for crazy leverage, you’re not a fool to hold some cash.
The QE is unwinding, there’s no prior roadmap for this journey,
Before it’s over rest assured, some will be rolled out on a gurney.
Prepare to take more off the table, if risk assets make another rally,
You’ll be glad you did before, this pullback makes its grand finale.

But enough with gloom and doom, in this annual search for clarity,
Let’s count our many blessings, in this season of hope and charity.
If your tower’s Trump or made of ivory, let’s stop the nasty tweets,
And work to bridge our differences, and share some holiday treats.
Though we disagree quite often, consensus we must reach,
Whether you’re in the camp of one more term, or the one of let’s impeach.
Let’s take a year end break, from trade wars and yield curve kinks.
Look up now from your smartphone, and enjoy some New Year’s drinks.

Monday, December 3, 2018

November 2018 - Monthly Market Commentary

November was a mixed month for global risk assets. Developed and emerging market equities mostly rebounded, credit spreads widened, the USD was little changed, the oil complex sold off sharply, natural gas spiked higher, and the US interest rate curve flattened. The Federal Reserve kept rates unchanged at its November meeting; minutes from the meeting pointed to a rate increase in December, but greater uncertainty about the future pace of quarterly rate hikes. Comments by Chairman Powell late in the month regarding rates being “just below” neutral sparked a sharp rally in risk assets. The US job report showed that 250,000 non-farm jobs were added in October (the 97th consecutive month of job creation), the unemployment rate held at 3.7% (a 49 year low), the labor force participation rate increased to 62.9%, and average hourly earnings rose 3.1% from a year earlier.

Notable corporate transactions announced in November included the $3.2 billion acquisition of Finisar by II-VI, the $8 billion purchase of Qualtrics by SAP, the $5.5 billion acquisition of Athenahealth by Veritas Capital and Evergreen Coast Capital, the $1.4 billion purchase of Cylance by BlackBerry, the $4.2 billion acquisition of BTG by Boston Scientific, the $700 million sale of GameStop’s mobile unit to Prime Communications, the $1 billion purchase of ITG by Virtu Financial, the $1.2 billion acquisition of Kraft’s Canadian natural cheese business by Parmalat, the $7.4 billion purchase of Arris by CommScope, the $594 million acquisition of Bojangles by Durational Capital and The Jordan Company, the $1.9 billion purchase of ConvergeOne by CVC, ResMed’s $750 million purchase of MatrixCare, Vista Equity’s $1.9 billion acquisition of Apptio, Sazerac’s $550 million purchase of 19 alcohol brands from Diageo, Pan American Silver’s $1 billion acquisition of Tahoe Resources, the $1.2 billion purchase of Spectrum Brands’ auto care business by Energizer, the $3.2 billion purchase of DJO Global by Colfax, Cimarex’s $1.6 billion acquisition of Resolute Energy, Johnson Controls’ sale of its power solutions business to Brookfield, Newell Brand’s $2.5 billion sale of Pure Fishing to Sycamore Partners and Jostens to Platinum Equity, the $950 million sale of Veracode to Thoma Bravo, the $655 million acquisition of Sonneborn by HollyFrontier, and the $875 million purchase of PlanGrid by Autodesk.

Developed market equities rose in November (see page 8), with the biggest gains in Hong Kong (+7.2%), the US (S&P 500, +2%), and Spain (+1.9%), and the largest losses in Australia (-2.3%), Germany (-2%), and France (-1.7%). US large caps outperformed small caps, with the Russell 1000 up 2% and the Russell 2000 up 1.6% (see page 3). Healthcare (+7.1%), Real Estate (+5.6%), and Materials (+4%) were the best performing sectors in November; IT (-1.9%), Energy (-1.6%), and Communication Services (-0.7%) were the worst performing sectors (see page 2). Large cap value (+3%) outperformed large cap growth (+1.1%) in November (see page 3). Emerging market equities were mostly higher in November (see page 9), with the largest gains in China (+7.2%), Argentina (+5.6%), and Indonesia (+5.6%), and the largest losses in Mexico (-4.4%), Taiwan (-1.2%), and Thailand (-1.1%).

In currencies, the USD Index was little changes (+0.1%) in November (see page 10). The New Zealand Dollar (+5.4%), Australian Dollar (+3.3%), and Swiss Franc (+1%) had the largest gain against the USD, while the Norwegian Krone (-1.9%), Canadian Dollar (-1%), and Japanese Yen (-0.5%) had the largest losses. Emerging market currencies were mixed against the USD, with the largest gains in the Turkish Lira (+7.1%), South African Rand (+6.5%), and Indian Rupee (+6.1%), and the largest losses in the Brazilian Real (-3.7%), Russian Ruble (-1.8%), and Mexican Peso (-0.3%).

The US interest rate curve flattened in November (see page 12). 10 year rates closed the month at 2.99%, down from 3.14% at October month end. US investment grade and high yield spreads widened in November (see page 13).

In commodities, the GSCI index was down 11.3% in November (see page 11), with losses in Energy (-17.9%), and gains in Industrial Metals (+2%), Livestock (+1.5%), Agriculture (+0.7%) and Precious Metals (+0.4%). Within individual commodities, Natural Gas (+41.1%), Palladium (+7.8%), and Lean Hogs (+6.7%) saw the biggest gains, while Crude Oil (-22.1%), Brent Crude (-20.9%), and Gasoline (-19.3%) saw the biggest losses. Gold was up 0.6% for the month.

Contact CurAlea Associates for a Daily Market Review.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

October 2018 - Monthly Market Commentary

October was a difficult month for global risk assets. Developed and emerging market equities moved sharply lower, credit spreads widened, the USD strengthened, the oil complex sold off, and the US interest rate curve shifted higher. Minutes from the September Federal Reserve meeting pointed to continued, gradual increases in interest rates. Q3 economic growth in China slowed to 6.5%, below expectations, and at the slowest rate since the first quarter of 2009. The ECB took no action on interest rates at its October meeting, and confirmed that it remains on track to end its quantitative easing program by year end. The US job report showed that 134,000 non-farm jobs were added in September (the 96th consecutive month of job creation), the unemployment rate fell to 3.7%, the labor force participation rate remained at 62.7%, and average hourly earnings rose 2.8% from a year earlier.

Notable corporate transactions announced in October included the $794 million acquisition of Trinidad Drilling by Precision Drilling, the $493 million purchase of Transnom by Honeywell, the $2.2 billion merger of Sahara Petrochemicals and Saudi International Petrochemical, the $1.7 billion purchase of Unifrax by Clearlake Capital, the $5.2 billion merger of Cloudera and Hortonworks, the $17 billion merger of the Saudi British Bank and Alawwal Bank, the $345 million purchase of United Flexible by Smiths, the $550 million acquisition of Softvision by Cognizant, the $2.4 billion merger of Ensco and Rowan, Orsted’s $510 million purchase of Deepwater Wind, the $2.2 billion sale of HIG Capital’s stake in FNZ to Caisse de Depot and Generation Investment Management, the $2 billion acquisition of Rocket Software by Bain Capital, the $4 billion purchase of Esterline Technologies by TransDigm, the $2.1 billion purchase of Imperva by Thoma Bravo, GFL’s $2.8 billion purchase of Waste Industries, the $33 billion merger of Harris Corp. and L3 Technologies, the $1.1 billion purchase of NEC by Blackstone, Twilio’s $2 billion purchase of SendGrid, the $1.1 billion purchase of Greencore by Hearthside, the $2.1 billion purchase of Endocyte by Novartis, the $5.7 billion sale of OppenheimerFunds to Invesco, the $1.9 billion purchase of Shell’s Danish upstream business by Norwegian Energy, Micron’s $1.5 billion acquisition of Intel’s stake in their joint venture, the $7.1 billion purchase of Fiat Chrysler’s car parts unit by KKR, the $2 billion acquisition of Ci:z by Johnson & Johnson, Aqua America’s $4.3 billion purchase of Peoples, Clearlake Capital’s $550 million acquisition of Symplr, the $3.6 billion purchase of Nexperia by Wingtech Technology, Aptiv’s $650 million acquisition of Winchester, IBM’s $34 billion purchase of Red Hat, and the $6.8 billion purchase of Essar Steel by ArcelorMittal and Nippon Steel.

Developed market equities were lower in October (see page 8), with the smallest losses in Spain (-4.5%), UK (-4.8%), and Europe (-5.4%), and the largest losses in Hong Kong (-11.0%), Japan (-9.0%), and France (-7.1%). US large caps outperformed small caps, with the Russell 1000 down 7.1% and the Russell 2000 down 10.9% (see page 3). Consumer Staples (+2.3%), Utilities (+2.0%), and Real Estate (-1.7%) were the best performing sectors in October; Consumer Discretionary (-11.3%), Energy (-11.3%), and Industrials (-10.8%) were the worst performing sectors (see page 2). Large cap value (-5.2%) outperformed large cap growth (-8.9%) in October (see page 3). Emerging market equities were mostly lower in October (see page 9), with the largest losses in Korea (-12.0%), China (-11.3%), and Taiwan (-10.6%), and gains in Brazil (+9.6%).

In currencies, the USD Index was up 2.1% in October (see page 10). The Japanese Yen (+0.6%) had the largest gain against the USD, while the Norwegian Krone (-3.4%) and Swedish Krona (-3.0%) had the largest losses. Emerging market currencies were mixed against the USD, with the largest gains in the Brazilian Real (8.8%) and Turkish Lira (+8.4%), and the largest losses in the Mexican Peso (-8.0%), South African Rand (-4.3%), and Korean Won (-2.8%).

The US interest rate curve shifted higher in October (see page 12). 10 year rates closed the month at 3.14%, up from 3.06% at September month end. US investment grade and high yield spreads widened in October (see page 13).

In commodities, the GSCI index was down 5.8% in October (see page 11), with losses in Energy (-8.4%), Industrial Metals (-4.9%), and Livestock (-0.9%) and gains in Agriculture (+2.3%) and Precious Metals (+1.3%). Within individual commodities, Sugar (+18.0%), Coffee (+10.2%), and Cocoa (+8.8%) saw the biggest gains, while Gasoline (-15.7%), Crude Oil (-10.5%), and Brent Crude (-8.7%) saw the biggest losses. Gold was up 1.8% for the month.

Contact CurAlea Associates for a Daily Market Review.

Monday, October 1, 2018

September 2018 - Monthly Market Commentary


September was a mixed month for global risk assets.  Developed and emerging market equities were mixed, the USD was little changed, the oil complex moved higher, the US interest rate curve shifted higher, and US corporate credit spreads were little changed.  The Federal Reserve raised its key interest rate at its September meeting, raised its economic growth forecasts for 2019, and removed the term “accommodative” from the characterization of its policy.  The ECB left interest rates unchanged at its September meeting, and confirmed its earlier guidance regarding the wind down of its quantitative easing program.  The US job report showed that 201,000 non-farm jobs were added in August (the 95th consecutive month of job creation), the unemployment rate remained at 3.9%, the labor force participation rate dropped slightly to 62.7%, and average hourly earnings rose 2.9% from a year earlier. 
Notable corporate transactions announced in September included the $1 billion acquisition of part of Novartis’ generic drugs business to Aurobindo Pharma, the $1.1 billion purchase of Episerver by Insight Venture Partners, the $1.4 acquisition of Nevsun Resources by Zijin Mining, the $900 million purchase of Caprock by EagleClaw Midstream, the $1.5 billion acquisition of Intralinks by Siris Capital, Boston Scientific’s $600 million purchase of Augmenix, the $6.7 billion purchase of IDT by Renesas, the $2.5 billion acquisition of Engility by SAIC, the $2.1 billion purchase of BlueLine Rental by United Rentals, Hershey’s $420 million purchase of Pirate Brands, the $6.7 billion purchase of a majority of Sedgwick by Carlyle, the $1.6 billion acquisition of Gerber Life Insurance by Western & Southern Financial, the $645 million purchase of MMI by a group led by Cybernaut Investment, the $6.4 billion purchase of Jardine Lloyd Thompson by Marsh & McLennan, Adobe’s $4.8 billion purchase of Marketo, the $6 billion acquisition of Randgold Resources by Barrick Gold, the $3.5 billion purchase of Pandora by Sirius XM, Medtronic’s $1.6 billion purchase of Mazor Robotics, the $2.3 billion purchase of Sonic by Inspire Brands, the $1.8 billion purchase of Ascenty by Digital Realty, the $15 billion sale of 21st Century Fox’s stake in Sky to Comcast as part of Comcast’s $39 billion winning bid for Sky, the $3 billion purchase of a majority stake in United Group by BC Partners, the $933 million acquisition of XO Group by WeddingWire, the $2.1 billion purchase of Versace by Michael Kors, the $950 million acquisition of Chaucer by China Reinsurance, ST Engineering’s $630 million purchase of MRA Systems from GE, and Transocean’s $2.7 billion acquisition of Ocean Rig UDW.
Developed market equities were mixed in September (see page 8), with gains in Japan (+5.5%), Italy (+2.2%), and the UK (+1.4%), and the largest losses in Germany (-1.5%), Australia (-1.4%), and Canada (-1%).  US large caps outperformed small caps, with the Russell 1000 up 0.4% and the Russell 2000 down 2.4% (see page 3).  Communication Services (+4.3%), Health Care (+2.9%), and Energy (+2.6%) were the best performing sectors in September; Real Estate (-2.6%), Financials (-2.2%), and Materials (-2.1%) were the worst performing sectors (see page 2).  Large cap growth (+0.6%) outperformed large cap value (+0.2%) in September (see page 3).  Emerging market equities were mixed in September (see page 9), with the largest gains in Russia (+7.2%), Argentina (+4.3%), and Brazil (+3.7%), and the largest losses in the Philippines (-7.4%), India (-7.1%), and China (-1.6%). 
In currencies, the USD Index was flat in September (see page 10).  The Norwegian Krone (+2.9%), Swedish Krona (+2.9%), and Canadian Dollar (+1%) had the largest gains against the USD, while the Japanese Yen (-2.3%) and Swiss Franc (-1.3%) had the largest losses.  Emerging market currencies were mixed against the USD, with the largest gains in the Turkish Lira (+8.2%), South African Rand (+3.9%), and Russian Ruble (+2.8%), and the largest losses in the Indian Rupee (-2.4%), Chinese Yuan  (-0.6%), and Indonesian Rupiah (-0.6%).
The US interest rate curve shifted higher in September (see page 12).  10 year rates closed the month at 3.06%, up from 2.86% at August month end.  US investment grade and high yield spreads were little changed in September (see page 13).
In commodities, the GSCI index was up 3.9% in September (see page 11), with gains in Livestock (+7.8%), Energy (+5.9%), and Industrial Metals (+1.4%) and losses in Agriculture (-3.6%) and Precious Metals (-0.5%).  Within individual commodities, Lean Hogs (+15.1%), Palladium (+10.8%), and Brent Crude (+7.4%) saw the biggest gains, while Cocoa (-11.8%), Cotton (-7%), and Wheat (-6.5%) saw the biggest losses.  Gold was down 0.7% for the month.
Contact CurAlea Associates for a Daily Market Review.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

August 2018 - Monthly Market Commentary

August was a mixed month for global risk assets. Developed and emerging market equities were mixed, with US and growth outperformance, the USD strengthened, especially versus EM currencies, the US interest rate curve flattened, US corporate credit spreads were little changed, and the oil complex moved higher. The Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged at its August meeting, but indicated that “economic activity has been rising at a strong rate” and that another interest rate increase was likely in September. The Bank of England raised its benchmark rate to 0.75%, the highest level since 2009. The US job report showed that 157,000 non-farm jobs were added in June (the 94th consecutive month of job creation), the unemployment rate decreased to 3.9%, the labor force participation rate held at 62.9%, and average hourly earnings rose 2.7% from a year earlier.

Notable corporate transactions announced in August included the $2.4 billion acquisition of Duo Security by Cisco, the $1.4 billion purchase of Axa Life Europe by Cinven, the $5.3 acquisition of Bemis by Amcor, the $1.2 billion purchase of Deep Gulf Energy by Kosmos Energy, the $5.3 billion acquisition of Dun & Bradstreet by an investor group led by CC Capital, Amadeus’ $1.5 billion purchase of TravelClick, the $3.4 billion purchase of an additional stake in Canopy Growth by Constellation Brands, the $8.4 billion acquisition of Energen by Diamondback Energy, the $1.6 billion purchase of KMG Chemicals by Cabot Microelectronics, Best Buy’s $800 million purchase of GreatCall, the $3.2 billion purchase of SodaStream by Pepsi, the $2.2 billion acquisition of Keystone Foods by Tyson Foods, the $800 million purchase of Ziylo by Novo Nordisk, the $300 million purchase of Zoe’s Kitchen by Cava Group, the Hartford’s $2.1 billion purchase of the Navigators Group, the $2.2 billion acquisition of Quadrant Energy by Santos, the $11 billion merger of TPG Telecom and Vodafone Hutchinson Australia, Stryker’s $1.4 billion purchase of K2M, the $473 million purchase of Cambian by CareTech, the $1.7 billion purchase of Universal Hospital Services by Federal Street Acquisition, and the $1.5 billion acquisition of esure and Bain Capital.

Developed market equities were mixed in August (see page 8), with gains in the S&P500 (+3.2%) and Australia (+1%), and the largest losses in Italy (-9%), Spain (-5.4%), and the UK (-3.3%). US large caps underperformed small caps, with the Russell 1000 up 3.4% and the Russell 2000 up 4.3% (see page 3). IT (+6.9%), Consumer Discretionary (+5.1%), and Healthcare (+4.4%) were the best performing sectors in August; Energy (-3.3%), Materials (-0.5%), and Industrials (+0.3%) were the worst performing sectors (see page 2). Large cap growth (+5.5%) outperformed large cap value (+1.5%) in August (see page 3). Emerging market equities were mixed in August (see page 9), with the largest gains in India (+4.4%), the Philippines (+3.2%), and Indonesia (+3%), and the largest losses in Argentina (-23.6%), China (-3.8%), and Brazil (-2.8%).

In currencies, the USD Index was up 0.6% in August (see page 10). The Swiss Franc (+2.2%) and Japanese Yen (+0.7%) gained against the USD, while the Swedish Krona (-3.9%), Australian Dollar (-3.2%), and New Zealand Dollar (-2.9%) had the largest losses. Emerging market currencies were mostly lower against the USD, with gains in the Thai Baht (+1.2%), and the largest losses in the Turkish Lira (-25%), South African Rand (-9.6%), and Brazilian Real (-7.3%).

The US interest rate curve flattened in August (see page 12). 10 year rates closed the month at 2.86%, down from 2.96% at July month end. US investment grade and high yield spreads were little changed in August (see page 13).

In commodities, the GSCI index was up 1.1% in August (see page 11), with gains in Energy (+3.6%), and losses in Agriculture (-5.5%), Industrial Metals (-2.9%), Precious Metals (-2.5%), and Livestock (-0.3%). Within individual commodities, Cocoa (+6%), Heating Oil (+4.9%), and Natural Gas (+4.8%) saw the biggest gains, while Coffee (-9.8%), Cotton (-8.1%), and Soybeans (-8.1%) saw the biggest losses. Gold was down 2% for the month.

Contact CurAlea Associates for a Daily Market Review.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

July 2018 - Monthly Market Commentary

July was a fairly strong month for global risk assets. Developed and emerging market equities moved mostly higher, with value finally outperforming growth in the US, the USD index was flat, the US interest rate curve shifted higher, and credit spreads tightened. Minutes from the June Federal Reserve meeting showed that officials may seek to end an accommodative policy over the next year. In his Congressional testimony, Fed Chair Powell reaffirmed the rate hiking plan and stated that it was too soon to tell if recent trade disputes might change that plan. At its July meeting, the ECB left monetary policy and plans to end quantitative easing at year end unchanged. The Bank of Japan, meanwhile, indicated that it would continue its quantitative easing program for “an extended period of time”. Second quarter US GDP grew at a 4.1% annual rate, the strongest growth in almost four years. The US job report showed that 213,000 non-farm jobs were added in June (the 93rd consecutive month of job creation), the unemployment rate increased to 4%, the labor force participation rate rose to 62.9%, and average hourly earnings rose 2.7% from a year earlier.

Notable corporate transactions announced in July included the $22 billion deal whereby Dell Technologies will again become publicly traded via the acquisition of Dell tracker stock DVMT, the $3.7 billion sale by Enbridge of 19 natural gas gathering and processing plants to Brookfield, the $4.8 acquisition of Embraer’s commercial jet business by Boeing, the $1.2 billion purchase of Envirotainer by Cinven, the $1.5 billion acquisition of Camso by Michelin, Otsuka’s $430 million purchase of Visterra, the $5.6 billion acquisition of LifePoint Health by Apollo, the $2.6 billion acquisition of Charles River Development by State Street, the $4.2 billion purchase of Platform Specialty Products’ agrochemicals unit by UPL, Wren House’s $1.7 billion purchase of North Sea Midstream Partners, the $1.6 billion purchase of LCY Chemical by a consortium led by KKR, the $2.6 billion acquisition of Aleris by Novelis, the $2.6 billion purchase of Linxens by Tsinghua Unigroup, the $640 million purchase of Leumi Card by Warburg Pincus, BP’s purchase of shale assets from BHP Billiton for $10 billion, the $1.8 billion acquisition of various food businesses from SGA Food Group by US Foods, the $11.4 billion acquisition of Forest City by Brookfield, SS&C’s $1.5 billion purchase of Eze Software, the $2.9 billion purchase of Supervalu by United Natural Foods, the $1.7 billion purchase of a majority of Cetera Financial by Genstar Capital, the $5.5 billion merger of NCI Building Systems and Ply Gem, the $2.6 billion purchase of the Norwegian unit of TDC by Telia, the $1 billion purchase of US Security Associates by Allied Universal, the $800 million acquisition of Datorama by Salesforce, the $1.3 billion merger of Akebia Therapeutics and Keryx Biopharmaceuticals, the $1.8 billion purchase of Neovia by ADM, the $2.5 billion acquisition of Suse by EQT, and the $19 billion acquisition of CA Technologies by Broadcom.

Developed market equities moved higher in July (see page 8), with the largest gains in Germany (+4.1%), the S&P500 (+3.7%), and Spain (+3.6%). US large caps outperformed small caps, with the Russell 1000 up 3.5% and the Russell 2000 up 1.7% (see page 3). Industrials (+7.3%), Healthcare (+6.6%), and Financials (+5.3%) were the best performing sectors in July; Real Estate (+1.1%), Energy (+1.4%), and Consumer Discretionary (+1.8%) were the worst performing sectors (see page 2). Large cap growth (+2.9%) underperformed large cap value (+4%) in July (see page 3). Emerging market equities were mostly higher in July (see page 9), with the largest gains in Argentina (+14.1%), Brazil (+9.2%), and Thailand (+8.2%), and losses in China (-2.5%) and Korea (-1.2%).

In currencies, the USD Index was up 0.1% in July (see page 10). The Swedish Krona (+1.8%), Canadian Dollar (+1%), and New Zealand Dollar (0.7%) were the best performing against the USD, while the Japanese Yen (-1.1%), British Pound (-0.6%), and Norwegian Krone (-0.1%) moved lower. Emerging market currencies were mostly higher against the USD, with the largest gains in the Mexican Peso (+6.8%), South African Rand (+3.4%), and Brazilian Real (+3.2%).

US interest rates rose in July (see page 12). 10 year rates closed the month at 2.96%, up from 2.86% at June month end. Investment grade and high yield spreads tightened in July (see page 13).

In commodities, the GSCI index was down 3.5% in July (see page 11), with gains in Agriculture (+3.9%), and losses in Industrial Metals (-5.1%), Energy (-4.9%), Livestock (-4.1%), and Precious Metals (-2.5%). Within individual commodities, Wheat (+10.7%), Cotton (+6.9%), and Soybeans (+4.6%) saw the biggest gains, while Sugar (-13.7%), Lean Hogs (-13.5%), and Cocoa (-13.5%) saw the biggest losses. Gold was down 2.4% for the month.

Contact CurAlea Associates for a Daily Market Review.

Monday, July 2, 2018

June 2018 - Monthly Market Commentary

June was another mixed month for global risk assets. Developed market equities were mixed, with the US small cap Russell 2000 index hitting an intra-month all-time high, emerging market equities were mostly lower with a very large spread between winners and losers, the USD strengthened, US interest rates increased, the oil complex moved higher, and credit spreads widened. The Federal Reserve increased rates by 25 basis points at its June meeting, the seventh rate hike since this hiking cycle started in 2015, with two more increases expected this year. The ECB indicated that it would end its bond buying program by year end, but that it would wait through the summer of 2019 before raising interest rates. The BOJ, meanwhile, indicated that it would be making no changes to its own quantitative easing policies. The US job report showed that 223,000 non-farm jobs were added in May (the 92nd consecutive month of job creation), the unemployment rate fell to 3.8%, the labor force participation rate fell slightly to 62.7%, and average hourly earnings rose 2.7% from a year earlier.

Notable corporate transactions announced in June included the $7.5 billion acquisition of GitHub by Microsoft, the $395 million acquisition of Rawlings Sporting Goods by Seidler Equity and Major League Baseball, the purchase of AmTrust Financial Services by a group led by Stone Point Capital for $2.95 billion, Fortive’s $2.8 billion purchase of the advanced sterilization products unit of Johnson & Johnson, the $2.1 billion acquisition of LifeScan by Platinum Equity, the $2.5 billion acquisition of Varsity Brands by Bain Capital, the $5.3 billion purchase of Foundation Medicine by Roche, Veritas Capital’s $4.9 billion purchase of Cotiviti, the $400 million purchase of Hyperwallet by PayPal, the $1.6 billion acquisition of AppNexus by AT&T, the $10.9 billion purchase of Pinnacle Foods by Conagra Brands, the sale by Tyson Foods of its Sara Lee frozen bakery and Van’s businesses to Kohlberg & Co., Advent International’s purchase of an 80% stake in Walmart Brazil for $0, the $6 billion merger of Nets and Concardis, the $2 billion acquisition of Europac by DS Smith, Workday’s $1.6 billion purchase of Adaptive, the $7 billion purchase of USG by Knauf, the $1.4 billion purchase of Rent-A-Center by Vintage Capital, the $1.4 billion acquisition of Worldwide Flight Services by Cerberus Capital, the $4.2 billion purchase of a stake in SFR TowerCo by KKR, the $2 billion purchase of Web.com by Siris Capital, GE’s spin-off of its healthcare business and the divestiture of its stake in Baker Hughes, and the $1 billion acquisition of PillPack by Amazon.

Developed market equities were mixed in June (see page 8), with the largest gains in Australia (+3.7%), Spain (+2.6%), and Canada (+1.6%); the S&P500 was up 0.6%. The largest losses were in Hong Kong (-4.9%), Germany (-2.4%), and France (-1%). US small caps slightly outperformed large caps, with the Russell 2000 up 0.7% and the Russell 1000 up 0.6% (see page 3). Consumer Staples (+4.5%), Real Estate (+4.4%), and Consumer Discretionary (+3.6%) were the best performing sectors in June; Industrials (-3.3%), Financials (-1.9%), and IT (-0.4%) were the worst performing sectors (see page 2). Large cap growth (+1%) outperformed large cap value (+0.2%) in June (see page 3). Emerging market equities were mostly lower in June (see page 9), with losses in Argentina (-22%), Thailand (-7.1%), and Brazil (-5.3%); Mexico (+7.3%), Russia (+0.9%), and India (+0.5%) were the best performing.

In currencies, the USD Index was up 0.5% in June (see page 10). The Norwegian Krone was up +0.3% against the USD, while the worst performing currencies were the New Zealand Dollar (-3.3%), Australian Dollar (-2.2%), and Japanese Yen (-1.7%). Emerging market currencies were mostly lower against the USD, with the largest losses in the South African Rand (-7.5%), Brazilian Real (-3.8%), and Chinese Yuan (-3.4%).

US interest rates rose in June (see page 12). 10 year rates closed the month at 2.86%, unchanged from May month end. Investment grade and high yield spreads widened in June (see page 13).

In commodities, the GSCI index was up 1.4% in June (see page 11), with gains in Energy (+5.3%) and Livestock (+2.8%), and losses in Agriculture (-10.1%), Industrial Metals (-4.6%), and Precious Metals (-3.5%). Within individual commodities, Crude Oil (+10.9%), Live Cattle (+2.8%), and Feeder Cattle (+2.8%) saw the biggest gains, while Soybeans (-15.3%), Corn (-10.8%), and Coffee (-8.5%) saw the biggest losses. Gold was down 3.7% for the month.

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Friday, June 1, 2018

May 2018 - Monthly Market Commentary

May was a very mixed month for global risk assets. Developed market equities were mixed, with the US small cap Russell 2000 index hitting an all-time high while southern European indices were down sharply, emerging market equities were also mixed with a very large spread between winners and losers, the USD strengthened, the US yield curve flattened, oil and gold moved lower, and credit spreads widened. The biggest macro news in May was the political uncertainty in Italy amid concern over a euroskeptic coalition government; this reignited concerns over the stability of the Eurozone and led to a sharp selloff in Italian sovereign debt and other related risk assets. Earlier in the month, the Federal Reserve kept rates unchanged and minutes from the meeting indicated a high likelihood of a June rate hike; towards month end, however, market expectations of four or more rate hikes in 2018 fell sharply from 45% to 10% on Itexit fears. The US job report showed that 164,000 non-farm jobs were added in April (the 91st consecutive month of job creation), the unemployment rate fell to 3.9%, the labor force participation rate fell slightly to 62.8%, and average hourly earnings rose 2.6% from a year earlier.

Notable corporate transactions announced in May included the $1 billion acquisition of Cisco’s service provider video software business by Permira, the $4.3 billion purchase of KLX by Boeing, the $2.1 billion acquisition of the electrical and automation business of Larsen & Toubro by Schneider Electric, the purchase of several children’s entertainment assets by Hasbro from Saban Entertainment for $522 million, Blackstone’s $7.6 billion purchase of Gramercy Property Trust, the $3 billion acquisition of ZPG by Silver Lake, the $10.5 billion acquisition of Williams Partners by Williams, the $5.4 billion purchase of Techem by a consortium led by Partners Group, Walmart’s $16 billion purchase of a 77% stake in Flipkart, the $500 million purchase of Tate’s Bake Shop by Mondelez, the $7.1 billion acquisition of Frutarom by IFF, the $3 billion purchase of Financial Engines by Hellman & Friedman, the $1.9 billion sale of a majority stake in Baidu’s financial services arm to TPG and Carlyle, Vodafone’s $23 billion purchase of assets in four European countries from Liberty Global, the $1.2 billion acquisition of Glassdoor by Recruit, the $1.6 billion acquisition of ARMO BioSciences by Eli Lilly, Paypal’s $2.2 billion purchase of iZettle, the $2 billion purchase of Abaxis by Zoetis, the $5 billion merger of Saudi British Bank and Alawwal Bank, the $11 billion acquisition of GE’s rail division by Wabtec, the $1.7 billion purchase of Magento Commerce by Adobe, the $1.9 billion purchase of Ipreo by IHS Markit, the $1.1 billion acquisition of PowerPlan by Roper Technologies, the $4.7 billion acquisition of MB Financial by Fifth Third Bancorp, Blackstone’s $3.7 billion purchase of LaSalle Hotel Properties, KKR’s $8 billion acquisition of BMC Software, and the $2 billion sale of Pret A Manger to JAB Holdings.

Developed market equities were mixed in May (see page 8), with the largest gains in Canada (+3.2%), UK (2.6%), and S&P 500 (+2.3%). The largest losses were in Italy (-9.7%), Spain (-6.1%), and Japan (-1.7%). US small caps outperformed large caps, with the Russell 2000 up 6.1% and the Russell 1000 up 2.6% (see page 3). IT (+7.4%), Energy (+3.0%), and Industrials (+3.0%) were the best performing sectors in May; Telecom (-2.3%), Consumer Staples (-1.5%), and Utilities (-1.1%) were the worst performing sectors (see page 2). Large cap growth (+4.4%) outperformed large cap value (+0.6%) in May (see page 3). Emerging market equities were mostly lower in May (see page 9), with losses in Argentina (-21.9%), Brazil (-10.7%), and Mexico (-8.0%); China (+1.8%) and Taiwan (+1.1%) were the best performing. 

In currencies, the USD Index was up 2.3% in May (see page 10). The Australian Dollar, Swiss Franc, and Japanese Yen were up +0.5% against the USD, while the worst performing currencies were the British Pound (-3.4%), Euro (-3.2%), and Norwegian Krone (-2.0%). Emerging market currencies were mostly lower against the USD, with the largest losses in the Turkish Lira (-10.3%), Mexican Peso (-6.0%), and Brazilian Real (-6.0%); the Russian Ruble (1.0%) was the best performing.

US interest rates flattened in May (see page 12). 10 year rates closed the month at 2.86%, down from 2.95% at April month end. Investment grade and high yield spreads widened in May (see page 13).

In commodities, the GSCI index was up 1.4% in May (see page 11), with gains in Livestock (+2.2%), Industrial Metals (+2.1%), Energy (+1.5%), and Agriculture (+1.3%), and losses in Precious Metals (-1.2%). Within individual commodities, Cotton (+11.3%), Sugar (+9.0%), and Nat Gas (+6.2%) saw the biggest gains, while Cocoa (-13.0%), Soybeans (-2.7%), and Crude Oil (-2.0%) saw the biggest losses. Gold was down 1.4% for the month.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

April 2018 - Monthly Market Commentary

April was another mixed month for global risk assets. Developed market equities moved higher, emerging market equities were mixed, the USD strengthened, the US yield curve steepened, the oil complex moved higher, and credit spreads tightened. The Federal Reserve minutes showed increased confidence that inflation would hit their 2% target in the coming year. At its policy meeting, the ECB made no change to interest rates and reiterated that it intends to keep rates at current levels well past the end of its asset purchase program. First quarter US GDP grew at a 2.3% annual rate, with a strong reading on business investment. The US job report showed that 103,000 non-farm jobs were added in March (the 90th consecutive month of job creation), the unemployment rate remained at 4.1%, the labor force participation rate fell slightly to 62.9%, and average hourly earnings rose 2.7% from a year earlier.

Notable corporate transactions announced in April included the $1 billion acquisition of part of GE’s healthcare division by Veritas Capital, the $8.7 billion purchase of AveXis by Novartis, the $1.6 billion acquisition of Exclusive Group by Permira, the purchase of Merck’s consumer health business by P&G for $4.2 billion, Francisco Partners’ $ 3.4 billion purchase of Verifone Systems, the $5.5 billion acquisition of NEX by CME, the $2.7 billion acquisition of Mobike by Meituan Dianping, JM Smucker’s $1.9 billion purchase of Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, the $5.4 billion purchase of Federal Mogul by Tenneco, the $450 million acquisition of Sunlight Supply by Scotts Miracle-Gro, the $2.4 billion purchase of Zentiva by Advent International, The Stars Group’s $4.7 billion purchase of Sky Betting & Gaming, the $2 billion acquisition of Mitel by Searchlight Capital, the $64 billion acquisition of Shire by Takeda, Square’s $365 million purchase of Weebly, the $26 billion merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, the $8.4 billion acquisition of DCT Industrial by Prologis, the $10.1 billion sale of Walmart’s UK business to J Sainsbury, the $20 billion purchase of Andeavor by Marathon Petroleum, and the $4.7 billion acquisition of ILG by Marriot Vacations.

Developed market equities were higher in April (see page 8), with the largest gains in Italy (+7.1%), UK (+6.8%), and France (+6.6%). US small caps outperformed large caps, with the Russell 2000 up 0.9% and the Russell 1000 up 0.3% (see page 3). Energy (+9.4%), Consumer Discretionary (+2.4%), and Utilities (+2.1%) were the best performing sectors in April; Consumer Staples (-4.3%), Industrials (-2.8%), and Telecom (-1.0%) were the worst performing sectors (see page 2). Large cap growth (+0.3%) was in line with large cap value (+0.3%) in April (see page 3). Emerging market equities were mixed in April (see page 9), with gains in India (+6.5%), Mexico (+5.2%), and Korea (+3.0%); Argentina (-4.7%), Indonesia (-3.6%), and Taiwan (-3.2%) were the worst performing.

In currencies, the USD Index was up 2.1% in April (see page 10). The Canadian Dollar was up +0.4% against the USD, while the worst performing currencies were the Swedish Krona (-4.7%), Swiss Franc (-3.7%), and Japanese Yen (-2.8%). Emerging market currencies were lower against the USD, with the largest losses in the Russian Ruble (-9.9%), Brazilian Real (-5.7%), and South African Rand (-4.9%); the Korean Won (-0.9%), Chinese Yuan (-0.9%), and Singapore Dollar (-1.1%) were the best performing.

US interest rates steepened in April (see page 12). 10 year rates closed the month at 2.95%, up from 2.74% at March month end. Investment grade and high yield spreads tightened in April (see page 13).

In commodities, the GSCI index was up 5.0% in April (see page 11), with gains in Energy (+6.5%), Industrial Metals (+4.3%), Agriculture (+2.8%), and Livestock (+1.0%), and losses in Precious Metals (-0.4%). Within individual commodities, Aluminum (+13.9%), Wheat (+9.6%), and Cocoa (+9.0%) saw the biggest gains, while Sugar (-5.2%), Lean Hogs (-4.9%), and Platinum (-2.9%) saw the biggest losses. Gold was down 0.5% for the month.

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Monday, April 2, 2018

March 2018 - Monthly Market Commentary

March was a mixed month for global risk asskets. Developed and emerging market equities mostly moved lower, the USD weakened, the US yield curve flattened, the oil complex moved higher, and credit spreads widened. The Federal Reserve increased its benchmark rate by a quarter percentage point, with expectations for two to three additional hikes this year, and three hikes in 2019. The ECB dropped its pledge to accelerate its monthly bond purchases in case of economic weakness in a further step towards policy normalization. The US job report showed that 313,000 non-farm jobs were added in February (the 89th consecutive month of job creation), the unemployment rate remained at 4.1%, the labor force participation rate rose to 63%, and average hourly earnings rose 2.6% from a year earlier. 

Notable corporate transactions announced in March included the $8.3 billion acquisition of Microsemi by Microchip Technology, the $1.2 billion purchase of HSH Nordbank by Cerberus and JC Flowers, the $15.3 billion acquisition of XL Group by AXA, the purchase of 85% of MassMutual Japan by Nippon Life for $935 million, S&P Global’s $550 million purchase of Kensho Technologies, the $2.7 billion take private transaction of AmTrust, the $67 billion acquisition of Express Scripts by Cigna, Dana’s $6.1 billion purchase of GKN’s driveline division, the $11 billion purchase of Fibria Celulose bySuzano Papel e Celulose, the $1.8 billion acquisition of Oclaro by Lumentum, the $3.4 billion purchase of Orbotech by KLA-Tencor, Foxconn’s $866 million purchase of Belkin, and the $13 billion purchase of Novartis’ stake in their consumer health care joint venture by GlaxoSmithKline.

Developed market equities were lower in March (see page 8), with the largest losses in Australia (-4.1%), Japan (-3.1%), and Spain (-2.7%). US small caps outperformed large caps, with the Russell 2000 up 1.3% and the Russell 1000 down 2.3% (see page 3). Real Estate (+3.8%), Utilities (+3.8%), and Energy (+1.7%) were the best performing sectors in March; Financials (-4.3%), Materials (-4.2%), and IT (-3.9%) were the worst performing sectors (see page 2). Large cap growth (-2.7%) underperformed large cap value (-1.8%) in March (see page 3). Emerging market equities were mostly lower in March (see page 9), with the gains in Korea (+0.8%), Brazil (+0.4%), and Taiwan (+0.4%); Indonesia (-6.9%), Philippines (-5.8%), and India (-3.5%) were the worst performing. 

In currencies, the USD Index was down 0.5% in March (see page 10). The British Pound was up +1.9% and the Euro was up 0.9% against the USD, while the worst performing currencies were the Swiss Franc (-1.2%), Australian Dollar (-1.1%), and Swedish Krona (-0.8%). Emerging market currencies were mixed against the USD, with the biggest gains in the Mexican Peso (+3.6%), Korean Won (+2.1%), and Malaysian Ringgit (+1.5%); Turkish Lira (-3.6%), Brazilian Real (-2.0%), and Russian Ruble (-1.6%) were the worst performing.

US interest rates flattened in March (see page 12). 10 year rates closed the month at 2.74%, down from 2.86% at February month end. Investment grade and high yield spreads widened in March (see page 13).

In commodities, the GSCI index was up 2.2% in March (see page 11), with gains in Energy (+6.0%) and Precious Metals (+0.3%), and losses in Livestock (-7.2%), Industrial Metals (-4.5%), and Agriculture (-2.8%). Within individual commodities, Cocoa (+15.4%), Brent Crude (+7.6%), and Heating Oil (+6.1%) saw the biggest gains, while Live Cattle (-10.4%), Feeder Cattle (-9.6%), and Palladium (-8.9%) saw the biggest losses. Gold was up 0.4% for the month.

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Thursday, March 1, 2018

February 2018 - Monthly Market Commentary

February saw a sharp reversal and subsequent bounce in global risk assets. Developed and emerging market equities moved lower, the USD strengthened, US interest rates rose across the curve, the oil complex moved lower, and credit spreads widened. The Bank of England kept rates unchanged, but indicated that tighter monetary policy may be in store given stronger economic growth. US CPI rose 2.1% from a year earlier, stoking fears of rising inflation and tighter US monetary policy. Minutes from the January Federal Reserve meeting indicated no change to the future path of rate increases, yet in his first Congressional testimony as Fed Chairman, Jerome Powell took a slightly more hawkish tone and suggested the possibility of four rate increases in 2018. The US job report showed that 200,000 non-farm jobs were added in January (the 88th consecutive month of job creation), the unemployment rate remained at 4.1%, the labor force participation rate remained at 62.7%, and average hourly earnings rose 2.9% from a year earlier.

Notable corporate transactions announced in February included the $2.5 billion acquisition of Modern Times by TDC, the $1 billion purchase of Avigilon by Motorola, the $1.4 billion sale of NRG’s integrated US renewable energy platform to Global Infrastructure Partners, the $500 million acquisition of the LA Times by Patrick Soon-Shiong, General Dynamics’ $6.8 billion purchase of CSRA, the $755 million purchase of Jarilowsky Fraser by Scotiabank, the $1.4 billion acquisition of Infinity Property and Casualty by Kemper, Charles River’s $800 million purchase of MPI Research, the $2.3 billion purchase of A. Schulman by LyondellBasell, the $24 billion merger of Albertsons and Rite Aid, the $1.2 billion purchase of CJ Healthcare by Korea Kolmar, Merck’s $394 million purchase of Viralytics, the $8 billion purchase of Blue Buffalo by General Mills, Roche’s $1.9 billion acquisition of Flatiron Health, the $400 million purchase of Poloniex by Circle, the $10 billion merger of Spectrum Brands and HRG, and the $1 billion purchase of Ring by Amazon.

Developed market equities were mostly lower in February (see page 8), with the largest losses in Spain (-6%), Germany (-5.2%), and Italy (-3.9%); Australia moved higher (+0.3%). US small caps underperformed large caps, with the Russell 2000 down 3.9% and the Russell 1000 down 3.7% (see page 3). Energy (-10.8%), Consumer Staples (-7.8%), and Telecom (-7.1%) were the worst performing sectors in February; IT moved slightly higher (+0.1%) (see page 2). Large cap growth (-2.6%) outperformed large cap value (-4.8%) in February (see page 3). Emerging market equities were mostly lower in February (see page 9), with the gains in Thailand (+2.5%), Russia (+1%), and Brazil (+0.5%); China (-6.4%), Mexico (-5.7%), and Argentina (-5.1%) were the worst performing.

In currencies, the USD Index was up +1.7% in February (see page 10). The Japanese Yen was up +2.3% against the USD, while the worst performing were the Swedish Krona (-4.9%), Canadian Dollar (-4%), and Australian Dollar (-3.6%). Emerging market currencies were mostly weaker against the USD, with the biggest losses in the Indonesian Rupiah (-2.9%), Indian Rupee (-2.5%), and Brazilian Real (-1.7%).

US interest rates moved higher across the curve in February (see page 12). 10 year rates closed the month at 2.86%, up from 2.71% at January month end. Investment grade and high yield spreads widened in February (see page 13).

In commodities, the GSCI index was down 3.3% in February (see page 11), with gains in Agriculture (+4.7%) and losses in Energy (-5.6%), Industrial Metals (-2.9%), Precious Metals (-2.1%), and Livestock (-1.7%). Within individual commodities, Cocoa (+9.6%), Wheat (+6.8%), and Cotton (+6%) saw the biggest gains, while Natural Gas (-11.2%), Gasoline (-7.9%), and Heating Oil (-7.6%) saw the biggest losses. Gold was down 1.8% for the month.

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Thursday, February 1, 2018

January 2018 - Monthly Market Commentary

January was a very strong month for global risk assets. Developed and emerging market equities were mostly higher, the USD weakened, the US yield curve steepened, the oil complex moved higher, and credit spreads tightened. While the Federal Reserve kept rates unchanged at their month end meeting and said that the path of increases would continue to be gradual, minutes from the December meeting indicated a potentially steeper path of future rate increases as a result of the US tax code overhaul. Congress confirmed Jerome Powell as the next Chairman of the Federal Reserve, who many believe will continue to raise rates at a slow and steady pace. The US job report showed that 148,000 non-farm jobs were added in December, the unemployment rate held at 4.1%, the labor force participation rate held at 62.7%, and average hourly earnings rose 2.5%.

Notable corporate transactions announced in January included the $7.7 billion merger of Dominion Energy and Scana, the $4.6 billion acquisition of Westinghouse by Brookfield, the $315 million purchase of Billabong by Boardriders, the $7 billion acquisition of Impact Biomedicines by Celgene, SS&C’s $5.4 billion purchase of DST Systems, Nestle’s $2.8 billion sale of its US confectionary business to Ferrero, the $3.5 billion purchase of Blackhawk Network by Silver Lake and P2 Capital, the $2 billion acquisition of Spectrum Brands by Energizer, Informa’s purchase of 65% of UBM for $5.3 billion, the $2 billion purchase of La Quinta by Wyndham, the acquisition of Bioverativ by Sanofi for $11.5 billion, the $5.6 billion purchase of Validus by AIG, Celgene’s $9 billion purchase of Juno Therapeutics, the $5.1 billion purchase of Patron Tequila by Bacardi, Lincoln Financial’s $3.3 billion acquisition of Liberty Life Assurance, the $415 million purchase of Asahi Fire & Marine by Rakuten, the $4.8 billion purchase of Ablynx by Sanofi, the $11 billion merger of Dr Pepper Snapple and Keurig Green Mountain, the $670 million purchase of Nuuvera by Aphria, the $852 million acquisition of CanniMed by Aurora Cannabis, the $4.9 billion purchase of KapStone Paper & Packaging by WestRock, the $6.1 billion acquisition of Xerox by Fujifilm, and the $20 billion purchase of a majority stake in the financial and risk business of Thomson Reuters.

Developed market equities were mostly higher in January (see page 8), with the largest gains in Italy (+7.4%), S&P 500 (+5.7%), and Spain (+5%); the worst performing were UK (-2%), Canada (-1.2%), and Australia (-0.6%). US small caps underperformed large caps, with the Russell 2000 up 2.6% and the Russell 1000 up 5.5% (see page 3). Consumer Discretionary (+9.3%), Information Technology (+7.6%), and Health Care (+6.6%) were the best performing sectors in January, while Utilities (-3.1%), Real Estate (-1.9%), and Telecom (+0.5%) were the worst performing (see page 2). Large cap growth (+7.1%) outperformed large cap value (+3.9%) in January (see page 3). Emerging market equities were higher in January (see page 9), with the biggest gains in China (+12.5%), Brazil (+11.5%), and Russia (+10.4%); Philippines (+1.4%), Indonesia (+1.6%), and Argentina (+2.2%) were the worst performing.

In currencies, the USD Index was down -3.2% in January (see page 10). The strongest currencies against the USD were the Norwegian Krone (+6.3%), British Pound (+5.0%), and Swiss Franc (+4.6%). Emerging market currencies were mostly stronger against the USD, with the biggest gains in the Mexican Peso (+5.7%), South African Rand (+4.9%), and Malaysian Ringgit (+4.1%). The Korean Won (-0.3%), Indian Rupee (+0.3%), and Turkish Lira (+1.3%) were the worst performing emerging market currencies.

The US Treasury yield curve steepened in January (see page 12). 10 year rates closed the month at 2.71%, up from 2.41% at December month end. Investment grade and high yield spreads tightened in January (see page 13).

In commodities, the GSCI index was up 3.4% in January (see page 11), with gains in Energy (+5%), Precious Metals (+2.2%), Agriculture (+1.5%), Industrial Metals (+0.1%), and losses in Livestock (-1.0%). Within individual commodities, Crude Oil (+7.4%), Platinum (+7.2%), and Wheat (+5.9%) saw the biggest gains, while Sugar (-12.6%), Lean Hogs (-3.6%), and Palladium (-3.4%) saw the biggest losses. Gold was up 2.3% for the month.

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Monday, January 29, 2018

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

December 2017 - Monthly Market Commentary

December was a strong month for global risk assets.  Developed and emerging market equities were mostly higher, the USD weakened, the US yield curve continued to flatten, the oil complex moved higher, and credit spreads tightened.  The Federal Reserve raised the federal funds rate by a quarter point to a range of 1.25%-1.5%, the third increase in 2017 and the fifth in the past two years.  Congress passed the most significant tax overhaul of the US tax code in 30 years.  The US job report showed that 228,000 non-farm jobs were added in November, the unemployment rate held at 4.1%, and the labor force participation rate held at 62.7%. 
Notable corporate transactions announced in December included the $990 million purchase of Big Fish Games from Churchill Downs by Aristocrat Leisure, the $69 billion acquisition of Aetna by CVS, the $3 billion purchase of General Cable by Prysmian Group, the $1.4 billion acquisition of Talcott Resolution by a group led by Cornell Capital, Intuit’s $340 million purchase of TSheets, Nestle’s $2.3 billion acquisition of Atrium Innovations, UnitedHealth’s $4.9 billion purchase of DaVita’s primary care unit, the $567 million acquisition of Cell Design Labs by Gilead and Kite, Apple’s purchase of Shazam for approximately $400 million, the $15.7 billion purchase of Westfield by Uniball-Rodamco, the acquisition of 3M’s communication markets division by Corning for $900 million, the $14 billion merger of BASF’s and LetterOne’s oil & gas businesses, Target’s $550 million purchase of Shipt, the $52.4 billion purchase of select assets of 21st Century Fox by Disney, Iron Mountain’s $1.3 billion acquisition of IO Data Centers, the $2.2 billion purchase of OnePath Life by Zurich Insurance, the $8.1 billion purchase of Unilver’s spreads business by KKR, the $6.1 billion acquisition of Buwog by Vononia, the $1.6 billion purchase of Amplify by Hershey, the $4.9 billion acquisition of Synder’s Lance by Cambell Soup, the $1.2 billion purchase of Aconex by Oracle, the $1 billion acquisition of Cayan by TSYS, the $305 million purchase of Qdoba by Apollo Global, and the $1.2 billion acquisition of Sucampo Pharmaceuticals by Mallinckrodt.
Developed market equities were mostly higher in December (see page 8), with the largest gains in the UK (+5%), Hong Kong (+2.8%), and Australia (+1.7%); the worst performing were Italy (-2.2%), Spain (-1.8%), and France (-0.9%).  US small caps underperformed large caps, with the Russell 2000 down 0.4% and the Russell 1000 up 1.1% (see page 3).  Telecom (+5.8%), Energy (+4.9%), and Consumer Discretionary (+2.4%) were the best performing sectors in December, while Utilities (-6.1%), Health Care (-0.6%), and Real Estate (-0.5%) were the worst performing (see page 2).  Large cap value (+1.5%) outperformed large cap growth (+0.8%) in December (see page 3).  Emerging market equities were higher in December (see page 9), with the biggest gains in Indonesia (+8.9%), Argentina (+6.7%), and Brazil (+6.1%); Taiwan (+0.4%), Korea (+1.1%), and Russia (+1.6%) were the worst performing. 
In currencies, the USD Index was down -1% in December (see page 10).  The strongest currencies against the USD were the New Zealand Dollar (+3.9%), Australian Dollar (+3.2%), and Canadian Dollar (+2.6%).  Emerging market currencies were mostly stronger against the USD, with the biggest gains in the South African Rand (+10.4%), Turkish Lira (+3%), and Korean Won (+2%) and losses in the Mexican Peso (-5.3%), Brazilian Real (-1.2%), and Indonesian Rupiah (-0.4%).
The US Treasury yield curve flattened in December (see page 12).  10 year rates closed the month at 2.41%, unchanged from November month end.  Investment grade and high yield spreads tightened in December (see page 13).
In commodities, the GSCI index was up 4.4% in December (see page 11), with gains in Industrial Metals (+8%), Energy (+5.9%), and Precious Metals (+2.8%), and losses in Livestock (-1.6%) and Agriculture (-0.8%).  Within individual commodities, Aluminum (+10.9%), Heating Oil (+9.1%), and Cotton (+8.1%) saw the biggest gains, while Cocoa (-7.6%), Feeder Cattle (-6.2%), and Soybeans (-3.5%) saw the biggest losses.  Gold was up 2.7% for the month.

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